On satire, sea lions, civility and smears – please support the primacy of reasonable dialogue

by Michael Nugent on November 6, 2014

There is a strange online meme called ‘tone-trolling’, whereby some people who are rude and abusive to you will complain if you ask them to be polite. Now there is a new turbo-charged version called ‘sea-lioning’, whereby they will also complain that you are being persistently polite yourself.

It is as if some people want to reverse the evolution of civilisation, to make being rude and abusive something to be proud of, and being polite and civil something to be ashamed of. Also, they want to remain unaccountable for their unethical smearing of other people.

This new meme has recently been popularised by a cartoon by David Malki ! titled The Terrible Sea Lion. It is part of his very funny cartoon series called Wondermark, that I would recommend to anyone with a quirky sense of humour and a respect for 19th century woodcuts and engravings.

As far as I can make out, the meme is meant to convey that politely persisting in asking questions might be considered to be harassment. Which indeed it might be, if the topic is trivial, or was introduced by the person asking the questions. But, as with everything, context matters.

Malki !’s Terrible Sea Lion

Satire can delightfully undermine claims that are silly or unsupported by evidence. But satire depends on a shared set of underlying assumptions, mental shortcuts and stereotypes. Without that shared starting-point, the same joke can reinforce opposing beliefs in different people.

Wondermark Sea Lion

The Terrible Sea Lion is very funny in a ludicrous way, but the moral message depends on your starting point. If you come to the cartoon cold, and if you dislike prejudice and arrogance and cowardice, and if you like civility and reason and accountability, then the sea lion is clearly the goodie, seeming to represent minority groups who are victims of prejudice by the baddies in the car.

The Terrible Sea Lion overhears a prejudiced comment about its group, and asks the person to justify their prejudice. In the terminology of PZ Myers and friends, the Sea Lion is ‘calling out’ a prejudiced couple, who respond by ‘doubling down’ and trying to ignore the consequences of publicly expressing their prejudice.

The Terrible Sea Lion may be criticised for being excessively persistent, by following the prejudiced couple into their house, so maybe that is where its terribleness comes in. Maybe the Sea Lion should just accept that some people are unreformably prejudiced, and allow them to remain so, as long as they restrict their prejudice to the privacy of their homes.

Malki !’s Old Dog, Oldest Trick

Malki ! also published another recent cartoon that shows how, without shared assumptions, the same joke can reinforce opposing beliefs in different people.

Wondermark Old Dog

In Old Dog, Oldest trick, a man complains that he cannot talk as he normally would, using invective and slurs, without the objects of his invective and slurs feeling belittled and dehumanised. He complains that he is tacitly discouraged from stomping about disregarding the humanity of others. What is the world coming to, he asks?

I can imagine PZ Myers and some of his commenters identifying themselves as the targets of this hypothetical archetype’s invective and slurs. And in some cases, that is true. Some of them have been subject to many unjust personal smears, and I have defended them against those smears.

But some of them seem not to recognise that they are on both sides of this cartoon. Some of them also spread invective and slurs, and belittle and dehumanise others, as they metaphorically stomp about through the posts and comment sections of certain blogs.

PZ has accused separate named people of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, of being a lying fuckhead, and of defending and providing a haven for rapists. He has said that a shopkeeper who apologised for an offensive sign should be fucked to the ground. He has described Robin Williams’ suicide as the death of a wealthy white man dragging us away from news about brown people.

His commenters may have moved on from telling people to put a three week old decaying porcupine dipped in tar and broken glass up their arse sideways. But some of them still label named people, with no justification for the substance never mind the language, as a racist misogynist piece of shit, or a horrible slimy little man oozing misogyny from every pore.

Mick The Sea Lion

Yesterday’s new anonymously-authored Mick The Sea Lion twitter account parodies me for being politely persistent, despite slightly undermining itself by using all-caps shouting. That’s funny if you think being politely persistent is a wrong response to being smeared as a defender of rapists, and strange if you think the opposite. That is, if it isn’t a Poe.

It misses even the most benign interpretation of the Malki ! cartoon. Imagine if Malki !’s cartoon began with the couple alleging that a named individual was defending rapists, and the target of that smear was then asking them to substantiate or withdraw that smear, and they persistently refuse to do either. In that case, a very different dynamic ensues.

It is interesting that Ophelia Benson likes this account. She has favourited one of its tweets, despite it using an epithet and a photoshopped image, both of which behaviours she has previously complained about when directed at herself.

Ophelia Sea Lion

Ophelia’s recent joint statement with Richard Dawkins said that “It should go without saying” that there should be “no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.”

Ophelia later clarified in a comment on PZ’s blog that:

“I chose “vulgar” in order to avoid more contested or loaded adjectives. Of course I don’t consider “fuckwit” to be vulgar. But seriously, the word is “epithets” – that’s the important part.”

Well, “Mick the Sea Lion” is an epithet, and photoshopping my head onto the body of a sea lion is demeaning. Personally, I don’t mind either, but by Ophelia’s own standards it seems strange that she would favourite it.

Summary

For absolute clarity, the cartoonist David Malki ! does not engage in any of the vulgar and abusive behaviour I have described in this post. He produces a very funny and thought-provoking cartoon series, as well as various other creative artistic ventures.

But those who do use the memes of ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘sea-lioning’ as ways to try to reverse the evolution of civilisation, should be aware that they will face polite and persistent resistance from those of us who want to build an ethical world based on empathy, compassion, cooperation, reciprocity, fairness and justice.

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{ 387 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peter Ferguson November 6, 2014 at 1:36 am

Michael, you don’t understand, it’s ok when they do it because [insert mental gymnastics, hypocrisy, and fallacies here].

I am beginning to think “It’s ok when we do it” is their unofficial motto.

2 john welch November 6, 2014 at 1:52 am

Or “Fair Game”. Both work equally well.

3 Guestus Aurelius November 6, 2014 at 1:53 am

Your otarine privilege—it’s showing.

4 Outwest November 6, 2014 at 2:10 am

Not surprising. As Peter said, “It’s okay when we do it”. This hypocrisy from The Usual Suspects (as I refer to them) has been ongoing for literally years.

They alway double down on their dumb. I have never seen a correction much less an apology for anything written or spoken that might be demeaning to another.

5 Mel November 6, 2014 at 2:26 am

There was no way OB could live up to her (implied) commitment to the Dawkins/Benson statement; it’s just not who she is. I’m only surprised it took her so long to slip up.

6 Crackity Jones November 6, 2014 at 2:28 am

OK.

What betting odds can we get on which blogger/commentator set up the parody account? I know who my money is on – the same person who created/supported the Tumblr account that maliciously targeted Sara Mayhew. The same person who, ironically, is very eager to shut down Twitter accounts she doesn’t like!

BTW, I remember how upset Ophelia would get with parody accounts. An amazing turn around in her attitude with regards to the Sealion account.

7 Lady Mondegreen November 6, 2014 at 2:39 am

Oh dear. Mick, to nobody’s surprise, you’ve misunderstood the “Old Dog” comic. It isn’t about bloggers and their commenters being mean to you. It isn’t about “civility,” it’s about the privileged, whining because they can’t dump on those “beneath” them with impunity any more.

You’ve taken a comic about (gasp!) an obviously rich, old white man crying “PC Police!” and turned it into YET ANOTHER story about you, and your beef with PZ Myers.

Your myopia is getting to be downright alarming.

8 Michael Nugent November 6, 2014 at 2:51 am

Lady Mondegreen, you have just demonstrated the point that I was making about the cartoon, which is that, without shared assumptions, the same joke can reinforce opposing beliefs in different people.

Malki !’s cartoons are not literal illustrations of the messages that one can take from them. If they were, the sea lion cartoon would have very limited application to anyone who has not talked to a sea lion.

9 Aneris ✻ November 6, 2014 at 2:52 am

Michael, you will agree that It’s Okay When They Do It as the saying goes (coined by Strawkins I believe).

Now that you are over the shock of being a target of these people, you may begin to appreciate the endless “natural comedy gold” they provide for free. They demand one thing with most zeal and zero tolerance, histrionically advertise how most important this all is, then do the exact opposite as soon as convenient. Then they invoke flimsy meme-like reasons (“meta arguments”) that somehow allows for it (despite that in step one there is usually total cocksure absolutism). The reason this is documented is not for “gotcha” reasons — what would be the problem with demanding consistency anyway — It’s because its often times just a lot of fun.

Now two links:

The social justice warrior Sea Lion version, simply with replaced text and works even better. Indeed, that’s how SJWs typically come across and they are usually the entryists not the other way around.

_pbs.twimg.com/media/ByFMfmMIMAIhEgZ.jpg
(h/t Tizgy)

And a new must see by Potholer titled “How to Argue with Assholes”. Be sure you make a list of the tactics used by PZ Myers and flock in “RapistHavenGate” and checkmark as you watch the video. It’s actually about pseudo-science & woo peddlers and creationists, but that’s apparently the league PZ Myers et al find themselves in these days.

_youtube.com/watch?v=YezbREhH_Eg

10 Vanillite November 6, 2014 at 3:08 am

Lady Mondegreen, I think it is you who has missed the point. You’re almost certainly correct about the original intent of the comic. But PZ and his supporters believe that being on the right side of ethical issues, or being part of an oppressed class, gives them unlimited license to be petulant, obnoxious, and to make libelous claims. Furthermore, they behave this way not only toward their ideological opponents, but also toward those generally agree with them but have the audacity to differ on certain specific points. They fail to see the similarities between the behavior they decry and their own conduct, and when it’s pointed out to them, they don’t care because they believe they’re just channeling the righteous anger of the oppressed.

But guess what? Outside of Internet social justice, if you’re a jerk, nobody cares that it’s because you’re oppressed. You’re just a jerk, plain and simple.

11 A Bear November 6, 2014 at 4:18 am

It isn’t about “civility,” it’s about the privileged, whining because they can’t dump on those “beneath” them with impunity any more.
Bravo:-) You put those running dog lackies of the capitalist-imperialist pigs on notice. Two legs bad. Four legs good!

12 noelplum99 November 6, 2014 at 4:31 am

I see a number of people claim that they are playing the “It is alright when we do it” game but you have to understand there is a fundamental difference. Whereas you are acting like this Terrible Sea Lion and becoming a frightful bore by not allowing them their right to insult you as they see fit, when they persue people in apparently similar ways what they are actually doing is “holding their feet to the fire”.
Recall that each one of them wields the ‘sword of righteous justice’ (the unique blade that exists in a thousand different versions) and this justifies whatever they do in its name.

As for Ophelia Benson, she is the Morrissey of the online atheist world – never happier than when she has something to be miserable about.

13 ConcentratedH2O, OM November 6, 2014 at 4:36 am

If people were vinyl records:

O Benson is a Duran Duran disc: simply irrelevant these days, though one might revisit it occasionally for a reminder of past glories. The fact that not even her ludicrous “piece of paper” agreement with Dawkins has kept the interest of her online abusers is an indicator of her irrelevance.

Justin Thibeault is weird, experimental French jazz. You see his album cover in a secondhand store and think, “Hey, this cat looks interesting. I’m gonna check out his vibes.”. You get him home, put him on the turntable, and…Nothing. You keep lifting the needle arm and moving it forward a bit, trying to find something to catch your attention. Nothing. Literally, nothing: it’s a disc with no groves.

PZ Meyers: You bought this disc in the Summer of… It sounded really good back then; just the thing you were looking for as you searched “online” for similarly-minded freaks and groovekids. You listened to it endlessly, each new play revealing nuance and subtlety you hadn’t heard before. You’d lift the needle-arm and carelessly toss it around the disc; you didn’t care where it landed, everything was good to listen to. Then, in the Summer of… you started to notice the needle skipping, the arm jumping and sliding. You ignored it for a while, but it just got worse. It became a chore to listen, and then a pain. Nowadays, you don’t even bother trying to make sense of incomprehensible sounds which flop from the speakers.

14 Jack Rawlinson November 6, 2014 at 5:43 am

Just more completely shameless hypocrisy from that nest of vipers. Business as usual. The hope is that it’s getting wider exposure now. I do think your persistence in highlighting their behaviour is worthwhile.

If Myers ever gets another gig at any event run by a reasonably well-known atheist or skeptic group I’d be interested to attend, just to see what sort of reaction he’d now get. I suspect it might be rather more lukewarm than a few years ago, to say the least. A hell of a lot more people get it, now, and what you’re doing is helping that.

15 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

@ Michael Nugent

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny:

I know I’m only on chapter two, but wow are all these characters self-absorbed twats.

Because refering to someone as a vagina is funny somehow?

Classy as ever.

16 Jan Steen November 6, 2014 at 7:24 am

Like the members of any other cult or religion, the SJWs are absolutely certain they are right and everybody else is wrong. Instead of relying on arguments and evidence, like reasonable people do, these SJWs rely on simple stock phrases that can be trotted out at every opportunity (“check your XYZ privilege”, “you’re a rape apologist”, “shut up and listen”, “intent is not magic”, etc.). No thinking required.

The sea lion meme is just the latest addition to their arsenal. Fortunately, these things tend to backfire. Those who employ these tactics immediately label themselves as insufferable, self-righteous cultists who are best ignored or made fun of. Much like Hare Krishna types, really.

17 Jan Steen November 6, 2014 at 7:30 am

Yeah, Michael. Didn’t you notice that Wondermark doesn’t pass the purity test? There’s a bad word in one of his cartoons, so he can and should be written off as an enemy of the people.

When the righteous ones, such as Theophontes, finally take over the world, the Wondermarks and their allies will be rounded up and transported to a re-education camp. That’ll teach them.

18 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 7:51 am

Complaining about gender swears is so 2013.

Wikipedia section on “twat” includes:

“For the purposes of film certification, usage of the word is not considered as serious as many other swear words. For example, the film Kes has been certified PG in the United Kingdom, meaning: “All ages admitted, but certain scenes may be unsuitable for young children. Should not disturb children aged 8 years or over”, despite more than one instance of the word. It also is not on the list of the Seven dirty words made famous by George Carlin in his 1972 monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”

“Should not disturb children aged 8 years or over”

Says a lot, doesn’t it?

19 Steersman November 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

Theophontes (#15):

Because referring to someone as a vagina is funny somehow?

Classy as ever.

But y’all must have thought that PZ’s frequent use of “asshole” was a real thigh-slapper (1). And that’s apart from all of the choice epithets & insults used by his commentariat (2). Classy, indeed.

1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/06/never-forget/”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/#comment-196730”;

20 piero November 6, 2014 at 8:14 am

Michael, can you please take this to be less about you, for a change? It should be obvious to anyone that the target is Marmaduke the sea lion. Marmaduke is notorious for politely providing a haven for all sorts of rapists, harassers and misogynists.

21 James November 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

Ophelia Benson Hypocrite extraordinaire!

22 Pogsurf November 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

In the right place I swear like a trooper. At the time I think I am revealing some honest wisdom about my sparring partner. On reflection I realise I have let slip more and more of my own prejudices. I feel ashamed, and then I feel happy because I have come to know myself a bit better.

Benson should have a good gendered insult rant sometime, in her own safe space where such such things are tolerated, the process is actually quite cathartic. Much better than lecturing others on what their morals should be.

23 MadMike November 6, 2014 at 8:35 am

I actually have talked to a sea lion; it did no good. I begged him not to steal the salmon I had on the end of my line, but he stole it anyway. One of the hazards of Puget Sound.

Lady, Theo- I wish you could hear how you sound to most people. Your arguments are weak, and rely on your echo chamber for agreement. To be honest, you don’t always sound entirely sane. I wish there were a kinder way to say it. You need to consider that yours is a fringe view, and it is in the fringe for a reason.

This isn’t meant as an attack, but an honest appraisal.

24 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 8:39 am

Swearwords are an integral part of everyday French discussions. There are a few swearwords that are frowned upon and that I would never use myself, though they really are a minority. Interestingly, those few are mainly based on racism and sexism, things I’m not comfortable with.

But the way quite innocent swears are treated by some of the SJW population just makes me want to shake my head in confusion. BTW, that’s the original discussion that got me banned from Pharyngula: cultural differences in the use of swearwords.

Any road, no one but myself and the blog owner (Michael, here) can police what I’m saying and how I want to. Some third-party commenter is NOT the person I will listen to. My not using slurs or swearwords here is my decision, not theirs, and I think it’s about time the Phloque starts to get that notion into their heads.

25 Steersman November 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

Lady Mondegreen (#7):

It isn’t about “civility,” it’s about the privileged, whining because they can’t dump on those “beneath” them with impunity any more.

Seems like a reasonable synopsis of the “theme” behind the “Old Dog” comic. But if humour has any value it seems to reside, frequently in any case, in being an illuminating paradigm – a model or template – for various questionable forms of behaviour. In which case, I don’t see that Michael has done anything else than to extend, quite reasonably & credibly, that paradigm to the case of bloggers & their commentariats.

In any case, since we find ourselves in the same neck of the woods, I thought I might take the opportunity to mention that I had responded to one of your recent comments on Stephanie Zvan’s blog but which she declined (1) to let out of moderation. But, to impose a bit on Michael’s hospitality, and as it is somewhat relevant, here it is in its full glory, such as it is:

LadyMondegreen (#21):

My prediction: nobody from the ‘pit will respond to this post.

Probably a safe if rather disingenuous if not hypocritical bet as you should know that Stephanie and many (though not all) FTBloggers ban – “with extreme prejudice” – most if not all Pitters. Bunch of gutless wonders.

You might ask yourself what that says about Stephanie and FTBs in general. And you might ask yourself what it means that she also declined to publish another comment of mine – helpfully available on the Pit here (2) – that gave a somewhat more balanced view on the “haven” issue which you and Ariel may wish to peruse.

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2014/10/31/the-ogvorbis-boondoggle/#comment-2457927”;
2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=233454#p233454”;

26 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 9:06 am

The first time I saw the cartoon I thought it was the Victorian couple being parodied. After all, it is they who bring up the Sealion and the Sealion does nothing but try to explain himself

I likened them to Begbie from Trainspotting in a previous post. Everyone recognises the situation: you’ve accidentally nudged someone’s elbow in a pub, or laughed too loud, or you are wearing the wrong football scarf, or you’ve somehow made eye contact.

You can apologise, or face them down, or just turn your back and ignore them, but they’re still coming after you whatever you do. The night is ending with broken glass and sirens.

The Sealion trope is to cover all bases: politeness is a form of ‘aggression’ so your ‘victim’ is entitled to retaliate – though not necessarily in the same calm and reasoned manner.

27 piero November 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

@theophontes:

Because refering to someone as a vagina is funny somehow?

You may not know this (in fact, I’m quite sure you don’t), but some people don’t speak English. Yes, it’s true!

There is, for example, a language called Italian where the equivalent of “twat” (fica) is used as an adjective to describe: a. a particularly attractive woman; b. something of great value or interest; c. a smart or clever or skilled person. The word can be used in either the feminine or the masculine (fico) with no change in meaning; thus, you could refer to a man, a film or an apartment as fico, and to a woman, a song or a house as fica. The noun ficata means “a thing of beauty; a bright idea; a witty remark.”

In another language, called Spanish, the equivalent of “twat” (coño) is never an adjective. It is either vulgar for “vagina” or an unspecific interjection akin to “fuck!” or “shit!”

You might also be interested to know that in both Italian and Spanish, the abusive meaning of “twat” is most commonly rendered by reference to the male member. Thus, in Italian we have testa di cazz0 (“dickhead”) and in some Spanish dialects carepicha (“prick face”). Also of note is the Italian use of coglione (“testicle, ball”) to refer to a fucking idiot, and minchione (“having a large dick”) to refer to a dolt.

You’ll agree that Italy, Spain and South America are not precisely feminist paradises; hence, unless you choose to make an extremely convoluted sociolinguistic argument, you should simply conclude that the meaning attached to vulgar terms for genitalia are pretty much random.

28 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 9:14 am

theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny:

I know I’m only on chapter two, but wow are all these characters self-absorbed twats.

Because refering to someone as a vagina is funny somehow?

Classy as ever.

Michael links to a site with a cartoon containing a swear word – and you link directly to that specific cartoon.

You are an idiot. Someone must remind you to eat.

29 GerardO November 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

The prime suspect in the creation of ‘MicktheSeaLion’ has to be Oolon; he’s been waffling on about sea lions on Twitter recently (before the creation of this account), and is an undisputed master of passive-aggressive internet drama.

I’m not linking, but one one commenter at Pharyngula wants Peter Boghossian and Colin McGinn locked in a house and that house set on fire.

FreeThoughtBlogs: Reason, Discussion, Opinion (from a liberal science professor)

30 Steven Carr November 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

‘He has said that a shopkeeper who apologised for an offensive sign should be fucked to the ground.’

Here is the shopkeeper’s apology.

‘The sign was posted for about 10 minutes or so before I calmed down, came to my senses, and took it down. For what it’s worth, nobody was turned away. I strongly believe that everybody is entitled to their beliefs. I’m not apologizing for my beliefs, but rather for my inexcusable actions. I was wrong.’

See what happens when you apologise? Myers simply steps up the hate he has for you. And he has a lot of hate to dish out (particularly against people who get the speaking gigs he should get.)

For Myers, the only apology he will accept is one written as part of a suicide note.

31 Ariel November 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

Ophelia’s recent joint statement with Richard Dawkins said that “It should go without saying” that there should be “no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.”

Obviously I can’t comment for Ophelia; what follows is just my own take on this.

I don’t have any objective standard to propose for the image being “demeaning”. The line is blurry, with some clear examples on both sides of the border but also with a considerable zone of fuzziness.

In some cases I would find even a single image beyond the pale. In other situations it’s not about a single image – it is the pattern which – by my standards – makes it unacceptable. Reading the rest, please keep in mind that from now on I concentrate exclusively on examples belonging to the fuzzy zone.

Here we go: if someone published a photoshopped image of Ariel as a quacking duck, Ariel’s first reaction would be a lot of amusement. (Yes, you can feel entitled to treat it as a promise!) The second, the third, and the fourth image would probably provoke similar amusement, perhaps together with a thought like “Wow! So now I’m a movie star!” Hmm … but how about 50 images? How about hundreds of them, published on a regular basis? How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year?

I’m sorry but I’m not able to tell you how I would react. I’ve never found myself in such a situation (and hopefully I never will). However, this is exactly what happened to some people.

Please, at least try to think of it before shouting “hypocrisy!” again.

By the way, how about: a pitter examined by a doctor, shouting “HYPOCRISY!” each time when tapped on the knee with a reflex hammer? Shy pit lovers, detecting HYPOCRISY under each other’s clothes? The pit police in the kindergarden, searching for HYPOCRISY among the toys? Why, oh why, have I never learned to use the photoshop, so that I could present hundreds of images, with real people, real faces? There are so many ideas, with the target being *so easy*!

It’s also very easy to cross the line.

32 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

For Myers, the only apology he will accept is one written as part of a suicide note.

Nah, commit suicide and you are a rich white dude distracting from whatever issue Myers wants to talk about that day.

33 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

Ariel: I’ve been photoshopped quite a few times at the Pit, especially during my trampoline-induced disability. I laughed every time.

What those arguing against satire and photoshops seem to lack is a basic sense of humour. And this, as far as I’m concerned, is not reflecting well on their personalities. I don’t like people who take themselves too seriously.

34 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 10:53 am

Here we go: if someone published a photoshopped image of Ariel as a quacking duck, Ariel’s first reaction would be a lot of amusement. (Yes, you can feel entitled to treat it as a promise!) The second, the third, and the fourth image would probably provoke similar amusement, perhaps together with a thought like “Wow! So now I’m a movie star!” Hmm … but how about 50 images? How about hundreds of them, published on a regular basis? How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year?

I know you have problems with the thinky stuff but at least make an attempt to hide your stupidity.

The issue is the Sealion meme – not the photoshopping. The photoshopping is mentioned only in passing since it is something Benson objects to elsewhere. That is hypocrisy, but is not the point of the OP.

The point of the OP is the sea lion meme – that someone’s politeness and civility have themselves become a reason the attack their character. I mean, how the hell is someone to respond? Even in principle?

35 Ariel November 6, 2014 at 11:21 am

Shatterface #34

I know you have problems with the thinky stuff but at least make an attempt to hide your stupidity.

Ah, Shatterface, what would I do without intellectual giants like you!

The issue is the Sealion meme – not the photoshopping. The photoshopping is mentioned only in passing since it is something Benson objects to elsewhere.

O the brightest of the Brights, please believe me that I wrote my comment only in passing, reacting to something which was mentioned in passing … and to some other comments which (evidently!) were also made just in passing.

Show some pity and compassion, pray you: you see, all of us are merely in passing in this vale of tears, with geniuses like you being the only splendid exception. Have mercy, please!!!

[scurries away, very ashamed]

36 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny:

Wowza! Brilliant Kafkatrap Theo. 10 out of 10.

37 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 11:29 am

For Myers, the only apology he will accept is one written as part of a suicide note.

Maybe … provided that the death didn’t detract from more important news stories.

38 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

Michael, when you say:

It is as if some people want to reverse the evolution of civilisation, to make being rude and abusive something to be proud of, and being polite and civil something to be ashamed of. Also, they want to remain unaccountable for their unethical smearing of other people.

… I’d suggest the more likely explanation is something like the Drama Triangle of Transactional Analysis.

A brief summery:

Person 1 is being rude – because they are looking for drama.

Person 2 is being polite – because they are looking to resolve drama.

Person 1 begins to realise that they are looking like an unsympathetic persecutor, and to “win” they try to reposition themselves as a victim.

The most obvious way to do this is to cause person 2 to lose their temper and become a persecutor.

By remaining clam you frustrate this effort – so the next tactic is to try and make it look like civility is a form of persecution in and of itself.

39 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am

I think Theophontes’ comment here is the perfect embodiment of why “Dear Muslima” was a much needed observation.

Somebody used “twats” on a comic featured on a website Michael linked to: EVIL!!!

Myers calls Michael’s commenters “harassers, misogynists and rapists”*: ALL IS FINE!!!

I’d rather be called a twat a hundred thousand times than being called a rapist even once. But you people don’t seem to know the meaning of “nuances”.

*Don’t try and go in all that convoluted nonsense to try and explain what Myers really meant. If he did mean what you sniveling sycophants (to use the most polite term of what you appear to be) are trying to make it look like, Myers would have apologized and clarified.

40 MosesZD November 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

As a former regular Butterflies and Wheels poster, 2008 through 2010 (shortly after Eric MacDonald started “Choice in Dying”) I’ll take a crack at this, Ariel:

[i] Hmm … but how about 50 images? How about hundreds of them, published on a regular basis? How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year? [/i]

Do you mean like the years of abuse she’s heaped on Dawkins and other prominent male atheists? The routine obsessions over someone like Jacklyn Glenn where she drops 15 posts in a just a few days, attacking her in every possible way from physical to intellectual? Or when Sommers comments on GamerGate, we get another dozen ranty posts including ripping on the people who sent her flowers when her husband died?

I could go on. The record is both broad and deep. But the examples will suffice in the microcosm of what Ophelia has become.

So, back to the point, I taught my daughters something important: If you act the fool, you’ll be treated like the fool. Ophelia, by her actions, has waded into this storm and she’s suffering the natural and logical consequences of her bullying and obsessive behavior.

The problems she has today did not exist when when was not playing ‘personal politics’ and engaging in ‘outrage/attack’ blogging. Rather, when she was, in her own words, ‘fighting fashionable nonsense’ this kind of invective simply passed her by and she was well respected, or at worse ignored, by the community.

Now she purveys fashionable nonsense and has devolved into nothing more than a click-bait, attack blogger.

My question is, how badly does Ophelia need to behave before YOU see what I saw and leave? How much of the routine bullying that Ophelia does (and the consequent blow-back) can you take before the scales fall from your eyes?

In short, when do you hold Ophelia responsible for the MUTUAL COMBAT she started? Because, she really did start it when she jumped into the ‘outrage blogger’ career.

And, of course, regarding the photoshops — she can simply not keep going to the Slymepit, the Internets 796,000ths most popular destination… I mean, really, nobody makes her go there. But she does to keep the fires of her victimization and outrage going.

Which makes the ‘photoshop problem,’ by-and-large, a problem in which she participates willingly.

41 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I think Theophontes’ comment here is the perfect embodiment of why “Dear Muslima” was a much needed observation.

It was a clumsy false equivalence that did nothing other than hand the SJWs a great deal of ammunition.

42 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Ah, Shatterface, what would I do without intellectual giants like you!

Do you have anything to add at all to the discussion of the sea lion meme?

43 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Dave @40: I disagree.

Whether people like it or not, there are degrees of hurt, insult and violence in this world. “Dear Muslima” made a good point of it (one that, ironically, has been used by SJWs themselves, maybe without them even noticing).

All that said, I’m not really sure anyone cares what SJWs use as ammunition anymore.

44 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny

Did you know, theophontes, that the exact same comic is liked and linked to by:

-feminists who comment on David Futrelle’s blog (and he approved of it)

– feminists who support Anita Sarkeesian on Twitter (and she re-tweeted those links)

-people who comment on FTB?

The “sealion meme” was created by people who support PZ Myers against Michael Nugent, and was inspired by the SAME COMIC that Nugent posted a link to.

David Futrelle, Anita Sarkeesian and PZ Myers posted links to Wondermark, liked the comic, and even used it to create a meme against their ideological adversaries.

But according to your logic since the comic contains the word “twat”, they’re all “classy as ever”.

45 J. J. Ramsey November 6, 2014 at 12:35 pm

theophontes:

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny

Let’s get this straight. The people on the side of PZ, Benson, etc. use the “sea lion” meme on our blog host here. When our host links to the comic that spurred the “sea lion” meme in the first place in order to explain where it came from, someone from the side of PZ, Benson, etc. complains that the artist of said comic wrote another comic with a sexist slur. So it’s okay, theophontes, for your side to use a comic by an artist who uses a sexual slur in a different comic, in order to make a meme to use against your side’s adversaries. However, it’s not okay for the adversaries to point out the comic that your side was using for a meme, because of the same slur that didn’t bother your side when it was looking for meme material.

46 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Let’s get this straight. The people on the side of PZ, Benson, etc. use the “sea lion” meme on our blog host here.

And let’s not forget they’re quite happy to use ‘memes’ against the creator of the word ‘meme’ – ‘cis white rape apologist shitlord’ that he is.

47 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Whether people like it or not, there are degrees of hurt, insult and violence in this world. “Dear Muslima” made a good point of it (one that, ironically, has been used by SJWs themselves, maybe without them even noticing).

No, it didn’t make a good point of it.

Because no one involved in the conversation up to that point was denying that some problems are greater than others.

It’s hardly as if Dawkins dedicates all of his energies to the one sole problem he finds most pressing all of the time – so why should he advise such attitudes for others? I’m sure he thought he was helping, but it was clearly clumsy and misjudged (as he now seems to acknowledge himself).

As it is anyone’s right not to prioritize a given problem, it is extremely patronizing to act as if they need reminding that some problems are bigger than others.

So people who find being propositioned in enclosed spaces anxiety-inducing can talk about that without needing to be reminded that they’d have it worse in places like Saudi Arabia.

All that said, I’m not really sure anyone cares what SJWs use as ammunition anymore.

Anyone interested in either reaching fair settlement with their notions, or pushing back against their influence, would be a blithering cretin not to consider where it is, and how it is, they make their cases and play their games.

And whilst they might be quite annoying, it would stupid not to cede that occasionally they make valid points here and there, and so treating them with comprehensive dismissal is only going to make your own position look like the unreasonable one.

48 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Dave: you are well aware that “Dear Muslima” wasn’t a direct response to Watson’s “guys, don’t do that”? But to the overblown reactions that followed GDDT?

As for SJWs, there is nothing of value to be gained from their rhetorics. And they don’t have a case. In the end, all it boils down to is “me me me”. Any issue they try to infuse themselves in has been extensively covered before by way more qualified, smarter people.

(caveat: we may not have the same definition of SJW)

49 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Dave: you are well aware that “Dear Muslima” wasn’t a direct response to Watson’s “guys, don’t do that”? But to the overblown reactions that followed GDDT?

Yes. I was aware of that.

As for SJWs, there is nothing of value to be gained from their rhetorics. And they don’t have a case. In the end, all it boils down to is “me me me”.

I do don’t do this sort of black and white stuff myself. It seems to me that sometimes some of them have ideas worth thinking about.

(caveat: we may not have the same definition of SJW)

They aren’t a monolith in my eyes.

50 Floris November 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I think the sealion is more supposed to represent people who insistently hound you on various forms of media as opposed to a person in a single discussions. Ergo, the sealion being there in the breakfast room “the next day”,
sure being polite in a discussion is a pre, but some people use it as a badge , implying their code of conduct makes their approach and take on the situation better than the other person’s if they used vulgar language or act cross.

51 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I didn’t say there was nothing to take away from them, but that there’s nothing to take away from their rhetorics. YMMV.

And for now, they seem to be quite a monolith in my eyes, if not by ideas, but by strategies. Again, YMMV.

52 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

And for now, they seem to be quite a monolith in my eyes, if not by ideas, but by strategies. Again, YMMV.

I would strongly suggest that you at least consider the following three categories:

1) Those who are actually sincerely concerned about the issues they discuss.
2) Means-to-an-end types – they want a bit of movement in a given political direction and are willing to overstate their case in the hope that their position is reached in subsequent negotiations.
3) Trolls and/or unthinking partisans.

If a given opponent were to treat all SJWs as, say, 3, they would soon encounter some who were 1, and you’ll get nowhere and even look like an asshole, in my experience.

There’s a need for care there, I would say, because group 1 are sympathetic (even when wrong), and group 3 are annoying (even when right), and misidentifying them could result in a setback in terms of getting anywhere.

As for appraising rhetoric. I think it’s always worth knowing likely future moves.

For example: I wouldn’t use the “other people have approved of the cartoon” move on Theo. Why? Because Theo could counter with suggesting the offending cartoon wasn’t prominent on the website at the time.

A better move might be to ask why Ophelia and Skepchicks are so fond of Nick Cave.

But in the end I’d identify Theo as likely belonging to group 3 – troll – and proceeding with such in mind (something like damn with faint praise, or just ignore).

53 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm

So people who find being propositioned in enclosed spaces anxiety-inducing can talk about that without needing to be reminded that they’d have it worse in places like Saudi Arabia

This is true, but I don’t think this was Dawkins’ intent when he wrote “Dear Muslima” (although he could have phrased what he meant much better).

You have to consider the context in which “Dear Muslima” was written. I wasn’t just about Rebecca Watson finding it anxiety-inducing to be propositioned on an elevator, which was well within her rights to say.

It was about her saying that Atheism/Skeptics had a sexual harassment problem, while rejecting other people’s attempts to ask for her evidence or challenge her claims as “harassment”.

It was also about Watson saying that all people who disagreed with her were “harassing” her, even people who simply wore a T-shirt saying that they felt safe at Atheist/Skeptics conferences.

It was also about PZ Myers condemning anyone who disagreed with Rebecca Watson (even other less radical feminists) as “assholes”, “trolls” and “harassers”.

There WAS unneeded, hateful and harmful harassment aimed at Watson. There ARE some trolls on the Internet who like to write death or rape threats. (I once received some incoherent death threats myself for posting some admittedly harsh criticism of Twilight on a book review site.)

But this didn’t mean, and still doesn’t mean, that all criticism of Watson, even harsh criticism, is “harassment”.

“Dear Muslima” was written as a misjudged attempt to put Watson’s problem in perspective.

While it is absolutely within your rights to complain about what makes you uncomfortable, it is not within your rights to expect that everyone else finds it an important subject.

