My Twitter conversation today with Latsot, who like PZ Myers has falsely accused me of defending rapists

by Michael Nugent on October 27, 2014

I have just had the following discussion on Twitter with Latsot, an occasional guest blogger on FreeThought Blogs and one of the gentlemen who have falsely accused me of defending rapists. It illustrates the difficulty of communicating reasonably with the people making these false allegations.

The smear was initiated by PZ Myers, a cofounder of FreeThought Blogs, who has repeatedly failed to substantiate his allegation that I defend and provide a haven for rapists and that the evidence for this is that some people who post on another website also comment on my blog.

For context, here is a previous conversation that I had with Latsot, during which he withdrew and apologised for making the allegation, before later repeating the allegation and describing his own apology as a not-pology. Latsot then declined to discuss his withdrawal of his apology on Twitter, saying that he would answer questions about it on his blog.

The background to today’s conversation

The background to today’s conversation with Latsot is the following exchange that I had on Friday with Martin, an occasional FreeThought Blogs commenter who I have met at conferences and found to be reasonable person. I have since talked to Martin about this exchange by direct message, and I intend to continue that discussion, so I don’t want to discuss it further here other than to record it as the basis of today’s discussion with Latsot.

Martin – I asked people more intimately involved about the source of the allegations. I’m sure you shelter rape apologists, maybe worse.

Me – So you are joining in? For the record, please withdraw and apologise for alleging I shelter rape apologists and maybe worse. Either that, or please substantiate it, including clarifying what you mean by ‘sheltering’, ‘rape apologist’ and ‘maybe worse’.

Martin – Let me be very precise. Rape apologists have been allowed to post on your blog as far as I can see. And I take offense with that

Me – So is ‘allowed to post on my blog’ what you mean by ‘shelter’? Also, what do you mean by ‘rape apologists’ and ‘maybe worse’?

Martin – Next time you talk about Christianity on the radio, please include questions “what do you mean by resurrection”, “crucifiction”.

Me – So are you declining to substantiate your smear, by distracting attention to something else? I’m used to that by now.

Martin – actually, no, I just give up, shake my head and go to watch the Cricket

Me – Accusing someone of sheltering rape apologists or worse, then going to watch cricket when challenged, is trivialising rape.

Today’s conversation 

Today Latsot joined in the above discussion by tweeting six times to me about it. If you check the latter part of the conversation on either my or Latsot’s Twitter feeds, you will also see other people commenting. I want to leave this recording to stand on its own, so that readers here can form their own opinion of what is being said.

Latsot (to me, over six tweets) – That’s complete nonsense. People can respond or not, regardless of your agenda without trivialising the subject. Seriously, Michael, think about what you just said. It’s you all over. You think think everyone should take your concerns seriously at the same time you’re belittling the concerns of others. But holy fuck, pointing out some behaviour then having better things to do but argue with you is totally fine and says nothing at all about anyone’s attitrude toward the subject at hand. perhpas accusing people of trivialising rape because they don’t want to talk about your sads is trivialising rape.

Me – You’ve just tweeted me six times after saying you don’t want to communicate with me on Twitter. Do you want me to reply?

Latsot – I said that if you want to communicate with me on a specific point, I’d prefer you do it via my blog. In my recent tweets I was defending a friend against your silliness in the only way available. By all means reply on this specific point.

Me – I’m still not clear. Martin and I were discussing the same point you say you don’t want to talk to me about here.

Latsot – No, the point I was discussing was your idiotic one about Martin

Me – Oh, my idiotic point. What is the difference between my idiotic point that you will discuss and the other one you won’t?

Latsot – I never said that I wouldn’t discuss any point with you, Michael, as you know perfectly well. I invited you to discuss one point on my blog rather than here. But I consider them different points. I’ll describe why so there’s no more confusion.

Me – Please do. Do you want to describe the difference here or on your blog?

Latsot – Suit yourself. If you do it here, this time I’ll record all the hatred I get from your supporters.

Me – What do you mean, if *I* do it here? I asked what *you* wanted to do. I’m trying to suit your ambiguously stated preferences.

Latsot – My point in this thread is that you don’t get to decide people are trivialising rape because they are sick of talking to you

Me – How do you get to decide what I get to decide? Also, I said the comment, not the person, was trivialising rape. And it was.

Latsot – I’m not the one doing the deciding, you are. I fail to see how someone not wanting to talk to you anymore is trivialising rape.

Me – Not wanting to talk to me isn’t trivialising rape. Alleging I defend rape apologists then saying you want to watch cricket is.

Latsot – Why? How is that POSSIBLY trivialising rape?

Me – because it implies that alleging I defend rape apologists or worse is a trivial allegation, that can be put aside to watch cricket. Actually, alleging that someone defends rape apologists or worse is a serious allegation that should be substantiated or withdrawn.

Interlude

I am copying the above few tweets here, in which you will notice that I have answered Latsot’s question. The significance of this otherwise unremarkable exchange will become clearer later.

Latsot answer

Back to the conversation

Latsot – Try to stick to the argument. This is possibly why people get sick of talking to you in the first place.

Me – For example, if I accused you of defending murderers then said I was going to watch cricket, that would be trivialising murder.

Latsot – That doesn’t explain anything, it’s just repeating your bizarre assertion using a different crime. Its not an example.

Me – What? You asked me a specific question, and I directly answered that question. How is that not ‘sticking to the argument’?

Latsot – No, you went back to your complaint about people accusing you. The discussion is about whether that trivialises the object.

Me – I didn’t say accusing me is trivialising. Quite the opposite, it is serious. Accusing then going to watch cricket is trivialising.

Latsot – But you refuse to explain why it trivialises rape. You just keep asserting it does with absolutely no argument. perhpas accusing people of trivialising rape because they don’t want to talk about your sads is trivialising rape. in this specific case someone wanted to watch cricket rather than continue the conversation. THAT is what I am asking you to defend.

Me – You describe it as conversation. Actually, it was a serious allegation made against me, that should be substantiated or withdrawn. So you are asking me to defend something that didn’t happen, based on your invented version of what you say happened?

Latsot – No, I’m asking you to explain your original complaint. You said someone refusing to engage with you trivialised rape.

Me – For the umpteenth time, no I didn’t. Continuing to misrepresent me doesn’t make your misrepresentation true.

Latsot – So answer the question

Me – Again? How many times do you need it answered?

Latsot – Once

Me – Well, you got that a while ago.

Latsot – OK, could I start again on the question I want you to answer? Will you take that seriously?

Me – Of course. And I always take you seriously.

Latsot – OK, it might take a couple of tweets. You said that a person accused you of something then later decided not to talk to you about it. Is that accurate? yes or no? I mean, is that an accurate description of what you said?

Me – It is partly, but not completely, accurate. Why not just quote the tweets instead of paraphrasing them? Then it would be accurate.

Latsot – Why do I need to when you know what I said? But OK. I mean when you know what YOU said

Me – Because I don’t think you know what I originally said. You seem to be misremembering what you think you read.

Latsot – “Accusing someone of sheltering rape apologists or worse, then going to watch cricket when challenged, is trivialising rape.”

Me – Yes, that’s accurate.

Latsot – I know. So explain why that’s true.

Me – Okay. Like you, I will do it in stages. Do you agree that “sheltering rape apologists or worse” is a serious allegation?

Latsot – It rather depends, but as a hypothetical I agree it could be.

Me – Do you think in this instance it is a serious allegation?

Latsot – What has that to do with your argument? I will agree hypotheticaly that it is, for the sake of argument.

Me – We are talking about an actual allegation. It is not hypothetical. Do you think in this instance it is a serious allegation?

Latsot – Oh for fuck’s sake, MIchael. You could surely use a hypothetical example to prove you’re right. Why won’t you?

Me – Because I don’t need to use a hypothetical example. We are discussing the actual real-life allegation that actually happened.

Latsot – So since we’re at am impasse, let’s talk hypotheticals for now and get down to specifics later. YES. WE ARE. We’re talking about your idiotic assertion that someone not responding to you is trivialising rape. Which you continue to fail to defend. You agree you said it, but you won’t explain your reasoning.

Me – I am explaining my reasoning. Whether you think my reasoning is sound depends on whether you think it is a serious allegation. Also, can we discuss this without calling our assertions idiotic? We’re actually starting to get somewhere.

