PZ Myers has failed five times to justify his smear that I am defending and providing a haven for rapists on my blog

by Michael Nugent on October 13, 2014

PZ Myers has not yet withdrawn or apologised for his serious allegation that I am defending and providing a haven for rapists, and that the evidence for this is that some people who comment on my blog also post on a different internet discussion forum. This is another example of the ratcheting up online of serious allegations and personal smears as if they were normal discourse.

Defamation matters, and I expect PZ Myers to maintain higher standards than I would an Internet troll. The word rapist has only one credible meaning: a person who rapes somebody. To say that I am defending and providing a haven for rapists is an unambiguously serious allegation. To suggest that rapists are commenting on my blog and on another forum casts a shadow over everyone who comments here and there.

Some people have speculated that PZ may not have meant to convey this meaning. I include below the subsequent Twitter exchange between PZ, Derek Walsh and Peter Ferguson, in which PZ was specifically asked five times how his stated evidence (that people who post on my blog also post on another website) supported his allegation (that I defend rapists).

PZ was five times asked the same question, in response to any of which he could have clarified and withdrawn and apologised for the claim, if that was not what he meant. Instead he continued the exchange on the basis of this claim. He answered questions that were specifically about how I am defending rapists, by referring to who is commenting on my blog, making a hypothetical analogy with the Ku Klux Klan praising him, and saying that he was judging me by the company that I keep.

He then changed the subject to two new smears against me:

  • Firstly, PZ alleged that my overt and ongoing opposition to sexism, in all communities including atheist communities, has been completely absent in my recent posts. Actually, this is demonstrably false, as I will show later in this post.
  • Secondly, PZ alleged that the reason that I am criticising him and others is because they are exposing sexism in atheism. Actually, the reason that I am criticising them is that they are misrepresenting and smearing named people and the atheist movement on a range of issues.

In a roundabout way, this latest smear brings the discussion back to my original reason for writing this series of posts – the misrepresentation of the atheist movement generally, and the injustice and hurt caused to individual people by demonising them – and I will review these wider concerns in my next post on this topic.

Finally, in his fourteenth tweet about his allegations, when asked how criticising him equated to defending rapists, PZ introduced a reference to me criticising him but not criticising a person who he described as a harasser. PZ did not name this person, or describe them as a rapist, or say that they were commenting on my blog or posting on the other website. When asked how this related to his claims that I am defending rapists, PZ did not answer and ended the exchange.

1. PZ’s original allegation

PZ Smear A

On the face of it, the allegation is clear: PZ is alleging that I am defending and providing a haven for harassers, misogynists and rapists. Also, he is not merely referring to what I think; he is alleging that I am actually doing these things.

There is no ambiguity in what PZ wrote. The sentence construction is clear, and it was written by an academic with a fluent command of English. It can only mean that I am doing both of the things he alleges (defending and providing a haven), for the benefit of people with all of the three characteristics he describes (harassers, misogynists and rapists).

All parts of this allegation are false and unjust. Different people may have different interpretations of the meanings of the words harassment and misogyny. However, the word rapist has only one credible meaning: a person who rapes somebody. Defending and providing a haven for rapists is an unambiguously serious allegation.

Also, PZ started his tweet with a period, in order that his answer to Derek’s question would not merely be provided to Derek, but would also be published on the timelines of the 157,000 people who follow PZ on Twitter.

2. PZ says his evidence is people who comment on my blog

PZ Smear B

Derek has now told PZ that this claim is incredibly serious and unsupported by evidence. If PZ had not meant to say this and had phrased the allegation carelessly, this would have been the perfect time for him to clarify that, and to apologise for writing it as he did.

Instead PZ responded that there is evidence to support the allegation. He said that the evidence is that my blog commentariat is populated almost entirely by slymepitters (the slymepit being the name of an internet discussion forum).

In saying this, PZ was extending his allegation against me, to also include a collective allegation against what he says is almost all of the commenters on my blog, to the effect that they are or include the harassers, misogynists and rapists that I am defending and providing a haven for.

This means that, if somebody trusted PZ’s tweet and reads any given comment on my blog, and/or believe that any commenter may also post on the slymepit, they could assume that the probability is that this person is a harasser, misogynist or rapist. This is a very serious allegation, particularly for commenters who use their real names.

3. First time PZ is asked how this means I defend rapists

PZ Smear C

Derek has now asked PZ how the notion that people who he doesn’t like comment on my blog is evidence that I defend rapists. Note the specific nature of the question: is this seriously the evidence that PZ is presenting to support his allegation that I defend rapists?

If for any reason PZ did not mean to say that I am defending rapists and that the evidence for this claim was that people who post on the slymepit also comment on my blog, this would be an obvious opportunity for him to clarify and apologise.

Instead, he spent three tweets describing how bad he believes people who post on the slymepit are, how they have found an excellent home on my blog, and how that ought to trouble me but doesn’t. For good measure, he also made an analogy with the Ku Klux Klan.

4. Twice more PZ is asked how this means I defend rapists

PZ Smear D

PZ Smear E

Derek has now asked PZ again how this means that I am defending rapists. Peter Ferguson has asked PZ the same question. This is the second and third time that PZ has been directly asked to specifically say how his statement that slymepitters comment on my blog is evidence for his claim that I am defending rapists.

Again, if PZ did not mean to say that I am defending rapists and that the evidence for this claim was that people who post on the slymepit also comment on my blog, this would be an obvious opportunity for him to clarify and apologise.

Instead he continued to criticise people who post on the slymepit, said that it is ironic that I am complaining about personal attacks while overlooking the people posting on my blog, and said that he considered that Derek and I are not fighting for principle but making personal attacks by any means.

5. Fourth time PZ is asked how this means I defend rapists

PZ Smear F

Derek has now granted PZ this assumption, and asked how does not deleting comments from people who frequent that site equate to defending rapists. This is the fourth time that PZ has been specifically asked how his claims to date are evidence that I support rapists.

Again, if PZ did not mean to say that I am defending rapists and that the evidence for this claim was that people who post on the slymepit also comment on my blog, this would be an overdue time for him to clarify and apologise.

Instead he responded that he had not said that I should delete comments (as an aside, how else would I avoid having people commenting on my blog other than by deleting their comments?) and said that he was saying that he judges me by the company I keep.

6. Fifth time PZ is asked how this means I defend rapists

PZ Smear G

Derek has now again granted PZ his latest assumption, and asked, even so, how does that mean that I am defending rapists. This is the fifth time that PZ has been specifically asked how his claims to date are evidence that I defend rapists.

At this stage, if PZ did not mean to say that I am defending rapists and that the evidence for this claim was that people who post on the slymepit also comment on my blog, this would be a long overdue time for him to clarify and apologise.

Instead, PZ changed the subject by saying that I should be more appalled by sexism in atheism than by people who expose sexism in atheism. Derek responded that I have a considerable history of doing this, and PZ replied nope, and said that it is completely absent from my recent posts, and belied by my choice of targets.

PZ and his colleagues sometimes refer to people refusing to apologise for something as ‘doubling down’ after they have been ‘called out’. To borrow this terminology, PZ is now ‘quintupling down’ on his allegation that I defend and provide a haven for rapists on my blog.

Incidentally, there are two new untruths in his new subject-change smear.

6(a) The first untruth in PZ’s subject-change smear

Firstly, PZ claims that my overt and ongoing opposition to sexism, in all communities including atheist communities, has been completely absent in my recent posts. This is simply not true. Here are some examples from posts that I have written recently:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atheist activists and groups and authors around the world are working hard to promote reasoned evidence-based world views, and to counter the harm caused by faith and superstition… I believe that we should do this work while also promoting compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas. I believe that this should include tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society, and making our groups and events welcoming to everybody who wants to be involved.

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

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.

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.

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.

From my post – Another week, another set of misrepresentations and personal smears

I believe any organisation that receives a complaint about a sex crime related to their activities (including the Randi Foundation) should report it to the police, rather than deal with it internally. Also, I agree with rape crisis professionals such as RAINN who say both that reporting by victims is a very personal decision that must be right for the individual, and also that their goal is have every rape reported to police, just as every murder is.

Nobody should try to objectively trivialise the subjective emotional suffering that a sexual abuse or rape victim undergoes, which is unique to each victim. Sexual abusers and rapists violate the bodily integrity of their victims, and violate the personal consent of their victims, by imposing their own desires onto innocent children, women and men.

The victim’s suffering can be equally traumatic regardless of whether the abuser or rapist is a family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger, and regardless of whether the abuser or rapist used physical force, or threat of physical force, or non-violent psychological coercion. If you live in a stable democracy, the people best placed to support and advise victims are the rape crisis centres that exist in many towns and cities.

To combat sex crimes and maximise the provision of justice, we need better resources for victim support, better public education about the nature of sex crimes, and better laws and legal training to vindicate the rights of everybody involved. As with any area of crime, we need as many crimes as possible to be reported to the police, so that as many criminals as possible are brought to justice and as many innocent people as possible are cleared.

I believe that an adult victim of any sex crime should decide whether or not to report it to the police. I believe that it is a personal decision that only they can make based on their own circumstances.

We saw what happened in the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, when a woman making a rape allegation ended up being asked by an internal disputes committee about her drinking habits and previous sexual history. Senior officials then asked an AGM to trust their judgment in mildly rebuking the man against whom the complaints were made. They added that they didn’t pass on the complaint to the police as they had no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice. Skeptical foundations are no more qualified than the Vatican or the Socialist Workers Party or bloggers to investigate or make judgments on allegations of sex crimes, particularly in cases where there are so many conflicts of interest involved.

So PZ was simply wrong when he claimed that my overt and ongoing opposition to sexism, in all communities including atheism communities, has been completely absent in my recent posts.

6(b) The second untruth in PZ’s subject-change smear

PZ was also wrong to suggest that the reason that I am criticising him and others is because they are exposing sexism in atheism. Actually, the reason that I am criticising them is that they are misrepresenting and smearing named people and the atheist movement on a range of issues.

My particular reason for publishing my criticisms now was that, in my opinion, distorted versions of various disagreements in sections of the atheist movement were leaking into more mainstream media, and were creating an inaccurate interpretation of the work of the atheist movement worldwide.

I wanted people to be aware that most of the atheist movement is not engulfed by these disagreements, contrary to what some mostly American bloggers and activists seem to believe.

I wanted people to be aware that 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.

I wanted people to be aware that there are 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.

I focused in more detail on the claims made by Adam lee in his Guardian article, because he asked (indeed, challenged might be more accurate) critics of his article to point out specific misrepresentations and smears. I also focused in more detail on the claims made by Ophelia Benson in her response to my original article.

For example, this is what I wrote about PZ specifically:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So PZ is simply wrong to suggest that the reason that I am criticising him and others is because they are exposing sexism in atheism.

7. The remainder of PZ and Derek’s Twitter exchange

PZ Smear H
PZ Smear J
PZ Smear K

After PZ’s two inaccurate change-of-subject smears about me, Derek asked PZ does he expect a free pass from criticism, and how does criticising him equate to defending rapists. PZ replied that he hadn’t said he was exempt from criticism.

Derek replied that following detailed criticism of specific things that PZ said and did, PZ accused the critic of defending rapists. PZ replied: “Detailed criticism of outing a serial harasser, with zero criticism of said serial harasser. That speaks volumes.”

Note here that PZ’s original claim was that I am defending and providing a haven for harassers, misogynists and rapists. This tweet by PZ referred to an unnamed harasser, not a rapist, and was therefore not a response to Derek’s question of how does criticising PZ equate to defending rapists.

Derek then asked PZ if he was equating refusing to comment on a particular allegation with defending rapists. PZ declined to reply and the exchange ended.

8. Summary

So here is an overview of PZ’s attempts to justify his claim that I defend and provide a haven for rapists.

  • First he spent nine tweets making and discussing his claim that the evidence was there are people commenting on my blog that also post on another website. During this exchange, he failed five times to respond to direct questions asking him how this evidence supported his claim, and said that he was judging me by the company that I keep.
  • Then he changed the subject to two new false smears against me: that my ongoing opposition to sexism has been completely absent in my recent posts, and that the reason that I am criticising him and others is because they are exposing sexism in atheism.
  • Finally, when asked how criticising him equated to defending rapists, PZ introduced a reference to me criticising him but not criticising a person who he described as a harasser (and not as a rapist). When asked how this related to his claims that I am defending rapists, PZ did not answer and ended the exchange.

I will continue to highlight this pattern of misrepresentations and smears for as long as PZ and others continue to make them.

His other smears in the original tweet, that I am defending and providing a haven for harassers and misogynists, are also false, unjust and hurtful. But they are more complicated to address as some people have flexible interpretations of the meanings of the words harassment and misogyny.

However, the word rapist has only one credible meaning: a person who rapes somebody. PZ has alleged that I am defending and providing a haven for rapists, plural, and that the evidence for this is that people who post on another website also comment on mine.

I again ask PZ to withdraw and this unambiguous serious allegation, and to apologise to me and to the commenters implicated in his smear.

9. Some guidelines on commenting here

Please don’t say that named people are lying unless you can support that they know they are saying something untrue. Please feel free to say (and support) that they are saying something that is untrue or false or any similar description. But saying that they are lying implies that they know that it is untrue, which is judging their motive for saying it.

I have removed several comments from this series of posts that were prejudging a specific allegation against a named person, or that were speculating on unproven allegations of sexual assault or rape against three other people. For clarity, none of these people post on the website that PZ has linked to rapists, and three revealed the allegations themselves on another network.

So please respect these guidelines while commenting here:

  • Please feel free to discuss the best ways to combat and minimise rape, by individuals, organisations, rape crisis professionals, the police or society generally.
  • Please feel free to discuss your own experiences, as some people have.
  • Please don’t speculate on specific unproven allegations against other specific named people.
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{ 204 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karmakin October 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm

You’ll never get an answer. Mainly because there isn’t one. This isn’t about feminism or equality for women…those ideas and concepts are simply the ball that’s being fought over. But more precisely, it’s about developing and maintaining the “us vs. them” environment.

My experience, is that I left that particular community about two years ago, after I found discussion on anti-harassment policies at skeptic conventions less than productive. I did not feel that most people (not all, but most) were interested in actually creating a comprehensive, predictable and system-based approach to combating harassment. Instead, what people were interested in was giving them a weapon that they can use on whoever they wanted to. PZ himself rejected that idea because it “gave instructions to harassers”. An idea I find preposterous.

And quite frankly, it’s only worse now IMO. There’s no deep moral precept here. There’s no ethical guidelines we’re discussing. Not really. Anything that looks like that is strictly an illusion, to be discarded when no longer convenient. And it’s not just atheism/skepticism. We see it all over the place, the exact same behavior. People wielding these deep moral concepts that have no more weight to them than a feather.

Make no mistake, there’s some pretty heavy issues being talked about here. But in the wider context, unfortunately there’s too many people who treat them like they’re pillows, in some massive pillow-fight.

2 Steve Vanden-Eykel October 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Just for the record, and for the edification of the uninitiated, the Slymepit is not a forum dedicated to the defense of rape. Mostly, it’s a collection of people that got banned from Myers’ blog because we called him out on his bull, and got banned for it. Even the name comes from Myers; we adopted it as a badge of honor.

I’m not aware of a single member of the Pit who is an actual rapist. This puts us one up on Pharyngula, which does include in its ranks an admitted rapist who has never faced the punishment for his crimes, nor have his victims ever received justice.

As for the comments here being mostly Slymepitters, whose fault is that? Myers’ followers are welcome to post here, and they’re welcome to post in the Pit as well. And yet…they don’t. They don’t like forums where they’re not able to silence criticism.

3 Steve Vanden-Eykel October 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Meanwhile, to any curious onlooker, I invite you to try Science. Do an experiment. Sign up to Myers’ blog. Wait until you find something you genuinely disagree with, the more minor the better, and then try to argue your position politely. See what happens.

Repeat at the Slymepit.

4 piero October 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Myers won’t apologise. Ever. He is totally incapable of admitting a mistake.

Myers and others like him are not valid interlocutors; the only reasonable response is to deprive them of public platforms. I for one would welcome a joint statement by the responsible voices of atheism (including you, Michael) to the effect that Myers, Benson et al. are personae non gratae. The honour should be extended to people like Reza Aslan (who has just today called Sam Harris a “genocidal fascist maniac”) whose dishonesty renders them unworthy of conversation and debate.

5 Jack Rawlinson October 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I can’t decide whether the stink of abject self-blindness or dogged, staggeringly hypocritical hatefulness is stronger with Myers’ words and actions now. To be perfectly honest, there’s starting to be a whiff of actual derangement about the man. He seems to have almost entirely lost touch with what’s fair, reasonable or balanced.

6 Matt Cavanaugh October 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

As someone who comments both here and at The Slymepit discussion board — and who does so under his real name — I take Myers’ public accusation, that this places me among a group of rapists, in complete earnest. That Myers has also publicly accused me — specifically, by name, and entirely without foundation — of intending to stalk a fifteen year-old girl, must strongly influence my interpretation of his intent, and will inform my formal response.

7 John D October 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I apologize in advance for being redundant. I will state again, that I think PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, and their ilk are toxic and destructive to the advancement of skeptical and secular causes. If you agree, join me in pledging to NEVER click on their sites. They will only go away if they get no clicks. NO MORE CLICKS on sites that are clearly designed as click-bait.

8 Shatterface October 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I’ve mentioned this before but I didn’t encounter FTB through the ‘usual’ route of atheism. I live in the UK and being an atheist has never been an issue, even though I went a catholic school. I’m sure there are enclaves in the UK where religion matters but I’ve honestly never had to defend my atheism and I’ve never sought out the company of other atheists for emotional support.

My route to FTB was through my opposition to postmodernism which was running rampant through the social sciences. One of the many useful books I found invaluable was Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Sangstrom’s Why Truth Matters, a brilliant defence of Enlightenment values in the face of epistemic relativism. That book led me to Benson’s original Butterflies & Wheels blog and from there to FTB.

I was never impressed by Myers. The arguments against Creationism were overly familiar and the ‘Crackergate’ stunt was puerile: it was on an intellectual level with Pastor Terry Jones’ threats to desecrate the Koran – without the possibility of a violent backlash.

I liked the squid pics though.

People are calling what happened to FTB the result of ‘radical feminism’ or ‘social justice’, or whatever – but really it was an infestation of the same postmodern claptrap that lead me to Benson and Sangstrom’s book and ultimately to FTB: epistemic nihilism, political posturing and weaponised identity politics by people who actually belong to economic, cultural and political elites.

The way accusations of sexual misconduct have been mobilised to silence dissent is particularly disgusting.

This was Benson and Sangstom in 2006:

Too much attention to “points of view” with too little scepticism can get innocent people convicted of crimes, on the basis of testimony from people with “points of view” but no evidence. A number of US court cases dealing with putative recovered memory, Satanic ritual abuse and child abuse in day-care facilities have achieved just such a result in the past two decades. Law-enforcement officials and juries were solemnly instructed to “listen to the children”, and long prison sentences were handed out to people who were not, in fact, Satanists or secret child-murders. The dangers seem obvious, but not everyone sees them.

What the hell happened to Benson since then? I mean, I never expected much of Myers but Benson’s moral and intellectual deterioration has been tragic.

Postmodernism represents a massive betrayal of Enlightenment values of democracy, fairness and intellectual honesty. FTB is nothing more than a entryist organisation that seeks to mould atheism into something as authoritarian, bigoted and irrational as the religions we have largely shrugged off.

9 Blueshift Rhino October 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

A very important question (to me, at least) is raised in MN’s post: why does PZ behave one way in person and another way on the internet?

My working hypothesis is that it is a manifestation of relatively typical bully behavior. And bullies depend on support.

On the internet, PZ has a huge number of supporters that are “closer” to him (in psychological space) than his target; this allows him to express hateful and often inaccurate information in relative safety. In person (which can include when giving a talk or participating on a panel), the target is as close or closer than The Horde; this is not safe enough for him to express hateful and inaccurate information.

Note: the above is probably the main reason for his draconian editing, deleting, and shadow-banning of dissenters on his site: to make sure that his supporters continue to outnumber his critics. It is also why he will never post here.

I do not believe that anyone will change PZ or even get him to apologize by pointing to and/or calling him out for his inappropriate behavior. It’s very nice of MN to try – it shows great faith in PZ as a person – but I just don’t see it happening under the current conditions. Nor will threats to return the “favor” of one of his nastiest recent acts (i.e., a doxxing) do anything, either. As long as he has The Horde close by, he will remain an internet bully.

Likewise, attempts to prevent PZ from attending conferences will not do anything useful on its own. He isn’t a problem a conferences; he’s a problem on the internet. If all he has is the internet, all he will be is a problem.

So what does one do? In a previous comment, Steve (@3) suggested that folks try the experiment of posting a calm and sensible criticism on PZ’s blog and seeing what happens. Since many of us already know what will happen, many of us already know that this will only illustrate the problem again; it will not solve it. (But to those who have doubts: I urge you to try the experiment; feeling it happen to yourself is very different from hearing about it or even seeing it happen to someone else.) So, instead, I suggest the following (which was already being done in the tail-end comments in the previous thread here on MN’s site): engage individual members of The Horde, asking them to defend what they are implicitly and explicitly defending in PZ. Individual members of The Horde do not get the benefits of implied support that the head bully gets; when faced with what they are doing, individual members of The Horde will quite likely open their eyes. They might even apologize (as we almost saw in the tail end of the last thread).

There’s a label for a bully who no longer has the unquestioning support of a mob behind him or her: ex-bully. PZ’s bad behavior comes from him being a bully on the internet because he has The Horde. Thus, I, personally, hold each and every member of the unquestioning Horde to be partly responsible for what PZ does. And, in the hopes of ending this incredibly nasty and unhelpful phase in American on-line atheism, I plan to tell members of The Horde about this every chance that I get.

10 Phil Giordana FCD October 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

SNAFU

/sub

11 Shatterface October 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

A good example of Myer’s own misogyny can be found here in his comment as about a woman who accompanied Bill Maher to a conference:

He also showed up with an extremely attractive young woman who could have been his daughter, or even granddaughter, but was actually his date. She was pleasant to talk to, quite unlike her sugar daddy, and actually bothered to engage the table briefly in light conversation. But you could tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/07/19/when-you-let-assholes-be-the-public-face-of-atheism-its-no-wonder-we-have-a-bad-reputation/

‘Sugar daddy’ implies that Maher is only able to attract a woman’s company by offering her financial support for sexual services

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

The corollary, of course , is that if Maher is the kind of guy who offers financial inducements for sexual services the woman is someone who accepts financial inducements for sexual services, i.e. a prostitute.

After I challenged Myers on him implying the woman was a hooker he added:

I apologise for the “sugar daddy” comment, which implies that the woman had no say in the relationship. That was not my intent; Bill Maher came off as a sexist pig, but she was actually quite an interesting person. She seemed more intelligent than Maher, that’s for sure.

Yeah? Intent isn’t magic

12 James Caruthers October 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Great article.

I wonder if PZ will use comments in this article from slymepitters as proof that Michael loves rape?

I’m kidding, of course he will. 😉

PZ is always welcome to file a criminal report with the police if he believes a specific member of the slymepit or Nugent’s blog is a rapist. Excuse me for being cynical, but I rather suspect the reason he has not named names is because he has zero evidence. They’ve become almost a caricature of the man-hating feminist stereotype, who screams “rape!” because a man was looking at her for longer than two seconds. Accusations of “misogynist” “rapist” and “harasser” seem to be reflexive. As Nugent has shown, the response when asked for evidence was more deflection and hostility.

For that matter, what has been the benefit of PZ and company naming certain famous atheist-skeptic men as “rapists”? FTB never provided proof of their claims, the supposed victims didn’t file police reports and no court dates were ever set. So even supposing that every person PZ and Co accused of rape (and we know how scrupulously honest PZ is) was actually guilty, their refusal to take the supposed rapists to court has left these accused “rapists” free to continue ”raping.”

13 Jan Steen October 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Michael wrote:

PZ was also wrong to suggest that the reason that I am criticising him and others is because they are exposing sexism in atheism.

This is one of the standard dirty rhetorical trics in the repertoire of SJWs like Myers. Instead of honestly responding to a perfectly reasonable criticism they reply by assigning a malicious motive to the criticism. It’s a form of strawmanning, but of an even more egregious variety than ordinary strawmanning. The good thing is that this kind of response immediately exposes the person doing it as a completely dishonest scumbag who can’t argue in good faith.