And considering the amount of discussion it sparkled, Watson’s incident in the elevator does look petty and almost comical.

54 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm

For example: I wouldn’t use the “other people have approved of the cartoon” move on Theo. Why? Because Theo could counter with suggesting the offending cartoon wasn’t prominent on the website at the time.

This would be a very weak move on Theo’s part. SJWs didn’t just approve of the cartoon, they used it to create a meme that has become part of the rhetorical arsenal.

If Theo wants to complain about the offending cartoon here he should point it out to people on his side of the argument first.

55 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I do don’t do this sort of black and white stuff myself. It seems to me that sometimes some of them have ideas worth thinking about.

It’s not about ‘ideas’, it’s about the utter corruption of debate through baseless accusations, witch-hunting, kafkatrapping, special pleading, epistemic relativism, ‘other ways of knowing’, redefinition of everyday words, hashtag activism, infantilising ‘safe areas’ (online and on campus) and ‘shut up and listen!’

The fact this is done in the pretext of ‘social justice’ shouldn’t blind us to the harm this outgassing of irrationality is causing to the intellectual climate.

56 jimthepleb November 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

So the FtB crowd seem to come to Michael’s blog to post a ‘ner ner nee ner ner’ comment and then run off when they are questioned about it. Blech par for the course I guess.

57 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I would strongly suggest that you at least consider the following three categories:

1) Those who are actually sincerely concerned about the issues they discuss.
2) Means-to-an-end types – they want a bit of movement in a given political direction and are willing to overstate their case in the hope that their position is reached in subsequent negotiations.
3) Trolls and/or unthinking partisans.

The problems with SJWs aren’t necessarily the issues they discuss, some of which are indeed worth discussing.

It’s all of matter of means. SJWs reject any criticism, no matter how civil or well reasoned, on the grounds of it being “harassment” or”hate speech”.

SJWs, even the ones who are merely genuinely concerned with issues they discuss, think it’s within their right to say things like “you’re either with us or against us” with a straight face. They also demonize their opponents (libertarians, conservatives and anyone who isn’t liberal enough for their liking) as “evil” “sociopaths” “lacking empathy” “questioning other people’s humanity” and the like.

They think it’s within their rights to be as verbally abusive and impolite as they can, while others have to carefully police their language lest they are labeled “abusers” “harassers” or “bigots”.

They think that if you use a swear word named after by a female body part you are “hurting all women” but that if they’re pretty liberal about using swear words named after male body parts, because “menz’ feelz” aren’t important.

They think that rape accusations are always to be believed without question, unless the accused were their own leaders.

They engage in many different kinds of double standards and defend authoritarian practices and smears on the grounds of “social justice”.

Even if they naively believe that what they’re doing is simply being concerned about real problems, they need to be told that what they’re doing is wrong, harmful to their causes and unproductive, and they need to stop.

58 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

If Theo wants to complain about the offending cartoon here he should point it out to people on his side of the argument first.

As far as I see it the offending cartoon (which I don’t see it as offensive myself, by the way, I’m just adopting Theo’s apparent position) is the one on the front page in which one of the characters uses “twats” as an epithet.

Whereas the cartoon that spawned the meme, the sea lion cartoon, is a different cartoon.

59 Blueshift Rhino November 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Dave Allen @38 wrote: “By remaining clam you frustrate this effort….”

There’s no way that that was merely a typo. Not with theophantes around. MN is both owed an apology for this slur and owes the rest of us an apology for allowing it to remain on his blog for more than three seconds.

60 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

It’s not about ‘ideas’, it’s about the utter corruption of debate through baseless accusations, witch-hunting, kafkatrapping, special pleading, epistemic relativism, ‘other ways of knowing’, redefinition of everyday words, hashtag activism, infantilising ‘safe areas’ (online and on campus) and ‘shut up and listen!’

I suppose if you took a remark out of context of the discussion it was made you could rant about it being about all sorts of things really.

61 Karmakin November 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There’s a relatively big twitter post/quote in a different current controversy that pretty much says it all:

“There are no bad tactics, only bad targets.”

62 Steve Vanden-Eykel November 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Theo@15
Yes, that woman referring to the people in the book as vaginas is extremely funny, for a variety of reasons. I could explain, but of course there would be no point. Not because humor can’t be explained without killing it (although that is true), but because you, Theo, personally, would not get it and can never get it.

You remind me of my sister in a way. She has this weird thing where she can’t ever laugh at something unless she feels she somehow has ‘permission’ to find it funny. If you tell her a joke, you can see her eyes dart as she does this lightning-quick calculation of whether she’s allowed to laugh, and then when she DOES laugh, it’s just a little too loud and forced…

I feel so sorry for her sometimes. She just has no idea what it actually feels like to laugh at something. To just…you know…laugh. Just laugh. You’re the same way. Always on your best behavior. Always worried about someone looking over your shoulder, always looking over others’ shoulders. You’re who Patton Oswalt was talking about when he said you were going to miss everything cool and die angry.

63 IDK November 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Mick,

I’ve been surprised that as the “sea lion” cartoon is increasingly referenced, I haven’t yet seen anyone comment on the argument it smuggles into the discussion. Everyone has seen discussions like the one portrayed, of course, and everyone immediately recognizes the parallel to one or more Twitter controversies. But the *argument* in the sea lion cartoon isn’t in the (deeply amusing) dialogue, it’s entirely made by the BACKGROUND PANELS. Specifically, by the fact that they change–a public road, dining room, bedroom.

The conversations being parodied, however, are being held on Twitter and similar public forums. The cartoon would be more apt if every background panel were the same (never-ending) town hall discussion. Especially the “You’re in my HOUSE” panel–people I’ve seen using “sea lion” as a dismissive label always seem to be implying that being asked, in public, to substantiate important claims they’ve made, in public, is an intrusion into their private space.

This is the same pseudo-private space people want for their religions, of course. They can’t back up their claims, and it’s uncomfortable to them to be reminded of this by any requests for evidence or logical argumentation, no matter how polite and reasonable. Exposing this attitude as incompatible with honest discourse of any kind is, for me, exactly the draw of organized atheism/skepticism. Keep up the good work.

64 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

There’s no way that that was merely a typo. Not with theophantes around. MN is both owed an apology for this slur and owes the rest of us an apology for allowing it to remain on his blog for more than three seconds.

No, look, there’s no need for this – distinguishing between primates and bivalves is a weakness of mine. Apologies for any unintended offence.

65 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 2:29 pm

As far as I see it the offending cartoon (which I don’t see it as offensive myself, by the way, I’m just adopting Theo’s apparent position) is the one on the front page in which one of the characters uses “twats” as an epithet.

I don’t know where the cartoon originates but in the UK we have a tradition of liberal and left wing comedians (e.g. Alexei Sayle and Stewart Lee) who regularly use terms like ‘twat’ and ‘cunt’.

It was Stewart Lee – very much a comedian sympathetic to modern feminist – who suggested that the past tense of ‘to Tweet’ is ‘twat’. Sayle used the ‘c-word’ to identify himself with the working class , as opposed to the mainly Oxbridge alternative comedians who emerged at the same time.

66 piero November 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

@Dave Allen:

So people who find being propositioned in enclosed spaces anxiety-inducing can talk about that without needing to be reminded that they’d have it worse in places like Saudi Arabia.

I disagree. As Phil Giordana pointed out, it wasn’t the GDDT that triggered Dawkins’s response, but the follow-up where Rebecca Watson abused her privileged position as a speaker in order to embarrass a woman in the audience. That’s not what an atheist convention is meant for. Petty gripes, axes to grind and chips on one’s shoulder cannot be allowed to swamp substantial issues, and bullyism must not be allowed. I find the Dear Muslima letter correct and relevant; and I don’t think Dawkins disowned the gist of it, but the possibility that it could be interpreted as belittling the real problems Western women have to face.

As it is anyone’s right not to prioritize a given problem, it is extremely patronizing to act as if they need reminding that some problems are bigger than others.

Yes, it is anyone’s right to give priority to whatever tickles their fancy. And it is my right to say that some priorities are idiotic. Is it patronising? No, it’s just disagreement; feeling patronised by disagreement betrays lack of confidence in one’s position. I don’t feel patronised when a Christian calls me a sinner, or tells me that I disbelieve only because it’s a pass to behave unethically. Why should I? It’s just bullshit.

1) Those who are actually sincerely concerned about the issues they discuss.
2) Means-to-an-end types – they want a bit of movement in a given political direction and are willing to overstate their case in the hope that their position is reached in subsequent negotiations.
3) Trolls and/or unthinking partisans.

I don’t find this a particularly useful taxonomy. Category 1, for example, can contain sincere idiots, mindless fanatics and rational thinkers. Category 3 can be deceptive: for instance, theophontes is certainly not regarded as a troll in FtB circles, and his posts here could equally indicate a desire to troll or a lack of reasoning skills. Category 2, on the other hand, comprises perhaps 99% of FtB regulars.

67 Steven Carr November 6, 2014 at 3:05 pm

The sea-lion obviously represents the nagging conscience of the two people who abuse, slander and malign other people.

Their conscience is always with them, no matter where they go, asking them to check their behaviour.

All they can do is try to silence their conscience.

68 Crackity Jones November 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Notice how Ariel utterly fails to gain any traction on an open forum. It is always the same – get them in a neutral forum, and we can simply demolish them with ease. What a bunch of pathetic losers the B&W gang are.

Hey, remember when Ophelia was guffawing like a child over someone’s shoop of Dawkins and the jar of honey? Remember the utter glee the baboons had when shooping DJ Grothe?

Hypocritical wazzocks.

69 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm

As far as I see it the offending cartoon (which I don’t see it as offensive myself, by the way, I’m just adopting Theo’s apparent position) is the one on the front page in which one of the characters uses “twats” as an epithet.

Whereas the cartoon that spawned the meme, the sea lion cartoon, is a different cartoon.

This is true, but it doesn’t matter. Nugent only posted three links: one to the Sea Lion comic (which has been also used by SJWs) one to the “Old Dog” comic (also used by and commented favorably upon by SJWs) and one to the main page of the comic (which features the “sexist slur”).

The “offending” comic is a third one from the same author and part of the same series.

Theo wants us to believe that the comic is sexist, but evidently Myers, Futrelle or Sarkeesian, who all linked to a comic that in one of its pages used the word “twats” (horror of the horrors) think otherwise.

All I’m saying is Theo is horrified by the use of the word “twats” in the comic, maybe he should talk about it with his allies who like the same comic before accusing his enemies of misogyny.

70 Carrie November 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Ariel

Hmm … but how about 50 images? How about hundreds of them, published on a regular basis? How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year?

You mean, the kind of target practice that the FtB “horde” uses on people in the ‘pit? But as regards the basic point, remember that the famous “joint statement” included “no photoshopping people into demeaning images”.

Theophontes

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny

Umm… you do know that it is people on the FtB side who brought this cartoonist into the limelight by talking about the Terrible Sea Lion and implying similarity to Michael? You are also making Michael’s point exquisitely for him, showing how two people with different pre-conceived ideas will view an item in a totally different way.

71 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

As Phil Giordana pointed out, it wasn’t the GDDT that triggered Dawkins’s response, but the follow-up where Rebecca Watson abused her privileged position as a speaker in order to embarrass a woman in the audience.

Uh-huh – I’m aware of that.

Whether or not we are talking about the event that caused the brouhaha, or the brouhaha itself, unless the brouhaha is actually characterized by people saying their problems are worse than those faced by women in Saudi Arabia it’s a false equivalence to suggest that considering the problems faced by women in Saudi Arabia is what those people need to do.

Yes, it is anyone’s right to give priority to whatever tickles their fancy. And it is my right to say that some priorities are idiotic. Is it patronising?

I dunno, and I don’t really care. I’m not talking about whether anyone has a right to call anything anything – I’m discussing whether or not “Dear Muslima” was anything other than a cack-handed move.

That’s not the same thing as querying anyone’s right to say such things, but whether it was wise to say such a thing.

Given that it did nothing but inflame the situation, and given Dawkins’ subsequent second thoughts, it seems fairly QED to me.

72 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm

All I’m saying is Theo is horrified by the use of the word “twats” in the comic, maybe he should talk about it with his allies who like the same comic before accusing his enemies of misogyny.

And what I’m saying is that if I were to play the same game as Theo I could just plausibly deny that I thought they knew anything about it.

Because as you said – it’s the third one.

So if I wanted to see my ideological allies as pure and unsullied, whilst still implying that Michael was a nasty sort, I could just work on the assumption that they only supported the earlier comics, before the horrible sin of depicting a character who uses the word “twats” was committed.

Which is why I wouldn’t use this line against Theo myself – because the sort of easy fallacies and excuses Theo likes to employ allow for that sort of get out.

73 Darby November 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

So, Michael writes a post commenting on the use of “tone-trolling” and one of the FTB/SJW brigade shows up to…tone-troll over the fact that a site that Michael links to uses the word “twat”. You can’t make this shit up.

74 john welch November 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Ah, theophontes, always around to make sure we all know he’s superior to all of us.

I’m sure he can provide the links to his disapproving comments on Ophelia’s blog when she linked approvingly to a site that turned out to belong to someone who is transphobic as hell.

Any day now.

And then there’s the return of Ariel, once again, trying, poorly, to derail things. It helps that she’s taken a humpty-dumpty tactic when it comes to what words mean. If you start getting inconvenient, she simply changes what the words in question mean.

If you’re lucky, she might even tell you she’s done so.

Bravo to the both of you. Carry that flag! PZ and FTB will reward you handsomely, just ask Oolon!

75 john welch November 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Darby @ 71:

Yep. The best part is, Ariel will soon explain to us why that wasn’t really tone-trolling, and that it’s never tone-trolling when they do it.

At this point, I wonder if she has a side business repairing e-meters.

76 Matt Cavanaugh November 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

“There is a strange online meme called ‘tone-trolling’, whereby some people who are rude and abusive to you will complain if you ask them to be polite. Now there is a new turbo-charged version called ‘sea-lioning’, whereby they will also complain that you are being persistently polite yourself.

No matter how you disagree with them, you’re doing it wrong.

Just shut up and listen.™

77 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Yeah, but you can’t even ‘shut up and listen’ because ‘it’s not their job to educate you’ either.

You should have shut up and listened earlier.

78 john welch November 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

If you were really Clear, you’d just shut up. You’d already know what you need to, so you wouldn’t need to listen, and be a burden on other Clear.

Which proves you’re not really Clear after all.

79 Kirbmarc November 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Yeah, but you can’t even ‘shut up and listen’ because ‘it’s not their job to educate you’ either.

You should have shut up and listened earlier.

The only thing you can do is praise them, agreee with them, and get them an invitation from Stephen Colbert.

80 John Greg November 6, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Dave Allen said:

I would strongly suggest that you at least consider the following three categories:

1) Those who are actually sincerely concerned about the issues they discuss.

Well, I must say, how you are able to make that distinction is beyond me. For well over two years now, I am have been increasingly unable to make that determination or to distinguish between a sincere SJW (how does one even define that? that’s like saying sex-positive Pope) and a POE.

2) Means-to-an-end types – they want a bit of movement in a given political direction and are willing to overstate their case in the hope that their position is reached in subsequent negotiations.

I have never noticed that sort of subtlety expressed by any SJW. My experience, my personal lived experience, which is, of course, holy and sacrosanct especially if I identify as a Woman for the sake of this argument — which I do — is that SJWs are, pertty much completely and conclusively incapable of such subtlety or future planning.

3) Trolls and/or unthinking partisans.

Trolls are trolls, and manifest everywhere; “unthinking partisans” is, in my opinion, nothing more than a differnt term to decribe SJWs.

Now, I know that is all rather myopic and black-and-whitish, but I have simply lost patience with these deeply dishonest and manipulative people.

Welch said:

And then there’s the return of Ariel, once again, trying, poorly, to derail things. It helps that she’s taken a humpty-dumpty tactic when it comes to what words mean. If you start getting inconvenient, she simply changes what the words in question mean.

I have the impression, form reading Ariel on FTB, that Ariel is actually a He (for those of us who acknowledge such evil, evil distinctions of cultural manifestations of the Patriarchy. Also, I think it should be noted that Ariel is rather profoundly two-faced, and posts all sorts of fabricated nonsense regarding Pit people, our motives and reasoning, and the general goings on here at Nugent’s joint; like many FTBers, Ariel just makes stuff up and goes Floosh in the night.

81 IM608 November 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm

john welch #73
At this point, I wonder if she has a side business repairing e-meters.

Assuming e-meters work in the first place.

Point made nonetheless.

82 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Well, I must say, how you are able to make that distinction is beyond me.

It’s beyond me too.

I just feel it’s worth keeping in mind that – when dealing with any sort of politically motivated group – you’re up against a mixture of true believers, opportunists, partisans and so on.

With the three groups I mentioned being particularly pertinent to this particular example.

I have never noticed that sort of subtlety expressed by any SJW. My experience, my personal lived experience, which is, of course, holy and sacrosanct especially if I identify as a Woman for the sake of this argument — which I do — is that SJWs are, pertty much completely and conclusively incapable of such subtlety or future planning.

Really? I’d say this was most likely the largest group.

I’d say it is fairly common to hear a feminist argument that is openly insulting and confrontational, and then when you answer it in kind what you get is “oh you’ve misunderstood, what I’m actually talking about it…” and then they go on to make more modest claims.

A: You are Schrodinger’s rapist!
B: That sounds presumptuous. I am not a sex criminal.
A: All I mean is that men shouldn’t feel put out when their advances get rebuffed.

You see that sort of bait-and-switch a lot, I would say.

Here is a recent (and particularly rebarbative) example:

http://reductress.com/post/8-sex-positions-that-will-blow-his-mind-and-destroy-his-penis/

Trolls are trolls, and manifest everywhere; “unthinking partisans” is, in my opinion, nothing more than a differnt term to decribe SJWs.

There are unthinking partisan of any particular political perspective, I’d say.

83 John Greg November 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Dave Allen said:

I just feel it’s worth keeping in mind that – when dealing with any sort of politically motivated group – you’re up against a mixture of true believers, opportunists, partisans and so on.

True enough.

I’d say it is fairly common to hear a feminist argument that is openly insulting and confrontational, and then when you answer it in kind what you get is “oh you’ve misunderstood, what I’m actually talking about it…” and then they go on to make more modest claims.

Yes, I would agree that indeed that often happens; however, it is my belief / argument that that happens simply because SJWs are not honest interlocutors; they stand on ever-shifting sands, have the ethos and logos integrity (so to speak) of warm Jello, prefer to Gish gallop (east or west; it matters not) across the prairie plains at the drop of a Patriarchal Fedora, and could not plan an honest, consistent, coherent, and cohesive future argument and plan if their lives depended on it.

If you get my drift.

84 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

There are unthinking partisan of any particular political perspective, I’d say.

There are, but trickle-down economists, creationists, anti-choicers, anti-vaxxers, 9/11 troothers and the people who think NASA faked the Moon landings tend to troll and move on: they don’t try to seize control of the atheist and skeptic movement.

Drive-by posters we can ignore; entryists we can’t.

At the very least they taint us by association.

85 Pj November 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm

At this point, Ariel and Dave Allen can be skipped as the least entertaining trolls.

86 Deepak Shetty November 6, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Well, “Mick the Sea Lion” is an epithet, and photoshopping my head onto the body of a sea lion is demeaning.
Accepted – Not all of us support behavior of this kind.
But for the cartoon to be an exact analogy you need to have a couple of panels where people tell the Sea Lion of his bad behavior and he ignores all of it and asks the same question.

87 Phil Giordana FCD November 6, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Yes, asks until (if ever) it is answered. But they are not the “answering” type, though. So it goes on for years.

88 Patrick November 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Ariel,

Since you appear to be reading this thread, I would like to remind you of our unfinished discussion. Here is the comment with the questions you have yet to answer:

Ariel @139,

Thank you for replying somewhat directly. Since we’re in agreement that “rape” and “rapist” have specific meanings, please allow me to return to Myers’ original statement:

It’s not about what he thinks but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

Now to your response:

Patrick, personally I think that if “providing a haven and defending” was intended (as I think it was) to mean something else than “having actual rapists in the comment section”, then the wording was bad.

Can you state concisely how “defending & providing a haven” could be interpreted in any other way in this context, particularly taking into account the rest of Myers’ tweets on this subject? If you can, do you think that anyone not committed to twisting words into almost unrecognizable shapes in order to support Myers would interpret them in the same way? Do you recognize that anyone not so committed would take those words at face value, particularly given Myers’ subsequent tweets?

Since we agree on the meaning of the term rapist and, hopefully, can agree on the prima facie meaning of the rest of Myers claim, on what basis do you reject the conclusion that Myers claims are unsupported and dishonest?

I am genuinely interested in your response because I see no way to interpret Myers behavior as other than utterly lacking in honesty and integrity.

89 JetLagg November 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm

@Deepak

I think we’d have to nail down what constitutes bad behavior first. What the sea lion does in the comic is exaggerated for comic effect, and I think most people would recognize it as a problem should someone in real life literally do what the sea lion does.

90 piero November 6, 2014 at 7:54 pm

@Dave Allen:

unless the brouhaha is actually characterized by people saying their problems are worse than those faced by women in Saudi Arabia it’s a false equivalence to suggest that considering the problems faced by women in Saudi Arabia is what those people need to do.

Oh, I see. So unless they actually say “Saudi women have it easy compared to me” then you cannot interpret their behaviour as motivated by wrong priorities. Remember that the next time you see a stranger pointing a gun to you: unless he says “I’m going to shoot you” then you have nothing to worry about.

I dunno, and I don’t really care. I’m not talking about whether anyone has a right to call anything anything – I’m discussing whether or not “Dear Muslima” was anything other than a cack-handed move.

So Dawkins had a right to criticise, except he didn’t because his criticism was not well received. I’ll make a note of that: don’t criticise your opponent, because doing so will piss him/her off. Great.

91 Pogsurf November 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I’m happy to be parodied, satirised, lampooned, photo-shopped, whatever, as long as when I get fed up with it I can go some place where I don’t have to look at it or listen to it. We are all entitled to our own personal space. As IDK and Floris observe the problem with the sea lion is you can’t get away from it. It does not respect your personal space. Adults, don’t do that.

The sea lion can be contrasted with Amy Roth Davis’ art installation A Women’s Room Online. Davis wants to demonstrate what it feels like to be constantly aware of, and constantly watching for, abuse and threats which intrude into your everyday personal communications equipment. I hope that what amounts to illegal behaviour is reported to the police at every possible opportunity. No one should have to endure even one death threat*, and we should all reinforce this message whenever we can.

*Full disclosure: I did once write a very dark piece of satire as a blogpost after I received an abusive e-mail. I claimed I didn’t know who the sender was, but in fact there were certain clues that I might know their identity. I challenge anyone to read it in its original context and demonstrate that I had malicious intent towards my target.

92 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm

If you get my drift.

Yeah, I think I do.

I just think that sort of political haggling goes one everywhere really – even if it’s particularly egregious in the case of someone like PZ

93 Dave Allen November 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm

So Dawkins had a right to criticise, except he didn’t because his criticism was not well received.

No.

Dawkins has a right to criticism.

And I have a right to say that in this particular instance I think he made a bad move in doing so using the manner he employed.

My criticism is in no way an impingement on his right.

Furthermore, given his most recent remarks on the matter, it would seem he agrees.

94 Deepak Shetty November 6, 2014 at 8:35 pm

@JetLagg
well the cartoon can be read in multiple ways.

My point however is towards Michael’s
” and if you like civility and reason and accountability, then the sea lion is clearly the goodie,”
Because in the cartoon , no one has responded to the sea lion – but people have responded to Michael .

95 JetLagg November 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm

@Deepak

Not seeing why it matters how many ways there are to read the comic, as I specified I was talking about someone in real life doing literally what the sea lion does in the comic. I believe most of us would consider that bad behavior.

Michael hasn’t done that, so it’s not analogous.

96 piero November 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

@Deepak:

Because in the cartoon , no one has responded to the sea lion – but people have responded to Michael.

Unfortunately, the one person Michael was interested in getting a response from had this to say:

Michael Nugent shelters and encourages harassers, and thinks the problem of sexism within atheism is purely American, and is best dealt with by silence.

A one-sided “I’ve had enough” is not a response: it’s a shameful attempt to weasel out of the corner Myers had paintend himself into. Notice the magical disappearance of “rapists” from the categories sheltered and encouraged by Michael. Notice the total absence of evidence. Notice the vague “problem of sexism.” If that’s what you had in mind when you said “people have responded to Michael” you’d better give your mind a rinse before it starts attracting flies.

97 Paul Holland November 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Whatever you thought about “Dear Muslima” as the time, you have to admit that Dawkins was more correct than even he could have imagined at the time .Here we are years later and “Women in secularism” now covers only one topic “How hard middle-class university educated white atheist women have it” I mean people say mean things on twitter – and something about not being able to say no to a drink – and also why isn’t PZ Myers president of Worldatheism yet? When is the next conference to discuss this all being scheduled?

And these people made fun of Dawkins for tweeting about getting his honey confiscated “First World Problems for old white men” and all that – well when Dawkins has insisted that from now on the “honey problem” is the main topic at all skeptic/atheist conventions and anyone disagreeing needs to be kicked out then you might have something similar.

98 Shatterface November 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Michael Nugent shelters and encourages harassers, and thinks the problem of sexism within atheism is purely American, and is best dealt with by silence.

This new claim that Michael thinks sexism is purely American is frankly bizarre. Where the fuck did that come from? Myers is simply plucking things out of his arse.

99 Citizen Wolf November 6, 2014 at 10:36 pm

I agree that the honey problem is a very serious issue and should be discussed. Honeyism needs to be stamped out !!

100 Steven Carr November 6, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Dawkins is one of the few people in the world to question why airport security is greatly enhanced by confiscating honey.

No wonder we all made fun of him. The rest of us know perfectly well that our safety depends upon honey being kept off planes.

101 jimthepleb November 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

As a beekeeper I deeply resent some of this frankly honeyist bigotry. Michael I demand you erase the commenters above!
You are providing a haven for beiists, hiveists and honeyists.
My god will no’one think of the children!?!

102 noelplum99 November 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Shatterface,
Myers actually went further and reinterpreted Nugents claim that the deep rifts issues were North American as if Nugent had actually claimed that no sexism occurs ANYWHERE else in the world, in OR out of atheist movements.
His evidence for this was a sexist song some students were singing at Nottingham University.
Interestingly, when i reported this bizarre piece of Myers dishonesty in a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNGwzL2Pf9A a guy called Russel Byford-somethingorother who is from Nottingham Uni secular students soc commented and he was clearly not best pleased that Myers conflation could be read as if the secular soc was something to do with these songs.

103 Pogsurf November 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Michael Nugent continues to impress and amaze. Here he is hosting a fascinating discussion amongst people who hold differing and strongly held views, with little bitterness and rancour. Are we actually still on the Internet?

I particularly enjoyed Stephen Carr’s comment about the sea lion as ever present conscience. I certainly hadn’t seen that perspective before.

Also Piero used a word new to me, ‘bullyism’. A number of online dictionaries had it listed, but Collins English seemed to have the most appropriate definition: “the belief in systematic bullying”. I have been a follower and contributor to the Twitter hashtag #FtBullies for some time now, and I think that bullyism correctly describes the phenomenon which people have tried to demonstrate here.

I know that some people will claim they are being unfairly tarred by the #FtBullies label, but they should look carefully at the behaviour which goes on at the FreeThoughtBlogs network, all lead by bully-in-chief PZ Myers, and decide whether they should distance themselves from unsavoury behaviour, or try to call it out. Sometimes we think of bullies and victims, but we should not forget that a bully can only thrive if he or she has a cohort of bully-enablers to cheer them on.

104 John Greg November 6, 2014 at 11:40 pm

On a serious note about honey … I know, I know, I know. What truly amazes was how many SJWs, FTBers, Skepchicks not only completely missed the allegorical point; that he was using honey as a sort of metaphorical/allegorical example of how ridiculous things are, but in taking him seriously, as though he really was upset specifically for himself and his wee pot of honey, they went ballistic over it like it was the worstest of the worstest of all possible things that he could do.

I mean, do we need any more, or better, proof that these people, SJWs, FTBers, Skepchicks, are bathsit crazy?

Hive-and-honey-minds indeed.

Floosh!

105 Ariel November 6, 2014 at 11:42 pm

MosesZD #40

My question is, how badly does Ophelia need to behave before YOU see what I saw and leave?

Before I see what you saw? And what did you see, Moses?

Do you mean like the years of abuse she’s heaped on Dawkins and other prominent male atheists? The routine obsessions over someone like Jacklyn Glenn where she drops 15 posts in a just a few days, attacking her in every possible way from physical to intellectual? Or when Sommers comments on GamerGate, we get another dozen ranty posts including ripping on the people who sent her flowers when her husband died?

I haven’t seen her focused on anyone to the point where I would feel obliged to leave. Yes, I read her posts e.g. about Sommers. In general, I do not find it beyond the pale to criticize a given prominent figure, sometimes even fiercely. I do not mind in principle even concentrating on such a figure for a while, provided that it’s temporary – that after some time you are able to say to yourself “alright, I’m done”. All in all, my impression is that Ophelia is able to do it. She can be a fierce critic, but then she stops and starts writing about something else. In particular, I’ve always appreciated her blog posts about events in Asia and Africa – she is not as focused on the US/Europe like some other bloggers, which to me has always been an advantage.

(As for “ripping on the people who sent her flowers when her husband died”, I not only read it but I also wrote something in this thread. My opinion – after taking all the events into account – was that nothing very remarkable happened there. I can explain my point of view if you really want it.)

Anyway, that’s what I noticed. And please note that I treated your question seriously.

And, of course, regarding the photoshops — she can simply not keep going to the Slymepit, the Internets 796,000ths most popular destination… I mean, really, nobody makes her go there.

Ah, the routine answer again! Yes, of course, I’ve heard it before. You know what, Moses? It’s a good idea to listen to what your colleagues are saying, especially when they feel at ease. The first fragment is a random quote from the pit, the second we owe to no one else than John Greg:

the Pit are the “bad boys” of anti-SJW skepticism. We’re the loathsome ones who “go too far” and “can’t possibly be supported or agreed with” but we give an opening for the wishy-washy latecomers to take the “more reasonable” anti-SJW position.

in my eyes, the Pit’s tactic of publically exposing, ridiculing, and satirizing FTB has helped a great deal in informing the general public, especially the blogging and otherwise online public, about their (FTB’s) idiocy, and has to some degree, or so it appears to me, helped encourage them (meaning, FTB et al.) to go overboard in their madness, and thereby make it even more obvious how deeply dysfunctional and deranged they really are. And I think that that is an equally, valid, important, and laudable thing to do.

These are just two examples among many. Hmmm … dear pitters, could you just duke it out among yourself, please, or at least try to be more discreet? It’s really no use to see oneself as “giving an opening” and “helping to inform the general public”, while at the same time insisting on how small and unimportant you are and how other people can just ignore you if they wish. It’s either this or that. Unless of course you consider yourselves hopeless and incompetent failures in your “laudable things to do” – then there is indeed no contradiction. Well, do you?

Patrick #88

Can you state concisely how “defending & providing a haven” could be interpreted in any other way in this context, particularly taking into account the rest of Myers’ tweets on this subject?

I have nothing else than Stephanie’s “a ‘haven for rapists’ is not somewhere that rapists currently exist but a place that protects them by policy”. Unlike most of the people here, I take into consideration that PZ might have meant something like that.

If you can, do you think that anyone not committed to twisting words into almost unrecognizable shapes in order to support Myers would interpret them in the same way?

Patrick, I want to be clear about this: it’s not an interpretation that came to my mind when I was reading PZ’s words. Nevertheless, I was pretty sure from the start that he didn’t mean “commenters = rapists”. The source of this conviction was not my desire to support Myers. (I’m not even a Pharyngula commenter and my ties to PZ are very weak.) The source was rather the whole experience of reading about the pit on FtB. There were many accusations but (to my knowledge) never something like this. In other words: I received the interpretation “commenters = rapists” as extraordinary given the background knowledge of what has been actually said through these years (by Myers and others) about the pit. I still do consider it extraordinary … and, you know: I can accept extraordinary claims only given extraordinary arguments – that’s my standpoint.

Do you recognize that anyone not so committed would take those words at face value, particularly given Myers’ subsequent tweets?

I recognize that someone without the background knowledge could take those words at face value (that’s why I consider them ill chosen). This is mixed however with my recognizing how politically convenient such an interpretation is. Adopting it and exerting pressure permitted your side to shift the goalposts: at the moment both Dawkins’ tweets and the issue of what exactly PZ did wrong (when going public with “the case of famous atheist/sceptic”) seem to be completely forgotten. Should I say “congratulations” then? I really don’t know; it just makes me wonder how much of this was a skillful political work and how much was due to the inner dynamics of the situation.

Since we agree on the meaning of the term rapist and, hopefully, can agree on the prima facie meaning of the rest of Myers claim, on what basis do you reject the conclusion that Myers claims are unsupported and dishonest?

You mean the claim that “commenters = rapists”? We agree that it’s unsupported. But I still consider it too extraordinary (given the background knowledge) to ascribe it to PZ.

Good night.

106 piero November 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm

@Ariel:

Good night.

You have a nasty habit of writing long screeds and then running away with excuses: “too busy,” “too late,” “can’t be bothered”. Tell you what: either you engage in honest argument or you can stab a rusty porcupine with a sideways knife… wait, no: how did that go again?

107 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 12:06 am

Ariel
(As for “ripping on the people who sent her flowers when her husband died”, I not only read it but I also wrote something in this thread. My opinion – after taking all the events into account – was that nothing very remarkable happened there. I can explain my point of view if you really want it.)

Nothing remarkable – for the Westbro Baptists.

I can accept extraordinary claims only given extraordinary arguments – that’s my standpoint.

That explains a lot: we accept extraordinary claims only given extraordinary evidence. Anyone who accepts an extraordinary claim because the argument for it is extraordinary has an extraordinarily weak grip on reality.

108 Kirbmarc November 7, 2014 at 12:07 am

This new claim that Michael thinks sexism is purely American is frankly bizarre. Where the fuck did that come from?

Michael said that he doesn’t believe that the discussion within the international atheist movement shouldn’t be only about the rifts within its American branch (i.e. Myers and the SJWs vs. everyone else).

Myers genuinely believes that he and his followers are the only brave pure warriors of virtue in the fights against the rampant sexism within the atheist community.

If you think, as Michael does, that the atheism in Europe shouldn’t be only concerned with American problems like Elevatorgate and the SJW brouhaha, PZ is going to assume that you think that sexism should be only fought the USA and doesn’t exist elsewhere.

It’s not the first time that Myers overstates his own importance or seems to forget that there are other countries in the world where some of his cultural battles make even less sense than in the USA.

I remember when he lectured British and Australian people about the outrageously offensive word “cunt”.

The problem for Myers’ thesis that the “cunt” is a slur because it demeans women is that the word is used as a vulgar but not incredibly offensive way to address enemies and even friends both in the UK and Down Under.

When people were telling him that in the UK and in Australia the word isn’t perceived as being as incredibly offensive as it is in the United States Myers simply decided that they were wrong about their own dialect of English, and they were all a bunch of misogynists to boot.

Another issue that SJWs seem not understand very well is that in the UK “black” isn’t considered a racist slur. The BBC frequently address or refers to the “Black Britons” or “Black British people”. So the “POC” moniker doesn’t make much sense on the other side of the pond.

And I could go on. Piero already talked about the different, less offensive meaning of “fica” in Italian (where it’s a vulgar word, but by no means a slur).

