Adam Lee’s misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement

by Michael Nugent on September 21, 2014

Adam Lee has written the latest misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement. It is titled: “Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name.

Jerry Coyne has reviewed the article on Why Evolution is True, and has analysed how it fits in with ongoing personalised attacks on Richard, Sam and others.

Adam’s article comes less than two months after a similar Guardian article by Eleanor Robinson. She had tweeted the previous evening that she won’t rest until Richard’s descriptor in news material is “erstwhile scientist and widely reviled sockfucker”.

I have admired Adam’s writing for many years, although I disagree with him strongly on this issue. Adam has said that critics of his article have not been specific about where it is inaccurate, so I will address that question here.

The article is phrased to generate prejudice in readers

You can tell a lot about an article by how the writer conveys that someone has spoken. In this article, Adam quotes several people. Some of them ‘told’ him things, or ‘explained’ things. That sounds quite reasonable and objective.

  • [Ophelia Benson] told me…
  • Greta Christina told me…
  • PZ Myers told me…
  • As [Amy Roth] told me this week…
  • Many female atheists have explained that…

While Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris seemed more melodramatic:

  • [Dawkins] has been busy snarling about…
  • Sam Harris crammed his foot in his mouth and said…
  • Dawkins is accusing… roaring… scoffing…
  • [Dawkins] essentially argued that…
  • There was also [Dawkins]’ sneer at…

So who seems the most reasonable and reliable? The many people neutrally telling the writer things or explaining things? Or the two people snarling, accusing, roaring, scoffing, arguing, sneering and cramming their foot in their mouth? Surely it will be the first group! Let’s see.

The writer sets the scene inaccurately

Adam starts by setting the scene:

“The atheist movement – a loosely-knit community of conference-goers, advocacy organizations, writers and activists – has been wracked by infighting the last few years over its persistent gender imbalance and the causes of it.”

This is simply not true. The atheist movement is global. Most of the atheist movement around the world is not involved in this mostly American infighting, and many activists are either unaware of it or think it is a distraction of focus.

I think it is important, or I would not be devoting so much time to it against the advice of many friends and colleagues, but as a reality check to those who are absorbed by it, it is simply not the case that the atheist movement has been wracked by it.

“Many female atheists have explained that they don’t get more involved because of the casual sexism endemic to the movement: parts of it see nothing problematic about hosting conferences with all-male speakers or having all-male leadership –”

So which conferences have all-male speakers? Which groups have all-male leadership? I don’t know of any, but they may well exist. If they do exist, how do they compare with conferences with male and female speakers, or groups with male and female leadership? Unfortunately, the article does not say. It creates an impression and does not substantiate it.

“– and that’s before you get to the vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and off, that’s designed to intimidate women into silence.”

This is a legitimate point. Sexism and sexual harassment is a problem for any group within society, including the atheist movement. So is any behaviour intended to intimidate into silence people of any gender who are expressing ideas and not defaming other people.

I believe that we should identify the extent of these problems, tackle the problems robustly and sensitively, and make our groups as welcoming as possible for anybody who wants to help us to promote a more rational, compassionate and secular world.

Adam’s snarling, roaring, scoffing, sneering Richard Dawkins

Having thus inaccurately set the scene, the article focuses mainly on Richard Dawkins as the personification of this unsubstantiated and unquantified problem.

The analysis is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, based on an observable pattern that I have previously written about. Some people place the most uncharitable meaning they can on a comment by Richard, or else exaggerate it out of proportion to reasonable debate, and continue to do so even after he clarifies what he meant.

Then, instead of correcting these false allegations, some people either ignore the clarification or else blame Richard further for allowing himself and/or atheism to be misrepresented. These misrepresentations eventually leak into the mainstream media, forming a loop of self-confirmations of inaccuracies.

Here are some examples from Adam’s article. One paragraph starts, without linking to any source in an article with many other links, by saying that:

“On Twitter these last few days, Dawkins has reverted to his old, sexist ways and then some. He’s been very busy snarling about how feminists are shrill harridans who just want an excuse to take offence.”

That’s a good way to prejudice readers about whatever you are going to say next, despite providing no evidence of Richard snarling about feminists being shrill harridans. The paragraph then refers to comments about thought police, click-bait for profit and fake outrage, which are not issues about sexism or feminism. The paragraph concludes with this statement:

“For good measure, Dawkins argued that rape victims shouldn’t be considered trustworthy if they were drinking.”

This assertion linked to a tweet in which Richard had written: “If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

Firstly note that Adam has rephrased ‘don’t get drunk’ into ‘if they were drinking’. And that’s not the most significant misrepresentation.

It would be easy for the casual reader to place an uncharitable interpretation on this, particularly as we have just been told that it was written by someone who was very busy snarling about feminists being shrill harridans. But Richard has also written in related tweets:

  • “Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. But also, don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened (& no other evidence).”
  • “In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she couldn’t remember.”
  • “Obviously some drunk people remember well what happened. I was talking about a limited case where a witness admits she can’t remember.”
  • (to a woman who was raped while drunk) “Yes, I believe you. Why would I not? Unlike the hypothetical case of my tweets, you have clear & convincing memories.”

So, in context, what Richard is saying (as well as ‘Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober’) is that the testimony of someone who cannot remember what has happened, and where there is no other evidence, is not trustworthy. That is clearly a self-evident fact.

It is inaccurate to describe this as Richard saying that rape victims who have been drinking shouldn’t be considered trustworthy, particularly when combined with the related tweets and the unsubstantiated smear about Richard being busy snarling about shrill harridans.

The article also says:

“Dawkins’s very public hostility toward the people who emphasise the importance of diversity, who want to make the community broader and more welcoming, and who oppose sexual harassment and sexist language, is harming the cause he himself claims to care about.”

That’s also misleading. I and my colleagues in Atheist Ireland are among the people who emphasise the importance of diversity, who want to make the community broader and more welcoming, and who oppose sexual harassment and sexist language. And Richard is not hostile to us.

So if Richard is hostile to some other people who share the above beliefs, it must be because of an additional reason. Perhaps that additional reason might be linked to the pattern of some people, some of whom also promote the above beliefs, unjustly publishing increasingly irrational and hostile personal smears about him?

These smears range from implicit to explicit claims that he is Islamophobic, racist, bigoted, sexist, misogynistic and an apologist for pedophilia. These personal smears are inaccurate, unjust, unkind and hurtful.

Sometimes critics also describe him as being white, male, heterosexual, old and/or wealthy, instead of focusing their argument on whatever actual disagreement that they have with him. This article nods in that direction, by saying:

“If the atheist movement is going to thrive and make a difference in our society, it needs to grow beyond its largely older, largely male, largely white roots.”

This is a parochial attitude. The atheist movement is global. In most parts of the world, its roots are not white. I believe it needs to be more diverse within individual societies, but the article refers to ‘our’ society as if the atheist movement is a mostly American movement.

Adam’s Sam Harris cramming his foot in his mouth

The article says of Sam Harris:

“Then another prominent male atheist, Sam Harris, crammed his foot in his mouth and said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”. And, just like that, the brief Dawkins Spring was over.”

Again, this is misleading. There is loaded language to prejudice the reader against the coming quote, flavoured by comically dismissive imagery, then selective extracts from an off-the-cuff remark by Sam, without reference to the subsequent considered clarification of those remarks.

It follows part of the same pattern that has been used repeatedly against Richard, where some people place the most uncharitable meaning they can on a comment, or else exaggerate it out of proportion to reasonable debate, and continue to do so even after he clarifies what he meant.

Sam’s response on his blog clarified that:

“My work is often perceived (I believe unfairly) as unpleasantly critical, angry, divisive, etc. The work of other vocal atheists (male and female) has a similar reputation. I believe that in general, men are more attracted to this style of communication than women are. Which is not to say there aren’t millions of acerbic women out there, and many for whom Hitchens at his most cutting was a favorite source of entertainment. But just as we can say that men are generally taller than women, without denying that some women are taller than most men, there are psychological differences between men and women which, considered in the aggregate, might explain why “angry atheism” attracts more of the former. Some of these differences are innate; some are surely the product of culture. Nothing in my remarks was meant to suggest that women can’t think as critically as men or that they are more likely to be taken in by bad ideas. Again, I was talking about a fondness for a perceived style of religion bashing with which I and other vocal atheists are often associated.”

Sam’s response also included the following points, which some of his detractors seem to have ignored:

  • I am well aware that sexism and misogyny are problems in our society.
  • I tend to look at the ethics of force from a woman’s point of view. Violence is different for women than it is for men.
  • It is far more common for a woman to be attacked, physically controlled, and sexually assaulted by a man.
  • Any time a woman comes away from an encounter with a man saying that he gave her the creeps, I trust her. This is not mere chivalry on my part: It is a judgment based on an understanding of human nature.
    My criticism of Islam—for which I have been vilified by many of the same people who are now attacking me over my remarks about gender—is largely inspired by my concern for women.

Now, you can legitimately disagree with Sam’s analysis of these issues (which you can read by following the above link), but it is simply untrue to imply that he is sexist on the basis of the original off-the-cuff answer to a question in an interview about a book on a different topic.

The people who told Adam things instead of snarling and roaring

In contrast to his analysis of Richard and Sam, who he characterises as snarling, accusing, roaring, scoffing, arguing, sneering and cramming their foot in their mouth, Adam writes more neutrally about four people who merely ‘said’ things to him.

He starts with Ophelia Benson.

“I’m surprised and, frankly, shocked by Richard’s belligerent remarks about feminist bloggers over the past couple of days,” she told me. “Part of what made The God Delusion so popular was, surely, its indignant bluntness about religion. It was a best-seller; does that mean he ‘faked’ his outrage?”

On the face of it, a reasonable question. But when Richard wrote about outrage in The God Delusion, he was responding to things like the Vatican police, in the nineteenth century, kidnapping Jewish children who had been secretly baptised by Catholic nursemaids. By contrast, when some people have recently expressed ‘outrage’ against Richard, it has been mostly about tweets on Twitter.

Grania Spingies, co-founder of Atheist Ireland, is one of the many atheist women around the world whose views are not reflected in Adam’s article. Grania wrote yesterday about this argument:

“I am disgusted by the behavior of those who claim to be promoting feminism by feverishly poring over sentence fragments to see if they can be parsed into meaning something that fits their narrative of suspicion. How any of them think they are actually improving anything for women by trying to convert the arena of ideas and debate into a safe room for infants is beyond me.”

Adam also quotes Greta Christina, PZ Myers and Amy Roth.

Greta Christina told me, “I can’t tell you how many women, people of color, other marginalized people I’ve talked with who’ve told me, ‘I’m an atheist, but I don’t want anything to do with organized atheism if these guys are the leaders.’”

I don’t doubt that this is true. But it is intensified by the pattern of people repeating the uncharitable interpretations of things Richard and Sam have said, instead of correcting them. Also, organised atheism has no formal ‘leaders’. You can start your own atheist group, and lead it to do whatever you feel is most constructive.

It’s not just women who are outraged by Dawkins these days: author and blogger PZ Myers told me, “At a time when our movement needs to expand its reach, it’s a tragedy that our most eminent spokesman has so enthusiastically expressed such a regressive attitude.”

Adam does not elaborate on which regressive attitude PZ is attributing to Richard, but we can guess it is broadly the same as the rest of the article suggests. As an aside, it is nice to see PZ refer to Richard as ‘our most eminent spokesperson.’ It fits better into the Guardian than PZ’s recent blog statement that Richard has been been eaten by brain parasites and is grossly dishonest.

Speaking out against hate directed against anyone

Amy Roth’s contribution is, in my opinion, the most legitimate of the arguments made in this article. Adam wrote:

The artist Amy Roth, who recently debuted an exhibit in which she literally wallpapered a room with the misogynist messages that she and other feminists have received, finds the systemic sexism incredibly frustrating. As she told me this week: “The men and women in this community have a right to speak up about it, and if the best argument you have against us is that we are the ‘thought police’ or we are writing for ‘clickbait’ or that the weight of our words is equivalent to an actual ‘witch hunt’, then perhaps it’s time to retire to your study and calmly reevaluate the actual topics at hand.”

I have previously contributed to a series that Amy compiled of posts about speaking out against hate against women.

I believe that we should not tolerate, in any of our online or offline communities, any sexual harassment or abuse or threats of violence against women that we would not tolerate if they were directed against our family or close friends. On the Internet, many women face a pattern of online sexual harassment, including rape threats, in the technology, business, entertainment, atheist, skeptical, pop culture, gaming and many other online communities.

This can cause some women to feel hurt and frightened, to hide their female identity online, or to retreat altogether from the Internet. And this can in turn affect other aspects of their lives. Our online identities and networking are increasingly important to our social lives and careers. And our friends and employers may see this hate speech when searching online about us.

However, Amy is conflating two things here, when she describes Richard’s comments about thought police and click-bait arguments, as if they were arguments against standing up to misogynistic hate speech. They were not. Richard has often spoken out against hate speech, most recently in his joint statement with Ophelia:

“It’s not news that allies can’t always agree on everything. People who rely on reason rather than dogma to think about the world are bound to disagree about some things.

Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other. In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.

Richard adds: I’m told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don’t indulge in them. Needless to say, I’m horrified by that suggestion. Any person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment is in no way my ally and is only weakening the atheist movement by silencing its voices and driving away support.”

Tackling sexism is a complex problem, with no magic answers, as is tackling the problem of hate speech and defamation directed against anybody. We should rigorously analyse the extent of these problems in our communities, both online and offline, and we should test and refine the best ways to eradicate them. But we must not deny that the problems exist, or reinforce them with prejudice and discrimination. Instead we should actively work to create inclusive, safe and supportive communities, in which we can live together as equals, regardless of our race, gender, sexuality or ability levels.

Summary

Adam’s article is yet another misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement. Adam has said that critics of his article have not been specific about where it is inaccurate. I hope that I have addressed that here.

I have admired Adam’s writing for many years, although I disagree with him strongly on this issue. One of Adam’s best articles was a defence of Richard Dawkins against similar attacks, from outside the atheist community, in 2012. It was titled: ‘Shocking Newsflash: Infamous Atheist Wears Mismatched Socks!

Adam’s 2012 article concluded:

As my opening paragraph showed in satirised form, Dawkins’ enemies are trying to exaggerate the importance of meaningless facts to get a foothold they can use to attack him, and by extension the entire atheist movement. The very fact that they’re grasping at these fragments of straw shows how little purchase they’ve really gotten. What they’re really upset about, obviously, is that the atheist message Dawkins and others so ably advocate is finding so many receptive listeners. But if they can’t face us and answer our arguments in the arena of reason, all the phony, drummed-up pseudoscandals in the world aren’t going to slow that momentum.

Back then, Adam was defending Richard against arguments which were about more trivial topics than some of those central to the latest article. They included how many Christians can name the first book of the New Testament versus whether Richard could name the full title of Origin of Species, and whether Richard should be ashamed, because one of his ancestors from the year 1744 owned slaves.

So the topics are different, but some of the tactics being used to attack Richard are the same. Substitute ‘misrepresented tweets’ for ‘meaningless facts’ and you can read Adam’s 2012 summary in the context of the current article. That is of course an oversimplification, as is almost everything that anybody can or does write about this increasingly complex tangle of issues.

In recent years good people, including friends who I respect, who have expressed different opinions about these issues, have been victims of unfair personal attacks, based on distortions of what they have said or written or represent.

This escalating hostility hurts people and makes them feel alienated or ostracised or fearful. It makes it harder for us to work together where we agree, and to discuss things reasonably where we disagree. We can and we must reverse this hostility, starting by tackling issues not attacking people.

As atheist activists we should focus on the core issues that unite us, where we have literally endless work to do promoting reason and secularism in society. And as ethical atheists, we should work together to make our communities inclusive and caring and supportive. This includes combatting discrimination and harassment.

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

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

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

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{ 237 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rashiv September 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Notice how the names of the usual suspects keep popping up. The reality is that you’re dealing with a disingenuous, incestuous SJW circle jerk that will never change its blatantly dishonest tactics. As long as you keep that in mind and don’t let yourself get bogged down in endless attempts to try to reason with people who will only play cynical semantic games with you, you’ll be fine. I know eventually you’ll tire of the unproductive nonsense and go back to doing your usual good work (after being figuratively burned at the metaphorical stake by the usual yammering witch-hunters), but in the meantime thanks for being another noted name in the community taking a stand against the appalling viciousness dishonesty emanating from one corner of the community.

2 Patrick O'Hara September 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

One really has to be careful about the language and tone of the messages they send out! Cherry picking seems to be rampant in the media, perhaps for shock value. This becomes very important when one has a public persona. I have seen no evidence of any of the “leaders” of the atheist movement, that are anything but careful and measured in their responses.
Perhaps I am missing something but I believe that their needs to be a global secular declaration of human rights. If there is one out there they are certainly keeping it well hidden. If it was followed then all of the wars that are taking place, would then be exposed for their true nature, power grabs.

3 Crackity Jones September 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Michael, you are far too fair, genuine, kind-hearted, determined, and intelligent to be having to respond and waste your time and effort with people like PZ, Ophelia, and now it seems, Adam Lee.

Sadly, it is those with talent and those who work hard in the atheist/skeptic communities who are the main targets for these foaming entryists.

4 Coel September 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Michael, your analysis seems fair to me. It is routine now that bloggers such as PZ, Ophelia, Lee and others will “paraphrase” remarks uncharitably, so they routinely and deliberately magnify the fault. This style of sarcastic and hyperbolic blogging is their modus operandi, but loses them friends because readers can see that they are being unfair. Often they do have a valid point, but theyd do much better to stick to that valid point.

In addition to Michael’s analysis:

Lee: “For good measure, Dawkins argued that rape victims shouldn’t be considered trustworthy if they were drinking.”

There is another way in which this paraphrase of Dawkins is misleading, it changes a descriptive statement into a prescriptive one. Dawkins said, words to the effect that, if someone were drunk then it is less likely that their memory and testimony would be adequate. That is a *descriptive* statement (and it is true). By paraphrasing it as “*shouldn’t* be considered trustworthy”, Lee turns it into a prescriptive statement that such testimony *should* always be disregarded.

5 noelplum99 September 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

This is quite some substantial response to Adam Lee.

What I find baffling is how an atheist can apparently be so concerned that Dawkins is damaging atheist movements and then deliberately set about – and I am going to be very generous here – interpreting Richard by assuming the worst possible reading of everything he has said, thereby creating an article that does nothing if not contribute towards giving atheism a “bad name”.

If Mr Lee was half as concerned as he claims to be, would he not be somewhat more charitable and balanced in his reading of the intent and meaning behind the statements RD has made?

6 Coel September 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

On the topic of routine misrepresentation, Ophelia Benson’s recent post claims that people are:

Constantly being told by Important Guy Atheists that other Important Guy Atheists must not be criticized by underlings? It’s like being a nun, or a corporal.

And yet the post by Jerry Coyne that she was blogging about does not say that underlings should not criticise their betters, or that Dawkins is too important to be criticized, what Coyne says is that the criticism is unfair.

How come “that criticism is unfair” is routinely “paraphrased” into “you’re saying we should not criticise leaders”?

7 Tapir September 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

When I read Grania Spingies quote…

“How any of them think they are actually improving anything for women by trying to convert the arena of ideas and debate into a safe room for infants is beyond me.”

….I was instantly reminded of the hilarious Atheism+ forum.

Idiotically, the staff wanted the forum to be the hub, the nerve centre of the ‘New Atheism’ while simultaneously functioning as a ‘safe space’ for people who were too fragile to read a limerick without having a breakdown.

While it lasted it was comedy gold.

8 GMeters September 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi Michael,

The title of your article, “Adam Lee’s misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins” is clearly phrased to generate prejudice in readers. Therefore everything you say can be ignored.

Cheers,

GMeters

PS: When one side posts about “this is a pattern of sexist statements from X” and the other responds “Witch hunts! Thought police! Big Sister is watching!” then yeah, it’s quite accurate to portray one side as rational and the other as snarling.

9 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

@GMeters:

Except that Nugent actually made his case by engaging honestly and directly with what his subject wrote. Lee (and now you) failed to do that.

10 Drew Vogel September 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I strongly agree with Coel’s point about uncharitably paraphrasing the other side, but this tactic is by no means limited to critics of Dawkins and Harris. Dawkins and Harris make extensive use of the same tactic.

There were plenty of quite reasonable responses to Harris’s alleged “foot-cramming”, making the point that his theory about what explains the gender-imbalance is dubious and thinly-supported. It has been well established by now that some women view organized atheism as a hostile environment in which they feel unwelcome and or unsafe. Any attempt to answer the “Why so few women?” question that doesn’t include this as a significant factor is a bad answer.

Of course, there were plenty of unreasonable responses to Harris’s comment. Amanda Marcotte imagined that he said women are cognitively inferior, which he did not, and viciously attacked what she thinks he meant rather than what he really did said. And then Dawkins, Harris, and their defenders reacted as if the unreasonable criticisms were the only ones they saw. And maybe they were, but that further antagonized the critics who (quite rightly) felt that they were being intentionally misrepresented.

11 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Sometimes critics also describe him as being white, male, heterosexual, old and/or wealthy, instead of focusing their argument on whatever actual disagreement that they have with him. This article nods in that direction, by saying

Yes, there’s a lot of this ‘white, male, heterosexual, old and/or wealthy’ stuff being flung around by people who, like Adam Lee, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, and the few remaining readers of The Grauniad share almost all of those axes of privilege themselves.

It’s like they think attacking Dawkins on these grounds means they get honorary membership of oppressed minorities and don’t need to check their own privilege – but it’s just a blackface drag-act.

In any case, ‘old’ isn’t an axis of privilege. Most elderly people can barely make ends meet.

If Dawkins is rich it is because he publishes the books he promises to deliver rather than hard copies of blog posts people can read for free; and he still writes scientific papers that justify his position as one of the leading scientists of the day.

Incidentally, while trashing the reputation of Dawkins and the other old, white, etc. real scientists he is still basking in their reflected glory on his blog. From the About page:

In his blockbuster book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins favorably quotes one of Lee’s essays, “The New Ten Commandments“. Another of Lee’s essays won the 2009 “Top Quark”, the first-place prize for science writing in a contest held by the science and culture blog 3 Quarks Daily that was judged by Harvard professor and noted science writer Steven Pinker.

12 Dave Allen September 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

“The title of your article, “Adam Lee’s misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins” is clearly phrased to generate prejudice in readers. ”

Prejudice towards a reasonable appraisal – sure.

13 Helen Pluckrose September 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I have been saying that there is simply no point in answering people who are determined to misunderstand everything that is said. This seems particularly true with someone who insists that ‘careful now’ is a threat and ‘please could you answer my question’ is an order but denies that “you try to get people to cover up sex crimes” is defamatory. However, I now change my mind. Even if the intellectually dishonest set of people cannot be reached by reason, people should continue reasoning with them because many others are watching who cannot be assumed to be impervious to reason. I have met some recently whose desire to support women’s rights inclines them towards accepting views identified as feminist which, in reality, do not further the cause of gender equality at all. However, this can be pointed out as can the easily demonstrable fact that people like R. Dawkins and S, Harris are genuinely committed to equal rights and concerned about the oppression of women worldwide and are therefore feminist in the true sense of the term. We all need to keep reminding people what feminism is and reasoning with those who would distort and malign the term, thereby alienating male feminists and allies and disempowering women with the false dichotomy male aggressor vs female victim.

Michael Nugent is doing an excellent job of this and I, as a feminist, thank him. Can we please now all work together against religious abuses of human rights which affect all of humanity and particularly women, LGBT people and the non-religious?

14 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Drew Vogel wrote:

It has been well established by now that some women view organized atheism as a hostile environment in which they feel unwelcome and or unsafe. Any attempt to answer the “Why so few women?” question that doesn’t include this as a significant factor is a bad answer.

Your jump from “some women” to “significant factor” skirts an important question: “how many?”

15 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Snarling, foaming GMeters, ladies and gentlemen.

16 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Prejudice towards a reasonable appraisal – sure

Prejudiced to generating advertising revenue for a dying newspaper.

The sneers at Dawkins’ age are rather counterproductive on that count as the rag isn’t exactly attracting young readers these days.

17 Drew Vogel September 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm

I’m not sure how to properly quote and reply specifically to other posts, so I’m afraid I cannot do so as elegantly as did the post I’m replying to.

Guestus Aurelius said “Your jump from ‘some women’ to ‘significant factor’ skirts an important question: ‘how many?'”

That is an important question, but it is not at all important to my point. Even if Harris is correct that men, in the aggregate, are more responsive to aggressive criticism than women (which is by no means clear), the difference would have to be quite substantial in order for it to be noticeable. Harris’s answer is entirely speculative, and even if it’s true, we have no way of knowing the size of the effect.

Your point is that we also don’t know the size of the alienation effect. That’s true, and it’s something worth knowing. But we do know that there is an alienation effect. So it’s still a better answer than Harris’s, which was my point.