14 noelplum99 October 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

For all that Myers has said disparaging the commentariat on Michael’s recent blog entries, a quick read of the first few comments shows a level of response way beyond anything I have read on Pharyngula.

I can also attest to what Steve Vanden-Eykel has said. Posting on Pharyngula was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done* and FtB remains the only forum I have ever been blocked/banned from.

Jim

*Case in point
-Horde member (Nerd of Redhead) chastises me for not having criticised online bullying/threats.
-I replied that I had done so in the strongest terms and linked to a video on YouTube of me doing so.
-The horde remember told me that does not class as evidence.
-I replied that surely a public video of me talking to the camera condemning bullying is as good evidence as there is that I have publically condemned bullying
-The horde member replied that it does not class as evidence, peer reviewed research classes as evidence.
That is what you are up against on Pharyngula.

15 Submariner October 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

These are exactly the types of responses one gets when trying to discuss evolution with a creationist: deflection, straw manning, and tu quoque.

To Jim @ 14- Perhaps you should submit your videos for peer review 😉

16 piero October 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

@Shatterface:

Postmodernism represents a massive betrayal of Enlightenment values of democracy, fairness and intellectual honesty. FTB is nothing more than a entryist organisation that seeks to mould atheism into something as authoritarian, bigoted and irrational as the religions we have largely shrugged off.

Precisely. And I’d like to add that, just as it does within the Catholic church, guilt provides the cohesive force. Guilt for what? For the colonial past, of course. They conveniently forget that many of the cultures that were obliterated by European conquerors were appalingly blood-thirsty and oppressive (viz. the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca in Latin America). They also conveniently forget that Europeans managed to hegemonise vast territories by enlisting the collaboration of disgruntled, oppressed peoples or tribes which had an interest in overthrowing their tyranniser. Theirs is the very same racism enshrined in the “good savage” myth.

17 MosesZD October 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Myers’ favorite tools these days seem to outrage, venom, slander, libel and disingenuous interpretations of the words and actions of others. A far cry from the science geek who at least tried to be truthful and address issues fairly and head on, even if he was a bit rough-shod.

And, recently, bullying and harassment over minor and trivial peccadilloes are two things he’s added to his repertoire. Case in point his recent doxxing of Skep Tickle.

FWIW, the forum where the joke (that caused the doxxing) was made is an Internet backwater, ranked somewhere around the 800 thousandth most popular place in the Internet and that it’s got about 25 fairly active posters and, maybe, another 50-to-100 casual posters. Myers, if he didn’t constantly (his UMM IP comes up frequently) look at that forum to find things to take out of context, NOBODY but that small group would ever read the joke and it would have died on the vine.

In short it was a minor joke told in the Antarctica of the Internet.

But Myers, looking for another click-bait, I’m-a-victim outrage-post, jumped on that joke like a duck on a snail. Ironically, had he NOT publicized it, it would have been forgotten/ignored as a mild, tongue-in-cheek joke.

Like a tree, falling in the forest with no one to hear.

But, instead, he went disproportionately thermonuclear over a mosquito bite of a joke and doxxed someone, and called for her harassment for no other reason than he could.

So, color me not surprised he’s failed to address your points. He cannot. He knows your posters are not a bunch of rapists, misogynists, criminals, etc. He just makes the claim for his in-group and so he can then retreat to his ivory tower and pat himself on the back for ‘a job well done’ while claiming ‘victory.’

18 Crackity Jones October 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm

You won’t get a reply from PZ Myers, because he is dishonest and he knows he was wrong. You see, those that are part of the “call out” culture really hate it when they get called out themselves.

BTW, you can already imagine PZ, Ophelia and their commentators thinking to themselves “oh look, an reply full of facts and citations, but with no big pictures to break up the small text!” Their discussions of your posts have been very childish to say the least.

Also, if Ophelia’s “notpology” to CH Sommers is anything to go by, don’t expect anything sincere from her, either.

PS – It is STILL the case that the only known rapist to post either here or at FTB, is actually a poster at FTB, and NOT HERE. This self-confessed rapist DOES post at Pharyngula and Butterflies and Wheels, plus several other FTB blogs. PZ’s false statement about Michael Nugent’s blog is completely inaccurate, but it would be accurate is he was talking about his own blog and network!

19 Shatterface October 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Also, if Ophelia’s “notpology” to CH Sommers is anything to go by, don’t expect anything sincere from her, either.

I thought that was one of the most despicable things I’ve seen yet on FTB.

For those who missed it, Christine Sommers lost her husband recently and Benson attacked her for publicly thanking people who sent her flowers.

Benson has sunk to abusing widows Westbro Baptist-style.

20 Guestus Aurelius October 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I will continue to highlight this pattern of misrepresentations and smears for as long as PZ and others continue to make them.

Right on.

21 RGBAnarchy October 13, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Creationist and FTB have at least one thing in common…..
A talking snake.

22 Bartacus October 13, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Myers has a post on his blog at the moment, telling us “social justice haters” that we all need to do better and welcome Peezus into our hearts. There is a video linked and the screenshot shows a line-up of well known “celebrity atheists”, for want of a better term, including Dawkins,Sam Harris, Hitch, Hirsi Ali, Dennett and others. Myers is conspicuous by his absence and I do wonder if his slide into obscurity is helping to drive his increasingly erratic behaviour.

This is a comprehensive assessment of the latest interaction Michael, and your questions deserve a response from Myers, although I agree with others here that you are unlikely to receive one.

How about it PZ? I don’t think you’ve got the minerals, prove me wrong.

23 The Tim Channel October 13, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Shorter: PZ is still a freak. I sent a tweet inviting him to have another go at me. I’m bulletproof. Outside the miscreant behavior of actually being a member of the notorious cult of which PZ profanes, I have never been to an atheist event and cannot be accused of rapity rape raping anybody. There’s not so much as a stray coat check tag with my name on it anyway close to the intersection of American Girlyban Avenue and PZ Myer’s Morris Minnesota Madhouse! No sir. The best they could tag me with was terminal snarkiness and that was enough in and of itself to get me on page two of the infamous Blockbot list! They got that load of malarkey all the way to the broadcasters at the BBC! Ferchrissakes! Same media that sold us on the WMD bullshit. Never forget. Anyway, been there, done that. My favorite American Girlyban events in history (outside Elevator Guy..classic) was the ejection of Matt Dillahunty from their clique early on. I tried to warn the big dumb bastard but he Blockbotted me a mere two days before they Blockbotted his ignorant ass, a fact which I will oft repeat as as just another in the gravitas reinforcing statements you may hear me utter. The other funniest dam thing you will ever see (outside the T-shirt Rebecca Watson once promoted that read “Let’s evolve a relationship inside my pants”) is the Richard Carrier Atheism Plus speech on Youtube! We’re now off onto the new and exciting topic of gamer gate! See you there! https://thetimchannel.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/gaming-the-gamergate-gangsistas/
Enjoy.

24 Lancelot Gobbo October 13, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Shatterface quite correctly wrote:I liked the squid pics though.

The hentai tentacle-rape aspect of Mr Myers hasn’t quite ever been addressed by the SJW commenters at FTB. They seem to ignore it just as easily as they ignore the presence of a self-confessed child-rapist among their company. It must be the mental equivalent of doublespeak, of “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” as the Red Queen said. Oops, mustn’t even remotely refer to Matt Ridley, who writes very decent books, not recycled blog posts.

25 Jan Steen October 13, 2014 at 10:57 pm

@Noelplum99,

-Horde member (Nerd of Redhead) chastises me for not having criticised online bullying/threats.
-I replied that I had done so in the strongest terms and linked to a video on YouTube of me doing so.
-The horde remember told me that does not class as evidence.

I can’t help it, but Nerd of Redhead always makes me smile. He sincerely tries to be the meanest bully of them all, but he is so inept that he comes across as a mole whose mission it is to make Pharyngula look even worse than it already does.

26 John Greg October 13, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Lancelot Gobbo said:

The hentai tentacle-rape aspect of Mr Myers hasn’t quite ever been addressed by the SJW commenters at FTB.

That is actually quite typical FTB behaviour.

When confronted by one of their own, so to speak, doing something that blatantly goes against the established Rules of Correct Behaviour™, for example, the Hentai stuff, or in one of my favourite cases, Greta Christina writing and promoting a book about the, erm, pleasures of non-consenual violent sex, AKA, rape (including forced sex with unicorns for crying out loud!) which she describes as “Why can’t I just have a nice, normal rape fantasy, without adding in these meta- layers of detachment from it?” [my emphasis], the Horde, and the FC(n) simply turn a totally blind eye to the <crime, and simply pretend it doesn’t exist; never happened; I can’t hear you.

Or, as in the case of the self-admitted rapist they provide a haven for, offering baby-sitting openings, for example, they flock to support him with a sudden belief in such discredited phenomena as repressed memory syndrome and the hoary old chestnut that, supposeedly, victims of rape and sexual assault become rapists and sexual assaulters in turn.

All in all, the FTB is one of the purest examples I have come across of cognitive dissonance and the art of believing, supporting, and defending two or more diametrically opposing things at the same time.

27 noelplum99 October 13, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Jan Steen @25

I looked the original up for someone on twitter earlier.

Posts 370-389 here to see Nerd “school” me on why a video of me saying something is not evidence that I have said it.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/13/repudiation/comment-page-1/#comment-455587

28 john welch October 13, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Nerd is an accomplishment. You don’t often see a CGI running for that long with so few errors, and quite a few upgrades.

Wonder who wrote him?

29 Shatterface October 13, 2014 at 11:35 pm

When confronted by one of their own, so to speak, doing something that blatantly goes against the established Rules of Correct Behaviour™, for example, the Hentai stuff, or in one of my favourite cases, Greta Christina writing and promoting a book about the, erm, pleasures of non-consenual violent sex, AKA, rape (including forced sex with unicorns for crying out loud!) which she describes as “Why can’t I just have a nice, normal rape fantasy, without adding in these meta- layers of detachment from it?” [my emphasis], the Horde, and the FC(n) simply turn a totally blind eye to the <crime, and simply pretend it doesn’t exist; never happened; I can’t hear you.

The Greta Christina thing is downright weird. If a film, video game or comic includes a rape FTB will be all over it like tentacles on an anime schoolgirl – even when as (in almost every case) the rape is portrayed entirely negatively; but if you write rape porn with the specific purpose of causing sexual arousal that’s okay because..?

30 Shermertron October 13, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Remember, rage bloggers are more likely to stop if they are deprived of clicks. Here’s noelplum99’s link at 27:

https://archive.today/Wi0pJ

Reading that thread makes it pretty clear there’s no reasoning with the FTB commentariat. I also find it funny that Nerd of Redhead glorifies scholarly papers and “google scholar” as evidence…but surely believes PZ’s accusations of rape and indictments of people who comment here because PZ said them.

31 Jan Suchanek October 13, 2014 at 11:50 pm

For those wondering how PZ could behave in such an intellectually irresponsible way, this will be an interesting read:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_authoritarianism

Don’t let the “right wing” part throw you off, it’s nothing to do with political sides. I think it does a great job of what’s going on in the brains of otherwise smart people when they go off the rails like this.

32 JetLagg October 14, 2014 at 12:14 am

“Meanwhile, to any curious onlooker, I invite you to try Science. Do an experiment. Sign up to Myers’ blog. Wait until you find something you genuinely disagree with, the more minor the better, and then try to argue your position politely. See what happens.

Repeat at the Slymepit.”

I wanted to second this tip by Vanden-Ekykel, as I’m very fond of small scale informal experiments you can do yourself. It also happens to be how I ended up finding the pit. After being banned at a social justice dedicated forum (for disagreeing that a certain ritual constituted rape), I decided to check out the nasty pit everyone had said so much about. I was surprised to find there a good deal of honest and reasoned discourse (alongside a number of more vulgar traits, of course, the pit does deserve a reputation as… rowdy).

33 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 1:14 am

Pharyngula’s comment section was that horrible that the co-blogger Chris Clarke gave up after about a year. That ought to be uncontroversial, even Wikipedia notes it. It is a ridiculously hostile comment section that has a track record of treating disagreement in most dreadful, porcupine death-wish kind of way. They dehumanize other commenters, throw the most hatefuly and apparently heartfelt invective at their target who can do absolutely nothing about it and are meant to feel powerless, since the commenters revel in power fantasies.

If you don’t take it overly seriously, it can be entertaining. Like a dark satire. They are immersed in their own “rape culture” of porcupine and rusty knife rape memes. Greta Christina’s rape fantasy porn is promoted next door, which she has “written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex”. In other words, she wants to show you how rape is sexually arousing (be sure you check the full context). Put the quote into a search engine and you also see it on her book on Amazon, in case it gets deleted, or use the wayback machine. Then, let’s not forget their self-confessed inhouse child-rapist of three, whom they love.

Their own leaders are infallible and never apologize and are immune from criticism. Their own smut and their own darkness is projected onto the world and onto others, where they transfer their own boot-licking sycophancy onto others, and thereby try to shed it by blending it with whatever they hate. These structures don’t even exist around Richard Dawkins, for example. They are also just their own fantasies.

It slowly dawns on me that these people are perhaps not right in the head and that isn’t meant polemical. Can this be expressed? People who call others without any sound reason “rapist” must be mentally clouded. A lot can be explained and excused when you assume Pharyngula readers and the bloggers there are imbeciles (Hanlon’s Razor), but some things are either malicious or they aren’t quite right in the head. I don’t know what is considered more charitable. I am simply at a loss to explain this.

Some relevant examples that happened in parallel to the previous article in bizarro universe.

__freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/10/07/turning-over-a-rock-and-exposing-slime-to-the-light/

HJ Hornbeck in 276 wrote: When you mush the two of them together, you find they’re firing off similar talking points. Nugent doesn’t hang around the SlymePit, though, and loudly condemns their foul language and violent rhetoric. You’d never spot the connection unless you knew of the ‘Pit’s talking points before Nugent started repeating them; otherwise, you’d probably think the SlymePit was copying Nugent, and not vice-versa. And in this fashion, the reprehensible becomes respectable.

Hornbeck means that Matt Cavanaugh’s polemic and Michael Nugents (previous) article mention similar points. Unbeknownst to HJ Hornbeck, there is a place called “reality” where independent observers can converge on similar points. Mr Cavanaugh has provided plenty of links PZ Myers curiously omitted in his reposting. And these brilliant thinkers don’t even wonder why. But it only gets better.

HJ Hornbeck then takes it on himself to completely destroy the Slymepit myths. He tackles PZ Myers tentacle rape porn imagery, apparently in his mind a weak spot in the Slymepit claims, where he can prove Mr Cavanaugh wrong. Hold onto your fedoras!

HJ Hornbeck in 364 wrote: Over the year since I last saw it, that claim’s transformed from “Myers endorses tentacle rape porn!” to “Myers links to tentacle rape porn!” Oolon did an excellent job of covering that one. back in the day, so I’ll just point you there*.

*__oolon.co.uk/?p=403

No wonder these Slymepitters have such a bad reputation if they are that dishonest. They alternate between “endorses” and “links to”. How dramatically different! Here is what PZ Myers wrote in the original article.

PZ Myers wrote: If you’re easily offended or squeamish about slime or freaked out by perverse fetishes, don’t go there! Otherwise, though, just consider it a celebration of biodiversity.

In this place called “reality”, PZ Myers does link to the smut and he thinks it is a “celebration of biodiversity”. That is endorsing in my book. And that is even clear without the extra sentence. Hornbeck and the social justice warriors constantly remind me of the Austin Powers “Swedish Pump” scene. You can trump up all kinds of clear-cut evidence and yet they hold onto some fantasy.

Be sure you check out Oolon’s blog and see what HJ Hornbeck considers an “excellent job” at “dispelling” the myths. Oolon frames the criticism as “sex negativity” and touches on the “mythologising”. This is the FTB term for alleged untruths that emanate from the Slymepit, according to Hornbeck, Jason Thibeault and others (vile distortions such as “linked to” and “endorses” instead of “celebrates”). The “sex negativiy” trick is done by Greta Christina as well. Perfect doublethink.

Greta Christina tweets: . @Tigzy_J @SamHarrisOrg I’m not surprised that I’m being kink-shamed, though. I’m just surprised it took this long. Blocked. Goodbye.

Take note, having an issue with “rape culture” is also “kink shaming”. Which is it, dear social justice warriors?

That is, when PZ myers wants to share his enthusiasm for rape tentacle pornography (be sure you find the entry “Tentacles of desir” PZ Myers endorses celebrates, via __oolon.co.uk/?p=403, make sure you see the second image in the collection), we are led to believe this is just “sex positivity” according to Oolon & Hornbeck’s “excellent” argumentation. Same with Greta Christina’s rape smut. However, when PZ Myers wants to promote Sarkeesian or join in with the social justice warrior talk about “rape culture”, then it’s of course the exact opposite.

Besides, the criticism was never about one thing or the other, but that both positions are mutually exclusive, i.e. hypocritical to go onto campaigns in one direction but doing the other yourself (while opponents accused of such things typically have much less to do with PZ Myers and Greta Christina’s own demons, which they project onto others).

I conclude, these people aren’t right in the head.

PS: Oolon and HJ Hornbeck aren’t merely regular commenters. Oolon runs the Block Bot and was active in the Atheism Plus attempt, and HJ Hornbeck is also guest contributor, and also presented for FTBCon.

34 Mykeru October 14, 2014 at 1:22 am

These days it’s difficult to read P.Z. Myers’ public pronouncements, even on Twitter, and maintain the idea that this is the product of a 57 year-old man and tenured associate professor.

On one hand, I would like to mock and humiliate Myers as much as I can for his outrageous statements, his thin-skinned intolerance, his damaging accusations and recent attempts, with Skep-Tickle, to reach out and do harm by proxy in the real world.

On the other, I see a very conflicted and angry man unable to come to terms with what I assume are his own professional and personal failures. We are seeing a man who, at the stage in life when he should have wisdom and forbearance, mentally unraveling before our eyes.

And so, let me say, that’s entertainment.

35 Ron Murphy October 14, 2014 at 1:40 am

Prepared this today: http://ronmurp.net/2014/10/14/ophelia-bensons-medicine/, but then saw this post and included a ref. And then Shatterface #8 makes the same point.

Keep it up Michael. All this needs to be on record. It might make them think before defaming.

Unless I’ve missed something I note that Benson has been quiet on this topic since the Myers outrageous tweets. Maybe that was too much for her too.

36 Matt Cavanaugh October 14, 2014 at 1:51 am

” I decided to check out the nasty pit everyone had said so much about. I was surprised to find there a good deal of honest and reasoned discourse (alongside a number of more vulgar traits, of course, the pit does deserve a reputation as… rowdy).”

And none of us even like JetLagg. 😉 So if xe says nice things about The ‘Pit, imagine how awesome we really are!

37 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 2:02 am

Can someone please ask Benson if she sticks by anything she wrote in Why Truth Matters?

It must be tough being heckled by your smarter, younger self.

38 john welch October 14, 2014 at 2:20 am

Mykeru,

I talked about this on Reap’s podcast some time ago, about Myers that is.

I think he started out all on fire about science and how he was going to help humanity with his work. Everyone, i would hope, when they really start new in their field is like that.

And at some point, he drifts out of research into teaching. He gets a gig not at a premier research uni, but UMinn Morris. And maybe he discovers that while he likes research, he also likes teaching. Based on what he’s talked about in terms of teaching as a thing, I don’t think I’m off here.

Morris is small enough that he can get tenure, and so he becomes a teacher who does a bit of research on the side.

Now, not only is there nothing wrong with that, but it’s pretty fucking awesome. Given the endless string of overworked, underpaid GTAs and Adjunct faculty many of us had to deal with for teachers in our undergrad days, having an actual professor teaching, (I’m ignore the Associate bit, I think that’s overblown, to be honest, as a denigration) must be really nice for his students.

So he’s got a steady gig teaching science with a decent bit of research. His life is stable, he’s making decent money. I’ll guess his wife works too, so they probably are doing well. Nice life, nice house, some decent kids.

But…

When he looks around and sees people in what he considers his peer group, or worse, younger, who are still banging away in “pure” sciences. Who are publishing relentlessly and doing quality work that really expands our knowledge…

That’s got to burn, just a little. I know when I look at folks my age, or younger in my field who are significantly more successful than I am, who are doing big things that I’m not, and probably never will…who travel the world, who are on stage during important announcements…yeah, it burns. And it’s easy to let that get more important than it should. To look at a few small comparators and think “What kind of fucking failure am I?”

I can see PZ doing that.

Now, when this moroseness hits me, I’ve learned to really look at what I’ve done, and I realize that while I may not be them, I’ve managed to do some things that are pretty damned cool. That while my life may not be EXCITING, I have not just gone to work in the clone factory, slowly marching even further towards irrelevancy. I’ve been a part of some important shit, and I’ve some people who care about me. Maybe I’ll be forgotten 3 years after my son dies, but that doesn’t take away from what I’m doing now, and what I’ve done. So, as Matthew McConaughey says, “That’s kinda all right.”

But along the way, something strange happens. He starts to get noticed. Not for his science, but for his atheism, for his blogging. For his polemics. And he starts to get attention. From Dawkins. And Randi. And all kinds of Famous People. His blog moves to Sciblogs, and he realizes he’s getting some real traffic. Like not just “whee, a free pizza” traffic. But real money, and more importantly, real attention.

He also notices something fairly obvious: the louder and more obnoxious he is, the more attention he gets. The more people want him to be that way. The farther out he goes, the more support he gets.

minor interlude
There’s a meme that says, basically, you will get better results by being patient and rational and calm. Everyone has heard variants on this. “You get more flies with honey”, etc.

It is, without doubt, bullshit. It is precious bullshit, it is popular bullshit, but it is, if not totally, than significantly bullshit.

For those who know me in the IT world, I am perhaps most…popular…for a series of truly epically profane, foul, and angry rants about Adobe installers. This was not mere theory, or standing up for some amorphous thing ala opposing creationists. Adobe’s installers caused me real pain. They created hours of stupid work, days, sometimes even weeks.

It wasn’t just me. Everyone I knew had this pain, both on the Mac and Windows sides.

One day, while in the middle of what would become a 7-hour install of CS3, due to the sheer absence of anything resembling QA or UX, I snapped. No, to be accurate, I fucking snapped. All the frustration and rage came out of my fingers onto my keyboard, and it was the opposite of reasoned.

“I’d rather be a taste-tester for “2 Girls, 1 Cup part II, The Habanero Highway” than install this…” Well, I think accurately recreating that sentence would force Mick to mod this comment. And perhaps seek a priest.

I was almost blind with fury, because I had done nothing wrong, I was reading the documentation I was following the directions, and it was just purest unjustifiable SUCK. And all i could think was of the 100+ times I was going to have to repeat this agony.

In the world of the “rational uber alles” myth, Adobe ignores me. After all, I’m not being calm, I’m being gloriously insulting, and had one of them found me and smacked me in the gob, I probably would have understood.

Instead, they reached out to me, (having a few hundred sysadmins forwarding said rant to Adobe, including, as i found out, devs on the individual application teams. No One liked that installer) and ended up flying me out to San Jose so we could really talk to each other and try to make this better. Because while I had been foul and angry, I’d also handed them a detailed list of inexcusable pain points, and I was just greedy enough to be willing to work with them to help fix those pain points and make them go away.

This scenario was repeated over and over with various companies large and small. I would lead off with reasoned criticism, in some cases, fixing the installer code in question.

Ignored

I’d sigh, and insult them to within an inch of their dead grammy’s life, burying the points in a plethora of profane pejorative.

Attention and Results

As it turns out, when it comes to getting people to notice you, a flamethrower is much more effective than a hand-delivered note on fine stationary.

The difference is, when I saw the people I’d slammed making things even a little better, I praised them. But then, this was software, not ideology. Making it suck a little less is awesome.

Still, screaming like a rabid monkey with a razorwire suppository in an MRI is a really efficient way to do things more often than we like to admit.

end minor interlude

So now, PZ starts getting a pavlovian reaction to things. He gets praise, he snarls louder. He gets more praise. He snarls louder still. More praise.

And we have our feedback loop.

The problem is, there’s no “fixing” what PZ is snarling at. Creationism’s causes are not something that a chubby honkie on the internet is going to fix.