In Switzerland, where I live, there are many different social justice issues than in America (for example we don’t have many people throwing their gay children on the streets) and so many American SJ battles are perceived as unnecessary.

There are also some cultural representations (like “blackface”) which are seen as racist in America but perfectly OK in some other countries (Japan, the Netherlands, etc.)

According to SJWs this means that the countries which don’t follow the “American way” are simply misogynists, homophobic or racist.

109 John Greg November 7, 2014 at 12:10 am

Ariel, are you just kind of intellectually asleep at the wheel? Are you really so incapable of coherent thought as you appear? Just how long have you spent being infected by the intellectual swampy vacuum of FTB? It’s a disease, you know. Or do you just Gish gallop, non sequitor, and play rhetorical tricks and games for fun and profit?

Where is there any sort of contradiction between believing that the Pit helps expose the FTB shenanigans to the public, and the fact that the Pit is very small potatoes? Hmm? What friggin contradiction?

The Pit could be a pimple on the face of the microcosmic ‘net and expose FTB to only three people and all that I said would still be true and not be a contradiction. Go back to school and learn how to think.

Also and anyway, confabulating two different individuals’ different arguments into one just to make a specious point is laughable, and mendacious.

Ariel, you are just plain ludicrous and without a leg to stand on. You can say, as much as you like, that you think that PZ meant what you choose to think he meant, dispite all the plain and clear evidence to the contrary, but in light of the fact that no one (except the deeply, deeply mendacious Zvan) supports your ludicrous interpretation, not even PZ, it only makes you ridiculous. Just because you are able to play rhetorical cognitive dissonance games and tricks inside your nodding head to help ensure that your side appears lilly white in your febrile imagination does not make it so.

At least most of the people disputing your nutty interpretation have provided some forms of rhetorical backing beyond It is so because I choose to think it is so.

110 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 12:31 am

Another issue that SJWs seem not understand very well is that in the UK “black” isn’t considered a racist slur. The BBC frequently address or refers to the “Black Britons” or “Black British people”. So the “POC” moniker doesn’t make much sense on the other side of the pond.

My union holds ‘black members’ conferences and it is a left wing as they come; we have a ‘black history month’ too.

I’ve only heard ‘People of Color’ used by people who can’t spell ‘colour’.

Still, if your TV refers to Nelson Mandela as an ‘African American’ you might have difficulty recognising they don’t all work in the music industry.

111 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 12:39 am

Ariel@104

I have nothing else than Stephanie’s “a ‘haven for rapists’ is not somewhere that rapists currently exist but a place that protects them by policy”. Unlike most of the people here, I take into consideration that PZ might have meant something like that.

We know you take it into consideration. That’s why the overwhelming majority of people here think you’re dishonest/deluded/intellectually-deficient.

Myers said Nugent provided a haven for rapists. When told this was a serious accusation, and asked for evidence, he said the evidence for this was that pitters comment here. When asked for clarification by the people who were charitably enough to accept he may have misspoke in the most incredible of ways (an assumption that already defies credulity), he refused to respond.

That’s pretty cut and dry.

The level of charity that you’re asking us to give Myers is absurd.

1) Myers meant something other than the obvious meaning of his statement
2) Myers failed to realize he’d been misunderstood, after someone told him this was a “serious accusation” and required evidence
3) Myers, even after the taken meaning of his words was explained to him in excruciating detail, failed to clarify, but this wasn’t out of dishonesty or cowardice
4) Given the above, Myers would appear to have the communications skills of a someone who is severely mentally handicapped, but it’s actually a misunderstanding on the part of everyone else (many of whom are, like Myers, extensively educated)

I could go on, but why bother. I’m happy you’re here, but it seems obvious we’re working with such radically different starting assumptions it will be a miracle if we ever get anywhere.

112 Lancelot Gobbo November 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Assuming Theophontes still lurks, I’d like to draw his attention to a small episode in the illustrious history of the twat. Robert Browning famously mistook it as the proper noun for a nun’s head gear in the poem Pippa Passes.

Browning wrote:
But at night, brother Howlet, far over the woods,
Toll the world to thy chantry;
Sing to the bats’ sleek sisterhoods
Full complines with gallantry:
Then, owls and bats, cowls and twats,
Monks and nuns, in a cloister’s moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

An error neatly explained at the Wikipedia entry on Pippa Passes:

“Twat” both then and now is vulgar slang for a woman’s external genitals. It has become a relatively mild epithet in parts of the UK, but vulgar elsewhere. When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary enquired decades later where Browning had picked up the word, he directed them to a rhyme from 1660 that went thus: “They talk’t of his having a Cardinall’s Hat/They’d send him as soon an Old Nun’s Twat.” Browning apparently missed the vulgar joke and took “twat” to mean part of a nun’s habit, pairing it in his poem with a priest’s cowl. The mistake was pointed out by H. W. Fay in 1888.

So do celebrate those norse tetragrammatons that remain to us and don’t deny us the chance to keep the words alive. If it weren’t for Malki we would have to entrust the job to all those old jokes about TransWorld Airlines tea.

113 Sharon Madison November 7, 2014 at 1:07 am

@Dave Allen

What the hell do you think you’re doing posting a nuanced view on the internet? Don’t you know the internet is in black & white? – It’s a movie in which we all think we’re the stars in “Citizen Kane” when, in fact, we’re all part of the cast of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (including many who cover their faces and pretend to be Bela Lugosi). 😉

114 Steve Vanden-Eykel November 7, 2014 at 1:10 am

If Nugent isn’t careful, Myers might sue him for definition of character.

115 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 1:15 am

Assuming Theophontes still lurks, I’d like to draw his attention to a small episode in the illustrious history of the twat.

The word also appears in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s classic 19th Century utopian novel The Coming Race.

The word appears in Chapter 16:

Among the pithy sayings which, according to tradition, the philosopher bequeathed to posterity in rhythmical form and sententious brevity, this is notably recorded: “Humble yourselves, my descendants; the father of your race was a ‘twat’ (tadpole): exalt yourselves, my descendants, for it was the same Divine Thought which created your father that develops itself in exalting you.”

116 john welch November 7, 2014 at 1:23 am

Ariel at @104

And, of course, regarding the photoshops — she can simply not keep going to the Slymepit, the Internets 796,000ths most popular destination… I mean, really, nobody makes her go there.

Ah, the routine answer again! Yes, of course, I’ve heard it before. You know what, Moses? It’s a good idea to listen to what your colleagues are saying, especially when they feel at ease. The first fragment is a random quote from the pit, the second we owe to no one else than John Greg:

the Pit are the “bad boys” of anti-SJW skepticism. We’re the loathsome ones who “go too far” and “can’t possibly be supported or agreed with” but we give an opening for the wishy-washy latecomers to take the “more reasonable” anti-SJW position.

in my eyes, the Pit’s tactic of publically exposing, ridiculing, and satirizing FTB has helped a great deal in informing the general public, especially the blogging and otherwise online public, about their (FTB’s) idiocy, and has to some degree, or so it appears to me, helped encourage them (meaning, FTB et al.) to go overboard in their madness, and thereby make it even more obvious how deeply dysfunctional and deranged they really are. And I think that that is an equally, valid, important, and laudable thing to do.

These are just two examples among many. Hmmm … dear pitters, could you just duke it out among yourself, please, or at least try to be more discreet? It’s really no use to see oneself as “giving an opening” and “helping to inform the general public”, while at the same time insisting on how small and unimportant you are and how other people can just ignore you if they wish. It’s either this or that. Unless of course you consider yourselves hopeless and incompetent failures in your “laudable things to do” – then there is indeed no contradiction. Well, do you?

Five paragraphs, half-quoted, and you completely avoided the point of the statement you quoted. Here, allow me to restate it using smaller, simpler words, in fact, the words Ophelia has used regularly when people complain about HER content and HER commenters:

“Don’t like it? You can go somewhere else.” That’s the point. If she doesn’t like the pit, she can…not go there. I dislike her blathering intensely. You know what I don’t do? Read her blathering. It is amazing how little effort it takes to not do something. Why, it’s not effort at all. If she dislikes the blathering in the ‘pit, she can…Stop going there.

Funny how you spent all that time talking, and yet completely ignored the point you were supposedly responding to. You have indeed learned the Weirding Way of the FTB.

But wait, Ariel continues avoiding points!

Patrick #88

Can you state concisely how “defending & providing a haven” could be interpreted in any other way in this context, particularly taking into account the rest of Myers’ tweets on this subject?

I have nothing else than Stephanie’s “a ‘haven for rapists’ is not somewhere that rapists currently exist but a place that protects them by policy”. Unlike most of the people here, I take into consideration that PZ might have meant something like that.

But he wasn’t talking about Zvan’s completely silly definition of “haven” as “someplace that someone of a given classification might be without anyone knowing”. Which is good, since by that definition, she too provides a haven for rapists. And serial killers. And people who like crunchberries that are colors other than pink. You know, detestable sorts like that.

He was talking, very clearly mind you, about PZ’s words. But, per usual, you immediately try to change the point he was making into something more convenient for you.

Do you ever stay on point? Just once? In your life? Ever?

If you can, do you think that anyone not committed to twisting words into almost unrecognizable shapes in order to support Myers would interpret them in the same way?

Patrick, I want to be clear about this: it’s not an interpretation that came to my mind when I was reading PZ’s words. Nevertheless, I was pretty sure from the start that he didn’t mean “commenters = rapists”. The source of this conviction was not my desire to support Myers. (I’m not even a Pharyngula commenter and my ties to PZ are very weak.) The source was rather the whole experience of reading about the pit on FtB. There were many accusations but (to my knowledge) never something like this. In other words: I received the interpretation “commenters = rapists” as extraordinary given the background knowledge of what has been actually said through these years (by Myers and others) about the pit. I still do consider it extraordinary … and, you know: I can accept extraordinary claims only given extraordinary arguments – that’s my standpoint.

Based on what? Can you point to a single public thing PZ has written where he specifically, explicitly and clearly states he did not mean the commenters here are rapists? Not based on hand-waving Courtier’s Reply nonsense about “you have to know the background to fully understand PZ’s intent here.” That’s…well, it is nonsense. Again, can you point to a statement where PZ explicitly says that he did not mean, on any level, that the commenters here are rapists.

It’s a simple question and yet you run with cheetah-like speed from it every time someone poses it to you. Just answer the question without five paragraphs of pathetically bad attempts at distraction. Everyone here sees through them. They are not working. Yet you keep hoping they will. Just answer the question:

“Can you point to a single public thing PZ has written where he specifically, explicitly and clearly states he did not mean the commenters here are rapists?”

Do you recognize that anyone not so committed would take those words at face value, particularly given Myers’ subsequent tweets?

I recognize that someone without the background knowledge could take those words at face value (that’s why I consider them ill chosen). This is mixed however with my recognizing how politically convenient such an interpretation is. Adopting it and exerting pressure permitted your side to shift the goalposts: at the moment both Dawkins’ tweets and the issue of what exactly PZ did wrong (when going public with “the case of famous atheist/sceptic”) seem to be completely forgotten. Should I say “congratulations” then? I really don’t know; it just makes me wonder how much of this was a skillful political work and how much was due to the inner dynamics of the situation.

More Courtier’s reply nonsense.

Since we agree on the meaning of the term rapist and, hopefully, can agree on the prima facie meaning of the rest of Myers claim, on what basis do you reject the conclusion that Myers claims are unsupported and dishonest?

You mean the claim that “commenters = rapists”? We agree that it’s unsupported. But I still consider it too extraordinary (given the background knowledge) to ascribe it to PZ.

Again, without resorting to your new, and just as laughably bad, attempts at using the Courtier’s Reply (which, since we’re talking about PZ, is hugely ironic), or talking about what someone who is not PZ meant:

“”Can you point to a single public thing PZ has written where he specifically, explicitly and clearly states he did not mean the commenters here are rapists?”

This is a really simple question. You refuse to answer it.

117 john welch November 7, 2014 at 1:26 am

minor block quote fail above. you should be able to figure it out. Ariel will of course use it as an excuse to claim she has no idea what I’m talking about.

it will take 12 paragraphs, and she will bring in the writings of 4 people that have nothing to do with it.

Lancelot @ 111:

I *guarantee* theophontes is monitoring the hell out of this site.

118 Justme November 7, 2014 at 3:15 am

I’m sure we’re expected to refuse to link to anything from The Atheist Experience because they called a woman a “cunt” on their podcast. Does that mean we also boycott their blog network* where they are so welcome and supported?

Theophontes, please advise!

*Freethought Blogs

119 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

@ Phil Giordana FCD # 18

[“twat”]

“Should not disturb children aged 8 years or over”

Says a lot, doesn’t it?

Well, if you have the courage of your convictions, then why do you not use the term on this blog? (I would rather you didn’t, but then standards are dropping to your level here.)

# 24

My not using slurs or swearwords here is my decision

Er no, it is Michael’s decision. But as “twat” is perfectly innocuous, you tell us, I presume we’ll be seeing more of it here.

@ Steersman # 19

Unlike “asshole”, “twat” is a sexist slur.

@ Mad Mike #23

Lady

I’m all ears.

sane.

You are qualified to appraise my mental state from online comments? I am detecting a trend here.

@ piero #27

I find it amazing that you are verbosely comparing sexist slurs in the way you do. Asif by promoting the use of the one, you legitimise the use of the other.

@ Shatterface #28

Michael links to a site with a cartoon containing a swear word – and you link directly to that specific cartoon.

Try clicking on his link. The cartoonist selected that image out of his whole repertoire, to put on his homepage. And no, that is not a random image. (Protip: You can check the html code.)

You are an idiot. Someone must remind you to eat.

Insulting the mentally disabled too. This place is turning into another slymepit.

@ Dave Allen #36

Read my comment to Shatterface. The cartoonist went out of his way to select a cartoon that relies on a sexist slur. If you are arguing Michael doesn’t bother to check his links, that is another matter.

# 41

clumsy false equivalence

Clumsy or dishonest?

“Dear Muslima” was not only sexist and insulting, but an illogical argument too. To Dawkins credit, he understands that now.

# 52

troll

… or Hitler‽

@ J.J. Ramsey #45

because of the same slur that didn’t bother your side when it was looking for meme material.

It should bother everyone. It remains sexist whatever our own other petty quibbles might be.

120 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 7, 2014 at 4:47 am

Wow, that went quickly. The offending cartoon has been changed from “twat” to “twit”. We are slowly making progress.

121 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 5:09 am

Cached page from Nov 4 says “twit”.

Anyone have a screen cap or cached version that says twat?

122 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 5:16 am

Quick google search: “wondermark all these characters are self-absorbed twats” (w/o quotes) – the only relevant result I’m finding is a post at slymepit.com quoting verbatim theophontes’ post #15 in this thread.

123 Guestus Aurelius November 7, 2014 at 5:30 am

theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) at 119:

Try clicking on his link. The cartoonist selected that image out of his whole repertoire, to put on his homepage. And no, that is not a random image. (Protip: You can check the html code.)

The cartoonist went out of his way to select a cartoon that relies on a sexist slur. If you are arguing Michael doesn’t bother to check his links, that is another matter.

Yeah, but you yourself linked directly to the image that you imbecilically criticized Nugent for linking to indirectly. So your attempt at a smear was self-defeatingly hypocritical. Hoist with your own impotent petard.

(Pro tip: nobody will take you seriously if, in the process of calling someone out for doing Thing X, you do Thing X+, ya nincompoop.)

124 Lizzie November 7, 2014 at 5:37 am

” 15 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 6, 2014 at 6:56 am
@ Michael Nugent

I clicked on the link you provided and arrived at this cartoon: Wondermark.

You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny:

I know I’m only on chapter two, but wow are all these characters self-absorbed twats.

Because refering to someone as a vagina is funny somehow?

Classy as ever.”

The only one who intentionally tried to link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny, was Theo.

Of course, Theo just saw (+linked to and transcribed) a slur where none existed. The cartoon has not been altered.

125 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 7, 2014 at 5:47 am

@ Skep tickle

Anyone have a screen cap or cached version that says twat?

My guess is no. Are you suggesting that everyone else who followed the link provided misread “twits” as “twats”? They certainly have gone out of their way here in defense of the use of the word in the context of the linked cartoon. Or are they commenting without even bothering to inform themselves of the point of contention (it is not as if clicking on the link was that hard)?

Personally I am just happy the language in the cartoon has improved. Thanks David Maliki!

126 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 5:48 am

…except that there is at least one copy of a version with “twats”; it was posted at the ‘Pit here on November 4.

127 Michael Nugent November 7, 2014 at 5:52 am

It is published with the word twats on the Wondermark twitter Feed.

https://twitter.com/wondermarkfeed

128 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 6:00 am

Michael @127

It is published with the word twats on the Wondermark twitter Feed.

https://twitter.com/wondermarkfeed

Indeed it is: https://twitter.com/wondermarkfeed/status/529568165005516801

And, that’s what I remember seeing when first following the link in the OP here, though I assumed I’d read it wrong when seeing it now & in the cached version as “twits”.

Interesting.

129 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 6:08 am

(Oops, formatting error – everything from “Indeed” through “Interesting” is my comment)

130 milesnagopaleen November 7, 2014 at 6:10 am

@theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

Were you wearing your spectacles when you read the cartoon linked at
Wondermark?

The word used was “TWITS” not “twats”.
I bet you feel a right twit now. Did I spell that right? I haven’t got my specs on.

131 milesnagopaleen November 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

@ theophontes Apologies. It seems there are two versions of the cartoon.
You say:

at the beginning of the quote, and You may not use sexist slurs yourself, but then you link to a cartoonist who relies on sexist slurs in trying to be funny

The joke obviously does not rely on the word twat for humour, otherwise it would no longer work when the word twit is substituted.
The point is moot at any rate. Michael did not link to this particular cartoon. Moreover you are implying that the cartoonist relies on sexist slurs for humour. Perhaps you should take this up with the cartoonist, if this is really the case.

132 milesnagopaleen November 7, 2014 at 6:55 am

oops. I don’t know how the words “at the beginning of the quote, and” got in there.

133 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 7:24 am

@theophontes

Unlike “asshole”, “twat” is a sexist slur.

No it isn’t.

That something is a gendered slur it does not follow it is a sexist slur. If you wish to make the claim it is sexist then let us have the discussion.

We can resume in an hour if you like :)

134 Jan Steen November 7, 2014 at 7:38 am

@Ariel,

Nevertheless, I was pretty sure from the start that he didn’t mean “commenters = rapists”. The source of this conviction was not my desire to support Myers. (I’m not even a Pharyngula commenter and my ties to PZ are very weak.) The source was rather the whole experience of reading about the pit on FtB. There were many accusations but (to my knowledge) never something like this. In other words: I received the interpretation “commenters = rapists” as extraordinary given the background knowledge of what has been actually said through these years (by Myers and others) about the pit.

Slymepitters have been called worse on Pharyngula. Consider these citations:

Morgan said:

If any of the horrid threatened actions such as rape or acid splash were to actually happen, does it occur to the slime that the first suspects will be those who have threatened such actions? They could be in a pile of legal crap very easily. Words have consequences. And no, it obviously does not occur to them that shutting up just might save their own sorry asses.

Let’s state for the record, that it’s a complete myth that there are rape threats on the ‘pit. However, the FTBers (e.g. Nerd of Redhead) take it as gospel and eagerly repeat this libel.

Janine: Hallucinating Liar said,

The MRAs and slymepitters of this world support the likes of Marc Lépine up to the moment he pulls the trigger.

keori said,

The only difference between Marc Lepine and any of the Slymepitters is that Marc Lepine had a gun and a willingness to act on his convictions.

Rodney Nelson said,

This is correct. PZ thinks women are human beings. Lépine thought they weren’t human. The slymepitters think women aren’t human. There’s a one-to-one correspondence between Lépine and people like Skeeve, Al Stefanelli and ducky1349. They all disagree with PZ by thinking women aren’t human.

Alethea H. “Crocoduck” Kuiper-Belt said,

Because there is no clear distinction between Lepine’s views and those of the modern MRAs who infest the slimepit.

(Another myth: All or most Slymepitters are MRAs.)

So, no, it would not be extraordinary for an FTBer to suggest that Slymepitters are rapists, when it has already been suggested by several of the freaks posting there that we sympathise with mass murderers.

Check here for sources to those citations:

http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=325

135 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 7:42 am

Where I come from anyone who is offended by the word ‘twat’ is a plonker. But then we are a very uncultured lot.

136 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 7:43 am

Theophontes
Insulting the mentally disabled too. This place is turning into another slymepit.

I didn’t know you were mentally disabled – are we supposed to be psychic now? In any case, I have Aspergers – but I never use it as an excuse. I just avoid situations where it would put me at a disadvantage.

137 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 7:44 am

noelplum99 (#132):

Seems to me that none of the *published* definitions for the word “slur” really match what the meaning is implied to be by many of those using it. For instance:

slur (slûr)
tr.v. slurred, slur•ring, slurs
1. To pronounce indistinctly.
2. To talk about disparagingly or insultingly.
3. To pass over lightly or carelessly; treat without due consideration.
4. Music
a. To glide over (a series of notes) smoothly without a break.
b. To mark with a slur.
5. Printing To blur or smear.

n.
1. A disparaging remark; an aspersion.
2. A slurred utterance or sound.
3. Music
a. A curved line connecting notes on a score to indicate that they are to be played or sung legato.
b. A passage played or sung in this manner.
4. Printing A smeared or blurred impression.

None of those match the implied definition of “splash damage”; that the use of the epithet to describe one individual – e.g., “cunt”, or “nigger” – in pejorative terms means that that use is similarly describing all of those who possess the relevant distinguishing characteristic. Something that seems a pretty tenuous if not self-serving argument.

But my point has been, as those in the Pit who have been subjected to it a few times (?) will attest, is that if that is the case for those epithets then one might argue – mutatis mutandis – that PZ’s use of the epithet “asshole” is similarly describing & characterizing all those who possess that characteristic or attribute – i.e., the entire human race. PZ, the misanthrope?

138 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

@Steersman

I made a video about this some time ago called “Gendered Slurs 2, Do Cocks Cause Splash Damage” where I considered the claim that words like cock, cunt, twat etc are somehow analogous to words like nigger and fag.
My argument was that they are dissimilar and the argument that that they “splash” onto others in the same way is erroneous.
Briefly, my point was that the word nigger, for example, refers to someone of a sub-saharan ethnicity. As a slur it suggests there is something negative about being a sub-saharan african vs otherwise. Given that sub-saharan africans ARE people the splash damage argument is entirely understandable.
Compare that with twat. Twats are not people. Twats are twats. If I label a person a twat I am saying there is something negative to a person being a twat – just as if i called you a sheep, a cow, or a pig. I am not asserting anything negative about twats themselves (or sheep, cows or pigs themselves), nor the owners of twats ( or farmers) but just those intangible characteristics we ascribe to twattishness manifest in a person.

So, if twats were a group of people their arguments would make sense. They are not. So saying “twat” splash damages all women is about as sensible as saying “asshole” splashes all humanity

139 Steven Carr November 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

I think you are missing PZ’s point.

While some people sometimes go in for vulgar abuse, he is above that.

PZ feels he is totally justified in accusing people of serious criminal activity, based on no evidence other than that some of those people sometime resort to vulgar abuse.

He does that because he wants to maliciously abuse and slander them.

140 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

@ Dave Allen #47, re Dear Muslima: “I’m sure he thought he was helping”

I’m not sure of that at all. I think “Dear Muslima” was borne out of frustration with a bunch of hypersensitive, selectively hair-trigger, spoilt American brats making a number of huge deals out of very little, and I saw it as an exercise in good old British sarcastic piss-taking aimed at a very deserving target. Dawkins wasn’t saying that harassment doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t a problem, he was saying “get a sense of proportion, you’re starting to sound pathetic to the extent you are actually shooting yourselves in the foot.”

The fact that this caused even more hysterical outrage from the outrage machine was blackly comic.

As for gendered slurs, as long as Myers and his ilk keep calling people dicks they haven’t got a leg to stand on. The “punching up” bullshit is just that: bullshit. It’s wanting to have your cake and eat it. It is admitting that gendered slurs can be fun as long as you have some sort of bullshit excuse to use them. It’s more ” it’s okay when we do it”.

141 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 8:13 am

I like NoelPlum99’s argument, but I would extend it further by adding that I believe men and women swear differently, for the following reason. If I, as a man, call a women a bitch, I can do it in an insulting fashion, or if I am commenting on something she herself has done or said and done, in an ironic way. But if I call a man a bitch, I can only do it ironically. No man is ever insulted by another man calling him a bitch, it is just too mild and feminine.

I think generally this principle will hold for all the gendered slurs. ‘Cunt’ holds its place at the pinnacle of the English lexicon’s hierarchy of insults both because it is most potent man to man and because it is gendered.

142 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 8:18 am

Noelplum99 (#136):

Interesting argument, although I think it depends on the type of underlying assumptions that Michael referred to in the context of interpreting cartoons. Which I question.

For instance, you argue “nigger” is related to “sub-saharan ethnicity”. But the definition indicates “[Alteration of dialectal neger, black person ….]” So the common element is the black skin. And the primary definition for “twat” seems to be: “1. Vulgar Slang The vulva.” So in all cases – “cunt”, “nigger”, and of course “asshole” – there is a similar and analogous physiological attribute that carries a pejorative connotation.

Hence, as I’ve argued: “cunt is to sexism as nigger is to racism as asshole is to misanthropism”. If one argues splash damage – tagging one individual with the epithet and the pejorative sense means tagging all who possess the attribute similarly – in one case then it seems one must accept that one is doing so in the other cases; if one doesn’t so argue then the use of the terms does not similarly target all other individuals.

143 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 8:28 am

PZ said someone ought to be ‘fucked into the ground’ (for making an apology!) but nobody has paid much attention to what those words actually mean.

To ‘put someone into the ground’ is to bury them; i.e. a death threat. If I urged people to ‘put you into the ground’ there would be cause to contact the authorities.

So to ‘fuck someone into the ground’ is essentially to rape them to death.

Now I’m sure his apologists are going to argue with that interpretation but it is consistent with the object rape fantasy implicit in his dead porcupine/rusty saw comments.

Still, I suppose they’d rather argue about the word ‘twat’ in a comic they brought to our attention, they linked to first, and then they built a meme on.

144 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

Shatterface is linking the porcupine meme to the anal rape taboo. Bullies will use taboo references to insult their victims precisely because it is difficult for the victim to voice their displeasure at being insulted in this fashion.

When Martin Rees, an atheist and highly respected astronomer was awarded a Templeton Prize, PZ Myers comment was ‘pass the porcupine’. Sounds so mild doesn’t it? Except the message Myers was sending was ‘wouldn’t it be funny to anally rape’ Rees. Myers really is the lowest of the low. Whatever you think about atheists receiving large prizes from religious organisations, does conjuring up anal rape make any valid point or progress the argument in any sensible fashion?

145 Skep tickle November 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

Pogsurf @139

From this Wikipedia section comes this observation:

Generally, this term [bitch] is used to indicate that the person is acting outside the confines of their gender roles, such as when women are assertive or aggressive, or when men are passive or servile.

That section goes on to talk about the term “prison bitch”, and the different meaning of “bitch” in Russian criminal slang (akin to “snitch”). The link to the page on “the post-WW2 Bitch Wars” in the Soviet labor camps is an interesting note to end on.

146 Steven Carr November 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

Myers does indeed use horrific threats of sexual violence, even to people who apologise.

He is also well known for calling people ‘douchebags’.

147 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

Thanks Skep tickle, yes I am sure ‘bitch’ in a prison environment will have a very menacing tone, and could be used to seriously humiliate someone. I hadn’t thought of that context.

148 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:04 am

Steven Carr @143: and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if he and his cronies were not simultaneously trying to police other people’s tone.

And Theophontes: I’m not using “twat” here because Michael has made it clear a year ago that it wasn’t welcome. His castle, his rules. Rest assured my decision has absolutely nothing to do with whatever you and your pals may say, here or elsewhere.

149 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:07 am

Erm… to be clear: I wouldn’t be bothered by his use of “douchebag”. Threats of sexual violence are a different matter entirely.

150 Steven Carr November 7, 2014 at 9:13 am

Being British, I have no idea what a douchebag is. I get the impression it is something American high-school students call each other.

But isn’t it one of these gendered slurs that Myers is so against. Unlike threatening to anally rape Martin Rees with a rusty porcupine….

151 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

It could be argued that “douchebag” is pretty much universal. After all, a douche is nothing more than an enema, which everyone with an asshole can receive. Though I’ve seen SJWs argue that it was, once again, a sexist slur against women.

It happens to be the favorite insult of my former guitarist. And to be frank, the guy’s a douchebag.

152 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) November 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

@ milesnagopaleen #130

I bet you feel a right twit now. Did I spell that right? I haven’t got my specs on.

The file in question was changed this morning (around 5 am China time). I have already thanked David Maliki! for doing so.

153 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:34 am

“The file in question was changed this morning (around 5 am China time). I have already thanked David Maliki! for doing so.”

And I’m going to do the exact opposite, by pointing out to him that he has perverted his own creation in order to appease bullies who think they can police everyone and anyone’s thoughts, speech and artistic endeavours in the name of political correctness and hurt feelings.

Sorry, I’m not ready to live in Soviet Russia just yet.

154 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

Theo

Read my comment to Shatterface. The cartoonist went out of his way to select a cartoon that relies on a sexist slur. If you are arguing Michael doesn’t bother to check his links, that is another matter.

I’m arguing that it’s a fuss over nothing.

Clumsy or dishonest?

A false equivalence is dishonest by definition, so your presenting this as a matter of mutual exclusives is fallacious.

… or Hitler‽

No. You seem like a troll to me more than a historical Austrian dictator.

Kafkatrapping and now Godwinning – distinctly trollish stuff.

155 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 9:52 am

Thank you for boasting about your piety, Theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物), you are an example to us all.

156 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

Huh, interesting, 缓步动物 translates as “Tardigrades” (AKA water-bears).

First symbol, 缓, translates as “slow”. The “tard” part of “Tardigrades”.

Ableist much, Theophontes?

That’s way too easy.

(And for those lurking, this was a joke.)

157 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

I’m arguing that it’s a fuss over nothing.

For my Philosophy degree retakes in September 1984 I read Jean Paul Sartre’s seminal ontology Being and Nothingness, Dave Allen. 704 pages in hardback, on the subject of nothingness. Trust me, any other claim to a fuss over nothing is pale by comparison.

158 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

I’m not sure of that at all. I think “Dear Muslima” was borne out of frustration with a bunch of hypersensitive, selectively hair-trigger, spoilt American brats making a number of huge deals out of very little, and I saw it as an exercise in good old British sarcastic piss-taking aimed at a very deserving target.

Perhaps – though I’d still say this might be “thinking he was helping” in some sense (eg: giving some sense of perspective).

I don’t know much about widespread cultural attitudes to this sort of event. I live in Belfast and the women I have spoken to in my “real life” are not spoiled American brats – yet the feedback I have had from them about what they thought of the episode was that late night euphemistic propositions are fine – but they’d feel anxious about it being done in an enclosed space. One friend of mine who is a female rugby player and who is sniffy about feminism feels that way.

So beyond all the other fishy and/or annoying things about Rebecca’s behaviour and testimony – I do feel her reported request for people not to do that rings true with a wider section of society than “spoiled brats”.

In fact – it’s this apparent mis-perception of the target that I feel makes the decision to respond sarcastically a bad decision (among other things).

To finish – I obviously don’t know what’s in Dawkins’ mind, but whilst I found his joint statement with Ophelia to be naive, I did find his recent remarks about the Muslima thing heartening and sincere.

159 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

For my Philosophy degree retakes in September 1984 I read Jean Paul Sartre’s seminal ontology Being and Nothingness, Dave Allen. 704 pages in hardback, on the subject of nothingness. Trust me, any other claim to a fuss over nothing is pale by comparison.

I dunno it and I prefer me some Camus. Nausea’s a laugh though.

160 MadMike November 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

Theo, I wasn’t diagnosing, although I was a therapist for some long years. I was just letting you know how you sounded to most folk outside your little group. You do understand this difference, yes?

You try to defend the indefensible. You waste the energy and time of all involved. Please reconsider.

161 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

Strange dialect you have Dave. You must be very poorly educated.

162 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

Dave:

Again you’re making the (widespread) category error that Dawkins was responding directly to Watson’s GDDT.

It is absolutely not the case. You could revisit the thread in which “Dear Muslima” appeared to get a better picture of what attitudes Dawkins was responding to.

163 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

Hence, as I’ve argued: “cunt is to sexism as nigger is to racism as asshole is to misanthropism”. If one argues splash damage – tagging one individual with the epithet and the pejorative sense means tagging all who possess the attribute similarly – in one case then it seems one must accept that one is doing so in the other cases; if one doesn’t so argue then the use of the terms does not similarly target all other individuals.

What I feel arguments like this miss is that there is clearly a tradition of belief that the power to shock of racial epithets derives from historical subjugation.

Whereas body part epithets derive their power from associating the body part with taboo sexual or unhygienic associations.

What the SJW argument seems to me to involve is an attempt to associate the female bodypart words with the subjugation-association argument.

Personally I see it as Johnny-come-lately social construction – but that’s what they seem to be doing.

164 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

Again you’re making the (widespread) category error that Dawkins was responding directly to Watson’s GDDT.

It is absolutely not the case. You could revisit the thread in which “Dear Muslima” appeared to get a better picture of what attitudes Dawkins was responding to.

No, as I told you before I’m already familiar with the event.

165 Ariel November 7, 2014 at 10:26 am

John Greg #109

Where is there any sort of contradiction between believing that the Pit helps expose the FTB shenanigans to the public, and the fact that the Pit is very small potatoes? Hmm? What friggin contradiction?
The Pit could be a pimple on the face of the microcosmic ‘net and expose FTB to only three people and all that I said would still be true and not be a contradiction.

Dear John, but I deliberately left this as a leeway, haven’t you noticed? If you are incompetent failures to such a degree that in your noble mission you were able to influence only 3 people, then indeed there is no contradiction. I admitted that much in my previous post. I asked also whether you (plural) consider yourselves incompetent failures. And the question still stands: do you?

As I see it, the basic problem with the advice “If she doesn’t like the pit, she can…not go there. I dislike her blathering intensely. You know what I don’t do? Read her blathering.” (cf. John Welch later) can be succinctly formulated in the following phrase: risky politics. Consider political parties. If the opposition smears you, is it a good idea to ignore it (“don’t read their blathering”)? Well, it depends. If they are a complete fringe, just a couple of buddies drinking in a bar, then I would say “yes, it can be ignored”. However, if you see their smears becoming popular, their base enlarging, their arguments repeated by more influential people, then ignoring it is probably just this: bad politics.

As for the pit, my impression is that your people have these two faces. In internal discussions you like to talk about “laudable efforts”, about the atmosphere changing against the “SJW”-s, about more important people starting to appreciate your arguments … and you brag a lot about your role in it. You are also quite active, by no means restricting your activities to the pit (petitions, coordinated actions, group visits in other spaces). However, when speaking to people like me, you immediately start presenting yourself almost like a knitting circle: “oh, you don’t like knitting? Don’t visit us, then!”. Personally, I find it very funny. And I can only repeat: why, oh why, haven’t I learned to use the photoshop!!!

JetLag # 111

I’m happy you’re here, but it seems obvious we’re working with such radically different starting assumptions it will be a miracle if we ever get anywhere.

Spot on.

Piero # 106

You have a nasty habit of writing long screeds and then running away with excuses: “too busy,” “too late,” “can’t be bothered”. Tell you what: either you engage in honest argument or you can stab a rusty porcupine with a sideways knife… wait, no: how did that go again?