18 Rashiv September 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm

@13 said:
Even if the intellectually dishonest set of people cannot be reached by reason, people should continue reasoning with them because many others are watching who cannot be assumed to be impervious to reason.

Exactly. People used to wonder why I bothered debating hard-core creationists online, since it was a given that they were too brainwashed to concede even the smallest points. My standard reply was that I wasn’t doing it to educate the creationist, I was doing it to make sure the lurkers had both sides of the argument.

It really is the same thing in this “schism” – this seemingly useless exposes the intellectual dishonesty of the rage-bloggers who seem to use the very rhetorical fallacies they used to decry in religious fundamentalists.

Even though it seems useless to engage these disingenuous dogmatists, it really is a productive endeavor in the long run.

19 Dave Allen September 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

“Prejudiced to generating advertising revenue for a dying newspaper.”

I presume your talking about the Guardian website piece.

I wasn’t.

I was taking about the headline to this blog in regard to what I saw as GMeters’ attempt at being unfair about it.

20 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Ignoring the gotcha tone, I think that GMeters at #8 has a point. A better title for this article would be (the more neutral) “On Adam Lee’s Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement.”

Assuming that Michael Nugent agrees, the new question is this: are you (by which I mean the folks to whom Nugent is reaching out a hand) going to focus on this one putative error and ignore everything else that he has said, or are you going to actually listen?

21 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I was taking about the headline to this blog in regard to what I saw as GMeters’ attempt at being unfair about it.

My bad.

22 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Ignoring the gotcha tone, I think that GMeters at #8 has a point. A better title for this article would be (the more neutral) “On Adam Lee’s Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement.”

I’d have replaced ‘misleading’ with ‘bullshit’ myself.

I don’t believe in being more civil over the internet than I would be in real life. That would be inverting the natural order of things.

23 noelplum99 September 21, 2014 at 5:25 pm

@13 helen and @17 rashiv

I could not agree more. The idea that, because these people will not change their minds, we should stop engaging with their arguments is as ill thought out as members of a political party ceasing to counter the claims of their rivals on the grounds that there is no way their political opponents will ever their minds!
As you both say, the debate is not about the protagonists themselves, it is about the hearts and minds of those watching

24 Peter September 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

If Dawkins didn’t insist on giving us the benefit of his dubious and un- needed wisdom on the subject of rape, etc, then he wouldn’t be putting himself in the position of having to issue ‘clarifications’ whenever he puts his foot in it, and Guardian writers would have a smaller target. Why can’t he just stick to science?

25 Submariner September 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

An excellent point by point critique of Lee’s piece, Michael.
For those who object to your chosen title (in above comment) may I suggest a different one? How about: “Same S(tuff) Different Author”?
It follows the pattern you blogged about several days ago with respect to other American bloggers.

Additionally and perhaps well off the topic at hand, the assertion that Amy Roth ” …literally wallpapered a room with the misogynist messages…” is a bit misleading as well. Interspersed (to what degree unknown without being in the room) with the actually hateful and misogynistic messages are ones of civil criticism of her and other women’s intellectual output. In other words “misogynistic messages” seem to include genuine and civil disagreement. Take a look at the photographs for yourself and you will be able to verify this.

All in all, another welcome post Michael.

26 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

@Peter at #23

Unless your job is to tell other folks what they should or shouldn’t do with their time, could you please take your own advice and stick to whatever it is that you do?

27 Rashiv September 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Peter @23

So what makes scientists like PZ Myers an expert on rape, feminism, social justice, privilege, etc? He “puts his foot in it” on a daily basis according to many, many people… why can’t he just stick to science?

“Putting one’s foot in it” is entirely a matter of perspective.

28 GMeters September 21, 2014 at 5:36 pm

You know what’s really misleading? Dawkins trying to pass off his rape apologetics as “hypotheticals”, and Nugent hoping we’re naive enough to let that pass. Please. Dawkins just decided out of the blue to tweet about rape accusations and the victim being drunk? In the immediate aftermath of Oppenheimer’s article that presented the damning evidence that Michael Shermer raped Alison Smith? Sure, that wasn’t at all about casting aspersions on the ability of drunk victims to recognize they had been raped and to name the rapist. Pull the other one.

29 doubtthat September 21, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Good lord. This could only be written by someone with little knowledge of legal procedure and practice or someone cynically shilling for his buddy:

…the testimony of someone who cannot remember what has happened, and where there is no other evidence, is not trustworthy. That is clearly a self-evident fact.

As I have asked the other 400 goofballs that find this explanation compelling, can you point to a single instance of this happening anywhere in a Western legal system?

If there is no memory and no evidence there is no case and there would be no charges and therefore no trial.

You conveniently ignore that Dawkins was writing directly in response to an article that laid bare the substantial allegations against Michael Shermer. In that case the victim remembers a great deal and there is a substantial amount of corroborating evidence (such as multiple witnesses).

A woman wrote to the New Statesman about being raped while drunk and, presumably because she didn’t criticize Shermer, Dawkins got all huffy and acted like it was insulting to think that anyone would suggest that he wouldn’t believe that victim.

Where in reality are these rape cases where victims remember NOTHING and there is NO OTHER evidence? Is your entire objection based on “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there…” style musing?

30 Ken Phelps September 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

@Peter #23
You mean a “shut up and listen, you’re muddling up the echoes” sort of thing?

31 Phil Giordana FCD September 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

doubtthat:

the satanic scares of the 80s, the Outreau case, any other case where the “victim(s)” was or were manipulated by third parties.

Plenty of examples, really.

32 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Where in reality are these rape cases where victims remember NOTHING and there is NO OTHER evidence?

You are playing with the ambiguity of ‘the word ‘case’.

Dawkins was referring to ‘case’ as in ‘instance’ or ‘example’. You mean ‘case’ as in ‘legal case’. Since, by your own admission, instances for which there is no evidence – not even blurred memories of the accuser – would never get to court there are no legal precedents to cite.

33 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm

doubtthat wrote:

You conveniently ignore that Dawkins was writing directly in response to an article that laid bare the substantial allegations against Michael Shermer. In that case the victim remembers a great deal and there is a substantial amount of corroborating evidence (such as multiple witnesses).

“directly”?

I might have missed something—are we sure that Dawkins was speaking specifically about the Shermer case? Would you mind providing a link to Dawkins’s direct response(s?) to the Buzzfeed article?

(I’m not being facetious here.)

34 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

the satanic scares of the 80s, the Outreau case, any other case where the “victim(s)” was or were manipulated by third parties.

Those cases did involve ‘memories’ – it’s just that those ‘memories’ were entirely manufactured by psychotherapists using hypnosis, drugs, etc.

I’m not sure that implanting a memory of child abuse is any different from ‘actually’ abusing a child; the outcome is precisely the same.

35 Phil Giordana FCD September 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm

The outcome is NOT the same for the accused. In one instance, they are innocent, in the other they are guilty. You don’t send someone to jail because some psychotherapist with an agenda manufactured some memories (which are not even memories, but third-party-induced delusions). You do, however, send the accused to jail if they actually perpetrated the actual abuse, as supported by evidence.

36 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Those cases did involve ‘memories’ – it’s just that those ‘memories’ were entirely manufactured by psychotherapists using hypnosis, drugs, etc.

I should add that those therapists, the social services, the police, the media and the politicians responsible for the Satanic Abuse Hoax acted, for the most part, entirely in ‘good faith’. If you are ideologically committed to believing someone has been abused even their own testimony that it never happened becomes evidence of ‘repression’.

The best way to avoid to avoid cultist beliefs isn’t to dismiss everything out of hand, it is to ask yourself ‘Is there, even in principle, any kind of evidence that could possibly prove this is wrong?’ If every possible evidence can be interpreted as supporting the conclusion you have already reached (psychoanalysis and conspiracy theories are perfect examples) there’s no point debating with you.

37 Shatterface September 21, 2014 at 6:14 pm

The outcome is NOT the same for the accused.

My point is that in the implanted memory case the therapist responsible should be in jail. They might as well have abused their patient as a child as far as psychological damage is concerned.

I wasn’t suggesting that if someone has implanted a memory that your father raped you that your father should be in prison.

38 John welch September 21, 2014 at 6:28 pm

For those who take memories of trauma as reliable evidence, here is an example of a good reason to remain skeptical, even when the victim is not trying to do anything but remember to the best of their abilities: http://nersp.osg.ufl.edu/~malavet/evidence/notes/thompson_cotton.htm

Human memory is not the reliable thing we wish it was, even when the mistakes are absolutely not caused by malicious intent of any form. That does not, on any level mean you *dismiss* it, or assume it is automatically untrustworthy. That would be the same mistake as assuming memory is always correct, only in the opposite direction.

But memory is not some objective recording of what happened. It is greatly affected by outside factors and *time*. Being willing to, even metaphorically lynch someone based solely on memories is ridiculous. We accept, in death row cases, as shown by the innocence project, that eyewitness testimony is often incorrect. Yet the same people who would agree to that proposition, also insist that eyewitness testimony for crimes like rape and sexual assault *must* be accepted as perfect objective recording and playback of extremely traumatic events?

Really.

It cannot work both ways. Even in cases of rape, the fallibility if human memory has to be allowed for. That does NOT mean the person reporting is lying, dissembling, or anything even close to that. It means we allow for memory not being perfect or even reliable. We allow for two people looking at the same situation and coming up with radically different “truths” and neither of them may be lying or what have you.

The fact that someone accuses someone of a crime does nIt ot make that person guilty, either legally or socially. Presumption of guilt, based in the accusation alone is what leads to vigilantism and that is never acceptable in a civilized society. Even when you want to so very badly.

I find it of course somewhat ironic that Lousy Canuck is so in favor of on-line vigilantism of the kind that benson, zvan, lee, Myers et al advocate for given that he was actually a victim of assault caused by that precise impulse.

It appears that even when knowledge is literally beaten into them, some people still refuse to learn.

39 doubtthat September 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

@31 Phil Giordana FCD

Yeah, that’s what they call, “the exception that proves the rule.” It’s such a specific and odd sort of mass-hysteria that the very conditions that made those things possible show how totally dissimilar they are from sexual assault cases.

And, of course, the purported victims all had elaborate memories. That’s not remotely a case of “not remembering anything.”

@32 Shatterface

1) Still irrelevant to the current example. Can you even find me an example of a notable accusation where the victim remembered nothing and offered absolutely no evidence?

2) This conflation of court standards and statements in public discourse was not started by me. First you have Nugent using the word “testimony,” which has a pretty specific meaning. I suppose it has colloquial uses, but then you get tweets like the following from Mr. Nugent:

“No, I am not saying do not name names, period. Name them to the police, not on blogs.”

Since, by your own admission, instances for which there is no evidence – not even blurred memories of the accuser – would never get to court there are no legal precedents to cite.

Which is the point. This is a lot of hand-wringing about nothing. It’s a transparent attempt to paint Shermer’s accuser as some untrustworthy drunk who has no memory and is just accusing Shermer out of the blue. This is not true, nor is it ever true (maybe you can find an example or two, the law of large numbers more or less demands it).

The situation that is being referred to by Dawkins and Nugent, whether in court or out, is non-entity. Yes, if someone remembers nothing and has no evidence of any kind, they shouldn’t make accusations, but, of course, one wonders how they could because without any memory and without any evidence how do they know anything happened?

It’s sleight-of-hand maneuvering meant to pretend that evidence of sexual contact is not evidence of sexual assault. This is an infantile way to progress, as it is evidence — it’s necessary but not sufficient evidence. A great many folks like to slide by and call that “no evidence,” but it just reveals naiveté or malicious intent.

@33 Guestus Aurelius

Would you mind providing a link to Dawkins’s direct response(s?) to the Buzzfeed article?

Look, you’re going to have to use your Big Boy reasoning skills here. If you think this was pure coincidence, especially given the report that Dawkins and Nugent both tried to intervene with critics of Shermer behind the scenes (but I’m sure they were just lying liars…), I don’t know what to tell you. If you think Dawkins just coincidentally decided to start twit-stroking about rape and alcohol hours after the Buzzfeed piece, well, I have land in a Libertarian paradise in Chile I’d like to sell you…

40 Mr Dumpling September 21, 2014 at 7:46 pm

@Guestus Aurelius

Dawkins tweets have nothing to do with the Buzz Feed article about Shermer. OK. so Dawkins did tweet”Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” only hours after Mark Oppenheimer’s article appeared, but I’m sure it was pure coincidence.

41 Mel September 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Remember what started this: Dawkins’ opinion that the oppression of brown women around the world might be a little more important than the “oppression” of privileged white American women who are occasionally politely invited for coffee, by men who politely take no for an answer.

You may *believe* the oppression of brown women is a more urgent matter, but you don’t go *saying* it in front of privileged white Americans! If Elevatorgate has taught us a single thing, it’s that.

At least Lee’s (and others) resorting to lies and spin is an open admission that the truth doesn’t help their case at all.

42 Rowena September 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm

There is an interesting discussion of those tweets about rape an alcohol here:

http://homoeconomicusnet.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-discussion-we-need-on-rape-and-alcohol/

43 piero September 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm

@Drew Vogel:
“It has been well established by now that some women view organized atheism as a hostile environment in which they feel unwelcome and or unsafe”

“It has been established” as in “Rebecca Watson thinks” or as in “a methodologically sound poll shows that”?

44 piero September 21, 2014 at 8:18 pm

@Drew Vogel:

” And then Dawkins, Harris, and their defenders reacted as if the unreasonable criticisms were the only ones they saw. And maybe they were, but that further antagonized the critics who (quite rightly) felt that they were being intentionally misrepresented”

I’m sorry, you lost me there. They might feel ignored, butcertainly not misrepresented, because the reply was not addressing them.

45 noelplum99 September 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm

@Drew Vogel:
“It has been well established by now that some women view organized atheism as a hostile environment in which they feel unwelcome and or unsafe”

I don’t know about women but there is no way I’d feel welcome at an organised atheist event, so what you say is probably true of women also.

46 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 8:40 pm

@ Mr Dumpling

As I said, I wasn’t being facetious there. I just wasn’t paying close attention back when this started (on the 12th, it looks like). Thanks for the timeline.

Yes, it seems quite likely from the timing that Dawkins’s “somebody got me drunk” tweet was spurred by Alison Smith’s “I was drunk. After that, it all gets kind of blurry” from the Buzzfeed article.

It doesn’t follow, though, that Dawkins was “writing directly in response to” the article, as doubtthat put it. He didn’t mention Smith or Shermer by name, and only the minority of his followers who knew about the situation would have made a connection there at all. To the extent that Dawkins was responding to the article or speaking to the Shermer case, he was doing so indirectly.

But sure, if you twist around a few facts and make some uncharitable assumptions, then I suppose this narrative makes sense:

You conveniently ignore that Dawkins was writing directly in response to an article that laid bare the substantial allegations against Michael Shermer. In that case the victim remembers a great deal and there is a substantial amount of corroborating evidence (such as multiple witnesses).

A woman wrote to the New Statesman about being raped while drunk and, presumably because she didn’t criticize Shermer, Dawkins got all huffy and acted like it was insulting to think that anyone would suggest that he wouldn’t believe that victim.

47 Rowena September 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm

doubtthat / Mr Dumpling:

I think that Dawkins’ tweets were probably inspired by that article, but were they about the specific rape case reported? It doesn’t seem likely to me, first of all because the statute of limitations for rape has already passed so there is no chance this would go to court, and in context Dawkins was clearly speaking about court cases. Secondly because (if memory serves) there were witnesses to Smith’s state of inebriation (people she spoke to on her phone before and after for example) and the event was apparently reported to JREF at the time, which I think would constitute supporting evidence, which would be clear to anyone who had read that piece.

You might argue that he could have phrased his statements better, and I would probably agree. But I do not think, when I read that tweet in context, that he was trying to ‘ paint Shermer’s accuser as some untrustworthy drunk who has no memory and is just accusing Shermer out of the blue.’

48 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Instead of using “if memory serves” and/or “apparently,” including links or citations would make for a much better post. Anyone using second- and third-hand versions of anything to do with Smith and Shermer is either naive or has already made up their mind based on something other than objective evidence. (The same could be said about just about anything, but some folks have difficulty deducing specifics from general rules, so I thought I should word it that way.)

49 aneris September 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

The “pattern” Michael Nugent describes is common on FreeThoughtBlogs and SkepChicks, if not the defining feature of their comment sections and their sub-movement.

Countless of people have witnesses or experienced the distortions, that get retold and with every version get ever more grotesque. An outrage telephone game. If you respond to it with reason, you get dogpiled. If you complain about the abuse, you get dogpiled. If you take a less serious stance, you get dogpiled. The only thing you can do is “Amen!” and total submission. We’ve seen it. It’s well documented. Then-Pharyngula co-blogger Chis Clarke has admitted that the detractors, who noted this issue, had a point. Of course Clarke downplayed it as mere “hazing”. PZ Myers was forced to rethink his rules just a little – he has tacitly admitted to the problem himself. Yet the princple hasn’t changed at all.

What is a small-scale dogpile for a lowly commenter, is a multi-blog social media propaganda machine one level higher.

It isn’t about Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. Defending them is not about protecting “infallible leaders” which is their current rationalisation (they always have bizarre, almost meaningless rationalisations).

The most parismonious explanation: If you aren’t supporting the specific (!) tenets* of their social justice warriorism; if you don’t accept PZ Myers and his merry band hateful bunch of misanthropes as “go-to experts” on any social justice issue; if you are someone likely to disagree with their dogmata, you are toast. It is a simple as that.

As long as you don’t say anything about social justice, you are quite fine. If you take the bait and you get into a “discussion” and you happen to disagree, you’re done. If you are lowly commenter, you are simply flagged as “othering label”, and you’re done. If views accumulate on a site, then the site is flagged as “othering label”, or allowing “othering label” people comment: that is reason to no longer listen to any argument. Because it’s tainted from “othering label” and therefore whatever they utter must be false and hateful and in support of Teh Patriarchy™.

If people known as “othering label” participate somewhere, and dare to use social media, then that’s harassment. Also, every individual that has received their scarlet letter, their “othering label” is of course on the same side and secretly supports each other.

Followers or fans of Richard Dawkins are of course MRAs, they all think Michael Shermer is not guilty and did nothing wrong, they coincidentially also all vote right wing and by sheer amazing coincidence are also good at photoshopping PZ Myers into porn and adept at writing death threats to Rebecca Watson (nobody has seen the latter two things, but we have it on good authority that Richard Dawkins himself authorized and tacitly endorses these things, as he generally pulls the strings from behind).

Here comes the trick. Social justice topics are relevant today, and PZ Myers and co lobby for them in the atheist-skeptics movement. You see where this goes. They establish that only them, and them alone have the True Knowledge™ about social justice and when this range of topics become more important, so they think they become more important, too. If somebody gives an opinion and it is not Approved FreeThough™ they are simply ostracized. This is why this paragraph is perhaps the most important one:

Adam’s article comes less than two months after a similar Guardian article by Eleanor Robinson. She had tweeted the previous evening that she won’t rest until Richard’s descriptor in news material is “erstwhile scientist and widely reviled sockfucker”.

In other words, the aim is to destroy a person so that they don’t matter, because they stand for the “wrong kind” of ideas.

There are no good ways to describe it. Some people call it “character assassination”, others “poisoning the well”, others place emphasis on demonizing a person and call it “witch hunts”. The idea is always the same. It’s about getting rid of some ideas, while promoting another set of ideas (and people who are the sole authoritiy of these ideas). The “Orwellian Thought Police” sits somewhere in between.

In history, the Puritans had their shunning stage and their scarlet letters sewn to shirts, or branded onto someone’s cheek. First, an idea is seen in a person, say, the “adulterer”. To mark adultery as something condemnable, the person becomes an avatar of the idea, which is then litterally “overwritten” with a new sign which means that the person – that is the idea they represent – is dubious and worthy of shunning and shaming.

In the witch hunts, the mark of the witch is not added, but “found”. I know that this is too high for PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson et al who are imbecile literalist and don’t understand the metaphors they so easily ridicule but it is what we see here.

Importantly, their core rationalisation actually is that the other people deserve it. Because they think their opponents deserve it, and their friends are seen on the “right side”, they exhibit all the authoritarian features as described in this analysis.

Taken from WEIT, Guest post: Linda Calhoun reviews “The Authoritarians”

Altemeyer describes the personality traits of high RWAs [right wing authoritarians] as submissiveness, fear, self-righteousness, hostility, lack of critical thinking, compartmentalized thinking, double standards, and feeling most empowered when in groups. He describes the lack of logic in their thinking; when they like the conclusion, how that conclusion was arrived at is irrelevant. When they like the behaver, the behavior is acceptable; when they dislike the behaver, the behavior is not.

He then goes on to describe high Social Dominators. These people want power, and they don’t much care how they get it. “The end justifies the means” is their guiding principle.

Remember the porcupine rape imagery, once popular (a meme, see pharyngula wiki) which is permissable when used for the right cause.

How can we know all that? If you pay attention you can see mutually incompatible rationalisations. One the one hand, PZ Myers et al maintain that they just propose mild criticsm, that the other side were exaggerating and just protecting “infallible leaders” (their chief excuse), on the other hand they clearly signal that the positions they criticize were allegedly indefensible. You can’t have it both ways. If Richard Dawkins is really that dead wrong, as they insist, then their criticism cannot be mild, but must be substantive. If it is substansive and they rather want Richard Dawkins be known as an “erstwhile scientist and widely reviled sockfucker”, burned on the pyre and no longer mattter, then their criticism cannot be mild.

Everything else is probably window dressing. After three years of silencing and bullying tactics, it is hypocritical to pretend that we discuss any issue. We’re not. And dealing with the meta bullshit, like I do here already is enough material to fill a few books.

It is hypocritical to demand now that we chip away on the gigantous mount bullshit they have piled up and from where they shout their distortions as if they were fact. They want fairness and honest discussion with them? Surely, they are joking.

We can only do three things and I hope Jerry Coyne, Michael Nugents and everyone else who can is on board with this:

You can’t ignore that cancer. You can’t feed it either. Treat them just like the Sophisticated Theologians™ and Creationists. You can report on misguided pieces on Salon. Then report in the same fashion whenever they add another shovel to mount bullshit. Tear it apart, preferably with mockery. It cannot grow any further than this. We need to educate people on this neo-facist social justice cancer.

Don’t invite them to discussions. Don’t invite them to your conferences. Don’t promote places where they appear. Don’t engage in dialogue. Don’t talk to them, talk about them. Don’t discuss them, discuss what they have written. Ridicule their ideas. But please don’t ignore them.

* I wrote specific tenets. This is important, too. Because PZ Myers and co use a motte-and-baily doctrine. PZ Myers’ motte: “treating women as people”; PZ Myers’ bailey: Teh Patriarchy™, Kyriarchy™, Intersectionality™ etcetera with their specific non-academic, non-standard meanings; sex-gender as social construct (ask “expert” HJ Hornbeck of FTBCon); evo psych is hokum; views more in line with the SSSM and so forth.

50 Ariel September 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm

doubtthat #39

“The situation that is being referred to by Dawkins and Nugent, whether in court or out, is non-entity. Yes, if someone remembers nothing and has no evidence of any kind, they shouldn’t make accusations, but, of course, one wonders how they could because without any memory and without any evidence how do they know anything happened?”

Fair point.

Rowena #47:

“You might argue that he could have phrased his statements better, and I would probably agree.”

The thing is that – as it seems – the tweet taken literally is devoid of content (as doubtthat correctly observed). It’s not a question of phrasing. No matter how you phrase it, it still remains devoid of content. And the key question is “so what?” As it seems, we are left with two options.

One: Richard Dawkins wrote a tweet devoid of content. Hmm, I’m ashamed to admit that I also wrote stuff devoid of content a couple of times. Well, you could say that I’m not Richard Dawkins, but … it happens. End of the story. Nothing exciting here.

(But it can’t be! It’s too ridiculous! Surely he is too smart for this! There must be a hidden meaning! Is that what you are thinking now, dear readers? So here is the second option – as it seems, the only one still worth anything.)

Two: Richard Dawkins tried to defend Shermer.

But (as both doubtthat and Rowena correctly observed) this would be “an infantile way to progress”. And if you think that option one is too ridiculous to be credible, you should find option two incredible as well – for exactly the same reasons. Other evidence supporting option two seems also very shaky. What are we left with?

My own opinion? We are left with nothing. How disappointing and boring!

51 Adam Lee September 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Hello Michael,

You said that you were going to address the question of where my article was “inaccurate”, but the majority of your article is a complaint about various choices of wording I made, the thrust of which is that it’s unfair for me to use emotive language in support of the conclusions I advocate. I reject this.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen some outstanding activists driven off the internet or out of the atheist movement entirely by torrents of horrendous harassment and threats. It’s an ugly silencing tactic, and it’s still going on: Rebecca Watson tweeted that she blocked or reported twelve abusive accounts yesterday. Not last month or last week, but yesterday. I believe that clueless, dismissive, or hostile remarks by prominent male atheists reward this behavior and encourage it to continue. Am I angry about that? Hell, yes! My words were chosen quite carefully to reflect that conclusion.