And then he discovers that there’s an even better cause than evolution: social justice. And while he may not be feted like the PZ of old, he is not being ignored by a long shot.

I think, and this applies to rather a few people in the FTB/Skepchicks/A+ world, that PZ would rather be forced to eat rotten frogurt than be ignored.

Because deep down, I think that’s what he fears most: living his life and dying without even a chance at even post-mortem immortality, which that fucker Dawkins and that neo-nazi harris and even dan dennett, who is so forgettable WHY ISN’T HE FORGOTTEN! LOOK AT ME GODDAMNIT!

look at me. Look at me. Look at what I can do.

please?

39 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 2:33 am

@Jan Suchanek, 31, good addition… also see:

Two essential reads:
The Authoritarians (the review will do), shared before but needs more recognition. That sheds a lot of light at many behaviours. It also based on Altemeyer, who is mentioned in the wiki article.

And someone shared this one, which mirrors quite well what others and I have observed and documented independently.
The Politics of Denunciation (h/t Didimos). The second article mentions authoritarianism within social justice movements.

Authoritarianism ties together a lot of attitudes of PZ Myers and co, it does not explain this reckless behaviour as in this case and some of the darker themes around their apparent “rape fetish” and projection (I’m calling a spade a spade).

40 Matt Cavanaugh October 14, 2014 at 2:48 am

A note on HJ Hornbeck, who Aneris mentions above.

For the online 2013 FTBCon, organized by PZ Myers, Hornbeck presented on scientific evidence for sex differences in humans. tl;dr — he drew from postmodernist & existential philosophy, plus a cursory glance at some wikipedia entries, to declare that: not only were there no inherent sex differences, there were no inherent sexes in humans.

In two posts

http://skeptischism.com/atheismneat/2014/02/05/evidence-free-feminism/

http://skeptischism.com/atheismneat/2014/02/16/sex-free-evolutionary-biology/

I critiqued Hornbeck’s presentation from a scientific angle. Also commenting contra Hornbeck were genetics researchers and medical professionals, most prominently Skep tickle, who presented copious evidence refuting Hornbeck. If anyone wants an idea of what a pleasant, respectful, even-tempered interlocutor Skep tickle is, read her comments at those posts. imo, Hornbeck’s thesis was thoroughly discredited, in large part by Skep tickle, and he beat a “dignified retreat.”

While our debate with HJ was but an entertaining bauble, it is important to note that Hornbeck and people like FTB bloggers Alex Gabriel & Miri Mogilevsky, who draw on PoMo philosophy to deny orthodox medicine, biology, & evolution, are supported and promoted by PZ Myers. As Jan Steen has been pointing out, Myers’ own understanding of evolutionary biology is severely flawed. (More on that later.) Whatever comprehension Myers may once have possessed of the subject has long ago been polluted by his supplication to the anti-science dogma of social justice warriordom and radical feminism.

Yet Myers is still on the short-list of speakers to book for promoting skepticism, science and evolution. And so we must cringe through displays like his recent appearance in Glasgow, where he was unable to coherently refute Intelligent Design arguments, instead falling back on ad hominem insults.

PZ Myers’ ruinous impact on atheism, skepticism, and the promotion of science education must come to an end. And it must end now.

41 Acleron October 14, 2014 at 3:13 am

Myers is on dangerous ground if he considers people should be judged on the company they keep.

42 James Caruthers October 14, 2014 at 3:53 am

@Acleron, you forget the golden rule of FTB: It’s Okay When They Do It.

43 Blueshift Rhino October 14, 2014 at 3:59 am

@ Ron #35 –

With regard to OB’s recent silence on this topic, let me just say that if she were to copy & paste a MN post on FtB, much would be forgiven.

44 Audley Strange October 14, 2014 at 8:08 am

As someone who has recently abandoned online atheism/skepticism. I would just like to say well done to Michael Nugent for taking the time and effort to rebut such a trivial, malicious obscurity such as P.Z. Myers.

FtB and it’s associates at Skepchick are like the Westboro Baptist Church of Atheism. They make a lot of noise and offend a lot of people with their idiotic nonsense, which is probably the point. Mostly everyone knows how hypocritical, disingenuous and merit free their comments are, yet time and time they somehow still manage to cause outrage.

They are nothing more than pseudo-intellectual trolls and as long as people continue to feed them by falling for their clickbait and inviting them to conferences they will continue. They are not controversial polemicists fighting for women’s rights against misogyny. In fact if anything, what we can clearly see from exposing Skep Tickle is that they are quite happy to bully harass and attempt to silence women when it suits them.

45 noelplum99 October 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

Ok so here is one you may find interesting.

I hope this isn’t held to be shameless linkeage but Ophelia Benson now owes ME an apology and on this occasion it is over a matter of indisputable fact.
In an attempt to ‘gotcha’ me for “clickbaiting” she has made the erroneous claim that I have made $65.50 out of a blog piece I wrote about her. She is wrong – the piece is on my Patreon creation feed but was added as an unpledged piece; thjere are no adverts on the blog; there were no adverts on the 30 second YT video directing people to the blog

Let us see is she gives a sincere apology.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zBxbwJnrtI

46 Acleron October 14, 2014 at 11:13 am

@noel plum99

Certainly interesting that she came up with as precise figure as $65.50. She may have presented her calculation but I’m not inclined to give her a click.

47 Jonathan October 14, 2014 at 11:20 am

Acleron:

It’s Noel’s current Patreon per video figure. Just looking at the page would have told her that.

48 noelplum99 October 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

@Acleron

I explain in the video (linked previously) where the number comes from, it is my current Patreon standing. If I had made that a pledged piece of “work” (and it had been the first pledged piece of the month) then it would attract $65.50 in pledges.

I added it to my Patreon feed but as unpledged. I prefer to make videos about more substantial matters as pledged ones (though I realise some people pledge to indirectly support my unpledged videos as much as the pledged ones.

Ophelia’s blog freezepage link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zBxbwJnrtI

49 Acleron October 14, 2014 at 11:46 am

@jonathon
@noel plum99
Lol, must look up my income based on the average for the UK. Bet my bank would be impressed with the calculation.

And thanks for replying to my sheer laziness.

50 Crackity Jones October 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Shermertron

I also find it funny that Nerd of Redhead glorifies scholarly papers and “google scholar” as evidence

Remember when they bandied about that term “HYPERSKEPTICISM”? It’s OK when they do it!

Shatterface:

Can someone please ask Benson if she sticks by anything she wrote in Why Truth Matters?

I tweeted yesterday: When Ophelia Benson reads ‘Why Truth Matters’, her 2006 self briefly tries to fight off the triffid now host to her body! https://twitter.com/CrackityJones89/status/521846357154619392

Ophelia Benson is the new Antony Flew.

51 Jan Steen October 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Meanwhile, Myers & Co are doing “Lalala, can’t hear you!”

It’s their version of Omertà.

Peezus has a new post up, once again misrepresenting Sam Harris (surprise!), which contains among other silliness this sentence:

I don’t treat it as a failure of liberalism that American women are fighting for their rights at home as a priority; I’m sure that almost all of them feel a sense of solidarity with women around the world, but in most cases they are far more limited in what they can do about Somalia than they are about taking action in their own back yard.

Sure, Peezus, there are no Muslims in western countries who practice FGM and treat their wives like chattel. That only happens in those far away countries where the SJWs are powerless. Right?

Problem cowardly swept under the rug so that nobody can accuse them of Islamophobia. Because the latter is even worse than misogyny in the wonderful world of intersectionality.

He also has an uncharacteristically fawning piece up about Bill Nye, but that is because Nye is speaking at his local uni tonight and Peezus evidently hopes to rub shoulders with the celebrity. Let’s forget for a moment that Nye is yet another rich old white male who has appeared in their cross-hairs on a previous occasion.

At the same time, there is complete silence about Michael Nugent. Perhaps it’s the calm before the storm. Surely, the decisive refutation or the heartfelt apology will come any moment now.

Or, more likely, some sleazy attempt at character assassination is brewing.

52 Crackity Jones October 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm

People, take a look at Michael’s “debate” with FTB regular and sycophant Latsot on Twitter.

Latsot is unravelling.

53 Guestus Aurelius October 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Aneris wrote:
(be sure you find the entry “Tentacles of desir” PZ Myers endorses celebrates, via __oolon.co.uk/?p=403, make sure you see the second image in the collection)

Ew.

54 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

I don’t treat it as a failure of liberalism that American women are fighting for their rights at home as a priority

Well, there you have it: America is American atheism’s priority; America is American feminism’s priority.

Guess what, Myers? A hell of a lot of American women aren’t just blogging themselves into PTSD freeing American campuses from the tentacles of patriarchy – a lot of them are fighting oppression abroad.

Do you really think the US armed forces are staffed entirely by men? You do know it’s the 21st Century, don’t you? That modern women don’t just stay at home doing lady things?

55 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Can someone please clarify something for me?

Myers has claimed than not just gender but biological sex is a social construct. How does he breed specimens for his research – does he mate males and females like a real scientist or does he pair up random specimens and badger them into attempting to mate whatever their apparent sex?

Or is he like one of those religious scientists who bracket off their beliefs when they have actual work to do?

56 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

MYERS: Mate damn you!

ZEBRA FISH: Um, can’t. He’s a male too and he can’t lay eggs for me to fertilise.

MYERS: Don’t give me your cis het privilege you black & white striped shitlord – or it’s porcupine enemas for the both of you!

57 Blueshift Rhino October 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm

@Shatterface #55 –

Maybe you missed it, but he recently bought a batch of zebrafish at a pet-store in Minneapolis. (And, no, I’m not going to post a link to his blog where he explains this; it’s easily found via google if you insist on giving him clicks.) But you may have provided the reason why he was forced to resort to this. Until now, my own theory had been that a male zebrafish had offered a cup of coffee to a female zebrafish, thus setting off a terrible rift in the breeding tank, the consequences of which we are still feeling today. However, your proposal does make a bit more sense.

58 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Shatterface in 55 wrote: Myers has claimed than not just gender but biological sex is a social construct. How does he breed specimens for his research – does he mate males and females like a real scientist or does he pair up random specimens and badger them into attempting to mate whatever their apparent sex?

PZ Myers appears to accept biological differences in the rest of the body, but not in the brain. He seems to favour the “Blank Slate” view:

PZ Myers tweeted: The biological differences in behavior are poorly supported by…biology. So no, she’s right. Culture is the major factor. 4:10 AM – 30 Sep 2014

PZ Myers most likely meant (see context of tweets and reference to Greta Christina) that biology poorly explains why men and women behave differently. Instead he believes culture is a “major factor” that makes them behave in different ways.

He isn’t in that bad of a company as it is made to be: B.F. Skinner, Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould are mentioned in the “Standard social science model” article (that’s the name for this view).

HJ Hornbeck and many of the people around PZ Myers however go much further and believe gender and sex are social constructs altogether and that was promoted at FTBCon (they don’t mean that in the sense that “your mom is a social construct” type of way, i.e. names and concepts, as signs, have some cultural component).

There is some considerable confusion around that, too, since PZ Myers and his fellow blogger can be very, very indignant when they describe some other position that may be off by a little bit, yet they are practically immersed in a community that embraces post-modernism and extreme blank slate views, together with the other ideological hogwash which is hardly, if ever, criticized. In that sense, PZ Myers also makes statements about his belief system through tacit agreement.

59 pj October 14, 2014 at 4:48 pm

The Tim Channel @23
Any links on the Dillahunty ejection? I’ve always wondered. I’m a huge fan of TAE (with some reservations, especially with Martin’s opinions), and they seem to have, if not quietly distanced themselves from Myers, stopped name-dropping him as of some years ago.

60 noelplum99 October 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm

If Tim is talking about hus spectacular banning from the atheism+ forum try a YT search for “Matt Dillahunty The Atheism+ Experience” where i walk you through the whole thing (with lots of on screen quotes from the forum regulars to evidence the sheer madness of the whole episode. A pretty long vid but loads of info (can’t link it as out and posting on my phone)

61 pj October 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm

^ thanks!

62 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm

PZ Myers most likely meant (see context of tweets and reference to Greta Christina) that biology poorly explains why men and women behave differently. Instead he believes culture is a “major factor” that makes them behave in different ways.

How’s he account for the higher incidence of, say, Aspergers (which has profound effects on behaviour) in boys than girls – MMR vaccines or refrigerator mothers?

The ‘blank slate’ isn’t ‘blank’, it’s neurotypical. Where there are clear differences between men and women the outliers are excluded.

63 Matt October 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

What a great comments section this has been. Everyone has already pointed out the things I wanted to say myself, and without any kind of violence or rape threats. Contrast that to Pharyngula, where you can find delightful people like Josh (he’s calls himself “Official Spokesgay”. If I was a gay person, I would be fucking outraged at someone claiming to be that) or Brownian who get off on telling people to “fuck off and die” and the like.

I would strongly encourage people who aren’t familiar with him to check out noelplum99’s videos. I don’t know him personally and have no stake in promoting him, I’m just recommending him here because he has covered the whole FTB/Skepchick/Atheism Plus drama and he takes care to present both sides before he reaches his own conclusions.

64 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Shatterface in 62 wrote: How’s he account for the higher incidence of, say, Aspergers (which has profound effects on behaviour) in boys than girls – MMR vaccines or refrigerator mothers?

The ‘blank slate’ isn’t ‘blank’, it’s neurotypical. Where there are clear differences between men and women the outliers are excluded.

I don’t know and I dare suggest that this comment section isn’t the place to divine what PZ Myers may think about that subject. I just corrected the misconception that he believes there aren’t any differences. Unlike him, I believe one should argue with what other people have expressed and what can reasonable be interpreted out of their utterances.

65 allison October 14, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I find it interesting that not even Theophontes, Sally Strange, etc. are here attempting to defend PZ’s “doxxing” activities. I guess they’re all holed up in their “safe space” where there is no disagreement or denunciation, except that which is directed at outsiders.

66 john welch October 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

they’re too busy running google searches on everyone

67 Aheydis Vaakenjab October 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

PZ and crew are taking a page right out of the good ol’ Catholic handbook. Deny, deny, deny. Never admit wrongdoing. Never!

Myers’ syllogisms are the stuff of legends – William Lane Craig is taking notes.

1. Only rapists deny FtB logic.

2. Everyone at denies FtB logic.

3. Therefore everyone at is a rapist.

It’s pure logic people! What’s wrong with you? Oh, what, don’t like that reasoning? Well then, here’s another blog post doxxing you.

Clearly Myers is screaming towards the nadir of his online atheist career by taking this route. Attacking everyone without once posting a retraction to Michael Nugent or any other prominent atheist that he has accused of being a rapist. Ophelia Benson has taken this exact route with her disgusting “A HA!” on Sommers. And these clowns want people to come out of the atheist closet? Why should anyone want to give their real name out in to the ether while the likes of Myers and Benson will gleefully drop your personal information or publicly claim that you’re a rapist simply due to an unremarkable internet forum you happen to visit.

Where is the logic here. These people are on the slippery slope to oblivion. They have nothing of value to add and as a result, all they add is toxicity in order to keep their names on the radar.

The cure for the deny, deny, deny on the Internet is to: Ignore, ignore, ignore. No more invites to conferences. No more giving personal information to those who have proven they will use it against you. No more putting up with contrarians who do so because they’re sycophants and lap dogs for the most toxic elements of the online atheist community.

68 MaximAfinogenov October 14, 2014 at 9:38 pm

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/10/14/general-harris-instructs-liberals-to-surrender-on-the-home-front/

Looks like a user “lazinessevolved” may have attempted the experiment suggested in #3.

He is getting ripped to absolute shreds, for disagreeing with Myers.

69 piero October 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

@Aneris *:

Unlike him, I believe one should argue with what other people have expressed and what can reasonable be interpreted out of their utterances.

Precisely. What’s the point of arguing against ideas that exist only in your own head? Myers does not need anybody’s help in coming up with ludicrous, pompous and ignorant statements about… well, anything.

70 Blueshift Rhino October 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

@Maxim #67 –

It’s better post links to freeze-pages. Most of all, it will prevent you from making the mistake of trying to reply.

http://www.freezepage.com/1413318499JAOYFYEARG

71 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

FreeThoughtBlogs is not an echo chamber.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/10/14/general-harris-instructs-liberals-to-surrender-on-the-home-front/comment-page-1/#comment-866224

“They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion … they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.” — Baghdad Bob

“Nobody intents to erect a wall!” — Walter Ulbrich, East Germany, 1961

72 piero October 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm

@ MaximAfinogenov:

He is getting ripped to absolute shreds, for disagreeing with Myers.

Yes. It’s a sorry sight. But he will come out of it a saner person, shed his social warrior camouflage and look the enemy in the eye. The price of enlightenment, so to speak.

By the way, there is a freezepage available, for people who don’t want to give Myers their clicks: it’s in page 827 of the slymepit’s currently active thread.

73 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 10:17 pm

In Orwell’s 1984 the Party restricted themselves to a Two Minute Hate. For FTB the hate runs 24/7.

It’s just hate , hate, hate. Jon Ronson could do a book on them.

Even the KKK took time off to wash their sheets.

74 MacGruberKnows October 14, 2014 at 10:21 pm

“Nobody intents to erect a wall!” — Walter Ulbrich, East Germany, 1961

Heh heh! I remember an actual real communist oldtimer who told me with a straight face that the wall was erected to keep western ‘agent-provacateurs’ out of East Berlin. Said it saved us from WWIII.

And tell PZ to burn a Koran and burn a Bible. Tell me how it turns out PZ.

75 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I really feel pity for anyone stuck on the wrong side of the Atlantic with those fuckers.

Reading FTB at the moment – via freezpage – makes me wonder if we should ban air flights from the US for a while, or at least screen incoming passengers for the FTB virus.

76 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Sod it, I’ve seen enough zombie movies. If the outbreak reaches the UK I’m saving the last bullet for myself.

77 Aneris ✻ October 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm

What a fantastic spectacle with the user Latsot on Twitter! He’s a Social Lustice League (PZM & co) apologist and has tried to argue on their behalf before. He echoed the claims as above and when asked what evidence he has, he shows some incredible mental gymnastics.

Latsot: @micknugent People like @pzmyers and @OpheliaBenson aren’t smearing you. They’re waiting for you to catch up.

some time later he is again made aware about the rapist-allegation.

Latsot: @reason_on @Humanisticus @micknugent You know that the evidence isn’t zero. Why do you want to defend people who might be horrible?

After prompted again and again to show the evidence for the assertion, he pulls this…

Latsot: @Humanisticus Evidence for what? @reason_on

Some more tweets later, after he is pointed to it again…

Latsot:@RichardReed84 Remind me who is guilty? Of what? @micknugent

… some more tweets later, Latsot weasels and dances around….

Atheist Alan:What do you mean “go on then”? I’ve now posed those questions to you twice, will you answer or not?

Latsot:@reason_on I don’t know what questions you mean and I don’t know why I’m the one who should answer. @Humanisticus @micknugent

Atheist Alan:You have claimed @micknugent defended “probable rapists”, your words, that’s why you should answer./blockquote>

Latsot: @reason_on @Humanisticus OK, I don’t think that @micknugent is the sole arbiter of atheism. He thinks he is but nobody but him said he is.

I can’t say this is unsual for his side. He claims on his profile to be an “advocate of science, skepticism”.

78 Jack Rawlinson October 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

“And tell PZ to burn a Koran and burn a Bible. Tell me how it turns out PZ.”

To be fair, he messed with a Koran, a Bible and a copy of The God Delusion. It’s just that everyone only remembers the cracker, for some reason. How did it turn out for him? Nobody cared except the Catholics, oddly enough.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/24/the-great-desecration/

79 Acleron October 14, 2014 at 11:13 pm

@Aneris
Latsot displays all of the debating style of the deeply religious. Evasion, misinterpretation, obscure meaning. Just as I sometimes wish the religious stopped their attempts at providing evidence (not) and logic (not), he might as well say ‘Myers said it, so it is right’. After reading the freeze page of FTB (an unpleasant experience) I can see he fits in well there, but make an error and he’ll be quickly roasted.

80 J. J. Ramsey October 14, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Aneris:

Greta Christina’s rape fantasy porn is promoted next door, which she has “written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex”. In other words, she wants to show you how rape is sexually arousing (be sure you check the full context).

I did check the context, and I find your “translation” of what Greta Christina meant to be horribly uncharitable and unfair. A quote from one of the reviews that Greta posted was especially telling: “One of the most exciting things about fantasies is that they let us explore and get turned on by things we might not want to actually do in real life.” I’m not even sure why Greta Christina is getting the hate here. It’s not like she’s been slagging on Nugent.

allison:

I find it interesting that not even Theophontes, Sally Strange, etc. are here attempting to defend PZ’s “doxxing” activities.

Well, if they did show up, it would put the lie to the claim that Nugent is somehow “harboring” the pitters that have posted here. If that happened, this wouldn’t be so much a haven for one side as a battleground of sorts for both sides. Near as I can tell, Nugent is letting his comment session be a mostly open forum and moderating with a very light touch. If he were letting the pitters through but banning other commenters offering a similar level of vitriol, that might constitute making the comment section a haven of sorts. As it stands, what’s mostly happened is that (1) the pitters are gravitating towards those who criticize those who they don’t like, and (2) few if anyone has come along to contest them.

81 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 11:39 pm

What’s happening to LazinessEvolved on Myers blog right now is like the end of Quatermass and the Pit when the hive is purging itself of those not part of the gestalt while the fat bloated Satan looks down and psychically feeds on their hate.

You’d need to earth that hate with iron.

82 Blueshift Rhino October 14, 2014 at 11:43 pm

@JJ #79 –

Assume, for the moment, that PZ has made numerous comments against “normalizing” rape – that anything akin to “normalizing” rape would be the same as rape apologia and make the apologist part of “rape culture.” Under that assumption, would it make sense for someone to call out PZ for sharing blog-space with someone who writes and sells rape stories that are intended to be arousing?

83 Shatterface October 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm

I did check the context, and I find your “translation” of what Greta Christina meant to be horribly uncharitable and unfair. A quote from one of the reviews that Greta posted was especially telling: “One of the most exciting things about fantasies is that they let us explore and get turned on by things we might not want to actually do in real life.”

That defence wasn’t tolerated for gamers. Gamers were branded rapists and misogynists because it was possible to be violent towards virtual women within certain video games. If, like, you modified the games and didn’t mind losing points.

Not just some gamers, all gamers. Each and every gamer was a virtual rapist.

And they’re all cis white neckbeards who live in their mom’s basement – even the Korean women and gay black men Tweeting pictures of themselves with the hashtag #notyourshield.

So when a FTB blogger makes money on rape porn intended to titilate and nobody calls them on it we get to point out the hypocrisy.

Nobody really gives a shit if Greta flicks herself off fantasising about a guy in a gimp mask choking her till she loses consciousness. Nobody gives a shit if Myers has wet dreams about mermaids being ravished by Cthulhu. They care about the double standards.

84 J. J. Ramsey October 14, 2014 at 11:57 pm

@Blueshift Rhino: But the thing is that Greta Christina isn’t normalizing rape. Look at the words used in describing her work: “Be forewarned”, “reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas,” “self-absorbed porn-star lover.” The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted, not something presented as a good example to follow.

Now a work where the nominal “good guy” or”good girl” rides roughshod over consent? That’s more of a problem.

85 Blueshift Rhino October 15, 2014 at 12:01 am

Shatterface –

It would only be hypocritical if Greta, herself, has spoken out against rape erotica. You cannot call her a hypocrite if the comments against rape erotica came from others. In short: you can’t treat FTB as a single person (even if some FTBers seem to do this to ‘Pitters).

However, if there are folks on FTB who have spoken out against rape erotica or anything else that might “normalize” rape, but these same folks have not said anything about sharing space with Greta, then you can sustain an accusation of hypocrisy. Just not against Greta.

86 Crackity Jones October 15, 2014 at 12:05 am

Yeah, I have watched the latest Latsot debacle with some relish. He is a stalwart defender of FreeThoughtBlogs, close friend and ally of Oolon (yuck!), and a habitual troll on Twitter where I have frequently exposed his bull and hypocrisy. It’s easy for me to send his ass packing by throwing his shit back in his face, but fair play to Michael, he has conversed with patience and respect.