Latsot – Then answer my question. You haven’t offered any reasoning at all. You just asserted. We aren’t getting anywhere because you won’t answer a simple question you’ve been asked many times. I bet by the time you get this tweet you’re halfway through asking what that question is.

Me – I’ve answered it many times. You asked to start again. I agreed. I am trying to explain it based on your assumptions, so I am trying to discover if you think it is a serious allegation to accuse me of sheltering rape apologists or worse.

Latsot – I know you are. You’re obsessed with yourself, we know that. But answer the question nevertheless. No Michael. You haven’t explained why someone calling you a rape apologist then going away trivialises rape. DO SO.

Me – Because that is not what I am saying. And you’ve also rephrased his allegation from sheltering rape apologists to being one. Try to avoid the insults. They don’t help. You can be reasonable when you want to be, then you drop in casual insults.

Latsot – No I haven’t. You admitted what I said then didn’t answer why even though I asked you about it dozens of times. answer the question. Stop pretending you didn’t refuse to answer the question about a dozen times. It’s a simple question.

Me – At this stage I really don’t know whether or not you are trolling. I hope you are not, because you can be reasonable, but you must have noticed how many times I have answered your question.

Latsot – Because I asked you to answer a question? I can ask it again right here if you insist. You know you haven’t answered that question. Why not? How have you answered it? How have you answered my question about how people who accused you of something trivialised the something?

Me – Here’s the first time I answered you, about an hour ago.

Latsot answer

Latsot – lol. Seriously, fucking *lol*. That isn’t an argument.

Me – You have been claiming for a while now that I didn’t answer your question. Now that I show you that I did, you just laugh?

Latsot – Mick, you might be wrong about some stuff. You don’t think you want to examine yourself. Note that’s not a question. What answer? Show us all your answer. The internet awaits.

Me – I’m now pretty close to concluding that you’re trolling. I’ll keep that in mind when responding to your own allegation about me.

Latsot – Seriously. Just answer the question. Why does not bothering with you personally trivialise rape? You have not explained that. Because you can’t answer the simple question i asked about a dozen times. Answer the question. Everyone – EVERYONE – knows what question you’re not answering. So everyone knows you won’t answer my questions. It’s a simple question. Explain why people who disagree with you object to…well you know what.

Update

Despite the fact that Latsot actually responded to the tweet in which I included a screenshot of my previous answer to his question, thus indicating that he has read my answer and therefore knows that it exists, Latsot has since tweeted the following:

Latsot – I’m more interested in listening to a cricket. It will be far less repetitive. And you didn’t answer the question. You didn’t answer the one question I asked ninteen times, Michael. Answer what I said instead of once again bringing PZ Myers into it. Simple question. I’ve asked ten times. Answer it. Give it a go, Mike. Answer the question I spent half today asking you. @micknugent has spent a whole day refusing to answer a simple question. I asked @micknugent the question about ten times but he didn’t answer it. I don’t know why. Seriously. Explain why you refuse to answer the question I’ve asked about twenty times. Why won’t you answer the question? It’s a really simple one. Why not simply answer the question? I’m incapable of kicking a kitten. @micknugent seems incapable of answering a question.

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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Darby October 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Ah, they do so love their Gish Gallops, don’t they.

2 Iamcuriousblue October 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

It looks like you’ve given this Lastot fellow way more time than he deserves. After much back and forth, Lastot is clearly not interested in substantiating his accusation, nor withdrawing it, which basically puts him in the troll category, and one that should probably not be fed further.

What it comes down to with PZ Myers is that he has a clear blacklist. It’s one thing to ban all manner of people from your own blog – even if a blogger blocks someone in bad faith, they ultimately have the right to. What they don’t have a right to do, however, is dictate to other bloggers and forums that they have to also silence these same people. Myers has hugely overstepped personal boundaries here, and not for the first time.

3 Dave Allen October 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Latsot would try the patience of a fossil.

4 tina October 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Troll. Yes ICB has it. Rape is not important to Latsot. He trivialises it. The important thing is to smear you Michael.

5 sinister October 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Jaw dropping dishonesty. I’ll say it again, your patience astounds. (Of Job even?)

6 Ashling O'Brien October 27, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Bizarre, just word failingly bizarre

7 Paul Bulmer October 27, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Don’t waste any more of your time Michael, please. He’s either a troll or an idiot. Most probably both.

8 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Martin – Next time you talk about Christianity on the radio, please include questions “what do you mean by resurrection”, “crucifiction”.

This is the problem: you just aren’t dealing with people who use language the way normal human beings do.

It’s not a means of communication, it’s just an torment of free-floating signifiers.

It’s a condition called schizophasia, or ‘word salad':

It is characterized by an apparently confused usage of words with no apparent meaning or relationship attached to them. In this context, it is considered to be a symptom of a formal thought disorder. In some cases schizophasia can be a sign of asymptomatic schizophrenia; e.g. the question “Why do people believe in God?” could elicit a response consisting of a series of words commonly associated with religion or prayer but strung together with no regard to language rules.

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

9 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Martin – actually, no, I just give up, shake my head and go to watch the Cricket

Latsot – I’m more interested in listening to a cricket.

I’m kinda suspicious about the ‘coincidental’ use of a homonym. It suggests some back channel communication between the two, or even possible sock-puppetry.

10 Dave Allen October 27, 2014 at 7:04 pm

It’s a condition called schizophasia, or ‘word salad':

No. It’s not.

He’s surely implying that Michael already knew the answers to the questions he posed in the preceding tweet.

Therefore his tweet isn’t meaningless, it’s just obnoxious.

11 Bartacus October 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Oh, i don’t think that’s fair.

Latsot has much work ahead before he could be considered an idiot.

12 Phil Giordana FCD October 27, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Here’s a simple solution to this: just refuse inviting anyone connected with this “horde” to any AI meeting.

Or don’t. Up to you. I don’t care either way but I will be more willing to spend some bucks on a trip to Dublin if I’m sure none of these obnoxious clowns are around.

13 milesnagopaleen October 27, 2014 at 7:30 pm
14 Peter Ferguson October 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Latsot is an extremely dishonest person. Not worth the effort. He actually said that he didn’t claim you had defended rapists even though he clearly did.

https://twitter.com/latsot/status/524357275222171649

15 piero October 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Martin: “They tell me you killed your mother last night?”
WXYZ: “What? What are you talking about?”
Martin: “Come on, stop pretending. Lots of people saw you stabbing her, and heard her screams.”
WXYZ: “Are you out of your mind? I’ve done no such thing!”
Martin: “Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I’m off to the cinema. Take care of the corpse. Bye.”

Latsot: “Well done, Martin! You show them! That’s how you deal with these pretentious, self-centered murderers!”

16 BlueShiftRhino October 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Michael –

The calm and rational approach is starting to be embarrassing. You aren’t just feeding a troll here; that was a multi-course meal with a bottle of nice wine.

Maybe your friend Martin is worth some time, as would PZ (if he ever engages), but Latsot is not. The only additional interaction I’d suggest with Latsot would involve a barrister.

17 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Here’s a simple solution to this: just refuse inviting anyone connected with this “horde” to any AI meeting.

They’re now so toxic genuine atheists aren’t even inviting them to meetings on their own campuses.

18 tina October 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Having realised the mistake he made by almost apologising, Latsot now seeks to amplify the previous smears he has made against MN. The difficulty he has is that the accusations must remain non specific and ill defined. The personal attacks also seek to shame , and hopefully silence, Michael by association with SP’s who, he thinks, have the aim of trivialising or minimising the seriousness of rape. He will have to continue to hand wave away Michaels direct requests for clarification of terms or to be specific about who, what and where or to provide any evidence that could substantiate his claims in any way. This will be a bit of a struggle as Michael has made his views on rape and sexual violence crystal clear in previous posts.

So keep digging Latsot. It’s pretty funny.

19 Gerhard October 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

You see these types pitching up on any and all discussions surrounding Myers and his ideological friends. Their modus operandi is usually the superior sneer but they duck and dive when challenged to respond to the actual meat of whatever blog post they are replying to, which is usually of the “Myers/Benson misrepresents me in the most blatant way” type. At this point I can only believe that Myers deliberately misinterprets because he cannot be as stupid as to actually interpret people’s writings the way he says . The Latsot types NEVER acknowledge the rather more obvious benign interpretation of the Myers target’s writings.