The paragraph then refers to comments about thought police, click-bait for profit and fake outrage, which are not issues about sexism or feminism.

That couldn’t be more wrong. These are absolutely issues about sexism and feminism.

In context, what Dawkins was saying is that feminism is a non-issue, that the only reason people write about it and attack him or other atheists for allegedly sexist statements is that they’re acting in bad faith to drum up attention for themselves, or because they’re “outrage junkies” who simply enjoy getting angry over nothing. Amy Roth’s comment in my article explained this quite clearly.

This is the same kind of demeaning, minimizing rhetoric that’s always used against people who argue for social-justice-based conclusions. It’s used against atheists ad nauseam, for example: that we’re thought police and outrage junkies who want to stop teachers from leading students in prayer, even though that’s a harmless historical tradition that no one ever complained about before. It’s an attempt to deny legitimacy to any criticism of harmful practices that are in accord with conventional wisdom.

But when Richard wrote about outrage in The God Delusion, he was responding to things like the Vatican police, in the nineteenth century, kidnapping Jewish children who had been secretly baptised by Catholic nursemaids. By contrast, when some people have recently expressed ‘outrage’ against Richard, it has been mostly about tweets on Twitter.

Michael, I hope you realize what you’re doing here. Whether you intended it or not, you’re saying that you’ve taken it upon yourself to decide which issues are or aren’t worthy of our attention, and you want to be accepted as the arbiter of what feminists should or shouldn’t get upset about. Even leaving aside the moral implications of a man talking down to feminists in this way, do you think this is a strategy that’s likely to meet with any success at all?

I’m by no means the first to criticize Dawkins; plenty of prominent feminists and atheists have been explaining for years how certain of his remarks are untrue, hurtful, or founded in ignorance about the viewpoint and experiences of women. I guarantee those women could tell you that whenever Dawkins says something nasty about them, they get a noticeable uptick in harassment. His worse followers treat it as permission. His joint statement with Ophelia Benson was a welcome attempt to mitigate that, but it was years late, and in any case, I think whatever good it did has been mitigated by his more recent reversion to type – lashing out nastily at feminists by calling them dishonest, witch hunters, thought police, etc. Are those comments also “phrased to generate prejudice in readers”? Will you write a follow-up chiding Dawkins for using such language?

Your characterization of this as a controversy merely about “tweets on Twitter” is highly condescending. Is Twitter somehow different from any other arena in which people might express an opinion? Do you think that if religious figures make homophobic, racist or misogynist remarks on Twitter, those should also be exempt from criticism?

52 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm

I’ll only respond to this: “Rebecca Watson tweeted that she blocked or reported twelve abusive accounts yesterday. Not last month or last week, but yesterday.”

Did you see the tweets in question? If not, then why are you saying that they were “abusive”? If you did, carry on. But, again, if you didn’t, then you’re doing the reporter thing wrong.

53 Peter Ferguson September 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Adam. You didn’t address any of the areas Michael highlighted as misrepresentations. Will you be addressing them or do you agree they were misrepresentations?

54 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Ariel: false dichotomy.

The Buzzfeed article could have prompted Dawkins to discuss alcohol and rape without speaking specifically about the Shermer case.

55 Mr Dumpling September 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Adam Lee’s post starts with ‘Hello’ which is misleading because it makes me think he is going to say something nice. But then he says more bad and mean stuff about Professor Dawkins.

He’s already can one meltdown on Coyne’s blog, Adam!!!! Now this. You’re sending us into Oceania with your criticisms.

Well, sir, I don’t say this lightly, but you are a bad man.

56 Ariel September 21, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Guestus Aurelius #53

No, it falls under my Option 1. Still devoid of content, nothing interesting there. Only Shermer’s case would make it interesting. Sorry.

I second what Peter Ferguson wrote. Very interested in Adam’s answer.

57 Jan Steen September 21, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Michael, this is a thorough article, and yet you have only scratched the surface of the farrago of lies and misrepresentations that make up most of Mr. Lee’s hitpiece. Allow me to go into more detail, even though I still cannot be exhaustive. All quoted text below is from Adam Lee.

The atheist movement – a loosely-knit community of conference-goers, advocacy organizations, writers and activists – has been wracked by infighting the last few years over its persistent gender imbalance and the causes of it.

In reality, the atheist movement is being wracked by an ongoing takeover attempt by a mainly US-based group of neo-feminist/crypto-Marxist ideologues. The gender imbalance is just one of their covers; in reality they are after influence and control, like all entryists. You can recognise them by their insistence on atheism being more than a lack of belief in gods, their resulting abhorrence of dictionary atheism (and dictionaries in general), and their labelling as ‘misogynists’ of every opponent.

(…) and that’s before you get to the vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and off, that’s designed to intimidate women into silence.

Actual sexual harassment is deplorable, that should go without saying. However, people like Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, PZ Myers, and others in the Skepchick/FTB camp routinely qualify well-deserved sharp criticism and biting satire as harassment. Even if this criticism is designed to drive people out of the atheist movement, it is because the objects of it are perceived as a threat to this movement (see my previous point), not because of their gender. There is no shred of evidence that people in the atheist movement want to silence women because they are women. This is just an invention by the above-mentioned ideologues (which evidently include Adam Lee) for propaganda purposes.

Richard Dawkins has involved himself in some of these controversies, and rarely for the better – as with his infamous “Dear Muslima” letter in 2011, in which he essentially argued that, because women in Muslim countries suffer more from sexist mistreatment, women in the west shouldn’t speak up about sexual harassment or physical intimidation.

Dawkins ridiculed the histrionics of Rebecca Watson, who was offended by an offer for coffee. That is not arguing that “women in the west shouldn’t speak up about sexual harassment or physical intimidation.” Only a shameless propagandist can frame “Dear Muslima” as such. In 2012, Adam Lee himself gave a different spin:

It started with Dawkins’ infamous “Dear Muslima” comment in 2011, which basically said that because women in Islamic countries suffer worse mistreatment, women in America and Europe have no right to object to boorish behavior or unwanted sexual attention.

This was already an unwarranted exaggeration, but now, two years later, Adam gives it a new twist in his eager to make Dawkins look even worse. “Boorish behavior” morphed into “sexual harassment,” and “unwanted sexual attention” morphed into “sexual intimidation.” It seems a reasonable extrapolation that in his next article Mr. Lee will assert that “Dear Muslima” is an invitation to rape women in elevators. Any smear he can lay his hands on is good enough for Adam Lee.

There was also his sneer at women who advocate anti-sexual harassment policies.

Dawkins mildly poked fun at the irony of the Skepchick’s “Hug me, I’m vaccinated” campaign in light of their insistence on strong anti-harassment policies. No joking allowed in Adam Lee’s dystopia.

he even apologized for the “Dear Muslima” letter

No, he didn’t. Read it again, Adam. Your reading comprehension sucks.

He may have convinced himself that he’s the Most Rational Man Alive, but if his goal is to persuade everyone else that atheism is a welcoming and attractive option, Richard Dawkins is doing a terrible job.

Selling more than a million copies of The God Delusion, a book that has ‘converted’ many people to atheism, is the opposite of doing a terrible job. Our Adam is deluded here.

Blogger and author Greta Christina told me, “I can’t tell you how many women, people of color, other marginalized people I’ve talked with who’ve told me, ‘I’m an atheist, but I don’t want anything to do with organized atheism if these guys are the leaders.’”

I doubt that the author of a book of rape fantasies (Bending, by Greta Christina) would be a more appealing leader, let alone the owner of a blog (PZ Myers) whose only literary achievement is an outdated collection of warmed over blog posts, a blog owner moreover who lets a self-confessed child rapist post unhindered in his comment section.

Who needs leaders anyway?

roaring about “thought police” as though it were a bad thing to argue that someone is mistaken and attempt to change their mind

That is of course not what is implied by “thought police”, as Adam Lee knows very well.

But when it comes to feminism, he’s steadfastly refused to let his own consciousness be raised. Instead, he clings to his insular and privileged viewpoint – and, worse, he’s creating the impression that “true” atheists all share his retrograde attitudes.

The brand of feminism that Adam Lee talks about here is the dogmatic crypto-Marxist neo-feminism of PZ Myers and his allies. It’s a good thing that Dawkins refuses to “let his own consciousness be raised,” which is newspeak for submission to this peculiar ideology. He is a feminist alright, just not of the ‘correct’ kind to Mr. Lee’s taste. The No True Feminist fallacy is on display here.

Like many scientists who accomplished great things earlier in their careers, Richard Dawkins has succumbed to the delusion that he’s infallible on any topic he chooses to address, and in so doing, has wandered off the edge and plummeted into belligerent crankery.

This is merely an unsubstantiated sneer.

Dawkins’s very public hostility toward the people who emphasize the importance of diversity, who want to make the community broader and more welcoming, and who oppose sexual harassment and sexist language, is harming the cause he himself claims to care about.

The hostility is directed against the entryist ideologues who are threatening the freedom of thought and expression within the atheist community with their hyper-PC, authoritarian, dogmatic thinking. These people don’t aim to make the community broader and more welcoming. They want to control it. That a faction of them call themselves FreethoughtBlogs is a nice Orwellian touch of irony.

Everyone would like to see a broader and more diverse atheist movement. But it should not give shelter to totalitarian bullies, like Adam Lee and PZ Myers, who actively harm the cause of atheism.

In the long run, however, the reputation Dawkins will damage the most is his own.

The only damaged reputation here is that of Adam Lee, who has proven himself to be a shill for a clique of narcissistic Social Justice Warriors.

58 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm

In context, what Dawkins was saying is that feminism is a non-issue, that the only reason people write about it and attack him or other atheists for allegedly sexist statements is that they’re acting in bad faith to drum up attention for themselves, or because they’re “outrage junkies” who simply enjoy getting angry over nothing.

In context, what Adam Lee is saying is that you can justify willfully misrepresenting someone else’s positions by prefacing your misrepresentation with “In context.” Some people might call this “acting in bad faith.”

59 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Ariel:

Uninteresting, maybe. But I wouldn’t say “devoid of content.” The subtext of alcohol/sex/assault/date-rape would be evident to many regardless of the Shermer case. It’s a topic that’s been in the news a lot lately.

60 Edward Gemmer September 21, 2014 at 11:32 pm

@ Adam Lee,

Not last month or last week, but yesterday. I believe that clueless, dismissive, or hostile remarks by prominent male atheists reward this behavior and encourage it to continue. Am I angry about that? Hell, yes! My words were chosen quite carefully to reflect that conclusion.

That may be, and this is a common enough attitude in the atheist community. It has also been a complete and utter failure at improving the situation for women, by your own evidence. So perhaps a less regressive approach is needed?

61 aneris September 22, 2014 at 12:03 am

Adam Lee wrote:[…] It’s an ugly silencing tactic, and it’s still going on: Rebecca Watson tweeted that she blocked or reported twelve abusive accounts yesterday. Not last month or last week, but yesterday. I believe that clueless, dismissive, or hostile remarks by prominent male atheists reward this behavior and encourage it to continue. […]

We know that the Social Justice League (formerly known as Atheism Plus faction, or what PZ Myers calls the “FTB/SkepChick axis) believes this, but you have never explained how?

The only silencing visible to me is the social justice league and their shunning and shaming doctrines. And they are on record with that. Plenty of women were against them and have been silenced by them directly or indirectly. Women who expected community work and find a battlefield will also stay away. Whose fault is it? I know, it does not compute in your binary social justice warrior world-view.

“Dear Muslima” happened years ago and the subject was not rape, harassment or death threats, but an awkward maybe-double entendre in an Irish lift. And the whole “Elevatorgate” kerfuffle wasn’t about that one remark of Rebecca Watson or that one issue, either (you brought her up). First, it was a series of events and secondly, we know by now it exploded because of social justice warriorism as the internet has termed the phenomenon in the meantime.

Adam Lee wrote:[…] In context, what Dawkins was saying is that feminism is a non-issue, that the only reason people write about it and attack him or other atheists for allegedly sexist statements is that they’re acting in bad faith to drum up attention for themselves, or because they’re “outrage junkies” who simply enjoy getting angry over nothing. Amy Roth’s comment in my article explained this quite clearly.

Indeed, Richard Dawkins is wrong. He underestimates the issue. It would be fine if it was just click-bait blogging. Sadly, it isn’t and the evidence is pretty good. My comment above (in moderation) could illustrate the issue.

Adam Lee wrote:[…] This is the same kind of demeaning, minimizing rhetoric that’s always used against people who argue for social-justice-based conclusions

Where can we see the arguments for Teh Patriarchy™? Where can we view the evidence for the Kyriarchy™? Where do atheist-skeptics discuss Intersectionality™? Where are the discussions about Reverse Racism™?

They are specific terms used in specific concepts, so it won’t do to just refer to their original or academical meanings (and then which one). When sex-and-gender are social constructs, as we learned at FTBCon (Hornbeck’s talk) are gay people then voluntarily gay and are the evangelicals right that they can be re-educated, since it’s all just culture? Isn’t this the kind of ideology you promote? What do you think? Should atheist-skeptics site make it mandatory to add your skin-colour to your online profile (maybe you can choose from various shades?), since surely, a darker skin colour makes an argument stronger, I learned. This is of course not racism, as it would seem to the uninitiated, I hasten to add. Perhaps a gender-checkbox could be added too, and people can then “mute” comments per gender. Why not gender exclusive safe spaces? If Richard Dawkins announced he “identifies as a woman” is everyone then mansplainin’ him? Do his views automatically become right? Your side is as exactly as ridiculous and as bigoted as this sounds.

I’d really like to see the specific social justice warrior meanings argued through somewhere, if only for the lulz. Is Sylvia Walby a good feminist, or a bad one? Is Judith Butler a good one or bad one? Etcetera. Where can I find the list of feminist that are True Feminists™ and where is the list of names of the Faux Feminists™, because I have seen that naming the wrong person is a Thought-Crime and punishable with ostracism, see PZ Myers latest blog post on Richard Dawkins. I strongly suspect nobody needs those lists and discussions, because it is determined by tribal association, isn’t it, Adam Lee?

I guarantee those women could tell you that whenever Dawkins says something nasty about them, they get a noticeable uptick in harassment. His worse followers treat it as permission.

Let me guess: They read Richard Dawkins “problematic tweet” misrepresent it and distort it, blog and tweet about it, and a few people respond to it. Some tweet their interpretation back (harassment), others make fun of them (harassment), and others troll them (harassment, and or death threats). If you mean something else, this a serious allegation you need to back up with evidence.

There is a coincidence between the emerging social justice warriors and the problems. There were similar issues in gaming, and there is no Richard Dawkins around. There were similar issues around Suey Park and her #CancelColbert campaign, and there was no Richard Dawkins around. The far more parsimonious explanation is social justice warriorism: a progressive-authoritartian ideology and anti-intellectual movement that bullies their way in with the crowbar and whose primary excellence is about sabotaging debate and discussion and instead replacing it with their dogma.

62 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 1:50 am
Adam Lee: “For good measure, Dawkins argued that rape victims shouldn’t be considered trustworthy if they were drinking.”

This assertion linked to a tweet in which Richard had written: “If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”
Firstly note that Adam has rephrased ‘don’t get drunk’ into ‘if they were drinking’. And that’s not the most significant misrepresentation.

I find it telling that Nugent is trying to paint the difference between “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you’ve been drinking” and “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you got drunk” as an actual lie.
That really is rape apologism.

It would be easy for the casual reader to place an uncharitable interpretation on this, particularly as we have just been told that it was written by someone who was very busy snarling about feminists being shrill harridans. But Richard has also written in related tweets:

“Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. But also, don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened (& no other evidence).”
“In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she couldn’t remember.”
“Obviously some drunk people remember well what happened. I was talking about a limited case where a witness admits she can’t remember.”
(to a woman who was raped while drunk) “Yes, I believe you. Why would I not? Unlike the hypothetical case of my tweets, you have clear & convincing memories.”

So, in context, what Richard is saying (as well as ‘Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober’) is that the testimony of someone who cannot remember what has happened, and where there is no other evidence, is not trustworthy. That is clearly a self-evident fact.

What is particularly heartbreaking about this is Dawkins and Nugent and their friends speaking to rape victims as if we don’t know, from bitter experience, that our testimony is untrustworthy when our memories merely spotty, let alone erased completely, and there is no evidence that couldn’t also be attributed to consensual sex, let alone none at all.

And, if a person truly lacked ALL memory of anything that could lead them to believe they had been raped–e.g., waking up with clothes in disarray, someone else’s bed, the rapist brags about it to his friends–if none of that happened, then why would a person bother to report a rape? They would have no reason to believe they had been raped.

It logically follows that Dawkins was trying to warn us about the people who just make it up out of thin air.

This, in the immediate wake of Michael Shermer’s reputation as a rapist hit mainstream media outlets, and his accuser, Alison Smith, stopped being anonymous.

And then there’s this:

So which conferences have all-male speakers? Which groups have all-male leadership? I don’t know of any, but they may well exist. If they do exist, how do they compare with conferences with male and female speakers, or groups with male and female leadership? Unfortunately, the article does not say. It creates an impression and does not substantiate it.

Hmmm. I distinctly recall, when I first started becoming aware of organized atheism, around 2007 or 2008, that being one of the major themes of organized atheism at the time. Greta Christina put out her list of fantastically interesting and talented female speakers to invite to your conference (and did the same with a list of writers and speakers of color shortly after); Surly Amy and Skepchick were organizing scholarships to bring more women to conferences (I even got one, to the AA conference in Austin in 2012); there was some hoopla and a bit of back-patting when the proportion of women at the podiums (podia?) of skeptic and atheist themed events started to rise. I suppose Nugent may dispute that it wasn’t rising from zero in all cases, therefore characterizing the people who didn’t see the point of the effort to include women as “being okay with an all-male lineup,” but that just brings him back to splitting semantic hairs, not exposing a lie.

Adam Lee trusted that his readers would remember all of that, I expect. If Nugent doesn’t, well, that’s on him. Whether he forgot, or wasn’t paying attention at the time, who knows.

63 Ivan Allan September 22, 2014 at 2:26 am

Bravo Michael… a fine example of real rationalism in action. Keep up the great work. You are one of the good ones.

64 ZenGuard September 22, 2014 at 2:50 am

Peter Ferguson said:

“Adam. You didn’t address any of the areas Michael highlighted as misrepresentations. Will you be addressing them or do you agree they were misrepresentations?”

^^^This. Don’t expect anything material in the way of a response, though. All you will get is obfuscation and sidetracking as he delivered here and at WEIT. The problem with these attacks is that it takes but a moment to make the accusation, but it takes hours to research and refute them. The attackers know this all too well. However, when one does take the time to really dig into it, The Lee/FtB/Skepchick case disintegrates pretty quickly before a truly skeptical and unbiased analysis. The results were clear in the comments section of the Guardian propaganda piece, which were anything but supportive of Lee’s diatribe.

Michael: I hope the last week of interaction with the FtB bloggers and their sycophants such as Adam Lee have been an eye-opening education for you. I admire your attempts at neutrality and reasoned accommodation, but you should see clearly now that these people are ideologs and cannot be reasoned and will simply attack when they decide you can’t be turned into one of them. This is Dawkins’ and Harris’ only true and intolerable crime in their eyes.

65 Alejandro September 22, 2014 at 3:14 am

“You said that you were going to address the question of where my article was “inaccurate”, but the majority of your article is a complaint about various choices of wording I made, the thrust of which is that it’s unfair for me to use emotive language in support of the conclusions I advocate.”

Your language is not just emotive Adam, is outright misleading, which is the entire point of Michael’s article. It is evident not only from the rethoric you use (SJW “tell” things while their critics roar and scoff) but from your completely dishonest paraphrasing of Dawkin’s tweet about alcohol and rape. Every single time, you interpret Dawkins remarks in the worst posible way.

66 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 3:37 am

@Sally Strange,

I find it telling that Nugent is trying to paint the difference between “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you’ve been drinking” and “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you got drunk” as an actual lie. That really is rape apologism.

Amazing. Did you arrive here simply to confirm the stereotype of inflammatory outrage? If so, you’ve nailed it.

First of all, Michael did not employ the inflammatory language you have naturally fallen into in your own paraphrasing: Michael did not call Lee’s paraphrase a “lie,” he said it misrepresents what Dawkins was saying. Given Michael obviously finds Lee’s article inaccurate, he has to keep pointing this out, but he’s not waving around the tag “liar” or “lies.” You don’t have to be deliberately lying to write something prejudicial and misleading.

So right off the bat you leap to the most inflammatory characterization of Michael claiming Lee is telling a “lie.”

Second, Michael followed with Dawkins’ actual quotes, showing how Lee’s version clearly misrepresented what Dawkins wrote. Dawkins was very particular about the state of drunkenness he was referring to, acknowledged differences between drunken states where some can “remember well what happened,” and even gave an example of Dawkins stating why he believes the account of someone who was raped while drunk. Whereas Lee characterizes Dawkins as making a ridiculous sweeping generalization that “rape victims SHOULDN’T be considered trustworthy if they have been drinking.” That is the most blatant prejudicial, misleading characterization of what Dawkins had been writing.

And then to follow with this: “That really is rape apologism.”
…is a shamelessly inflammatory accusation.

Dawkins isn’t apologizing for rape! He explicitly condemns rape, drunk rape included (and it’s your type of uncharitable, mischaracterization of his stance forces him to state such an obvious condemnation). And he’s not engaging in rape apologetics which are normally understood to excuse actual rape and re-cast it as NOT RAPE. He isn’t saying “if you were drunk THEN IT’S NOT RAPE.”
He obviously acknowledges people do get raped when drunk.
He’s saying rape is obviously a serious charge and as Michael pointed out, the testimony of someone who can’t recall what happened becomes a poor basis for establishing the case for the crime. This is obvious stuff – being passing out drunk becomes a liability in ANY case, whether you are a male or female witness to a purported crime!

“It logically follows that Dawkins was trying to warn us about the people who just make it up out of thin air.”

NO! Obviously real rapes happen to people who are drunk, as Dawkins clearly acknowledges! What he’s saying is the sad fact is that being EXTREMELY DRUNK to the point of being unable to give details of the purported crime, not even remembering what happened (or not!), becomes a liability in making such criminal cases! This is obvious and it’s not for nothing that intoxication becomes an issue in ANY case where the case depends heavily on the witness testimony of a highly intoxicated person. We all court this possible problem to some degree or another whenever we allow ourselves to get incredibly passing-out intoxicated.

Bad shit happens to people, but the judicial system always has to be extremely careful about allowing standards of evidence dropping too low.

Hysterical, leaps from what Dawkins (or Michael) wrote to claims of “rape apologism” exhibits exactly the incautious, inflammatory reflex critics associate with “feminism.” Which is a terrible shame.

67 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 3:40 am

(Sorry, the previous formatting didn’t seem to take. Hopefully this version is more clear)

@Sally Strange,

Sally Strange wrote: I find it telling that Nugent is trying to paint the difference between “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you’ve been drinking” and “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you got drunk” as an actual lie. That really is rape apologism.

Amazing. Did you arrive here simply to confirm the stereotype of inflammatory outrage? If so, you’ve nailed it.

First of all, Michael did not employ the inflammatory language you have naturally fallen into in your own paraphrasing: Michael did not call Lee’s paraphrase a “lie,” he said it misrepresents what Dawkins was saying. Given Michael obviously finds Lee’s article inaccurate, he has to keep pointing this out, but he’s not waving around the tag “liar” or “lies.” You don’t have to be deliberately lying to write something prejudicial and misleading.

So right off the bat you leap to the most inflammatory characterization of Michael claiming Lee is telling a “lie.”

Second, Michael followed with Dawkins’ actual quotes, showing how Lee’s version clearly misrepresented what Dawkins wrote. Dawkins was very particular about the state of drunkenness he was referring to, acknowledged differences between drunken states where some can “remember well what happened,” and even gave an example of Dawkins stating why he believes the account of someone who was raped while drunk. Whereas Lee characterizes Dawkins as making a ridiculous sweeping generalization that “rape victims SHOULDN’T be considered trustworthy if they have been drinking.” That is the most blatant prejudicial, misleading characterization of what Dawkins had been writing.

And then to follow with this: “That really is rape apologism.”
…is a shamelessly inflammatory accusation.

Dawkins isn’t apologizing for rape! He explicitly condemns rape, drunk rape included (and it’s your type of uncharitable, mischaracterization of his stance forces him to state such an obvious condemnation). And he’s not engaging in rape apologetics which are normally understood to excuse actual rape and re-cast it as NOT RAPE. He isn’t saying “if you were drunk THEN IT’S NOT RAPE.”
He obviously acknowledges people do get raped when drunk.
He’s saying rape is obviously a serious charge and as Michael pointed out, the testimony of someone who can’t recall what happened becomes a poor basis for establishing the case for the crime. This is obvious stuff – being passing out drunk becomes a liability in ANY case, whether you are a male or female witness to a purported crime!