Interestingly, I have pointed out his latest piece of hypocrisy only today. Latto claims one reason he is attacking Michael with the lie that he defends rapists is the mistaken belief Michael has “defended” someone (we know who) Latto “strongly suspects” is a rapist. However, Latto and many others at FreeThoughtBlogs defend someone (Ogvorbis) who has ADMITTED he is a rapist. So, by Latto’s own logic, Latsot is a rape apologist, rapist, rape enabler (blah blah blah) much more so than Michael could ever be.

They just can’t recognize their own hypocrisy and bull manure.

87 MacGruberKnows October 15, 2014 at 12:06 am

“The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted,”

You mean it’s the mindset of a dark and twisted rapist. I get it. Writing only for the dark and twisted sick peverted rapists and not the ‘normal’ rapist makes it all better.

88 Blueshift Rhino October 15, 2014 at 12:07 am

@JJ #83 –

I’m rather disappointed that you refused to engage in my thought experiment. (Did you see where I was going?)

I promise to engage in a discussion of what Greta has said about her own stories (which is preferable to understanding her intent than reading reviews from the dust-jacket), but first I would like to establish the relevance to this thread. So I’ll ask again in a more clearly hypothetical manner: On the twin assumptions that (a) PZ has criticized things that “normalizes” rape and (b) that Greta has written stories that “normalize” rape, would it be hypocritical for PZ to share blog-space with Greta?

89 Shatterface October 15, 2014 at 12:10 am

It would only be hypocritical if Greta, herself, has spoken out against rape erotica. You cannot call her a hypocrite if the comments against rape erotica came from others. In short: you can’t treat FTB as a single person (even if some FTBers seem to do this to ‘Pitters).

I said nobody calls her on it. That’s directed at her friends on FTB.

I really don’t give a shit what she or Myers fantasise about.

90 Blueshift Rhino October 15, 2014 at 12:13 am

If Greta does not believe and/or argue that there’s something wrong with rape erotica, then the only thing that you could call her on is writing such that can’t hold a candle to Anne Rice. That’s not hypocrisy.

91 Shatterface October 15, 2014 at 12:16 am

“The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted,”

This is to distinguish the dark, twisted kind of rape you find in erotica from the lighthearted comedy rape Bert and Ernie did to the Cookie Monster.

92 Shatterface October 15, 2014 at 12:21 am

On the twin assumptions that (a) PZ has criticized things that “normalizes” rape and (b) that Greta has written stories that “normalize” rape, would it be hypocritical for PZ to share blog-space with Greta?

It would be hypocritical for a rage blogger to share a platform with someone who, by using rape as entertainment, is ‘normalising’ rape; and it would be hypocritical of an author of rape porn to share a platform with someone who finds her subject matter unacceptable for entertainment purposes.

93 Blueshift Rhino October 15, 2014 at 12:29 am

Unless you and JJ are sock-puppets of a single controller, you’re not helping (me), Shatterface; my questions was for JJ (only).

In the meantime, it is worth reading what Greta, herself, wrote about her own writing. It shows her inner struggle. It’s probably one of the more honest posts on that entire site in the last two years: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/01/16/on-writing-kinky-porn-in-rape-culture/

94 J. J. Ramsey October 15, 2014 at 12:39 am

Shatterface:

This is to distinguish the dark, twisted kind of rape you find in erotica from the lighthearted comedy rape Bert and Ernie did to the Cookie Monster.

Actually what it would distinguish it from is, for example, say, the scene of James Bond with Pussy Galore in a barn, where Bond pretty much forces himself on her. Or to quote an example from Cracked, “As Revenge of the Nerds showed us all back in 1984, the perfect way to win over a young woman is to dress up in a Halloween mask, pretend to be her long-term boyfriend and then perform oral sex on her. If your technique is good enough, she won’t be angry. In fact, she’ll be so thrilled she’ll even leave her boyfriend for you!” Here, the heroes not respecting boundaries is presented as manly (especially in Bond’s case) or as something playful, rather than as something seriously problematic.

95 Blueshift Rhino October 15, 2014 at 12:42 am

@JJ –

Also “dark and twisted” would be the following, yes?

“After a rape, you want to wash yourself up.”

96 DJ Mark October 15, 2014 at 2:15 am

Wow. This is truly shocking. I thought PZ Myers was a voice of reason when I first stumbled on his blog.

I’ll never give him a click again, that’s for sure.

Thank you, Michael for exposing this monster to those of us who don’t pay that close of attention to the blogosphere.

97 Aneris ✻ October 15, 2014 at 2:34 am

Thanks for engaging, J.J. Ramsey.

J. J. Ramsey in 79 wrote: I did check the context, and I find your “translation” of what Greta Christina meant to be horribly uncharitable and unfair. A quote from one of the reviews that Greta posted was especially telling: “One of the most exciting things about fantasies is that they let us explore and get turned on by things we might not want to actually do in real life.” I’m not even sure why Greta Christina is getting the hate here. It’s not like she’s been slagging on Nugent.

Here is the context…

Official “Bending” page at her blog:

Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex. Be forewarned — stuff happens here that’s borderline consensual. Or not at all consensual. These are dirty, kinky stories about shame, about pain, helplessness and danger, reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas….
__http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/04/12/bending/

S1) “get you hard and wet” means sexually arousing.

S2) “change the ways you think about sex” since it’s in context of arousing, I must infer in a positive sense.

S3) “ Be forewarned […] not at all consensual” sex that is not consensual is rape.

Which of the three are interpretations of statement S1—S3 are wrong? Then, once put together, how come you find it “horribly uncharitable and unfair” – if you maintain that, now that you’ve seen the quote above. Just as a friendly reminder: outside of FreeThoughtblogs just pronouncing something doesn’t make it so.

There are these questions.

Double Standard I

You’ve seen the evidence now and I think my interpretation was reasonable. If this was “horribly uncharitable and unfair” to you (if you indeed maintain that) then which words do you have for PZ Myers tweets above? Do you deem his interpretations as fair and charitable?

Double Standard II

Greta Christina promotes a rape fantasy book on FreeThoughtBlogs. There is a regular on FreeThoughtBlogs who confessed to have raped three girls on a babysitter job when he was twelve, that is, FTB really has a rapist in the comment section. PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson have covered that up and pretended that this wasn’t true. PZ Myers “celebrated” tentacle rape porn and even if that is many years old, it was recently defended and declared as sex positivity.

Michael Nugent wrote about smears, and distortions and how they seep into mainstream media. My issue on top is the extreme multi-dimensional hypocrisy that is apparent here.

We are declared to be “rape apologists” or even “rapists” despite that we didn’t author rape fantasy books, do not harbour a confessed rapist in the comment sections, have not covered up or kept into moderation information that pointed that out. We have no information of the sort.

As it stands, if some people are into rape and rape fantasies and apologists of it, then it is FreeThoughtBlogs and their allies. The bar is set pretty high. Please elaborate why exactly are other people “worse” enough so that the title of “rape apologists” and worse should go to them, and not remain at the FreeThoughtBlog people where they seem to naturally belong?

Double Standard III

According to the ideology espoused at FreeThoughtBlogs and SkepChicks, there is such a thing as “rape culture”. Allegedly, many famous atheists and skeptics are somehow promoting or protecting it. Try google: site:FreeThoughtBlogs.com “rape culture” to see some examples. None of them have (to my information) written rape porn books as Greta Christina did, never shared tentacle rape porn as PZ Myers did – considered “sex positive” – nor do they support and love a confessed child rapist of three girls. They also never covered up such cases (as Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers did), or lauded the thread where this happened (as Stephanie Zvan did).

In light of the things I wrote above, how come they are accused of promoting or protecting a “rape culture” or are seen as rape apologists, and not Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan and the regular commentariat?

98 Shermertron October 15, 2014 at 2:58 am

It bears mentioning that right at the very moment I post this, Bill Nye is on PZ’s campus. PZ posted at least one fawning blog essay, pretending as though his comrades-in-arms didn’t include him in their witch hunt last year.

Nye was on the short-lived “More Will Be Named” tumblr that was taken down once, it seemed to me, someone realized that David Silverman was “named” and he might be useful to them. Those “denouncing” Nye have been among the usual FTB suspects. No apologies.

In spite of PZ’s feigned admiration of the man, I hope PZ has the dignity and respect not to try and speak to or get a photo op with a public figure whose reputation he helped to sully by creating a name-and-shame-with-no-evidence atmosphere in the community.

http://theothermccain.com/2013/08/08/bill-nye-the-science-guy-harasser/

99 Lucifer Ratcliffe October 15, 2014 at 3:25 am

Rape is to PZ Myers as communism is to Joe McCarthy.

Myers is not a skeptic, he’s a dogmatist.
He is not a freethinker, he’s a bully.
He is not a liberal, he’s a left-wing bigot.

I can’t imagine he has that much of a following compared to guys like Dawkins, Harris, Thunderf00t, etc.

Isn’t he just destroying himself?

100 Aneris ✻ October 15, 2014 at 3:29 am

PZ Myers blogs about a bomb/killing-spree threat against an university if they let Anita Sarkeesian speak. Commenters in the thread mention the Slymepit, for good measure. Buisness as usual. I ran out of words to describe this. Kudos to Tony, a regular who at least makes an attempt to deny this.

http://www.freezepage.com/1413342925PFFFDHAKPA

101 Barael October 15, 2014 at 8:52 am

“PZ Myers blogs about a bomb/killing-spree threat against an university if they let Anita Sarkeesian speak. Commenters in the thread mention the Slymepit, for good measure.”

Well there you have it: Michael Nugent is now harbouring terrorists as well (by letting Slymepitters, now duly convicted in the People’s Court of Pharyngula, comment on his blog).

They’re setting themselves a pretty high bar for the next thing to invent about Slymepit. They’re fast approaching 6 meters at smear vault; will they have what it takes?

102 Ariel October 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

Aneris #97

As it stands, if some people are into rape and rape fantasies and apologists of it, then it is FreeThoughtBlogs and their allies. The bar is set pretty high. Please elaborate why exactly are other people “worse” enough so that the title of “rape apologists” and worse should go to them, and not remain at the FreeThoughtBlog people where they seem to naturally belong?

Please keep in mind that I’m not answering for the FtB people, just for myself. It’s also never enough to stress (as it was done earlier) that FtB is not a monolith.

I start with Greta’s words (from the piece linked to in #93)

I don’t think every piece of fiction has to provide a model of what people should act like. That’s true if the fiction is aiming to be realistic and shine a light on real life — and it’s true if the fiction is aiming to be a fantasy. It’s okay to write about human reality in ways that are morally complex and acknowledge human imperfection. And it’s okay to write about fantasies that are entirely unrealistic, just fun things to imagine. Not every piece of fiction has to be a preachy morality play, in which the good are universally rewarded and the wicked are universally punished.

My primary aim in quoting this words is not to convey what Greta thinks. I quote them rather because they well express my own opinion on the matter. I don’t think they are also representative to FtB as a whole (even in the comments to the piece in question you will find people disagreeing with Greta. Opposition on FtB – can you imagine?)

Now, as to your specific question:

In light of the things I wrote above, how come they are accused of promoting or protecting a “rape culture” or are seen as rape apologists, and not Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan and the regular commentariat? .

My own approach would consist in stressing the difference between fiction/fantasy and excusing real behavior. Yes, I’m fully aware that the difference is sometimes subtle and complicated, but I think also that there is no escape: we *do* live in a complicated world and simplistic solutions will never work (whether we like it or not). Accordingly, some examples will be clear cut, others will forever remain borderline or fuzzy.

Writing a piece of fiction while stating clearly that it is just a piece of fiction and inserting a warning that the author *does not* condone rape in real life is (imo) clear cut: it’s not a rape apologia – it’s not even an attempt at a justification of real violence. Writing a similar piece of fiction without all these warnings is a more subtle matter and I would say only that it is not a rape apologia by default (although I would expect some people to disagree here).

In general: I would treat a given activity as a rape apologia if the activity in question amounts to finding excuses for sexual violence. Please let me emphasize that I still understand it as a very broad category. In particular, “finding excuses” could consist in presenting a given case of sexual violence as something devoid of violence (“oh, she was soooo drunk that no one had to use force!”); it could consist also in presenting sexual violence as perfectly normal and acceptable (“He is just a normal guy, so obviously he used the opportunity!”). And in a still broader sense, it could cover even cases of a stubborn refusal to see the evidence of sexual violence. Nothing simple, I’m afraid.

Writing pieces of fiction without warnings is – as I said – a more subtle matter because it may amount to presenting non-consensual violence as “normal”. Note however the emphasis on “may”. As I said, I wouldn’t treat it as rape apologia by default. Whether it is one depends on many additional factors (for example: where is it published? Is it a mainstream literature or not? If not, what sort of a niche is it, with what sort of intended audience? And so on, and so on.)

Aneris, I know of course that as an answer to your question my remarks won’t satisfy you. My only hope is that the direction is clear enough.

103 Acleron October 15, 2014 at 10:05 am

@ariel

So you have to carefully read the disclaimer and understand and accept it. The trouble is that some, even on reading it, could ignore it. Oh well, there are always people who only read the bits they want to and ignore anything else that doesn’t conform to their fantasy.

It would be nice if the likes of Benson, Myers and Lee were so careful when it came to reading Dawkins and Harris.

104 Phil Giordana FCD October 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

So, in the end it means that FemFreq doesn’t have a point at all? After all, videos games are just fantasies too.

There is some dissonance here.

105 Ariel October 15, 2014 at 10:17 am

Phil #104:

After all, videos games are just fantasies too.
There is some dissonance here.

I’m not competent to discuss video games. (The last time I avidly played was – I think – in the early nineties, on my 40 Mb hard drive Apple computer.)

My impression was that in this discussion the emphasis was on how normal sexual violence is in such games – then the point would be that it’s not a niche but it really functions as an attempt to normalize it (see the penultimate paragraph from my previous post). But as a die hard non-gamer, I didn’t follow this debates; I’m also not planning to enter them here.

106 noelplum99 October 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

Ariel @105

My impression was that in this discussion the emphasis was on how normal sexual violence is in such games – then the point would be that it’s not a niche but it really functions as an attempt to normalize it

I just wanted to respond to this because it is just totally arse about face. Rather than type out afresh i want to just copy and paste a couple of extracts from some bog pieces i wrote fairly recently on rape culture which touched on video games:

When I cast my eye out over society rather than see rape and sexual violence normalised, above and beyond other crimes against the person, I actually see the total opposite. If any process of normalisation is taking place it is specifically and selectively of violent crimes that do not have a sexual component. Video games are possibly the most extreme example of this. Consider the controversy stirred up in the latest Lara Croft game when it was rumoured she may have been sexually assaulted as part of the back story. Beaten up would have been fine; knifed to within an inch of her life – fine; defrauded of her family estate – fine. This is a video game remember, like myriad others, that is end to end (non-sexual) violence and killing of human beings and this violence has, in the name of entertainment, become so normalised that it barely registers any more. It has become the norm. Put ONE violent crime with a sexual aspect amongst the thousands on non-sexual crimes and the moral condemnation and outcries amongst media and public come thick and fast.

and this (a blog piece responding to oolon who had responded to my previous piece)

(oolon wrote)”…….your Lara Croft controversy, stirred up by a feminist! What irony, feminists fight rape culture and in your eyes that means it doesn’t exist. This would be funny if not so tragically, obviously, fractally wrong.”

I will be honest, I can’t really parse Oolon’s response here and work out what his point is. I thought mine was clear enough. In video games acts of non-sexual violence occur by the truckload – and they are well and truly normalised within the context of the medium – but acts of sexual violence are seen as taboo and steered clear of the vast majority of the time.
I mentioned the huge amounts of non-sexual violence in Lara Croft/ Tomb Raider games and the controversy stirred up at the prospect of one solitary act of sexual violence amongst the entire series. Oolon’s response appears to be that clearly one act of sexual violence would be evidence of rape culture to such an extent that he cannot comprehend how my knowledge of the Lara Croft controversy has not thoroughly convinced me that rape culture exists. I suppose if rape culture was defined as “a culture that treats rape and sexual crimes very seriously and trivialises non-sexual violent crimes” then I’d take his point.

A question for Oolon: In the game “Skyrim” your charcter is able to perpetrate almost every crime ever devised on the poor unsuspecting npc’s. Feel free to rob them, burgle them, punch them, disembowel them, murder them…… anything you like as long as there is no sexual aspect to the crime. So my question is whether you regard this as evidence for, or against, rape culture? And why?

107 noelplum99 October 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

Oh, I should also have included this, which specifically addresses Anita Sarkeesian’s most recent video:
http://noelplum99.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/criticism-of-anita-sarkeesians-women-as.html

108 Phil Giordana FCD October 15, 2014 at 10:42 am

Sometimes I tend to forget that we’re dealing mostly with Americans, a culture where showing someone on screen being dismembered with a chainsaw is ok but the mere suggestion of a bare breast sends them in a frenzy.

It’s a cultural thing, I guess.

109 Ariel October 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

noelplum #106

A question for Oolon: In the game “Skyrim” your charcter is able to perpetrate almost every crime ever devised on the poor unsuspecting npc’s. Feel free to rob them, burgle them, punch them, disembowel them, murder them…… anything you like as long as there is no sexual aspect to the crime. So my question is whether you regard this as evidence for, or against, rape culture? And why?

I’m curious what Oolon answered? My own answer would be probably „no – the very fact (if it is a fact) that all these killings go without protest is an evidence neither for or against a rape culture. And in general, the fact that X goes without protest may well be irrelevant to the question whether Y is treated as a norm ”.

In such a discussion, I would probably also stress that the reaction of the media is just one small factor to be counted with: it’s simply that our societal and cultural norms shouldn’t be identified with the media reaction. (An example from my country: death penalty here has quite a bad press, but nevertheless it has a significant support in the society at large.) In effect I would insist also on taking the reaction of the gamers into account; I would also ask something along the lines: if sexual violence receives so much moral condemnation as you claim, then why the gaming industry didn’t drop it altogether?

One caveat though: you said also that

acts of sexual violence are seen as taboo and steered clear of the vast majority of the time

and – as I understand – it was meant as your description of actual games, am I right? If so, that would of course invalidate my last question. And here I must simply repeat that I’m not a partner for you in this discussion. I’m not a gamer. I know very little about games. Period. It has never been my intention to enter the discussion about games here (or anywhere else, for that matter).

110 Jan Steen October 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm

@Aneris,

PZ Myers blogs about a bomb/killing-spree threat against an university if they let Anita Sarkeesian speak. Commenters in the thread mention the Slymepit, for good measure. Buisness as usual. I ran out of words to describe this. Kudos to Tony, a regular who at least makes an attempt to deny this.

I’m afraid you misread our friend Tony. He only denied that threats are supported by Pharyngula and FTB; he let the implied approval by the Slymepit stand. No kudos for him. The generally held opinion at Pharyngula, and by their guru PZ Myers, is probably expressed by sycophant Azkyroth here:

The slymepit and misogynists generally thinks these shitbags have their hearts in the right place, but go a little overboard. The shitbags think “everyone FEELS like I do…but I’m the one who’s gonna DO something about it!”

I am not going to dignify this with a rebuttal.

http://www.freezepage.com/1413342925PFFFDHAKPA

111 john welch October 15, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Ariel @102

My own approach would consist in stressing the difference between fiction/fantasy and excusing real behavior. Yes, I’m fully aware that the difference is sometimes subtle and complicated, but I think also that there is no escape: we *do* live in a complicated world and simplistic solutions will never work (whether we like it or not). Accordingly, some examples will be clear cut, others will forever remain borderline or fuzzy.

Writing a piece of fiction while stating clearly that it is just a piece of fiction and inserting a warning that the author *does not* condone rape in real life is (imo) clear cut: it’s not a rape apologia – it’s not even an attempt at a justification of real violence. Writing a similar piece of fiction without all these warnings is a more subtle matter and I would say only that it is not a rape apologia by default (although I would expect some people to disagree here).

And were we talking about a group other than the FTB/Skepchick lot, I would say there is nothing even slightly controversial about what you wrote. In the context of most people, that is a pretty common-sense view.

But we’re not talking about most people, we’re talking about a highly specific group that has some really strict standards about even *talking about* rape and other trauma. Standards that only rarely apply to them.

The two biggest ones they bang on:

1) any discussion of rape must have a clear trigger warning. Always.

2) it is never permissible to write of rape in an approving manner. Ever. There is no acceptable reason.

Now, I’m really quite sure, as in positive, that Greta is not even vaguely “pro-rape” or a “rape apologist”. But that’s because unlike the FTB/Skepchicks lot, I *do* look at context, I *do* consider intent. I don’t have an infantile 1/0 view of things.

But *by the standards of the people running the blog site she writes on*, and by rather a few of the other bloggers there, Greta has literally contributed to rape culture by writing sexualized fantasy that normalizes rape.

It is an amazingly stupid thing to say and I feel almost dirty for having written it, but those are the standards the FTB/Skepchicks lot promulgate, yet never apply to themselves. What’s Watson’s bon mot? The thing you walk by is the thing you support?

So FTB would be in a bit of a quandry, were they people with an even slightly consistent ethical worldview. But, because they aren’t, they just all blithely ignore their own standards when convenient.

That is the root of the problem I have with them, and I am not alone in this. It’s like Ophelia’s insistence that “bitch” or “cunt” be stricken from human usage.

Except when she does it. Then it’s totally okay.

It is, literally, Scientology behavior. Whatever the Clear do is de facto good and whatever SPs do is de facto evil, even when it is the exact same thing.

That is why Greta’s (normally harmless) fantasy writing is a problem for them.

112 Jan Steen October 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

The idiots who make threats to commit mass murder in order to stop a certain feminist from exercising her free speech are, in the first place, criminals who need to be caught and prosecuted. In the second place, they make valid criticism of this feminist more difficult, because, as we can see on the Pharyngula threat just cited, the critics are immediately subjected to a kind of guilt by association, even if this association is only a shared disapproval of a person and her ideas.

113 piero October 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

@Ariel #109:

And here I must simply repeat that I’m not a partner for you in this discussion. I’m not a gamer. I know very little about games. Period. It has never been my intention to enter the discussion about games here (or anywhere else, for that matter).

I don’t think you need to be a gamer in order to analyse the role of fiction in shaping culture. Games are very similar to film and TV, and the same criticism applies: depictions of non-sexual violence are normal, and no one dreams of accusing the film maker of promoting violence. Everybody knows that the message is not “now go out and replicate in the real world what you’ve seen here.” However, this tacit agreement breaks down when sexual violence is involved: fiction is then seen as condoning sexual violence, even actively promoting it. I find this double standard quite absurd.

I don’t like violence of any kind. In most so-called “action” movies, violence is mostly presented aseptically: a shot is fired, someone falls down. That’s more a coreography than a depiction of real violence. Real violence is distressing: I could not watch a realistic rape scene, nor a realistic torture scene. Are films depicting such acts contributing to a culture of violence and to a culture of rape? Not in my case. If anything, they push me in the opposite direction.

In my opinion, Greta Christina should be able to write whatever she wants. There will be people who are horrified by her fantasies, and there will be people who find them stimulating. There might also be people who read them with intense pleasure and who will probably act upon such fantasies, but such people will exist even if Greta Christina switched to cookery books.

In summary, I do not believe that works of fiction, in any form, can be described as contributing to a culture of rape (or anything else, for that matter). Such works do not shape minds: they only implant themselves in those minds that are already prepared to embrace what they perceive as the message.

114 john welch October 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Jan, exactly.

Anita Sarkeesian, like everyone else, deserves proper criticism of her ideas.

Death/rape/whatever threats have nothing to do with that, and the more these morons do the latter, the harder the former is, and that is, quite honestly, infuriating and stupid.

115 Karmakin October 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Just to talk about the whole “double-standard” thing, to make things a bit clearer. I think most people here agree that the various things that the FTB’ers do, generally speaking on its own are not bad things. I’ll add to that list and I’ll say that their encouragement of drunken debauchery should be on that list as well IMO.

But here’s the thing. The claims of the double-standard isn’t really saying that the things that they do are over the line. Because I think most people agree that they’re not. (I personally believe encouraging binge drinking parties is the closest to the line for what it’s worth) But they’re a hell of a lot closer to the line than anything you’ll see at the Pit or among most of the people they criticize. There are exceptions, of course. But that people can rarely give specific examples of rape or actual misogyny (quite frankly, again, even if you’re going with an expanded definition, I’d argue that you’ll see more at FTB than the people you’re criticizing) is pretty telling.