It is difficult to know exactly what specifically the accusation of sheltering rape apologists is about, but it is probably to do with the [name deleted] case. If that is the case then perhaps the accusers would like to show where [name deleted] has actually been proven to be a rapist. I suspect that “rape apologist” means someone who hasn’t accepted the allegations against [name deleted] without due process. Accepting such accusations would be absurd given the poor track record the SJWs have with their accusations. They have never apologised to [second name deleted] for their scurrilous campaign against him despite the weight of evidence showing that his accuser has issues, to be polite, and has clearly misrepresented her relationship with him. There probably isn’t a prominent male atheist not in their camp who hasn’t been the victim of some sort of sexual allegation.

20 piero October 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

@BlueShiftRhino:

I would tend to agree. However, Michael is more experienced and has chosen the better avenue. If he hadn’t fed Latsot, we would not have witnessed this total, unabashed and undiluted meltdown.

21 Jack Rawlinson October 27, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Michael, this person might be trolling, but I actually think you’re dealing with someone who has genuine mental difficulties. He reads like a person whose basic mental comprehension functions are fractured. This is not an insult, I’m completely serious.

22 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 8:40 pm

There’s a Tom Stoppard play called Dogg’s Hamlet about prep-school kids putting on a Shakespeare play obviously oblivious to what the words mean; they speak Dogg’s English themselves, which is composed of real English words but which mean something entirely different to them.

It’s based on Wittgenstein’s observation that people can live side by side assuming they understand each other but actually meaning completely different things. A shame FTB doesn’t have a practicing philosopher to explain this to them.

23 Aneris ✻ October 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Bizarre yes, but not unusual for FreeThoughtBlog & SkepChicks and their allies. Like the others, he shows the trademark Deliberate Offense¹ Gish Gallop² — acting offended, then bombarding the interlocutor with demands and questions to drive them into a defensive position. The idea is that your requests to substantiate claims your opponent made are buried under demands they promote to a higher priority through acting offended.

If that would be FreeThoughtBlogs — maybe Pharyngula — it is embedded into three phases of conversation, which I dubbed scout-cavalry-priest back then. The same principle applies outside, just that you aren’t banned from the blog, but shunned and shamed from “the” community.

First is the “scout” phase, the opponents look for ways to distort your words or to dig up other “problematic” things about you (that can be previous distortions). You were past that point, since the accusations already count as something problematic about you. The tactic was dubbed “Kafkatrapping”³ by critics.

Eric Raymond on “Kafkatrapping”³:
My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

In the second phase, dubbed the “cavalry” phase, the kafkatrap is upheld and widened. That’s where the Deliberate Offense Gish Gallop comes in and where everything you state will be used against you, with further distortions. The aim seems to be maximum escalation. You give in and become an ally, or you become an enemy of the worst kind (due to the nature of insinuations, i.e. defending rapists). Typically, several social justice warriors will come riding in with their Deliberate Offense Gish Gallop and make sure you are completely defensive. This is also known as “dogpiling”.

Since you are merely seen as a representative of some category, and you are a stand-in for various issues – a foil. You can be submissive, where the social justice warrior will abuse you for some time longer until they accept you as an ally. Or you are expected to be the opponent, the windmill⁴ to fight against. Then you represent rape apologists, rape defenders, misogynists, harassers, racist or whatever is needed for the moment. And where the Deliberate Offense Gish Gallop works best.

Should you make it personal, or indeed, take up too much space in answering all the demands, you are distracting from the socio-political issue that you represent (and which they symbolically want to defeat) and thereby they charge you for Making It All About Yourself. Nobody knows what the problem is, but like all “meta arguments” it is known as true for the social justice warrior. By just invoking it, they signalize to each other you are wrong, and will then continue with their trample.

There is a plethora of “meta-arguments”. Everyone who has dealt with atheist-skeptics social justice warriors knows them. There is the Standard You Walk Past, which is a Kafkatrap variant invented (or popularized) by Rebecca Watson⁵, wherein the target is responsible for a random issue and must denounce or deal with it or the the target is a Part Of The Problem (that’s another “meta argument”). Michael Nugent learned about that already, he must take position on “Famous Skeptic” and denounce and if not, he’s open for the cavalry phase – which we are seeing now.

I dubbed the third and final phase the “priest phase”, because in the original version the users that previously acted as scouts in finding the “problematic” issues, then assume the role of cavalry to gallop the opponent, then begin to assume the role of priest, who demands that the gods smite the target (i.e. PZ Myers), and declare them persona non grata (banning them etc). Outside of the “safe spaces” this is done by symbologically denouncing the person and announcing a lowering of status of the target person and eventually assigning them to the opponent team.

To the dismay of the social justice warriors, nobody believes them anyway that some target can sink even lower in their eyes. It seems to occur to them as they inflate the status for one or two sentences and e.g. Richard Dawkins can rise to former greatness for as long as one paragraph so that they can make him crash down, where they usually would declare that they are now “disppointed”– you know, whine three years about the person and make clear that they believe they’re the worst of the worst to ever walked the earth, yet they are now “disappointed” and didn’t think that the target “could sink even lower”. I don’t know how much describing this will change the behaviour, but that would come next: “Michael Nugent seemed like a nice guy, but I’m soo disappointed right now, I’m literally shaking with rage tears!”

I found that knowledge about these rhetorics make them rather hilarious. I guess, that won’t provide much consolation when your name is on the line, though. But it gives some perspective why the only thing that is possible with characters like Latsot is ridicule and mockery. You can’t reason with them, and if ignored they crap things up further so they only thing that appears to work is mockery. However, the consequence of side-stepping their kafkatrapping and mocking them is called “harassment” by them and since they believe it’s about views, they also take that as an admission to anti-feminsim, pro-kitten-slaugthering and misogyny and whatever they consider the Other.

Welcome to the atheist-skeptics movement!

P.S.: when I mean “social justice warrior” (SJW) I mean the people in the atheist-skeptics movement who are associated with the social justice warrior phenomenon elsewhere. I have little contact to other social justice warriors, so I don’t know whether these things are generally true or whether they are specific for the atheist-skeptics movement’s “brand” of SJWs.

¹_rationalwiki.org/wiki/Deliberate_offense
²_rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_gallop
³_ esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122
⁴_ tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WindmillPolitical
⁵_skepchick.org/2013/06/the-standard-you-walk-past-is-the-standard-you-accept/

24 Jack Rawlinson October 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Also, it really seems that Latsot, Myers, and the rest of these really rather startlingly abusive people genuinely do not understand how very serious and very defamatory it is not only to call someone a rapist, but also a defender or shelterer of rapists. They really seem to think this is just something that can be as casually tossed off as calling someone a fool or an idiot. They seem not to get that it to do this is to accuse someone of being a serious criminal, or someone who aids and abets serious criminals. Their lack of human decency, empathy and finer feeling is truly shocking. They act as if this was some sort of game, rather than what it really is: libel.

I’ve said it before, but it really is a great pity that the US libel laws are not robust enough to haul these insolent verbal thugs up before a judge. That’s how serious their calumnies are, and that’s how seriously it ought to be possible to treat it.

25 Lancelot Gobbo October 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm

For the sake of your mental health, Michael, I think it’s time to write Latsot off as a troll. He isn’t listening, but merely trying to score points for the sake of his audience. Make no mistake about that, he needs to atone for initially apologising to you before the SJW’s will talk to him again. All he actually does is illustrate how impossible it is to have a rational conversation with a closed mind.

26 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm

They really seem to think this is just something that can be as casually tossed off as calling someone a fool or an idiot.

They can’t say fool or ‘idiot’ because that’s disablist.

They feel okay about calling you a ‘rapist’ because no rapist is going to say ‘Hey, I’m a rapist – stop running us down!’

(Okay, Oggie maybe.)

27 Jack Rawlinson October 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Great comment , Aneris. you pretty much nailed it there.