Sally Strange wrote: “It logically follows that Dawkins was trying to warn us about the people who just make it up out of thin air.”

NO! Obviously real rapes happen to people who are drunk, as Dawkins clearly acknowledges! What he’s saying is the sad fact is that being EXTREMELY DRUNK to the point of being unable to give details of the purported crime, not even remembering what happened (or not!), becomes a liability in making such criminal cases! This is obvious and it’s not for nothing that intoxication becomes an issue in ANY case where the case depends heavily on the witness testimony of a highly intoxicated person. We all court this possible problem to some degree or another whenever we allow ourselves to get incredibly passing-out intoxicated.

Bad shit happens to people, but the judicial system always has to be extremely careful about allowing standards of evidence dropping too low.

Hysterical, leaps from what Dawkins (or Michael) wrote to claims of “rape apologism” exhibits exactly the incautious, inflammatory reflex critics associate with “feminism.” Which is a terrible shame.

68 loyalb September 22, 2014 at 3:58 am

Wasn’t this the guy that wrote an article for Salon a while back gushing over how atheism+ was going to usher in a golden age of atheist enlightenment? Nearly everyone agrees that atheism needs to attract more diversity. I don’t get why anyone is looking to Adam Lee et al. as examples of how to accomplish this, though. Just look at the results.

I’ll admit that Richard Dawkins occasionally says some dopey crap on Twitter (the medium practically guarantees it). He’s also helped to bring millions of atheists — of every conceivable variation of humanity — out into the open. Atheism is more diverse than ever, and a lot of that owes to the efforts and arguments of Richard Dawkins. Atheism+, meanwhile, imploded basically from the moment it was conceived. I think Lee should reflect on that failure, maybe there’s something to be learned there.

69 aneris September 22, 2014 at 4:53 am

Sally Strange wrote:I find it telling that Nugent is trying to paint the difference between “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you’ve been drinking” and “You can’t expect to convict a rapist of rape if you got drunk” as an actual lie.
That really is rape apologism.

Let me add my Richard Dawkins exegesis. He is stating that if one is drunk, one has diminished cognitive faculties. As a result, one cannot drive very well, and judgement and memory is impaired which in turn undermine one’s testimony. Where is the rape apology here?

Then, social justice warriors already frame and assume the situation as if a crime happened instead of that there are (usually) two people who disagree on what happens. We don’t know what’s in their heads. The universe didn’t record a sex tape. We only know that one person claims A, the other claims B. But if you are already assume that a crime happened, you get such abysmal pieces as by Dana Hunter called “Dear Richard Dawkins: Your ‘Hypothetical’ Is Still Rape” from the FTB frontpage, where else?

However, there is a well-documented case of rape apology in the relevant part of the atheist movement…
Content Warning.

The last year that I lived out west, I was offered a summer job babysitting two girls (aged about 4 and 7 (?)) […] Good job for a twelve-year-old […] One day, he asked if I could watch a third girl who was 6 years old. I said, sure. […] I was invited to jointhe sex play. TThe third girl had the 3 year old tied up. The tow older ones were taking turns doing things to her and I joined in. THey didn’t invite me but or maybe they did but that doesn’t matter. I joined in. […later comment …] But I didn’t stop before raping three young girls […] But it would have been even better if I hadn’t raped them, right?

When this poster was younger, he was forced by an older scout to abuse a child. However, this situation was a different one. Here he is a babysitter and acted on his own volition. What is the correct Official FreeThought™ response in this situation?

A) Doubt that his memory is correct; disbelieving him; thinking he is trying to troll or farming reactions.

B) Ostracising him, since there is no place for a self-confessed rapist in the community.

C) Express that one feels sorry for the victims, and request that he should try to clear that up but show some understanding since he was a child himself.

D) Offer him babysitter jobs and tell him how you love him, and give full solidarity and support.

E) Catholic church style: Pretend that it didn’t happen, and just in case someone is insane enough and replied with D, pretend that it didn’t happen either and that critics just made it up to smear FTB.

Here is what Elyse then-SkepChick (I believe) wrote. Her situation got the thread “Stunned Silence” started, where you can find all information…

Elyse wrote: I cannot read through it. [the comments] Now that there are stories of abusers asking victims to tell them it’s okay. Now that the thread has comments telling child abusers that they would let them watch their own kids

Surprise! Social justice can be sometimes a tad counter-intuitive! The “correct answer” according to the proud social justice activist and thereby Official FreeThought™ is obviously D!: After hearing that someone has raped three girls on a babysitter job, offer them babysitter jobs! And offer love and support, and circle the wagons. Words fail me here.

How is that? See my comment above (49): “When they [authoritarians] like the behaver, the behavior is acceptable; when they dislike the behaver, the behavior is not.”

Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers have decided that E is the best response: pretend that it didn’t happen and that it was a smear campaign concocted by the evil opponents. Ophelia Benson knows the story, as I wrote it to her in a comment. Another time I just asked her to see the facts – she of course kept it all in moderation. Ms Benson, a true Catholic?

How got the story big again? Surely, the evil people were digging it up all the time? False. In reality, this issue was forgotten (at least where I read) but Janine (FTB regular) brought it up after another argument because she “felt bored” and thought that one can score points with this story – and they did. They could use it to claim that others wanted to make them look bad, the “one of vilest things” detractors of FTB do.

Just think about this for a moment. Pointing out that their behaviour (having chosen option D and E) is making them look bad! If you want to see some bizarre cult behaviour, just look into e.g. lounge #442.

Besides, the critics and evil detractors responded with A and C or a mix between both, not really buying the story but if true that he should try to clear it up, but otherwise taking into account that he was a kid himself. The contentious issue was the response of the usual suspects. i.e. the almost congratulatory attitude of the FreeThoughtBlogs community towards someone who just confessed to have raped three girls he was meant to babysit.

However, over in Atheist North Korea the story is told a bit differently…

[…] was a victim of childhood rape and sexual abuse, and as part of his torment was made to participate in sexual activities with other children. That’s the basis of […] frequent accusations that he is a rapist, and is among the vilest things they do, that they blame a remorseful victim for a child-abuser’s repugnant manipulations in a long-running campaign of lies. – PZ Myers

The vilest thing they do! You can find this in “It’s more of a guy thing” on Freethought Blogs/Butterfliesandwheels, Ms Benson’s blog (the same principled Ms Benson who suppressed my comment where I pointed straight to the facts, and the same Ms Benson who has a guest blogger who wrote “On Dawkins, hero worship, and doubling down” last week. He’s called Josh Spokesgay and also a regular who expressed such things as “Seriously. Please die. I mean that.” in the past repeatedly. See the documentation on that in comment 94 in Michael Nugents “Recent media misrepresentations of the atheist movement” from last wednesday that got this whole thing started.

But of course it is important to rally against Richard Dawkins when he points out that one’s ability to testify is undermined when one was drunk. Then that’s literally The Worst and “rape apology”. Reblog!

You couldn’t make this up. Before someone comes again that one issue doesn’t outweigh the other, then true, guilty as charged! But I can’t take serious people who produce a super outrage over misunderstood or blatantly distorted tweets, but otherwise congratulate someone after they confessed to have raped three girls. It is beyond me.

I think these people are done and Adam Lee can go down with them.

70 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 6:18 am

Small correction, in my post above (#57), this:

“unwanted sexual attention” morphed into “sexual intimidation.”

should read:

“unwanted sexual attention” morphed into “physical intimidation.”

Lee had actually made it seem even worse in his eagerness to demonize Richard Dawkins.

71 Unhiddenness September 22, 2014 at 6:22 am

The real problem appears to be one that has haunted Revolutions from the get-go: hijack. By this I mean a small clique trying to gain control of a large-scale movement by piggybacking. In this the SJWs are emulating the Bolsheviks and Iran’s theocrats in trying to commandeer a movement they were a small but integral part of to suit their own agenda. But this time they will fall short, as they have burnt every bridge behind them and are essentially sabotaging their own efforts.

72 Steven Carr September 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

Yes, Myers knows that Ogvorbis claimed to have raped three young girls when he was a babysitter, and defends him as recently as May 2014.

Here is Ogvorbis’s confession on Myers OWN blog :-
‘But I didn’t stop before raping three young girls (all were, give or take, the same age as ‘S’, the girl I was forced to abuse while a scout). I was older. The age difference was even greater. ‘

This is disgusting.

And Myers defends people who rape three young girls.

73 Gingerbaker September 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

What’s in a name? that which we call a hatchet job.

74 Shatterface September 22, 2014 at 11:55 am

Lee, are you going to continue citing Dawkins’ praise for your work on your blog while trashing him elsewhere as a racist rapist/paedophile apologist or are you going to stop being a hypocritical fucking parasite?

75 Shatterface September 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

And Myers defends people who rape three young girls.

IOWTDI

(It’s okay when they do it).

76 Shatterface September 22, 2014 at 11:59 am

The real problem appears to be one that has haunted Revolutions from the get-go: hijack. By this I mean a small clique trying to gain control of a large-scale movement by piggybacking.

Entryism: hijacking an existing institution like a virus invading a cell.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entryism

77 Shatterface September 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm

In context, what Dawkins was saying is that feminism is a non-issue, that the only reason people write about it and attack him or other atheists for allegedly sexist statements is that they’re acting in bad faith to drum up attention for themselves, or because they’re “outrage junkies” who simply enjoy getting angry over nothing.

The meaning of an utterance is always context-dependent so if you take it out of its original context you can make it mean whatever the fuck you want to.

I can see why you chose to frame his comments in the way you did – in the context of a dying rag of a newspaper desperate for advertising revenue.

78 Shatterface September 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I think it’s ironic that Dawkins has, in effect, become victim of a meme; an ever-mutating idea, behavior or style spreading from person to person or institution.

Lee is a carrier; FTB and The Guardian are vectors.

79 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Let me add my Richard Dawkins exegesis. He is stating that if one is drunk, one has diminished cognitive faculties. As a result, one cannot drive very well, and judgement and memory is impaired which in turn undermine one’s testimony. Where is the rape apology here?

Good lord, you’re still trotting out this lame explanation?

This is, at best, a prolonged effort at playing dumb. More likely, it’s an intentional effort to defend Dawkins’ ridiculous twitter meltdown by stripping all context from the evaluation.

Yes, why would anyone think it was about rape? Possibly because the tweet appeared hours after the Buzzfeed article detailing Shermer’s horrible behavior. Possibly because he continued to tweet about rape. Possibly because he “clarified” his position with the following tweets:

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

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

And, most clearly:

Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

So, yes, he meant the drunk driving analogy to apply to women who drink and are sexually assaulted. If you are unable to detect the offensive rape apology in those tweets, then there is little hope for you.

Unless you’re suggesting that women should make preparations for being sexually assaulted every time they begin drinking in a similar way that they should pick a designated driver or make sure they know where the subway lines run. Surely that would veer into “Schroedinger’s Rapist” territory, and I know how offended you folks get at the idea that a woman should go through the world judging men by the level of threat the present…

80 A Hermit September 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm

It’s amazing to me that the people whinging on about how over-emotional and hysterical those damn feminists are can let comments like this one above go unnoticed:

“the atheist movement is being wracked by an ongoing takeover attempt by a mainly US-based group of neo-feminist/crypto-Marxist ideologues.

Yeah, that sounds reasonable… o.O

Then we have Dawkins response on Jerry Coyne’s blog, predicting the collapse of civilization if people are allowed to actually go on criticizing or disagreeing with him. The comments on that blog are full of talk about witch hunts and inquisitions and French Revolutions OH MY!…

No emotions or over-reactions or hyperbole there, oh no. It’s all calm and reasoned and Spocklike…

LMFAO

Hysterical indeed…

81 Steven Carr September 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

So people are calling Dawkins a rape apologist?

I repeat what appeard on PZ Myers blog on 30th August 2013

Ogvorbis
‘‘But I didn’t stop before raping three young girls (all were, give or take, the same age as ‘S’, the girl I was forced to abuse while a scout). I was older. The age difference was even greater. ‘

This was while he was a baby sitter.

And here are the words of support by Myers on May 23, 2014 ‘That’s the basis of the slymepitter’s frequent accusations that he is a rapist, and is among the vilest things they do, that they blame a remorseful victim for a child-abuser’s repugnant manipulations in a long-running campaign of lies.’

Yes, Myers calls you a liar when you cut and paste from his blog.

He won’t condemn somebody who rapes three young girls when baby-sitting them, but reserves his fury for people who cut and paste when a rapist posts his confession on Myers’ blog.

This is not rape apology.

This is inviting the rapist to have a safe space on Myers’s blog and damning to Hell everybody who is conscious of that fact.

82 Crackity Jones September 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I always love it when one of the FTBullies’ defenders crawls out of their cesspit to post here and complain out hyperbole and over-reactions. Absolute hypocrisy.

No, Hermit boy, an over-reaction would be Ophelia’s dozen-article rampage of froth and bitterness about Jaclyn Glenn. Can anybody remember any actual substance in those RAGE TEARS pieces from Ophelia about Jaclyn. Nope!

Also, as for Dawkins comment at Jerry’s. I agree with him. Civilisation is most under threat from those that do not value evidence and logic, and prefer emotion, bias, and group-think. There are a group of people (FTBullies) formerly associated with the atheist/skeptic movements who have established themselves as cranks and woo-pushers. They don’t do logic or evidence, and have become increasingly hostile to it. They are a religious group. It is right to call out the likes of PZ, Ophelia, Stephanie Zvan (“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!”), Rebecca Watson, etc. as the cranks that they now are.

It’s amazing to me that the people whinging on about how over-emotional and hysterical those damn feminists

Which feminists? You do NOT represent feminism or feminists, and the likes of Marcotte, Watson, Zvan, Christina are a fringe extremist group who bully and harass ACTUAL feminists. Arrogant git.

PS – What is your opinion on Ogvorbis, the child rapist? Do you defend him, like Myers and Benson do? It is time to ask ALL #FTBullies this question, and start compiling a “little list” of those that do. We will not let the “Ogvorbis” issue drop.

83 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

“This is, at best, a prolonged effort at playing dumb. More likely, it’s an intentional effort to defend Dawkins’ ridiculous twitter meltdown by stripping all context from the evaluation.”

Dawkins has elaborated and explained and his explanation is clear, so why continue to pretend to believe the smear?

84 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

“No emotions or over-reactions or hyperbole there, oh no. It’s all calm and reasoned and Spocklike…”

Emotions and hyperbole all over, but Dawkins has accused no-one of being racist, creepy, rape-apologist etc. I wish people would stop pretending that they can’t see the difference.

85 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

doubtthat wrote: “So, yes, he meant the drunk driving analogy to apply to women who drink and are sexually assaulted. If you are unable to detect the offensive rape apology in those tweets, then there is little hope for you.”

Your use of the term “rape apology” here is both inappropriate and needlessly inflammatory and defamatory.

Rape apology is generally held to be when actual rape is excused, typically by re-characterizing it as “not actually rape.”

Is that what Dawkins is doing? Obviously not!

Dawkins acknowledges rapes really happen to drunk people and condemns that it EVER happens. That is the furthest thing from “if you were really drunk, then it’s not rape and you can’t blame someone for taking advantage of you.

Dawkins’ point is the obvious one about the liabilities of drunkenness WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING CASES IN COURT.

While drunk rapes obviously occur, extreme drunkenness, of the type where you can not remember “what happened” becomes a great liability when it comes to establishing one’s case for a rape in court. This is true of ANY case where important details can not be recalled by an extremely intoxicated witness or purported victim, for obvious reasons that the law has to be careful about setting the bar for evidence and criminal charges too low.

From the perspective of someone who was actually raped, it’s a sad fact that having been passing-out-drunk at the time can impede being able to bring forth details that make a strong case for the courts. And from the perspective of people deciding these cases in court, extreme drunkenness in witnesses can impede the type of evidence required to establish what really happened. Sad, but true facts of life, and Dawkins acknowledging these obvious problems is not indulging in “rape apology.”

It helps no cause to throw around charges of “rape apologist”
as sloppily and carelessly as you have in your post.

86 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

A Hermit wrote:

It’s amazing to me that the people whinging on about how over-emotional and hysterical those damn feminists are can let comments like this one above go unnoticed:

“the atheist movement is being wracked by an ongoing takeover attempt by a mainly US-based group of neo-feminist/crypto-Marxist ideologues.

It may be helpful for me to point out that ‘neo-feminist/crypto-Marxist ideologues’ is simply a more colourful way of writing ‘Social Justice Warriors’. I don’t think it is far of the mark. Firstly, SJWs are evidently ideologues, secondly, they are clearly a somewhat non-standard brand of feminists, and finally, what theoretical underpinning they have is based on Critical Race Theory and other half baked stuff from Academia that has rather clear roots in Marxist thinking. Since, like most actual roots, the Marxism is somewhat hidden, the term crypto-Marxist seems appropriate.

As regards the takeover attempt, may I remind you of the (in retrospect comical) effort by a large contingent of bloggers and their followers to create the Atheism Plus movement? This aimed to replace the existing atheist movement, which was believed to be a horrible and outdated cabal of old white men. It is amusing to re-read some of the embarrassing rhetoric published on those blogs in connection with A+.

Atheism Plus crashed and burned, and only Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, resident FTB supergenius, still believes it is alive and kicking. PZ Myers and others were initially supportive, but were cunning enough not to play too prominent a role, so that they could wait and see what happened. Poor Jen McCreight took most of the flack, some of which was provoked by the intellectual artillery of the above-mentioned Dr. Richard Carrier PhD (who was quickly denounced by Jen, but by then the damage had been done).

Anyway, the failed attempt taught us one thing: that there is a group of people in the atheist movement who are eager to control it, to push it in a certain direction. This group is what we now call the SJWs.

Understandably, you being one of them, your immediate reaction is denial and ridicule. But the facts are fairly obvious. Since Richard Dawkins is the most prominent representative of the traditional atheist movement, he was given the role of Goldstein, the perpetual enemy. Confirmation bias being what it is, every tweet by Dawkins further enraged the SJWs, until he became the secular equivalent of Satan. Notice for example the morphing and malicious interpretation of “Dear Muslima” by Adam Lee, which I pointed out in my comment.

I rest my case.

87 A Hermit September 22, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Jan Steen…

I think you dropped this… http://www.privateinvestigator.cc/images/Aluminum%20Foil%20Deflector%20Beanie.jpg

Remember, the shiny side goes out…

88 A Hermit September 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Crackity Jones..

That’s a nice list of non-sequiturs and distractions. But the topic here is Adam Lee’s criticism of Dawkin’s silly rape tweets, not all that other stuff you’re obsessing over.

Whining “what about this, what about that” and posting your own collection of exaggerated grievances and misrepresentations (you’re actually doing everything Michael is accusing Adam Lee of doing here) rather than deal with the actual criticism is really not helpful.

89 piero September 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

@A Hermit; @Mr Dumpling; @Sally Strange; @GMeters; @PZ Myers; @Ophelia Benson; @ANYONE AT ALL WHO KNOWS ABOUT THE MATTER:

CAN WE HAVE AN EXPLANATION FOR THE OGVORBIS AFFAIR? CAN WE PLEASE HAVE AN EXPLANATION OF WHY THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS PROTECT A CHILD RAPIST? PLEASE?

CAN ANYBODY EXPLAIN TO ME WHY DAWKINS IS CALLED A RAPE APOLOGIST BY PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY DEFEND A RAPIST?

90 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm

@A Hermit,

Those scars caused by the collapse of your beloved Atheism Plus still hurt, don’t they? What a dismal failure, hahaha.

91 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

piero,

It’s perfectly simple. Their defence is always: It’s Okay When We Do It.

92 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Your use of the term “rape apology” here is both inappropriate and needlessly inflammatory and defamatory.

Wrong. Arguing that women should prepare for sexual assault like they should make sure they have a ride home is rape apology. You’re placing the onus on women to prevent sexual assault. It’s more or less definitional rape apology.

Rape apology is a very broad concept that very much includes laying the burden of the assault on the victim:

The victim can be alleged to be either a promiscous whore who dressed like a slut or, more generally, put herself in a dangerous situation

Comparing a person getting drunk and getting behind the wheel to a drunk woman who was sexually assaulted is rape apology.

While drunk rapes obviously occur, extreme drunkenness, of the type where you can not remember “what happened” becomes a great liability when it comes to establishing one’s case for a rape in court.

This is absolute nonsense. You literally have no idea what you’re talking about. Nugent made the same ignorant point in another post.

A victim testifying that they have no memory of an assault can be very powerful, convincing testimony within a broader case. With evidence, either physical, witness or experiential (woke up in bed with accused the next day), testimony of black out can be very convincing. It can show that a victim was too drunk to consent or that they were possibly drugged.

But, you will undoubtedly reply, that’s why Dawkins added his caveat that there is not other evidence. This, again, is the statement of a willfully ignorant person trying desperately to defend a ridiculous argument. Please provide a single example of a court case where there was no evidence and the only testimony was a victim stating, “I have no memory of the event.”

This would never make it to court.

But, of course, you’ve once again tried to sever Dawkins’ tweets from their context, which is the accusations against Shermer. There we have memory, there we have multiple eye-witness corroboration of the victim’s account, there we have conflicting stories told by Shermer…etc.

So yes, Dawkins is very much engaged in rape apology aimed at defending and excusing his buddy. He chastises drunk victims for daring to accuse persons ignoring that in the context of actual sexual assault cases, a lack of memory can be a very important bit of evidence.

And from the perspective of people deciding these cases in court, extreme drunkenness in witnesses can impede the type of evidence required to establish what really happened.

How many such cases have you participated in? Investigations? You sound like you are talking completely out of your ass.

Recall, of course, that Dawkins is not merely offering advice to victims on how to have a case prosecuted, he is declaring their accusations to be morally wrong:

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

Again, find me a single example of this ever happening in a Western legal system.

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

Find me an example of that, as well. I promise you that if such an allegation exists, like the Duke LaCross scandal, it never made it to court. And, of course, the testimony in Duke LaCross was not that the victim had no memory, quite the opposite. A story was made up.

Dawkins is just spewing utter nonsense to create a smokescreen for his buddy. This ignorant babble about court systems is not remotely a convincing defense.

93 A Hermit September 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm

OK, I had to look it up, but apparently here’s what teh person calling themselves Ogvorbis says they did:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/30/stunned-silence/comment-page-1/#comment-681253

“I was raped, repeatedly, by my cub scout leader for a period of about two or two-and-a-half years. I was forced to rape others (including a toddler girl (and I still feel like shit for doing that (yes, I know it wasn’t my fault . . . ))). I was used for child porn. I told once and was informed that I was a liar and then sent to my rapist to apologize and he raped me again to punish me.”

That person recognizes that what they did was wrong, even thought they were forced to do it, and regrets it. To the extent that anyone defends Ogvorbis is it for his status as a victim of rape and abuse, not for his victimization of others.

As far as I can see no one, including Ogvorbis, is saying that what he did wasn’t rape, or is trying to minimize it or to blame the victims. The conversation there is a little more complicated than you’re making it out to be.

But what does this conversation on PZ Myers blog have to do with Adam Lee’s blog anyway? Why do Dawkin’s defenders always try to change the subject when their Dear Leader gets criticized for saying something stupid? Does the fact that other people sometimes say stupid things too make his comments any better? I don’t think so…

94 Tyler September 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

To set the stage, I quote Dawkins over on Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True” blog:
“Thank you, Jerry.

I long ago declared that I would not wish to go on living if I found myself in a world dominated by people who no longer care about what’s true and express open contempt for factual evidence. Either a 1984 world where the Party in power is the sole arbiter of what is “true” and enforces it with violence; or a world where truth is whatever society deems it to be, regardless of evidence, and where dissenters are ruthlessly punished by vitriolic abuse or ostracism rather than violence.

I fear we are sleepwalking towards that feared world, where people shun evidence and despise facts: a world where dogma is king, emotion is queen and evidence is exiled; and where dissent from orthodoxy is suppressed by verbal if not physical jackboots.”

I would like to see Michael Nugent do a point by point analysis of this comment. I would expect that someone who is willing to overcome their personal bias towards a friend will notice some things – many of the same things Adam Lee is accused of are done by Dawkins, often in relatively worse ways. Dawkins makes large references, “a world”, while Adam Lee was specific about the people being criticized, even if you disagree with the language used.

95 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Link for the quote on rape apology:
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Rape_apology

Arguing that women shouldn’t report rapes if they can’t remember what happened is a good to make sure that rapists get away with their crime.

96 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm

“Wrong. Arguing that women should prepare for sexual assault like they should make sure they have a ride home is rape apology. ”

Dawkins made no such and claim and when mischievous people attempted to smear him with this unlikely interpretation he spelled out that he didn’t mean or believe this. So why press on with the smear?

97 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

“Arguing that women shouldn’t report rapes if they can’t remember what happened is a good to make sure that rapists get away with their crime.”

Women should report rapes even if they do not know if a rape happened?