Again, what I said at the beginning applies. None of this is about actual moral issues. It’s about social status and tribalism.

116 noelplum99 October 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Ariel @109

To answer your questions.

Firstly, Oolon never responded to me. Make of that what you will.

Secondly, you ask (I think) for clarification on the relative abundances of sexual and non-sexual violence. Some other commentors here have made the point generally (as Phil says about chainsaw dismemberment vs a naked breast) but the situation within video games is far more extreme than in other forms of entertainment. Some video games are almost pure violence from beginning to end, with only the limit existing that of the imagination.
Have a look at this link (warning NSFW):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4BDXhX32Xc
The game you are seeing is not some marginal title but Mortal Kombat, one of the most famous lines of arcade games over the last twenty years. The video shows all the available “fatalities” in the latest incarnation of the game. These are moves that are available to the player that are not required to win the game but are optional ways of killing off a stunned and defenceless opponent (that could otherwise be dispatched with a non-fatal punch or kick) purely as a visual *prize*.
This is how extreme portrayals of non-sexual violence can get within games. Sexual violence, on the other hand, can barely be implied (which was the pre-release Tomb Raider scandal, that some back story may have implied that the central character had been sexually assaulted in the past).
This is why I find the criticism and lecturing over sexual violence in video games by individuals who seem to have somehow ignored the grotesque carnage surrounding the highly isolated examples they pick out, bizarre beyond belief.

PS: Entirely agree with those who back up Greta Christina’s position on her own work but see the hypocrisy with how that work is handled and yet the feelings they hold towards everything else.

117 Ariel October 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

John Welch #111

But *by the standards of the people running the blog site she writes on*, and by rather a few of the other bloggers there, Greta has literally contributed to rape culture by writing sexualized fantasy that normalizes rape.

(…) So FTB would be in a bit of a quandry, were they people with an even slightly consistent ethical worldview. But, because they aren’t, they just all blithely ignore their own standards when convenient.

John, if you are trying to convince someone who is *not* convinced in advance, you would need to do far, far more than that. But maybe your aim is different – maybe you just want to reinforce a message already accepted by your putative audience? In the second case, fine, go on. I’m not a part of this audience … but never mind that.

Otherwise, there are so many assumptions here that I don’t even know what to begin with. Just a few issues:

– Where are the “standards of the people running the blog site” formulated? Which fragments of these standards exclude writing erotic fiction in Greta’s style?
– Which “other bloggers” made claims condemning fiction of this sort? Where are these claims formulated?
– Even if some other bloggers do not approve of such fiction, how exactly is the charge of hypocrisy (or having inconsistent ethical worldview) justified? Also: against whom exactly is the charge directed?

Please try to appreciate the doubts concerning especially the last question. It is known for example that Greta and Taslima have very different (opposing in many respects) views on pornography. Does it mean that it’s a hypocrisy for them to be on the same site? Does it mean that both bloggers have inconsistent ethical worldview? If so, why and how? Perhaps from their point of view, it stays within the limits of acceptable disagreement – maybe they just “agree to disagree” on this point, not treating it as a reason serious enough to decline participation? Also: how do you know what rules of conduct towards co-bloggers they accept? In addition: do you think that the rules of conduct towards co-bloggers must be the same as the rules of conduct towards strangers? If so, do you attribute to the bloggers such a belief?

Just to be sure: no, I’m definitely NOT expecting you to answer all of this. My aim is only to make you realize that there are *so many* assumptions needed to justify – really justify – what you are saying. Do you expect everyone to accept it “just like that”? Or are you simply trying to reinforce the message for the sake of those who already believe all of this?

(If the second, please go on. In this case I’m not your target and I promise not to interrupt too much.)

Noelplum #116:

Thanks for the clarification and for the link. (I don’t think I will play it.)

This is why I find the criticism and lecturing over sexual violence in video games by individuals who seem to have somehow ignored the grotesque carnage surrounding the highly isolated examples they pick out, bizarre beyond belief.

I will not try to verify your claim that the examples are “highly isolated” – at the moment games don’t interest me that much. But in general, I find nothing particularly bizarre in concentrating on some topics at the cost of other ones, even worthy of attention. These are not grotesqueness Olympics after all. If it is sexism that bothers you, you concentrate on sexism. If animal welfare is what you care about most, you concentrate on animal welfare, ignoring (to a significant extent) other topics, no matter how important. That’s how we function – is it really such a big news? Or maybe you think that before deciding to care about anything at all, we should do a research, a statistical analysis perhaps, investigate all of these “dear Muslimas” until we find one and the only one “most important cause”, worthy of our attention?

In effect I do not find it strange – unless, as you say, these cases are really highly isolated. Then it would be strange indeed.

118 Aneris ✻ October 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Sometimes I tend to forget that we’re dealing mostly with Americans, a culture where showing someone on screen being dismembered with a chainsaw is ok but the mere suggestion of a bare breast sends them in a frenzy.

It’s a cultural thing, I guess.

Whew, careful there Phil! That’s xenophobic*!

😀

*noting the existence of other parts of the world outside the US and potential differences was declared xenophobic by Ms Ophelia Benson.

119 Karmakin October 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm

@Ariel 117 I’m not Welch, but I’ll try and give an answer to your questions.

It really is about a stance on a sort of objective morality. Harris took a crack at it in his Moral Landscape book, but I’ll be honest I thought that it was a bit lacking, in that it overcomplicated things a bit.

The FTB crew…and to expand that out, I think that ideology as a whole that some people label as “SJW” claim to have an ultra-objective morality. That is, there are clear things that are Right and clear things that are Wrong and if you do the latter and do not do the former you are a Bad Person, and to take it a step further, that you should be Ostracized and Punished for this. This gets reinforced when such moralistic language is used. And this happens all the time. The messaging and the frames that Nugent is upset about is that ultra moralistic language. The belief is that anybody who participates in the ‘Pit is a Horrible Terrible Person and deserves to be Punished and Ostracized. And if you’re not Ostracizing them? You’re obviously one of them.

The problem is that the objective morality that they claim to have isn’t so objective. It turns into It’s OK when they do it. This is a common problem for moralists. It stops being about the moral/ethical concepts and starts being about identity and group affiliation. It happens to the Religious Right, it happens to SJWs, it happens to political moralists, and so on. Basically, it’s what happens when people start to think that they have THE solution to a problem…that their own stuff doesn’t stink.

That’s aside from the whole question of morality isn’t black and white in the first place. It’s all a bunch of shades of gray that we all live in.

This isn’t unique, and it’s not a unique response. I think all of the stuff going on in the gaming community is a….pumped up version of this as well.

But that’s IMO what’s going on here. It’s a claim to be the arbiters of what is right and moral, but in reality being right and moral doesn’t matter nearly as much as being on the right team.

120 Aneris ✻ October 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Ariel, I appreciate you comment and would appreciate if more people with different views would enter the discussion. However, please don’t pull another Latsot.

PLEASE SEE COMMENT 97!

Ariel wrote in 117: 1) – Where are the “standards of the people running the blog site” formulated? Which fragments of these standards exclude writing erotic fiction in Greta’s style?

– Which “other bloggers” made claims condemning fiction of this sort? Where are these claims formulated?
– Even if some other bloggers do not approve of such fiction, how exactly is the charge of hypocrisy (or having inconsistent ethical worldview) justified? Also: against whom exactly is the charge directed? […]

Does it mean that it’s a hypocrisy for them to be on the same site? Does it mean that both bloggers [Greta and Taslima] have inconsistent ethical worldview?

Please take a look at 97 and point out specifically what is missing. It is super frustrating to have to explain an already very unwieldy context over and over again and the next minute the other person seems to have forgotten about it – or worse, take the “simple version” and strawman that up (this has led for example to the Freeze Peach meme on FTB). I am not saying you do that, but please don’t do a Latsot.

I have pointed out who is meant and who isn’t and addressed the issue of a missing name for the faction in question dozens of times. We try to capture the social justice warrior phenomenon in the atheist-skeptics movement with terms such as “the social justice faction”, or formerly “Atheism Plus”, or use the comical name “Social Justice League” (which I prefer). Most people this side of the argument have progressed to a stage where they simply don’t care if some blogger or person on FTB or SkepChicks or Secular Women or CFI exists who isn’t totally inane.

And I begin to also not care about the odd ones there. It’s not my mission or obligation to keep the good name of FTB etc. clean by always mentioning how some people may write good stuff.

The most vocal ones and the ones who get cited all the time are all social justice warriors. Whatever differences of opinions exist, they generally don’t debate these points and prefer to stay silent on such issues. I believe in the minds of the most followers, those different viewpoints are compartmentalized and rationalized (like you do here) whenever they seem to collide. Collisions are minimized by simple never making it a topic.

Again, see the bulk of points in 97!

Some more examples: FTB bloggers or SkepChicks most certainly felt awkward when PZ Myers went on to mock Robin Williams who committed suicide for the depression was too unbearable for him. But nobody would make it a topic. FTB indeed is monolithic in such occasions, when the issue is otherwise highly controversial. It’s controversial elsewhere, yet not really on FTB. You can go all technical about “proportionate” and so on, but we don’t need to be too nuanced when the basic broad strokes aren’t even acknowledged and FTB people are remarkably obtuse to understand where others are coming from (also see 33).

It is also known that not everyone from the faction liked to see how the commentariat supported and expressed love to a regular poster after he confessed to have raped three girls on a babysitter job (curious how this item seems to be invisible to FTB people!). The thread “stunned silence” was meant for victims, not for perpetrators of rape. I am confident that this is controversial, but again, kept on a very low profile. But beware Sam Harris writes “the person, he” (about a topic that is actually about a guy) then that’s worthy of dedicated blog posts filled with commentary. To find some disagreements you have to dig into the comment section to even know about it.

Likewise, you don’t see Greta Christina criticizing PZ Myers when he and his commentariat supports Anita Sarkeesian and their “all gamers are evil misogynists because they consume violent or sexist media” type of argument. It simply is non-existent. Greta Christina & et al will however howl and shriek when someone else, outside of her network writes something mildly disagreeable. That’s “kink shaming” then. It’s normally all “rape culture” except when Greta Christina writes a rape porn book meant for sexual arousal, or PZ Myers shares tentacle rape pornography. Again, see 97!

Greta Christina also has a big issue with rape-shock and insults. Indeed, the ones the FTB people dug up from the “The Amazing Atheist” were extreme and very graphic and indefensible. However, no words were wasted on porcupine rape imagery and rusty knives that are/were popular in her own community. So popular in fact, that they are recorded on Pharyngula’ Wiki’s meme pages. Ed Brayton the same. He bloviates about “The Amazing Atheist” word choices and urges everyone to always quote past dubious utterances as a form of a permanent scarlet letter to their name, so that nobody likes them, yet same there, sits in a community big on rape/shock insults. Look at the proportion. If you want to shun and shame people for something they’ve written in the past and for what they have apologized already, then be better very sure that you’ve cleaned your own stable of such “elements” first. In that case, Ed Brayton and Greta Christina and the other lot could kick-ban half the commentariat and then each other. Same for all the other people there who signed Greta Christina’s open letter.

You can always name that “tu quoque” or whatever inane FTB people call it. The audience outside won’t buy it that easily. I may come back to the other points and illustrate some of the more hidden assumptions, but you have to show that you actually see where others are coming from, even if you don’t agree.

121 JetLagg October 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm

“In effect I do not find it strange – unless, as you say, these cases are really highly isolated. Then it would be strange indeed.”

It sounds as if you’re saying you grant Noelplum’s conclusion so long as her premise is true, but you’re unwilling to verify her premise, so you’re free to reject the conclusion. If that is what you’re saying, I think that’s wonky epistemology. Also, I am something of a gamer and can support Noelplum’s premise. I’m unable to recall even a single instance of sexual violence in a video game (actually, now that I’m thinking hard, there was that one video game called Custer’s Revenge released for the Atari before I was even born).

122 Guestus Aurelius October 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

At 117, Ariel said:

Please try to appreciate the doubts concerning especially the last question. It is known for example that Greta and Taslima have very different (opposing in many respects) views on pornography. Does it mean that it’s a hypocrisy for them to be on the same site? Does it mean that both bloggers have inconsistent ethical worldview? If so, why and how? Perhaps from their point of view, it stays within the limits of acceptable disagreement – maybe they just “agree to disagree” on this point, not treating it as a reason serious enough to decline participation? Also: how do you know what rules of conduct towards co-bloggers they accept? In addition: do you think that the rules of conduct towards co-bloggers must be the same as the rules of conduct towards strangers? If so, do you attribute to the bloggers such a belief?

I see where you’re coming from, but if this is really what you think has been going on, then you need to open your eyes.

Has Taslima repeatedly railed against anyone who disagrees with her position on pornography, or against anyone who creates pornographic media? Has she taken a hard-line-in-the-sand stance here and called dissenters misogynistic rape apologists while turning a blind eye toward Greta Christina? I honestly don’t know if she has (I don’t read her blog), but if so, then yes, that qualifies as in-group double standards.

The egregiousness—and the objectionableness—of that kind of double standard is proportional to the quantity and toxicity of the venom directed at out-groupers.

You ask if “the rules of conduct towards co-bloggers must be the same as the rules of conduct toward strangers.” My reply is that decent people strive to uphold the same standards for in-groupers as they do for out-groupers, but that there are degrees of failing at it. The Social Justice League as a whole? They fail at it pretty hard.

123 Guestus Aurelius October 15, 2014 at 6:38 pm

And as a quick follow-up:

Yes, when PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson and Richard Carrier and the rest of those lovely people draw a hard line in the sand and say (literally in some cases) “you’re either with us or against us,” and when they then act on that motto by trying to hurt out-groupers in real life through various means (e.g., publicly airing unverified accusations of horrible crimes, doxxing, cyberbullying), then A) they’ve revealed themselves to be horrible people to begin with, and B) they’d better damn well hold in-groupers to the same standard. (They don’t, which just makes them even worse people.)

124 Peter Ferguson October 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm

The weird thing is PZ et al. often raise the issue that of victims of harassment and rape are not believed as much as they should be. Which I actually agree with. Assuming that such victims are lying is a serious issue in many parts of the world, even in the west.

By throwing around accusations of rape and harassment as flippantly as they do they are actively adding this problem. So they are willing throw this issue under the bus in order to attack and smear people they have a disagreement with, which, when you think about is quite despicable.

125 john welch October 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Ariel @117

Given that you’ve demonstrated in the past that you’re not really going to ever have a problem with what certain FTB people do, this is really a waste of time. But since others are reading:

John, if you are trying to convince someone who is *not* convinced in advance, you would need to do far, far more than that. But maybe your aim is different – maybe you just want to reinforce a message already accepted by your putative audience? In the second case, fine, go on. I’m not a part of this audience … but never mind that.

Oh, you’re convinced in advance. But it’s that I’m going to be wrong in any criticism of FTB/Skepchick beyond spelling errors. However, my “aim” was to point out that FTB writers are demanding others live up to a standard that they feel free to ignore when someone in their in-group does something that might otherwise be a problem by that standard. AKA “it’s okay when we do it”

Otherwise, there are so many assumptions here that I don’t even know what to begin with. Just a few issues:

Only the ones you’re making. But it’s easier to tell me i’m wrong than to ask for clarification. Especially when that’s your only interest here.

– Where are the “standards of the people running the blog site” formulated? Which fragments of these standards exclude writing erotic fiction in Greta’s style?

In their many, many posts and comments about rape, rape culture and rape apology. They’re very clear. Rape, regardless of intent, (and again, intent is not magic) is always bad and cannot ever be written about, talked about or in any way communicated as anything but bad. Rape jokes are never acceptable. Etc.

Ergo, since there can be, by their oft-stated opinions on the matter, no positive portrayal, nor even close to positive portrayals of rape, Greta’s fiction crosses that line.

yet, she is not held to the same standard they apply to everyone outside of their group.

And again, talking about everyone else BUT them, there’s no problem with what Greta writes. I certainly have no problem with it. It is only when you compare it to their absolute, unbending standards of How You Can Talk About Rape that their sudden silence on the matter becomes a problem. It’s not the only time they act like rape apologists (again, by THEIR standards), the oft-mentioned Ogvorbis being the now classic example. It’s simply yet another example of how they don’t hold themselves, as a group or individually to the standards they demand of others.

A non-rape example would be the year+ defense of Greg Laden’s threats of physical violence against Justin Griffith by both Zvan and the Canuck.

Again, they are absolute: THREATS OF VIOLENCE COMMUNICATED OVER THE INTERNET ARE AWAYS WRONG.

Oh wait, Greg did it? Well, clearly we have to consider intent and the person.

They do not live by their own standards. Why should anyone else.

– Which “other bloggers” made claims condemning fiction of this sort? Where are these claims formulated?

See first reply. The core of FTB, namely PZ, Zvan, Greta, Canuck, etc.

I’m not actually going to do a search on the various phrases here. you hang out at FTB enough to know their position on it as well as anyone else, and in any event, I’m quite convinced that the only reason you’d want links and samples would be to disprove that they say what I see them as saying.

You’ve already established you think I’m a liar anyway, I’m not sure what good proof would do. I’d just be quote-mining or deliberately misreading things.

Perhaps you begin to see the problem of “discussion” when you’ve established your opinion of the person you’re talking to as solidly as you have with me. Why should I put forth any effort for your convenience? I know I’m neither lying nor being deliberately deceptive. Given your treatment of me in the past, your opinion of me has no real value in my world, and so my willingness to do work for you for free is zero.

– Which “other bloggers” made claims condemning fiction of this sort? Where are these claims formulated?
– Even if some other bloggers do not approve of such fiction, how exactly is the charge of hypocrisy (or having inconsistent ethical worldview) justified? Also: against whom exactly is the charge directed?

Already answered to the exact amount of effort you’ve earned.

Please try to appreciate the doubts concerning especially the last question. It is known for example that Greta and Taslima have very different (opposing in many respects) views on pornography. Does it mean that it’s a hypocrisy for them to be on the same site? Does it mean that both bloggers have inconsistent ethical worldview? If so, why and how? Perhaps from their point of view, it stays within the limits of acceptable disagreement – maybe they just “agree to disagree” on this point, not treating it as a reason serious enough to decline participation? Also: how do you know what rules of conduct towards co-bloggers they accept? In addition: do you think that the rules of conduct towards co-bloggers must be the same as the rules of conduct towards strangers? If so, do you attribute to the bloggers such a belief?

So on the game you’re trying to play, namely, the existence of formal blogsite standards, nice try, but we both know you’re pulling a misdirection on that.

In addition, the existence of people with different viewpoints is not hypocrisy, not by any definition of the word. In fact, it’s a bit insulting you think i’m actually that stupid.

As I’ve stated over and over, and which you have clearly ignored, it is not the existence of standards that is the problem. For example, I have no problem with the idea that a word that is not okay on one person’s site is okay on the other.

The problem occurs when the person who says “This word {WORD} is never acceptable to use for {REASON}” and then proceeds to regularly manufacture reasons to use it.

THAT is where you go from different standards to hypocrisy. If one expects others to live up to a standard, then one needs to live up to said standards oneself, even when it is terribly, terribly inconvenient. If I have a code of conduct I expect others to live by, then I am ethically required to meet it myself.

If threats of physical violence over the internet are always bad and always unacceptable, don’t talk about how it was okay for a friend to do it, because his intent was good. Especially when one chants “intent is not magic” like it was the cure for cancer.

Just to be sure: no, I’m definitely NOT expecting you to answer all of this. My aim is only to make you realize that there are *so many* assumptions needed to justify – really justify – what you are saying. Do you expect everyone to accept it “just like that”? Or are you simply trying to reinforce the message for the sake of those who already believe all of this?

(If the second, please go on. In this case I’m not your target and I promise not to interrupt too much.)

you made up your mind about this five minutes before you scrolled down to the comment box. Probably as soon as you saw I had replied. Let us stop pretending otherwise. I’m well aware of what you think of me. I see no reason to act otherwise.

There are no assumptions to justify, except the ones you are trying to create as a way to misdirect from the continual hypocrisy that FTB and Skepchicks engage in. Your attempt to restrict ‘standards’ to a formally enumerated code of conduct (probably having to be called precisely that) shows that you’re disinterested in anything but proving me wrong.

Which I find amusing, since I’m unsure who you’re proving it to. You already KNOW I’m wrong. Because I’m not in the correct group. No proof is therefore necessary, I’m an SP.

So exactly who are you trying to score points with?

126 Michael Nugent October 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Thanks for all of the comments, and in particular for some new information I wasn’t previously aware of.

I’ve been distracted by other things for the past couple of days, but I’ll be returning to this issue soon.

127 J. J. Ramsey October 16, 2014 at 12:28 am

Aneris, the bald claim that Greta Christina “wants to show you how rape is sexually arousing” has the misleading connotation that she wants to present rape as something that is somehow positive, and that’s a connotation that is definitely not supported by the broader context.

128 john welch October 16, 2014 at 12:41 am

J.J., I at least am not saying Greta is presenting (real world) rape as good. Nor has she ever, to my knowledge.

But in her *fantasy* books, she does make use of it. She is admittedly writing about the edges of sexual activity, and on the edges, things such as rape play are not uncommon. No one is, that I can see, in and of itself condemning her for that. She’s hardly the only author, regardless of gender or gender representation to do this.

However, given the hard line stance the core of FTB/Skepchicks have taken about representations of rape, regardless of context or intent, the fact that those same people just blithely ignore her writing on the subject is hypocritical in the extreme. Rape Jokes are NEVER funny, Rape is ALWAYS bad, and must never be represented as anything but the worst of crimes, at BEST equal to murder.

Okay. If that’s your standard, that is your right, and I’m not going to argue that. I may not fully agree, but I’m not you, I don’t have to agree.

But if that’s going to be your standard, if you’re going to go after, attack, and publicly excoriate people for violating that standard, then by god, apply it to yourself and your in-group buddies at the same levels.

That is the ONLY problem I, and from what I can tell, more than a few other people have with this. It is not that Greta writes darkly violent sexual fantasy. It is that her friends and cohorts give her a fucking pass on it, when they savage any they dislike for the exact same level or less of transgression of their “standards”.

I cannot for the life of me understand how this is a difficult concept for anyone to grasp.

129 J. J. Ramsey October 16, 2014 at 1:26 am

However, given the hard line stance the core of FTB/Skepchicks have taken about representations of rape, regardless of context or intent, ….

And your evidence of this is?

130 Matt Cavanaugh October 16, 2014 at 1:42 am

Christina reflexively responds to questions about her rape porn with straw-man accusations of “kink shaming.” This is disingenuous, and Christina is intelligent enough to know it. Christina has the right to enjoy rape porn; I do not judge that. My issues with Christina are two:

1) Hypocrisy: I, for one, fail to discern the subtle distinction between rape porn and rape jokes. Christina writes the former, while ranting incessantly over the latter, even the mild “dickwolves” joke in the Penny Arcade comic. Greta was also silent after PZ Myers made a terrible rape joke — during an online discussion against rape jokes. But, hey — It’s OK When We Do It™;

2) Public Image: Christina is an author of rape porn and an enthusiastic promoter thereof. She is also an atheist activist & author of some renown. The former role undermines the latter. An important objective of atheist activism is countering the negative perception of atheists as amoral deviants. ‘Atheists are normal, ethical people, just like you’, the messaging goes. For the vast majority of people, rape porn is offensive and bizarre. (Same for bestiality.) Christina cannot and should not be a spokesperson for atheism.

131 john welch October 16, 2014 at 1:52 am

J.J.

So you’re saying that FTB/Skepchicks say it’s okay to write about rape in a way that is anything but negative?

Really.

132 Blueshift Rhino October 16, 2014 at 2:14 am

@JJ –

I’d be delighted to do your homework for you and provide ad-nauseum evidence that FTB/Skepchicks have taken a hard-line stance against anything that “normalizes” rape. However, I first need to know if I’d be wasting my time. Would such also make the point that these folks are hypocritical for not applying their standard to Greta Christina for her rape-erotica and PZ Myers for his rape-joke(s), etc … yes or no?

133 Aneris ✻ October 16, 2014 at 2:47 am

J. J. Ramsey wrote in 127: Aneris, the bald claim that Greta Christina “wants to show you how rape is sexually arousing” has the misleading connotation that she wants to present rape as something that is somehow positive, and that’s a connotation that is definitely not supported by the broader context.