28 Fred October 27, 2014 at 9:04 pm

google search for “latsot idiot” “latsot troll” etc. produces some amusing storify pieces on previous examples. Someone with real training in psychopathology or even in Žižek should do a blog post on this character.

29 piero October 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm

@Aneris:

You’ve described the process perfectly. In Michael’s case, though, his unrelenting politeness and reasonableness is a welcome departure from the usual script. Latsot has been reduced to an incoherent blob of fake outrage and arguments unworthy of an amoeba. I don’t know how Michael does it: I lose my temper within a few replies. I can only conclude that he is genuinely generous enough to engage these jokers as if they had brains. Or shame.

30 tina October 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Aneris @22
I think the ‘priest’ phase is under way now as they know already that Michael will not buckle, they get quite good at assessing that. So I think it’s fairly safe to look out for the write-off and disappointed remarks now and highlight them as they appear.

31 piero October 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

@Fred:

😀
4,570 hits for “latsot idiot”? There’s a moral there somewhere.

32 Pogsurf October 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm

When engaging with someone in a discussion, argument or debate it is only necessary to continue to engage with them whilst you believe they are arguing in good faith. If you have even considered they are trolling then they have already lost your good faith. If you have to ask them if they are trolling there actually is no path back to a good faith argument, unless they are willing to offer some sort of immediate concession that they had been acting in bad faith, or be able to demonstrate conclusively that their argument up until then had been made in good faith.

In short, I would have taken the conversation up to point where you suspect trolling, but no further. You have the patience of a saint.

33 Matt Cavanaugh October 27, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Atheism Plus displays all the characteristics of a cult:
* common words become neologisms;
* The Kafka-Trap (a.k.a., “the Game”) that Latsot attempted;
* Information control (FTB);
* Demonization of all non-cult members, in this case as rapists/misogynists/”evil slymepitters”;
* Infallibility of swami / desperate contortions to defend when swami’s sins exposed (Ariel);
… and so on.

Any attempt to rationally engage the Atheism Plussers is futile.

34 Blueshift Rhino October 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

In Latsot’s defense, it seems quite likely that s/h/it has little experience arguing with folks face-to-face, such that the internet is all that s/h/it knows, and the internet is a weird place … a place where the weird go to become weirder. Same for Oolon.

But PZ doesn’t have this excuse. Which is why I wish that Michael would remained focused on him. Also, if PZ capitulates, all of The Horde, include Latsot, will follow. Trying to deal with all this one Hordeling at a time is futile. Two new ones will appear for each you shut down.

35 Crackity Jones October 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Interestingly, Latsot is STILL running away from the questions I set him.

Namely:

Given the FTB definition of “rapist” and “rape apologist” employed by Latsot, PZ and others, is FreeThoughtBlogs a haven for rape apologists? We, of course, already know that it IS a haven for a self-confessed rapist.

He won’t answer, of course, because he can’t. He knows I have repeatedly caught him in his own rhetorical lie. He won’t engage me on Twitter with his gish gallops, etc. because I can get very playful and easily start out-trolling the dumbest troll, which is what Latsot is.

36 tina October 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I think BSR @ 34 may have a point concerning Latsot’s possible paucity of IRL engagement.

His problems might also stem from severe over exposure to fairy tales…. his razor sharp mind here deeply suspicious of Jack over at Ophelia Bensons misandrist blog….

“Where did these magic beans come from anyway?”

“Why didn’t the beanstalk just happen to grow all by itself or some other random magic?”

“Why is the second-hand cow salesman there in the first place?”

“I always wanted to know why the people and things in fairy tales said and did what they did and said.

This might explain why nobody liked the four-year-old latsot.

Unfortunately, the forty-year old (and the rest) latsot has the same questions (and lack of friends).”

Now, shut up! I’m going to cry.

37 John O'Reilly October 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I’m starting to think less and less of anyone who writes for FreethoughtBlogs. I used to read some blogs, and would be excited to see some of these people at conventions, but seriously … I’m starting to think these people should stop getting gigs. They are toxic.

How did it take me this long to realize this?

38 Blueshift Rhino October 27, 2014 at 10:34 pm

> “How did it take me this long to realize this?”

The best Kool-Aid is that which makes you feel good, no matter how bad it is for you.

39 Aneris ✻ October 27, 2014 at 10:44 pm

As a suggestion: This is the music you should put on when reading FreeThoughtBlogs, SkepChicks or Latsot and so on. It’s one of the few things you can do to enhance the experience.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkEVwEwT9GE"Kevin MacLeod ~ Music to Delight

40 Karmakin October 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I think one thing that’s essential to understand, is that this isn’t a debate between one side that is strict on this particular issue (rape) and one side that thinks that they’re too strict. This is a debate between one side that has an idea what to do on a particular issue (I.E. spread gossip and socially ostracize people) and another side that has a different idea on what to do on a particular issue (go to the police). I have no doubt that they think their way is better, just as I think that “our” way is better.

The big problem with the Lastot’s of the world is that they can’t argue effectively because they’re unable to acknowledge that basic point. You can’t argue against what you don’t understand, and they don’t know the basics of what they’re criticizing.

41 Shatterface October 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I don’t think it just breaks down into two divergent approaches to tackling rape; I think it boils down to smears and innuendo on one side and a refusal to treat smears and innuendo as ‘evidence’ on the other.

If it wasn’t rape it would be ‘xenophobia’ against Uncle Sam or some other such thought-crime.

42 Justme October 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Wow. Reading the conversations with Martin and Latsot, and Myers & Benson & miscellaneous FTBers, for that matter, it’s like Michael with a spotlight and cockroaches scurrying for the cracks in the floorboards. To watch Cricket. Of course.

43 piero October 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm

@Karmakin:

This is a debate between one side that has an idea what to do on a particular issue (I.E. spread gossip and socially ostracize people) and another side that has a different idea on what to do on a particular issue (go to the police).

Wish it was that simple. But even if it was, they are not equally valid positions: one would take us back a couple of centuries, the other wouldn’t. It’s not that SJWs fail to acknowledge opposing ideas, but rather that they accept the tragic consequences of theirs as virtues. In some cases, brazenly so; in fact, Stephanie Zvan has publicly stated:

It’s an unpalatable thing to say, yes, but I’ll say it. Creating a system in which schools explicitly put accusers and accused on equal footing with regard to sexual harassment and rape will result in more innocent people being found guilty. I am willing to accept that, because the alternative is even less acceptable.

Obviously, they must realise what this line of reasoning implies. It’s just that they don’t care, as long as it is their kind of theocracy that wins.

44 Blueshift Rhino October 28, 2014 at 12:09 am

You need to digest WHY Zvan found her own statement to be unpalatable. It wasn’t that she was endorsing something that would result in the innocent being punished. It was that she was claiming (albeit too subtly for most folks to catch) that some accusations are false.

I’m still surprised that she’s allowed to post on any SJW site since then.

45 Steve Vanden-Eykel October 28, 2014 at 12:25 am

Job was an Irishman.

46 Aneris ✻ October 28, 2014 at 12:44 am

Addition to the above (23) — a metaphor fix: scout-cavalry-priest is obviously an older metpahor built on the Gish Gallop. The more commonly used figure of speech is now the “Witch Hunt” which works perhaps better. It then becomes…

Phase 1: Accuser, makes accusations and doesn’t have to substantiate them. Someone did something. It’s out there now.
Phase 2: Inquistor, tries and forces person to confess or denounce. This isn’t a conversation or an argument since one side questions, the other must answer. The topic is only what the inquisitor says it is. The according “meta argument” when violated is also known: “Michael Nugent thinks he is the arbiter …” or some variation thereof. You aren’t supposed to challenge the roles (who has the prerogative of interpretation).
Phase 3: Executor, removal from the community. You get the scarlet letter, are shunned, shamed¹ or burned (figuratively, your ideas and what you stand for becomes so abhorrent that nobody wants to take a similar position).

Then you almost have the full scenery. A stage (a blog or social media) where someone is accused and convicted. A crowd that is only interested in throwing eggs or see someone burn. The roles are set (who is persecutor and who must confess etc), you cannot show sympathy with the person on the stage, but you must solidarize with the community around the stage. And since Piero brought it up from the previous post in the series…

Stephanie Zvan wrote²: It’s an unpalatable thing to say, yes, but I’ll say it. Creating a system in which schools explicitly put accusers and accused on equal footing with regard to sexual harassment and rape will result in more innocent people being found guilty. I am willing to accept that, because the alternative is even less acceptable.