But Piero, it was 1am here, I swear!!! Please, don’t. Porcupines are nice. It is only mermaids that suck.

166 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 10:29 am

We must careful that our insults are directed at the right person or group. If I say PZ Myers is a smearing asshole, I won’t receive much pushback here. But if I say professors at Morris Minnesota are smearing assholes, I am actually spreading hate. I apologise to any professors whose reputations I besmirched in the previous sentence.

167 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

Steersman @142

For instance, you argue “nigger” is related to “sub-saharan ethnicity”. But the definition indicates “[Alteration of dialectal neger, black person ….]” So the common element is the black skin. And the primary definition for “twat” seems to be: “1. Vulgar Slang The vulva.” So in all cases – “cunt”, “nigger”, and of course “asshole” – there is a similar and analogous physiological attribute that carries a pejorative connotation.

Listen, i won’t argue the point of you substituting “black person” for “sub-saharan ethnicity” because it isn’t the thrust of my argument (other than to say I have never heard the word used to refer to indigenous Australians) but I totally disagree with you that by its usage we are referring to a person’s skin and not the individual themselves.

Compare:
“I literally hate niggers”
“I literally hate twats”

What would your understanding be? Clearly, in the latter case we would both agree that the person was claiming that they hate vulvas. However, in the former I would claim that the person was claiming they hate all people who are fully (or perhaps part) ethnically from one of the many sub-saharan ethnic groups (ie “black african”). It seems you are claiming (unless i am wildly misreading you) that they are merely claiming they hate black coloured skin, rather than black-skinned people themselves.

To quote wikipedia btw

Nigger is a noun in the English language. The word originated as a neutral term referring to black people,[1] as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger (“color black”).[2] Often used disparagingly, by the mid 20th century, particularly in the United States, it suggested that its target is extremely unsophisticated. Its usage had become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur usually directed at blacks of Sub-Saharan African descent.

Compare that to the entry for “twat”

The word twat is vulgar slang for the human vulva…….

So clearly wikipedia agrees that the first term is used to refer to a group of people – to persons in their entirety, whereas the second term is used to refer to a body part. That the first term refers to a physiological aspect of a person (their skin colour) in no way alters that fact.

168 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 11:04 am

‘Bitch’ is also a verb.

As, indeed, is twat (ie. ‘twatting someone over the head with a cricket bat).

The British, generally, don’t use the term ‘douchebag’ – which appears to have very misogynistic overtones.

It’s very much based on the idea women’s genitalia = dirty.

169 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

@Shatterface

Or I suppose you could argue that the insult claims that douchbags are useless and horrible things because women’s genitals are marvellous self-cleaning organs that don’t require such a thing?

This whole idea that gendered slurs harm people is quite ridiculous though. The idea that women have been oppressed by gendered slurs only sounds mildly ridiculous until you consider that we call people cocks, pricks, dicks, dickheads, we drop bollocks and make balls-ups, all apparently oppressing men and accounting for why they have fared so terribly the last few hundred years – and then the argument sounds REALLY ridiculous.

170 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

There’s not a single instance of “twat” in Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. Must mean he was just fine.

Oh, no, wait, four instances of “cunt”. The true signs of a spree killer.

Yeah, I know, reductio ad absurdum is kinda my thing.

171 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

@noelplum99#169: “… until you consider that we call people cocks, pricks, dicks, dickheads, we drop bollocks and make balls-ups”

And one that’s very popular where I work, when describing a certain type of young male: “scrote”.

172 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

This whole idea that gendered slurs harm people is quite ridiculous though. The idea that women have been oppressed by gendered slurs only sounds mildly ridiculous until you consider that we call people cocks, pricks, dicks, dickheads, we drop bollocks and make balls-ups, all apparently oppressing men and accounting for why they have fared so terribly the last few hundred years – and then the argument sounds REALLY ridiculous.

Yeah, you could go further still…

It could even be argued that it is anti-feminist to promote moves towards pressuring women to feel oppressed by such language, whilst also stating that men aren’t oppressed by the equivalent.

I rather liked the Ally Fogg thread on this subject – because it did show to some degree that this sort of argument is more about imposing middle-class manners than feminism.

173 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm

There’s not a single instance of “twat” in Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. Must mean he was just fine.

Americans tend to pronounce it wrong. It rhymes with ‘bat’ not ‘swat’.

174 john welch November 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Theo tried to argue this entire thing about how gendered slurs always harm women everywhere, even women who have *never heard the word*, somehow. Because magic.

But he did manage to cause a derail of “did not/did to” so in that sense, he’s more effective than Ariel. Probably because he’s less wordy and more superior.

Oh, I almost forgot the dogwhistle: OGVORBIS!

There. That should send him into a right proper conniption of snootery.

I wonder sometimes if he gets a neck ache from typing whilst looking down his nose at people that much.

I also notice he still links to his ableist slur artwork. I love how that’s still okay.

175 Carrie November 7, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Theophontes

It may not be a random code that produces the front-page cartoon, but Malki! changes it regularly and may use a randomiser to do so. The term “twat” is not any more offensive than “twit” where I live, and neither is worthy of a second thought. The cartoon / cartoonist is clearly NOT sexist so, Theo, you are picking at nits to try to find something to say against Michael. plus of course, Michael courteously and correcctly linked to the cartoonist’s front page, whereas you efectively hotlinked to the single cartoon, which is not the ethical way to do it. I hope that Malki! did not change twat to twit in response to pressure; hopefully he simply has two versions of the cartoon.

If someone uses the term “idiot” in frustration at a ridiculous point being made, they are usually not mocking a mentally disabled poster because usually they have no idea of the mental status of that person. That is a very common usage of the word even though it is not a good direction in which to take a conversation.

Dave Allen

Dear Muslima seemed to me to be a very reasonable response, given the circumstances in which it was posted. It was weeks after RW’s video which included the Elevator Incident, and the flame war was happening on the blog of someone that Dawkins, presumably, understood to be a fellow scientist. It was obvious to any outsider that it was a war created over a non-incident, and reasonable that he should find it irritating. His two Muslima posts were accurate; he saw it as a non-event because it was a non-event. The man in the lift did not come out of nowhere, RW was not in a confined space with a total stranger; she had been in his company for several hours, and she never said that she had found anyone in the bar to be creepy so he must have seemed like an ok guy. And in fact he was polite and accepted her rebuff. Plus, the hotel was not empty. It was a zero-problem event.

And yes, I have been in similar situations myself (when I was young and desirable — not to blow my own trumpet) so I do know what it is like to be in a lift, in an unfamiliar area, in the early hours of the morning, with someone who wants to “get to know you better”. I see that people think he has apologised for Dear Muslima; I haven’t seen that, only the expression of a vague regret for fanning the flames of a stushie. If he did actually apologise for the comment itself I shall be sad to see it because he was in the right. People were getting worked up over a non-event.

The funny thing is that FtB has actually used the approach of belittling problem A because it is not as bad as problem B; Myers’ posting on Robin Williams’ death was a classic example.

Ariel

It intrigues me that you do not find the FtB rages over small points to be worthy of amusement and sarcasm but you do find the outrage from Michael and the ‘pitters over serious smears to be laughable.

176 Jan Steen November 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Well, Michael, it seems PZ Myers’s got your number. You’re doing it for profit. See this Twitter exchange between “die in a fire” Wowbagger and Myers.

Wowbagger SJW ‏@WowbaggerOM Nov 5

Wait, so now Monsignor Nugent’s plan is to keep writing overlong, dull-as-shit blog posts about @PZMyers’ blasphemy until…what exactly?

PZ Myers ‏@pzmyers

.@WowbaggerOM PROFIT!

Did I somehow miss all those ads here? Like those that make browsing FTB such a wonderful experience? And where’s the donation button? If you want to make a profit you’re doing it wrong, Michael. PZ Myers is the go-to person here. The guy is an ace when it comes to click baiting and profiting from sleazy ads.

177 Jan Steen November 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

The blockquote was supposed to close after PROFIT!

178 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

“Monsignor” is a French/Italian title, and therefore either racist or cultural appropriation.

Damn, I could do that all day!

179 Jan Steen November 7, 2014 at 2:14 pm

“die in a fire” Wowbagger is suggesting that Michael is a Catholic prelate, or something.

180 Crackity Jones November 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Pogsurf:

When Martin Rees, an atheist and highly respected astronomer was awarded a Templeton Prize, PZ Myers comment was ‘pass the porcupine’. Sounds so mild doesn’t it? Except the message Myers was sending was ‘wouldn’t it be funny to anally rape’ Rees.

Compare and contrast with the response from Dawkins, who called Rees a “compliant quisling”. Far more classy and cutting, worthy of Oscar Wilde. It exemplifies the gulf between a gentleman like Dawkins, and the trailer trash that is PZ Myers.

PS – Anybody know if FTB have “touched” the Lena Dunham story, yet?

181 Crackity Jones November 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Jan Steen:

Well, Michael, it seems PZ Myers’s got your number. You’re doing it for profit.

Am I right in recalling that PZ, Ophelia, et al responded with much snark that their drama blogging was all about the “clicks”. Now, there is a suggestion from them Michael is doing the same, even though, as far as I can tell, there are NO adverts on this blog!

Meanwhile, over at FTB, are you looking for a Muslim woman who is single? Click here……

182 piero November 7, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Michael says:

please support the primacy of reasonable dialogue

and I think the thread is drifting precisely in the direction of offensive name-calling. I plead guilty in this respect, but in keeping with Michael’s intentions we should all make an effort to stop it.

Offense is in the eye (and ears) of the beholder. In Italy, the traditional and specific word for a sub-Saharan African was negro. It slowly came to be perceived as offensive, and blacks in Italy now prefer to be called nero, a more neutral term which refers to the colour black and not to an ethnic category. Of course, it is to be expected that nero will in turn be replaced by some other word, following the pattern nigger – black – African American. Eventually, I hope, there will be no need to identify people by the colour of their skin, just as currently the colour of one’s eyes or hair is largely irrelevant; meanwhile, I’ll call people whatever they choose to be called, and avoid giving gratuitous offence.

Concerning offensive words related to genitalia and excretory functions, I’d say they are semantically empty and see no great harm in using them. Trying to make literal sense of a phrase such as “I don’t give a fuck” is pointless: the word “fuck” is there only to convey a sense of annoyance or anger, and it is well-suited to the task mainly because it sounds curt, cutting, aggressive. The phrase “fuck the fucker” is even more nonsensical when taken literally, yet its message is conveyed very effectively. So I don’t think “fuck him to the ground” can really be considered equivalent to “rape him to death.”

“Cunt” is akin to “fuck” in its aural effect. It’s no accident that, like “fuck,” “dick” and “prick” it contains the -k- sound and short vowels, just like “cut.” The phrase “a kick in the cunt” sounds to me, a non-native speaker, extremely aggressive. “Twat,” on the other hand, contains a long vowel and the -tw- sound which is more often found in “funnier” words: twist, tweet, twit, twerp, twerk; it resembles words such as “quack” and “squat.”

Words that refer to diminished mental abilities seem to me pretty innocuous: in calling somebody an idiot we are using the word with a particular meaning, namely “someone who could understand but doesn’t want to,” or merely “you’re making me angry.” I have never come across words like idiot, imbecile, etc. being used to refer to mentally impaired people. Still, communication could be better served, I think, by actually saying “you’re making me angry” rather than “you’re an idiot.”

183 john welch November 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Ariel@165:

As I see it, the basic problem with the advice “If she doesn’t like the pit, she can…not go there. I dislike her blathering intensely. You know what I don’t do? Read her blathering.” (cf. John Welch later) can be succinctly formulated in the following phrase: risky politics. Consider political parties. If the opposition smears you, is it a good idea to ignore it (“don’t read their blathering”)? Well, it depends. If they are a complete fringe, just a couple of buddies drinking in a bar, then I would say “yes, it can be ignored”. However, if you see their smears becoming popular, their base enlarging, their arguments repeated by more influential people, then ignoring it is probably just this: bad politics.

All well and good, but that’s what Ophelia et al say to all the people they smear, that they attack, and mind you, ban from bringing up the problem on the sites they are attacked on:

“if you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

So again, because you never ever answer a question: Why is it okay for Ophelia/Zvan/Myers to brush off criticism in such a fashion, but so terribly, terribly wrong for anyone else to do the exact same thing especially, especially given the larger influence those three, and FTB carry?

How come all your arguments about why it’s bad for the ‘pit to say it suddenly evaporate like fog on a hot day when it comes to it being bad for the people you like to say it?

As for the pit, my impression is that your people have these two faces. In internal discussions you like to talk about “laudable efforts”, about the atmosphere changing against the “SJW”-s, about more important people starting to appreciate your arguments … and you brag a lot about your role in it. You are also quite active, by no means restricting your activities to the pit (petitions, coordinated actions, group visits in other spaces). However, when speaking to people like me, you immediately start presenting yourself almost like a knitting circle: “oh, you don’t like knitting? Don’t visit us, then!”. Personally, I find it very funny. And I can only repeat: why, oh why, haven’t I learned to use the photoshop!!!

Because Photoshop requires you learn how to use it, and won’t redefine its functions to suit you.

You again keep ignoring, and at this point it’s deliberate, that the FTB lot do the exact same thing. They go out and attack people outside of their web sites. Ask Abbie Smith, Justin Vacula, D.J. Grothe, Mallorie Nasrallah, Mykeru, Skep Tickle, or any of the other people they’ve gone after across the years about how your heroes stay confined to their web sites.

Then tell us how it’s okay when they do it, and only bad when people you don’t like do it.

“Self awareness” is something that only happens to other people in your world.

Also, note again how Ariel immediately ignores the questions posed to her over and over again, to once again try to make this all about “interpretations” and “intent”, with a smattering of “popularity” in the hopes we won’t notice she’s still pushing the Fair Game doctrine.

184 Crackity Jones November 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Pogsurf:

But if I say professors at Morris Minnesota are smearing assholes, I am actually spreading hate. I apologise to any professors whose reputations I besmirched in the previous sentence.

I wonder how embarrassed the other professors at Morris Minnesota feel, having someone like PZ in their ranks. Must be like the professors at the college where Michael Behe is tenured.

185 MosesZD November 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

@ Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

I’m not sure of that at all. I think “Dear Muslima” was borne out of frustration with a bunch of hypersensitive, selectively hair-trigger, spoilt American brats making a number of huge deals out of very little, and I saw it as an exercise in good old British sarcastic piss-taking aimed at a very deserving target. Dawkins wasn’t saying that harassment doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t a problem, he was saying “get a sense of proportion, you’re starting to sound pathetic to the extent you are actually shooting yourselves in the foot.”

That was my take. We have someone (Dawkins) who deals with the issues of severe sexism and abuse on a routine basis commenting on a bunch of self-involved children having a hissy-fit over a trivial incident.

And I also agree it seems to be, primarily, an ‘American’ problem. To my shame as an American atheist.

186 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Ariel said:

You are also quite active, by no means restricting your activities to the pit (petitions, coordinated actions, group visits in other spaces).

AhahahaAHAHAHAHAHAHA.. ha.. oh shit…..

You’ll forgive me if I find that incredibly funny. This isn’t really a rebuttal to your argument, just the report of someone who is familiar with the culture (unlike you). As an experiment, make a sock puppet account at the pit. Try to get them to do anything in a coordinated fashion. Let me know how that works out for you.

187 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Shatterface @173

Americans tend to pronounce it wrong. It rhymes with ‘bat’ not ‘swat’.

It’s tow-may-tow, not tow-mah-tow, you limey.

188 Ariel November 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

John Welch #182

note again how Ariel immediately ignores the questions posed to her over and over again

No, John, the problem is rather that you choose to ignore my answers whenever suitable, evidently not liking them.

Here is what you want me to answer:

Then tell us how it’s okay when they do it, and only bad when people you don’t like do it.

From my #31:

How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year?

From my #105:

In general, I do not find it beyond the pale to criticize a given prominent figure, sometimes even fiercely. I do not mind in principle even concentrating on such a figure for a while, provided that it’s temporary – that after some time you are able to say to yourself “alright, I’m done”. All in all, my impression is that Ophelia is able to do it.

Check how often Justin Vacula has been mentioned recently on FtB. Do a similar check for Ophelia (or PZ, or Stephanie) at the slyme pit.

FtB bloggers are able to do it. You, however, are not. That’s for me *a hell* of a difference. That’s in fact a part of the difference between criticizing someone and harassing someone.

I’m very sorry that my answers don’t make you happy.

(But I loved the part about the photoshop from your last comment. It was cute.)

189 MosesZD November 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm

@Ariel

(As for “ripping on the people who sent her flowers when her husband died”, I not only read it but I also wrote something in this thread. My opinion – after taking all the events into account – was that nothing very remarkable happened there. I can explain my point of view if you really want it.)

But Ariel, as a former member of the Horde (2004 – 2009/2010) who left because of the increasingly toxic and abusive atmosphere at Pharyngula and FTB I already know the answer — “It’s okay when we do it.”

After all, she’s been dehumanized. And it’s okay to kill the dehumanized enemy. Just ask any soldier.

However, unlike you and those that see themselves as champions of Social Justice, I realized what I was becoming (a dehumanizing jerk) as I took on more and more of the negative social characteristics of ‘the horde.’ And that was costing me in the broader, less tolerant of misbehavior, Internet — like this temporary ban from MMORPG (an MMO gaming forum):

Dear MosesZD,

You have been issued a temporary ban by one of our moderators.

Category: Trolling

Reason: Posting excessive negative comments or baiting others to respond in a negative manner is considered trolling on the MMORPG.com forums.

This temporary ban was generated from the following post on our discussion forum:

Thing is, compared to graphic abuse The Horde has routinely flung out into the Internet the comment I made was complete milquetoast. No profanity. No wishes for the other person to die some horrible death or be anally raped with a dead porcupine, etc.

But I’d become used to aggressive behavior in attacking others as a member of The Horde. So I paid the penalty.

So I say, as a former member of, and current outsider to, your group, you’re as toxic, if not worse, than 4chan or any other trolling group. And you are so blind to your behaviors, that I can’t see how you, and your group, can manage to partition your toxicity off from your purported ‘egalitarian’ beliefs.

190 Crackity Jones November 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Ariel:

Check how often Justin Vacula has been mentioned recently on FtB. Do a similar check for Ophelia (or PZ, or Stephanie) at the slyme pit.

I don’t seem able to get anybody from the “FTB side” to answer this question.

Why was Justin Vacula accused of harassment when he “doxxed” a publicly available business address, which led to Stephanie Zvan launching a witch-hunt against him, while PZ and Rebecca Watson are “guilt free” when they doxxed Ellesun’s work address, with the implicit idea that FTB and Skepchick commentators should contact her employer (some admitting they did) and cause mischief?

Please elaborate…

191 Ariel November 7, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I already know the answer

Yes, Moses, I understand that you already know all the answers and any explanation of my point of view is of no use to you. As for other people, I can only hope that they will check what actually happened in this thread before making their minds.

Good night
(oops, sorry, Piero!!!)

192 MosesZD November 7, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Check how often Justin Vacula has been mentioned recently on FtB. Do a similar check for Ophelia (or PZ, or Stephanie) at the slyme pit.

FtB bloggers are able to do it. You, however, are not. That’s for me *a hell* of a difference. That’s in fact a part of the difference between criticizing someone and harassing someone.

Excuse me, but it wasn’t until after they trashed Vacula’s status they left him alone. But until they effectively destroyed his ability to be a member of the atheist/skeptic communities, they were all over him with libels and slanders galore.

As for Ophelia, nobody is harassing Ophelia. Obscure Photoshops on the backwater of the Internet that would pass completely unnoticed but for her constant monitoring for her next “I’m a victim” post are not harassment.

SHE is going to the ‘Pit. The ‘Pit isn’t coming to her. It’s that reversal of the causal arrow of behavior that defines the ‘shops as non-harassment as the concept of harassment requires PURSUIT or some other type of affirmative action in bothering the victim.

Words have meanings. And you don’t get to change them because it fits your ideological victimhood stance.

193 MosesZD November 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

@Ariel

And you deliberately miss the point. I was, once, one of you and I know the rationalizations and self-justifications. And I saw how rampant abuse and misbehavior was excused because ‘it’s okay when we do it’ because of, well, bad reasons…. While I was there it was:

* Okay to ruin a man’s business.
* Okay to get a woman fired from her job.
* Okay to dox someone.
* Okay to libel and slander everyone not a member of The Horde or someone ‘approved’ by the FTB bloggers.
* Okay to be a complete and utter jerk to anyone not part of the in-group in every non-FTB forum and blog in the atheist community.
* Okay to lie about people, their motivations and actions.
* Okay to tar and feather people because of any perceived (even if completely false) association with a ‘despised outgroup.’
* Okay to be sexist and racist as long as it’s sexist and racist to white men and, sometimes, white women. Especially if they’re holding a conservative or libertarian in political outlook.

Well, it’s not okay. I had my wake-up call. And I admit it was wrong to go along with the crowd and be part of it (and it was much less toxic in those days) just as you’re wrong to be part of it far more toxic FTB culture today.

And it’s definitely not okay continue to defend it and act as if this toxic behavior towards people is ‘okay’ and ‘justified.’

194 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Ariel@191

Yes, Moses, I understand that you already know all the answers and any explanation of my point of view is of no use to you. As for other people, I can only hope that they will check what actually happened in this thread before making their minds.

Good night

Actually answering people’s questions in a concise and straightforward manner would go a long way toward clearing up the differences in starting assumptions that you and I agree is a main source of our problem.

195 Gerhard November 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm

@Theophontes

@ Steersman # 19

Unlike “asshole”, “twat” is a sexist slur.

No it isn’t. I have never, ever, heard the word “twat” used with the intent to insult based on gender association. That is just not the way it is used in my experience, and nor is it perceived that way. Do you think that people are so suggestible that they are somehow going to become unconsciously prejudiced? Where is the evidence for that? There are people with gender prejudices and people without and the notion that “gender slurs” used without sexist intent adds to either of those groups is silly. Intent is everything. Theories about how a word could be used with sexist intent are no reason to malign the character of anyone using them without such intent. That requires a high degree of arrogance, to require everyone to behave according to your belief in the unlikely power of words.

196 piero November 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Rage against the dying of the light, Ariel.

197 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm

True. I reject this myth that “twat” is a sexist slur. Born and raised in America (well, technically not born, but certainly raised), and I, like Gerhard, have never heard “twat” used in such a way as to be gendered. It can usually be swapped for “twit” (as in the comic) and have a similar, if less impactful, meaning. The target of the word is meant to be a moron, a fool, a clown, etc…

“Cunt”, in America, is used as a gendered slur, and is particularly offensive *to Americans*.

198 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Bah, been posting on reddit and confused my tags…

199 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm

It’s tow-may-tow, not tow-mah-tow, you limey.

Keep your dirty colonial tongues off our fruit.

And, for the record, a ‘fanny’ is a front-bottom and it is never okay to slap one.

200 Darby November 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I see Ariel has trotted out that good old standby, “It’s not the fact that people are attacked/criticized/insulted/mocked. It’s that one (eeeviiilll) side is so obsessive about it”.

Of course s/h/it ignores the fact that the reason no one at FTB has attacked Justin Vacula lately is because they already were successful in banishing him from a competing blog network. Also ignored are the numerous times when Benson, for example, has gone on a multi-day spree of posting about her latest obsession such as Jacklyn Glenn. Of course, It’s Ok When We Do It(tm).

Honestly, these people operate from a playbook that is as old as time.

201 Matt Cavanaugh November 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

It’s amusing to watch Theophontes’ growing frustration over evil slymepitters’ failure to live up to our characterization as unbridled monsters incapable of restraint, civility, or engaging in reasoned discourse.

It’s also amazing how Theophontes’ believes xe has both the power and the right to instruct others on what language to use at their own blogs. Has Theo tried to explain why certain words are inherently sexist? Has ze tried to persuade us to eschew their use of our own free will? No. SJW dogma is Revealed Truth; Theophontes its high priest, imposing unquestioning conformity.

Take a hike, Theo.

202 Darby November 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

@Matt Cavanaugh #201

This is something I’ve always found intensely fascinating when the FTB tone-trolls deign to interact with people outside of their precious safe space. They just completely don’t understand how most of us can argue that people have the right to speak as offensively as they choose to in their own spaces, yet also respect the wishes of others to refrain from certain kinds of speech in their spaces.

It’s like they are utterly befuddled by the concept of acting as a bloody adult.

203 Greg R. November 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

@JetLagg/197
“… if less impactful,” Impactful? Now that’s offensive.

204 Deepak Shetty November 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm

@piero
Notice the magical disappearance of “rapists” from the categories sheltered and encouraged by Michael.
Ok the Nugent defends rapists is unsupportable. However what is supportable is Nugent defends an alleged rapist is supportable imo. (I freely concede this is not what he thinks he is doing and this is probably not his intention – but it is what his behavior works out to – and he has refused to change it – so evil or incompetent take your pick)
Here is why I believe this is supportable
Victim V has accused Person A of effectively rape.
Victim V has explained why she didnt goto the police and what her intention was of sending details to blogger B.
B posted on his blog , with clear disclaimers that this is what V has told him , and that V’s version has some other people willing to backup parts of it.
Nugent states that B has smeared A (effectively he believes A is innocent?) – That is a defence
Nugent further states that A can’t be named on his blog and edits comments that name A – Who does this policy help?
Not Victim V who specifically wanted A named to help other victims
Not other potential victims (assuming V is telling the truth) who might have been forewarned
Certainly helps Accused A who can maintain his reputation (as well as if V is telling the truth carry on with impunity)
So his policy effectively favors the alleged rapist.
Nugent hasn’t posted a single item , about , how given the situation , what he expected blogger B to do? if Blogger B had followed Nugents current policy – he’d have to say “A victim who cannot be named has accused someone who cant be named either – While I have helpfully told the victim to go to the police , who are famed for their robust and sensitive handling of rape related matters , and I have also helpfully passed along other support organizations (you know the ones that can be found with a 30 second google search) – I am afraid that I can do no more – Since I must be scrupulously fair and independent and polite. It matters not to me that other people have corroborated some of the events because I am not a detective or a journalist . However when it comes to religion , I can indeed don a detective’s or journalists hat, because these are totally different. In one case I have to find problems with others (Easy) – In another case I have to look within(Hard).

205 Steven Carr November 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Yes, PZ Myers has convicted somebody of rape and expects other people to realise that his jurisdiction is valid in all countries.

Instead, people are asking for rapists to be put behind bars,and not,as Myers wants, their speaking gigs to go to him.

206 Dave Allen November 7, 2014 at 5:09 pm

However what is supportable is Nugent defends an alleged rapist is supportable imo.

A lot of people other than Michael find it distinctly “off” that an attempt seems to be being made to impose the social cost of being considered a criminal on those who have not been formally accused of a crime.

This is not necessarily the same thing as “defending” any given individual.

207 Darby November 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

@Dave Allen #206

A lot of people other than Michael find it distinctly “off” that an attempt seems to be being made to impose the social cost of being considered a criminal on those who have not been formally accused of a crime.

This is exactly correct. Some of us take things like “due process” and “freedom of expression” seriously. I know that seems like a hopelessly quaint idea in today’s SJW dominated environment, but call me a dreamer.

208 Matt Cavanaugh November 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Deepak Shetty wrote: “Not all of us support behavior of this kind. But for the cartoon to be an exact analogy you need to have a couple of panels where people tell the Sea Lion of his bad behavior and he ignores all of it and asks the same question.”

IMO, if someone considered Michael stubborn, they might reasonably produce a caricature of him as a Mick the Mule. Mules being a universal icon for stubbornness, the caricature would efficiently convey the message to a broad audience.

Sea lions do not convey any commonly understood trait. Mick the Sealion is a very inside joke, and Michael is wise to disregard it.

Yet the Atheism Plussers who created and liked it seem to trust in its persuasive powers to turn the public against Michael for his persistent, polite demand for the retraction of a baseless smear. They fail to comprehend that disagreement or refusal to obey are not considered egregious sins by general society.

Heads-up, Plussers: shaming & berating tactics only work inside the cult.

209 BlueShift Rhino November 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I am more than a little disappointed in Malki ! (who appears to have altered a comic to delete the word “twat”). The comic is now less amusing because the female character is now less believable or, at least, less effective at making the point. Clearly, as Malki ! knew when making the original, the woman would say “twat” and not “twit” in that situation. Sigh.

And since when are authors responsible for the actions of their characters, anyway? If authors are to be judged by every action of every one of their characters, we’re either going to have a lot of authors who are treated as slime or a lot of really boring books. The only thing that could make such enjoyable would be watching FTB’s resident porn author try to squirm out from under this new set of rules.

210 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm

And since when are authors responsible for the actions of their characters, anyway? If authors are to be judged by every action of every one of their characters, we’re either going to have a lot of authors who are treated as slime or a lot of really boring books.

No more Nabokov!

Down with this kind of thing!

Careful now.

211 Darby November 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm

@BlueShift Rhino #209

And since when are authors responsible for the actions of their characters, anyway? If authors are to be judged by every action of every one of their characters, we’re either going to have a lot of authors who are treated as slime or a lot of really boring books.

To the extent that SJW’s aren’t simply attempting to control the narrative though policing people’s speech, their attempts to police media seem to fall into one of two paradigms.

There is the “trigger warning” brigade that seems to believe that people have an absolute right to never encounter a stimulus that they react to negatively no matter how unique that reaction is to them. These are the gorps who will, with no sense of irony at all, preface an article about cheese making with “TW: fermentation” on the off chance that someone, somewhere was abused as a child by a wild gang of lactobacilli. In other words, children.

The other group are people who honestly seem to think that the elimination of depictions of offensive or traumatic situations, or instances of offensive language will somehow result in the elimination of those situations from real life. These people believe that eliminating depictions of rape in media will banish rape from reality. Of course this is a belief so divorced from reality that the fictional architects of Orwell’s 1984 would shake their heads in resignation at the thought.

212 Matt Cavanaugh November 7, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Stephen Carr wrote: “” I have no idea what a douchebag is. I get the impression it is something American high-school students call each other.”
That is correct. I believe it’s a derivative reference to a feminine hygiene product. The term has since entered the adult vernacular, and describes someone who acts in a particularly low, venal, despicable or cowardly manner.

Example 1: A group of work colleagues all agree to not tell the boss that they had some drinks at lunch. Albert offers to be designated driver. When they return to the office, Albert runs to the boss and squeals on the others. Albert is a total douchebag.

Example 2: Jane makes a silly joke about Sonny. Sonny retaliates by trying to get Jane fired. Sonny is a complete douchebag.

213 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm

In particular, “douchebag” is used to refer to people who are also called “dudebros”. White, college or highschool age kids. Polo shirts with popped colors. And so on. I should be familiar to the Americans here who attended college the roughly same time I did.

Refer to the Mitchematic song “D-bags”

214 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Shatterface @210:

Father Ted marathon this week?

215 Guestus Aurelius November 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Deepak Shetty at 204:

Victim V has accused Person A of effectively rape.

Alleged Victim V.

Victim V has explained why she didnt goto the police and what her intention was of sending details to blogger B.

You forgot Intermediary CP, but do go on.

B posted on his blog , with clear disclaimers that this is what V has told him, …

I think you mean what Intermediary CP had told him, but continue.

… and that V’s version has some other people willing to backup parts of it.

Right—according to Intermediary CP, Alleged Victim V claimed to have witnesses who back up her story. As every good skeptic knows, this is rock-solid evidence, and the only right thing for Blogger B to do is attempt to ruin the reputation and career of Person A.

Nugent states that B has smeared A (effectively he believes A is innocent?)

False dichotomy. Neglecting to condone or participate in a misguided witch-hunt ≠ believing in the innocence of an alleged witch.

That is a defence
Nugent further states that A can’t be named on his blog and edits comments that name A – Who does this policy help?
Not Victim V who specifically wanted A named to help other victims
Not other potential victims (assuming V is telling the truth) who might have been forewarned
Certainly helps Accused A who can maintain his reputation (as well as if V is telling the truth carry on with impunity)
So his policy effectively favors the alleged rapist.

Are you playing stupid? Or do you sincerely not understand the difference between a general principle and a specific case? “Who does this policy help?” Try: all of society. The policy of not going nuclear over mere allegations is literally the glue that holds any good civilization together. We have a collective responsibility to put ourselves in each others’ shoes, to recognize that, someday, the person alleged to have done something shun-worthy could be you, or me, or someone we care about; we’d all want others to be skeptical and withhold judgment should that day come. This is simply the Golden Rule.

As I told you yesterday (http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/11/01/yet-more-misrepresentations-in-pz-myers-post-refusing-to-withdraw-or-apologise-for-his-smear/comment-page-1/#comment-1230596):

You see nothing wrong with trial-by-(social-)media on the basis of hearsay. You think it’s perfectly acceptable—nay, noble—to actively work to ruin reputations and careers over criminal allegations you can’t even begin to verify. When someone objects to your despicable behavior or refuses to allow their own space to be used as a venue for it, you smear them as an apologist for the alleged crime, when in reality they’re upholding the laudable principle of not being a credulous and reckless douche.

I’ll add that there’s no reason that your incredibly myopic argument wouldn’t likewise apply to modern justice systems (were it valid). The legal “presumption of innocence” would, according to your vapid illogic, make society as a whole a defender of and save haven for criminals of all types.

Nugent hasn’t posted a single item , about , how given the situation , what he expected blogger B to do? if Blogger B had followed Nugents current policy – he’d have to say “A victim who cannot be named has accused someone who cant be named either – While I have helpfully told the victim to go to the police , who are famed for their robust and sensitive handling of rape related matters , and I have also helpfully passed along other support organizations (you know the ones that can be found with a 30 second google search) – I am afraid that I can do no more – Since I must be scrupulously fair and independent and polite.

That’s precisely what Blogger B should have done. Not out of “politeness,” but out of respect for the bedrock principle of justice and human decency. Out of the understanding that not all information is correct, and that, someday, the alleged wrongdoer could be him or someone he cares about. If everybody threw the Golden Rule out the window and actively tried to destroy people over mere allegations, society would crumble.

It matters not to me that other people have corroborated some of the events because I am not a detective or a journalist . However when it comes to religion , I can indeed don a detective’s or journalists hat, because these are totally different. In one case I have to find problems with others (Easy) – In another case I have to look within(Hard).

Yes, they are totally different. In the first case, you’re actively trying to ruin someone over unsubstantiated allegations of criminal activity. In the second, you’re debating ideas.

216 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I find the SJWs glee at the “Mick the Sealion” thing to be baffling – or at least I would, had it not been long clear that these astonishing people have some sort of reversed polarity on their moral compasses. They actually seem to think that dogged persistence in the face of incredibly serious and offensive (and baseless, and unsupported) smears is somehow ridiculous and inappropriate, as opposed to, say, casually making incredibly serious and offensive (and baseless, and unsupported) smears. They are so corrupt, morally, that they find it laughable and inappropriate that someone refuses to allow their lies and abuse to pass.

It’s long past time someone stood up to them and kept relentlessly and precisely calling them out like this. I hope Michael’s patience and doggedness encourages others to do the same.

217 Patrick November 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Ariel @105

Thank you for your reply. Hopefully we can drive this to ground in another iteration or two.

Can you state concisely how “defending & providing a haven” could be interpreted in any other way in this context, particularly taking into account the rest of Myers’ tweets on this subject?

I have nothing else than Stephanie’s “a ‘haven for rapists’ is not somewhere that rapists currently exist but a place that protects them by policy”. Unlike most of the people here, I take into consideration that PZ might have meant something like that.