Which broader context? And I hope you are aware that none of that changes the arguments and questions in comment 97, which you are evading.

134 Ariel October 16, 2014 at 9:09 am

Aneris #120

Please take a look at 97 and point out specifically what is missing.

Aneris, your 97 was a general political manifesto plus a list of specific issues … but it didn’t discuss even a single one of them in detail. It was a mere list and nothing more than that. To respond in kind, I would probably have to write a counter-manifesto, with a long list of grievances about you and your colleagues, but you know what? I leave such stuff to others. This is just not my style. In such cases I prefer to pick a concrete item from the list and to start searching for details. You want to know what was missing? *Really*? All the details were missing. All of them.

It struck me that many of you keep repeating that “Greta Christina promotes a rape fantasy book on FreeThoughtBlogs”. It struck me that your side (including you, Aneris) gives it as an example of a double standard. But I noticed also that no one – including you – gives any details about what exactly this double standard consists in and how exactly the example of Greta’s fiction illustrates it. Instead of a full explanation of a given accusation, you move smoothly to the next item on your list. That’s why I reacted.

Your 97 is a patent example of this strategy. You say:

(1) Greta Christina promotes a rape fantasy book on FreeThoughtBlogs. (2) There is a regular on FreeThoughtBlogs who confessed to have raped three girls on a babysitter job when he was twelve, that is, FTB really has a rapist in the comment section. (3) PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson have covered that up and (4) pretended that this wasn’t true. (5) PZ Myers “celebrated” tentacle rape porn and even if that is many years old, it was recently defended and declared as sex positivity.

In 97 you provided no discussion of even a single of these cases. You produced no argument – *absolutely none*, zero, nada – supporting the claim that any of your (1)-(5) is a good illustration of a double standard. You presented a mere list. That’s all you did there. Please, do not pretend that you answered my questions in 97. You didn’t.

So, how exactly Greta’s fiction illustrates the double standards on FtB? In your recent post you try (for the first time!) to provide some answer.

Likewise, you don’t see Greta Christina criticizing PZ Myers when he and his commentariat supports Anita Sarkeesian and their “all gamers are evil misogynists because they consume violent or sexist media” type of argument. (…) It’s normally all “rape culture” except when Greta Christina writes a rape porn book meant for sexual arousal

In effect your accusation is: Greta applies the double standard because she doesn’t criticize PZ for his fight against sexist tropes in the media, while she herself depicts sexual violence in her fiction for the sake of sexual arousal. And perhaps also: PZ applies the double standard in not criticizing Greta for this. (I omit the part about “all gamers being evil” because I treat it as a misrepresentation.)

The thing is, Aneris, that your double standard (hypocrisy) charge is hopelessly one sided – it’s the worst and the most unfriendly interpretation possible … but not necessarily the most plausible one.

A writer like Greta faces a dilemma. Her audience is a (relatively) narrow group of kinksters, with their needs and fantasies. She believes that they shouldn’t be shamed for being kinky. She believes also that some of these fantasies can be easily (even though mistakenly) taken for sexist stereotypes. That’s too bad, isn’t it? And here are her options:

– Condemning (and not writing) all fiction with non-consensual elements. Potential cost: in general terms it would be a delegitimization of such fantasies, or at least a delegitimization of sharing and discussing them in public. And it is a *real* cost, because there is nothing wrong in these fantasies – as long as they are treated as fantasies and as long as they are not turned into the “obligatory social standard”, valid for everybody.
– Writing such stories, but with modifications, consisting e.g. in adding “a moral point of view”. The usual cost: a really crappy and boring literature.
– Writing such stories as they are. Potential cost: some readers may take it as glorifying a non-consensual sex in RL and as promoting real objectification of women (which goes far beyond kinkiness).

Observe that there is no costless option here. Whatever you do, it comes with a price. The problem is real.

And here comes the key observation: it is possible indeed to choose the last option and *still* to fight against sexist tropes in the media. There is no inconsistency and no hypocrisy in doing this. Try to think about it in the following way:

– Writing such stories, you acknowledge that the specific narrow group – the kinksters – has a right to these fantasies without being shamed for them.
– Fighting against sexist tropes in the media, you fight against a societal norm – you oppose in effect the default perception of women.

Is it consistent? Yes, it is. The key difference is that the kinksters are *not* a societal norm. They are a narrow group, untypical in various respects – and deserving some recognition. The question is how to give them such a recognition without promoting bad societal norms. And the bad news is that whatever you do, there is a price to pay.

Making such (very real) dilemmas a basis for the hypocrisy charge strikes me indeed as extremely unfair and hostile. You jump immediately to the worst possible interpretation. Sure, I know, enemies, and so on … but still.

Please, Aneris, *do not* provide in return another one hundred examples of a double standard – I would really prefer to finish with this one first. Please, do not reply also with another political manifesto. Political manifestos are boring. Thanks a lot in advance.

John Welch #125

Just this:

You’ve already established you think I’m a liar anyway, I’m not sure what good proof would do. I’d just be quote-mining or deliberately misreading things.
Perhaps you begin to see the problem of “discussion” when you’ve established your opinion of the person you’re talking to as solidly as you have with me.

You are wrong. I don’t consider you a liar.

In our earlier exchange (you refer to it indirectly) I said something about smearing, not about lying. As a matter of fact, you seem sincere to me – I think that you really believe what you say. It means that you are not a liar.

Nevertheless, my opinion (after our earlier exchange) is that you don’t check your facts. (And this indeed generates smears. You don’t have to lie to smear someone.) You jump to conclusions without checking, you make assessments without checking, you rely on memory instead of checking and double checking.

I believe that you are sincere. I don’t consider you a liar. But I don’t trust your judgment.

135 Jan Steen October 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

@Ariel,

A writer like Greta faces a dilemma. Her audience is a (relatively) narrow group of kinksters, with their needs and fantasies.

She can’t chose her audience. Her audience could also include rapists who may feel legitimized by her stories (“you see, women secretly want to be raped”). What if she had written about child rape fantasies. Is that also okay?

We see here the monumental hypocrisy of people complaining about Rape Culture while they are the only ones actively creating something resembling a rape culture.

136 Jan Steen October 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Interestingly, there is a review by one Paul Z. Myers from Morris, Minnesota of Greta Christina’s book (Bending) on Amazon:

Bending is excellently written — and it’s not the usual one-dimensional porn I’ve encountered on the internet (you know what I mean: the “Tab A goes into Slot B” kind of porn that reads like an Ikea manual, with lube). It’s the kind of porn that explores what people are actually thinking and feeling, and it’s stronger for it.

My only reservation, and it’s not a criticism, is that it’s got a focused theme. This is a book of stories about dom/sub relations and spanking, and it doesn’t match up well with my personal kinks (which I will not discuss, except to note that the word “tentacle” only appears ONCE in the entire book, and then as a metaphor). But if it does align with your interests, expect quality arousal.

He’s got no reservation, apparently, about the non-consensual nature of some of the ‘action’.

I guess in this case, but in this case only, intent is magic.

These people, who are happy to make money writing rape porn, or happily endorse such writing, are the same people who fling around accusations of misogyny, sexism, rape apology and even downright rape at the drop of a hat. Mote and beam, folks, mote and beam.

http://www.amazon.com/Bending-Dirty-Stories-Religion-Unicorns-ebook/product-reviews/B00CBWYT5C/ref=sr_1_4_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

137 Jan Steen October 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm

@Ariel,

I’m still trying to understand what point you want to make.

The key difference is that the kinksters are *not* a societal norm. They are a narrow group, untypical in various respects – and deserving some recognition.

This is a very peculiar argument. You appear to be saying that if a small enough group of people are aroused by certain sexual imagery, even including rape, then it is all right, because these people ‘deserve’ recognition. But the sexual imagery that arouses the majority of the people must be condemned, because the majority of the people are able, by virtue of being the majority, to establish societal norms (whatever that means). The majority, apparently, do not ‘deserve’ recognition. To simplify, plain vanilla sex bad, kinky sex good. Is that what you’re saying?

138 Ariel October 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Jan Steen #137

No, this is not what I’m saying (although in the first part you are closer to the point).

First, I’m saying that being aroused by this sexual imagery is not something bad in itself. (Neither it is something good in itself.) What would be bad is to act on these desires in ways which harm other people.

Second, I’m saying that it’s fine to allow for a niche for the kinksters – like many other “nonstandard” groups, they also have rights. Expression of their sexual identity shouldn’t be blocked – I treat it as a default position, unless given *really* good reasons to think otherwise.

This covers the first part. As for the second, you’ve got it completely wrong. The point is not that “sexual imagery that arouses the majority of the people must be condemned”. It is rather that sexism should be condemned – and that the prevalence of sexist tropes in mainstream culture adversely affects women at large. This justifies the fight against such tropes, even if the kinksters are permitted to have their niche.

It all rests on some factual assumptions which (obviously) can be questioned. You can protest for example: “no, you are wrong, there is no prevalence of sexist tropes in mainstream culture!” (cf. Noelplum earlier). Or you can claim: “yes, they are prevalent, but they do not adversely affect women!”. Observe however that in such a case you enter the realm of factual disagreement. It’s not a hypocrisy charge anymore.

I may be wrong of course but the above seems to me close to Greta’s actual position.

139 noelplum99 October 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm

@Ariel

Big objection upcoming:

You can protest for example: “no, you are wrong, there is no prevalence of sexist tropes in mainstream culture!” (cf. Noelplum earlier).

I clearly recall having an exchange with you discussing the prevelance of non-sexual violence versus sexual violence in arcade games (yet, for some reason, the grossly underrepresented sexual violence is singled out despite most of the asrguments being used seemingly applying just as obviously to the non-sexual violence), I do not recall at any stage discussing with you the prevalance of sexist tropes in mainstream culture.

Have you been to bed since our earlier exchange? Perchance you have dreamt an exchange that never actually happened?

140 piero October 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I must say I understand the point Ariel is making. It is one thing to write about rape fantasies, and a different one to tell jokes about rape. The difference, as Ariel point out, is that fantasy is fantasy: it has no necessary connection to reality. Rape jokes, on the other hand, can be a symptom of generalised tolerance towards, if not approval of, actual rape.

I do not agree with Jan’s schema of “vanilla sex bad, kinky sex good.” I don’t think Greta Christina or Ariel would endorse such a statement. The broader point is, in my opinion, that sexual fantasies do not imply anything about attitudes in the real world, and I believe that’s correct.

Nevertheless, I do see a contradiction between this laissez-faire attitude to porn writing and the accusation of misogyny levelled at game developers. It appears that rape fantasies are OK as long as they are written by Greta Christina. Or perhaps games are a bit too close to a simulation for comfort. I wonder what kind of games would Greta Christina design if she was a game developer.

141 JetLagg October 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I must say I understand the point Ariel is making. It is one thing to write about rape fantasies, and a different one to tell jokes about rape.

I’ll second that.

Rape jokes, on the other hand, can be a symptom of generalised tolerance towards, if not approval of, actual rape.

Strongly disagree on that point. A joke could be a symptom of generalized tolerance towards rape, but it could just as easily (more probably, I think) be a way of dealing with the horror of its existence. Humor is a way of maintaining your sanity whilst staring down evil. If we’re going to condemn it on the grounds that it might sometimes be a symptom of tolerance for that evil, I believe we should condemn fantasy for the same reason, as it’s not implausible rape porn could also be a symptom of tolerance for rape.

142 piero October 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

@noelplum99:

I’ve been thinking about the emphasis on sexual violence as opposed to general violence, and I think it boils down to this: general violence is usually the result of a confrontation with an aggressive and capable enemy. In most games, you face enemies that are as likely to kill you as you are of killing them; in other words, it’s a level field, and an honourable combat. Sexual violence, on the other hand, is inflicted on the innocent, or the weak. I am not a gamer, so I’m speaking from inexperience here, but I don’t think there is a game where your objective is to raid a flat and rape the occupants; nor have I ever come across a game where you rape your enemy instead of killing him/her. That would be dishonourable.

Incidentally, the absence of such games shows that “rape culture” is a figment of the SJW’s imagination.

143 semi October 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

@ Ariel 138
“This covers the first part. As for the second, you’ve got it completely wrong. The point is not that “sexual imagery that arouses the majority of the people must be condemned”. It is rather that sexism should be condemned – and that the prevalence of sexist tropes in mainstream culture adversely affects women at large. This justifies the fight against such tropes, even if the kinksters are permitted to have their niche.”

Are you saying that if by some stretch of the imagination Greta’s rape porn book had sold a million copies, and therefore entered mainstream culture, that it would only then be open to sexist (and rape culture) criticism?

144 Ariel October 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

noelplum #139: you are right, my mistake. Sorry.

145 Acleron October 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

@noelplum99

If, as you say and there is no reason to disagree, that sexual violence is a very small proportion of the total gaming ouevre then whoever gains gratification from it is presumably in a minority and deserves the same niche privileges that Greta’s audience is being awarded by Ariel. Of course, it could be argued that this small group affects societal norms (a phrase designed to mean exactly what the user wants and likely to change according to circumstances). But then someone will have to show there is something different about violence in a video game that happens to involve a female is somehow more affective of ‘societal norms’ (sorry, can’t stop laughing at the vacuous pomposity of that phrase) than rape directed at females. Perhaps our Baroness Greenfield could help.

146 Ron Murphy October 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

PZ must be on the right track:

Reporting crimes by Skype or Facebook:
https://twitter.com/DCCIanHopkins/status/522745954475053056

Though I suspect they’d still rather social media be used to report to the police, not to the world and his cephalopod.

147 Jan Steen October 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

@Ariel #138,

The problem is, we are not discussing just any kind of kink here, we are specifically arguing about non-consensual sex, a.k.a rape and sexual assault. My problem with Christina’s book is that the wrong kind of person could very well read it as legitimizing non-consensual sex. You can counter this by claiming that this is not the intended audience, but once you freely offer this stuff for sale to harmless kinkster and dangerous creep alike you have no control over who your audience is.

In my view, the author and those who support her are the last persons who have a right to complain about Rape Culture: she makes money out of rape porn of all things.

That is hypocrisy right there.

I don’t think we should go into a detailed discussion as to when ordinary displays of sexuality cross the line into sexist territory. I suspect we draw the lines at different places. But this topic has very little to do with the OP.

148 piero October 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

@JetLagg:

Yes, I see your point. I’ve heard some cringe-inducing jokes from (mostly British) comedians, and it was quite obvious that their purpose was to make the audience cringe.

149 Blueshift Rhino October 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

As just pointed out by Jan, Ariel is missing the point and appears to be dragging others down, too.

It does not matter ONE BIT whether any of us think that rape stories and/or rape jokes are acceptable. What matters to the point of this thread is that it is hypocritical to simultaneously argue that both are unacceptable (in any form, context, or whatever) and then turn around and allow yourself and your friends to write or tell them.

It’s really that simple. And no amount of “derailing” will change this.

150 JetLagg October 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

It’s a derail, so I won’t comment on it any further, but I thought it was an interesting derail. Perhaps Ariel can join some of us at the pit to talk about it more. I’d suggest Myers’ but I think most of us are banned there :p

151 noelplum99 October 16, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Ariel @144

Thank you, I appreciate us being able to set things straight on that :)

JetLagg @141

Strongly disagree on that point. A joke could be a symptom of generalized tolerance towards rape, but it could just as easily (more probably, I think) be a way of dealing with the horror of its existence.

Indeed the whole sphere of black humour is about just that: making light of misery to make it a little easier to deal with. I have seen some gruesome things myself, during the course of my work, that are made much easier to deal with through (what some would consider inappropriate) humour.
In my opinion it is naive to make blanket statements about humour based on what subject of the joke. You can make mean-spirited and bigotted jokes about a great many subjects, not just acts of sexual violence, just as you can make genuinely funny and well-intentioned jokes (intent is not magic, but it is intent, and intent IS important) about all those same subjects.
One of my favourite jokes is a rape joke. Anyone who does not find it funny has issues imo:

A man goes to a doctor and says

“Doctor, help me, I’ve just been raped by an elephant.”

The doctor tells him to bend over the table so he can assess the damage.

“That’s strange” said the doctor “your asshole is almost 10 inches wide, an elephants cock in no more than three inches across?”

“Yeah I know” said the man “the bastard fingered me first!”

“I suppose you could “pc” it up and change the first line to “Doctor, help me, i have just had concensual sex, as part of a loving monogamous relationship, with an elephant” but I think the joke loses something somewhere along the way.

Piero @142

I think there is something in what you say. That said, if you play a game like the stunning bestseller Skyrim, you can hack anybody’s head off – the shopkeeper, the woman running the market stall. You can pick the pockets of the poor; you can loot civilians homes whilst they are out; there is even a quest to put traders out of business by falsifying entries in their accounts. You can do anything to anybody (excepting children, who you cannot attack) as long as it is resolutely non-sexual (you CAN marry in game btw, but don’t expect to consumate the marriage because that would involve sex, not gross acts of violence).
What i should addd for balance is that, clearly gameplay mechanics plays some part in the types of violence (it is easier to see how you make a game out of aiming a gun and blowing the heads of moving people than sexually assaulting them) as well.

PS: Whenever I have mentioned this issue, by the way, it has not been as part of some campaign to increase the level of sexual violence. For whatever reasons (cultural upbringing, biology, who knows?) I’d feel a squeamishness about including sexual violence in video games to the same degree as non-sexualised violence. Even though I cannot entirely rationalise that (I’d sooner be raped than disembowelled, after all) it is still there. My point in mentioning it is to make the very point you made at the end:

Incidentally, the absence of such games shows that “rape culture” is a figment of the SJW’s imagination.

Exactly! Video games normalise non-sexual violence and (hardly) no-one has an issue with that. That they treat sexual violence with so much more respect, whilst not falsifying the idea that our culture is rape cultured entirely, is at least a strong piece of evidence against it.
Imagine, for one moment, if video games typically allowed you to grope and rape freely anyone of your choosing and yet baulked at letting you so much as punch them on the nose (let alone beheading them with your katana). I think the likes of Ms Sarkeesian (and for Ariel, I do not disagree with every conclusion Anita has made – some of her points are well made and justified imo) would be shouting from the rooftops of how this was normalising sexual violence and yet treating non-sexual violence seriously. That the reverse is true and yet is entirely overlooked smacks to me of both a pre-determined agenda and extreme confirmation bias.

152 john welch October 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Ariel @134

You are wrong. I don’t consider you a liar.

In our earlier exchange (you refer to it indirectly) I said something about smearing, not about lying. As a matter of fact, you seem sincere to me – I think that you really believe what you say. It means that you are not a liar.

Nevertheless, my opinion (after our earlier exchange) is that you don’t check your facts. (And this indeed generates smears. You don’t have to lie to smear someone.) You jump to conclusions without checking, you make assessments without checking, you rely on memory instead of checking and double checking.

I believe that you are sincere. I don’t consider you a liar. But I don’t trust your judgment.

This isn’t the first time you’ve cropped up in various places. And you’ve been pretty consistent in your treatment of me and others. I see no sign that you’ve changed.

As well, you have no way to prove I don’t check my facts. In fact, this isn’t about facts at all, according to you, it’s about the level of charity in the interpretation:

The thing is, Aneris, that your double standard (hypocrisy) charge is hopelessly one sided – it’s the worst and the most unfriendly interpretation possible … but not necessarily the most plausible one.

You play this game again. Now it’s not about facts, it’s about “oh, you’re interpreting it wrong.” Okay, please show us the objective standards for interpreting sexual fantasy. One agreed upon by no less than a supermajority of all writers and readers of same. Since you’re accusing people of being wrong, surely, you have some objective list of standards for right and wrong in this instance?

Which leads me to the next bit:

You never provide specifics backing up your claims, but you require them from everyone else before you “trust their judgement”.

Given your complete lack of evidence, and your demands for it from others, we see that you are, like rather a few people, demanding standards from others that you yourself refuse to live up to.

If you are going to demand that everyone you disagree with provide evidence before you consider anything they say valid, (which mind you, is a thin, thin veil over accusations of lying, to wit: until you prove you’re telling the truth, you aren’t), then why should anyone here take you seriously when you provide exactly zero proof yourself?

As an example of “doing it right” Steersman is one of the most pedantic people I know, but he is remarkably consistent in this area. He cites, oh lord, does he cite. So when he asks for citation(s), he is not asking anyone to do something that he himself is not willing to do, and mind you, do without being asked.

You want citations? How about using them yourself?

153 Matt Cavanaugh October 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I ride horses for a living, and even I can’t keep up with Ariel’s gallop.

154 john welch October 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Blueshift @ 149:

Exactly. This isn’t about rape fantasy or jokes being inherently good or bad. For one, they cannot be, that is literally up to the people reading/hearing them. For some it will be one, for others, it will be the other, and you’ll have a gob of people across the range of in between, and NONE OF THEM will be wrong. or right.

Because this isn’t a true/false kind of question.

It is, when you look at the body of work by the FTB/Skepchicks lot, what they’ve said about rape, the standards they promote, and then you see the exceptions they make to the things they demand society conform to that they hypocrisy comes in.

Again, I at least, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, have any problem with Greta being on the “kinky” side, either in her personal life or her writing. As long as no one’s being hurt, more power to her and hers.

This is, mind you, a point Ariel keeps ignoring.

It is that the group she is a part of who is so VERY insistent and demanding that there is only one acceptable way to talk about rape and anything else is rape culture/apologia makes so many exceptions when it comes to members of their in group.

That is the problem. You cannot be binary and analog at the same time.

155 Acleron October 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

@john Welch

‘You cannot be binary and analog at the same time.’

Yes, you cannot be black and white and then write Fifty Shades of Grey.

156 Phil Giordana FCD October 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I have no problem with any of the Usual Suspects being as kinky, vulgar, outrageous as they want, as long as they don’t condemn others and mark them as harassers, misogynists and rapists in the same breath.

It’s pure and simple logic, and really, no word-twisting or sniveling will change that.

157 noelplum99 October 16, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Acleron @154

Yes, you cannot be black and white and then write Fifty Shades of Grey.

Very clever, though if I am learning anything of Ariel also very misguided because you can “kink shame” 50 Shades of Grey on the grounds that it has been read by too many people who are not “kinksters” and so, as part of the great unwashed masses, are probably too unsophisticated to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

158 Ariel October 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I remember a commenter some time ago describing his/her experiences on Pharyngula. S/he said something like “they all wanted to find fault, only they couldn’t decide what the fault is. So they just tried on and on”.

Was this commenter one of you? Hmm, it must have been a terrific experience indeed.

At the moment we have a proliferation of answers to the question “why was Greta’s behavior hypocritical”. One thing is beyond doubt: of course she was hypocritical. Of course. This is an axiom. “Greta” and “not hypocritical” – the two just don’t match. We must only find a good reason. Let’s search together!

So at the moment we have:

Aneris: Greta is a hypocrite because she didn’t attack PZ for criticism of sexism in the media.

Jan Steen: she is a hypocrite because she earns money selling her book. (Would it be ok if she did it for free? Nooo, certainly something else could be found!)

Blueshift Rhino: she is hypocritical because she argued that rape stories are unacceptable (in any form, context, or whatever) and then she turned around and allowed herself to write them. (No details given where she argued this – but no matter! Long live the fun!)

John Welch: she is hypocritical, yes, but it’s all about the group! It’s all about the group! (All the details are missing as usual.)

You owe me coffee, all of you. Seriously. I spilled one reading your comments and laughing like crazy.

How about organizing a party: the slyme pit and the Horde, all of you together? A thematic party? I propose the topic: “chasing a rabbit into the ground!”. Sounds like fun to me. I volunteer for the bartender (no, noelplum, I was the first!). I propose also Matt Cavanaugh for the rabbit.

Good night.

159 Guestus Aurelius October 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Blueshift Rhino at 149 wrote:

It does not matter ONE BIT whether any of us think that rape stories and/or rape jokes are acceptable. What matters to the point of this thread is that it is hypocritical to simultaneously argue that both are unacceptable (in any form, context, or whatever) and then turn around and allow yourself and your friends to write or tell them.

Precisely.

The argument on the other side seems to be twofold:

1) Even though rape jokes and sexual violence in media are unacceptable because they perpetuate rape culture, it’s okay for Greta Christina to create rape porn because it’s just fantasy and it really turns her on.