“We would gladly burn a hundred if just one of them was guilty.” – attributed to Konrad of Marburg (1195—1233)

Of course, you are challenged to break this rather grim picture and avoid the congruence fallacy. I don’t think you can. Once more, there is no omitted silent evidence. If there are situations that ever played out differently, they are rare enough that it could escape all observers. The mere fact that “social justice warrior” is a thing already gives a good idea that a lot of people see similar behaviours (just the ways to describe it change).

¹_freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2014/07/25/is-there-any-line-you-think-should-not-be-crossed/
²_freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2014/07/15/the-elided-rights-of-accusers/

47 David Jones October 28, 2014 at 2:18 am

Latsot isn’t a troll. He arrived late at the FTB party and is desperately trying to fit in by copying them. He sees an FTBer abuse you so thinks he can win his spurs by doing likewise. He doesn’t mean anything by calling you a rape apologist or whatever – that’s just the usual abuse the FTB crowd throw out without ever expecting to have the abuse seriously examined or questioned. It’s all just words and sound that identify Latsot as one of them and you as not one of them.

He is impossible to talk to sensibly and like you I had a torrent of Tweets from him even after I asked him to stop – about 20 in a few hours. Twitter banned him for a week or so for that but he returned refusing to apologise or to acknowledge any fault. He did stop tweeting at me though.

48 tina October 28, 2014 at 8:16 am

Svan is frightfully upset with Aneris but trying to laugh it off. Benson is keeping a low profile. Myers has hunkered down. It’s clear from comments that many FtB’ers are readers of both MN and the SP, possibly coming for lessons in critical thinking and skepticism.

So, please ask Myers to apologize to Michael for claiming that he provides a haven for rapists, or for him to name names and provide evidence. One or the other.

49 Jan Steen October 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

Over on Stephanie Zvan’s blog one of the hardcore FTB commenters, Wowbagger, has this to comment:

Wowbagger, Heaper of Scorn says
October 27, 2014 at 9:46 pm
At this point I’m wondering if Monsignor ‘I’m going to write a new and even more boring than the one that preceded it 5,000 word blog post about how people are defaming me on Twitter’ Nugent isn’t lost for good. I just can’t see him finding the way out of his own ass now that it’s being held in there by the comforting hands of the slymers.

Let’s see what we’ve got here:

1. “Monsignor”. Because Michael has made it his life’s work to fight the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, let’s pretend he is just like a Catholic prelate. So funny and original. Totally not a baseless slur.

2. “boring … 5000 word blog post” Don’t you know, Michael? These people have the attention span of MTV addicts, so you should keep it short, otherwise it just becomes a wall of text to them. And don’t use difficult werdz.

3. “people are defaming me on Twitter” Yeah, that’s a triviality. Why would anyone care about that?

4. “I’m wondering if Michael Nugent … isn’t lost for good.” Lost for your Cult, you say?

5. “I just can’t see him finding the way out of his own ass now that it’s being held in there by the comforting hands of the slymers.” That’s Michae’s problem, right? That he can’t think for himself. He needs those evil Slymepitters to tell him what to think. Evidence? Well, he lets Slymepitters post in his comments section. QED

But who is Wowbagger? you ask. It’s the guy who once wrote this to another commenter:

Go die in a fire. No, I’m not being hyperbolic. I actually mean I want you to die in a fire.

So my point is, Michael, don’t feel bad about anything that Mr. Wowbagger may hurl at you. It’s par for the course. He can’t help himself. He’s lost for good.

50 Acleron October 28, 2014 at 10:28 am

Wonderful explanation aneris.

I see that latsot complains of receiving hatred from MN supporters, I hope that is not true but I wonder if I contributed. I asked him if he had any evidence for his allegations. I suppose such a request could be interpreted as hatred.

The fabrication of MN’s statements, the switching of discussion and the denialism of latsot are awesome but induce the emotion of sadness, not hatred.

51 Barael October 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

It’s a curious thing that while in those circles rape is often upheld as a crime second in heinousness only to genocide (and on par/worse than murder, the most bizarre argument I’ve seen offered so far is that being raped and murdered is preferable to being raped since the subsequent murdering at least spares you from living as a rape victim), allegations of rape enabling, rape supporting or just straight up rape can be disseminated at the drop of a hat.

52 Acleron October 28, 2014 at 10:33 am

@Jan Steen

There is a wowbagger on the Randi forum, an intelligent, sceptical and erudite poster. If they are one and the same it could be an example of the corrosive FTB environment.

53 ZenGuard October 28, 2014 at 10:39 am

!!!!!!

What an incredible wall of obfuscation! Martin and Latsot provide a textbook display of why FtB/Skepchick have become so poisonous to the atheist/skeptic community. Post the smear and then do the amazing linguistic dance to avoid and cloud the subject while attempting to put their target on the defensive, finally doing the duck and run when they see their increasingly transparent tactics are failing.

All this while refusing to acknowledge the attack or offering an apology. The latter is utterly verbotten in their little rat’s nest of cretins. Latsot committed the one great sin before the Cult and now must redeem himself by stepping up his game. It is clear he underestimated the tenacity of the target in Michael’s case.

Michael, I do not comment often but I do follow your posts and you continue to impress with your consistency and persistence. Thank you for having the amazing levelheadedness and focus that provides the immovable object against these peoples shameful behavior. Due to your persistence and efforts the awful character and nature of the FtB/Skepchick club are becoming increasingly obvious and transparent to the larger community.

54 Shatterface October 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

As amusing as it is to watch Latson leak spinal fluid on Twitter you are only dipping your toe into sea of crazy; try arguing with Tony The Queer Stoop or Seven of Mine for the full reality-bending horror of what can go wrong with brains if you don’t look after them.

55 Jan Steen October 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

@Acleron,

There is a wowbagger on the Randi forum, an intelligent, sceptical and erudite poster. If they are one and the same it could be an example of the corrosive FTB environment.

As far as I can tell, the FTB Wowbagger has never given evidence of being an intelligent, sceptical and erudite poster, so I suspect they are not the same person.

56 Ron Murphy October 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Paraphrase of many people on this topic, to Latsot: “Which rapists is MN defending?”, “Name them.” … many many times in various ways. No response. Always evasion, deflection.

Then this:

Latsot – “Then answer my question. You haven’t offered any reasoning at all. You just asserted. We aren’t getting anywhere because you won’t answer a simple question you’ve been asked many times.”

The mental gymnastics are simply staggering. Seriously, this is right out of the Sye Ten Bruggencate school of reasoning.

57 piero October 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

@Barael:

the most bizarre argument I’ve seen offered so far is that being raped and murdered is preferable to being raped since the subsequent murdering at least spares you from living as a rape victim

Pity they didn’t hit upon an even better scenario: just find yourself a necrophile who will murder you before raping you; thus you are spared even the temporary discomfort of being raped. Seriously, these people need help; actual professional help.

@Shatterface:

try arguing with Tony The Queer Stoop or Seven of Mine for the full reality-bending horror of what can go wrong with brains if you don’t look after them.

No, Michael, don’t! I’ve tried it. Words cannot convey the full horror of that interaction. I was permanently injured: I had to expend one neuron in order to engage them at their level.

58 jimthepleb October 28, 2014 at 12:42 pm

So if MN goes over to chat on Latsot’s blog, would that mean Latsot is harbouring a harbourer of rapists? In which case…..nope nope I’m not going down that rabbit-hole again.
Thanks for being so patient Michael.
It must be very uncomfortable to be surrounded by the scum that we are as slymers. IME a good shower and a scrub with a pumice stone will remove most of the slyme, but the feeling of self-disgust will never leave you.

59 GerardO October 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I think it’s important to note, for those who may have stumbled upon this post, that Latsot is no outlier when it comes to the methods of the FreeThoughtBlogs/Pharyngula mob.