And yet, given multiple opportunities to clarify his meaning, Myers never modified his claim to include such an interpretation.

If you can, do you think that anyone not committed to twisting words into almost unrecognizable shapes in order to support Myers would interpret them in the same way?

Patrick, I want to be clear about this: it’s not an interpretation that came to my mind when I was reading PZ’s words.

Excellent, we’re making progress. Let’s go back to my original question. First, for context, here is Myer’s original assertion:

It’s not about what he thinks but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

What I asked you in the other thread was:

Since we agree on the meaning of the term rapist and, hopefully, can agree on the prima facie meaning of the rest of Myers claim, on what basis do you reject the conclusion that Myers claims are unsupported and dishonest?

So in addition to agreeing on the meaning of the term “rapist”, we also agree on the prima facie meaning of what Myers actually wrote, including the subsequent context. I state this based on your own recognition with respect to other possibilities that “it’s not an interpretation that came to my mind when I was reading PZ’s words.” There is no need to appeal to the ever popular “reasonable man on the street” because even an FtB supporter can see the obvious meaning of Myers’ words.

Given all that agreement, I repeat my core question: On what basis do you reject the conclusion that Myers’ claims are unsupported and dishonest?

If you still disagree with that characterization, please explain how they could possibly be considered well supported and honest.

Once we agree on the nature of Myers’ behavior, we can discuss what his response should be.

218 piero November 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

@Deepak:

so evil or incompetent take your pick

You already know I’ll answer “none.” And you also know “none” to be the correct answer, because you appear tho have access to a working brain. Really, Deepak, can you bring yourself to believe Michael is evil? Can you think of any motivation that would make Michael defend a rapist? Analogously, can you really bring yourself to believe that Michael is incompetent, having been reelected just a few days ago? You know all this, yet you ask an onnoxious question as if it was genuine.

There are two aspects to be considered that you appear to have neglected.

First, there are legal concerns which are far from trivial. You cannot just assume (as Americans are wont to do) that libel laws are the same in every country. So, the first thing you should do is ask Michael whether there are legal restrictions he would be foolish to ignore.

Second, even if it were legal, publishing the name of someone who has been accused without due process is unethical. This point has been made probably a few thousand times, yet you continue to ignore the argument without offering a rebuttal. It has also been pointed out a few thousand times that calling an accuser a victim is begging the question, i.e. it assumes that a crime did indeed take place and therefore that there was a victim. How this is so hard to understand I’m at a loss to say. It is extremely difficult to explain the obvious without losing one’s temper and without being patronising, but I’ll try: using the word “victim” only makes sense if there was a crime, because if the accusation turned out to be false you would not refer to the accuser as a victim; you’d say that the accused was the victim of slander. At this point, we do not have sufficient information to establish what actually happened, so the responsible thing is to refrain from opining. Nobody I know has any interest in defending a rapist; on the contrary, most commenters here, for example, are very vocal in their condemnation of rape, sometimes to the point of appearing overly harsh. Nobody here is defending a rapist, because it hasn’t been established that a rapist even exists; and nobody is defending the person accused of rape, because nobody has any reason to defend him in the absence of information. This has also been said several times, but you seem to overlook it every single time. It’s getting tiresone.

I’ll repeat the main points, just so I can say they’ve been said again:

Nobody I know defends rapists. I have no reason to believe Michael would defend a rapist. Why should he? And defend against what, exactly? A convicted rapist would not much benefit from a blog post defending him, would he? The fact that you accuse Michael of defending a rapist just shows that you are misusing the word “rapist” and treating it as a synonym of “accused.”

Refraining from mentioning a person’s name in the context of an unpriven accusationis not defending that person: it is only what’s to be expected from people who take pride in scepticism and rationality. I for one don’t give a flying toss about Voldemort, but I won’t express judgements which may or may not be true; I try to state as true only that which I know to be true.

“Believe the victim” is irrational crap. If it has been established that a victim exists, then you don’t need to believe: you know; and if you don’t know, then you have no gounds for presuming the existence of a victim. Just try substituting “accuser” forf “victim:” it doesn’t quite sound so compelling, does it? “Believe the accuser” is easily recognised as bullshit; BUT UNTIL YOU’VE SHOWN THAT A CRIME TOOK PLACE YOU ONLY HAVE AN ACCUSER, NOT A VICTIM, FFS!

219 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm

@piero
Notice the magical disappearance of “rapists” from the categories sheltered and encouraged by Michael.
Ok the Nugent defends rapists is unsupportable. However what is supportable is Nugent defends an alleged rapist is supportable imo. (I freely concede this is not what he thinks he is doing and this is probably not his intention – but it is what his behavior works out to – and he has refused to change it – so evil or incompetent take your pick)
Here is why I believe this is supportable
Victim V has accused Person A of effectively rape.
Victim V has explained why she didnt goto the police and what her intention was of sending details to blogger B.
B posted on his blog , with clear disclaimers that this is what V has told him , and that V’s version has some other people willing to backup parts of it.
Nugent states that B has smeared A (effectively he believes A is innocent?) – That is a defence
Nugent further states that A can’t be named on his blog and edits comments that name A – Who does this policy help?
Not Victim V who specifically wanted A named to help other victims
Not other potential victims (assuming V is telling the truth) who might have been forewarned
Certainly helps Accused A who can maintain his reputation (as well as if V is telling the truth carry on with impunity)
So his policy effectively favors the alleged rapist.
Nugent hasn’t posted a single item , about , how given the situation , what he expected blogger B to do? if Blogger B had followed Nugents current policy – he’d have to say “A victim who cannot be named has accused someone who cant be named either – While I have helpfully told the victim to go to the police , who are famed for their robust and sensitive handling of rape related matters , and I have also helpfully passed along other support organizations (you know the ones that can be found with a 30 second google search) – I am afraid that I can do no more – Since I must be scrupulously fair and independent and polite. It matters not to me that other people have corroborated some of the events because I am not a detective or a journalist . However when it comes to religion , I can indeed don a detective’s or journalists hat, because these are totally different. In one case I have to find problems with others (Easy) – In another case I have to look within(Hard).

This type of rubbish is just insulting to everyone else’s intelligence here. I was at a police station today to make a statement about an assault that I was the victim of in May of this year. You have to very carefully describe what happened, and every part of your allegation is recorded. You can change things later, but you must also make clear which part of your evidence you are withdrawing. What you don’t do is make the allegation behind the anonymous cloak of a piss-poor blogger, then change your position via a newspaper article and comments on blogs. Which version is the allegation? We don’t know.

Making an allegation is a serious business which is done behind closed doors using a privileged form of free speech, and which you may later have to swear on oath is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in an open court. It is simply too serious to be made through the auspices of twits running vendettas.

220 Gerhard November 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

@Deepak Shetty
Mick Nugent is helping himself avoid legal action under Irish law by not allowing commentary over alleged rapists.

but it is what his behavior works out to – and he has refused to change it – so evil or incompetent take your pick)

What, no “false dichotomy” option to pick?

The argument you are making could be applied to any crime. Due process favours the perpetrator. Your argument is basically that due process should be done away with and that the wishes of the accuser, the truth of whose accusation is untested, are more important than the reputation of the accused. Claims to have corroboration are not convincing evidence, especially given the political environment where the blogger who revealed the accusations is known to have a vested interest and be part of a clique given to making accusations of sexual misconduct.

You are arguing for an environment where anybody can drag someone’s reputation through the mud out of spite. I can understand the victim, if indeed there is one, speaking out and accepting the consequences, but politically motivated bloggers who do not have first hand knowledge of the facts, not so much.

221 Pogsurf November 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Apologies, Deepak Shetty made the bulk of what I was quoting in #217. piero wrote only the first sentence.

222 Lancelot Gobbo November 7, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Guestus Aurelius wrote:
Are you playing stupid? Or do you sincerely not understand the difference between a general principle and a specific case? “Who does this policy help?” Try: all of society. The policy of not going nuclear over mere allegations is literally the glue that holds any good civilization together. We have a collective responsibility to put ourselves in each others’ shoes, to recognize that, someday, the person alleged to have done something shun-worthy could be you, or me, or someone we care about; we’d all want others to be skeptical and withhold judgment should that day come. This is simply the Golden Rule.

I like this. I like it a lot. I may be obliged to steal it, but will give credit. I use a similar line when people respond to a jury duty letter with an immediate request for a medical excuse. “If only the people too stupid to think of a way out of it sat on juries, do you think you would be judged fairly when you find yourself wrongly accused one day?” It doesn’t work very often but I try.

Re Justin Vacula: I would add that he seems to have been so effectively damaged by Zvan that he is even marginalised at the Pit. He posts occasionally but no one ever replies to his posts. Yet his posts actually record him being out in the real world, protesting infringements of church-state separation in his unfortunate land. It seems he does stuff but can’t get no respect for it. I find it a bit sad. I expect even the few remaining nice parts of Theophontes and Ariel would find that sad too, but of course they can’t say that when their co-flockers might overhear.

223 Carrie November 7, 2014 at 6:57 pm

It occurs to me that PZ, Ophelia and Zvan have an extraordinarily different view of what constitutes an un-truth from the rest of us. On PZ’s “the end of the micknugent saga” post, both he and Ophelia state that Michael allows “slymepitters” to post any untruths that they want. PZ says:

There is a hell of a lot of insulting abuse directed at FtB and specific individuals in those comment threads, and Michael Nugent, Brave Defender of Online Civility, does nothing about them

As an outsider, I look in here and see that this is a place where those on both sides of the debate are allowed to speak out, even using somewhat vigorous language, but Michael does not allow unsupported slurs. I sometimes have comments in moderation, presumably because I mention an FtB-er’s name, and if he doesn’t allow it through or alters it I know that it will be for a fair reason, and that he will mention that reason.

He must have noticed that when he gives an open space for ‘pitters to fill threads with bullshit, they flock to the manure pile. I guess he’s doing it for the clicks.

Wait, what? This, from a site which depends on garish adverts and clicks, to a site which as far as I can tell does not? Michael’s blog has survived well for a long time without being anything like the centre of attention for clicks.

Ophelia says:

There are comments on his blog announcing that I’m deep into dementia (I’m not) and that I didn’t write any of Why Truth Matters (I wrote 2/3 of it). There are possibly libelous and definitely loathsome comments about the rest of the usual suspects too – PZ, Stephanie, “FTB” – you get the idea.

I can’t see that comments about “FTB” can be libellous, since that is simply a hosting site and so (I think) cannot be libelled. People have said some mocking things about various individuals who post at FtB, but I don’t recall anything more loathsome than “hypocrite”. Of course I am not looking at the discussions through any particular lense, so when I see posts about (for instance) Oggy I see them for what they are — an exposure of double standards. Nobody is trying to hurt him, they are trying to show that PZ and co are hypocritical, but it seems that none of the FtP people can accept this. I don’t think that anyone seriously thinks that Ophelia did not write any of her book, but I agree with the people who say that she has strangely shifted from the attitudes that she seemed to have when she wrote her part of it. And she does show some obsessive traits.

Somebody there makes the point that the elevator incident ocurred in Dublin, not the US. Yes, but the blow-up about it (which is where the Rift starts) was on US blogs.

I find it amusing, the way in which most of the FtB posters delicately lift the hems of their skirts and hold their noses so as to avoid contact with anyone who posts at the Slymepit. They seem to be unable to see that many of those who hang out at the ‘pit are women, and many are people who have suffered abuse or have ongoing serious problems but who refuse to play the “victim” card. Somehow that doesn’t matter, they can all be called scum, or rapists, or rape apologists, and the person who has proved himself to be a true skeptic (Michael) has to be smeared because he allows them to have their say.

Slymepitters are a small group really, nobody has to pay that forum any attention, but if they do then they can see how much kinder, more fun and inclusive they are than those who are so vocal on FtB. I think that, with their mockery, they are doing their bit to help keep skepticism on the level. Many of them are also doing some great work in real life. Some of those at FtB are too, but it seems to me that the ones who do the best work — like Maryam Namazie and AaronRa (despite his “feminism” glitch) — are those who are not vocal on the FtB blogs. They just do the work and post the facts of the work that they do.

Deepak
What you miss out is that the “victim” is actually an “alleged victim”. There is no supporting evidence for her claims and, in fact, at one point she retracted the word “rape”. I do not have a link handy, but the point is that the whole affair is far from settled in the minds of true skeptics. Michael does not allow such allegations to be made on his blog because there is no evidence.

224 piero November 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm

@Lancelot Gobbo:

This is simply the Golden Rule.

Precisely. I bet none of the FtB regulars has ever found him/herself on the situation of being falsely accused.

Oh wait… they have! Not mere regulars, but full-armour white knight bloggers! Yes, as Deepak knows, Myers and Thibeault were accused of sexual violence: of course, they denied it through blog posts, and the Phlock believedf them. Why?

Well, you know, Myers and Thibeault cannot lie, you see, because they are… well, it cannot even be imagined that they would lie over such an important matter.

OK. So Myers and Thibeault are not mere knights, but Established Knights (apologies to Raymond Smullyan). Their truthfulness and honesty are beyond question.

But then their accusers lied! How can that be? They were women! They were the Victims! Victims must be believed!

Ah, but you see, these women were not Victims, because they were scheming and malicious. They probably had a vagina, but that does not mean they were Women: Women cannot lie, so obviously these persons were Men in female disguise!

But how are we to know which women are Women and which women are Men in disguise?

Easy: truth-tellers are Women, liars are Men in disguise!

But how can we know whether they are lying or telling the truth?

Piece of cake: if they are Women, they are telling the truth, and if they are Men they are lying!

225 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Lancelot @221:

“Re Justin Vacula: I would add that he seems to have been so effectively damaged by Zvan that he is even marginalised at the Pit. He posts occasionally but no one ever replies to his posts. Yet his posts actually record him being out in the real world, protesting infringements of church-state separation in his unfortunate land. It seems he does stuff but can’t get no respect for it. I find it a bit sad”

A few of us happen to follow Justin’s work elsewhere. I think we can agree that, what with the ongoing vilification, the Pit might not be the best venue to discuss Justin’s work in-depth, if only to avoid diminishing its impact thanks to smear campaigns because “the Slymepit is evil”.

I like Justin, his work, and his taste in music 😉

226 BlueShift Rhino November 7, 2014 at 7:21 pm

That was an interesting quote from Ophelia: “There are possibly libelous and definitely loathsome comments about the rest of the usual suspects too….” It appears that she may sometimes believe or act as if “libelous” and “loathsome” are two points along a common axis (with the former being farther along in the “bad” direction). This is, of course, wrong, because some of the best loathsome comments are those that are true and, therefore, can’t be libelous by definition. Thus, I hope that is not what she meant.

227 JetLagg November 7, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I don’t remember anyone saying Benson was deep in dementia (though I do remember someone at the pit musing that it could be the case a long time ago, when I naively attempted to moderate between the two).

And she ignores the reason why it was suggested she may not have written her book (namely, her actions directly contradict the arguments within it).

228 Carrie November 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm

@Phil Giordano I, too, follow Justin’s work with interest — and I don’t have the feeling that the Slymepit has neglected him, simply that they don’t talk about what he does. Which makes sense, as you say.

229 Lancelot Gobbo November 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Carrie wrote:
I find it amusing, the way in which most of the FtB posters delicately lift the hems of their skirts and hold their noses so as to avoid contact with anyone who posts at the Slymepit. They seem to be unable to see that many of those who hang out at the ‘pit are women, and many are people who have suffered abuse or have ongoing serious problems but who refuse to play the “victim” card. Somehow that doesn’t matter, they can all be called scum, or rapists, or rape apologists, and the person who has proved himself to be a true skeptic (Michael) has to be smeared because he allows them to have their say.

Slymepitters are a small group really, nobody has to pay that forum any attention, but if they do then they can see how much kinder, more fun and inclusive they are than those who are so vocal on FtB. I think that, with their mockery, they are doing their bit to help keep skepticism on the level. Many of them are also doing some great work in real life. Some of those at FtB are too, but it seems to me that the ones who do the best work — like Maryam Namazie and AaronRa (despite his “feminism” glitch) — are those who are not vocal on the FtB blogs. They just do the work and post the facts of the work that they do.

It’s worth pointing out that nearly every one of the members of the Pit were once members of The Horde, but were the ones who spoke up when common sense and decency were outraged with the result that they were cast out. They are The Horde, evolved.

230 John Greg November 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Theophony, give it up. We all know you are a dissembling maroon. Stop trying so hard to prove it. And anyway, we also all know that you are nothing more than a twatting twit who tweets. So there’s always that. And yes, you are an iDiot.

Jack Rawlinson said:

I think “Dear Muslima” was borne out of frustration with a bunch of hypersensitive, selectively hair-trigger, spoilt American brats making a number of huge deals out of very little, and I saw it as an exercise in good old British sarcastic piss-taking aimed at a very deserving target. Dawkins wasn’t saying that harassment doesn’t exist, or that it isn’t a problem, he was saying “get a sense of proportion, you’re starting to sound pathetic to the extent you are actually shooting yourselves in the foot.”

Jack, I think that is one of the best, and certainly most concise explanations/definitions of the whole tired Dear Muslima thing I’ve yet read.

Also, noelplum (and others) just a word to the wise: Do not get Steersman started on talking about “bad words”, especially if he starts to veer into the “nigger” word, over which he is as obsessive, and as wrong, as Ophelia Benson is about “cunt”. Just say No.

Phil the Pill said:

Again you’re making the (widespread) category error that Dawkins was responding directly to Watson’s GDDT.

I think that cannot be repeated often enough. It is part of The Big Lie™, which also includes the false claim that the whole so-called Deep Rifts® was also caused by Watson’s GDDT comment: it was most specifically not.

Ariel, the Pit is not an echo chamber, nor even much of a homogenous group of like-mindedness. It is a group of several hundred people with vastly differing opinions on almost everything. So, when you ask “… whether you (plural) consider yourselves incompetent failures. And the question still stands: do you?”, it cannot be answered as you state it. No one individual does or can speak for the Pit. So, I can only answer for myself: No, I do not consider myself (nor the Pit in general) a failure in regards the Pit’s small success in informing people of the drear toxicity of groups such as the FTB network, Skepchick, and the moribund and completely failed experiment in Orwellian Authoritarianism known as A+.

As for the rest of your blather in that comment: idiocy; mendacious misinterpretation; rhetorical nonsense; fantasy; derailing; self-contradiction, and bafflegab and waffle.

Ariel said:

[Pit people] are also quite active, by no means restricting [their] activities to the pit (petitions, coordinated actions, group visits in other spaces).

What the everlovingfloosh are you talking about? What petitions has the Pit, as a group, started? What coordinated actions has the Pit, as a coordinated group, taken part in? What group visits has the Pit, as a presumably organized group, taken part in?

Ariel, you are a trademark sterotypical FTBer, with mendacity, deception, misrepresentation, and massive word salad as your MO.

Oh, I almost forgot the dogwhistle: OGVORBIS!

There. That should send him into a right proper conniption of snootery.

Repeated ’cause it’s true and funny.

Jan Steen said:

The blockquote was supposed to close after PROFIT!

Ya, that’s what they all say. You quote-ableist profiteer you!

Deepak Shetty said:

However what is supportable is Nugent defends an alleged rapist is supportable imo.

So, aside from your grammar fail, do you actually think defending someone not yet proven to be guilty of a crime is wrong? What Orwellian nightmare did you crawl out from under?

231 John Greg November 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Lancelot Gobbo said:

It’s worth pointing out that nearly every one of the members of the Pit were once members of The Horde….

I’m sorry, but that simply is not true at all. We have somewhere between approximately 20 to 30 members who are known to have once been active members of the Horde, but that’s about it out of over 800 members (only about 100, or so, of whom are, admittedly, active).

232 John Greg November 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I am going to repeat this (with emphasis) because I think it is very important, and because it points to one of the most severe and toxic ideological stances held by most of the FTB bloggers and blog hosts:

Deepak Shetty said:

However what is supportable is Nugent defends an alleged rapist is supportable imo.

So, aside from your grammar fail, do you actually think defending someone not yet proven to be guilty of a crime is wrong? What Orwellian nightmare did you crawl out from under?

What the everlovingfreedoms happened to innocent until proven guilty?

233 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I am a member of the Pit but I have not yet commented there. I joined out of a vague desire to show solidarity with the (relatively) sane people. It seems like a fun place, as far as I can tell.

I used to post very occasionally at Pharyngula, but the second I dared to question the sanity wisdom of some of the prevailing attitudes I was declared a scumbag and relegated to the dungeon.

234 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Oh dear. The strikeout tag doesn’t work. That “sanity” was supposed to be struck out in a terribly humorous fashion.

235 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm

There are comments on his blog announcing that I’m deep into dementia (I’m not) and that I didn’t write any of Why Truth Matters (I wrote 2/3 of it).

Nobody claimed Benson didn’t co-write Why Truth Matters. The whole point of quoting it at length was that the arguments she put forward in that book completely contradict the bullshit she has written since.

Does she really think previously published comments just disappear when she’s not looking at them so people can’t look back and check? Failures in object permanence – the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed – suggest some kind of, ah fuck it, nearly got me!

Kafkatrap: deny everything after the ‘and’ in her sentence and it’s confirmation you believe everything before it.

236 Lancelot Gobbo November 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

John Gregg @231

Do you really think so? I don’t mean frequent commenters per se at Pharyngula, but regular readers of Pizzle at ScienceBlogs, then Pizzle and his like at FTB. If we were as good at coordinated action as Ariel believes we could take a poll at the pit! I’m happy to be corrected if wrong, but I find it hard to believe that people have been inspired by a dislike of FTB strong enough to make them join the Pit unless they were once regular readers ± posters at FTB. No doubt I shouldn’t generalise my experience. Still, The Horde, Evolved makes a nice slogan!

237 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Deepak Shetty, do you support Gitmo? I mean, they’re obviously guilty aren’t they? They wouldn’t be accused if they weren’t guilty. Stands to reason. Why do you hate the firefighters who died on. 9/11 so much?

All those people who oppose Gitmo are terrorist enablers, sent they? Stands to reason. Only terrorist enablers would defend terrorists and we know they are terrorists because they wouldn’t be accused otherwise.

And surely drone strikes are justified? There might be ‘collateral damage’ but only to terrorist enablers. And okay, they might be in foreign countries but US jurisdiction trumps international boundaries.

238 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm

I’m sorry, but that simply is not true at all. We have somewhere between approximately 20 to 30 members who are known to have once been active members of the Horde,

I suspect a lot posted on FTB but I’m not sure many were members of the Horde, as such. The Horde comprises a few dozen seriously unhinged people very unlikely to defect anywhere. They’re very special.

239 John Greg November 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Lancelot Gobbo said:

Do you really think so? I don’t mean frequent commenters per se at Pharyngula, but regular readers of Pizzle at ScienceBlogs, then Pizzle and his like at FTB.

Yes, I do think so. And, for whatever it’s worth, I have been a member of the Pit since before it was even the Pit, starting with Abbie’s Rebecca … Bad Form post — the post which was specifically what started the Pit.

I would not label occasional or even frequent readers of FTB “members” of FTB. I am a frequent reader of several, and occasional reader of most FTB blogs, but I am most certainly and unequivocally not a member.

If we were as good at coordinated action as Ariel believes we could take a poll at the pit!

HAHAHAHA. Ya.

I think, but I am not certain, that I did just that a year or two ago. And if I recall correctly, though it might very well be just some kind of confirmation-bias-structured memory, that I only recieved 20 or so returns.

The Horde Evolved. I like that.

240 Jack Rawlinson November 7, 2014 at 8:41 pm

The Horde comprises a few dozen seriously unhinged people very unlikely to defect anywhere. They’re very special.

It’s been maybe three years since they banned me but I remember Josh the Official Spokesgay (or whatever combination of those ideas actually made up his name) as being especially unhinged. It seemed quite an achievement, given the company he was in.

241 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I wasn’t banned at FTB last time I visited and I’ve no idea if they’ve banned me since, but I’d like to think they’d respond to my criticisms here with something so lame I’d never even know about it.

242 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Also, as an alternative to twat, prick and arsehole, how about the multi-purpose cloaca?

It’s the Swiss Army knife of smelly orifices.

243 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I think I once raised the question here at Michael’s (might have been somewhere else, I have a short memory), of using body-part slurs. The one I preferred was “ear lob”. Yeah, I’ll use this more often.

244 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

noelplum99 (#167)

… but I totally disagree with you that by its usage we are referring to a person’s skin and not the individual themselves.

Notwithstanding the criticisms from John Greg who has his own questionable biases – at least on that question, I would say that that is a rather moot point. For instance, you say:

Compare:
“I literally hate niggers”
“I literally hate twats”

What would your understanding be? Clearly, in the latter case we would both agree that the person was claiming that they hate vulvas.

Hard to believe that you would suggest that the common use of “twat” – and related terms – is not intended as a criticism of an individual – not least because the cartoon Theophontes referred to was using it in that sense. But consider (1):

twät
Noun, vulgar slang
1.
a woman’s genitals.
2.
a person regarded as stupid or obnoxious.

Why I think it important – notwithstanding John Greg’s objections – to try to understand the mechanisms, the processes, that take place underneath our mental hoods and which lead to various conclusions or arguments – you might want to read Pinker’s How the Mind Works, and to check out the spinning dancer cognitive illusion (2). But in this case, what I think is happening – for all of the epithets mentioned – is the process of synecdoche (3) in which “a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something”. Clearly, I think, each of the epithets refer directly to a body part or feature which has acquired a pejorative sense which is then used to imply a criticism of the whole individual.

But that is only part of the story, the other part being the question of “splash damage”. And it seems to me that the process there is related to “identify politics” which is, I think, underwritten or motivated by the neurological phenomenon of “mirror neurons” (4):

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.

And in the case of those epithets which are directly referring to body parts and, indirectly referring by transference to the individual, we have, in consequence, a natural tendency to see an attack on those who posses features we also have as an attack on ourselves – in spite of any evidence that that is not the case. Which causes no end of problems.

But the point of trying to delineate the analogous mechanisms is that if one insists that splash damage necessarily follows in one case then it should, by rights, follow in the others – to a greater or lesser extent. And if it doesn’t in one then, likewise, it shouldn’t in the others. Unless you, or John Greg, can provide credible – i.e., neurological and linguistic and logical – reasons for different interpretations.

—–
1) “_https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=twat%20definition”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_Dancer”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synecdoche”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron”;

245 Phil Giordana FCD November 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Noelplum99: Rookie mistake. Don’t argue with Steers about slurs.

246 Guestus Aurelius November 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Steersman, I don’t follow. Would you mind expanding on that?

247 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Phil (#243):

The one I preferred was “ear lob”. Yeah, I’ll use this more often.

I like it JB. But “You nostril!” might be more analogous to the other orifice-epithets under discussion. Though those are concavities whereas your “ear lob” might correspond to others that are convexities – topologically speaking.

But maybe I should try calling one of the horde – Ariel or Theo, for examples – either of those and see if others object on the basis “splash damage” ….

248 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Guestus:

Assuming you’re not trolling me – which, of course, no one ever does in The Pit – which part would you like me to elaborate on …? 😉

249 Guestus Aurelius November 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Oh, I was most definitely trolling you, with much affection.

250 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Compare:
“I literally hate niggers”
“I literally hate twats”

What would your understanding be? Clearly, in the latter case we would both agree that the person was claiming that they hate vulvas.

I wouldn’t make that latter confusion. If someone told me he didn’t like a particular bar because there were ‘too many niggers’ I’d automatically assume he was a racist; if he said there were ‘too many twats’ I’d assume he was talking about stupid, annoying people.

‘Niggers’ has no ambiguous meaning; it’s clearly only used in the context of denegrating black people (except, possibly, when used between black people). And whether it’s origin is in synechdoche the number of people aware of that origin is roughly zero.

On the other hand, even though everyone knows the origin of ‘twat’, the word has at least two meanings (three in the UK), they know from the context which meaning is being alluded to.

By the way, every term for the vagina is either derived from a euphemism or it’s a dysphemism. Vagina is from ‘scabbard’, vulva from ‘wrapper’, etc.

251 James Caruthers November 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6jiNMg1PAk

This video from Pat Condell really puts the spotlight on how Nugent has been misrepresented, and also why.

Yes, yes, I don’t agree with Condell on everything. But he’s an insightful critic of modern “social justice” liberalism, which seems to bear little in common with classical liberalism and the spirit of free inquiry.

In particular, the part of the video where he talks about how (SJW) liberals will twist what you said because they always believe they know what you “really meant.” And of course, what you “really meant” is something you did not say, but is instead some horrible, monstrous, mustache-twirling, cartoon villain example of misogyny, racism and anti-whateverism.

So then that becomes the Official Narrative within their hugbox re: you, and even though you never said such a thing, the FTB clergy has interpreted your words in the spirit of Peezus Christ and forever branded you a sinner who must repent.

252 Shatterface November 7, 2014 at 10:10 pm

‘Earhole’ might be useful rather than ‘earlobe’.

That’s the term Paul Willis substituted for ‘arsehole’ in his book Learning to Labour

You could use modifiers to add emphasis, like ‘hairy ear hole’ or ‘gaping ear hole’.

253 tina November 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Steersman: What an eye socket!

254 piero November 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Sorry to burst your bubble, but earlobe, earhole, eye-socket have as much chance of coming into general use as esperanto. It’s the taboo that makes the swear-word. No taboo, no fun, perverts!

255 john welch November 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Ariel @188:

From my #31:

How about being made a constant target, a personification of THIS EVIL DIMWIT, to be mocked and ridiculed day by day, year by year?

From my #105:

In general, I do not find it beyond the pale to criticize a given prominent figure, sometimes even fiercely. I do not mind in principle even concentrating on such a figure for a while, provided that it’s temporary – that after some time you are able to say to yourself “alright, I’m done”. All in all, my impression is that Ophelia is able to do it.

Check how often Justin Vacula has been mentioned recently on FtB. Do a similar check for Ophelia (or PZ, or Stephanie) at the slyme pit.

BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA….omg, that’s awesome. Now they just say anyone who posts at the pit is a rapist (which PZ did say) and is evil. If you post at the pit, even if you have never, ever talked to them on twitter, (and other than ~5 messages to PZ, I’ve not. I do my best to remove that lot from any convo on twitter I’m a part of, because they do not wish to talk to me, and I certainly do not wish to talk to them), you still end up on their block bot.

Oh, and not hurting people day after day? When Canuck went after Mallorie Nasrallah, she had to beg him to alter his post because FTB had enough juice that when people searched for her name, it was in the top ten hits, and she’s a friggin’ photographer.

You know what her great “crime” was? she had said “hey, hey, don’t be telling guys to not flirt at conventions. Not all women hate that. I rather like it, and if it goes to far, I, as a functional adult, am capable of handling it.”

Yeah. For that, Canuck went after her ass, and she had to plead with him to fix the post (and it was astoundingly demeaning. Funny how he’ll attack the shit out of any woman who disagrees with him) because it was messing with her life for a huge amount of time after the post.

Now tell me how their shit doesn’t affect the people they attack. They don’t go after people year after year? I bet Dawkins (Witch of the Week since 2011!) and Grothe have a different point of view on that. So would skep tickle. So would Mykeru (whom they not only doxxed, but they doxxed wrong, and because they couldn’t be arsed to verify the address, made completely innocent people potential targets.)

You are astoundingly bad at whatever it is you’re doing.

FtB bloggers are able to do it. You, however, are not. That’s for me *a hell* of a difference. That’s in fact a part of the difference between criticizing someone and harassing someone.

I’m very sorry that my answers don’t make you happy.

(But I loved the part about the photoshop from your last comment. It was cute.)

You still haven’t answered the questions. You simply played a bad game of “TU QUOQUE” and figured I wouldn’t notice.

And I actually do think that’s why you can’t use Photoshop. Because “Gaussian Blur” doesn’t change its functionality to suit you.

256 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Piero:

While you’re right about the taboo, I think your comments about earhole etc kind of misses the point. Not really seriously trying to promote those as epithets, just using those as analogous cases to highlight the silliness of splash-damage in general – as well as where it comes from, what causes it.

257 tina November 7, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Piero: what a douchebrobucket!

258 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Tina,

Gosh, gee, thanks. 😉

259 tina November 7, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Am I doin it rite?

260 tina November 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I’ll practice over the weekend.

How many instances of rape, sexual assault or harassment at a/s events have there been in the last two years? Must be thousands and thousands.

261 piero November 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm

@Steersman:

Yes, I know. I was just failing to be funny :(

@Tina:

Now, douchebrobucket, that definitely has potential in a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious way!

262 piero November 7, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Hell, now I failed to choose the right emoticon. I wanted a sad face, not an angry one. Damn internets!

263 Steersman November 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Shatterface (#250):

‘Niggers’ has no ambiguous meaning; it’s clearly only used in the context of denigrating black people ….

That looks rather self-serving at best. Consider:

nig•ger
n. Offensive Slang
1.
a. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person

And note that “a” denotes “a single but unspecified person or thing”. While I’ll concede that “too many niggers” probably qualifies as racist, the question is whether calling one black person that so qualifies; on the basis of that definition I’d say it doesn’t, and any others who are offended are probably guilty of misplaced and unwarranted identification. If I call Fred a prick, are you likely to be offended because you, presumably, possess the same attribute?

As for “too many twats”, consider also:

twat (twt)
n.
….
2. Offensive & Vulgar Slang A woman or girl. [Origin unknown.]

So that statement means, clearly, “too many women”. Just as sexist as “too many niggers” is racist.

But the point is that calling one individual a twat or a nigger isn’t necessarily either. Insulting & rude – no doubt; but not sexist or racist.

264 piero November 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm

OK, eyesight fail, No need to comment, thanks.

265 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Steersman @244

On my phone so will keep it brief

But that is only part of the story, the other part being the question of “splash damage”.

So this confuses me. At what point weren’t we talking about splash damage?

Sure “twat” has another meaning beyond the literal meaning of a vulva but that is true of every word i could use to insult you. The point is that other meaning doesn’t refer to the group it is claimed is on the receiving end of the splash, ie women.

It is claimed that twat is analogous to the term nigger. That when nigger is used as a term of disparagement that this reflects badly (splashes) on black people as a group because black people ARE (and i mean this purely in the technical sense of the definition of the word, no offence intended) niggers.
So then the claim is made that twat causes splash damage in the same way. That when i use twat as a term of disparagement (the second definition you give) this reflects badly (splashes) on women as a group because women ARE twats.
Only, women are not twats. That is where the analogy is erroneous. Women have twats, they possess twats but the relationship woman to twat is not akin to the relationship black person – nigger.

Where I am struggling is where I am losing you on this. Do you not accept these relationships are different, or feel the analogy and therefore the argument holds irrespective of whether the two things are actually analogous?

266 FishCakes November 7, 2014 at 11:31 pm

theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) @119,

You said the following, in regards to using the word “twat” (or other sexist language) or linking/referencing other websites that use it:

It should bother everyone. It remains sexist whatever our own other petty quibbles might be.

Given your criticism of Nugent for linking to a website wherein the word “twat” is used, combined with your belief that “it should bother everyone,” I think we are all very curious to hear your thoughts on the following February 10, 2014 blog post from Ophelia Benson, titled “Bowling for abortion access.” (emphasis added for your convenience; link omitted so as not to offend further)

Sarah Moglia is doing a National Abortion Access Bowl-a-thon. (I like typing -a- things.) Her team is Coup de Twat. You can donate RIGHT HERE.

Were you aware that both Sarah Moglia and Ophelia Benson used the term “twat” like this? If so, have you criticized either or both of them as you have criticized Nugent? If not, why not? If so, would you be willing to link to your comment(s) where you communicated said criticism to them?