98 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Sorry, A Hermit, I forgot to thank you for the hat. It may come in handy when I visit the Atheism Plus Forums and want to blend in with the residents. As far as there still are any…

99 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

@Minnow

Dawkins made no such and claim and when mischievous people attempted to smear him with this unlikely interpretation he spelled out that he didn’t mean or believe this. So why press on with the smear?

Haha. Your ability to ignore the clear meaning of words in order to defend your thought leader is fascinating. This was his “clarifying” tweet:

Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

I don’t know what to tell you. What is he saying? That women should anticipate sexual assault and remain sober? If this is “self-evidently” true as many folks including Nugent have argued, does this just mean a woman can never be drunk?

What are the conditions under which a woman can drink and still be allowed to prosecute someone who sexually assaults them?

Women should report rapes even if they do not know if a rape happened?

Yes. If a woman wakes up and finds that she has had intercourse or is with a strange man and cannot remember what happened the next night, she should immediately go to a hospital or a police station and make a report.

Whether or not that becomes a rape is a different question, but it is horrible advice to tell people in that situation to remain silent unless they can give a complete run down of events.

100 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

*previous night*

101 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm

“Haha. Your ability to ignore the clear meaning of words in order to defend your thought leader is fascinating. This was his “clarifying” tweet:”

The meaning seemed pretty clear to me but has been misrepresented. Luckily Dawkins clarified the meaning (he explained that it meant what I took it to mean) so that should have settled that, no?

“Yes. If a woman wakes up and finds that she has had intercourse or is with a strange man and cannot remember what happened the next night, she should immediately go to a hospital or a police station and make a report.”

You mean ‘if a woman or a man’. But that is absurd as the law will tell her or him. If they have no memory of a crime taking place (and no other evidence) there is no possible case to be made.

102 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Part of the absurdity, of course, is that if people generally took your advice there would be a many thousands of cases brought every year where both partners are prosecuted for raping each other at the same time.

103 Minnow September 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

“I don’t know what to tell you. What is he saying? ”

Why ask me? Dawkins has elaborated and explained. It is very clear what he wanted to say. Go and see instead of peddling your own lurid interpretation.

104 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

he explained that it meant what I took it to mean

Which of his tweets to you think were clarifying? Look close to see if they came before or after that one.

I’m quoting him. You’re asserting something without including the evidence. Michael Nugent will lecture you if you don’t start including evidence to support your claim.

But that is absurd as the law will tell her or him. If they have no memory of a crime taking place (and no other evidence) there is no possible case to be made.

This is either total ignorance or willfull stupidity. Since we’re on Mr. Nugent’s blog and he cares a great deal about civility, I will assume you are naive.

No, this is completely wrong. If a police report is made or a victim goes to a hospital (most staff at hospitals are mandatory reporters meaning that they will have to make a police report if they believe assault took place), an investigation can be launched.

Physical evidence may be collected: what substances were in the reporter’s blood stream, does there appear to be evidence of forced intercourse. Police can speak with potential witnesses while memory is fresh. Statements can be taken to determine if potential suspects are lying…etc.

This is why all these goofballs claiming that a lack of memory can NEVER EVER be relevant to a court case are speaking out of pure ignorance. Withing the context of a case that can be very compelling evidence.

105 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Part of the absurdity, of course, is that if people generally took your advice there would be a many thousands of cases brought every year where both partners are prosecuted for raping each other at the same time.

This is more sloppy ignorance. Prosecution is something that occurs after an investigation when District Attorneys believe they can convict someone of a crime. An investigation can and should occur very frequently. If people look into the situation and find nothing actionable, then charges should not be brought.

But demanding that victims remain silent creates an atmosphere where predators can act with little fear of reprisal.

106 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm

“Unless you’re suggesting that women should make preparations for being sexually assaulted every time they begin drinking in a similar way that they should pick a designated driver”

Absolutely. It is mind boggling that you’re suggesting a woman shouldn’t give even a moment’s consideration to keeping herself safe.

It is terrible that in many circumstances a woman can’t go out and get hammered with no risk of assault, but that is the sad reality. Pretending it isn’t the reality won’t keep you safer.

107 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 5:05 pm

@104 Sedan Taboos

Please, let us know the conditions under which a woman can drink and still participate in the prosecution of someone who sexually assaults her.

And are you now arguing that an atheist conference is such an unsafe location that a woman cannot drink? You sound an awful lot like Rebecca Watson.

108 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm

doubtthat:

“You sound an awful lot like Rebecca Watson.”

That’s way bellow the belt!

109 piero September 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

@doubtthat:

I can see the point you are making here:

“But demanding that victims remain silent creates an atmosphere where predators can act with little fear of reprisal.”

I agree. I don’t think anybody here would disagree, but speaking for myself I believe there are too many problems with the way the law handles rape; it is totally unacceptable that victims should be discouraged from reporting, or humiliated when they do.

I hope you can also see that the Shermer case is not as clear-cut as you would like us to believe. I’ll list just a few ot the things that bother me, and maybe we can reach some common ground. I’ll use “the victim” and “the rapist” instead of “the alleged…” to make it simpler:

– five years is a long time; during that time the rapist could have done a lot of damage, yet the victim’s failure to warn others has not been addressed
– during those five years, the victim was in contact with the rapist, and exchanged e-mails with him
– the victim has stated she does not clearly remember what happened, though she is sure to have had sex; had she told the police at the time, perhaps a reasonable case for rape could have been made, but she knows that’s impossible now, five years on
– the victim said that, if she denounced the rapist again, she would not use the word “rape”

There are numerous other aspects I am confused abaout. For example, dis she notice the rapist was trying to get her drunk while trying to stay sober himself? If she didn’t, who did? If she did, why did she carry on drinking? Please note I am not trying to blame the victim; I am just trying to put myself in her shoes (not that I can, of course, but I try): I would probably have challenged him on what he was doing, or told a close friend I was feeling preyed upon, or something that might have protected me.

I hope you can see I am not a misogynist: I don’t hate women, I think rape is an abhorrent crime, and I am well aware of the shortcomings of legal systems. My problem is with the inappropriateness of publishing attacks based solely on statements. I am sure you see that. And I am sure you are also aware of the possibility of false accusations.

Finally, the stubborn refusal to address the Ogvorbis issue adds to my bafflement. How can we take you seriously, how can we accept being called “rape apologists” in such circumstances?

110 A Bear September 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm

@ Sally Strange: Are you the same Sally Strange that writing in comments on Pharyngula admitted to sexually abusing your little brother?

111 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Received a notice in my inbox (because I don’t care to follow the debate here):

“@ Sally Strange: Are you the same Sally Strange that writing in comments on Pharyngula admitted to sexually abusing your little brother?”

Probably, unless there’s another one. I wrote once about holding my brother down and kissing him against his will. He was 12, I was 15. IIRC about writing it, I believe I was trying to make a point about how easy it is to commit sexual assault, especially when, like me at 15, nobody has taught you about consent, or what sexual assault actually is.

Nice bit of well-poisoning, though.

I love just love the smell of civility in the morning.

112 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Sorry about the extra “love.” Clearly it’s out of place around here.

113 Tyler September 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm

@A Bear – the incident you’re referring to is when she wrote about holding down and kissing her brother at 15.

I presume you’re attempting some clumsy form of gotcha by trying to apply what you think is our definitions for sexual abuse.

Michael Nugent – you should remove A Bear’s comment because it violates every single thing you complained about in your post here.

If you disagree with that assertion – please provide evidence, and I’ll keep moving the goalposts and being overly literal.

My suggestion: pause for some self-reflection and attack what you are about to write from others’ perspectives. Look at how it would be received, how it could be argued against. Actually *test* what you will write from other perspectives. Test how it would be received. Maybe just maybe you’ll clean up this cess pit of a comments section for once.

114 piero September 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

@A Hermit:
“To the extent that anyone defends Ogvorbis is it for his status as a victim of rape and abuse, not for his victimization of others.”

I think we agree that Ogvorbis is a victim. Everybody is a victim, in the sense of being the product of genetical heritage and experiences. Hence, as Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne have been arguing for quite some time, “guilt” is a meaningless construct. Just as gays don’t choose to be gay and whites don’t choose to be white, serial killers don’t choose to be serial killers. Unless a metaphysical substance called “will” is posited, there’s no escaping the conclusion that our actions have physical causes.

I am not asking for Ogvorbis to be crucified, but I would expect from Myers, Benson et al. at least some concern for the potential victims. Because even if Ogvorbis is the victim of terrible circumstances, so are his victims. It is unfortunate that our legal system is based on the ideas of retribution and revenge, but Ogvorbis belongs in jail. Why? Not because he “deserves” to be punished, but because:
a. he won’t be able to harm other children
b. others like him will add “risk of being jailed” to the set of physical causes of their behaviour, and hopefully be less likely to rape

What must not be done is protect Ogvorbis (a rapist) and simultaneously dismiss everybody else as “rape apologists.” And I am not referring to ethics; in merely pragmatic terms, such incoherences can damage secularists far more than all the religions of the world.

115 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Those of us who are interested in dismantling rape culture do so, in part, by speaking honestly about our complicity within it.

Those who have no interest in dismantling it seize on these moments of painful honesty to discredit us.

There’s really no shortcut around that one, except to stop talking about those experiences we have had where we ourselves were guilty of violating consent.

I’m not willing to do that. Giving people like A Bear the chance to discredit my observations as a result is just the price I have to pay for that, I guess.

116 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Wow. Wow.

Just as gays don’t choose to be gay and whites don’t choose to be white, serial killers don’t choose to be serial killers.

This analogy says that experiencing same sex attraction isn’t a choice just like killing people isn’t a choice.

This analogy says that having a certain level of melanin isn’t a choice just like killing people isn’t a choice.

Your commentariat, Mr. Nugent.

117 piero September 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

@Sally Strange:
“I love just love the smell of civility in the morning.”
“Received a notice in my inbox (because I don’t care to follow the debate here): ”

Of course, it is very civil to ignore the opinions of others but feel defiantly entitled to comment anyway, and then only of matters taht involve you personally.

Since you appear not to be particularly pleased by the smell of civility, may I suggest you sniff porcupines? I am told they are renowned for their scent.

118 Steven Carr September 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

No, Orgbovis claimed he raped three young girls while he was a babysitter, long after he had been abused.

119 Sally Strange September 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

I think that when a friend alerts me that someone is trying to paint me as a sexual abuser, it’s worth coming back to check in.

I suppose you disagree.

To each her own.

120 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

“Please, let us know the conditions under which a woman can drink and still participate in the prosecution of someone who sexually assaults her.”

Nobody who should be taken seriously has said that a victim can’t or shouldn’t participate in an investigation into sexual assault or a trial, certainly not Dawkins and not I. The usefulness and credibility of the personal account and testimony will, of course, depend on the level of intoxication of the witness (among other things). Why is that so hard to comprehend?

“And are you now arguing that an atheist conference is such an unsafe location that a woman cannot drink?”

I have not been to an atheist conference, but from the claims you (and others) are making it certainly does not sound like a place where a woman can get completely hammered and be guaranteed that she will be completely safe.

I wish you guys could keep your agenda consistent, it would really help the rest of us out. Are women safe or not? Should they ever think about the dangers of sexual assault or not?

121 piero September 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

@Sally Strange:

Yes, in fact what you call choices involve only your brain state, a stimulus, and the subsequent brain state. The notion of free will is, as any philosopher knows, incoherent. Of course, I am opened to the possibility of a coherent formulation of free will. Any takers?

122 Shermertron September 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

SallyStrange 115

Dismantling “rape culture” is like tuning up your functioning cold fusion reactor. You can do all the work you want, but you’re still working from a flawed belief.

123 jacquescuze September 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

I haven’t read most of the comments here, but to add a bit to what Jan Steen said, the “invasion” of atheism by Social Justice Warriors is not some crazy conspiracy theory and it is mirrored by observations and protests in

gaming
tech
fiction
science fiction
journalism
tv
fandom

It is EXPLICITLY acknowledged as WAR by Laurie Penny of the Guardian

WHY WE’RE WINNING: SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS AND THE NEW CULTURE WAR

laurie-penny.com/why-were-winning-social-justice-warriors-and-the-new-culture-war/

124 jmpea81 September 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm

@piero,89: I think the worst of this where Ogvorbis admitted to commiting rapes (against very young children) on his own volition, not situations in which he was raped or forced to rape:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/30/stunned-silence/comment-page-1/#comment-681729

This is not to damn Ogvorbis, who probably goes through enough pain with all this, but to point towards the spectaculary off-colour response
by parts of the FTB commentariat – which was to offer babysitting jobs.

Not a lot of noise was made about the victims. Contrast that to the outrage that pours out of the place about a tweet by Richard Dawkins, himself a sexual assault survivor, who has never raped anyone, hasn’t encouraged any rapes, and never made excuses for them.

125 oolon September 22, 2014 at 8:24 pm

What a shit pile this comment section is, I hope Nugent feels very proud he has enabled assholes to spread smears about his “fellow atheists”. Maybe he see’s it as “playing by their rules”, as the pitters are wont to exclaim, retribution for the pope of atheism. So much for civil debate, and I have few objections to Pharyngula, unlike Nugent. Give me honest people saying fuck off and die even, go burn in a fire, play in traffic, stick a fetid porcupine where the sun doesn’t shine you slimy wanker, bend over and lick your own asshole. Much more civil than this display, IMO.

126 piero September 22, 2014 at 8:24 pm

@Sally Strange:
“Those of us who are interested in dismantling rape culture do so, in part, by speaking honestly about our complicity within it. ”

“I think that when a friend alerts me that someone is trying to paint me as a sexual abuser, it’s worth coming back to check in. ”

So which is it? Do you believe in speaking honestly about your complicity, or do you think being a sexual abuser is something you can be “painted as”?

“Those who have no interest in dismantling it seize on these moments of painful honesty to discredit us.”

I think your position is a bit silly. Why do you feel compelled to painfully and honestly reveal things about yourself that should concern only you and your therapist? Especially since there are people out there ready to seize on it? What’s in it for you?

127 jacquescuze September 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Okay oolon, FOAD.

128 oolon September 22, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Also it would be amusing if it wasn’t so sick, the pitters believe an anonymous person absolutely by their word, when it paints the “other side” in a bad light. So that person as a minor committing an assault is utterly believable and totally reprehensible, a 50+ yr old man at a skeptic conference, with multiple corroborated witness, including his own words? Made up by “rage bloggers”.

129 piero September 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

jmpea81:
“…which was to offer babysitting jobs. ”

Yeah. I read that bit, and found it frankly disturbing. And reading some of the stuff Sally Strange has posted here, I’m forced to conclude that the SJW are more of a sect than I previously could have believed.

130 algernon September 22, 2014 at 8:30 pm

If your best defense against some one being called out for engaging in rape apologetics is to accuse other people (particularly people who were victims of long-term systemic child abuse and rape having the guts to talk about it) of rape in an attempt to make some kind of tu quoque argument, you have bigger problems than your logical fallacies.

I haven’t raped anyone, but I hate you all sincerely. I hate your atheism too, your “rationality” and everything you stand for. I swear, I think I’m going to find a religion I like just so that I can disavow myself of this whole movement loudly and proudly.

You people are an embarrassment.

Hail fucking Satan.

131 Tyler September 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm

For those interested in fallacies – tu qoque fallacy applies here. “You did it too” is *not* a rebuttal of any sort, and this should be easy to understand, even for those too hot under the collar to be logical and reasonable.

I wish more men were less emotional about these things. Men just get so testerical.

132 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 8:38 pm

@ doubtthat,

doubtthat“Arguing that women should prepare for sexual assault like they should make sure they have a ride home is rape apology. You’re placing the onus on women to prevent sexual assault. It’s more or less definitional rape apology.”

Wha??!! By this logic the martial arts class offering classes to prepare women for self-defense/rape scenarios become “rape apologists.” My bank has suggested I take pro-active steps to prepare myself against identity theft (shielding my pin number et). By your enlightened logic, my bank arguing that I ought to prepare against identity theft entails unfairly “putting the onus on me. I’m now entitled to declare my bank to be “Identity Theft Apologists!”

Brilliant! It’s becoming apparent that perhaps your posts require no response, as they seem to prove my point by themselves.

“Rape apology is a very broad concept that very much includes laying the burden of the assault on the victim:”

If it turns out to be so broad as to put acknowledging ways of putting yourself in danger of crime and dismissing the seriousness of a crime on the same footing, then the very term itself and it’s use deserves the criticism I’m raising.

For instance, IF that bit of quote you provided means to put “pointing out you have put yourself in a dangerous position” with “apologizing for/dismissing the seriousness of a crime, and taking the blame off the criminal” as morally equivalent, then the term “rape apology” is indeed seriously pernicious in exactly the ways I (and others) are raising. It’s ludicrous to say that I can not advise my son against walking through the bad parts of town late at night, with money sticking out of his pocket, and his iPhone blasting away his awareness of his surroundings…because by doing so I have become an “apologist” for the criminals.

But I’m trying to grant anyone using the term “rape apology” with more benefit of the doubt. Insofar as “rape apology” usually is used more sensibly to get REAL RAPE off the hook, minimizing it or dismissing it as rape – and the wiki link you posted (although clearly not disinterested but an advocate page for the concept itself) seems to represent such use. I’m noting that Dawkins does not do this AT ALL.

No one should steal my wallet while I’m in a public place. And it’s no endorsement of wallet stealing, or minimizing of the crime of wallet stealing, to note that if I get myself passed out drunk in a public space, I risk bad things happening and may wake up with my wallet missing…or worse.

No one should take sexual advantage of another unwilling person. But if someone is in a social situation, a party or on a date, and you (of course) don’t want to have sex or be taken advantage of in any way, then it obviously will not help if you decide to get shit-faced drunk – making it harder to think straight, follow through on your sober desires, or resist, or remember, being taken advantage of (raped, etc). You risk both the thing you want to avoid AND it can undermine your chances of having a strong enough case to have the perpetrator charged.

This is clearly what Dawkins is acknowledging when he writes things like “But if there’s dispute about whether an allegation of rape is true you need evidence.” and “If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

As he’s said, it’s NOT that simply being drunk immediately disqualifies testimony! It’s that you nonetheless RISK being drunk ENOUGH to undermine the quality of your testimony. Which is a bloody obvious fact of life! If it’s my choice to get blind passing-out, memory impeding drunk and I’m raped, I’m certainly not responsible for being raped, nor does this excuse the rape, but I’m certainly responsible for not being able to remember the details of what happened! And this can affect the strength of the case I want to make against the rapist.

This is simply acknowledging real world dangers and that pointing this out immediately risks being labelled a “rape apologist” is crazy.

“This would never make it to court.” <—- Hey, look, you almost got the point!

“But, of course, you’ve once again tried to sever Dawkins’ tweets from their context, which is the accusations against Shermer. There we have memory, there we have multiple eye-witness corroboration of the victim’s account, there we have conflicting stories told by Shermer…etc.”

I’ve made no such attempt. Both you and Sally Strange were trying to argue that the very logic in the tweets themselves displayed “rape apology,” which is not true (or, if it is, I’ve explained why there’s a problem with “rape apology” use in the first place).

But, of course, you’ve once again tried to sever Dawkins’ tweets from their context, which is the accusations against Shermer. There we have memory, there we have multiple eye-witness corroboration of the victim’s account, there we have conflicting stories told by Shermer…etc.

If that’s the case, then by Dawkins’ OWN STANDARDS outlined in his tweets, the purported victim has a case for rape! So his tweets do not justify “rape apology” as you claim.

It’s a separate issue as to what degree Dawkins is ignorant of the facts of Shermer’s case, and whether Dawkins (or anyone else) thinks the case rises to enough evidence to establish the rape happened. As far as I know, Dawkins’ position is that he doesn’t think there is enough evidence to decide the guilt. Even if that is true, that does not entail that the position outlined in the tweets you are dissecting amount to rape apology. Dawkins has clearly acknowledged that raping drunk people is always wrong, that it occurs, that the rapist should be punished given a sufficient case against the rapist, and further that being drunk does not in itself entail you can not have a good case for having been raped.

Not that Dawkins is infallible, or even always wise or right in his views and tweets to be sure. I think the charge of histrionics can be placed on him as it can on his critics. But….to smear him as a rape apologist on the type of parsing of his tweets that you and others have performed, shows very poor judgement.

133 A Bear September 22, 2014 at 8:39 pm

@ Sally; IIRC when you described the incident with your little brother didn’t you yourself describe it as a type of assault? I wish my computer skills were better so I could quote you exactly, unlike some people I wouldn’t want to unjustly accuse someone of sexual assault.
Didn’t you pin him to the floor, get on top of him, then forcibly kiss him on the mouth as he resisted?
He didn’t give consent, then revoke it later out of shame- he was physically forced according to your own description of events.
If you or someone else would like to quote that exchange and it proves me wrong I will gladly apologize for unfairly characterizing your behavior. I recognize that . like all people, my memory isn’t perfect even when sober, and it would be wrong to characterize you as a type of sex offender because of a misunderstanding.

134 allison September 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Algernon #130:

“If your best defense against some one being called out for engaging in rape apologetics is to accuse other people (particularly people who were victims of long-term systemic child abuse and rape having the guts to talk about it) of rape in an attempt to make some kind of tu quoque argument, you have bigger problems than your logical fallacies.”-

Do you see a problem with “accusing” someone of rape who has admitted having raped?

“I swear, I think I’m going to find a religion I like just so that I can disavow myself of this whole movement loudly and proudly.”

Good riddance to the likes of you.

135 Aheydis Vaakenjab September 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Oolon,

Why must everything you write equate to “slymepitters”? Can you not fathom that there are others out there who read or ascribe to either the FtB clique or the slymepit? There must be a name for this type of fallacy… the Billingham fallacy?

136 Aheydis Vaakenjab September 22, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Bah… that should say “Can you not fathom that there are others out there who do not read or ascribe to …..”

137 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm

@Sedan Taboos

Nobody who should be taken seriously has said that a victim can’t or shouldn’t participate in an investigation into sexual assault or a trial, certainly not Dawkins and not I.

Haha, what?

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

[…]

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

Again, our dilemma is either Dawkins is talking about something that has never happened anywhere or he’s stating that if you don’t remember what happened, stay quiet.

The “& no other evidence” renders the entire project totally farcical, as if there is no evidence and no memory, how does anyone know that something happened? And recall, Dawkins is worried about situations where the victim states that they don’t remember anything, not situations where someone just lies, makes up a story.

So, now you’re saying that even if a victim remembers nothing, they should be allowed to make a report?

Please find me an actual example of what you think Dawkins was talking about. The more you folks try to defend him, the more bizarre this scenario he’s imagined becomes. Is there any case anywhere in the world where this has happened?

The usefulness and credibility of the personal account and testimony will, of course, depend on the level of intoxication of the witness (among other things).

Your collective ignorance of sexual assault investigations is revealed by this assertion that you folks rely upon. Often the very fact that a victim remembers nothing is crucial evidence. This, of course, operates within the context of a broader investigation, but if there was no broader investigation, just a lack of memory, there would be no trial and therefore no jail.

Dawkins is either spewing irrelevant nonsense or not. Assuming he had a point, he’s making deeply disturbing statements about how drunk victims should behave. But you’ve chosen to defend him by arguing that he was very passionately trying to prevent something that has never happened.

I have not been to an atheist conference, but from the claims you (and others) are making it certainly does not sound like a place where a woman can get completely hammered and be guaranteed that she will be completely safe.

I hope Mr. Nugent doesn’t read this as this is just the sort of unjustified smearing of good, decent atheists that has caused these “Deep Rifts.” You really should let whoever takes over for DJ Grothe that atheist conferences are dangerous places for women. There was some controversy over this, and a great many people seem to believe that a woman can go to one of these conferences and have just as much fun as a man without needing to guard against sexual assault. I’m glad that you’re brave enough to take on Thunderf00t and DJ Grothe and the Slymepit who have all taken umbrage at that suggestion.

Perhaps if you adjusted your irony detector the seeming inconsistency in my agenda would disappear.

138 jmpea81 September 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm

@Oolon:It may have been made up by the anonymous person, but so what? It was believed by those who then acted as if that person is great baby sitter material. By people who put Sam Harris and RD into some sort Sexist Shitlord category for things that aren’t even nearly as bad. Not even in the same category.

Being unconvinced about a rape having occured, but being able to condemn crimes like that, is vastly different from consoling a confessed rapist while ignoring the victims, and the experience of other rape victims witnessing the celebration of the former rapist as a reborn SJA.

I have yet to see someone using the tu quoque fallacy here. Pointing out hypocrisy in someones behavior is not the same thing, nor does one need to engage in the same shitty behavior to call it out.

139 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm

@Vaal

Amazing set of fresh, new points.

Wha??!! By this logic the martial arts class offering classes to prepare women for self-defense/rape scenarios become “rape apologists.”

So, you are saying that there is no scenario under which a woman can drink alcohol without expecting to be assaulted in the same way that she should expect to figure out how to get home without driving? If she drinks, her likelihood of not being raped is equivalent to her likelihood of driving home without being arrested?