For instance, at the comments section of a PZ Myers article posted yesterday (27/10/14) titled ‘We all have an obligation to publicize bad behavior’, the regulars have already decided that Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian radio host sacked earlier this week for sexual misconduct, is, based on what they’ve read in the newspapers over the past twenty-four hours, guilty of a serious criminal offense. Pharyngula’s most regular commenter, Tony Thompson (aka Tony! The Queer Shoop), has stated (at comment #12) that Ghomeshi “needs to be punished”; others are incensed by the suggestion that we need to wait for more information or the pursuit of criminal action before deciding on a person’s guilt.

This might be just foolishness or a minor irritation, but these same commenters had made precisely the opposite arguments when I stated the belief that Elliot Rodger almost certainly had Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological condition that has blighted my life as well.
I won’t bore anyone with the details*, but the Horde were furious that I, a person with no psychiatric qualifications, would dare to make these claims; I was also denounced as a racist at one point.

Many commenters here would be familiar with these sorts of incidents, but to newbies I say this: Never, EVER, comment at Pharyngula, if you value your sanity.

*My comments at FreeThoughtBlogs have been scrubbed after calling out PZ Myers for praising a fanatical racist.

60 john welch October 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Actually, I think Michael is spot-on with how he’s doing this. I wish he’d not wander off the path so much, although he doesn’t wander far, and always returns, but really, he’s doing the right thing.

Note how everything has changed.

First, it was “rapists”. then it’s “rape apologists”. And we can already see how that’s starting to change into “bad people”.

Michael, the only advice I’d give is to latch onto rapists and every time any of them try to engage, keep using that word over and over.

No, this isn’t about rape apologists. That is a related but separate issue. One thing at a time.

You said I am harboring rapists. There is only one possible definition for the word rapist. Therefore, who among the commenters on my site, by name, and with accompanying, independently verifiable proof, has committed the crime of rape.

And keep doing that relentlessly. Politely, but relentlessly, and refuse to move off it until:

1) They provide proof

2) They admit that they don’t actually have any proof or names of anyone here who has actually committed rape.

It’s the same tactic you use with small children who are lying and misdirecting to get you to forget about the rule they just broke/thing they did they shouldn’t have.

You acknowledge they wish to bring up other points, but that those will not be dealt with until the matter at hand is solved first. Every time you allow yourself to move from “rapist” to “rape apologist”, you make it impossible to move forward, because in a literal sense “rape apologist” has no definite meaning. The only “meaning” it has is “someone who doesn’t view rape the way I think they ought to.”

That’s not a meaning, that’s a bag of cats. Stupid cats. Possibly a couple dead ones in there. And one’s a lobster.

You can’t try to cover multiple things with these clowns. Push them on the first thing, and only when you’re satisfied with the answer, move on to the next.

61 paddybrown October 28, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Aneris:

“We would gladly burn a hundred if just one of them was guilty.” – attributed to Konrad of Marburg (1195—1233)

Or even “Kill them all, God will know his own”.

I have a simpler explanation for FTBers’ reflexive accusations of rape and rape apology. They think “I oppose rape. Person x opposes me. Therefore person x is in favour of rape.” I’m sure there’s a name for that fallacy, but I can’t at the moment retrieve it from memory.

Either that, or “rape” is, in their minds, functionally equivalent to “sin”.

62 Shatterface October 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Either that, or “rape” is, in their minds, functionally equivalent to “sin”.

It’s like Original Sin.

Everybody is born guilty but if you open your heart to Peezus you will be redeemed.

63 Jack Rawlinson October 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm

It’s like Original Sin.

Everybody is born guilty but if you open your heart to Peezus you will be redeemed.

Pretty much the thinking behind “Schrodinger’s Rapist”, that.

64 Blueshift Rhino October 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

While I agree (with john welch @60) that MN should not allow those who have defamed him to change the topic – that MN should keep asking them to name the rapists and provide the evidence that they are rapists – the fact that MN’s defamers are trying to bury their defamatory statements under piles of new smears is not the fault of Latsot, Oolon, PZ, et al. In fact, as elegantly argued (with much supporting evidence) by the lovely Anita Sarkeesian (of hoop-earring fame), it’s actually the fault of gaming culture.

Please try to follow along.

In Magic the Gathering – easily argued to be the most social version of modern gaming, given that it is played face-to-face with other people, rather than alone in the basement of the house in which you grew up – we have the concept of “the stack” (which was taken from computer programming, of course). When one player casts a spell, it is put on the table. The other player may then cast a counter-spell, which goes on top of the first. Then the original player may cast an additional spell, which would go on top of the second. Etc. Finally, when nothing else is added, the stack is “resolved” starting with the most recent. In this way, events and counters that occurred (or were played) after the original event are dealt with earlier, such that the original event may simply cease to exist. In other words, gaming teaches us – or maybe I should say, as suggested by the StopGamerGate folks, that gaming teaches cis-het white males with excessive neck follicles – that you can undo something from the past by piling more on top of it (at least until you exhaust your library of stuff to pile on, in which case you actually lose, but that rarely seems to happen).

Non-gamers, in contrast, are more used to real-world situations, such as waiting in line at the grocery story. When a line is used, instead of a stack, whatever occurs first – as in: who got in line first – is dealt with first, instead of the last person to queue being the first to check out.

Michael Nugent – I’m delighted to say – lives in the real world. Latsot et al. are puzzled by numbers beyond 0 and 1. The latter need to realize that they have entered a place where we queue, instead of push-down-stack. Put another way: in the world of reason, things are actually stacked against them.

65 piero October 28, 2014 at 3:03 pm

@Blueshift Rhino:

who got in line first – is dealt with first, instead of the last person to queue being the first to check out

In other words, the real world is FIFO, whereas FTB-world is LIFO. Also, FTB-world is a good example of GIGO.

66 john welch October 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Blueshift:

that tactic predates well, everyone involved with this by some centuries. It’s a very old trick. You fling accusations at a person or group as fast and furious as possible, and allow “well, where there’s smoke…” to do the heavy lifting.

67 Blueshift Rhino October 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm

As I’ve already told you ten or twenty times, john, I’d be happy to reply to your reply to my reply, but not until you retract and apologize for using “heavy lifting” in your latest comment, as it is clearly ableist, such that MN is now harboring a whole new set of bad people.

68 john welch October 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Blueshift,

I’d apologize, but i’m too busy using my able-bodied privilege to merrily dance around your argument without actually addressing it.

69 tina October 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Stephanie Zvan ‏@szvan Oct 23
@UnknownEric @latsot I’ve already heard from Irish atheists distancing themselves. Tired of it being all about him.

Ahh…the ‘all about him’ meme, as predicted.

Curious to hear viewpoints of other AI members on this. Is Zvan correct?

70 Darby October 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

@tina

This is just another one of these gorps favorite tactics.

“I hear ‘people’ are distancing themselves from/ignoring/getting ready to punish/etc $person-to-be-shunned.”

The idea is to give the suggestion that there is some vast silent majority that agree with their bullshit. The goal being to con people with actual power in the community into joining in attacking the target.

In Zvan’s case this is usually followed by an attack on the target’s real-world job. Don’t be surprised to see Zvan calling for AI to remove Michael’s “toxic” influence within the week.

Of course, any calls for *evidence* of this silent majority will be ignored.

71 Shatterface October 28, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Nick Cohen addressed some related issues this weekend in The Guardian:

Even if you want to differ, you may find the task of contradicting her beyond you. We have reached a state where arguing that a speaker has the right to free speech is the same as agreeing with his or her arguments. If you say that racist or sexist views should not be banned, you are a racist or rape apologist yourself. Your opponents then go further and accuse you of ignoring the “offence” and “pain” of the victims of racism and sexism have suffered and turn you into an abuser as well.

With remarkable speed this double bind knots itself around its targets. Defend a repellent man’s right to speak and you become that repellent man and his victims, real or imagined, become your victims too. Small wonder so many keep quiet when they should speak up.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/26/banning-peoples-views-even-internet-trolls-is-wrong

72 Mel October 28, 2014 at 10:16 pm

“I’ve already heard from Irish atheists….”

Sheesh, the “Lurkers support me in email” argument is as old as the hills. Even I’ve used it (fifteen+ years ago, on Usenet).

Like all over Ireland, atheists are going “Holy crap what are we gonna do? I know! Let’s write to Stephanie Svan!” It’s as believable as Watson’s claim that support was pouring in from Muslim women all over the world. How dare Dawkins use their suffering to silence a rich spoiled American speaking out against polite coffee invitations!