2) Rape porn is just a niche, so it’s okay.

Right-o.

160 Jan Steen October 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm

@Ariel #157,

Jan Steen: she is a hypocrite because she earns money selling her book. (Would it be ok if she did it for free? Nooo, certainly something else could be found!)

Didn’t it occur to you that people can actually read what I wrote (#147) and will notice that your, er, paraphrase does not nearly correspond to what I said? And that the same is true for your other ‘paraphrases’?

However, I believe that you are honest when you say that you were laughing like crazy. That sounds plausible. Or is that ableist of me?

Sleep well.

161 JetLagg October 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Ariel at 157 wrote:

At the moment we have a proliferation of answers to the question “why was Greta’s behavior hypocritical”. One thing is beyond doubt: of course she was hypocritical. Of course. This is an axiom. “Greta” and “not hypocritical” – the two just don’t match. We must only find a good reason. Let’s search together!

And I was just beginning to think we might finally have a reasonable conversation, hash out some of these differences and come to terms.

In case you don’t stick the flounce, I do want to point out that you’re using exactly the sort of tactics we’re calling foul on. You project an unfavorable mindset on to us and use that to explain why we’re seeing certain acts as hypocritical. You don’t accept that we might have honestly examined the facts and arrived at a different conclusion than you. You grossly mischaracterize everyone’s arguments.

I don’t get it.

162 Acleron October 16, 2014 at 8:11 pm

From Noel Plum99
‘very misguided because you can “kink shame” 50 Shades of Grey on the grounds that it has been read by too many people who are not “kinksters” and so, as part of the great unwashed masses, are probably too unsophisticated to differentiate between fantasy and reality.’

This raises the obvious questions. How many in a cohort constitutes a niche? And as asked by many in different ways. How do you know who your audience is going to be? Or perhaps it is the intent that is essential item.

Ariel’s rationalisations have been explored but key questions on rather important points have not received substantive answers or further discussion. Certainly the impression is that it is OK for an FTBer or ally to do something but wrong for anybody else and that only that same group is capable of determining right from wrong.

Their treatment of many leading lights in the atheism and scepticism community has been quite unjustified. Their treatment of Skep Tickle was unconscionable. They continue to fling about unsubstantiated accusations and smears. They deserve no further consideration.

163 Blueshift Rhino October 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm

@Ariel –

If you are a POE/troll, then my (metaphorical) hat is off to you; you’re absolutely brilliant (and, when you’re done, I do hope that you’ll join The ‘Pit).

If you are what you seem… if you can still ask the same questions after more than 150 posts on the topic, then… …I have no idea how to explain it to you, but wish you well.

Either way, I concede.

164 Phil Giordana FCD October 16, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I’m not a huge fan of dishonest arguments. I’ll just lurk on that one for a while.

165 john welch October 17, 2014 at 12:25 am

And Ariel proves my point about her only motives in “discussing” things is to “win”.

Guarantee she’s back at her “home base” gathering up the praise for her expert debunking over here.

Funny, she never did provide a single link for anything she said. But i’m sure she had them, and was going to show them right after everyone else did.

Let us add “tu quoque” to the list of things that are Okay When Ariel And Her Lot Do Them, But Horribly Bad For Everyone Else.

166 J. J. Ramsey October 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

Welch:

However, given the hard line stance the core of FTB/Skepchicks have taken about representations of rape, regardless of context or intent, …

Me:

And your evidence of this is?

Blueshift Rhino:

I’d be delighted to do your homework for you and provide ad-nauseum evidence that FTB/Skepchicks have taken a hard-line stance against anything that “normalizes” rape.

I noticed a goalpost shift here. Welch mentions the FTB/Skepchicks objecting to “representations of rape, regardless of context or intent [emphasis mine],” and when I ask for evidence of this, you speaking of FTB/Skepchicks objecting to content that normalizes rape — which is a very different thing, since one clearly can represent rape without helping to normalize it.

167 JetLagg October 17, 2014 at 1:12 am

That’s a minor goal post shift, possibly a nonexistent one depending on what Blueshift had in mind.

Regardless, if Blueshift (or anyone else) could show you examples of a “hard line stance the core of FTB/Skepchicks have taken of representations of rape” would you concede it’s then hypocritical of them to give Greta Christina a pass?

168 john welch October 17, 2014 at 2:30 am

J.J. I’m unsure how Blueshift can shift my goalposts.

And my response to you is the same as it is to ariel: I’ve no interest in playing this stupid game. The FTB/Skepchick lot’s views on rape and representations of rape are numerous and consistent.

you know this. I know this.

Given that, the only reason you care about links is so you can “prove” i’m either reading them wrong, or not using the right “interpretation”, for whatever reason; not charitable enough, I don’t know enough about the subject, i’m deliberately misinterpreting, the list of techniques is long.

Basically, if you want me to research something that we both already know, that requires me to have any form of faith as to your motives. I do not. Nor do i see you don’t a particularly good job of showing me otherwise. You’ve not done so as of yet.

And since this requires no real work in my part, evidence that you’re going to do exactly that. From some of your earlier comments:

I did check the context, and I find your “translation” of what Greta Christina meant to be horribly uncharitable and unfair. A quote from one of the reviews that Greta posted was especially telling: “One of the most exciting things about fantasies is that they let us explore and get turned on by things we might not want to actually do in real life.” I’m not even sure why Greta Christina is getting the hate here.

Congratulations. You deliberately ignored the point we were making to try to paint us as…what, “kink-shaming” greta? Nope. But, shows why doing any work for your benefit is a waste of time.

Well, if they did show up, it would put the lie to the claim that Nugent is somehow “harboring” the pitters that have posted here. If that happened, this wouldn’t be so much a haven for one side as a battleground of sorts for both sides. Near as I can tell, Nugent is letting his comment session be a mostly open forum and moderating with a very light touch. If he were letting the pitters through but banning other commenters offering a similar level of vitriol, that might constitute making the comment section a haven of sorts. As it stands, what’s mostly happened is that (1) the pitters are gravitating towards those who criticize those who they don’t like, and (2) few if anyone has come along to contest them.

and now who’s misinterpreting things. As if a “haven” means only one group can post.

But wait, there’s more:

@Blueshift Rhino: But the thing is that Greta Christina isn’t normalizing rape. Look at the words used in describing her work: “Be forewarned”, “reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas,” “self-absorbed porn-star lover.” The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted, not something presented as a good example to follow.

Now a work where the nominal “good guy” or”good girl” rides roughshod over consent? That’s more of a problem.

Ah, so now the only way this can be normalizing rape is if it meets your very, very narrow definition of normalizing rape. Funny, when people the FTB lot dislike try to do the same thing, you know, with words like oh, “misogyny” or “atheist”, you don’t seem to have the slightest problem with PZ et al *greatly* widening those words until they have almost no specific meaning whatsoever.

It is so very interesting how such an action is okay when you do it though.

Funny that.

Aneris, the bald claim that Greta Christina “wants to show you how rape is sexually arousing” has the misleading connotation that she wants to present rape as something that is somehow positive, and that’s a connotation that is definitely not supported by the broader context.

Oh, now it’s about context. It’s the CONTEXT that makes it okay. Almost as if her intent has some bearing, some pertinence here.

But that can’t be, because the comment on that from the FTB/Skepchick lot has been very consistent: INTENT IS NOT MAGIC.

Until it’s convenient for you. Then intent is more magic than the sorting hat.

So yeah. You want us to do work so you can disprove it because we’re using the wrong interpretation and not considering context and intent.

Slow Clap.

169 Blueshift Rhino October 17, 2014 at 2:43 am

@JJ –

I haven’t moved the goalposts an inch because they still aren’t on the field.

You need to tell me that you’ll actually accept an argument before I’ll bother (especially after the silliness with Ariel). So, for the whatevereth time: if it is shown that some FTB folks have denounced all things that “normalize” rape, but these same folks have never said anything against something written, posted, or said by another FTB that “normalizes” rape, would they be hypocrites?

170 JetLagg October 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm

So, for the whatevereth time: if it is shown that some FTB folks have denounced all things that “normalize” rape, but these same folks have never said anything against something written, posted, or said by another FTB that “normalizes” rape, would they be hypocrites?

You’d have to get JJ to concede to a very rigorous definition of normalize first, then you could demonstrate hypocrisy. I don’t think that’s going to happen though. Consider the case in the previous Myers thread where Dave made a prediction, the prediction failed, then he refused to budge an inch. When I asked him to do the work himself, give us an example of something that would make him reconsider his stance, he went silent.

JJ isn’t Dave, but I see the same tactics at play.

171 Blueshift Rhino October 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

@JetLagg –

Maybe I’m making a sightly different and larger point: that some people refuse to argue under conditions where the logical conclusion *could* be that the position that they initially held was incorrect.

172 john welch October 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Jet,

you’ve kind of hit on another root problem. When you can’t agree about what words mean, communication is impossible.

173 SF October 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm

What does atheism have to do with unbridled impassioned defenses of everything Anita Sarkeesian does or has to say? I don’t get it. It’s a gigantic category mistake at the very least.

174 john welch October 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm

PZ decided long ago, and his lot obviously agrees, that Atheism is a social movement with approved beliefs and all the rest.

He’s made it clear that “dictionary” atheists aren’t real atheists, and if you aren’t a liberal, *PZ’s* kind of liberal, you’re not a proper atheist either.

He’s starting to edge into People’s Temple territory at this point.

175 SF October 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

What you don’t understand Michael is the simple fact that PZ Myers, and by extension, Ophelia Benson, Amanda Marcotte, Rebecca Watson, etc etc are righteous and good atheists. When a righteous and good atheist speaks it’s understood that everything they say is true and correct and should be believed without question. Since they are good and true it is inconceivable that any utterance from their lips could not be anything but holy and true. They have exposed that Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and many many other smaller fish atheists (Jaclyn Glenn, etc) and skeptics are bad atheists, they are misogynists and rape apologists because they say so. Michael you have joined the club of bad atheists. You have become contaminated. Once you have been contaminated, like a leper you must be permanently ostracized and only spoken of in derision. There is no turning back. Should you apologize to them and get back in their good graces, you still never hear the end of your past transgressions which will be repeatedly brought up, should you ever say something disagreeable. That is the way the psychology works in the world of the good and righteous. If you want Myers to issue a mini apology, you need to do the dance of repudiating your readership for their sexism, rape apologia and misogyny, and apologize for acting patriarchal. Then they can pat you on the head and say something like, please stop being an asshole next time, and safely ignore you again. But PZ or any of them apologizing for anything, even the slightest thing, not going to happen.

176 Phil Giordana FCD October 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Oh, look: a tumbleweed!

177 piero October 17, 2014 at 11:05 pm

In other news, this debate is interesting, as it deals with rape pornography. I wonder what Fiona Elvines would think of Greta Cristina:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/24/accessing-rape-pornography-restricted-law

178 J. J. Ramsey October 18, 2014 at 12:06 am

john welch:

J.J. I’m unsure how Blueshift can shift my goalposts.

Blueshift was, near as I can tell, trying to answer the question that I posed to you.

… your very, very narrow definition of normalizing rape.

Yeah, I know it’s awful for me to think of “normalizing rape” as presenting it as something that is or should be, well, normal. Treating rape as something forbidden, or something done by people who are bad or twisted or otherwise messed up, is pretty much the opposite of normalizing. This is not rocket science, here.

Funny, when people the FTB lot dislike try to do the same thing, you know, with words like oh, “misogyny” or “atheist”, you don’t seem to have the slightest problem with PZ et al *greatly* widening those words until they have almost no specific meaning whatsoever.

And the evidence for this is … ?

Oh, now it’s about context. It’s the CONTEXT that makes it okay. Almost as if her intent has some bearing, some pertinence here.

But that can’t be, because the comment on that from the FTB/Skepchick lot has been very consistent: INTENT IS NOT MAGIC.

Your argumentum ad sarcasm is noted.

179 JetLagg October 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm

@J.J.

That was among the most vacuous replies I’ve seen on this thread. We’re actually having a conversation thanks to Michael providing the platform. If you actually try to take advantage of that you could

a) make me understand your position, and perhaps modify my own (don’t hope for a conversion)

b) convince some of us that the stereotype isn’t true, that the arguments your, broadly speaking, “side” aren’t so weak you resort to these sort of petty replies the moment you meet resistance.

I will respond to the shred of content I do see in your post.

Yeah, I know it’s awful for me to think of “normalizing rape” as presenting it as something that is or should be, well, normal. Treating rape as something forbidden, or something done by people who are bad or twisted or otherwise messed up, is pretty much the opposite of normalizing. This is not rocket science, here.

I agree. It isn’t rocket science. Gret Christina wrote rape scenes with the explicit purpose of sexually arousing the reader. I see two primary possibilities. The reader is supposed to identify with the victim, or the reader is supposed to identify with rapist. If I grant them equal odds (which simplifies things, and is accurate enough IMO) that leaves, in a group of say 500 readers, 250 people fantasizing about enjoying raping someone. And this was Christina’s explicit intention. Would that meet your definition of normalizing rape? Because if it doesn’t, I’m not sure there’s much point in continuing to attempt to communicate with you until you start stating your personal definition for every word with borderline mathematical precision.

180 J. J. Ramsey October 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Jetlagg:

Gret [sic] Christina wrote rape scenes with the explicit purpose of sexually arousing the reader.

This is a half-truth. Greta Christina wrote stories with the explicit purpose of sexually arousing the reader. One can easily have a situation where the arousal comes from other elements of the story while the rape provides the conflict. Given what we both know about the stories, given that neither of us has read them, it’s hard to say what role the rape aspects play.

I see two primary possibilities. The reader is supposed to identify with the victim, or the reader is supposed to identify with rapist.

Ah, the old false dichotomy trick. You missed at least one other possibility, and one that should be obvious to those who’ve seen stories where the protagonist is an anti-hero or outright villain: The rapist is portrayed sympathetic enough that the reader sees him/her as more than just a moral monster but still find his/her actions problematic. And that hardly exhausts the possibilities.

If I grant them equal odds…

… then you are treating probabilities with the same care and rigor as a creationist. It makes far more sense to base your odds on, you know, actual evidence, such as, for example, what Greta has written about portrayals of rape.

I get what you are trying to do. You are trying to argue that the FTB/Skepchick crowd is hypocritical because they give Greta a pass on stuff they wouldn’t give a pass on to those outside their group. The catch is that for that to work, you have to present both Greta Christina and the rest of the FTB/Skepchick crowd accurately. Unfortunately, your side has (1) presented Greta’s work in a distorted fashion, and (2) been horribly hazy as to what the usual FTB/Skepchick crowd’s usual position on depictions of rape is supposed to be. For example, Welch seems to have be made the claim that the crowd is against any portrayal of rape, regardless of context or intent (and by implication, regardless of whether it even presents rape negatively!), while others seem to make narrower claims.

This makes your side look foolish, like it was looking for something, anything, to make their opponents look bad. Contrast this, for example, with the far more straightforward argument that PZ Myers had selectively quoted Neil deGrasse Tyson.

181 JetLagg October 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Given what we both know about the stories, given that neither of us has read them, it’s hard to say what role the rape aspects play.

I’ve read summaries of her work, and feel confident in my assessment. At this point I dislike Christina so much I’m not willing to give her whatever pittance of a royalty she’d receive were I to purchase her work. So, instead I leave it to the readers. They can decide for themselves which of us has the more plausible analysis.

Ah, the old false dichotomy trick

It wasn’t presented as a true dichotomy, so your attempt to point out a fallacy fails. You do attempt to argue that my generalizations weren’t sufficiently nuanced (perhaps there is a third reference class large enough to throw off my reasoning), but you can only do this by speculating as to the nature of a story you admit you haven’t read.

… then you are treating probabilities with the same care and rigor as a creationist. It makes far more sense to base your odds on, you know, actual evidence, such as, for example, what Greta has written about portrayals of rape.

I’ve already explained what evidence I’m basing my probabilties on (common understandings of how erotica works). If the intention is to get people off (and Christina explicitly states this is the case) that is typically accomplished by having the person identify with an actor in the story. That leaves us with the rapist or the victim. Christina is therefore attempting to arouse people with the idea of committing rape or being raped. Certain possible exceptions apply, of course (art, which IMO includes the category of erotica, is complex), but you’re a long way off from convincing me they tilt the odds in any meaningful way.

182 J. J. Ramsey October 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm

It wasn’t presented as a true dichotomy

If you hadn’t assigned odds, that would be a fair statement to make. As it stands, you presented two options and then assigned them probabilities in a fashion that only makes sense if there were only two options. At best, you are assuming that the other possibilities are so remote that you’ve implicitly assigned them negligible probabilities–and so long as that neglect is ill-founded, what you presented amounts to a false dichotomy in practice.

If the intention is to get people off (and Christina explicitly states this is the case) that is typically accomplished by having the person identify with an actor in the story.

That doesn’t follow at all. For example, a striptease — or even a sufficiently detailed description of one — can get someone off without one identifying with the ones doing or watching it. Sorry, but as reasoning goes for presenting your dichotomy, it fails.

183 JetLagg October 19, 2014 at 10:48 pm

As it stands, you presented two options and then assigned them probabilities in a fashion that only makes sense if there were only two options.

This is what I said:

“I see two primary possibilities.”

The word primary allows for the possibility of secondary, tertiary, etc… categories. I’m fairly certain you already know this.

Anyway, since you seem to want to dig into this, let’s assume there is a third category in addition to the two I explicitly stated. Let’s go further and assume that category applies to 90% of the population (absurdly generous IMO, but I’ll grant it to you). Using those assumptions, we’ll run back through the numbers.

A group of 500 people read Greta Christina’s story. 450 belong to the category I missed (granting your assumption that it exists, and outweighs the categories I had in mind). Of the remaining 50, 25 will have be fantasizing about raping someone, and 25 will be fantasizing about being raped. This will be as a result of Christina’s explicitly stated intentions. In short, my point stands, even if we grant rather absurd assumptions.

That doesn’t follow at all. For example, a striptease — or even a sufficiently detailed description of one — can get someone off without one identifying with the ones doing or watching it.

You don’t have to identify with the person in the striptease because you are the one watching the striptease. In other words, you identify with yourself (or in the case of watching a movie where someone watches a striptease, you identify with the person watching it, or the person doing it). You can’t possibly be serious at this point.

184 John Greg October 19, 2014 at 10:57 pm

J. J. Ramsey is by far one of the more eloquent of the word game players from the SJW universe.

Empty rheotric? Logical fallacies galore? Misrepresentation of, well, just about anything and everything? Call the Ramsey!

Careful JettLagg. Ramsey is very much like Prpofessor of the Hornbeck. He’ll twist and wriggle his words, arguments, and supposed position until he’s done at least two 360s, and then start taregetting you as the originator of his flawed arguments. It is a standard tactic.

185 John Greg October 19, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Whoops! Some mistakes there. Hit enter too soon by mistake. Oh well.

Ramsey is very much like Prpofessor of the Hornbeck.

Should have been:

Ramsey is very much like that mad Professor of an Imaginary Reality, H. J. Hornbeck.

186 Shermertron October 19, 2014 at 11:10 pm

J. J. Ramsey 182

You deny that pornography like Greta’s works, at least in part, because the story (like any other story) offers the reader the opportunity to identify with the characters and to involve oneself in the narrative. You say:

“That doesn’t follow at all. For example, a striptease — or even a sufficiently detailed description of one — can get someone off without one identifying with the ones doing or watching it. Sorry, but as reasoning goes for presenting your dichotomy, it fails.”

Now, I don’t want to speak for all heterosexual males, but I happen to be one. And if I saw a stripper dance or even read about a naked woman dancing seductively…well…it’s very safe to say that I would want very deeply to involve myself in that narrative and that I would identify very closely with anyone who got close to her.

Unless a person happens to be asexual, they have their own equivalent according to their interests.

187 J. J. Ramsey October 20, 2014 at 12:11 am

JetLagg

A group of 500 people read Greta Christina’s story. 450 belong to the category I missed (granting your assumption that it exists, and outweighs the categories I had in mind). Of the remaining 50, 25 will have be fantasizing about raping someone, and 25 will be fantasizing about being raped. This will be as a result of Christina’s explicitly stated intentions.

I just realized that there’s a rather strange quality to your reasoning. Initially, you wrote:

I see two primary possibilities. The reader is supposed to identify with the victim, or the reader is supposed to identify with rapist. If I grant them equal odds …

Now initially, I thought you meant that the two possibilities were that (1) Greta Christina wrote her stories so that the reader would be led to identify with the victim or (2) that the reader would be led to identify with the perpetrator. However, if this is what you were saying, then it would mean that there is a 50% chance that we live in a world where one or the other possibility holds true. However, you then wrote:

… that leaves, in a group of say 500 readers, 250 people fantasizing about enjoying raping someone.

This would imply that Greta Christina wrote a book where there’s a 50-50 chance that a reader will identify with either the victim or the rapist — regardless of how she wrote it to direct the reader’s sympathies! In that case, though, it seems strange that you would say that this state of affairs is “Christina’s explicit intention”. Her intention was that the readers would have a 50-50 split in how to interpret her work? Or that she didn’t care who readers identifies with, so long as they got off? Those seem to be a bizarre reads of her intentions, and a 90-5-5 split doesn’t make matters less bizarre.

You don’t have to identify with the person in the striptease because you are the one watching the striptease.

And you, in a sense, made my point while missing it. One could replace “striptease” in the above sentence with any other sexual act, and it would be true. With a book, a reader is always the one watching, regardless of whether he/she is identifying with a character.

Furthermore, an author of erotica who wanted to induce dissonance in the reader could turn him/her on with a sufficiently vivid depiction of sexual actions while simultaneously disturbing the reader with the moral content of those actions. Judging from some of the back-cover quotes used to promote “Bending,” it would seem highly probable that Greta Christina was doing just that.

188 J. J. Ramsey October 20, 2014 at 12:15 am

Grr, there are some typos. One bit should read, “the two possibilities were that Greta Christina wrote her stories so (1) that the reader would be led to identify with the victim or (2) that the reader would be led to identify with the perpetrator.” Another should read, “who readers identify” not “who readers identifies.” Oops.

189 JetLagg October 20, 2014 at 12:42 am

Her intention was that the readers would have a 50-50 split in how to interpret her work?

If her intent was for the reader to interpret her work as erotic, then the reader could identify with the rapist of the victim, get off on this, and Greta’s explicit intention is fulfilled. Simple.

Or that she didn’t care who readers identifies with, so long as they got off?

Precisely. Just like pornographers don’t care if you’re imagining yourself getting drilled or doing the drilling, so long as you get off. That you find that to be bizarre makes me very confused as to what kind of people you’ve been hanging out with.

One could replace “striptease” in the above sentence with any other sexual act, and it would be true. With a book, a reader is always the one watching, regardless of whether he/she is identifying with a character.

Very well then. Let’s go with that. A certain, non-neglible, percentage of people will, as a result of Greta Christina’s explicit intent, get off on watching someone being raped. That’s where you’re logic leads. I’ll accept it.

Furthermore, an author of erotica who wanted to induce dissonance in the reader could turn him/her on with a sufficiently vivid depiction of sexual actions while simultaneously disturbing the reader with the moral content of those actions.

Except that Greta Christina mentioned no such intention. There are far more talented artists who can pull off the sort of thing you’re describing. I’m not aware of any of them explicitly and solely describing the purpose of their work as being to get you off.

Please quote what you feel is relevant to your interpretation, but I will say at this point it feels more like you’re tying yourself in knots to avoid the obvious. Much like those film buffs who put far more thought into defending B movies than the producers ever put into creating them.

190 DJ Mark October 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

J.J.

When my girlfriend recorded a strip tease for me while I was overseas, I definitely got off on how she was doing it for me. Just for me. My little show. I had to insert myself into the fantasy, to make it a mutual experience.

It’s the same reason why I wouldn’t be attracted to my girlfriend simply eating a pop-tart in the nude. Doesn’t do anything for me.

I could imagine a guy out there exists who thinks to himself “Oh yeah, eat that poptart, you dirty girl.” But that guy is clearly inserting himself into the scene.

191 J. J. Ramsey October 20, 2014 at 1:10 am

Except that Greta Christina mentioned no such intention.