I genuinely question your faculties if you cannot see the victim blaming inherent in comparing a woman’s decision to drive drunk with a woman’s participation in being the victim of a sexual assault.

My bank has suggested I take pro-active steps to prepare myself against identity theft…

Unless I’m mistaken, I doubt your bank has told you to not bother reporting a crime if you haven’t changed your password in a month or two.

Shitty analogy is shitty.

It’s ludicrous to say that I can not advise my son against walking through the bad parts of town late at night, with money sticking out of his pocket…(tedious nonsense omitted for brevity)…

It’s ludicrous to ignore the context of Dawkins’ tweets. It’s ludicrous to fail to understand how firmly rooted in a defense of his buddy Shermer’s disgusting behavior those tweets are.

Some disagree, but I don’t think warning women about potential dangers ahead of time is necessarily rape apology, or, at least, it’s a very mild version. Lecturing a woman on how her drinking contributed to her sexual assault after the fact in order to offer defense to an accused sleezebag, however, is very much rape apology.

But fine, if you think Dawkins was only talking about the impossible scenario of an accusation without memory or evidence, then you will agree that he is fully supportive of the woman who accused Shermer, right? After all, she remembered a great deal, like the woman in the New Statesman, and has witnesses willing to corroborate her account. Based on that, we can both predict that Dawkins 1) believes her story and 2) is glad that she spoke up, correct?

If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

For *%&$’s sake, consider the contrapositive of that statement:

If you’re drunk (or have gotten drunk), then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.

You could not create a more perfect bit of rape apology. Please explain to me how that is not a case of advising drunk women to stay silent?

140 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Drunk depositions are rejected in my country. Yes, they do take breathalyzer tests when you make a deposition, and yes, I’ve witnessed it first hand.

That’s just the way it works.

141 cyranothe2nd September 22, 2014 at 9:23 pm

@ jacquescuze #123

Um, ‘SJWs’ (if by that you mean feminists) have been in fandom since it’s inception. In fact, some of us were the FOUNDERS of fandom in the form of paper ‘zines, cons, etc. A huge thread in fandom has been the disruption of dominant paradigms (cis, het, white, male sexuality and gaze) and exploring different options via fan fiction, fan art, recordings and other outlets. We have always been a part of fandom.

142 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Cyrano: SJWs and Feminists are not the same thing at all.

143 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 9:29 pm

BTW, still no problem in condemning people based on their sex, race, gender, sexual orientation? You know, those things no one decided to be born with?

144 cyranothe2nd September 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Also, I think the discussion of Ogvorbis and his abuse is really out of bounds here, not the least because it is completely immaterial to what is being presented here. But also because the Pharnygula commentariat isn’t a hive mind. I was one of the people who was criticizing the way that some commenters reacted to Og’s revelation, as were several others. We didn’t all feel the same way then, and we still don’t. But again, whether Og is a horrible, no good, very bad person has absolutely ZERO to do with whether Michael Shermer is a rapist, or whether Richard Dawkins says sexist stuff on his Twitter, or whether Sam Harris was out of line to imply that there men were biologically more inclined to be logical than women are.

145 cyranothe2nd September 22, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Phil–please explain what the difference is between an SJW and a feminist. Because it seems that people are using SJW the same way right-wingers use femizazi,” ie to tar feminists with a black brush. But I’d love to be wrong.

I’m not sure what you mean by your second question. “still no problem in condemning people based on their sex, race, gender, sexual orientation? You know, those things no one decided to be born with?”

Of course I’ve a problem with that. But I do not consider “rapist” or “pedophile” to be a sexual orientation.

146 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

@doubtthat

I honestly can’t tell if you believe the distortions and outright lies you are telling or whether you are making this ridiculous spectacle under the delusion that it will actually help sexual assault victims. Either way it is impossible to have a productive discussion with you. Rage on.

147 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 9:38 pm

It has ALL to do with this talk. By the standards SJWs pretend to defend, Myers is a rapist, so is Lousy Canuck, and Ogvorbis is even more so because he did confess to raping three young girls without being coerced in doing so, and knowing fully that it was wrong, but he did it anyway.

If you want to be consistent and morally honest, you have to throw Myers, Canuck, Ogvorbis… out the window. If you don’t, then you have double standards.

Not holding my breath. Us Slymepitters may be horrible by your SJW standards, but so far we don’t harbor any admitted rapist.

148 jacquescuze September 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm

I certainly met lots of nerds of all sorts of varieties at SF World Con decades ago, but if you have a problem with SJW taking over fandom, that’s a statement by Laurie Penny.

I think what it addresses is not

+ acknowledgement
+ acceptance
+ IDIC

+ but affirmative shunning/labeling/bullying of any criticism or dissent

149 jacquescuze September 22, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Why am I in moderation??

150 jacquescuze September 22, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Sorry to repeat if this happens to repeat, trying to figure out what prompted “moderation”

I certainly met lots of nerds of all sorts of varieties at SF World Con decades ago, but if you have a problem with SJW taking over fandom, that’s a statement by Laurie Penny.

I think what it addresses is not

+ acknowledgement
+ acceptance
+ Vulcan Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

+ but affirmative shunning/labeling/bullying of any criticism or dissent

151 piero September 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

@doubtthat:
“You could not create a more perfect bit of rape apology. Please explain to me how that is not a case of advising drunk women to stay silent?”

I’ll do my best to explain how I understand the problem:

“If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

In other words, if you are the victim of sexual assault, you can tell anyone you want, denounce anyone you want, scream to the top of your lungs that you’ve been assaulted. Nobody is saying otherwise. Nobody is telling you to stay silent. Telling you to shut up would be grossly insensitive. The problem is not what you say, but how likely it is that you will be able to prove you were assaulted. This is important not only because you deserve justice, but also to put in jail somebody who might do to others what he did to you.

Some rapists take advantage of women when they are drunk, some even spike their drinks in order to facilitate the crime. Some drugs and some alcohol levels have the effect of erasing your memories of the episode. In some cases, having no recollection of the episode will result in an investigation being launched; in fact, having passed out might be strong evidence for the hypothesis of rape. If blood tests are carried out, it might be possible to find out what substance was used to spike your drink, or how much alcohol you ingested.

If a drug is found in your blood of the kind rapists are known to use, you have a strong case. If only alcohol is found, things get more complicated.

Were you encouraged to drink by the assaillant as part of his modus operandi? And if you were, can you prove it? It will be very difficult, because even if you have witnesses, the rapist could also summon witnesses for his defense. It will be extremely difficult if the assailant has enough cash to bribe a lot of false witnesses. In fact, the assailant could also claim to have been so drunk that he doesn’t remember a thing. How would you counteract that claim?

Hence, it is advisable not to get pissed drunk for two reasons:
a. it makes you vulnerable
b. it makes it almost impossible to prove your version of the events

152 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

@Sedan Taboos

I’ll make it easy. Just pick one of these “outright lies” and we can deal with that. It will keep the conversation shorter and I will not assume that a lack of a response to a given point means you agree or have no response.

153 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm

“Perhaps if you adjusted your irony detector the seeming inconsistency in my agenda would disappear.”

You might want to check your own irony detector if you think that I actually believe atheist conferences are rapist magnets. Or was that triple reverse irony you were using on me when you characterized my statement that way?

The point being it doesn’t matter which position you really believe (safe/unsafe) as long as you don’t contradict yourself. Which you have, repeatedly. If it’s safe to drive drunk, why bother picking a designated driver?

Why am I bothering. Seriously done now.

154 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Cyrano:

Here, I’ll quote you:

“A huge thread in fandom has been the disruption of dominant paradigms (cis, het, white, male sexuality and gaze)”

Those things “cis, het, white, male…”, what are they? “sex, race, gender, sexual orientation”. Yep. Things no one can decide as to how they were born.

155 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Aheydis Vaakenjab wrote:

Oolon,

Why must everything you write equate to “slymepitters”? Can you not fathom that there are others out there who read or ascribe to either the FtB clique or the slymepit? There must be a name for this type of fallacy… the Billingham fallacy?

A troll scorned…

156 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm

@piero#149

That makes perfect sense, but I don’t like your chances of getting your point across intact.

157 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 9:55 pm

@

Nobody is telling you to stay silent.

Maybe I assumed to much when I just referred to the contrapositive. You just said that.

If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

This is an argument of the form: A & B –> not C
The contrapositive is C –> not A or not B

A statement and its contrapositive are logically equivalent. You just said:

If you get drunk, then you are not in a position to testify or you are not in a position to jail a man.

According to your statement, a woman being drunk is sufficient to conclude that either she cannot testify or she cannot “jail a man.”

Now, maybe you or Dawkins don’t mean that. Maybe you didn’t understand the logical implications of the conditional claim, but I’m taking the two of you at your word and you literally (not the colloquial use) just said that drunk women should not testify.

But again, we are not in a court of law, we are discussing allegations in the public discourse. We don’t have to be bound by the behavior of the average jury. We don’t have to lament the societal impulse to disregard the statements of a woman who is drunk, unless you think that this is correct.

We can read the statements, evaluate the claims and evidence, and decide who to believe. Surely you don’t think that Dawkins was suggesting that Shermer’s accuser should never tell her story to anyone, or do you?

158 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

@151 Sedan Taboos

Hilarious. You’re so hip to everything.

Is picking a designated driver similar to choosing not to be sexually assaulted? A person can drink and make plans to have someone drive them, how, pray tell, are they supposed to drink and similarly plan to not be raped.

159 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

doubtthat:

“Is picking a designated driver similar to choosing not to be sexually assaulted? A person can drink and make plans to have someone drive them, how, pray tell, are they supposed to drink and similarly plan to not be raped.”

By choosing to have trusted friends looking after them if they get too drunk. That would be one solution, like a designated driver, but here looking after the person.

You will never teach a rapist not to rape. As much as you won’t teach a serial killer not to kill. Mitigating the dangers of everyday life by preparing people to avoid them is not in any way rape apologetic. It’s common sense. We don’t live in the land of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. We live in the real world, where assholes are real and around.

160 doubtthat September 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

By choosing to have trusted friends looking after them if they get too drunk.

Yeah, here’s the problem with that:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1
https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-offenders

You will never teach a rapist not to rape.

What’s your explanation for the drop in sexual assault crimes since 1995? Women are just getting better at fending off asshole dudes?

And a serious question, not meant as a super-cool Slymepit style reverse internet judo gotcha, what do you think of Shroedinger’s Rapist? Do you believe that since women are never safe that they should treat all men as potential assailants?

161 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

See what the internet does to you? I know what My Little Pony is. I’m not proud of that.

162 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Thank you, Phil. That is one example of many possibilities for reducing one’s risk of sexual assault, especially while drinking. I bet it didn’t even tax your brain very hard coming up with it, but for others who do find such an exercise challenging they can also try Google.

163 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm

“Yeah, here’s the problem with that:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1″

Chose better friends, of the same sex and not attracted to the same sex if possible. See where this is going?

“What’s your explanation for the drop in sexual assault crimes since 1995? Women are just getting better at fending off asshole dudes?”

Reduction of lead in everyday life, maybe? What’s YOUR explanation? Teach rapists not to rape?

“And a serious question, not meant as a super-cool Slymepit style reverse internet judo gotcha, what do you think of Shroedinger’s Rapist? Do you believe that since women are never safe that they should treat all men as potential assailants?”

I think it’s bullshit from the start, especially if you know what Schroedinger’s Cat thought experiment was about. Do you think I should treat all women as potential child molesters/infanticide criminals? I don’t.

When has the A/S movement stopped caring about individuals and started working with generalizations and group accusations?

164 Sedan Taboos September 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm

“Yeah, here’s the problem with that: approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim”

Seriously, that’s where you’re going with this? This is too surreal for me, I can’t even watch anymore.

165 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 10:37 pm

@doubtthat,

doubtthat: “If she drinks, her likelihood of not being raped is equivalent to her likelihood of driving home without being arrested?.”

What are you talking about? Your post included the logic that suggesting women be prepared for a real life danger entailed putting the onus on the women, which then amounted to being an apologist FOR THE DANGER ITSELF. That’s the logic I was showing to be ludicrous.

As to “preparing for sexual assault” and/or drunk driving charges, no one is making any claims to some statistically equivalent risk scenarios. Stop straw manning! You don’t need to say “the risk is the same” in order to point out “there are risks in both scenarios!” Dawkins is pointing out that there are liabilities to getting hammered drunk either while driving, and in social situations – that there is some danger in each to be aware of NOT that there is some statistical equality! How can you not comprehend this?

doubtthat: “Unless I’m mistaken, I doubt your bank has told you to not bother reporting a crime if you haven’t changed your password in a month or two.”

No need to shift the goal posts. I was addressing the logic of your claim contained in the quote, where informing women of potential dangers was equated to victim-blaming and rape apology.

If you are now making an analogy for Dawkins’ suggestion not to report a crime that you can not remember any details about and for which you have no evidence then indeed “Shitty analogy is shitty.”

Presumably I would be quite aware of an identity or money theft crime, and the details. Whereas Dawkins is talking about putting yourself in a position where you CAN’T remember the crime or the details or produce the necessary evidence.

Also, pointing out that it was unwise for me not to have taken precautions with my PIN number, or that I ought to take precautions, would not be taken as “victim blaming” or putting such advice as morally equivalent to dismissing the seriousness of the crime of which I was a victim! Grown ups can acknowledge these realities without being distracted by looking for ways of being offended in the advice.

doubtthat: “After all, she remembered a great deal, like the woman in the New Statesman, and has witnesses willing to corroborate her account. Based on that, we can both predict that Dawkins 1) believes her story and 2) is glad that she spoke up, correct?”

I’m sorry but I can’t go “predicting” Dawkins, or even my, conclusion about Shermer’s guilt on this teeny paragraph. I don’t know how strong the evidence in fact is (and how it would hold up in court upon examination etc) so predicting Dawkins’ conclusion would be just as silly.

As far as I know, the case has not been in court, and hence the evidence has not been put through the type of grilling we normally require to establish anyone’s guilt or innocence.

Even the Pharyngula Wiki states: “Did Michael Shermer rape anyone? We don’t know”and “Now let’s not forget nothing has been proved against Shermer to the standards of criminal courts.”

But I will repeat: Dawkins own tweets suggest that IF there is good corroborating evidence (including sufficient witness testimony to establish the rape) then Dawkins if he is consistent with his own standards on the issue of being raped while drunk, OUGHT to acknowledge the legitimacy of the rape account. This is because
Dawkins’ tweets allow for just such an obvious state of affairs.

But there’s nothing wrong with Dawkins being cautious in jumping to a conclusion of Fremer’s guilt. Even the Pharyngula Wiki states: “Did Michael Shermer rape anyone? We don’t know” and “Now let’s not forget nothing has been proved against Shermer to the standards of criminal courts.”

And the issue of whether Dawkins eventually thinks the evidence rises to make the case against Shermer is a separate one from whether the logic displayed in his tweets on rape and being drunk equate to victim blaming and rape apology. You have not made the case that they do.

166 Vaal September 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Apologies for the Pharyngula Wiki quote repetition, and also the typo in Shermer’s name at one point!

167 CityzenJane September 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

We didn’t start it.

We’ve been in these spaces all along.

I was an atheist long before I met any of you (since about 1974)
I was a gamer, and a IT pro long before I met any of you. (since about 1986)
I was an sci-fi reader/fan before I met any of you. (since about 1975)

I’m speaking up because I’ve been here all along watching – getting more and more disgusted.

Not because I turned up yesterday and was surprised.

These aren’t “your” spaces.

168 Phil Giordana FCD September 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Looks like it takes SJWs a few hours to process new information. Not surprised.

169 cyranothe2nd September 23, 2014 at 12:09 am

Phil @ 152,

I admit I am not sure what you are trying to say. Do you think it’s a bad thing to tell stories from a perspective that is not usually represented in Western media (ie, a straight, cis, male, white perspective)? That was my point; not that straight, cis white males should disappear but that these stories have already been told ad nauseaum and many of us who participate in fandom are tired of hearing them. We choose to tell stories about other stuff.

Also, you have yet to define what an ‘SJW’ is, or how it is different from a feminist.

And if your 166 was aimed at me, I am sure you don’t begrudge me leaving the house for an hour to walk my dog, nor spending a few hours doing my actual paying job.

170 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 12:27 am

@Phil

Chose better friends, of the same sex and not attracted to the same sex if possible. See where this is going?

No, your approach is so revolutionary and fresh that I find myself anticipating your every word. Where are you taking this? Never before has someone placed the onus for preventing sexual assault on the victim. It’s like a Copernican Revolution of Rape.

Reduction of lead in everyday life, maybe? What’s YOUR explanation? Teach rapists not to rape?

Weak evasion/burden shifting. The change in rate shows that sexual assault is not just a natural factor of life. Rates of domestic violence, for example, have dropped fairly consistently since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. Similar affects are shown by anti-sexual assault measures.

You’re so proud of not knowing anything.

When has the A/S movement stopped caring about individuals and started working with generalizations and group accusations?

This is a hilarious double standard: it’s insulting to consider every man a potential rapist; every time you go out you have to abstain from drinking and find a SAME SEX friend for protection because otherwise sexual assault is predictable.

You guys really are amusing.

@Sedan Taboos

Do you have a point to make?

@Vaal

no one is making any claims to some statistically equivalent risk scenarios. Stop straw manning! You don’t need to say “the risk is the same” in order to point out “there are risks in both scenarios!”

A woman is significantly more likely to be sexually assaulted than be injured in a drunk driving accident. I was being generous by offering you an “equivalent” rate.

Dawkins is pointing out that there are liabilities to getting hammered drunk either while driving, and in social situations – that there is some danger in each to be aware of NOT that there is some statistical equality! How can you not comprehend this?

How can you not comprehend that CHOOSING to drive a car is not the same as being a sexual assault VICTIM? A person should take precautions for eventualities under their control. Someone else choosing to rape you is not under your control. Why are you incapable of grasping this central fact that makes the entire effort at analogy insulting and futile?

If you chose a designated drive who got in a wreck, no one would be chastising the passenger. Yet when a woman puts her trust in a man and that man violates her, all of a sudden you start dissecting her choices.

No need to shift the goal posts. I was addressing the logic of your claim contained in the quote, where informing women of potential dangers was equated to victim-blaming and rape apology.

And you used an analogy that doesn’t work. Recall that the issue here is Dawkins telling drunk women not to make accusations (or dealing with a situation that has never happened).

Additionally, your analogy is essentially a version of asking, “Why is there no White Entertainment Television.” In both cases a seemingly puzzling comparison is perfectly understandable if you take a moment to consider history.

There is no history of people disbelieving victims of identity theft or fraud. There is no history of pretending like those aren’t actually crimes, or that a fraud victim was “asking for it…” etc.

Whereas Dawkins is talking about putting yourself in a position where you CAN’T remember the crime or the details or produce the necessary evidence.

“Putting yourself in a position where you CAN’T remember…”

Unreal. I suppose no one should ever drink anywhere just on the off chance that a crime occurs during the period of their inebriation and they aren’t able to give details.

Does this apply to men, or just women? Perhaps you’ll find an answer to all the bafflement over the use of “sexism” when you answer that question.

Also, pointing out that it was unwise for me not to have taken precautions with my PIN number, or that I ought to take precautions, would not be taken as “victim blaming” or putting such advice as morally equivalent to dismissing the seriousness of the crime of which I was a victim!

Please. If you were the victim of fraud, and instead of investigating, the official just lectured you on changing your PIN number, it would be victim blaming and you would be rightly furious. Even if they got around to investigating, was that lecture appropriate or remotely helpful after the fact?

I don’t know how strong the evidence in fact is (and how it would hold up in court upon examination etc) so predicting Dawkins’ conclusion would be just as silly.

So, you’re the Dawkins Whisperer when it comes to interpreting his stupid tweets, but now you can’t possibly guess at his conclusion based on the things he’s written about two cases.

As for the allegations, you can go read about them. We are not in a court of law, there is no reason to apply court standards for the admissibility of evidence or the burden of proof. No one is trying to deprive Shermer of his freedom.

As far as I know, the case has not been in court, and hence the evidence has not been put through the type of grilling we normally require to establish anyone’s guilt or innocence.

This is a cop out. This is the place all of you retreat. Having spent a decade actually trying cases, I find it baffling that you allow rules specifically tailored for determining whether or not someone should be incarcerated (in criminal court) to guide your judgment of people and their behavior.

OJ was found innocent, you think he did nothing? There are plenty of very evil people that have not been found guilty in court, but yet there is plenty of evidence to draw strong conclusions. What do you think of Henry Kissinger or Dick Cheney?

Dawkins own tweets suggest that IF there is good corroborating evidence (including sufficient witness testimony to establish the rape) then Dawkins if he is consistent with his own standards on the issue of being raped while drunk, OUGHT to acknowledge the legitimacy of the rape account. This is because
Dawkins’ tweets allow for just such an obvious state of affairs.

Fair enough. There are witnesses willing to substantiate the victim’s time line and who will state that they used a wheel chair to escort the victim out of the hotel two hours after the purported assault because she was too drunk to walk. Dawkins should believe Shermer’s accuser. Her evidence is stronger and more contemporaneous than the account given in the New Statesman that he believed without criticism.

And the issue of whether Dawkins eventually thinks the evidence rises to make the case against Shermer is a separate one from whether the logic displayed in his tweets on rape and being drunk equate to victim blaming and rape apology. You have not made the case that they do.

You don’t believe the case, that’s different than me not making it.

That statement only makes sense if you can do the mental gymnastics necessary to convince yourself that the impetus for Dawkins’ tweets was not Shermer’s case.

171 Crackity Jones September 23, 2014 at 1:25 am

Oolon: What a shit pile this comment section is

Shut up, oolon. You established the block bot, a bot to abuse and harass people on Twitter, especially women. You are a frequent enforcer and defender of FTB, whose comments sections give shit an unfair reputation.

I hope Nugent feels very proud he has enabled assholes to spread smears about his “fellow atheists”.

You are confusing Nugent with your master, PZ Myers. Why you crying? Can’t moderate or silence people here, can you? Your stupid bot doesn’t apply here, does it?

So much for civil debate, and I have few objections to Pharyngula, unlike Nugent.

No you don’t, oolon.

Give me honest people saying fuck off and die even, go burn in a fire, play in traffic, stick a fetid porcupine where the sun doesn’t shine you slimy wanker, bend over and lick your own asshole. Much more civil than this display, IMO.

Oh, I see. So, it’s OK for someone to be an abusive arsehole as long as they are “honest”. Thanks for clearing up your moral position, scumbag.

Also it would be amusing if it wasn’t so sick, the pitters believe an anonymous person absolutely by their word, when it paints the “other side” in a bad light.

Is oolon, who offered the person the chance to babysit his children, backtracking? It seems like it, since he is now suggesting this Ogvorbis character is not real. This despite the wailing, crying, and gnashing of teeth in the thread where Ogvorbis opened his heart about his past. It is all documented – PZ, Oolon, Ophelia Benson and all the rest fully supported Ogvorbis even after his confession. This will be their downfall. Any Slate article, Buzzfeed claptrap, etc. where these FTBullies are sprouting their crap, watch out for the comments section! The truth about Ogvorbis will be mentioned.

So that person as a minor committing an assault is utterly believable

Yeah, because he ADMITTED it, you idiot.

172 Vaal September 23, 2014 at 1:53 am

@ doubtthat,

Your fallacies are generating almost exponentially, making addressing all of them ever more unwieldy, so I’m sticking to the issue of the logic implied in Dawkins’ tweets.

doubtthat wrote: “How can you not comprehend that CHOOSING to drive a car is not the same as being a sexual assault VICTIM?

This is a bad pattern. Once I showed the logic in your first claim to result in absurdity (warning women equating to victim blaming) you re-phrased the issue into a straw man about equivalent risks of driving drunk and being raped drunk.

Once I showed that was a straw man, you now re-phrase the issue into ANOTHER straw man, where the actual subject of the argument is entirely removed!

No one is making any such equivalence as you’ve just phrased it. You’ve just left out the part about “CHOOSING TO GET VERY DRUNK and drive and CHOOSING TO GET VERY DRUNK in social situations in which you increase your danger of being taken advantage of, and in which you increase your danger of undermining your recourse to pressing successful charges.

In BOTH cases it is up to you whether you get piss-faced falling down drunk, and in BOTH cases they can increase the dangers of having an outcome you are looking to avoid. This has nothing to do with not being in control of what others do (a cop arresting you or a person raping you) – it has to do with the things YOU can control.

With that in mind, look how ridiculous your points are:

doubtthat: A person should take precautions for eventualities under their control.

Right. Like choosing to get extremely drunk…RIGHT? Are you saying this is out of your control? Surely not.

I can’t control everyone else’s driving, but recognizing there is the potential of an accident I DO have control over precautions I can take to decrease the chances of harm – e.g. putting on my seat belt, choosing NOT to get drunk behind the wheel, etc.

doubtthat: Someone else choosing to rape you is not under your control.