73 Christopher Camp October 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I really do not understand why you keep doing this, Mr Nugent.

It should be no news to anyone at all, never mind somebody who is a prominent figure of the atheist/sceptic communities, that PZ Myers is a clown who got a bit of a leg-up from Richard Dawkins (he was mentioned favourably in his book ‘The God Delusion’) but who had squandered the increased online footprint this gave him for a few years picking petty, malicious little fights with all sorts of people, many of who were just random, unsuspecting people on the internet.

Now this ongoing ‘discussion with one of his last remaining loyal sycophants and Twitter trolls latsot – honestly??? You, who normally debates Catholic clerics in Ireland, are wasting your time trying to have a serious discussion with those bottom-feeding attention seekers, who you know are more impetuous to reason and argumentation than any priest you’ve ever seen?

Of course they were going to throw baseless accusations at you. It’s what they do. They are attention addicts. Creating pointless drama is the fuel of their remaining blog traffic.

You will have a more interesting and meaningful debate with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

74 MadMike October 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Christopher Camp-
Nugent is slowly, methodically and with great precision cutting away at a pernicious cancer in the atheist community. He has forced the FtB contingent to show their cards-and they haven’t any.

I appreciate Nugent’s work on this very much. If he has to stoop a little to do it, that’s fine by me, and I am sure other share this sentiment. PZ Myers has declared himself a spokesman of atheism, an arbiter of what is acceptable and what is not, and it is hurting people. It damages reputations, it makes the atheist movement look bad, and he has tried to harm people’s careers with it.

It cannot be ignored, and Nugent has found an effective means of combating it. I salute him for it.

75 Acleron October 28, 2014 at 11:43 pm

@madmike

I’ll second that.

76 john welch October 29, 2014 at 12:01 am

The ironic thing about Svan et al using the “silent majority” argument is, at least in the US, whose footsteps they are walking in.

Jerry Fallwell. It’s the precise schtick he used to facilitate the Moral Majority’s rise to power.

Good job FTB. Good job.

77 Michael Nugent October 29, 2014 at 12:59 am

For the record, last Saturday, the Atheist Ireland AGM re-elected the outgoing officers unopposed. We are looking forward to another busy year of working together to promote atheism, reason and ethical secularism.

As always, we will continue to conduct our work responsibly and constructively, without the personal attacks and smears that have been normalised elsewhere by some mostly American atheist bloggers.

78 Shatterface October 29, 2014 at 2:19 am

What’s the opposite of paranoia – when people suspect everyone else secretly supports them?

Ah, yes: pronoia.

Probably a symptom of FTB Entitlement Syndrome.

79 ZenGuard October 29, 2014 at 2:53 am

Michael,

Congratulations on the re-election of all the AI officers. I do hope you recognize the appreciation we have for your efforts and over-all level headedness in dealing with miscreants and reactionaries on so many levels. Good to see your group is carrying on the good fight with the support you deserve.

80 Darby October 29, 2014 at 2:54 am

@john welch

You didn’t think I used that phrase on accident did you?

81 Ron Murphy October 29, 2014 at 8:17 am

Christopher Camp,

I think Michael is correctly dealing with and recording the way the FtB crowd gossip mongering and refusing to back it up. He pointed out their misrepresentation of others, and was rewarded with their gossip about him (gossip they created with their unsupported smears). At least when Michael is the target he has direct and personal perspective from which to respond and is both entitled to do it and appreciated for it.

On a recent Pharyngula post (“We all have an obligation to publicize bad behavior” 27/10/0214) the implied premise of the post is that bad behaviour has been established, and I expected all the forgone conclusion rhetoric that’s customary. But I was at first surprised by how reasonably circumspect they were – until it became obvious that the reason was that the first few commenters actually liked the target, and that alone was stalling their vitriol. Even Sally Strange seems to be merely disappointed.

But before long Tony brings the group back down to earthy gossip: “He brutalized several women and he needs to be punished.”

Sally Strange eventually reverts to type and turns Kopper’s explicit support for the women reluctance to agree to Tony’s ‘verdict’ into something that makes it sound as if Kopper had explicitly accused the women of lying.

From there some of the discussion becomes about the issue of making explicit accusations without the need for a courtroom verdict. It is fine, it seems, to publicly and explicitly express one’s opinion of the guilt of the target, because, well, this isn’t a court of law, it’s only a blog.

And of course FtB blogs are not a news outlet with responsibility to provide a balanced view. So, yes, they are free to create and spread gossip as much as they like.

But the distinction between popular blogs and news sites has become blurred, where popular blogs drive news, and second rate online hacks, that don’t do their homework or are pushing an agenda, get these views into mainline media.

They are using the methods of rhetoric that they themselves find so bad when religion is the agenda being pushed. It’s really bad news for atheism and critical thinking when you get the likes of Latsot playing the same game on the very public Twitter, acting, knowingly or not, as proxy for Myers, who sets the specific agenda.

Their gossip mongering is harmful and Michael’s approach to it seems necessary to me.

82 piero October 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Stephanie Zvan ‏@szvan Oct 23
@UnknownEric @latsot I’ve already heard from Irish atheists distancing themselves. Tired of it being all about him.

For the record, last Saturday, the Atheist Ireland AGM re-elected the outgoing officers unopposed. We are looking forward to another busy year of working together to promote atheism, reason and ethical secularism.

Nuff said.

83 tina October 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Zvans latest comment list:

Vicki on What Aneris Means
Hj Hornbeck on Honesty Matters, Aneris
Tom Foss on Honesty Matters, Aneris
Marcus Ranum on What Aneris Means
Wowbagger, Heaper of Scorn on What Aneris Means
Tom Foss on What Aneris Means
We are Plethora on What Aneris Means
We are Plethora on Honesty Matters, Aneris
Blake Stacey on What Aneris Means
Stephanie Zvan on What Aneris Means
We are Plethora on What Aneris Means
Hunt on What Aneris Means
Ophelia Benson on What Aneris Means
Tom Foss on What Aneris Means
oolon on What Aneris Means
Stephanie Zvan on What Aneris Means
leftwingfox on What Aneris Means
Silentbob on What Aneris Means
skasowitz on What Aneris Means
Ariel on What Aneris Means

Blimey…..I guess they just don’t know how to navigate.

Also, what Mad Mike said.

Has PZ apologised yet? If not, why not? No use him posting on Ham or Kovind or whatever and pretending it will go away. Too many eyes on this now.

84 piero October 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm

@Ron Murphy:

It is fine, it seems, to publicly and explicitly express one’s opinion of the guilt of the target, because, well, this isn’t a court of law, it’s only a blog.

Precisely. There are two problems with their cavalier approach to truth:

1. Scepticism is about evidence. Opinions are judgements unsupported by evidence, and should therefore be of no interest to anyone, including the holders, who would do well not only to avoid publicising them, but to remove them from their mindset.

2. Ethics must be concerned with the well-being of self and others. All our actions should be evaluated according to the overriding principle of primum non nocere; unless there’s reason to believe that harming someone is necessary to avoid greater harm to others, then the ethical thing to do is to refrain. Whether you are writing your own blog or an article for a newspaper is irrelevant: ethics cannot depend on imposition by an external authority.

They are apparently unable to behave ethically unless they are forced to.

85 tina October 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm

What Aneris means is that your vicious cult is blown wide open for all the world to see and all your smearing, slander, libel, doxing and all the rest of your operating procedures culled from the Scientology playbook are not going to work.

#whatanerismeans

86 piero October 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Zvan is concerned:

Sure, I should sit back and not object when Nugent allows that kind of toxic dishonesty in his comments.

I wonder why she does not comment here. Perhaps she does not thrive in ethical, rational environments.

87 Jonathan October 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I’m sure we would all be happy for Stephanie Zvan to comment here, or on any other of Michael’s threads, and discuss any concerns that she might have.

88 BlueShiftRhino October 29, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Piero @84 –

Actually, Thou Shalt Not Smear Others On The Internet was going to be #12 and Thou Shalt Not Doxx was going to be #15, but Moses dropped the third tablet on the way back down the hill (and didn’t think that this was important enough to mention to anyone, as he had no clue what the internet and/or doxxing might be).