From one of the promotional quotes for Bending: “sometimes, we get turned on by things that we might not even want to admit to thinking about…. Greta Christina shares stories that’ll … make you stop and wonder why you’re enjoying them so much.” And then there’s the blurb reading, “Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written … to change the ways you think about sex.” There’s definitely an implication that her stories are meant to be challenging for the reader, that there’s an intention of inducing dissonance. The notion that she doesn’t care “care if you’re imagining yourself getting drilled or doing the drilling, so long as you get off” doesn’t square with how she’s marketing her work.

192 JetLagg October 20, 2014 at 1:22 am

Let’s take a moment to note that you ignored the following arguments:

a) your semantic games with the probabilities didn’t change my conclusion in any meaningful way

b) even considering your idea that the reader be treated as an observer, we’re left with the fact that the reader is meant to enjoy watching someone being raped

That aside (I’ll treat your silence on the matter as a concession, :p ), I’ll still stand behind the idea that Christina didn’t care if you pictured yourself as getting drilled or the one doing the drilling. As she explicitly stated, she wanted to get the reader off. If others find the opportunity for introspection within that, I’ll say good for them. I’ll also say this doesn’t reflect on Christina’s original intention as the creator. I’ll also say this doesn’t in the slightest change the point that everyone here has been trying to make to you. In a nutshell, there is a culture that refuses to accept complexity and nuance when discussing certain subjects (primarily sex related), and that culture has given Christina a pass, despite her work that clearly explores the more nuanced areas of these topics (by writing erotica designed to arouse us through taboo actions). This is what the rest of us call hypocrisy.

193 Shermertron October 20, 2014 at 1:32 am

J.J. @191

Interesting! You seem to admit that Greta expects her reader to be sexually aroused by a depiction of deviant sexual acts that are immoral and illegal. Why else would you have quoted Greta thus?

Why do you even care how she’s marketing her work? Why do you seem to be refusing to admit that pornography is created with the intent to provide the reader or viewer with sexual stimulation?

I, for one, salute an FTBully for her bravery in trying to get people aroused with depictions of rape. Now, that’s not at all my scene, but people are entitled to their fetishes, so long as they don’t engage in the acts in real life. (And if they don’t involve kids.)

Everything would be hunky-dory if FTBullies didn’t decry “rape culture,” to which Greta is most certainly contributing.

194 DJ Mark October 20, 2014 at 1:41 am

J.J.

What if the publishers of tentacle rape hentai are ‘taking it back’ and / or whatever Greta’s intentions are… Is that still rape culture? (Like PZ said in 2013 when he implied that Japan had a major rape culture problem with the hentai.)

Or is it artistic license as PZ implied as he gleefully linked to hentai tentacle porn in 2007?

195 Aneris ✻ October 20, 2014 at 2:33 am

J. J. Ramsey, you are like someone who wants to have an accurate description of a bark texture, otherwise you refuse the point, when the point is that there is a whole forest. You seem to be a strong platonist who will reject “a dozen” outright, if there are thirteen apples in the basket. Is this a cognitive shortcoming or do you play games with us?

You fail to even understand on a most basic level where other people are coming from, shrugging it off as if Greta Christina wrote books on hamster-care and you are completely puzzled as to why anyone would deem it at odds with the culture of the social justice faction. The keyword “rape” (non-consenual sex) should be enough to give you pause, but instead you play games that are somehow not available whenever Richard Dawkins or some other person is smeared – and they don’t even promote rape pornography as Greta Christina and P. Z. Myers did.

The idea of “kink” is already at odds with the stripe of feminism aggressively promoted on FreeThoughtBlogs and SkepChicks. Greta Christina’s kink requires that the person gives control to another person and (at best) revokes it at some point.

The ideology on the social justice faction (FTB & co) however aggressively promotes “crystal clear consent”, or enthusiastic consent. People are meant to give affirmative consent before each sexual step, instead of the more traditional approach of going forward once sexual activity started and say “no” once a party doesn’t want something. That is also part of the argument to deem some person a rapist.

I am also annoyed that you simply continue with your own fantasy version of Greta Christina’s words, deem my interpretation as flat out wrong, even though you have been pointed to the sources and you can certainly read it all in context. Which I also highlighed for you, in 97:

S1) “get you hard and wet” means sexually arousing.

S2) “change the ways you think about sex” since it’s in context of arousing, I must infer in a positive sense.
S3) “ Be forewarned […] not at all consensual” sex that is not consensual is rape. </blockquote

Again: Which of the three interpretations of statement S1—S3 are wrong? And when put together, what interpretation do you see there? You claimed that you can totally not understand my interpretation, that she depicts rape in a positive context.

Then please explain what you read yourself. That should go without saying, but since you seem to be argument-challenged, please do now.

PS: what about the other cases. For example the in-house rapist in the freethoughtblogs comment sections, who is beloved? How does that work out with the ideology there, J.J. Ramsey? How does that work with PZ Myers accusation?

196 John Greg October 20, 2014 at 3:03 am

Seriously, all you smart folks should really not get worked up over J.J., or waste your brain time.

S/h/it doesn’t give a whit for truth, or for what kind of facts, or opinions any of us present.

S/h/it’s only interest is in word games and attempting to spin the spin so hard that everyone throws up on the roller and cries I’z Defeatz! so that s/h/it can then scoot back to FTB and holler I WIN!1!1.

S’truth.

197 Matt Cavanaugh October 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

“Everything would be hunky-dory if FTBullies didn’t decry ‘rape culture,’ to which Greta is most certainly contributing.”

Truly, it is hypocritical for a promoter of rape porn (Myers) and a writer of rape porn (Christina) to turn around and decry so-called Rape Culture™. And this hypocrisy must inform how seriously we take any accusations of impropriety coming from those two.

But everything would not be “hunky-dory” were Myers & Christina to drop the latter pretension. @130, I put forth the proposition that: 1) rape porn and bestiality are offensive subject for the majority of the population; 2) Myers’ & Christina’s frequent, enthusiastic discussion of these subjects makes them unsuited as public figures in atheist activism.

For 60+ comments, Ariel & JJ have completely avoided addressing my proposition, instead strewing red herrings about what may or may not have been going on inside Greta’s brain when she wrote her unicorn rape porn.

Evasive tactics worthy perhaps of a public defender, but highly disingenuous in this environment. I’m done with this nonsense.

198 J. J. Ramsey October 21, 2014 at 12:11 am

Jetlagg:

your semantic games with the probabilities didn’t change my conclusion in any meaningful way

As I had pointed out, your conclusion is based on the bizarre idea that the way Greta wrote her work has little influence on how readers interpreted it.

we’re left with the fact that the reader is meant to enjoy watching someone being raped

You’re repeating the same half-truth that you did before, and the objection that I gave to it is the same.

Shermertron:

Why do you even care how she’s marketing her work?

The same reason the rest of you do, because it’s a way to get an idea of what she wrote in lieu of having her actual text at hand.

Why do you seem to be refusing to admit that pornography is created with the intent to provide the reader or viewer with sexual stimulation?

I see that John Welch isn’t the only one making unfounded claims about me.

Aneris:

The keyword “rape” (non-consenual sex) should be enough to give you pause,

Of course, it gives me pause. However, I’m charitable enough to look at what Greta Christina is actually saying on her blog, rather than jump to the worst of conclusions. Don’t make the same mistake that Welch and John Greg made and confuse me for one of the Horde.

I am also annoyed that you … deem my interpretation as flat out wrong, even though you have been pointed to the sources and you can certainly read it all in context.

It’s actually because of the context that I find your interpretation flat out wrong. You complain that I didn’t respond to your argument back in comment #97, but I had already presented quotes back in comment #84 indicating that she wasn’t, as you claim, depicting rape in a positive context. As I had said before, “The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted, not something presented as a good example to follow.” What I’m seeing you do is what the Horde does, that is, interpret one’s opponents in the worst possible light, even at the cost of making sense.

(If you want to present sane criticism of FTB, Skepchicks, etc., I suggest that you pay closer attention to say, Russell Blackford or Damion Reinhardt, both of whom seem to strive hard to play fair.)

199 Guestus Aurelius October 21, 2014 at 2:31 am

As I had said before, “The implication is that the fantasies that she’s presenting are dark and often twisted, not something presented as a good example to follow.”

Nobody here thinks she’s celebrating or encouraging rape, or that she wants readers to take her fantasies as a “good example to follow” in real life.

What we’re saying is really quite simple:

On the one hand, she writes “dark and often twisted” rape fantasies in a genre (pornography) generally consumed for sexual gratification.

On the other hand, we hear time and time again from the SJL that because we live in a “rape culture,” depictions in media of rape (or of anything related to sex/gender issues) must be vociferously opposed if they reinforce societal attitudes that perpetuate our rape culture, regardless of whether the consumer is conscious of the reinforcing, and regardless of the intent of the media creator. And the SJL certainly do vociferously oppose those depictions that they deem problematic, often vilifying the media creators (and consumers, and any dissenters) in the process.

They claim to be driven by their belief that our attitudes and behavior are largely (mainly? entirely?) determined subliminally by cultural cues. Boys are socialized to become men who condone or even commit rape. This normalization of rape does not happen deliberately or even wittingly.

Our point is that by their standards, rape-fantasy porn should be vociferously opposed. If “objectification” in media is argued to perpetuate rape culture subliminally, then why in the world should rape-porn get a free pass? (And of course, by their standards, the creator of the rape-porn should be vilified, too.)

200 Shermertron October 21, 2014 at 2:42 am

J.J. Ramsey @ 198

You said that I was making an “unfounded claim” about you when I asked that you won’t “admit that pornography is created with the intent to provide the reader or viewer with sexual stimulation.”

Could you tell us an alternate purpose for pornography?

In your last paragraph, are you talking about Django Reinhardt, the disabled jazz guitarist from the middle of the twentieth century?

And when you mention Skepchicks, are you talking about official members of the group? Or only commenters. Are former members included? That would include Elyse Anders, whose Twitter photos you should NOT look at if you’re at work.

By FTB, are you talking only about current FTB columnists? Former FTB writers? Commenters?

“Sane” is a particularly problematic term. Who is to say what “sane” means. I dare say that using the term “sane” is ableist and would be unacceptable in many safe spaces. Do you have an acceptable replacement?

201 Guestus Aurelius October 21, 2014 at 2:45 am

To finish the thought:

If you believed that treatment of sex/gender issues in media subliminally molds our minds even when we just passively consume it, wouldn’t you be particularly wary of treatment of rape in media if people are getting off to it? If you were worried that people would develop undesirable attitudes toward sex by saving distressed damsels in video games, wouldn’t you be even more worried that people would develop undesirable attitudes toward sex by getting off to simulated rape?

There’s no way around it. The SJL have one set of standards for themselves and another for out-groupers.

202 The Tim Channel October 21, 2014 at 7:56 am

Sorry if this has been mentioned but it bears sharing at this time because I saw a comment in my email from somebody talking about whether or not Greta’s rape writings/stories constitute a double standard. No comment.

That said, there’s no way in the world to deny the mixed message coming off the chest of this social justice warrior ding-dong:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/58335757643799398/

I’m with those who think Michael Nugent is giving PZ a pass by only counting to FIVE the number of chances/times PZ has failed to apologize to him.

Enjoy.

203 Aneris ✻ October 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Ariel just obfuscates the issues by making some things seem more controversial than they are, and diverts attention away from others.

Above Ariel claims that wide brushes were used and she can’t fathom many of the premises that are already set.

1) It is uncontroversial that FTB is a “rude” blog, where rude means shock insults of sexual/graphical violent nature. Detractors know that anyway but it is also officially recognized, noted in their Pharyngula wiki (under memes, see Porcupine) and co-blogger Chris Clarke left the blog and cited that was one reason.
Sources:

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

We do have a general guideline for handling new people. If you’re a first time commenter, you get three strikes: you can make three comments, and the regulars are supposed to restrain themselves and try to get you to engage rationally before they are allowed to release the rabid hounds. They are hoping you will oblige them and give them an excuse to let slip the leash, so be warned.
_freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/01/pharyngula-standards-practices/

Pharyngula Wiki/Porcupine: The preferred animal for ill-received commenters to be urged to introduce, usually decaying and sometimes sideways, into their orifice of choice
_ pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Memes#Porcupine

Pharyngula Wiki/Rusty Knife: Predecessor meme to the Porcupine. Derives from a frequently mis-quoted post by Cath the Canberra Cook, on a thread concerning Bill Donohue’s rape apologetics:

Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the “no-one ever deserves to be raped” line. And also 100% opposed to torture. But rape and torture apologists really make that position hard to sustain. Fuck that shithead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)

_pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Rusty_Knife

“Meme” suggests popularity already. But to run home the point:

Chris Clarke, then co-blogger, wrote: Meanwhile, I’m hesitant to encourage friends to comment on what is arguably my own goddamn blog, because no matter how thick their skin is they’ve got to get past this kind of mistrustful hazing — which is, incidentally, something PZ has expressly forbidden.
_freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/26/lounge-410/comment-page-1/#comment-590870

Chris Clarke, then ex-co-blogger, wrote: I contributed to the meanness here. That’s something I have heard from random idiot commenters from the usual FtBhater venues, and it pains me to admit that they have — in this one regard — a point. My leaving is not, as some have suggested, about “my health,” or “feeling unsafe” or “hurt.” It’s that I was becoming a worse person for exposure to the comments here. And I made things worse as a result. And I’m unwilling to continue to do so.
_freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/09/01/farewell-chris/

2) It is uncontroversial that people are defamed, smeared, libeled however you want to call it. The issue is insinuating viewpoints or even actions and promote them as if they were true. Plenty of that can be seen in this topic (Latsot) and the previous ones (PZ Myers), and some more can be found by looking into Michael Nugent’s (@MickNugent) timeline on twitter during this week (others repeat it). In case memory was erased again: commenters here were accused of being harassers, misogynists and rapists. Michael Nugent was given a haven to them, and he was allegedly “defending rapists”.
No evidence is known and none was presented. We would need at the very least two people who are harassers, misogynists and rapists (that is harass, hate women and have raped someone).
As much as the deliberately obtuse FreeThoughtBlogs faction claims: we must assume a regular audience who takes statements to mean what regular people would see in them. You cannot claim special jargon or arcane definitions, especially not when it is at the expense of other people.
My bad. FreeThoughtBlog people are too dumb to even understand simple proportions. That’s not available for people who only know Black and White, either go extreme in one direction (We Love Ogvorbis, Child Rapist of Three) or the other “You disagreed with Rebecca Watson, you are a literally a misogynist and rapist!!” – that’s what everyone sees openly and plainly, but them.

What Ariel and others are telling us is also simply unbelievable. People understand “rapists” to mean “someone who raped” and there is no way around that, even if some lesser known definition turns up somewhere. We all know what is meant and it was stated within contexts that are about “rape”; precisely: “forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will”

3) It is uncontroversial that the side brings their narrative into mainstream media. There is no other data that is omitted. There is are no “Slymepit” narrative media articles, and none that is heavily based on e.g. Michael Nugent’s point of view. And there is no SkepChick or FreeThoughtBlogs equivalent (with dozens of highly visible blogs cross referencing their unfounded smear pieces). Michael Nugent has this one blog, that certainly has some more eyes onto it, but I don’t think it is nowhere near the levels of SkepChick or FreeThoughtBlogs, Adam Lee (Guardian), Amanda Marcotte (Salon etc.), Kimberly Winston (Washington Post etc.) etc…

Some media samples.

2014, September

The Nation: When Rebecca Watson, who blogs as SkepChick, expressed annoyance after a man accosted her in an elevator late at night at the 2011 World Atheist Convention in Dublin, Richard Dawkins wrote a parody letter, “Dear Muslima,” contrasting the liberty of Western women with the oppression of women under Islam. Sexual harassment: not as bad as female genital mutilation.
_thenation.com/article/181736/atheists-show-their-sexist-side

The Guardian 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. There was also his sneer at women who advocate anti-sexual harassment policies
_theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/richard-dawkins-sexist-atheists-bad-name

AlterNet / Guardian: 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.
_ alternet.org/belief/richard-dawkins-ignorant-sexism-gives-atheists-bad-name
_theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/richard-dawkins-sexist-atheists-bad-name

2014, August

Washington Post: One of Dawkins’ biggest missteps came in 2011, when he blasted Rebecca Watson, a young atheist activist who wrote about feeling sexually harassed at a freethought conference. In a now infamous series of comments posted to the blog Pharyngula, Dawkins wrote in a message titled “Dear Muslima,” ‘’Stop whining, will you? . . . For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.”
_washingtonpost.com/national/religion/richard-dawkins-atheisms-asset-or-liability/2014/08/07/9f19a7a2-1e58-11e4-9b6c-12e30cbe86a3_story.html

2011, September

USA Today: (RNS) Rebecca Watson meant it as a funny story, almost an aside. […] Before she knew it, Watson, 30, was subsumed by what everyone now calls “Elevatorgate.” And when best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins chimed in, the incident went nuclear.
“Stop whining, will you,” Dawkins wrote in one of three comments on Pharyngula […]
_usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-15/atheist-sexism-women/50416454/1

There are more articles, some of them below. For easy comparison: Here is the blueprint from Ms Watson’s keyboard.

Rebecca Watson wrote:You may recall that I related an incident in which I was propositioned, and I said, “Guys, don’t do that.” Really, that’s what I said. I didn’t call for an end to sex. I didn’t accuse the man in my story of rape. I didn’t say all men are monsters. I said, “Guys, don’t do that.” Cue Richard Dawkins‘ response
_skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

How is that a distortion, you ask? From the thread where Dear Muslima was posted:

PZ Myers wrote in “Always name names!”[…] women are lower status persons, and we men, as superior beings, get to ask things of them. […] But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to mention one thing that annoys me. Rebecca Watson talked about this experience at a CFI conference, and one thing she did was to directly address, by name, criticisms of her reaction to being importuned in an elevator late at night. She specifically discussed a criticism by one of the attendees, Stef McGraw, quoting her and saying where the argument was found, and a few people were angry at her for that, and demanded that she apologize to McGraw. Which is, frankly, bizarre.

Please check the full article and context. There is nothing to hide. You can look the cases up and see the evidence for yourself: find out the context of “Dear Muslima” and “Elevatorgate”. Again, you don’t have to believe me at all. I suggest you check Wikipedia, RationalWiki and FreeThoughtKampala* and wherever links lead you. Look at the facts. Who Wrote What When Without Why’s. You know basic critical thinking, instead of “interpretations” and narratives. You can piece it together yourself. How come they converge on the same story and how come this story permeates mainstream media, “surprisingly” citing the same names and who are closer related (there are also more behind-the-scenes-connections, like from Stephanie Zvan to Secular Women, or from SkeptiCon and CFI to the same gang)? Coincidence?

*_freethoughtkampala.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/elevatorgate/

Wikipedia is supposedly neutral, RationalWiki is a FTB/SkepChick propaganda organ and FTB-Kampala is skeptical of the social justice warrior side, but gives you plenty of further places to look-up (no belief required either). Did Richard Dawkins dispute that women are of lower status or even suggest that it shall be that way? Did Richard Dawkins even address the “Guys don’t do that remark”? According to the SJW RationalWiki, FTB/SkepChick mouthpiece otherwise:

As it was just a note in a longer video about the conference, it went mostly unnoticed, except for two other female atheists who disagreed with Watson and believe the man’s comment wasn’t aggressive, and ended up devolving into the typical nasty YouTube comment fare. Even this did not cause anyone else to care.

Richard Dawkins walked into a internet flame war which is already the meta topic of PZ myers article.

It blew up before but Richard Dawkins involvement and the shameless propaganda from Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers made it go thermonuclear. But you’ll see, same pattern then as today – the social justice warriors could not comprehend at all where other people are coming from who found it of “bad form” that Rebecca Watson would use her privileged position to not only excoriate a reasonable critic, but also placed her next to vile trolls. Then as today: there is e.g. the Block Bot who uses the same principle with its levels (James Billingham, Oolon, and the FTB / SkepChicks social media gang add people who are annoying or found disagreeing and then place them next to “serious people”. BBC News aftermath, the page 9 correction to the page 1 accusations: _bbc.com/news/technology-23533566

Then as today, “always name names” to put people onto an online pillory and make sure they don’t have an equal opportunity to rebut, clear up, explain as a form of intimidation (indeed block them from doing so, while having this bizarre “being silenced” rhetoric). Then as today, use “unknown people” to create threat-potentials (harssers, write death threats, are in the league with terrorists etc) and then link that to named people to intimidate them (smearing, Michael Nugent “defends” & “provides a haven”). “Bully tactics” is rather a charming description.

Some more media articles …

_salon.com/2014/10/03/new_atheisms_troubling_misogyny_the_pompous_sexism_of_richard_dawkins_and_sam_harris_partner/

_washingtonpost.com/national/religion/women-in-secularism-got-a-problem-with-that/2014/05/15/915b514a-dc56-11e3-a837-8835df6c12c4_story.html

_rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/richard-dawkins-and-the-problem-with-focusing-on-abstractions-and-hypotheticals-over-the-concrete/

This does not even begin to cover the massive echo chamber on FreeThoughtBlogs and SkepChick, with their interlinking, from PZ Myers to Amanda Marcotte, to Rebecca Watson and back, referred to by Stephanie Zvan and commented upon, linked to from Jason Thibeault and made into copy pasta by Ophelia Benson, and all in reverse order then to Greta Christina, to Adam Lee and from there to Libby Anne and back and to Amy Roth, to Kimberly Winston and to Secular Women, friends with Stephanie Zvan who are then quoted by Rebecca Watson who is then quoted by PZ Myers and so on and so forth.

5) It must be uncontroversial that Greta Christina wrote pornography containing non-consensual sex, i.e. rape.

Official “Bending” page at her blog: Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written to get you hard and wet — and to change the ways you think about sex. Be forewarned — stuff happens here that’s borderline consensual. Or not at all consensual. These are dirty, kinky stories about shame, about pain, helplessness and danger, reckless behavior and bad, bad ideas….
__http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/04/12/bending/

Pornography is for arousal, and that is also clear from the blurb “Greta Christina’s erotic stories are written to get you hard and wet” and they contain rape as in “Or not at all consensual”. Make of that what you will.

6) It must be uncontroversial that PZ Myers shared rape pornography of the tentacle variety and calls this a “celebration of biodiversity” It was deemed, like Greta Christina’s as “sex positive”. Sources and all that, in comment 33. Some:
_scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/10/29/definitely-not-safe-for-work/
_web.archive.org/web/20071028205103/http://sexe-aka.blogspot.com/2006/10/octopussy-tentacles-of-desir.html
_oolon.co.uk/?p=403

7) It must be uncontroversial that PZ Myers accuses Michael Nugent of harboring rapists (among other things) — a baseless accusation. In reality, PZ Myers harbours a rapist of three girls, ogvorbis. FreeThoughtBlogs regulars love him. All details and links to original sources at 58.

Closing the bracket:

Ariel wrote: Aneris, I find it difficult to talk to you exactly because I see you as a “narrative” type – as someone painting with a very wide brush. Nothing particularly wrong with the approach as such; it’s just that our style is so different that communication is difficult. […] The same happens here. You have your narrative, with a complete information what everyone wants. Again: I feel helpless. Good luck.

I hear your cognitive dissonance all the way and accept your usual FreeThoughtBlogs meta-whargarble “I won’t listen to you because reasons”. You have concrete quotes, links with all the context around, and you had some of that before, so that your claim of a “very wide brush” can be dismissed. If you are incapable of accepting that this stuff emanates from a blog network with people who frequently support each other (linking etc) and whose names then show up in mainstream media, either as authors or with citations, then you might overstretch your “play obtuse” game a bit too much. Nobody is buying your rape defense either.

In previous comments I also laid out who is meant and who isn’t and specifically pointed out that the whole thing is too unwieldy to always include all the information. Just to clean up the B.S. you produce requires a lot of evidence because I want to make sure that nobody who reads here is fooled.

If some link is defunct, try the wayback machine. Or ask, there are also screenshots and freeze-pages and whatnot. :)

Just as precaution: nobody finds it convincing when you call providing sources and links “obsessive” when presented with the level of hypocrisy, and serious allegations (harassment, misogyny and even rape). Writing a few comments is certainly not as obsessive as writing 15 blog posts in a week on Jaclyn Glenn, as Ophelia Benson once did, or I don’t know how many hundreds on C. H. Sommers (the latter is exaggerated slightly). Just sayin’

204 Aneris ✻ October 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm

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