If you were not aware of their use of this term until now – are you going to let them know that you don’t approve now that you have been made aware? If not, why not? If so, would you be willing to link to your comment(s) when and where you communicate said criticism to them?

267 piero November 7, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Where I am struggling is where I am losing you on this. Do you not accept these relationships are different, or feel the analogy and therefore the argument holds irrespective of whether the two things are actually analogous?

I believe it has been pointed out that “twat” came to be used as an insult in much the same way as prick, dick, turd and so on; that is, its potential for insult derives from its relationship with sexual and excretory taboos. “Nigger,” on the other hand, has no such redeeming qualities: save between black people, the word is only used with the intention of giving offence. It has no other connotations, as shown by the fact that one would not call a white man a “nigger” (what could that mean?), whereas “twat” is often (or even mainly) addressed to men.

268 Lancelot Gobbo November 7, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I love it when we awake the Steers. He simply says all that we mean, in great detail, and at some length (a length I can happily tolerate). Keep it up, lad!
(screwtape has approved this message)

269 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Steersman,
That you say the following to Shatterface suggests to me that you can see the difference

If I call Fred a prick, are you likely to be offended because you, presumably, possess the same attribute?
(hope i havent cocked up the formatting again)

Calling Fred a prick does not insult me, as a prick owner, not solely because the insult was aimed at Fred specifically but because the negative characteristics you imply are characteristics of pricks, not prick owners. I am a prick owner, I am not wholly prick (in fact id quite happily be a slightly higher percentage prick tbh!).
However, had you called Fred a “whinging pommie bastard” then I would be offended because that DOES splash me. Admittedly, I am still not Fred, the intended recipient of the insult but I am a “pommie” and am aware that the term is an Australian insinuation that the English are petty and whinging. I am English.
Similarly, had you called Fred a nigger, intending it as an insult rather than an ill considered statement of fact, then were I of black African origin I would be justified in being offended. Not because I was Fred (I still would not be) but because you would be claiming that something of which I am is inherently an insulting thing to be. After all, if you didn’t hold that to be the case then it wouldn’t be much of an insult.

270 noelplum99 November 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

@piero

I understand that and agree. But I am not claiming twat is unacceptable or nigger acceptable.
I have no issue with gendered slurs of this type (twat, cock etc) and find the arguments made for their unacceptability baseless.

271 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 12:57 am

Noelplum99 (#265):

Good question. But Theophontes started the ball rolling with this in #119:

Unlike “asshole”, “twat” is a sexist slur.

Which you took a swing at in #133 by arguing that it was a gendered insult but not a sexist one – which I essentially agree with. But Theophontes’ argument “begets” the question of why it should be considered sexist. And, as near as I can figure, the actual mechanism and motivation behind the argument is one of splash-damage, of identification due to mirror-neurons. Consider the definitions for “sexism” and “stereotyping”, the latter being an umbrella term that includes “sexism” and “racism”:

sex•ism n.
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.
sexist adj. & n.

ster•e•o•type (str–tp, stîr-)
….
tr.v. ster•e•o•typed, ster•e•o•typ•ing, ster•e•o•types
1. To make a stereotype of.
2. To characterize by a stereotype: “Elderly Americans are the neglected sector of the fashion industry, stereotyped by blue hair and polyester pantsuits” (American Demographics).

So it would seem then that sexism is essentially the judging of all individuals of a class or group on the basis of the attributes of some subset of them – i.e., discrimination.

So Theo’s argument is then, apparently, that calling one woman a twat is judging all women to be twats because they share the same type of physiological feature, the one denoted by the insult. Likewise with “nigger”.

The point is that [the] other meaning [“a woman or girl”] doesn’t refer to the group it is claimed is on the receiving end of the splash, ie women.

Kind of misses my point about mirror neurons & identification. I know neither definition refers to the group. But the point is that people other than the individual specifically targeted infer – because of a common feature – that they also are being targeted. If that was really the case, that they were targeted – as in “too many twats”, “too many niggers” – then that is clearly sexism & racism. But if not then they are inappropriately identifying with the target and condemning the source for a crime for which there is no evidence – largely the point that James Caruthers made above (#251).

Women have twats, they possess twats but the relationship woman to twat is not akin to the relationship black person – nigger.

And people *have* different coloured skin; they are not their skins. You might pay close attention to how you define words – what their connotations, denotation, referents, and implications are. It is, apparently, a rather obscure and convoluted process, but one I think we have to give some attention to. And analogies are, as the Wikipedia article argues, a rather important part of understanding that.

Noelplum99 (#269): However, had you called Fred a “whinging pommie bastard” then I would be offended because that DOES splash me.

If you were actually whinging, and were a bastard, and were petty then why would you object to being labelled as such along with Fred? And if you’re none of those then why get your knickers in a twist, and into the same dustup that Fred might wind up in? My point is the question of identification again: sharing some subset of a group of supposedly pejorative attributes shouldn’t necessarily lead us to take offense, particularly if the target is egregiously guilty of the charge, and we are not.

272 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 1:04 am

Dave Allen (#163):

Steersman: Hence, as I’ve argued: “cunt is to sexism as nigger is to racism as asshole is to misanthropism”. ….

Dave Allen: What I feel arguments like this miss is that there is clearly a tradition of belief that the power to shock of racial epithets derives from historical subjugation.

Whereas body part epithets derive their power from associating the body part with taboo sexual or unhygienic associations.

I’ll agree that there may be some differences in reasons for the different pejorative associations. But the essence of analogies (1) is that there are both similarities and differences in the sets or objects or situations being compared – as when OB compared TAM & Nazi Germany. And in this case, the relevant similarity is, I think, the fact that a body part has acquired those negative associations which then, by the mechanism of synecdoche, are thought to apply to either the specific individual addressed, or to those who also possess the same body part.

273 Deepak Shetty November 8, 2014 at 1:57 am

@John Greg
So, aside from your grammar fail, do you actually think defending someone not yet proven to be guilty of a crime is wrong? What Orwellian nightmare did you crawl out from under?
Apologies for the grammar – English isn’t my first language.
When your “defense” hurts victims then you need to rethink what you believe is defense. Michael has taken sides. How does Michael know named person is innocent? Why does Michael feel he needs to play a role of lawyer defending people who may or may not be innocent from smears (when he doesnt feel the need to play detective or journalist?). Why does he believe that named victim is not telling the truth?

Also is the following statement true
There exists an allegation of rape , by a named person against another named person (imagine that I actually specified the names here)
It does not state whether named person is guilty or innocent.
So what reason do you have for not actually naming them ? There is no problem stating facts, right? Which is what Myers did initially that started this whole thing – it still caused lot of heartburn with your lot , didn’t it?
So before you go about throwing words like Orwellian – think about which side is saying let the facts be known and let the names be named and which side is saying suppress the name! – my grammar may be poor but your understanding of words suck. Between the two I’ll take poor grammar.

274 Deepak Shetty November 8, 2014 at 2:09 am

@Dave allen
A lot of people other than Michael find it distinctly “off” that an attempt seems to be being made to impose the social cost of being considered a criminal on those who have not been formally accused of a crime.
But why is the social cost to the victim ignored in these calculations? How is that you can be so concerned about the alleged rapist and show no concern to the victim? How is it that everything Michael says(and a good number of the commenters) or does related to this topic, favors the alleged rapist? How is it so easy to ignore the other witness who testifies to picking up victim , crying , outside alleged rapists room immediately after the event? How is it so easy to ignore that a couple of other victims have spoken about creepy behavior by the same alleged rapist? How is it easy to ignore what famed magician , founder of famed skeptic organization had to say about this matter? How is easy to ignore alleged rapists three different stories?

275 FishCakes November 8, 2014 at 2:17 am

Deepak,
For the love of all that is holy, do you truly not understand that if a person is merely accused, then it has not yet been established that there actually is a victim? If the one is merely an alleged rapist, then we don’t yet know if there actually was a victim or not.

If you have any desire to be intellectually honest and to be taken seriously, you should be using the terms “alleged rapist” and “accuser” as opposed to “rapist” and “victim.”

Please acknowledge whether this computes or not; thanks in advance.

276 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 2:43 am

And note that “a” denotes “a single but unspecified person or thing”. While I’ll concede that “too many niggers” probably qualifies as racist, the question is whether calling one black person that so qualifies; on the basis of that definition I’d say it doesn’t, and any others who are offended are probably guilty of misplaced and unwarranted identification. If I call Fred a prick, are you likely to be offended because you, presumably, possess the same attribute?

It doesn’t matter if you replace plurals with a singular. If someone said he wouldn’t go to a bar because some ‘nigger’ went there I’d assume he was being racist; if he said it was because some ‘twat’ went there I’d assume he was talking about an annoying person.

There’s a difference between the colloquial use of the word ‘twat’ and an esoteric use of the word ‘nigger’. That’s because I use language to communicate, not to play stupid word games.

277 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 2:52 am

Deepak Shetty

When your “defense” hurts victims then you need to rethink what you believe is defense.

For fuck’s sake, you fell at the first hurdle: if the person you are defending is innocent there’s no fucking victim. You have to establish there was a fucking crime. No crime, no victim, no perpetrator.

Michael has taken sides. How does Michael know named person is innocent? Why does Michael feel he needs to play a role of lawyer defending people who may or may not be innocent from smears (when he doesnt feel the need to play detective or journalist?). Why does he believe that named victim is not telling the truth?

See my previous response.

And answer my previous questions: do you approve of Gitmo? Do you think locking up people suspected of terrorist offences, without charge, is legitimate? Do you think drone strikes are legitimate if they take out innocent people just so long as, occasionally, they hit a guilty one just on the law of averages?

278 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 3:05 am

But why is the social cost to the victim ignored in these calculations? How is that you can be so concerned about the alleged rapist and show no concern to the victim?

I’m not going to give you a free pass just because English is your second language – there are others in this thread who aren’t native speakers who have no problem understanding that a victim is only a victim if there has been an offence – slipping ‘alleged’ in there is meaningless as long as you continue to assert that the victim is, indeed, a victim.

How is it easy to ignore what famed magician , founder of famed skeptic organization had to say about this matter?

You tell us, because at no point has this magician pronounce the accused person guilty of rape.

How is easy to ignore alleged rapists three different stories?

As I understand it the alleged rapist has stuck to the same story – that he didn’t do it – while FTB have gone from a single act of rape to serial rape of women and now ‘men and women’. That’s three different stories.

279 MacGruberKnows November 8, 2014 at 3:37 am

Someone says ‘you are a rapist’. Therefore you are a rapist. What does the J in SJW stand for again?

Anyway Deepak, I call you a willful idiot. Therefore you are an idiot. And everyone else on this board can now call you an idiot. It will not be an insult when they call you an idiot, it will be a fact.

280 John Greg November 8, 2014 at 3:39 am

Deepak Shetty said:

Apologies for the grammar – English isn’t my first language.

OK, cool. I won’t disparage your poor grammar or diction anymore.

When your “defense” hurts victims then you need to rethink what you believe is defense

.

Supposition and opinion; no facts.

Michael has taken sides. How does Michael know named person is innocent?

I do believe it is related to something that higher intellects created called, innocent until proven guilty, aka, something about Habeus Corpus, which that arch supporter of human rights and justice for all, Ms. A. Marcotte, wants to abolish. Habeus Corpus protects us all; innocent and guilty, from human rights and legal violations. And anyway, how the fuck do you and almost all of Skepchick and FTB “know” he’s guilty? There is no incontrovertible evidence or proof or, for that matter, any actual evidence of any kind whatsoever that he is guilty.

Why does Michael feel he needs to play a role of lawyer defending people who may or may not be innocent from smears

WTF?!? Lawyer? WTF!?! So, smears are good; smears do not need defending; smears make us alive?

Why does he believe that named victim is not telling the truth?

Jesus, you people are a broken fucking broken record on endless replay. It is not about not believing that the so-called victims are not telling the truth. It is about the simple FACT of not having any gawdamned evidence and actual proofs that they are telling the truth. Hearsay is not proof. He said/she said is not proof. Why the flaming fuck can you not get that through your thick skull?

There exists an allegation of rape, by a named person against another named person…. It does not state whether named person is guilty or innocent. So what reason do you have for not actually naming them?

1. The so-called allegation has not been stated as an allegation; it has been stated as a supposed fact; something that actually happened, and in healthy societies one does not make claims of fact for something that is only supposition.

2. It is not a court of law, and claiming someone did something when there is no legal proof is fallacious at best, slander and libel at worst.

3. Because claims of this nature can, will, and do harm the innocent far, far, far more than they prove the guilty or protect the putative victims.

There is no problem stating facts, right?

We do not have any facts. We have anecdote, hearsay, and gossip.

Which is what Myers did initially that started this whole thing

Jesus. I, mean, really, what can one do against such idiocy? PZ did not state or post facts; he posted hearsay, anecdote, gossip, and opinion.

So before you go about throwing words like Orwellian – think about which side is saying let the facts be known and let the names be named and which side is saying suppress the name!

You flaming fucking slow person! It is “our side” demanding facts, and your side saying, No, all we need is anecdote. Asking for facts is slut shaming, misogynist, evil, mean, wicked, and nasty.

Deepak Shetty said:

Apologies for the grammar – English isn’t my first language.

OK, cool. I won’t disparage your poor grammar or diction anymore.

When your “defense” hurts victims then you need to rethink what you believe is defense

.

Supposition and opinion; no facts.

Michael has taken sides. How does Michael know named person is innocent?

I do believe it is related to something that higher intellects created called, innocent until proven guilty, aka, something about Habeus Corpus, which that arch supporter of human rights and justice for all, Ms. A. Marcotte, wants to abolish. Habeus Corpus protects us all; innocent and guilty, from human rights and legal violations. And anyway, how the fuck do you and almost all of Skepchick and FTB “know” he’s guilty? There is no incontrovertible evidence or proof or, for that matter, any actual evidence of any kind whatsoever that he is guilty.

Why does Michael feel he needs to play a role of lawyer defending people who may or may not be innocent from smears

WTF?!? Lawyer? WTF!?! So, smears are good; smears do not need defending; smears make us alive?

Why does he believe that named victim is not telling the truth?

Jesus, you people are a broken fucking broken record on endless replay. It is not about not believing that the so-called victims are not telling the truth. It is about the simple FACT of not having any gawdamned evidence and actual proofs that they are telling the truth. Hearsay is not proof. He said/she said is not proof. Why the flaming fuck can you not get that through your thick skull?

There exists an allegation of rape, by a named person against another named person…. It does not state whether named person is guilty or innocent. So what reason do you have for not actually naming them?

1. The so-called allegation has not been stated as an allegation; it has been stated as a supposed fact; something that actually happened, and in healthy societies one does not make claims of fact for something that is only supposition.

2. It is not a court of law, and claiming someone did something when there is no legal proof is fallacious at best, slander and libel at worst.

3. Because claims of this nature can, will, and do harm the innocent far, far, far more than they prove the guilty or protect the putative victims.

There is no problem stating facts, right?

We do not have any facts. We have anecdote, hearsay, and gossip.

Which is what Myers did initially that started this whole thing

Jesus. I, mean, really, what can one do against such idiocy? PZ did not state or post facts; he posted hearsay, anecdote, gossip, and opinion.

So before you go about throwing words like Orwellian – think about which side is saying let the facts be known and let the names be named and which side is saying suppress the name!

You flaming fucking slow person you! It is “our side” demanding facts, and your side saying, No, all we need is anecdote. Asking for facts is slut shaming, misogynist, evil, mean, wicked, and nasty.

281 John Greg November 8, 2014 at 3:44 am

Whoopseedoodle! Sorry about that double post. I really do not have any idea how that happened. Sticky fingers I guess. Deepak gets me all excited.

Michael, if you are interested and have the time, please feel free to edit my post so that it does not repeat itself, and you can also, if you get there, remove those oddball periods.

Weird.

282 FishCakes November 8, 2014 at 4:16 am

I realize that “stooping to their level” is not the right thing to do, and I’m not in any way suggesting that’s what should happen. But it really seems like the only way people like Deepak will get it is when they become a victim of a false and/or unproven allegation themselves.

Should that ever happen, you can bet they would do a 180 on this whole “believe the victim” nonsense faster that Myers can say “grenade.” Is there anything else that can penetrate the SJW-bubble they seem to be inhabiting?

283 MacGruberKnows November 8, 2014 at 6:30 am

@Deepak

And if you say anything like “what do you mean I’m an idiot, how dare you call me idiot, I’m not an idiot”, remember, my allegation proved you are an idiot, and only an idiot would say he is not an idiot after he has been proven to be an idiot. Checkmate idiot!

284 Steven Carr November 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

DEEPAK
There exists an allegation of rape , by a named person against another named person (imagine that I actually specified the names here)

CARR
No, PZ Myers has pronounced this person guilty and expects this verdict to be honoured by everybody. Because if PZ says somebody is a rapist, then his verdict is final.

Don’t you know what a fatwa is? PZ has issued a fatwa, and a fatwa remains in force for the lifetime of the person who issued it.

In fact, PZ Myers has pronounced that a whole blog is a ‘haven for rapists’, and gave as evidence the fact that some people commented there also commented on another forum.

Myers is simply a vigilante. He sits behind his computer and pronounces people guilty or innocent.

285 Steven Carr November 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

JOHN GREG
There is no incontrovertible evidence or proof or, for that matter, any actual evidence of any kind whatsoever that he is guilty.

CARR
The only actual evidence of any kind that I have seen is a picture of the alleged victim posing for publicity pictures of herself, her boyfriend and the alleged rapist, two months after this alleged rape.

She then put said picture on her blog, describing what a ‘lovely’ time she had spent with the man she years later claimed had raped her.

Now I have never seen a rapist pose for publicity pictures with his alleged victim. Normally a raped woman is a little wary of being with her rapist in future, and often avoids close contact.

They say a criminal always returns to the scene of his crime, but how often does a criminal return to the scene of his crime, pose for publicity pictures and then approve of the pictures being posted on the Internet?

286 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 7:52 am

@ Steersman

I will lay off the blockquotes, I seem to keep messing them up on my phone. You wrote:

“So Theo’s argument is then, apparently, that calling one woman a twat is judging all women to be twats because they share the same type of physiological feature, the one denoted by the insult. Likewise with “nigger”.”

This is some bizarre equivocation between the two meanings you pull here. When we call someone a twat their twattishness is unrelated to their having a twat. The situation with the word nigger could not be more different.

I think we fundamentally disagree with what the sjw’s are claiming by their splash damage.
From everything that I have seen them write on the subject my understanding is that by claiming negative characteristics to twattishness we are saying twats are inherently negative themselves, as twats, and that this reflects on those who have twats.
If you are claiming their argument is other than this then that will clearly lead us to framing our arguments at odds with each other.

What I would request is that when you quote me you don’t insert words in the quotation.

I wrote:
“Sure “twat” has another meaning beyond the literal meaning of a vulva but that is true of every word i could use to insult you. The point is that other meaning doesn’t refer to the group it is claimed is on the receiving end of the splash, ie women”

This is how you quoted me:
“The point is that [the] other meaning [“a woman or girl”] doesn’t refer to the group it is claimed is on the receiving end of the splash, ie women.”

Why did you insert “woman or girl” in there? I wouldn’t mind so much but one thing we had already agreed upon was that the other meaning was “a person considered obnoxious or stupid”.
Why are you now including a third definition and adding it to my own words when you (mis)quote me?

Lastly,
“My point is the question of identification again: sharing some subset of a group of supposedly pejorative attributes shouldn’t necessarily lead us to take offense, particularly if the target is egregiously guilty of the charge, and we are not.”

Tell that to your pitfellows who have been insulted that Myers linked pit membership with rape. As long as they are not rapists themselves they should, according to you, see nothing to take umbrage with regarding his remark.

287 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 8:51 am

We’ve had that “slurs” talk many times before at the Pit, and we don’t seem to have advanced one bit on the subject. My own view is that it really depends on who, how, where and when a slur is used. Now, it should also be kept in mind that a slur is usually, but not always, meant to insult. So it is absolutely none of my concern if the targeted person is offended. In fact, that’s the whole damn point!

Of course, a slur is not the same as a smear. Calling someone a “twat” is infinitely more harmless than calling someone a “rapist”, for obvious reasons that I hope don’t need to be explained.

288 Pogsurf November 8, 2014 at 9:03 am

Compare and contrast with the response from Dawkins, who called Rees a “compliant quisling”. Far more classy and cutting, worthy of Oscar Wilde. It exemplifies the gulf between a gentleman like Dawkins, and the trailer trash that is PZ Myers.

Dawkins is not using a taboo, so it look like an improvement here Crackity, I don’t think he is bullying. But it is a bit of a stretch to imply Rees is collaborating with an enemy occupying force, which will eventually send many atheists to death-camps. Could we agree that Dawkins is exaggerating for effect here? Reminds me of Ron Lindsay linking Rebecca Watson to North Korea, for which he later recanted.

289 Pogsurf November 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

Phil, I agree with everything you said at #288, with one minor adjustment. The Pit is not a person. It has no conscience, and cannot improve in an intellectual or moral sense. Only the people who frequent it can do that.

I try not worry too much about the behaviour of other people, unless they start stepping on my toes. With Pogsurf it is personal, or it is nothing. Myers and Benson started to imply that atheists of my ilk were unwelcome at conferences. I saw that Justin Vacula was being smeared in the most appalling way. So I hopped on a plane and attended the second day of the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference, Dublin 2013. Myers and Benson were both there.

I had been exploring what feminism was as movement. I didn’t know then if I was a feminist or not. In Myers’ terms I was an anti-feminist. That’s just silly, I was just like any other idealogical-agnostic, not able to commit until I understood what I was committing to.

One year later I am happy to declare as a feminist. Not the mealy-mouthed idiotic bulling and harrying type for whom Myers is the patron saint, but the gentle, compassionate and caring type which Michael represents. It remains the case that the only human I am trying to improve is me.

290 piero November 8, 2014 at 10:31 am

@Phil:

Of course, a slur is not the same as a smear. Calling someone a “twat” is infinitely more harmless than calling someone a “rapist”, for obvious reasons that I hope don’t need to be explained.

Hello, Phil. I’m Deepak. I don’t understand. You’re wrong.

291 piero November 8, 2014 at 10:38 am

@FishCakes:

Should that ever happen, you can bet they would do a 180 on this whole “believe the victim” nonsense faster that Myers can say “grenade.”

But it has happened, and they did exactly what you said. See post #224.

292 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 10:45 am

Noelplum99 (#):

Noelplum99: When we call someone a twat their twattishness is unrelated to their having a twat.

That seems a rather untenable position to be taking. Most of the definitions I’ve seen rather clearly include a reference to “female genitals” – do take a look at these (1) for examples. That has been the basis of PZ’s argument from square one (if I’m not mistaken): calling one woman a twat, or a c*nt, implies – in their view – an assertion that those who possess the underlying feature are all equally odious. Can’t really repudiate or defeat the argument unless one can understand the basis on which it is advanced. Which, as mentioned, seems predicated on the linguistic and neurological mechanisms of synecdoche and mirror-neurons.

Noelplum99: From everything that I have seen them write on the subject my understanding is that by claiming negative characteristics to twattishness we are saying twats are inherently negative themselves, as twats, and that this reflects on those who have twats.

If you are claiming their argument is other than this then that will clearly lead us to framing our arguments at odds with each other.

I’ll agree that this process of interpretation of meaning, of various connotations is very complex and intricate – and obscure and confusing. Part of the problem, I think, is failing to differentiate between the physiological features themselves, and the words used to refer to them: as some philosopher put it, “the map is not the territory”.

But I think the stumbling block, the problematic aspect, is that each of those physiological features – genitalia, skin colour, excretory structures, etc – come with a range of attributes that span the positive and negative. When they are used as the basis for insults then of course the negative, frequently Anglo-Saxon & pithy, terms are used; when they are used as descriptive terms – for medical discussions, for example – then frequently the Latin words are used: penis, vagina, etc.

So, the physiological features themselves are, obviously, not intrinsically good or bad, or commendable or odious; the insults refer to or suggest the negative aspects, and it is untenable to argue that linking those to one individual means that one is linking them to all those who happen to possess the physiological feature itself.

As a case in point, you might consider the following comment from Sally Strange some time back. She had called me an asshole to which I had responded by calling her cunt – tit-for-tat, one good turn deserves another. But her response (2) – quite clever and amusing and I would have said so and used it as a point of departure in a fruitful discussion if PZ hadn’t dropped the banhammer on me – illustrates one alternate, positive interpretation of the word:

Sally Strange: And as far as insults go, “cunt” doesn’t work much on me. After all, I have one, and I happen to know it’s pretty awesome. Unless you weren’t trying to insult me but rather trying to tell me that I’m juicy, funky, flexible, and creative. Which would be true.

So I think you – and PZ and most of the Horde – are failing to differentiate between the pejorative, insulting, negative aspects, and the more positive or innocuous ones.

Noelplum99: What I would request is that when you quote me you don’t insert words in the quotation. ….

This is how you quoted me:
“The point is that [the] other meaning [“a woman or girl”] doesn’t refer to the group it is claimed is on the receiving end of the splash, ie women.”

Why did you insert “woman or girl” in there? I wouldn’t mind so much but one thing we had already agreed upon was that the other meaning was “a person considered obnoxious or stupid”.

Sorry if that derailed the conversation. But the “the” seemed to be missing. And I thought it important to emphasize that it seemed that the underlying referent is to female genitalia, and that several definitions for both that word and “cunt” stipulate that they are “disparaging term(s) for a woman” (3). Seems to muddy the waters to consider the process by which the words encompass males as well – particularly as PZ has argued, if I’m not mistaken, that the use of such gendered epithets supposedly insults all women but not all men because of that referent.

Noelplum99: Lastly,
“My point is the question of identification again: sharing some subset of a group of supposedly pejorative attributes shouldn’t necessarily lead us to take offense, particularly if the target is egregiously guilty of the charge, and we are not.”

Tell that to your pitfellows who have been insulted that Myers linked pit membership with rape.

I think the two cases under discussion there – the one of me calling Fred a “whinging pommie bastard” with you taking offense due to splash damage because you have the same nationality, and the other with PZ implying Pitters were rapists – aren’t really the same type.

But I think you’re misinterpreting their responses, though I haven’t taken any type of a survey so can’t be sure. Seems to me that they are, in general, less insulted by the accusation they are rapists than peeved that PZ should be so hypocritical as to charge Michael for creating a “haven for rapists” when there’s more evidence that that is precisely what he is doing – something that even Stephanie Zvan accepted although I think she too is guilty of some problematic misinterpretations. But I at least kind of think he and the Horde are to be commended for doing so – at least in the case under discussion. And in light of that fact I find it rather laughable that he’s accusing Michael of the same thing – and with diddly squat in the way of evidence to back it up.

—-
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/twat”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/02/21/not-as-much-fun-as-it-sounds/comment-page-1/#comment-272115”;
3) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cunt”;

293 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 10:55 am

John Greg (#280):

You flaming fucking slow person! It is “our side” demanding facts, and your side saying, No, all we need is anecdote. Asking for facts is slut shaming, misogynist, evil, mean, wicked, and nasty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg3uZRX2R_0 😉

294 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 11:05 am

Piero @289:

Sir Terry Pratchett once said:

“A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me? An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?”

Pretty apt, it seems.

295 Carrie November 8, 2014 at 11:10 am

The Steersman awakes! Thanks for the breakfast giggles, guys — Theo managed to set quite a ball rolling there. For what it’s worth I do not consider body parts, or gendered slurs, to be offensive at all. In fact, in many places they are used interchangeably as both insults and terms of affection. It’s the context that counts. In the case of the cartoon, “twat” is an ancient word which has morphed slightly through the centuries and is often used in a semi-affectionate manner. The lady in question using the term actually gave the cartoon an added twist of humour. “twit” is okay too, of course, but to some it might be considered “ableist”.

Satire depends on all kinds of nuance and should not cause real harm. Smears however do cause real harm. If we are going to make a serious allegation about someone, we should always be ready to support our claims with real evidence, not just hearsay and supposition.

Rape is a particularly difficult area because every non-sociopath, non-psychopath in the West agrees that it is wrong and yet it is such a difficult crime to prove. There are serious hurdles for a true victim, just by the very nature of the crime; it is so often impossible to prove and is upsetting for the victim to re-visit. However, authorites these days are generally more sympathetic towards such allegations and will try to be helpful. If a victim comes forward quickly enough, evidence can be gathered including her (or his) physical and mental condition. For instance it can be verified that a traumatic incident occurred, and DNA can be collected.

There is a difficult area, however, when we consider some “grey” areas of sexual activity. Time can make a huge difference, not only to the collecting of evidence but also to how the victim remembers the event or how she or he feels about it. There are too many cases where an alleged victim says that she didn’t realise that it was rape until someone else told her that it was. In such cases, it is reasonable to feel dubious about the claim. We have heard a lot about False Memory Syndrome, and of course we know about “morning after” remorse (not just when alcohol is involved). There is also the possibility that some claimants are being vindictive towards their target; there have been a few cases recently of women who have been proved to have done exactly that and have ruined the alleged perpetrator’s lives before themselves being found out.

“Believe the victim” is all very well, but what it should actually read and mean is “take the alleged victim’s claims seriously and investigate honestly”.

It is the “believe the victim” mentality that caused the whole terrible nonsense of the “Satanic abuse” cases in the 1980s and ’90s in Orkney etc which destroyed so many families and which have since been totally debunked. It has caused the current witchunt in England over historic abuse accusations (interestingly against Old Rich White Men) where there can be no real evidence, when the authorities could have concentrated their efforts on current child sex rings with actual evidence. The latter is more difficult for the authorities of course because the rings happen to be run by brown immigrant men. We do not live in a “rape culture”, my goodness we don’t. We live in an era of hyper-sensitivity to sexual mores, alongside hyper-sensitivity to racial and cultural offence, which makes talking about almost anything in a nuanced way almost impossible.

Just to put this all in perspective, those of us who were young adults in the 1960s and ’70s grew up in an era of casual sexism, and we knew how to deal with unwanted moves; we didn’t think about it, we got on with life. We are now old people who watch in dismay, wondering if some damaged female might pop out of nowhere to accuse our husbands of patting their bottoms back in 1975 or so, putting us all through a year or more of nightmare. That is how seriously the authorities in the UK take accusations of sexual assault, this is not the mark of a “rape culture”, and accusing someone of defending rapists and of providing a haven for them is making a very serious claim. It might seem like nothing in the US, I don’t know, but on this side of the pond it means a great deal, it is not just a small slur.

I suppose that I shall now be labelled a “rape apologist” because I don’t see everything in stark black-and-white. Oh well.

296 Dave Allen November 8, 2014 at 11:23 am

And in this case, the relevant similarity is, I think, the fact that a body part has acquired those negative associations which then, by the mechanism of synecdoche, are thought to apply to either the specific individual addressed, or to those who also possess the same body part.

… within given communities.

So if you’re saying “that’s probably how the likes of OB see it”, yes – I could well agree.

It’s maybe beg the question of whether such a view is fringe enough to accept or deny as general principle.

And I’d suggest no, on account of it seeming to me to add a degree of oppression to women (in my community) rather than relieve it.

297 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 11:36 am

You can make anything “oppressive”. I’m ready to bet that if I were to declare the sky being blue is somewhat oppressive to X category of the population, I’d get quite a good following.

It still doesn’t make the sky being blue oppressive. That’s how religions work, usually.

298 Dave Allen November 8, 2014 at 11:44 am

Deepak

But why is the social cost to the victim ignored in these calculations?

As others have said – alleged victim.

I don’t have a clue how to solve the general problem of people who don’t feel they have had legal redress.

All I would observe is that in the case we are discussing I don’t feel that either the alleged victim nor alleged perpetrator have been served well through disseminating rumors via a controversial blog with a growing reputation of spurious scurrilous shenanigans.

How is that you can be so concerned about the alleged rapist and show no concern to the victim?

Alleged victim.

I cannot show serious concern to someone who had and has recourse to serious channels, but who prefers to operate via a scurrilous click-bait blog.

How is it that everything Michael says(and a good number of the commenters) or does related to this topic, favors the alleged rapist?

You’ll have to ask him. In my opinion the nature of being an “alleged” criminal that hard conclusions cannot be fairly drawn.

How is it so easy to ignore the other witness who testifies to picking up victim , crying , outside alleged rapists room immediately after the event?

I won’t suspend the need for due process because someone cried in a corridor.

This is circumstantial evidence, of a distinctly silly sort.

There’s also a body of circumstantial evidence from the other side. Post-facto invitations to join in on panels, post-facto group photographs and so on.

None of which means anything.

How is it so easy to ignore that a couple of other victims have spoken about creepy behavior by the same alleged rapist?

More circumstantial evidence. This is borderline Kafkatrapping.

What’s more some of the stuff mentioned just doesn’t even strike me as credibly creepy. Topping up a glass of wine? What is that evidence of exactly?

And even if I were convinced of the alleged criminal being a creep, there is a difference between creep and criminal.

How is it easy to ignore what famed magician , founder of famed skeptic organization had to say about this matter?

Beyond Randi finding the alleged perpetrator too much of a hot potato what do you mean?

As for Randi finding him a hot potato – that isn’t evidence of criminality. Randi may just not like the aforementioned creepiness, or he might not have the energy or patience for a controversy-ridden cat-fight with the outrage junkies.

How is easy to ignore alleged rapists three different stories?

I find it lacking in credibility – but it’s not evidence of criminality.

299 Gerhard November 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

But the point is that calling one individual a twat or a nigger isn’t ,
necessarily either. Insulting & rude – no doubt; but not sexist or racist

Really? So you are just ignoring the universally accepted fact that the word nigger basically means black person and that it is used as an insult (in modern usage). The fact that you have to have to invoke transference, rope in mirror neurons and various assumptions to equate nigger to twat should tell you that they are not analogous.

Steers, why is it that you have this habit of equating two things because you can find one way in which they are similar and ignore the twenty ways in which they aren’t?

300 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 11:56 am

Myers is a documented serial killer. See for yourselves, use the internet. Myers is a serial killer.

Anything wrong with that statement?

Well, as a matter of fact, yes, there’s a lot wrong. It boils down to who, how, where and when the accusation was made.

It is a fact that Michael Myers (the movie character from the Halloween franchise, not the funny actor) is indeed a serial killer.

Me posting this accusation at this time, on this blog, is a clear indication that some nefarious purpose was intended. And that’s exactly what Paul Zachary Myers did with his “grenade” post and his “haven” tweets.

Or was that “twaats”?

301 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm

But I think the stumbling block, the problematic aspect, is that each of those physiological features – genitalia, skin colour, excretory structures, etc – come with a range of attributes that span the positive and negative.

The stumbling block is your refusal to use English as a means of communication. It really doesn’t matter how you rephrase this; you aren’t using English the way real people do in real life. The rest of us seem to recognise this.

‘Twat’ is clearly ambiguous. The most common use is for a ‘stupid person’. If I call David Cameron a ‘twat’ everyone in the UK will understand I am calling Cameron an idiot. Everybody. Some might object to the word but every fucking person will understand what I mean.

If I call Obama a ‘nigger’ everybody, every fucking person but you, is going to interpret that as a racist comment, because it is absolutely non-ambiguous.

I base this argument on being a speaker of English.

I don’t give a fuck about the origin of the words.

English isn’t a fucking game I got for Christmas, played once, then stuck on top of the wardrobe because I couldn’t work out the rules; it’s a tool I use everyday.

I’m through with this non-argument.

302 piero November 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

@Phil:

Sir Terry Pratchett once said:

“A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me? An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?”