Really.

No, really.

89 katamari Damassi October 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Michael- I am astounded by your seemingly bottomless well of patience with this sophistic ideologue. After conversing with him for half an hour, Gandhi would hold Latsor’s arms back while the Dalai Lama rained blows on him.

90 Aneris ✻ October 29, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Well done Michael! I dare say, the first Redshirt who isn’t instantly incapacitated, maimed, shot, trampled or who otherwise faced a quick demise. You hold up very well with a lot of patience, understanding and fairness. Well done. :)

Since this comes up sometimes. Why do we evil types have a problem with some hosts at FreeThoughtBlogs, but seemingly not with other people who equally moderate their spaces? The reason is simple, once you leave the narrative (called “Freeze Peach” and is about free speech absolutism). It never was about being allowed to write anything, but fair, transparent rules for everyone as opposed to total leeway for regulars (who take this together with “rude” tone policy to be abusive) and strict control of non-regulars, who can’t really defend, since also making the abusive comments a topic is against the rules (called “tone/concern trolling”). Or “selective moderation” with the clear intention to prevent a side from clarification, replies, rebuts etc. which are otherwise completely fine and violate no rules.

91 katamari Damassi October 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Aneris-are you making fun of Mike’s ubiquitous red polo shirts?

BTW- spellcheck tries to change your name to Aneurysm.

92 Lancelot Gobbo October 29, 2014 at 6:40 pm

KD, I believe Aneris is using redshirt in this sense:
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redshirt_(character)

I can’t imagine why you might think it refers to Michael….

93 piero October 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm

I have a new moniker for Michael: Mick Braveshirt.

94 allison October 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Jonathan wrote:

I’m sure we would all be happy for Stephanie Zvan to comment here, or on any other of Michael’s threads, and discuss any concerns that she might have.

Indeed, but Stephanie doesn’t control the “delete comment” button here, hence – no Stephanie.

One doesn’t see FTBers straying from the confines of their “safe space” very often.

95 john welch October 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Zvan tried playing rough with Ellenbeth Wachs outside of the FTB sandbox once. Didn’t work well for her. Since then, Zvan’s been unwilling to engage with anyone in an environment where she is not in complete control.

So much for what a bad-assed master of rhetorical eviseration she is.

96 tina October 29, 2014 at 8:29 pm

According to one of the horde it’s that we are an “insular cadre of insecure dolts, vapid dupes, and just plain old assholes, that I don’t see how they can communicate with anyone who doesn’t speak their secret code.

Yes, that must be it.

HYWPM JMOSV WCOLH TBXIC YMSXU KWCLN PFFFT 😉

97 sinister October 29, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Secret codes. Hmm… I guess they don’t know about dictionaries after all. That answers all sorts of questions, really.

98 Shatterface October 29, 2014 at 9:00 pm

According to one of the horde it’s that we are an “insular cadre of insecure dolts, vapid dupes, and just plain old assholes, that I don’t see how they can communicate with anyone who doesn’t speak their secret code.

No sense of self-awareness at all.

They’re so dumb they’d probably shrivel and die if somebody forgot to water them.

99 tina October 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Blasphemer! The Angel Marconi came down and dictated the code to me and I wrote it down on a one time pad made of silky golden thread. Honest! Ask any pitter. ..-. / ..-. / …

100 sinister October 29, 2014 at 9:18 pm

@Tina
Didn’t those rotten Dictionary Atheists steal the thread from you?!

101 john welch October 30, 2014 at 12:15 am

I STOLE THE THREAD FROM THE DAKINI WHILE SHE WAS HAVING A PEE!

102 tina October 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

Welch…in room 101. Might have guessed.

103 katamari Damassi October 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm

L Gobbo- I was joking. I goot the Star Trek reference. I was referring to Michael’s penchant for red polo shirts. He appears to wear one in a lot of his photos.

104 Jeff_V October 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Enough with your anti-polo privilege!

Here, take this apparently now-disavowed porcupine. You know what to do.

105 Oliver October 30, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Shatterface, that Nick Cohen article is excellent. Nick Cohen has made a habit out of skewering the illiberal, authoritarian & Islamist supporting left but as applied to the SJW attempted take overs of the skeptic & gamer communities, it misses one vital point.

Nick is arguing that it is unacceptable for genuinely nasty people to be bullied and silenced but we are dealing with something far more insidious.

SJWs are using the same bullying and silencing tactics the traditional far left use against fascists accept SJWs are slandering good people in order to silence all and any dissent.

One can be a female socialist with brown skin and an attraction to ones own gender but if you argue for due process in rape cases or declare skepticism regarding the existence of a white supremacy or something a patriarchy you will be slandered.

After that they then employ the same bullying and silencing tactics as the traditional far left.

Bullying and silencing are highly problematic tactics but I can see that in certain extreme circumstances (the rise of the Nazis in Germany for instance) they could be necessary.

The slandering of good people in the name of ideological purity and controlling the narrative?

This is totally unacceptable in any and all circumstances.

SJWs are currently the worst examples of humanity I can think of in the Western political landscape.

106 Feanor November 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Great post. We’ve needed someone with superhuman patience and forbearance to do this for a long, long time. Most people understandably lose their rag and surrender the moral highground by saying something stupid, or just walk away.

For too long this has been a false dichotomy between SJWs and “slyme-pitters”. Disagree with one on anything and they pigeon-hole you into the other.

I think what needs wider acknowledgement, though, is how poisonous and self-destructive this whole stupid business has become. I strongly suspect many, many capable people have been turned away from the atheist movement because of all this. I think the time has come for those of us who disagree with both camps to put this argument behind us.

We need to be able to have rational, calm discussions without demonising good people. Those who can’t do this should be sidelined, ignored and not invited to any atheist/secular events regardless of what side of the argument they’re on.

107 Matt Cavanaugh November 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Feanor wrote: “For too long this has been a false dichotomy between SJWs and “slyme-pitters”. Disagree with one on anything and they pigeon-hole you into the other.”
Hi, Feanor. That’s an unfair characterization of the consensus sentiment among Slymepit members. We are fully aware, and accept, that a vast body of ‘neutral’ or middle ground people exist. If you end up rejecting both slymepitters and FTB/skepchicks, that’s fine by us, as our only objective is the latter.

There are some Pitizens frustrated by a perceived tardiness in the ‘neutrals’ recognition of the odious nature of Myers, Benson, et al. I, for one, don’t share that frustration, and am just glad everyone has come to that realization by whatever path.

Your characterization is fair for FTB/Skepchicks. They use “evil slymepitter” in the same way a cult does, as a rubric for any & all non-believers. Any ‘neutral’ who fails to toe their line, Like Michael, is tossed into the heap & demonized. At FTB, they are already speculating on what “skeletons” he has in his closet.

In comparison, at the Pit you will find uniform praise for Michael for his present efforts and for his long-standing activism, despite his previous criticism of Pit tactics.

” I think the time has come for those of us who disagree with both camps to put this argument behind us.”
Feanor, what specifically do you disagree with regarding the Slymepit camp? Is it our choice of tactics, or our wish that Atheism be about atheism, Secularism about secularism, Skepticism about skepticism?

No one speaks for the Pit, but I’d venture most of us would tolerate those who argue for A/S to include SJ activism, and would welcome an healthy debate on the question. (To test this hypothesis, merely raise an opposing opinion at The Slymepit, then at Pharyngula, and observe the respective reactions.)
What we will not tolerate is the Atheism Plus ‘with us or against us’ diktat.

“We need to be able to have rational, calm discussions without demonising good people. Those who can’t do this should be sidelined, ignored and not invited to any atheist/secular events regardless of what side of the argument they’re on.”
AFAIK, no Pitizens aspire to be speakers at A/S events, though you all might well consider us. Why invite a blogger with a bachelor’s in communications to talk about science, when you could have a PhD engaged in cutting-edge HIV research? Why rely on a teacher of undergrad intro biology, who ascribes to neo-larmarckism, to counter IDers & creationists, when you could have actual geneticists working on research?

In any case, we would be quite content to see the invites to FTB/Skepchicks dry up, and an end to their corrosive damage to A/S activism & public image.

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