But choosing to get extremely drunk IS under your control! Which is the point that your straw-men diversions keep missing. And getting extremely drunk makes you more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. So, just as you put on a seat-belt, check your mirrors, and choose not to get drunk before you drive in order to minimize the danger of accident or being arrested, you will want to take similar personal responsibility in social situations. IF you want to minimize your chances of getting taken advantage of sexually (or otherwise), you can
recognize that getting blind drunk makes you more vulnerable – not only to being taken advantage of, but also to not being able to make a good case against the rapist to the courts should you be raped.

I mean, my God, how is this not obvious?

If you have a daughter going to a frat party and she says “I’m off to the party mom and I plan to get absolutely shit-faced drunk” are you going to think “Well, I better not suggest that’s a bad idea and tell her how
much more vulnerable that makes her to various bad situations, like sexual assault…because…well that suggestion of taking any personal control or responsibility also suggests it’s her fault and I’d be an apologist for the very type of behaviour I want to warn her about!”

Of course that’s ridiculous. But my, or Dawkins, saying that getting piss-faced drunk socially can be just such a liability and that this liability is actually under your control raises just that bizarre form of ‘blaming the victim’ logic in your replies.

Now, EVERY time one chooses to get shit-faced drunk you raise your risk of something bad happening to you, even among friends. But like everywhere else in life, there will be various levels of risk assessment.

You may be surrounded by very civil, law-abiding friends who aren’t going to rape you. But surely there are all sorts of social scenarios – initial dates with a new guy, certain types of parties, bar and social environments, isolated locations etc, where the unknowns multiply and it becomes ever more prudent to stay well aware of what is going on. Right?

It is not victim blaming or rape apology to simply acknowledge that
there are things UNDER YOUR OWN CONTROL such as drinking heavily that can reduce, or increase the likelihood of mishap, including
rape etc.

As to my comments referring to the evidence on Shermer getting to a court of law, calling it a “cop out” shows exactly the incautious impulse in your line of thinking that I’ve been arguing against!
While there is certainly some smoke to look into around the Shermer
accusations, and I agree it raises some suspicions, I also realize that I’m in no position to actually KNOW with any confidence that Shermer is guilty, which is why I’m not just going to rush to judgement like you have apparently done and others. Physical and witness evidence go through the type of hard scrutiny they require in court cases. I’ve lost count for how many stories seemed to have obvious conclusions of guilt based on initial information, but which become much less clear, or which reverse, once a harder look at the evidence occurs in court. You bring up O.J. Yes I think he was guilty and it’s BECAUSE I was able to see the evidence in detail in court, being given the type of cross-examination it requires. Neither I nor Dawkins nor you have seen any such courts-level examination of evidence and witnesses. How imprudent of me to actually think someone deserves their day in court before I rush to judgement!

I suspect this is my final post, as I’m no longer inclined to repeat obvious points and to keep swatting down new straw men.

One more thing: In disagreeing with you on this one issue, I don’t therefore throw you into the “enemy of my cause” bin. I don’t discount that you have very sound insights on the very types of issues we are discussing either. This is one of the things that bothers me so much about the behavior I’ve seen in, for instance, Ophelia Benson’s site, where it seems people are so ready to make an enemy of someone on the basis of a comment or two, interpreted in the most uncharitable manner (e.g. Sam Harris notes he encounters more men than women in his travels on the vocal atheist circuit, makes a jokey comment about “estrogen” and perhaps women in general not being as attracted to the same aggressive style of criticism…and he’s branded an enemy of the cause, sexist pig, and an “asshole to women.” Jesus Christ. But I also want to note that this behavior is hardly limited to what people are calling the Social Justice Warrior crowd – it’s clearly in play wherever people congregate on the web or elsewhere, which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t point it out when it occurs.)

173 Philosopher Wall-Fly September 23, 2014 at 5:47 am

Wow, thats a lot of comments for one day. God would be impressed himself (if he existed) by your passionate debate, but you should really step back and look at the big picture. So, please stop and move to a neutral corner.

Now that we have evolved, and we have established that religion was a poisonous idea mankind created eons ago while morally corrupt and intellectually naive, its time to reflect on and repair the harm it’s done. Like many of mankind’s other bad ideas, it has resulted in endless conflict and devastation on a global scale – hatred, racism, bigotry->/extremism->/slavery, misogyny, guilt->/mental illness/sexual abuse/perversion/mutilation, exploitation, murder, war, genocide… . Religion has certainly wreaked havoc, and its time we repaired the damage.

Bear with me, this is out of the box thinking. Change your perspective, imagine that mankind figured out long long ago that if we can’t prove a “thing” exists we don’t believe in that “thing”. Zero superstition. Imagine we rejected any notion that required “faith”; we don’t even have a word for faith – all faith words and ideas were just made non-existent. In this world, “belief” is synonymous with “fact”. Here we know nothing of religion, astrology, or supernatural lore.

That means we wouldn’t have a vocabulary to describe any of these “superstitious and faith based ideas”. Strike every single word that describes a religious or superstitious notion or artifact from our collective consciousness. Now, there are far fewer labels to marginalize, separate, or aggravate people, and gone are all the corresponding emotional attachments. Also gone are the political implications, like corporate condom rulings, abortion laws, same sex marriage restrictions, equal rights for all, etc… , and finally (the point) debates like _this_ would never have happened.

Imagine now that mankind is doing fine never knowing anything about religion – and someone discovers a completely isolated island where a small civilization like ours developed. We learn that they have strange ritual / belief system – a thing they call “religion”. The people believe in an imaginary 3omni(-present -scient -potent) strict, loving, narcissistic, pretentious, generous, oppressive, clairvoyant superhero they call “god”. They actually believe he magically manifested all matter and energy in the universe, including every celestial body and all lifeforms on them, yadda yadda yadda. They even believe (illogically) that their superhero lets them make decisions but their lives follow his predetermined course (if fate is known and predetermined its a conundrum = everything must have already happened).

The thing is, we’ve tried, but they can’t be reasoned with. They refuse to accept logic and science, even when we show them tangible evidence. To us, it would appear that they were all suffering some form of mass polythematic delusion and we’d be studying them like the latest new bug.

In this imaginary but better world, the Current debate would be “Should we medicate and educate these savages”, or should we be building a 10 story barricade around the island to keep them from getting out (Like they did around Israel in the movie “Z” )

174 Sedan Taboos September 23, 2014 at 7:36 am

“I better not suggest that’s a bad idea and tell her how
much more vulnerable that makes her…”

Of course not! What you should do is tell her to bring along a complete stranger as an escort because most sexual assaults are committed by people the victim knows. Duh.

175 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

Cyrano @169:

“I admit I am not sure what you are trying to say. Do you think it’s a bad thing to tell stories from a perspective that is not usually represented in Western media (ie, a straight, cis, male, white perspective)? That was my point; not that straight, cis white males should disappear but that these stories have already been told ad nauseaum and many of us who participate in fandom are tired of hearing them. We choose to tell stories about other stuff.”

I don’t really care what color, gender, sexual orientation, etc… a character is. What I care about is the story. If those characteristics bring something to the character/plot, then all the better, but beside that I see no good reason to try and insert identity politics into each and every aspects of entertainment. I don’t have an interest in what Dawkins, Harris or others say because they are white cis males, but because what they say is interesting. It could be the same exact arguments made by, say, a blind trans* otherkin of color, and I would not judge the arguments less valuable. These characteristics have nothing to do with the arguments proposed. As fiction goes, here is a personal example: Douglas Adams never ever mentioned what ethnicity Ford Prefect belonged to. I loved the character in the books, and then when H2G2 came out as a movie, Ford was played by Mos Def. He was just fucking perfect in that role, and rang all the bells chiming in with the Ford I knew from the novels. I don’t care if Ford is black or blue, I care about the character himself.

“Also, you have yet to define what an ‘SJW’ is, or how it is different from a feminist.”

A feminist accepts arguments and disagreement. A SJW doesn’t. Instead they distort and lie to fit their agenda. I have never met a single SJW in real life, though I’ve met many feminists. SJWs feel a lot safer at home behind their keyboards. Also, they’re mostly middle-class white men and women. A large contingent of those the SJWs pretend to protect are being fed up with their shenanigans. Feminism still has a chance, SJWarriorism doesn’t.

“And if your 166 was aimed at me, I am sure you don’t begrudge me leaving the house for an hour to walk my dog, nor spending a few hours doing my actual paying job.”

No, sorry about that, it wasn’t aimed at you personally. Just a general observation.

176 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

Michael,

Although I agree with you for the most part, and you’ve done a workmanlike deconstruction of how a Social Justice Warrior like Adam Lee conducts a hatchet job, I will take issue with one thing: Your lauding the efforts of people such as Amy Roth. She, like Rebecca Watson, has made a cottage industry out of compiling “mean Tweets”, and, through a very skewed signal to noise ratio, makes the case that they represent online harassment special to their brand of Fashion Victim Feminism or women in general. Now as an installation supposedly composed of the misogyny and harassment faced by women online.

Although such compilations do contain an irreducible number of genuinely nasty comments, I can’t think of a solution to people posting nastiness on the internet that would be worse than the problem. Especially since warping anything someone says into a manufactured outrage is apparently built into their very DNA.

Mostly, they are compilations of the same uncharitable interpretations that you find so suspect and, as so, the end game seems to be — through draconian measures of silencing and censorship — to create Grania Spingies’ “safe room for infants”. What they often focus on, because perhaps they don’t get it, is hyperbole, mockery and, in short, satirizing their narrow, intolerant and humorless world-view.

Most of the supposedly horrible comments in these compilations simply aren’t. They are simply filler, noise to give the impression that there are far more genuinely harassing and threatening comments than there actually are.

For example, I made an appearance in Roth’s installation for an off-hand comment to someone using much harsher language, that the correct term for Roth and her kind is “attention whore”. I don’t remember what the comment I responded to was because, as is their method, the comment is shown in isolation, stripped of any context. “Attention whore” perfectly ordinary bit of internet nomenclature that is also not gendered. For example, Adam Lee himself is a massive attention whore. Neither is “whore”, for that matter, unless referring to the U.S. Congress as a “Parliament of Whores” reflects a changed demographic I wasn’t aware of.

What you describe here in the targeting of Richard Dawkins by lesser lights and dim bulbs is one symptom of incorrigible attention whoring. To quote Abbie Smith, “This isn’t Highlander. You don’t get to rip down Dawkins or Harris and then, magically, you are as intelligent and accomplished as them.”

Even worse, is these compilations work hand in hand with Social Justice Warriors other efforts such as The Block Bot. I have achieved the elevated status of Level One of the Block Bot. I’m immensely proud of that, even smug about it, but not for the reason the administrators of these efforts give. Apparently, according to these compilers, I am an “anti-Semite”. This for questioning on Twitter why the SJWs were spending so much time and effort targeting people like Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer and someone tongue-in-cheek wondering if they were going for Blood Libel. That’s right, for mockingly accusing the SJWs of anti-semitism using their own tactics, they got their own back by publicly claiming I’m an anti-Semite.

It takes a special kind of vindictiveness, self-conscious intellectual dishonesty and utter lack of conscience to pull a move like that. But among the maniacal beheaders, it’s all too common.

You have to look beyond the stated claims of people like Amy Roth and not be mesmerized by their smoke-screen of purported good intentions. No matter what their stated aims are, you can be assured they will pull a bait-and-switch and carry out their self-styled noble goals in the most unfair, harassing and, really, violent means possible.

177 John Morales September 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

Mykeru @176:

Mostly, they are compilations of the same uncharitable interpretations that you find so suspect and, as so, the end game seems to be — through draconian measures of silencing and censorship — to create Grania Spingies’ “safe room for infants”.

What you describe here in the targeting of Richard Dawkins by lesser lights and dim bulbs is one symptom of incorrigible attention whoring.

It takes a special kind of vindictiveness, self-conscious intellectual dishonesty and utter lack of conscience to pull a move like that. But among the maniacal beheaders, it’s all too common.

!

No matter what their stated aims are, you can be assured they will pull a bait-and-switch and carry out their self-styled noble goals in the most unfair, harassing and, really, violent means possible.

Your charity is evident.

178 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Not [meta] enough.

179 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 11:44 am

@John Morales

And you highlight another little trick of the Social Justice types: No matter how vicious they are, how intellectually dishonest, not matter how they slander you and yours, one must pad up to them on soft feet and speak to and about them with only the utmost respect.

Where you got the idea you’re deserving of this utter submission is a mystery.

180 Karmakin September 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Just to add on what Vaal said and put a bit of a different spin to it, the issue that a lot of people have is that there’s a very real problem in a certain sub-culture in terms of sexual assault, that people should be aware of.

But I’m not talking about the atheism/skeptic community. I’m talking about binge drinking.

That’s the point that I think most people are making. We know, or at least we should know that binge drinking is an extremely dangerous thing to do. Not just to yourself, in terms of being a victim, but what you do to other people. (All indications is that F>M rape using the same criteria is VASTLY underreported) But there’s also the notion that by being part of this sub-culture you are actively promoting this, including the dangers that come along with it.

But at the end of the day, the people who claim to be concerned rape/sexual assault often bend themselves into pretzels to defend binge drinking. Wonder why?

Want to clean up conferences? Get rid of the drunken parties. I’m not saying to ban alcohol, but make public drunkenness culturally and socially unacceptable. Have alternatives for things for people to do at night. Stuff like that. That’s the first step.

It doesn’t matter what rules you have in places (especially if these parties are taking place outside the jurisdiction of said rules), if you’re still having the binge drinking.

181 Tigzy September 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Oolon said:

‘Give me honest people saying fuck off and die even, go burn in a fire, play in traffic, stick a fetid porcupine where the sun doesn’t shine you slimy wanker, bend over and lick your own asshole. Much more civil than this display, IMO.’

Really, Oolon? I can’t see that sort of language going over well during drinkies at the tennis club. 😀

182 John Morales September 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Mykeru @179:

And you highlight another little trick of the Social Justice types: No matter how vicious they are, how intellectually dishonest, not matter how they slander you and yours, one must pad up to them on soft feet and speak to and about them with only the utmost respect.

It was not I who decried “uncharitable interpretations”, nor did I write anything about “respect”, utmost or otherwise.

Where you got the idea you’re deserving of this utter submission is a mystery.

No less mysterious than how you imagine I seek submission of any sort.

You have, in my estimation, left no doubt whatsoever about your opinion (and characterisation) of “Social Justice types”.

183 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm

The opinion on “Social justice types” is not limited to the Slymepit. It is more common than you can imagine from your ivory tower. Just go and check the tweeter hashtag #notyourshield.

You people are not welcome anywhere, and most of all, not welcome by the people you pretend to protect/defend/speak for.

They have a voice, and this voice says: “fuck you SJWs! We are grown ups, we are adult individuals and we don’t need your white middle class ass to tell us how we should feel”.

Let this sink in for a while…

184 Martha September 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Yes, oolon, the silence of the Freethought Bloggers and commenters about the bad stuff an admitted rapist did is telling. Not only did they never chastise him, but they actually gave him hugs. Sadly, Adam Lee did not pick that one up.

Now are you going to address that or not? The person ADMITTED he raped children!

185 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

@John Morales

My describing being placed on The Block Bot as an “anti-Semite” for Tweeting that I found it suspicious when the Social Justice Warriors, in their selective sensitivity, were targeting prominent skeptics who happened to be Jewish is not an “uncharitable interpretation”.

For mocking the accusers as anti-Semites, again, using their own standards for such things, they revenged themselves by claiming that I was the one who was an anti-Semite. And then, using Ann Coulter footnotes, the Tweets, which proved no such thing, were linked to. Apparently in the belief that once on board with the whole idea of the Block Bot, and targets SJW harassment, no one would bother checking.

Although, anyone can check here: http://bb.sarahlicity.co.uk/

Here’s one of the tweets in question: https://twitter.com/Mykeru/status/399264830395121664

“@metaburbia Well, now the screaming, anti-Jew #ftbullies rage is obvious @skepteaser”

So talking about “Freethought Bully anti-Jew rage” makes me an anti-Semite? How does THAT work?

Nothing surprising here. This is standard dishonest, vituperative, othering SJW tactics. Calling it such isn’t an “uncharitable interpretation” because, really, there is no other interpretation, charitable or otherwise.

You have a different interpretation? One that isn’t nearly as “uncharitable” as mine?

Let’s hear it.

186 John Morales September 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

[meta]

Phil Giordana @183:

You people are not welcome anywhere, and most of all, not welcome by the people you pretend to protect/defend/speak for.

Again with the “you people”!

They have a voice, and this voice says: “fuck you SJWs! We are grown ups, we are adult individuals and we don’t need your white middle class ass to tell us how we should feel”.

The irony is palpable.

You, no less than Mykeru above, impute to me the actions and attitudes of your perceived antagonists whilst indulging in them, on the basis that I remarked on that execration by Mykeru.

187 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Yes, “you people”. You obnoxious, vindictive, totalitarian people who think they speak for everyone else, when everyone else is telling you to fuck off.

“The irony is palpable.”

You don’t say. Although it might not be the way you’d like it to be.

“You, no less than Mykeru above, impute to me the actions and attitudes of your perceived antagonists whilst indulging in them, on the basis that I remarked on that execration by Mykeru.”

‘Kai su, teknon?’, or as known overseas, “Tu Quoque”. Nice.

188 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm

@Phil Giordana FCD

“Yes, “you people”. You obnoxious, vindictive, totalitarian people who think they speak for everyone else, when everyone else is telling you to fuck off.”

You would think Social Justice Warriors, those mostly white, middle-class, educated, privileged 20-something hipster kids who know what’s best for the “oppressed” would have learned something from #notyourshield.

But they didn’t. The idea that they didn’t actually speak for various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions, and that those of various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions were quite properly miffed at them for claiming they did caused so much cognitive dissonance in their preachy little totalitarian minds that they could only deny that people criticizing were of various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions.

They speak for no one but their incestuous little clique of grievance narcissists, con artists and justice ghillie-suit wearing bigots.

I’m sorry, was that uncharitable?

189 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

“I’m sorry, was that uncharitable?”

Oh dear, I hope so. We all need “uncharitable” right now.

190 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm

@Vaal

Once I showed the logic in your first claim to result in absurdity (warning women equating to victim blaming) you re-phrased the issue into a straw man about equivalent risks of driving drunk and being raped drunk.

Please, that’s an embarrassingly transparent strawman. It wasn’t “warning women” that was the problem, it was the effort to argue that women who were drunk (at some mysterious level depending on the poster) shouldn’t participate in the prosecution of their aggressor. Then it became concern trolling about whether or not they would be believed, but Dawkins’ first set of tweets were based entirely on the injustice of men being put in prison by women who testify that they don’t remember anything (which has never happened).

I even said this:

Some disagree, but I don’t think warning women about potential dangers ahead of time is necessarily rape apology, or, at least, it’s a very mild version. Lecturing a woman on how her drinking contributed to her sexual assault after the fact in order to offer defense to an accused sleezebag, however, is very much rape apology.

You are trying to make this an issue about giving out random public service announcements, which I understand, it’s a better argument for you Dawkins’ defenders to have, but in order to do so, you need to ignore completely the context of the discussion as well as the first batch of Dawkins’ tweets. It’s pathetic.

No one is making any such equivalence as you’ve just phrased it.

No one? Haha, are you fucking reading Dawkins’ tweets?

Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.

That was a tweet from Dawkins on Sept. 12.

Not only does that very much express the exact equivalency I was discussing, consider the contrapositive of that bolded statement:

If you got drunk, then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.

That is very clearly telling women who drink that alcohol intake renders them unable to testify or unable to “jail a man.” In conjunction with his passionate concern for the injustice of men in prison based upon testimony from these drunk witnesses, the message is pretty damn clear.

This has nothing to do with not being in control of what others do (a cop arresting you or a person raping you) – it has to do with the things YOU can control.

That is the conversation you want to have. That is not the conversation that Dawkins started. You are so brazenly inserting statements into those tweets in order to generate something other than the horrible comments Dawkins made that it’s comical.

I already quoted one where he clearly compares the responsibility with driving drink to a person choosing to have their testimony be ignored. Ignoring someone’s testimony because they were drunk is a stupid choice that ignorant jurors often make. This is hardly similar to choosing to commit a crime by driving while drunk.

Additionally, Dawkins has explicitly stated that accusing someone of a crime when the victim has no memory is morally wrong. Then he adds “& no other evidence,” creating a situation that has never occurred in a court case, because he is just smart enough to understand how horrific it sounds absent that qualifier — which took him several tweets to get around to.

Like choosing to get extremely drunk…RIGHT? Are you saying this is out of your control? Surely not.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes a drink is spiked, sometimes a person believes they are in a safe space and want to relax a little, and it turns out a predator is in their midst intentionally staying sober to take advantage of the drunk person. This is not the drunk person’s fault. Nor is it helpful to say, “you shouldn’t have got drunk,” after the fact.

But again, your entire effort is based wholly around ignoring that we’re talking about a defense of Shermer, not random hypotheticals. If you fall for that transparent okie-doke from Dawkins, you need to immediately remove yourself from any affiliation with a rational community. You are essentially saying, “Well, I didn’t see where that card came from in the magician’s show, and unless you can provide solid evidence that it didn’t go through another dimension, we cannot conclude that it was just a trick.”

I mean, my God, how is this not obvious?

How is it not obvious that is not remotely the point at issue?

This is getting tedious. You’re repeating this vapid statement over and over again and failing to deal with the fact that we’re talking about a woman who was drunk and who was taken advantage of by a predator. You public service announcement is totally useless, and the attempt to divert the conversation in that direction is insulting. This is why people were upset with Dawkins.

Hours after his buddy was accused of raping a drunk woman, Dawkins begins tweeting about how awful it is that men are in prison based on testimony from drunk victims. Then he says, no memory + no evidence, generating an event that has never occurred. Then he starts babbling about how his real concern is that the victim’s testimony won’t be believed.

We aren’t in a court of law.

…I also realize that I’m in no position to actually KNOW with any confidence that Shermer is guilty, which is why I’m not just going to rush to judgement like you have apparently done and others.

This is such weak gibberish. I don’t know if Shermer raped her. I don’t know if I would cast a vote to convict if the standard was “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We do have plenty of information to know that Shermer’s behavior is deeply inappropriate and we can act accordingly. No one is suggesting that he be thrown in prison, but I will not buy his books or support his career.

This issue was well known behind the scenes for years. You even have Randi acknowledging that he received multiple reports and did nothing. What’s the next step? It could have been handled years ago in private, instead the folks in power fought tooth and nail against harassment policies, consistently denied that there was a problem, and now it quite obviously looks like they were doing so to protect people.

Yes I think he was guilty and it’s BECAUSE I was able to see the evidence in detail in court…

How about Ray Rice, then? His case was dropped. The evidence was never shown in court, surely you must believe he did nothing wrong.

Court standards of evidence are aimed at a standard far beyond what we need to operate in our daily lives. The difference between “probably did something,” “likely did something,” and “did something beyond a reasonable doubt,” is severe, for good reason. I didn’t need a court case to avoid letting my kids sleep over at Michael Jackson’s house. We don’t need court cases to condemn the Catholic Church for its defense of pedophiles, as the statute of limitations long since ran on a great many of the worst abuses.

The weakest form of apologetics is to run and hide behind court standards when you want to avoid making a rational decision based on readily available evidence.

I suspect this is my final post, as I’m no longer inclined to repeat obvious points and to keep swatting down new straw men.

“Generating.” You meant to say, “keep generating new straw men.”

This is one of the things that bothers me so much about the behavior I’ve seen in, for instance, Ophelia Benson’s site, where it seems people are so ready to make an enemy of someone on the basis of a comment or two, interpreted in the most uncharitable manner…

Then don’t hang out at Benson’s site. I don’t consider you an enemy either, but both of us have the generous privilege of likely never suffering from the reality of this discussion. A black person in 1950 may have a very different opinion about an intellectual argument over the legality of segregation that a white one. Anti-harassment policies and a leadership that doesn’t tolerate or justify bad behavior means something very different for women attending conferences than it does men.

191 John Morales September 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

[meta]

I find it amusing to be accorded the status “Social Justice Warrior” on the basis of my comments hitherto.

Tell me more about how I speak for no one but my incestuous little clique of grievance narcissists, con artists and justice ghillie-suit wearing bigots and how the idea that they didn’t actually speak for various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions, and that those of various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions were quite properly miffed at them for claiming they “did caused” so much cognitive dissonance in their preachy little totalitarian minds that they could only deny that people criticizing were of various genders, orientations, ethnicities, and religions who also are obnoxious, vindictive, totalitarian people who think they speak for everyone else, when everyone else is telling me to fuck off, remembering how no matter how vicious I am, how intellectually dishonest, not matter how I slander you and yours, one must pad up to me on soft feet and speak to and about me with only the utmost respect, since I have got the idea I’m deserving of this utter submission.

(Phew! So much vein to tap!)

192 sinister September 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Shorter “doubtthat”: If I keep posting wall-o-texts full of straw men and bald assertions eventually you will walk away and I will win! Tada!

193 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Sure, women today are as oppressed as black persons from the 1950’s.