Pretty apt, it seems.

Very apt. I’m still baffled by Deepak’s disregard of logic. Just in case he’s still lurking, I’ll ask again, this time as a multiple choice question:

Deepak, do you realise that “believe the victim” is nonsense, because it begs the question?

a. Yes.
b. Yes.
c. Yes.
d. Yes.
e. Yes.

303 Steven Carr November 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm

To translate the first caption of the cartoon :-

‘I like most people. But I don’t like men. I could do without men.’

304 Ashling O'Brien November 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm
305 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

@steersman

Noelplum99: When we call someone a twat their twattishness is unrelated to their having a twat.

That seems a rather untenable position to be taking. Most of the definitions I’ve seen rather clearly include a reference to “female genitals”

So when i call a person a twat, you are trying to convince me that I am tying that in to them having a vulva? When I call one of my male work colleagues a twat I am referencing their vulva?

Is this a serious conversation we are having here or just baiting?

That has been the basis of PZ’s argument from square one (if I’m not mistaken): calling one woman a twat, or a c*nt, implies – in their view – an assertion that those who possess the underlying feature are all equally odious.

You move on to this as if it backs up your previous comment. Allow me to rewrite your sentnece in a form I would agree with (I don’t mean agree with the logic but agree it describes their argument)

That has been the basis of PZ’s argument from square one (if I’m not mistaken): calling one PERSON, MALE OR FEMALE POSSESSOR OF TWAT OR NON-POSSESSOR OF TWAT a twat, or a c*nt, implies – in their view – an assertion that those who possess the underlying feature are all equally odious.

That amendment highlights the flaw in your assertion. Hitler does not have to possess a twat for us to use the word twat to describe him because, as I said and you disagreed with:
When we call someone a twat their twattishness is unrelated to their having a twat

the latter part of your description of their argument I totally agree with, specifically

a twat, or a c*nt, implies – in their view – an assertion that those who possess the underlying feature are all equally odious.

Moving on you wrote:

So, the physiological features themselves are, obviously, not intrinsically good or bad, or commendable or odious; the insults refer to or suggest the negative aspects, and it is untenable to argue that linking those to one individual means that one is linking them to all those who happen to possess the physiological feature itself.

I agree with that statement. The only thing I would add is that the characteristics we attach to such terms when used as slurs are not just unlinked to the physilogical structure but refer to an entirely abstract notion of a “twat” or “prick” that has little if any relevance to real twats and pricks. Perhaps originally the linkage to ideas of the genitalia being dirty furnished insults that had some relevant carryover but usage patterns have shifted until we effectively have two seperate linguistic land masses now with no “land bridge” between them at all.

So I think you – and PZ and most of the Horde – are failing to differentiate between the pejorative, insulting, negative aspects, and the more positive or innocuous ones.

I am not really sure how I got that from what I’ve written (or the videos i have done on these insults – to which i commended “tittybollocks” to those who like their purported splash damage to be symmetric)

Sorry if that derailed the conversation. But the “the” seemed to be missing. And I thought it important to emphasize that it seemed that the underlying referent is to female genitalia, and that several definitions for both that word and “cunt” stipulate that they are “disparaging term(s) for a woman” (3). Seems to muddy the waters to consider the process by which the words encompass males as well

I had no issue with you correcting the “the” (it is hard for me to spot all such mistakes on my phone). My issue was you inserting a comment which was incorrect. If you wished to emphasise a point then doing so in your own paragraph rather than putting erroneous words in mine (I referred to “obnoxious or stupid”, you inserted “woman or girl”).

Maybe this is a cultural issue but where I live twat is no more likely to be applied to a woman than a man. I understand that in the USA “cunt” is often used specifically to refer to a woman in the same way in which “bitch”may be used, or “pig” used to refer specifically to a man. The discussions we have been having here at no stage indicated that we were referring to such asymmetric usage with respect to the word twat.

306 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

@Shatterface

In fact David cameron himself used the term twat on a radio interview. Talking about the dangers of twitter he said “perhaps sometimes too many twits make a twat”
I think it was obvious his reference was in no way asymmetrically singling out only female twitter users there :)

307 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

PS: It has been refreshing having this conversation without some idiot insisting that such words shouldn’t even be spoken/written when discussing their usage

308 piero November 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

@Ashling:

Latsot’s latest contribution.

Latsot should be adopted as Official Jester 😆

309 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm

In fact David cameron himself used the term twat on a radio interview. Talking about the dangers of twitter he said “perhaps sometimes too many twits make a twat”

Stewart Lee said the past tense of ‘tweet’ is ‘twat’.

Lee is (for the benefit of those outside the UK) a left-wing comedian.

His frequent collaborator, Richard Herring, uses the word ‘cunt’ quite often in his podcasts (his Scooby Doo sketches usually end with ‘And I would have got away with it too if it wasn’t for you pesky cunts!’) but hasn’t had a TV show for a while.

310 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

From the sitcom Spaced

Tim: I know. I look like a twat in a jumpsuit.
Daisy: Don’t say that, Tim. That’s a word that hates women.
Tim: What? “Twat”?
Daisy: No, “jumpsuit.”

311 Aneris ✻ November 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I have some different idea on what makes a slur or insult. Think of humans as little machines that scuttle about their lives and update each other about what they perceive. Not only do they rely on their own mental machinery to recognize their surroundings, they can also take the information from some other human and compare their perception with their own. The basic principle appears to be matching and sorting things by associative similarity – analogy making. As a human, you want that the inside representation is kept in synchronicity with the outside world, and in synchronicity with what other humans recognize. That’s a very subject matter – to me at least – in particular when you think about that the perceptions of other humans make up the world of text, literary critique et cetera whereas each humans own perceptions are the domain of the empirical.

Think of a little robot who steps outside, recognizes the sun and files it away as “similar enough” to the other day when the sun was also visible. She calls this particular state of the world a “sunny day” which is little more than a category name of similar states. They are meaningless. They only meaning at this point is that it’s similar to that other day. Little robot meets another robot and of course, what all robots do when they meet, they talk about the weather, as a shared reality. Miss Robot sends her state of the world “sunny day!” to the other robot. He compares the state of the world he perceives as well, and with his own categories and finds a match. “Sunny day” is now associated with when the sun is visible on the sky, where he, too, already has several entries of alikeness.

The robots see how everyone is happy, and they add that to the category as well: “Sunny day is when everybody is happy”. Because they have observed, in contrast, that when the world state is “rainy day” nobody is happy.

They do this kind of thing all the time. They meet another robot and the other robot makes a strange gesture and says “hello”. Our robots have seen this before and they make a category of “hello situations” and associate it with meeting some other robot. From now on, they will recognize a “hello situation” and then will produce the gesture and say the word. Quite interesting how the robots conspire to confirm each other’s world state perceptions and kind of “fulfil” what is expected of them, so that it becomes true. The robots have expectations now! Some robots more than others want to comply. Highly advanced robots can see the expectations as well, and the expectation that they conform to expectations and they can deny it. Very interesting, but a digression.

Now there is a situation were robots say nasty things to each other, thereby they compare again situation with situation and again “do their part” and thereby they signalize to the other robot that this is “that kind of situation were one says nasty things”. Since the other robots have build up their own categories with a lot of associations, they also then “know” that these situations is the kind were robots have “visceral” feelings, are angry, or distressed. In other words, they can know from their own machinery, even though subjective, how some other robot must feel.

Where does this lead? When robots invoke a word like “nigger” they aren’t merely saying a word with a clean definition. They open the box were all the “when people say nigger” situations are stored, and together with the associations that are filed away they will recognize that it’s that a certain type of racist robots who typically recognizes such situations, and then updates others that this is a “nigger situation”.

This also gives an idea that the word is not speaker independent. When people of colour say “nigger” to each other, they are already in crucially different situations that do not invoke the same associations as when a white person said it in 19th century Deep South. Thereby, “people of colour who says nigger” can become its own type of category and branch off in the same way, when other people of colour repeat it (think of the hello situation). That is, they have their own category where updating each other that this situation has “nigger quality” can be vastly different from the previous one.

This is perhaps the grain of truth when Social Justice Warriors say that people of colour can’t be racist (oppressed can’t be oppressors et cetera). However, as with almost all tenets and terms of Social Justice Warriorism it’s vastly overstretched and wrong how they are using it (the attitude of racism is in principle independent of the person holding it).

Or to be precise, I haven’t seen a convincing case anywhere and when Social Justice Warriors are being asked, they are outraged and refuse to “educate” someone, pretending their views are well established as the Truth™. The formalisation into a meta-argument is called “JAQing off” – which is updating other people that this is a “troll is just asking questions to harass us” type of situation, and therefore can be dismissed without thinking.

312 Gerhard November 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The formalisation into a meta-argument is called “JAQing off” – which is updating other people that this is a “troll is just asking questions to harass us” type of situation, and therefore can be dismissed without thinking.

Or “sea lioning” as it is now known. The invention of catchy pigeonholing phrases is a very anti-skeptic and sadly ubiquitous phenomenon. Classifying people and arguments in this way makes it very easy to avoid examining the substance of what they are saying. It is so convenient to pattern match and forget that the match is not exact.

313 Aneris ✻ November 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm

“Sea lioning” seems to me a different “meta argument”: it formalizes situations where some person is attempting to defend themselves and does so by being polite, yet persistent. In retrospect we can say “of course this is a thing now”. Why?

In the arms race of online debate, the Social Justice Warriors went for years with invoking the All My Critics Are Harassers “meta argument”. As a response, the opponents — who felt unfairly attacked — began making a point in being polite and still not harass anyone, just using social media and other channels in a normal fashion (if you look at the individual level).

Social Justice Warriors have reacted, as they always do, by creating a new counter meme, what I call for now “meta argument”, that does not address the subject matter, but instead again goes one step meta and makes a statement about the situation/context/people involved et cetera and use that justify why the other persons statements can be dismissed outright. Pay attention and you know a dozen of similar of such “meta arguments” that meme-evolved for the purpose of shielding their dogmatist views.

The likes of Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson or Jason Thibeault or The Flock™ cannot argue through their nonsense. You can entangle them easily in their double think and double standards and mop the floor with them, hence they depend on all their “meta” shenanigans.

At the moment progressive authoritarianism is big and carries the ideology for a while. But in a few years they won’t be able to keep shutting people down and demonizing everyone.

I expect that the cast of characters has evolved by then, and will hold different views, pretend they always thought that way and the enemies of today are then responsible for having distorted or strawmanned them all all the time. The quarrels of the past (that is of now) are then re-labelled to something personal, whereas currently, they are labelled as purely ideological. I’ll keep a mental note and see how it goes. When people are painted into a corner and aren’t the type for reconsidering, correcting and apologizing, they’ll find rationalisations and that will even out all the rough edges. It will read something like that:

“Look how the world is now more nice to women (the atheist movement is more inviting). This Mick Nugent guy and the evil slymepitters lost as they were on the wrong side of history at all times. And pathetic as they are, they now try to strawman my views from back then”.

As a plus, they can tear down and capitalize on their own strawman making of today. If you invent and cook up a problem, and it “magically goes a way”, you can feel responsible for having improved the situation. I am pretty confident in this prediction, even if PZ Myers and co are no longer considered relevant. Then they’ll keep telling this to themselves.

314 Gerhard November 8, 2014 at 5:05 pm

“Sea lioning” seems to me a different “meta argument”: it formalizes situations where some person is attempting to defend themselves and does so by being polite, yet persistent. In retrospect we can say “of course this is a thing now”. Why?

Yes, seems I missed the differences between the 2 things, but as far as I can tell from all of the different definitions I’ve come across, sea lioning is about insincere civility in questioning opponents. This makes it very closely related to JAQing off.

315 JetLagg November 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Steers, you’re reminding me a bit of the anecdotal scientist who, after doing some calculations and discovering bumblebees violate the laws of his model for aerodynamics, concludes that bumblebees cannot actually fly, rather than that there is something wrong with his model.

316 Guestus Aurelius November 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Aneris:

A “nigger situation,” eh? It’s hard to explain just how (inadvertently?) funny that reads to an American, in a horribly squeamish, taboo kind of way.

317 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I see Myers & co. like Terminators.

They hear a knock on the door and a pop up menu appears from which they can select
tone troll
sea lion

or
fuck you into the ground, asshole.

318 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Ashling O’Brien (#304):

Latsot’s latest contribution.

Interesting. Though he seems like an ignorant & dogmatic dickhead (I hope none of the guys here are offended by the allusion 😉 ).

319 John Greg November 8, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Carrie the rape apologist, at post circa 295: excellent comment Carrie. Clear, concise, intelligent, well written. Thank you for that calm and sensible note. I am sure you will now be persona non grata on most of FTB and Skepchick — should you ever try to comment there.

noelplum said:

So when i call a person a twat, you are trying to convince me that I am tying that in to them having a vulva? When I call one of my male work colleagues a twat I am referencing their vulva?

Is this a serious conversation we are having here or just baiting?

I warned ya, I did. When it comes to discussing swear words such as those, Steers is more stubborn, dogmatic, and ideologically immovable than a baited bear. Or summat.

320 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Shatterface (#301):

The stumbling block is your refusal to use English as a means of communication. …. ‘Twat’ is clearly ambiguous. The most common use is for a ‘stupid person’. …. If I call Obama a ‘nigger’ everybody, every fucking person but you, is going to interpret that as a racist comment, because it is absolutely non-ambiguous.

And yours is an inability or unwillingness to consider the underlying mechanisms of how and why we use various words. You know, though apparently you don’t, that linguistics is a well-developed and well-regarded discipline for any number of credible reasons; you might check out the link if you want to reduce your apparent ignorance on the topic.

Yes, I agree that “twat” is ambiguous – in your mind. But the point is that Myers and company seem rather clearly to be certain that it is an explicit reference to female genitalia. The use of which as an insult leads to some very problematic conclusions; seems there’s some benefit in trying to understand how they reach those.

Rather amusing that you’re just as dogmatic about the supposed meaning & implications of “nigger” as Myers is about “twat”. And neither of you actually have much in the way of credible justifications for your “articles of faith”.

I’m through with this non-argument.

“Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind is made up.”

321 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm

John Greg (#319):

I warned ya, I did. When it comes to discussing swear words such as those, Steers is more stubborn, dogmatic, and ideologically immovable than a baited bear. Or summat.

Maybe a sea lion? …. 😉

Though I quite agree with you about Carrie’s comment.

322 Aneris ✻ November 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Latsot, finally reached the final frame of Social Justice Warrior Sea Lion…

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByFMfmMIMAIhEgZ.jpg

@micknugent Sorry Nugent, I’m not interested in your droning. You’re blocked.

323 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I feel left out.

Someone please ban me or block me from something.

324 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Aneris (#322):

Latsot, finally reached the final frame of Social Justice Warrior Sea Lion…

LoL. “One man’s freedom-fighter is another man’s terrorist.” Though there are, presumably, real and objective differences. Which are frequently not easily discernable.

325 Kirbmarc November 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm

In other news, I thinks that latsot should direct his anger against this rape apologist:

[quote]I always keep my office door wide open, and when I’m working with students in the lab, I find excuses to move out and let them work on their own if it turns into a one-on-one event. I just can’t afford the risk. [/quote]

SJW mode on: The gall of this guy! Why does he “always” keeps his office door open? What does he have to fear? If he isn’t doing anything wrong, why is he so concerned about a false accusation? False so exceedingly rare that no sane person would fear them. I’m starting to believe that there might be some skeleton in this dudebro’s closet.

And indeed, there is:

[quote]I had to work fast, because I knew that if it turned into a he-said-she-said story, it wouldn’t matter that she was lying, it could get dragged out into an investigation that would easily destroy my career, no matter that I was innocent.[/quote]

Why is he more concerned with his own career than with the damage he’s doing to rape victims by talking about his allegedly false accusation? He sounds suspiciously persistent about his own innocence. He should focus more on forgiving the accuser, if indeed the accusation was actually fake.

326 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Gerhard (#299):

…. So you are just ignoring the universally accepted fact that the word n*gger basically means black person and that it is used as an insult (in modern usage). The fact that you have to have to invoke transference, rope in mirror neurons and various assumptions to equate n*gger to twat should tell you that they are not analogous.

No, I’m not ignoring the fact that it is an insult. I’m questioning the assumption that its use – or that of the other epithets under discussion – is necessarily racist, or sexist.

Steers, why is it that you have this habit of equating two things because you can find one way in which they are similar and ignore the twenty ways in which they aren’t?

Maybe because I think that using analogies are a useful method of understanding any number of issues & phenomena? That the similarities are frequently more illuminating and relevant than the differences? You also might check out the link, a few salient points being the following:

Analogy plays a significant role in problem solving such as, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication. It lies behind basic tasks such as the identification of places, objects and people, for example, in face perception and facial recognition systems. It has been argued that analogy is “the core of cognition”. ….

The same notion of analogy was used in the US-based SAT tests, that included “analogy questions” in the form “A is to B as C is to what?” For example, “Hand is to palm as foot is to ____?” These questions were usually given in the Aristotelian format: HAND : PALM : : FOOT : ____ While most competent English speakers will immediately give the right answer to the analogy question (sole), it is more difficult to identify and describe the exact relation that holds both between pairs such as hand and palm, and between foot and sole. This relation is not apparent in some lexical definitions of palm and sole, where the former is defined as the inner surface of the hand, and the latter as the underside of the foot. …. This analogy is not comparing all the properties between a hand and a foot, but rather comparing the relationship between a hand and its palm to a foot and its sole. While a hand and a foot have many dissimilarities, the analogy focuses on their similarity in having an inner surface.

It is those similarities, even if few in number, that frequently give a useful handle on the phenomenon in spite of any differences. For another example, consider two triangles which are analogous: 30-40-50, and 3-4-5. Significant differences in sizes & areas; significant and frequently quite relevant similarities in the included angles and the ratios between the sides.

327 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Steersman, find one person who agrees with you on this, point them out in the night sky and I’ll use my powerful crystal radio set to see if they’ll talk to me too.

328 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 9:13 pm

JetLagg (#315):

Steers, you’re reminding me a bit of the anecdotal scientist who, after doing some calculations and discovering bumblebees violate the laws of his model for aerodynamics, concludes that bumblebees cannot actually fly, rather than that there is something wrong with his model.

:-) Though can’t say that the two cases are really the same in several crucial areas. Bumblebees & their flight is an objective fact; the interpretations and implications of various gendered and supposed racist epithets are largely if not entirely subjective.

329 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Steers: you’re one very lousy canuck!

Steers: you’re one very lousy twat.

Can you spot the difference?

330 John Greg November 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Shatterface, I’m banned on 11 or so FTB blogs. You want to borrow some?

331 piero November 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

@Steers:

There’s this thing called reality that follows its own laws, independently of your (or anybody else’s) theoretical model. You may concoct any number of nice theories in order to claim that “nigger” is not necessarily racist, but in practice it is, simply because there is no reason whatsoever for a white person to use that word, except wanting to be offensive. Black people can call each other whatever is acceptable by their community standards, but a white person has no reason to use that word knowing full well it will give offence.

@Aneris:

Latsot, finally reached the final frame of Social Justice Warrior Sea Lion…

😆 😆 Right on cue, following the script to the letter.

332 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Dave Allen (#296):

Steersman: And in this case, the relevant similarity is, I think, the fact that a body part has acquired those negative associations ….

Dave Allen: … within given communities.

So if you’re saying “that’s probably how the likes of OB see it”, yes – I could well agree.

Basically my point, and I’m happy to see someone out in the “firmament” who apparently accepts and understands at least that part of my argument. 😉

I’m not trying to argue that that is a credible way of looking at the phenomenon, only trying to understand why and how they reach that conclusion. Which I don’t think is justifiable at all – because of reasons.

Dave Allen: It’s maybe beg the question of whether such a view is fringe enough to accept or deny as general principle.

Certainly moot how prevalent it is. Although one might suggest that Noelplum’s example of being offended if I called Fred a “whinging pommie bastard” is clearly a case of the effects of splash damage. Which he apparently accepts in that case, but rejects when PZ & company try to have recourse to the same justification.

But I think that that issue of splash damage is at the heart of the fact that, as Michael recently put it in a tweet, “PZ has been smearing people for years with impunity.” Seems PZ, and many of the other usual FfTB suspects, have wrapped themselves in a flag of some group identity – more like a mob, actually – and see any criticisms or even insults of any putative member as an insult of all. Which they then cynically use to justify various extreme responses.

As for how prevalent that meme or guiding “principle” is in that rather benighted neck of the woods, you might check out these FTB two links (1,2) – among about 500 of them according to a Google search of FTB. You may wish to note or consider that the first is a guest post by one “CaitieCat”, one of the more extreme & obnoxious of PZ’s commentariat and, if I’m not mistaken, a rather dogmatic rad-fem of one sort or another.

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2014/07/27/guest-post-lets-not-call-people-illiterate/”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/08/you-must-always-be-nice-why-im-not-being-nice-to-dj-grothe/”;

333 piero November 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm

@John Greg:

Shatterface, I’m banned on 11 or so FTB blogs. You want to borrow some?

Pulling rank on us, eh?

334 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Analogies work because of similarities in salient features. Obscure features aren’t salient, they’re distractors.

If you are given a psychometric test and you are asked to complete the following sentence

HAND is to PALM what FOOT is to..?

Most people will say SOLE. That’s an answer based on analogy.

If you answer INCH you haven’t understood the analogy – you’ve been distracted by the double meaning of FOOT.

There isn’t an analogy between ‘twat’ and ‘nigger’. The former is colloquially used for a stupid person irrespective of sex; the latter is only ever directed at black people.

Any waffle about the origin of the words is entirely irrelevant; etymology is a distractor. It’s fuck all to do with how words are actually used.

335 Shatterface November 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Shatterface, I’m banned on 11 or so FTB blogs. You want to borrow some?

I’m a wanted man. I have the death sentence in 12 star systems.

336 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I’m probably persona non grata on most FTB blogs.

I have been included in at least one (1) blog post by Benson for stating I thought pandering to SJWs was a mistake.

Matt Cavanaugh has a take on this:

“Ophelia Benson has already revealed how she intends to make use of the joint statement — as a cudgel to silence any opposition. When Slymepit member Phil Giordana
warned on Facebook, that the joint statement would prove to be “another excuse for the mob to do as they please and cast away any semblance of rationality or honesty”, Benson replied, “[s]o people should keep on with death threats, rape threats….?” After Phil, a genuinely civil & even-tempered fellow, reminded Benson that he had never made any such threats, the vindictive Benson flat-out lied: “He’s thinking that because I don’t let him comment on my blog, he’s entitled to punish me with death threats, rape threats….” Utterly despicable behavior by Benson, yet entirely consistent with the Plussers’ penchant for bullying.”

http://skeptischism.com/atheismneat/tag/phil-giordana/

And now is probably the time to stop making it all about me.

(1) http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/07/not-getting-it/

337 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Piero (#330):

You may concoct any number of nice theories in order to claim that “the n-word” is not necessarily racist, but in practice it is, simply because there is no reason whatsoever for a white person to use that word, except wanting to be offensive.

And, pray tell, why would anyone use any of the gendered epithets, or any others for that matter, unless they wanted to be offensive? Sometimes some people are particularly obnoxious, and the only reasonable response short of nuking them is a verbal insult to indicate serious objections to, and criticisms of, their behaviour. What else do you think that much of the more credible and justifiable photoshopping in the Pit is if not insults and being offensive?

The question is whether the claim of splash damage in the case of “the n-word” holds any water. And I don’t think that it, of necessity, does. And no one here, or in the Pit, has provided any evidence to justify the claim except various ipse dixit pronouncements.

338 Phil Giordana FCD November 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Steers, you (dearly) fuckwit!

you are dealing with yet another category error. That of (argumentatively) naughty body part against racial traits.

You are a fucking toenail, sometimes.

339 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Phil:

:-)

Yes, and analogies can be applicable to different categories; they can highlight common elements. Verbs and nouns for examples: clearly different categories, but, presumably, any number of common elements: structures & relationships.

340 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Phil (#329):

Steers: you’re one very lousy canuck!

Steers: you’re one very lousy twat.

Can you spot the difference?

The word “canuck” != the word “twat”? :-)

If I put on my FfTB hat (guaranteed to suppress thinking), I would say there’s no difference because, in each case, you’re also clearly insulting all those with vaginas and all those with Canadian citizenship.

But from my own point of view I also see no difference, although for a different reason: I don’t see that you’re also trying to insult both all of those who happen to have vaginas, and all of those with Canadian citizenship.

341 A Bear November 8, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Kirbmarc quoting unnamed accused rapist:

I had to work fast, because I knew that if it turned into a he-said-she-said story, it wouldn’t matter that she was lying, it could get dragged out into an investigation that would easily destroy my career, no matter that I was innocent.

Well Deepak, see that when I (re)quoted this fellow I used the term “accused” because he wasn’t convicted or even charged with the crime.
He says “no matter that I was innocent” but we all know this is a self serving statement and is not proof of his innocence.
Should I have done it your way “believing the victim” and simply have called him a rapist? It sounds all very suspicious to me, he quickly and effectively silenced the “victim” and apparently was able to stifle an investigation into the matter. If he was innocent what was he worried about?
The thing is Deepak, decent, honest people don’t go throwing around serious accusations like calling people rapists on unproven and/or unprovable anecdotal accusations.
I’m aware you have trouble understanding this, but I hope this example can make it clear to you.

342 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm

@steersman

STEERSMAN
Certainly moot how prevalent it is. Although one might suggest that Noelplum’s example of being offended if I called Fred a “whinging pommie bastard” is clearly a case of the effects of splash damage. Which he apparently accepts in that case, but rejects when PZ & company try to have recourse to the same justification.

ME
That misrepresents my point.

Calling Fred a “Whinging Pommie” I know is tapping in to an Aussie stereotype that the English are all a bunch of whinging bastards. I am English so I am aware the implication is that the person making the slur regards Englishmen, such as myself, as a whinging bastard.

The argument of Myers et al is that the same holds true of words like twat. I do not have a twat but I have a prick and an asshole. If you call Fred an asshole there is zero, zilch, nada implication that everyone who has an asshole possesses the negative characteristics associated with the remark. There are two reasons for this:
1) As we both agreed, the negatives attributes suggested neither apply to real assholes, nor are intended to.
2) Possessing an asshole is different to being one. I AM a Pommie, so the insinuation that Pommies whinge hits me as a Pommie. Even if Fred’s critic literally thought that assholes (by which I mean anuses) were literally possessing the flaws he claims of Fred the fact remains I am not an asshole, I merely possess one.

The very worst you could claim justifiably from Myers rationale is that twat owners (women) and prick owners (men) possess flawed genitalia.

So i wholly object to your claim that I am being inconsistent in my claims regarding whinging Pommieness whilst decrying Myers claims regarding gendered slurs

PS: In reality I couldn’t give a damn about being called a whinging pom but that is because I am thick- skinned, not because my reasons relating to the arguments I made.

343 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Shatterface (#334):

There isn’t an analogy between ‘twat’ and ‘n*gger’. The former is colloquially used for a stupid person irrespective of sex; the latter is only ever directed at black people.

In your idiosyncratic view for which you haven’t managed to adduce any evidence in support. And largely because you apparently insist on denying the mechanism of splash damage in the case of the former, but on accepting it in the latter.

And that the latter is “directed at black people” is no justification for thinking that if it is directed at one black person then that means that it is necessarily directed at all black people. Except maybe bias or obtuseness or dogmatism.

344 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Steersman,
Just read a couple more comments (your Canuck reply especially) and wanted to add this.

You are a nigger/fag (as an insult) means that to be those things AS A PERSON is a bad thing.
Niggers and fags (and Canucks) ARE people.

You are a twat/prick/asshole means to be those things AS A PERSON is a bad thing.
Twats, pricks and assholes ARE NOT people.

Twats/pricks make for great genitals on women/men but they are wanting as an entire human being.
Assholes are great for shitting out of – I wouldn’t want to be without mine – but they would not cut the mustard as a whole individual person.

Is this differentiation really too obscure for you to grasp or accept as hugely relevant?

345 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I feel totally out my depth in this company.

Only Myers and Christina have banned me from their blogs. Zvan, Benson and Thibeaut hold all my comments in moderation witha view to letting just enough through to make me look an idiot ahould I choose to comment (ie respond to my comment then block my further replies so it looks like I can’t answer their criticisms. Needless to say, this effectively amounts to a ban in reality as there is no way I can post under those conditions.

346 Steersman November 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Noelplum99 (#342):

Is this differentiation really too obscure for you to grasp or accept as hugely relevant?

That is, tentatively at least, a reasonable question. Which I’ll try to address in lieu of responding to your previous comment as I think your later one highlights my objections to it more effectively.

However, while I think that is, tentatively, a reasonable question, I don’t see it as an accurate distinction. For instance, you say “Niggers and fags (and Canucks) ARE people”, but that is manifestly not the case: those are labels and stereotypes which entail or encompass some negative attributes – they may be applicable to some individuals, but not necessarily to all. If someone is accused of being those then why would anyone want to rush in and accept the designation, particularly absent any evidence it’s true? You might wish to take a close look at this example from James Baldwin in the definition (1):

nig•ger (ngr)
n. Offensive Slang
1.
a. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger” (James Baldwin).

The term entails and manifests a stereotype, albeit a somewhat obscure one. But stereotypes (2), in their nature, generally apply to some segment of an entire population: discrimination and prejudice to insist that all should be so judged; simple logic to realize some can be.

But you might also take a gander at the “Map-territory relation” article (3) from Wikipedia as I think it suggests another differentiation that you’re losing sight of.


1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nigger”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map%E2%80%93territory_relation”;

347 noelplum99 November 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm

@Steersman
The response you have just made to me reads much more like a defence of the argument you are having with others here, that these words are not necessarily slurs, than the bone of contention between you and I which is whether the arguments used to claim words like nigger and fag cause splash damage logically ports across to words like twat and prick.

348 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 12:12 am

Noelplum (#347):

Not sure how to parse that. Assuming your “these words” refer to “words like nigger and fag”, I accept that they are slurs and insults. And I might point out that neither the definition for “slur” or “insult” suggests they necessarily apply to entire classes. But I question whether when they are directed at an individual it is justified to say that they are necessarily being directed at all other individuals who share some common elements suggested by the terms themselves.

349 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 12:36 am

Noelplum (#347):

Further, I wasn’t and am still not sure about your “port” comment as a synopsis of that “bone of contention, as I think it misconstrues my argument – or at least incorrectly describes it. To emphasize again, I accept that Myers is claiming splash damage with twat and prick at least, although most of the Horde deny it for asshole (Cripdyke [sp?] being a notable exception). But, as mentioned, I think that an unwarranted assumption, at least in most cases, although I can see a mechanism – mirror-neurons – by which they might get that impression.

However, my argument is that the same mechanism that is active in that misinterpretation of twat and prick – which you apparently accept in principle though you haven’t said anything about how the principle might be manifested or implemented – is also active in what appears to me also as cases of splash damage: an insult (fag, nigger) clearly directed at an individual being misinterpreted as applying to all in a class.

350 Greg R. November 9, 2014 at 12:42 am

Aneris ✻ @313
Christ, what an insightful comment. So convinced am I of its prescience, that I intend to hold onto it and shove it in their faces when, as is almost certain to happen, it proves out.

351 Kirbmarc November 9, 2014 at 12:42 am

The question is whether the claim of splash damage in the case of “the n-word” holds any water. And I don’t think that it, of necessity, does. And no one here, or in the Pit, has provided any evidence to justify the claim except various ipse dixit pronouncements

What you are doing is basically arguing that the meaning of a word (and thus the amount of damage it may or may not create) is ultimately defined by its etymology.

This is an old, discredited linguistic theory that is ultimately based on the “strong Shapiro-Worf hypothesis”, namely that linguistic features such as “etymology” limit and determine cognitive features such as “meaning”.

If the strong Shapiro-Worf hypothesis were right, the SJWs would have a point: using “twat” as an insult would irrevocably shape our perceptions of vaginas as possessing bad qualities, and therefore might give a negative connotation to our concept of women.

The problem is that the strong Shapiro-Worf hypothesis has been completely discredited by several cognitive, statistical and neurological studies. It turns out that thought shapes language much more than language shapes thought.

For example, people who speak a language where there is only a word for all the shades of blue and green (let’s call this word “bleen”) are still able to tell apart blue from green. They’re even able to recognize different shades of blue and green, although they might need some specific qualifiers to name them (i.e. “leaf bleen” or “sky bleen”)

Nowadays most linguists define the cognitive feature of “meaning” from the practical data of “language use”.

In other words, “twat” acquires different meanings according to its use.

The fact that it can be used in a insulting way doesn’t necessarily shape our perception of its other use, i.e. a vulgar term for a female reproductive organ.

It’s much more likely than the opposite thing happened: the religious taboos about openly discussing one’s sexuality and sexual life created the idea that sexual words and words that referred to the human reproductive anatomy carried a negative connotation (a cognitive feature) and therefore could be used to assign as negative connotation to individuals (a linguistic feature).

This hypothesis is supported by the fact that other word that belong to the sphere of reproductive organs sexuality are used as insults or expletives (i.e. “dick”, “fuck”, etc.).

Statistically speaking, “twat” is generally seen as worse insult than “dick”. Different hypotheses could explain this fact: either female genitals were seen as “more dirty” than male genitals, or female sexuality was shamed more frequently than male sexuality, or else there might be a historic development we’re missing.

So it’s possible that the fact that “twat” is more offensive than “dick” have a misogynistic origin. However while this explains the differences in practical meaning between “twat” and “dick” it doesn’t necessary imply that by using “twat” as worse than “dick” our brains are trained to classify vaginas as worse than penises.

In layman’s terms, you don’t become a misogynist or get others to become misogynists simply by using “twat” as an insult because no matter what PZ and the third wave feminists may think most people don’t use “twat” as misogynistic slur, but only as a general insult to both men and women.

The reason why “twat” is a stronger insult than “dick” might be a misogynistic one, but this is mostly irrelevant to its current practical meaning.

Words reflect social concepts, they hardly (if ever) change them.

The LGBT community, for example, successfully changed through continuous use the meaning of word “gay” (which used to mean “happy” and thereofe carry a very positive connotation) into “someone who is sexually attracted to their own sex”.

They probably hoped that some of the positive connotations of “gay” would rub off on the new meaning.

However it’s hard to argue that this change alone significantly reduced the homophobic attitudes of the community at large. Homophobes were quick to attach new negative connotations to word “gay”, which is now sometimes used an insult.

The social attitudes towards the LGBT community improved only through the activism of the community itself. Changing the meaning of “gay” wan’t enough.

The word “nigger”, on the other hand, has had a very different history.
Its connotation was when it was first used was most likely a neutral one: it referred to the differences in skin tone between people of European and of Sub-Saharian ancestry.

However, for a series of historic reasons, “nigger” acquired through use a very precise meaning, namely “a dehumanizing insult directed at people of evident Sub-Saharian ancestry”.

People who have evident Sub-Saharian ancestry use the word with a different meaning, namely “a neutral or even endearing term to refer to a member of my ethnic group, but only when used by members of my ethnic group”.

Since, once again, the meaning of a word is defined only through use, “nigger” is a racist slur because most people perceive it as a racist slur, unless it’s used by member of a specific community to refer to themselves or other members of the same community.

Every argument based on linguistic features, such as the etymology of a word, falls flat when confronted with the reality of language use.

Language is an ever-changing tool used for communication, whose rules change when society changes, and very rarely (if ever) vice versa.