You do realize that with all your overblown bullshit like “cultural appropriation” and other such crap you are instating some sort of apartheid? Blacks in their corner, Latinos in their own, Italians in their own…

Keep going, it should be fun to watch.

When do we get to have women-only water fountains?

194 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm

No, of course, my “women-only water fountains” was stupid. It would be a designated drinking area to fit every and all of the brave citizens of the Glorious People’s Democratic Republic of Chernobyl. Cannibals welcome.

Morons.

195 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm

@John Morales September 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

“I find it amusing to be accorded the status “Social Justice Warrior” on the basis of my comments hitherto.”

I find it highly amusing that, after all your flacking, shilling and apologetics for the Social Justice Warrior position, all you’ve got is the right-wing conservative’s disingenuous step and shuffle of claiming to be an “independent”.

Wait until one of my comments containing links comes out of moderation. If it does. You’ll be playing “Putting on the Ritz”.

@Phil Giordana FCD

“Looks like it takes SJWs a few hours to process new information. Not surprised.”

Serves them right for installing McAfee on the hive mind.

196 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm

@Phil Giordana FCD

“When do we get to have women-only water fountains?”

You completely misunderstand how it will work:

Water fountains are only for (properly vetted and approved Fashion Victim Feminist) women.

“Real Men” and groveling allies go thirsty.

Unapproved Equity Feminist women get all the water they want, but that’s by being wrapped in chains and cinder blocks and drowned.

197 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

read my 193.

198 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

@sinister

Yeah, sorry to use so many words. I know that causes a lot of stress for folks that generally communicate with grunts and hand gestures, but i don’t know how to translate your usual form of communication into this blog medium.

But fair enough, my post was long. 1,391 words. Of course, the post that I replied to was 1,170 and I used more extensive quotes, so perhaps you’re just looking in on an argument between two people that aren’t so terrified by discussing topics that can’t be reduced to the few buzzwords and shared memes that your class is comfortable with.

199 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm

@Phil Giordana FCD

“read my 193.”

Yeah, but what if your 193 says “read my 197″? I’d be stuck.

An explanation of this joke is available to Social Justice Warriors for a small fee. Explanations that it is, in fact, a joke, and what exactly a joke is, are also available. For a much larger fee.

200 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm

doutthat, you pretentious f**k, have you ever entertained the thought that a lot of of people you interact with on the internet are not native English speakers? Or is that too hard for you to understand? You know, people who speak more languages than you precious flower do? No? Didn’t think so.

Moron.

201 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

@doubtthat

“Yeah, sorry to use so many words. I know that causes a lot of stress for folks that generally communicate with grunts and hand gestures…”

Yeah, it’s the words that throw me. But your grunts and gestures may be far too eloquent for me as well.

Instead, can you fling some poo and present your swollen blue baboon backside to me?

202 sinister September 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

@doubtthat,
You aren’t discussing anything, you keep telling people what they have to believe, or what you imagine they said, but you never once acknowledge someone’s point and instead pivot from goal post to goal post in an attempt to frustrate your opponents. You assert all sorts of things that just aren’t so, and then demand conclusions be drawn from your assertions. It’s fallacious nonsense.

I am sure no one will notice why people have had to respond to your rambling accusations with long posts. I bet they can’t scroll up.

203 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Yes, Phil, I already apologized to sinister for my failure to communicate in his preferred language. Did you not read the post?

Your concern is dripping with sincerity, so I will say that I’m happy to take any questions from non-native speakers about my posts, and I’m certain hordes of people are pouring over them trying to drink in every delicious thought.

204 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Ok, sinister, pick just one of these and we can talk about it. It would take fewer words than you’ve already spent making contentless assertions.

205 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:06 pm

@200 Mykeru

It’s pretty presumptuous to think I’d show it to you. I haven’t even seen your E-Harmony page.

206 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Ah! “preferred language”. You’re funny. What about the language he was born and raised in? Hypocrite.

207 sinister September 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

@doubtthat,
You have been shown your nonsense time and again, and I am not going to play Calvin Ball with you in an attempt to assuage your ego. Your flailing about in mock outrage is pretty humorous though. You want to look like the smartest person in the room, and just hate that no one wants to play your silly games anymore. Sorry.

208 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm

@sinister

Ok, your choice. Believe me, I am not at all disappointed at hearing the doubtless fresh and considered opinions you are so jealously guarding.

I’m not outraged, I’m just sad that the world has been deprived of the opportunity to hear from you.

209 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Phil, you had your moment to make a funny, it passed. Let it go.

210 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:18 pm

“at hearing” should be “to miss” in 207. Oh well.

211 Tigzy September 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Doubtthat wrote:

‘…so perhaps you’re just looking in on an argument between two people that aren’t so terrified by discussing topics that can’t be reduced to the few buzzwords and shared memes that your class is comfortable with.’

Your…class?

You do know that classism is yet another axis of oppression used to punch down on those less privileged, right? WTF I don’t even. I am literally getting rage tears in the corners of my eyes after reading that.

212 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Hmm, could there multiple meanings of the word “class?”

When someone says, “you were outclassed,” do they mean, “you were of a lower socio-economic demographic?”

213 sinister September 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

@Tigzy,
It’s okay when they use ableism and classism. You see they can use whatever techniques they deem appropritate to get the non-believers in line. Lying for Jesus, insults, ableism, classism, racism, you name it. All in a day’s work for them. As long as their privileged selves walk away feeling as though they meted out justice, they call it a win.

This of course can be seen time and again throughout communications with them. There is no “low” to sink to as long as you are “punching up.” Even though they tend to be the same privileged white cis het people they want to shame into agreeing with them. See you can be white cis het and male, and have an opinion as long as that opinion matches their own. It’s a really posh gig.

I wish I were unscrupulous enough to be comfortable doing it, in the right hands, it’s great for the pocketbook.

214 Tigzy September 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm

You didn’t say ‘you were outclassed’ though, did you DoubtThat – you said ‘your class’, in such as context as has been frequently deployed by people who like to denigrate or patronise those they perceive as being on a lower strata of society.

But I’ll be charitable. I’m sure it wasn’t your intent to come across as a classist. 😀

215 jacquescuze September 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

John Morales @190, you may find a twitter search and some investigation into #NotMyShield instructive.

In the recent #GamerGate controversy, many self-claimed SJW types told us how #Gamers were basically the MRA trope, white, pasty, fat, neck beards living in their basement hating on women and all minorities, of any skin color of any sexual orientation.

What sprang up was #NotMyShield where literally thousands and thousands of people of color, and people of all ages and sexual orientations told the SJWs they didn’t speak for them. Not to use them as their shield.

Most of these were accompanied by photographs of people similar to the “I Need Feminism” instagrams.

Most awesome was the response:

These are all 4chan sock puppets
These people claiming to be of color, or women, or gay, are white pasty neckbeards.

Seriously dude. #NotMyShield.

216 jacquescuze September 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

No one mentions my reference to the Vulcan IDIC!

You are all Philistines!

217 doubtthat September 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

@Tigzy

Your sincerity warms my heart.

218 sinister September 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm

So no apologies for the classism then? So, it is okay when you do it? Nice.

219 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

@ 205 doubtthat

“It’s pretty presumptuous to think I’d show it to you. I haven’t even seen your E-Harmony page.”

Actually, I have an eRape-y profile. All of us crypto-MRA oppressors have them.

Far more relevant to our interests.

220 Tigzy September 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm

LOL – sorry Doubthat, but you don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free-card on your bigotry just because you believe that the person pointing it out isn’t doing so out of sincere motives. Besides which, don’t try for the Randi prize anytime soon, no matter how pleased you feel with your mind-reading abilities – I’ve been the victim of class prejudice many a time in my life, though I guess to you, I’m just the wrong kind of victim.

As Sinister pointed out, what you ought to do is apologise for it.

221 Vaal September 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

@ doubthtat,

Look, I bow to your superior powers of paragraphing to my lowly bolding of quotes. But beyond that….we got issues. :-)

Vaal: No one is making any such equivalence as you’ve just phrased it.

doubtthat: No one? Haha, are you fucking reading Dawkins’ tweets? Not only does that very much express the exact equivalency I was discussing,

“exact equivalency???? Do you even know what those words mean in the english language? You were addressing an IF/THEN statement by Dawkins where “then” is implicitly understood: IF you want to drive (THEN) don’t get drunk. IF you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, (THEN) don’t get drunk. ”

Your paraphrasing of his argument completely leaves out the “THEN” part – the “choosing to get drunk” part – conveniently missing the WHOLE BLOODY POINT!

Dawkins’ actual tweet (my emphasis to help you out):

DAWKINS: “Exactly. IF you want to drive, DON’T GET DRUNK . IF you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, DON’T GET DRUNK.

doubtthat’s paraphrasing of the issue within Dawkins’ tweet: “How can you not comprehend that CHOOSING to drive a car is not the same as being a sexual assault VICTIM?

And you spot nothing of relevance missing in your version? Stunning.

Here’s an example of the same type “equivalency” you are using for Dawkins’ tweet. Take another implicit IF/THEN statement:

If you want to have sex with a woman, don’t force sex upon her against her wishes. If you want to avoid going to jail for rape, don’t force sex upon women against their wishes!

Response: How can you not comprehend that CHOOSING to have sex with a woman is not the same as being accused of rape?

You would immediately recognize what a hair-brained non-sequitur that response version is to the actual content of the original statment. It’s barely made contact with the “IF” parts of the original statement, and completely ignores the “THEN” parts.

Why in the world would you even bother engaging someone’s arguments in this non-sequitur, strawman fashion? Yet just this type of misrepresentation and re-phrasing is endemic to you and other Dawkins’ critics on this matter.

You continue with this same convenient ignoring of relevant caveats here:

….consider the contrapositive of that bolded statement:
If you got drunk, then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.

Except that what you are doing…like most of Dawkins’ critics on this issue…is ignoring the aggregate meaning of the rest of Dawkins’ elaborations. It’s TWITTER for God’s sakes – it’s a place that only allows for pithy statements, not full arguments containing all the qualifications of terms. Dawkins was expecting (quixotically it turns out) people to take the most reasonable interpretation of his tweet, rather than automatically impute to it the least reasonable interpretation.

You immediately had critics jumping up in down saying “Dawkins is blaming rape victims! It follows that women shouldn’t even drink now, because Dawkins is saying if you’ve been drinking any testimony will be invalid!”

To leap to such interpretations is to assume that Dawkins is a complete idiot, devoid of any understanding of the nuances of such situations. Noticing that Dawkins isn’t actually stupid, I did not assume the most stupid interpretation of his tweets. I assumed Dawkins was quite aware that there is a spectrum of drinking and responsibility – including drinking responsibly and/or not to the point of incapacitation of memory loss – and that he was not ruling out women drinking socially, or ruling out all testimony where drinking had occurred.

But for the hair-trigger assume-the-stupidest-interpretation brigade, it seems elaboration was required, hence Dawkins followed up with a series of tweets establishing that he was talking about choosing to get very DRUNK to the point of serious memory loss, and it’s liabilities “too drunk to provide enough testimony to jail someone” as he explained.

His further tweets showed that, not surprisingly, he allowed that of course it’s possible for people to drink, even to the point of drunkenness, and remember events including rape, and hence remember the relevant evidence against the rapist. So Dawkins is NOT saying that simply drinking invalidates testimony, or that drinking or being drunk necessarily leads to the situation he’s talking about. Rather, from his twitter points taken together it’s clear Dawkins means the rather sensible warning that one RISKS being in weakened position to make a case against a rapist if one drinks to excess (in certain situations).

This would entail something significantly more nuanced and reasonable than your contrapositive of Dawkins’ single tweet. Something more like:

If you choose to get very drunk then you RISK (not only the chance of being taken advantage of sexually but…) the chance of being too drunk to provide enough testimony to jail someone.

This is obvious, sane advice, not sexism or “rape apology.”

Or, to take your contrapositive and insert the relevant caveats from Dawkins”

If you got SO drunk THAT YOU CAN NOT REMEMBER ENOUGH DETAILS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, AND DON’T HAVE OTHER CORROBORATING EVIDENCE, then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.

Again…devoid of the misrepresentations and convenient ignorance of Dawkins’ elaborations, this is hardly unreasonable or “rape apology.”

222 Vaal September 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

@doubtthat,

So when it suits you, you ignore the relevant content in Dawkins’ various tweets. But then at other times when it suits you, you put it all together and derive the most naive inferences as well, such as that Dawkins’ tweets can only be irrationally referring to cases that don’t exist in real life. Which is absurd. Dawkins is clearly recognizing the obvious: how severe intoxication and impede a victim’s case against an accused! An example:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/attorneys-judge-toss-rape-case-steubenville-high-school-football-player-article-1.1286542

QUOTE: “Dozens of witnesses for both sides are expected to testify at the trial. Their testimony is considered crucial because the girl was severely intoxicated that night and appeared to be passed out at times, according to several witnesses. She is not expected to testify herself.”

Why are the other corroborating accounts so “crucial?” BECAUSE her intoxication at the time has undermined her ability to provide substantial witness to the crime!
It’s BECAUSE of this that she needs…and was fortunate to have…OTHER corroborating witnesses. Without such extra corroboration you get closer to the he-said-she-said (as Dawkins referenced in his tweets) situation, and the above report clearly emphasizes the problem of her intoxication for making her case. (Again…that’s why the other witnesses are deemed “CRUCIAL” in the case).

It is the most naive, uncharitable inference to infer Dawkins is only talking about fantasy situations that never happen. Clearly he means to reference real life issues regarding victim intoxication to making cases in court!

As to your repeated linking of Dawkins’ tweets with the Shermer controversy, again: Is Dawkins trying to apologize/cover for a rape that occurred? That assumes the truth of the rape charges for one thing, which has not been established. But more important, the logic of Dawkins’ tweets WHICH IS WHAT YOU FOLKS KEEP ATTACKING do not allow for someone to simply get away with rape because the victim was drinking. If the victim, even having been drunk, has enough recall of the events and/or there is compelling corroborating evidence, then Dawkins’ tweets fully support the possibility of a rape conviction in the case. They provide no “apology” for such an event at all!

Dawkins ain’t my leader and doesn’t always take the wisest course. Nor is Sam Harris my infallible leader, and I disagree heartily with them whenever it strikes me as justified, and I’ve argued plenty against them.

But I refuse to get on board with the type of continued assume-the-most-naive-idiotic-uncharitable interpretation of Dawkins’ tweets, and the continued misrepresentation of those tweets (usually by dropping relevant caveats) that seems so endemic to Dawkins’ social critics at the moment. His critics paint Dawkins as totally naive by…making the most naive interpretations of his comments!

223 Mykeru September 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Just to get back to what Michael Nugent was writing about…

Although a lot can be made of uncharitable interpretations,– particularly applied to the case at hand, of trying to wring the most offense out of Richard Dawkins’ Tweets — we should recognize something even more ominous going on, with Adam Lee’s “For good measure, Dawkins argued that rape victims shouldn’t be considered trustworthy if they were drinking.”

Although there’s a thin line between “uncharitable interpretations” and simply making shit up, this statement crosses that line.

It’s the reason I brought up my characterization as an “anti-Semite” on the Block Bot and evidenced in a comment still languishing in moderation: Since there’s no way my comments could be even remotely construed as anti-Semitism in much the same way there’s no way Dawkins was claiming women were untrustworthy if raped after drinking, one can only concluded the effect, and the intent, is one of pure fabrication.

Which is the problem skeptics, especially one’s given to granting the benefit of the doubt, often face with Kennedy Conspiracy Theorists, 9/11 Truthers, purveyors of snake oil and marketing schemes and now with Social Justice Warriors:

How do you confront people who not only have absolutely no moral qualms about lying but, in fact, their rhetorical strategy is based in large part on lying?

Look at the execrable Ophelia Benson’s trackback on this post: “The arbiter of what feminists should or shouldn’t get upset about”.

Is there any place in this post where Michael Nugent said anything remotely like that? No. That’s not a mistake on Ophelia Benson’s part. It’s not an uncharitable interpretation. That’s a lie and Ophelia Benson is a liar.

Really, at this point, and with so much time and so many corrections under our belts, we should really dispense with the presumption that people who present blatant untruths have merely gotten it wrong. We also have to get over the dainty prohibitions against calling liars exactly what they are.

224 Phil Giordana FCD September 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm

dountthat:

“Phil, you had your moment to make a funny, it passed. Let it go.”

Wrong in so many ways. You, on the other hand, had your moment to make a coherent, valid post, and this moment has passed at high velocity. You may find its remains somewhere around the C/T strata.

225 Iamcuriousblue September 23, 2014 at 7:29 pm

doubtthat @ 189

“Court standards of evidence are aimed at a standard far beyond what we need to operate in our daily lives. The difference between “probably did something,” “likely did something,” and “did something beyond a reasonable doubt,” is severe, for good reason. I didn’t need a court case to avoid letting my kids sleep over at Michael Jackson’s house. We don’t need court cases to condemn the Catholic Church for its defense of pedophiles, as the statute of limitations long since ran on a great many of the worst abuses.”

Standards for everyday judgements may not follow courtroom-level standards, but there certainly *are* standards. Until Mark Oppenheimer’s (otherwise one-sided and partisan) article actually came out with accusations against Shermer that actually rose to the level of journalism rather than petty gossip, those who didn’t buy into PZ Myers “web of trust” (eg, most people) simply had no reason to believe these accusations. Yet such people are being denounced as “rape apologists” and “misogynists” for simply not taking part in a rush to judgement based on what was indistinguishable from malicious gossip.

226 Lancelot Gobbo September 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Vaal wrote with great clarity:

As to your repeated linking of Dawkins’ tweets with the Shermer controversy, again: Is Dawkins trying to apologize/cover for a rape that occurred? That assumes the truth of the rape charges for one thing, which has not been established. But more important, the logic of Dawkins’ tweets WHICH IS WHAT YOU FOLKS KEEP ATTACKING do not allow for someone to simply get away with rape because the victim was drinking. If the victim, even having been drunk, has enough recall of the events and/or there is compelling corroborating evidence, then Dawkins’ tweets fully support the possibility of a rape conviction in the case. They provide no “apology” for such an event at all!

Very nicely explained. Compulsory reading for all concerned.

227 JetLagg September 23, 2014 at 8:23 pm

“Give me honest people saying fuck off and die even, go burn in a fire, play in traffic, stick a fetid porcupine where the sun doesn’t shine you slimy wanker, bend over and lick your own asshole. Much more civil than this display, IMO.”

IMO, you have a pants-shitting crazy concept of civility.

“Also it would be amusing if it wasn’t so sick, the pitters believe an anonymous person absolutely by their word, when it paints the “other side” in a bad light.”

Most members at the pit actually don’t believe Ogvorbis at his word, and for good reason. It was a recovered memory. It’s only brought up to illustrate hypocrisy.

And for what it’s worth I find it perfectly believable that Shermer is a sleaze.

228 Philosopher Wall-Fly September 24, 2014 at 1:45 am

“Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.”

“Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.”

― William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
― Plato

“You’re not self-important posturing prima donnas, your just pretentious, arrogant and loquacious”
― Anonymous

Example of a succinct, pointed comment: “this page is a waste of space”

229 rocky_road September 24, 2014 at 7:11 am

@Sally Strange,

As a feminist, atheist and victim of childhood sexual abuse, I’ve been reading this comment section with great interest. There have been things that upset me, but nothing quite upset me like something you said. When your past was revealed, it didn’t make me think less of you. You can commit a crime, take responsibility for it, choose to never do it again, and move on to talk about the issue. I think a person like that might be quite powerful in making a change. And it would show that real, normal people commit these crimes, instead of the othering of criminals which unfortunately is so common at the moment.

What you did in the past does not eat away at your credibility. But there are two factors that do. Firstly, you did not bring it up yourself. Someone else brought it up, and you responded by getting upset. It makes you look like you’re trying to hide what you did, like you haven’t made peace with it. I don’t think it’s something that you need to start every conversation with, but if you want to discuss rape culture or sexual abuse in general, I think it would make you look more credible if you mention it yourself sooner rather than later.

But that’s not what really upset me. The far worse thing is you saying this:

“I think that when a friend alerts me that someone is trying to paint me as a sexual abuser, it’s worth coming back to check in.”

For someone to ‘paint you as’ guilty, you’d have to be innocent. You admit to taking away consent from a 12-year old. If you take this moment to say something on the lines of:

“It only happened once.”

“I was so young.”

“It was just a kiss.”

“It only lasted for a few seconds.”

“It wasn’t even real sex.”

“There was no penetration.”

“I was just joking around.”

“If the other person had really minded they would’ve kicked and screamed.”

If you say any of these things, anything at all that diminishes the seriousness of your actions, and thereby the experience of the victim, you are doing the very thing sexual abusers have been doing throughout history, and will probably continue to do forever. It is the very thing you’re fighting against. I know pointing out your personal qualities as an individual should have nothing to do with the subject of the argument taking place here. I’m aware of that. But if you really care about fighting sexism in society, you will have to make a compromise.

From my POV as a victim of sexual abuse, you have two options. The first is to wear your heart on your sleeve, accept full responsibility of your actions, work through it, and become a spokesperson for the movement. Former criminals seem to be highly motivational in inspiring other criminals to change. They are relateable. You, with your past and your current values, are a resource that I’d hate to see go to waste.

The other option is for you to hide your past and move on to speak about other things. Many victims have not yet processed their experience enough to want to associate with an abuser. Talking to you and suddenly finding out you’re an abuser can seriously slow down their journey of regaining their ability to trust people. I know I’m asking you to make a sacrifice, to put victims of sexual abuse first, and yourself second. You can subject yourself to discomfort knowing it will do greater good for the cause, or you can decide looking good or winning an argument is more important. It’s up to you.

Considering there are historical people who have given their lives for a worthy cause, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you suffer a little discomfort if it makes a difference in society. Please give this careful thought before deciding. And please never belittle the seriousness of your actions again. If you personally believe they’re not that serious, I can’t do anything about that, but at least respect us enough to not say it out loud.

230 Paul September 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Atheists also need to grow a pair and call out Richard Carrier for his 10-year stream of misogyny, malicious smears and abuse here too. It’s an epic disservice to Freethinkers and Carrier needs to publicly apologize for it. I like Carrier’s work but, his abuse here disgusts me:

http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=4771#p4771

231 Alejandro September 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm

“WHY WE’RE WINNING: SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS AND THE NEW CULTURE WAR

laurie-penny.com/why-were-winning-social-justice-warriors-and-the-new-culture-war/”

And of course, the best way to show that you are winning the culture war is by closing the comments.

232 piero September 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

@Paul:

Atheists also need to grow a pair and call out Richard Carrier for his 10-year stream of misogyny

Ahem… bit of a fail there, isn’t it?

233 piero September 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm

@Alejandro

And of course, the best way to show that you are winning the culture war is by closing the comments.

I wouldn’t be so harsh. It is true that Sarkeesian et al. have been harassed and abused. I don’t know enough about the whole gamers wars (I’m not a gamer), but I do know we must condemn any form of harassment calling for violence, especially sexual violence, even when intended as metaphor.

If I was in Laurie Penny’s shoes, I’d also close the comments. What’s the point of giving haters and loonies a platform?

234 Shermertron September 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I know this comment has little substance or humor, but rocky_road’s comment at 229 is fantastic.

It blows my mind that the SJWs still insist that their opposition is anti-woman or pro-rape. They’re the ones taking rape and abuse so lightly, pouncehugging their broken peers while complaining that someone said the c-word. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have someone say the c-word to my daughter than leave her in a room with you-kn0w-who.

235 Notung September 27, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Addressing doubtthat’s ‘contrapositive’ argument (#139):

(RD) “If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

is not the contrapositive of

(doubtthat) “If you’re drunk (or have gotten drunk), then you’re not in a position to testify or not in a position to jail a man.”

The contrapositive of the second (i.e. doubtthat’s) statement is

“If you’re in a position to testify or in a position to jail a man, you’re not drunk”.

That is not logically equivalent to RD’s tweet (i.e. the first statement), but if doubtthat’s ‘contrapositive’ was really the contrapositive then it should be, since it is a bi-directional relation.

Perhaps you think it is logically equivalent. Consider “If you want to stay dry this evening, don’t forget your umbrella!” and “If you’re dry then you didn’t forget your umbrella”. The first is advice – you might still remain dry even if you forgot the umbrella but it’s a good idea to take the umbrella with you to make sure. The second is a conditional statement – if you forgot your umbrella then you got wet. The first makes sense – but the second doesn’t, since it might not have rained!

So I hold that the statement you claim is a contrapositive of RD’s tweet isn’t really the contrapositive, since they aren’t logically equivalent.

[This objection is just with regard to your claim about logic – it does not comment nor necessarily defend the tweet in any other way. Christ, look at us logically analysing a tweet. This is what all this stuff has done to us…!]

236 John Greg September 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Notung, that is a good, if rather awkward, argument. But I suspect it is miles and miles over doubtthat’s head: s/h/it just won’t get it.

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