Most people do not perceive “twat” as a sexist slur, therefore it’s not a sexist slur. Most people do perceive “nigger” as a racist slur, therefore it’s a racist slur. It’s as simple as that.

Thing may change in the future, and they may change through the SJW activism which might get people to see “twat” as a sexist slur.

But there is no “inherently sexist” meaning in the word “twat”, because words have no “inherent” meaning. If you could get enough people to agree with you could change the meaning of a word overnight.

This is why the SJWs are so hell-bent about saying that “twat” is a sexist slur. They hope that if they repeat this concept enough times and shame others for using it eventually most people will agree with them.

352 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 1:49 am

Kirbmarc (#351):

Interesting observations and useful information; quite agree with your comment about SJW’s being “hell-bent”.

However, I tend to disagree with this:

Most people do not perceive “twat” as a sexist slur, therefore it’s not a sexist slur. Most people do perceive “nigger” as a racist slur, therefore it’s a racist slur. It’s as simple as that.

That we used to “think”, “to perceive”, the sun revolving around the earth doesn’t mean that that is particularly accurate or a useful way of looking at things. That they “perceive” those epithets those ways doesn’t mean that that is what they are. Necessary, I think, to consider what is happening underneath the hood – synecdoche & mirror-neurons being the best candidates that I can think of.

Also, you said:

What you are doing is basically arguing that the meaning of a word (and thus the amount of damage it may or may not create) is ultimately defined by its etymology. ….

However, for a series of historic reasons, “nigger” acquired through use a very precise meaning, namely “a dehumanizing insult directed at people of evident Sub-Saharian ancestry”.

Seems to me your definition of “nigger” relies on etymology – “the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time”.

Maybe I’m doing so to some extent, but the general connotations of words seems to depend on those historical connections & contexts about which we can generally do little, but which we must take into consideration. How we interpret them, what conclusions we draw from their use, is something that should be amendable to some degree through reason & analysis.

353 john welch November 9, 2014 at 2:18 am

If you believe that merely uttering or hearing “twat” turned you into a raging misogynist, then you have to believe that somehow, the US was a bastion of racial harmony between white folks and black folks until someone said “nigger” and then it all went to hell.

This is of course, stupid, and completely unsupported by any form of fact.

By the same token you would expect that through the practice of effectively banning the use of the word “nigger” in most situations that there should have been a radical lessening of racism in this country towards black people, and that race relations in the US are at an all time high. Similarly, because of the conversion of “fag(got)” into “f-word” homophobia is at an all time low.

Nope, again, stupid and unsupported.

The humor of the thing is that as several famous and famous-ish folks in this country who are black have pointed out, racist assholes simply performed a rather neat pivot and so now, instead of “nigger” they use “thug”.

Same shit, different word.

So now what, “thug” becomes the “t-word”? And then the racist assholes pivot again and find another word and the SJWs all run in a fucking perpetual circle trying to ban word after word until our entire vocabulary consists of tonal variations on 26 fucking words: a-word, b-word, etc.

Banning words does nothing, not a *thing* to make a misogynist less misogynistic, or a racist less racist. They’ll just change the word they use, but not their behavior.

The entire thing, the entire thing is “harmony theater” where, instead of doing the hard, long work to see why people cling to racism, etc. so goddamned hard, we say “YOU CAN’T USE THAT WORD” and then pat ourselves on the back for being so bloody helpful, and the only thing that changes is the arm we use to perform our little social justice circle jerk.

354 john welch November 9, 2014 at 2:33 am

Steers, that’s a bit of a bad analogy. The orbit of the sun and the earth are actual things. They don’t change their basic function based on who is talking about them. You’re either referencing them correctly (heliocentric) or you are not (everything that is not heliocentric.)

The “slur-ness” of a word is based on the attitude and worldview of the sender and the recipient(s). If neither consider it a slur, then it isn’t. if one does but not the other, then it is only a slur to that one person. if it is a slur to all sides, then it’s a slur. Within that specific group.

For example, I’m not offended by words in and of themselves, so barring one I’ve never heard being so completely horrible that I cannot abide by it, there’s not a word out there you can use as an effective slur against me when it comes to my reaction to it.

If you call me an asslicking dogfucker, I might be impressed that you took more time than usual to come up with something less trite than your average stevedore, but I’m not going to be offended by it. So it’s only a slur to you, and possibly others in range. But i’d not be able to call it that, I just don’t interpret it that way.

So there’s no bright shiny line, there’s no objective truth, no one true opinion. People who travel to non-western european countries are shocked to find Mein Kampf for sale right in the open without anyone calling it evil. Because as it turns out, for much of the world, Hitler is something that (literally) happened to someone else. So they aren’t going to react to it the same.

I’m pretty sure the people of Israel don’t have the same reaction to the Japan of WWII as the people of Korea and China do. But then, having your grandmother forced to be a whore for the japanese army will give you a vastly different opinion than reading about “Comfort Women” in a history book about a place on the other side of the world.

Over and over we see that. Conflicts that have no real impact here are huge issues in the places where they are happening, and vice-versa.

This is something theophontes et al refuse, and I am convinced it is deliberate, to acknowledge: that offense, and lack thereof are personal issues. They are not like the color blue in an RGB or CYMK color model. They are not hard facts that are true for all.

Which is probably 99% of the problem in the end.

355 Kirbmarc November 9, 2014 at 2:41 am

That we used to “think”, “to perceive”, the sun revolving around the earth doesn’t mean that that is particularly accurate or a useful way of looking at things. That they “perceive” those epithets those ways doesn’t mean that that is what they are. Necessary, I think, to consider what is happening underneath the hood – synecdoche & mirror-neurons being the best candidates that I can think of.

This isn’t a particularly accurate or useful analogy. Unlike physical entities such as the sun, language is a social tool which is, to a large degree, socially constructed.

While the general structure of languages (what is technically called “syntax”) depends on the physical properties of the human brain, the cognitive features associated to language, or in layman’s terms the “meaning of words”, are almost entirely socially constructed, either through the natural evolution of social trends or, especially in recent times, through the deliberate action of some social groups.

Humans cannot alter the orbit of the earth with their social abilities, however they can change the meaning of a word through repeated use, peer pressure, censorship, moralizing or other social tactics.

The example of the word “gay” springs to mind.

The concept of “racial slur” as something different from a mere insult is clearly a social construct. It is therefore a vain enterprise to try to find out which words are “real” slurs on theoretical basis, because the answer is simply that insults are slurs if a specific society believes they’re slurs and enforces laws or unwritten rules against their use on the basis of what the SJW call “splash damage”.

Seems to me your definition of “nigger” relies on etymology – “the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time”.

Not at all. The current meaning of a words are defined by its current use, not by their history. Etymology is useful to understand WHY a certain word acquired a certain meaning, but it is not necessary to understand its meaning.

In my post I made this clear when talking about the word “twat”. Its etymology might reveal some previous misogynistic reasons behind its current meaning, but the current use of the word is divorced by its history.

(I was less clear when talking about the word “nigger”, for which I apologize)

“Twat” isn’t a slur because it isn’t used as a slur, i.e. to identify and demean a specific subset of society. While its negative connotation might have misogynistic reasons behind it (although that’s far from certain), the fact that it is used against both men and women shows that in its current use it has no longer a sexist connotation.

356 milesnagopaleen November 9, 2014 at 2:47 am

@ Steersman
With regard to the term “nigger”, you say

The term entails and manifests a stereotype, albeit a somewhat obscure one.

This hits the nail on the head, apart from the assertion that “nigger” is in some way an obscure sterotype.

You go on to say,

But stereotypes (2), in their nature, generally apply to some segment of an entire population

The article you quote says, “Stereotype content refers to the attributes that people think characterize a group.” This is the salient point. When the word “nigger” is used by a white person, it is insulting and racist because the implication is that the target is inferior by virtue of belonging to the class of people (i.e. black) characterized by certain stereotypical attributes. (I’m excluding the use of the word, between black individuals where no such stereotypical attributes are implied). It’s not possible to refer to someone as a “nigger” without invoking these implied attributes, in effect tarring all black people with the same brush. The word has no other semantic content. By the same token, it is not possible for one white person to refer to another as a “nigger” apart from in some metaphorical sense such as “Woman is the nigger of the world”

As Kirbmarc points out, common usage is what determines semantic content. Etymology is of historic interest. If you are in any doubt, why not pop up to Harlem or your local black neighbourhood and start using the word nigger? Good luck with your attempts to argue that it’s not meant as a racist slur.

357 Matt Cavanaugh November 9, 2014 at 2:49 am

Count me among those many who consider Justin Vacula a true friend and ally. Justin is out there fighting day-in & day-out for church-state separation, for equal rights for atheists, against state-sponsored prayer.

By all accounts, and by my impression, Justin is an intelligent, polite, personable, dedicated young man, someone I’m proud to have representing secularists.

Justin was vilified by the Plussers for “stalking” (sic) them to the 2013 Empowering Women Through Secularism conference. Yet Justin’s daily reports on the proceedings were lucid & informative, and eagerly followed by many. While there, Justin conducted, in an highly professional manner, two interviews with guest speakers: Flemish parliamentarian Ann Brusseel, and AI member Catherine O’Brien. (I was honored to transcribe the O’Brien interview, and came out very impressed with both Justin’s interviewing skills, and especially with Catherine’s reason and clarity of vision.)

http://justinvacula.com/2013/06/30/ann-brusseel-disagreement-with-sinead-kennedy-ewts2013/

http://justinvacula.com/2013/07/07/transcript-of-catherine-obrien-interview/

I find it absolutely atrocious that the misanthropic, do-nothing slackivist, Stephanie Svan, has engaged in a protracted vendetta against Justin of the most vile nature. The Plusser smears against Justin are no less vindictive or mendacious than any of their countless others.

A/S activism in the US is, in many ways, stuck in a rut by the side of the road. Earnest, motivated young activists like Justin Vacula offer a chance to reinvigorate the cause. Yet the SJW zealots seek to hamstring them at every turn.

358 milesnagopaleen November 9, 2014 at 3:04 am

@ John Welch #353 Spot on. Changing or banning certain words does not, in and of itself, change social attitudes. However, I do think it can contribute to raising awareness.
@Kirbmarc

“Twat” isn’t a slur because it isn’t used as a slur, i.e. to identify and demean a specific subset of society.

Exactly!
BTW can anyone think of a sexist word that can be applied to all women comparable to “nigger” for black people? I can’t

359 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 4:52 am

Steersman (addressing me)
In your idiosyncratic view for which you haven’t managed to adduce any evidence in support. And largely because you apparently insist on denying the mechanism of splash damage in the case of the former, but on accepting it in the latter.

Do you actually know what the word ‘idiosyncratic’ means? It means specific to one person. That’s pretty much the definition of your word games.

Absolutely nobody but you uses the word ‘nigger’ as a synechdoche for skin colour when addressing one individual black person in the expectation other black people would think ‘Hey, it’s okay – he’s just talking about Joe’. No-fucking-body uses the word that way; you are unique on the universe.

Language is a means of communication. Communication implies more than one person. What you are doing is not ‘language’ because it doesn’t involve other people; it’s just going on in your head.

If nobody uses words in the sense you do those words have no meaning beyond you. If you need a word that serves the purpose of ‘nigger’ according to your uses of the word you might as well use ‘wibble’ so that nobody who overhears you accidentally interprets the word ‘nigger’ the way every other speaker of English would.

Even the bizarre contortions Myers’ baboons put words through means something to them – even if it’s garbage to outsiders.

And you are using ‘mirror neurons’ the way Deepak Chopra uses ‘quantum healing’. ‘Mirror neurons’ activate when you witness an action being performed by somebody else and since your language use is idiosyncratic it’s doubtful mirror neurons are involved.

360 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 5:05 am

Slurs aren’t like the orbit of the sun; they’re like currency.

The Earth orbiting the Sun is a brute fact; the fact that money has exchange value is a social fact.

If people stop believing the Earth orbits the sun the Earth continues to orbit the sun; if they cease to believe in the exchange value of money, money ceases to have value. We know this because it happens.

Same with slurs; so long as people take them as slurs they still have ‘currency’. It’s possible to devalue a slur by overusing it – the way Myers is doing with ‘rape apologist’, etc. or undermining the reinvest it with new meaning like gay activists did by taking back ‘queer’ – but you can no more change the value unilaterally than you can unilaterally declare there’s only 50p to the pound.

361 Skep tickle November 9, 2014 at 5:09 am

john welch in #353 & #354: Yes. This. You hit the nail on the head, IMO.

362 Skep tickle November 9, 2014 at 5:17 am

And Shatterface in #360: Now that’s an analogy that works for this topic (again, IMO).

Steersman, many of us know this topic (& your line of argument) is one that’s near & dear to your heart…or at least one that you can be reliably drawn into 😉 – however it doesn’t look like you’re finding converts to your position. Maybe give it a rest until it comes up in another venue, perhaps with a new crop of folks to try it out on? :)

363 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 5:28 am

Anyone who watched this weeks QI – and there’s never an excuse for missing it – would have heard Rev. Richard Coles use the word ‘twat’ twice to comic effect.

Yes, that’s right: Reverend Richard Coles, the openly gay and frequently amusing Church of England Priest, used the word ‘twat’ twice on Britain’s brainiest comedy show.

364 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 5:32 am

And Shatterface in #360: Now that’s an analogy that works for this topic (again, IMO).

Thanks. The words ‘undermining the’ should have been edited out though.

365 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 6:01 am

Shatterface (#360):

The Earth orbiting the Sun is a brute fact; the fact that money has exchange value is a social fact.

Of course the first is a brute fact. But my point was that erroneous perceptions and interpretations led to a conclusion, a social fact, that didn’t correspond to that.

366 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 6:13 am

Skep tickle (#362):

Steersman, many of us know this topic (& your line of argument) is one that’s near & dear to your heart…or at least one that you can be reliably drawn into 😉 …. Maybe give it a rest until it comes up in another venue, perhaps with a new crop of folks to try it out on? :)

Like waving a red flag at a bull? :-) But certainly not a popular position to be taking, although that is in itself, I think, part of the problem, one of the factors contributing to what is looking more and more like a Hatfield & McCoy feud ….

367 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 6:56 am

Shatterface (#359):

Steersman: In your idiosyncratic view for which you haven’t managed to adduce any evidence in support. ….

Shatterface: Do you actually know what the word ‘idiosyncratic’ means? It means specific to one person.

Actually, the definition (1) says “peculiar to an individual or a group”. Which in this case and in your words are those who argue “There isn’t an analogy between ‘twat’ and ‘n*gger’” as that was the point under discussion.

And you are using ‘mirror neurons’ the way Deepak Chopra uses ‘quantum healing’. ‘Mirror neurons’ activate when you witness an action being performed by somebody else and since your language use is idiosyncratic it’s doubtful mirror neurons are involved.

I’ll concede it’s a bit of a conjecture, an unproven hypothesis, although I wonder what you in your great wisdom would offer as an alternate hypothesis. But the article (2) I linked to earlier – and which you apparently didn’t bother to even glance at – makes these salient and relevant points:

In addition, Iacoboni has argued that mirror neurons are the neural basis of the human capacity for emotions such as empathy. ….

However, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can examine the entire brain at once and suggests that a much wider network of brain areas shows mirror properties in humans than previously thought. These additional areas include the somatosensory cortex and are thought to make the observer feel what it feels like to move in the observed way.

While mirror-neurons may not be the whole story underlying the phenomenon of empathy, I would say that that is rather clearly the basis for the identification by many “feminists” when they see a woman called a twat, and by many black people when they see a black person called “the n-word”. And for much of the resulting rather problematic “identity politics”.

—-
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/idiosyncratic”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron”;

368 Skep tickle November 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

Steersman #366

although that is in itself, I think, part of the problem, one of the factors contributing to what is looking more and more like a Hatfield & McCoy feud ….

Are you referring to the current feud here (& elsewhere) about the origin, meaning, and hierarchy of various insulting terms, or are you referring to the larger freethought/”freethought” feud? It gets so hard to tell – sometimes I feel like a feud map would be a handy guide. :)

Those interested in etymology & evolution of word use/meaning over time may be interested in this post on “words you didn’t know were rude”, including tidbits such as:
a) sycophant being (in origin, at least) a “powerfully obscene term” understood in ancient Greece to imply (figuratively, at least) showing the vulva, and
b) occupy having “[fallen] from polite usage entirely” in the 16th, 17th, & possibly 18th centuries, as remarked by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part 2; the fall of that word from grace was due to a “now obsolete vulgar” meaning it had acquired starting in the 15th century, which has been lost in modern usage

Interesting stuff.

369 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

Skep tickle (#368):

Sorry I wasn’t more clear – what I had in mind was “The Great Rift”, much of which seems motivated by problematic and dogmatic branches of “feminism” which, in turn, seems partly motivated by a sociological insistence on “The Blank Slate”.

But maybe part of all that is the issue of gendered insults and the claim, made with some justification, that their overuse or prevalence is a reflection of some highly questionable sexism.

370 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 8:34 am

John Welch (#354):

The “slur-ness” of a word is based on the attitude and worldview of the sender and the recipient(s). ….

For example, I’m not offended by words in and of themselves ….

So there’s no bright shiny line, there’s no objective truth, no one true opinion.

Generally agree with all of that. But I think the point in all of it is the question of whether people should be necessarily getting their knickers in twists if someone else is insulted by a term that references an attribute or bodily feature that they share with the person insulted. Really seems a question of identity politics, and that those who insist on that response are little more than rabble-rousers & demagogues.

371 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Actually, the definition (1) says “peculiar to an individual or a group”.

You aren’t part of a group.

Unless you and a twin grew up in a cellar entirely cut off from other English speakers and you developed your own pidgin language between you this meaning of the word ‘nigger’ is entirely unique to you. It’s an idiosyncratic use of the word ‘nigger’ that has no basis in shared language.

The relationship between the sounds or symbols of a word and the meaning is a matter of convention . There’s no conventional meaning between the sounds and symbols of ‘nigger’ and the meaning you are attributing to it.

You aren’t using it as language.

372 Carrie November 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

John Greg @ 319
Thank you thank you *bows deeply and falls over own self-importance* Luckily for me I have never felt the slightest urge to step into that den of sniping weasels (my apologies to all decent weasels for the comparison). I realise that I am just a rookie though, amongst all you banhammered (and mealy-moderated) veterans. Signed, Carrie “the Rape Apologist”.

Thanks also to Steersman. I agree with your basic point here:

Really seems a question of identity politics, and that those who insist on that response are little more than rabble-rousers & demagogues.

Yes, I am of the opinion that, for instance, Theo simply dropped his post in here so as to add another twig to the SJWs’ “Michael Fawkes” bonfire and, possibly, to obscure the real message of Michael’s post.

John Welch 354

This is something theophontes et al refuse, and I am convinced it is deliberate, to acknowledge: that offense, and lack thereof are personal issues. They are not like the color blue in an RGB or CYMK color model. They are not hard facts that are true for all

Yes! This, absolutely. And nobody has the right to not be offended and to squash the offending words.

Shatterface @ 363Yes! I laughed more than usual at that QI; the Rev.Richard Coles’ words seemed so very apropos.

Skep tickle, fascinating etymological link, thanks! Just to add a dig to the “naughty words” feud, I used to have a golliwog that I loved dearly; it never occurred to me that it was any kind of a racial object. It just happened to be black, not purple or pink or grey or brown. I lived at the time in a place full of brown-skinned and “black”-skinned people, and none of them seemed to take offence at this white girl playing with a black cuddly toy. A jam jar had a golly on its label back then (IIRC you could collect them for a prize) and the Noddy books had naughty golliwogs. All of that has been whitewashed over of course. So are “golly” (which can mean other things too) and “golliwog” Bad Werdz? Are they even used in today’s world? Am I too archaic to actually be alive?

373 Shatterface November 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Shatterface @ 363Yes! I laughed more than usual at that QI; the Rev.Richard Coles’ words seemed so very apropos.

I love QI: it’s intellectual but rude, and atheists like Fry can interact with progressive Vicars like Coles without condescension, and the whole premise of the show is we don’t know as much as we think we do but it would be interesting to find out the truth.

It’s the antithesis of everything that’s going on in FTB.

374 Steersman November 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Shatterface:

Steersman: Actually, the definition (1) says “peculiar to an individual or a group”.

You aren’t part of a group.

Didn’t say that I was. What I said was “In your [i.e., Shatterface’s] idiosyncratic view for which you [i.e., Shatterface] haven’t managed to adduce ….” If you’re going to be picky you might want to pay a bit more attention to what is actually being said and to whom.

Shatterface: The relationship between the sounds or symbols of a word and the meaning is a matter of convention.

Yes, I quite agree. But what I’m trying to do is to point out that some conventions don’t hold much water – you might take a gander at the Wikipedia article on “Conventional wisdom”, a term popularized by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1).

And, more particularly, I had wanted to point out that the efforts of Myers and company to establish the idea that calling one woman a twat is sexist because it calls all women that – the “Myers Doctrine ™” as a convention – aren’t particularly credible. Which a number of people here have also rejected (e.g., Kirbmarc, #351). But I had also wanted to argue that that case is analogous (2) to the self-serving umbrage and misplaced loyalty people tend to have when someone else is insulted with an ethnic slur of one sort or another.

—-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conventional_wisdom”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;

375 john welch November 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

milesnagopaleen @ 358

I’m not sure that banning words raises awareness. pointing out to people that a word can be highly offensive to a group of people for and that maybe one should think twice before using the word would have the same effect, (raising awareness) without the inherent silliness that arises from banning:

“He called you the F-WORD!!!!”

“Which one?”

“What do you mean which one. THE F-WORD!!!”

“Fucker? Fuck? Fag? Faggot? Fuckstick? Fuckwit? I mean there’s a lot of F-words dude, you gotta narrow it down.”

“I can’t SAY it…it’s the F-WORD”

“So let me get this straight. He called me a word that I didn’t hear. You felt the need to tell me this.”

“Yes! IT WAS THE F-WORD!”

“But since I don’t exactly know which “f-word” it was, and you won’t tell me, exactly what the fuck…sorry, what the F-WORD am I supposed to F-WORDING do about it?”

“You need to tell him that word’s not acceptable!”

“WHAT WORD? I DON’T KNOW AND YOU WON’T TELL ME! For F-WORD’S sake, I’m in an F-WO…FUCKING monty python skit, and you’re the Knights who used to say Ni!, aren’t you. Do me a favor, and fuck off. And stop being such a little tattletale. You’re amping up drama for no reason. Douche.”

Seriously, that banning crap doesn’t do anything good, it just makes everyone sound stupid.

376 milesnagopaleen November 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

@John Welch #358
I agree entirely. I was not advocating the banning of words.

pointing out to people that a word can be highly offensive to a group of people for and that maybe one should think twice before using the word would have the same effect, (raising awareness)

was exactly what I meant to say, John. Of course, that does not mean that the word has to be expunged from the language.
There was a discussion on the radio a while ago in which someone was arguing that the works of Mark Twain should not be allowed in schools on the grounds that Twain was a racist for using the N-word in his books. This, of course, is idiocy and the speaker obviously knew nothing about Mark Twain or his works.

377 john welch November 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm

it’s even greater idiocy since in that case, Twain’s use of the word “Nigger” and showing how inhumanely people treated former slaves was deliberately meant to bluntly call out that behavior. He knew the word was offensive, that’s why he used it. To show how offensively people were behaving.

378 Minnow November 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

“Any waffle about the origin of the words is entirely irrelevant; etymology is a distractor. It’s fuck all to do with how words are actually used.”

In fact logicians have a name for this irrelevance, it’s called the ‘genetic fallacy’. Words mean what they are used to mean now and nothing else.

379 Shatterface November 11, 2014 at 12:07 am

In fact logicians have a name for this irrelevance, it’s called the ‘genetic fallacy’. Words mean what they are used to mean now and nothing else.

There’s also ‘arguments from authority’ like random references to economists, linked to Wikipedia articles nobody is going follow because they’re irrelevant.

380 Shatterface November 11, 2014 at 12:12 am

Yes, I quite agree. But what I’m trying to do is to point out that some conventions don’t hold much water – you might take a gander at the Wikipedia article on “Conventional wisdom”, a term popularized by the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1).

All words are conventional. All of them. But words don’t work as words unless there’s some agreement about what they mean. You don’t agree with everyone else about the word ‘nigger’. I get that. Everybody fucking gets it. It doesn’t matter a shit.

Now go explain your theory to a bunch of black guys.

381 Steersman November 11, 2014 at 12:40 am

Shatterface (#380):

All words are conventional. All of them. But words don’t work as words unless there’s some agreement about what they mean. You don’t agree with everyone else about the word ‘nigger’. I get that. Everybody fucking gets it.

Everyone in your group who thinks that way, “gets it” that way – idiosyncratically. But virtually all dictionaries disagree with that argument. You might note – although I expect you won’t bother as you seem rather narrow-minded – that the “n-word” definition refers to a single solitary individual. As is the case for “gendered” epithets. For elaboration, you might check out this comment and conversation (1) in the Pit.

—-
1) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=234522#p234522”;

382 Kirbmarc November 11, 2014 at 8:56 am

Everyone in your group who thinks that way, “gets it” that way – idiosyncratically. But virtually all dictionaries disagree with that argument.

If you only follow the definitions of meaning written in a dictionary you’re leaving out the very important social context in which words are used. Basically what you’re saying is that the whole field of pragmatics (1) is invalid.

This link (2) should be interesting to you. It’s a linguistic analysis of slurs, from a contextual/pragmatic point of view.

Quote from the link:

Slurs are derogatory epithets directed at entire classes of people. Slurs may target groups on the basis of race (‘nigger’ or ‘honky’), nationality (‘paki’), religion (‘kike’), gender (‘ho’), sexual orientation (‘faggot’), immigrant status (‘wetback’), culinary preferences (‘beaner’), or any other feature deemed salient.

Also worthy of interest is this linguistic observation:

A theory of slurs should explain their offensiveness in a way which also accounts for their somewhat puzzling non-truth functional properties, primarily their wide-scoping. Wide-scoping refers to the fact that slurs generally do not functionally embed relative to logical and intensional operators.

The offensiveness of slurs ‘scopes out’ from the antecedent of a conditional and from within the scope of negation e.g., a statement such as “Isaiah is a kike,” is just as likely to offend people as its logically opposite statement: “Isaiah is not a kike”.

Slurs also exceed the scope of propositional attitude reports and even direct quotation. For example, if a speaker utters the propositional attitude report: “John believes that spic Juan is an illegal immigrant,” the derogatory attitude associated with the racial slur spic
will most often be attributed to the speaker rather than to John’s belief, similarly for direct quotations (Hom, 2011).

Furthermore, such wide scoping overgeneralizes in that it may even infect morphologically similar forms e.g., the non-slurring pejorative term “niggardly” inherits taboos associated with the racial slur “nigger,” despite the fact that both terms are completely unrelated semantically and etymologically (Hom, 2011).

These wide-scoping tendencies of slurs, prima facie, seem to render a non-truth functional pragmatic account more plausible than a semantic one.

There’s a discussion in the paper about whether slurs directly contain the meaning “person who ought to be subject to such-and-such discriminatory practices for having such-and- such stereotypical properties all because of belonging to such-and-such group” and their non-slur use from members of “such-and-such” group is ironical or whether slurs are simply deictic referents (i.e. they encode features of the context) and the implication that they’re offensive arises from the social context inhabited by the speakers and the hearers.

However no serious linguist would ever argue that the interpretation of the meaning of slurs should be confined to their dictionary definition and that the social context they’re used into is irrelevant. Language doesn’t work this way.

“Twat” or “cunt” aren’t slurs because no matter their original semantic meaning or their derogatory connotation, because they’re not used as slurs.

The offensiveness of “twat” and “cunt” doesn’t exceed the scope of the sentence they’re a part of. “Twat” and “cunt” are functionally embedded, since their offensiveness can be negated by logical operations such as negation.

For example, the sentence “John is a twat/cunt” is perceived as offensive towards John, while the sentence “John is not a twat/cunt” isn’t.

The offensiveness of “twat” and “cunt” also doesn’t exceed the scope of direct quotation. If Alice utters the sentence “Bob thinks that John is a twat/cunt”, the derogatory attitude towards John is attributed to Bob, not to Alice.

The offensiveness of “twat” and “cunt” also doesn’t infect morphologically similar words whose etymology and meaning are unrelated. Nobody is going to get offended from the use of “twattle” (an archaic dialectal English form of “twaddle”, idle talk) or Scunthorpe (a town in North Lincolnshire, England). Some people may snicker at these word, but nobody protests they use.

The fact that PZ Myers and the the Social Justicel League have decided to treat the words “twat” and “cunt” as if they were slur doesn’t make them slurs. They have to get the rest of the English-speaking world to agree with them first. Good luck with that.

__
(1)”_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatics”;
(2)”_”http://www.academia.edu/7177806/On_the_Pragmatics_of_Slurs_Derogatory_Epithets_as_Instances_of_Social_Deixis;”

383 Steersman November 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Kirbmarc (#382):

If you only follow the definitions of meaning written in a dictionary you’re leaving out the very important social context in which words are used. Basically what you’re saying is that the whole field of pragmatics (1) is invalid.

Thanks for the detailed reply and interesting citations; sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I at least try, or am periodically obliged – fortunately or not, to have a life outside of the Internet. :-)

In any case, while I quite agree that context is a very important aspect of that question – and most others besides, and while I haven’t had time to read your sources in detail yet, it seems to me, somewhat offhand or tentatively, that your argument, particularly as it relates to the claim that “gendered” epithets (“twat”, etc) are not analogous to racist ones, doesn’t hold a lot of water.

While I’ll concede that there are definitely taboos associated with the use of the latter, my point is, in part at least, that they are frequently not based on reason or logic, but on feelings and misinterpretations and “cognitive illusions” – the example you quoted about “niggardly” being a case in point. Seems to me that much of the argument in your second link is based on the same type of misinterpretation, specifically in thinking that the pejorative stereotype in supposedly racist epithets is actually identically equal to the entire population. But it seems quite clear to me that the use of such epithets – directed at a single individual – is only asserting that only the targeted individual possesses or exhibits the feature that makes the epithet pejorative in the first place. Something which James Baldwin would seem to agree with (1):

nig•ger (ngr)
n. Offensive Slang
1.a. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger” (James Baldwin).

Again, I think there’s a failure there of not differentiating between the stereotype and the group itself – racism essentially.

Further, and along the same line, my argument has been that if “people” accept that epithets directed at individuals, which utilize a feature – skin colour, sartorial or culinary choices, etc – as a target, necessarily target all individuals who possess the same feature then I think that, mutatis mutandis (2), the same argument must be accepted for epithets that utilize genitalia, or our “privates”, as a signifier of “pejorativeness”. Seems somewhat disingenuous if not actually hypocritical to accept the claim in the first case, but not in the second – essentially the argument of “she who must not be named” (on pain of moderation), and which actually seems to have some merit.

But an interesting topic that bears further thought and analysis.

—-
Sources:

1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nigger”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutatis_mutandis”;

384 Kirbmarc November 30, 2014 at 9:48 am

While I’ll concede that there are definitely taboos associated with the use of the latter, my point is, in part at least, that they are frequently not based on reason or logic, but on feelings and misinterpretations and “cognitive illusions” – the example you quoted about “niggardly” being a case in point.

There, as the Bard would say, is the rub. Language isn’t a science. It’s not based on “logic and reason”, but on the social attitudes of its speakers. Language analysis is descriptive, not prescriptive, just like ethology.

The behavior of view of a human observer might appear “irrational” from the point of a human observer (for example a dog can bark at an umbrella floating in the wind) but a scientist who analyzes its behavior would a very poor scientist indeed if they stopped at “the behavior of the animal is illogical”.

You seem to believe that human society should be regulated by logic and reason alone, and the social trends should be perfectly coherent from a theoretical point of view. This disregards centuries of anthropological and psychological studies as pointless.

Your argument would be sound if it were possible to change social trends through logic and reason alone. This isn’t the case.

385 Steersman November 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Kirbmarc (#384):

Language isn’t a science. It’s not based on “logic and reason”, but on the social attitudes of its speakers. Language analysis is descriptive, not prescriptive, just like ethology.

That language is “descriptive, not prescriptive” shouldn’t preclude analyzing why people think the way they do. While it may be an uphill battle to “change social trends through logic and reason alone”, I think it is neither impossible to do so nor without significant value, that the scene is very much worth the candle – as the historical record quite clearly illustrates. Cases in point being the change from the geocentric to the heliocentric perspective, and a major part of the “atheist movement” over quite a lengthy period – all of which are based on, maybe arguably, various “cognitive illusions” that have, largely at least, very little justification in fact, that have very little correspondence to “reality”.

Which is largely or essentially your own point about analyzing the behaviour of a dog barking “at an umbrella floating in the wind”. Maybe I’ve muddied the water somewhat by my somewhat vague reference to “reason or logic” as there are, apparently or frequently at least, various “reasons” why people have those cognitive illusions in the first place – for example, the “erroneous” perception that wagon wheels in Western movies are spinning backwards (related to the phenomenon of aliasing (1)). The way things “look” ain’t necessarily the way things are so there is some benefit in trying to understand what’s happening “underneath the hood” (within our own brains), in trying to elucidate those reasons even if they’re not particularly evident.

And, as mentioned earlier in some detail, it seems that a primary cause for the differences in what epithets are considered to intrinsically target entire groups even if directed at individuals within them is the process of identification with a group which is apparently predicated on the operation of mirror neurons (2). And that process, and the magnitude of its effect (3), seems to depend very greatly on the size of the group and the extent to which its members might be, or feel themselves to be, beleaguered by those outside it: group solidarity seems to be at a premium as the group size decreases, and as the attacks on its members increase – a case in point possibly being the narrower or more dogmatic branches of “feminism”. Similarly and conversely, those in larger groups can afford to be somewhat philosophical and unbiased about attacks on other members – for example, most “old, white, males” are unlikely to exhibit much umbrage at hearing another member being castigated for being a senile, honky prick.

But the point there is that the processes are analogous (4), and that there is some benefit in asking whether criticisms of individuals – even if or particularly if couched in terms of various epithets – without being deflected by frequently bogus claims that they target the entire group – aka “wrapping yourself in the flag” (5).

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aliasing”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron”;
3) “_https://theconversation.com/sex-and-the-size-effect-why-reporting-on-gender-is-often-hyped-34518”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;
5) “_http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/wrap+in+the+flag”;

386 Neil M September 1, 2016 at 6:24 pm

I don’t think “sea-lioning” is just politely asking questions. Sea-lioning is politely asking questions when the goal is not to understand another person’s point of view but to provoke that person into anger or to drive that person out of the discussion. So although the term can be weaponized, it’s not hard to know the difference.

Before I pose a question in a debate, I ask myself:

1) What information am I trying to learn?
2) Is there another, easier, way to learn it?
3) Will the answer to this question change my position in any way?

If the answers are nothing, I don’t care, and no, I am sea-lioning.

387 Chris May 16, 2017 at 5:02 pm

The term “sea lioning” when applied to a conversational approach is not focused on the politeness or impoliteness, or the persistence, but rather the fact that the stated desire to debate, despite the polite persistence is disingenuous. The sea lion interjected himself into a conversation that was not about him, but he makes it about him and shuts down any other conversation. He persists in raising the subject “politely”, but the aim is not to actually engage in discussion, but to force the issue of his choosing to be primary and use it as a tool to demonstrate how unreasonable his target is because they won’t engage.

I know all this is not in the cartoon — the cartoon isn’t some kind of authority, as if “sea lioning” is only allowed to mean the things depicted in the cartoon exclusively. When people use the phrase, it isn’t *just* about what we see in those panels.

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