My comments policy and Atheist Ireland – my response to part of MA Melby’s criticism

by Michael Nugent on April 15, 2015

MA Melby has published a post satirising Atheist Ireland’s dissociation from PZ Myers by inventing an Institute of her own and dissociating that from comments on my blog.

The second half of MA’s post is quite reasonable, and I will address it as part of my response to Ashley Miller’s recent post, and to another post by Secular Woman that has just been brought to my attention.

I want to acknowledge here the reasonable discourse in all three of these posts, with the exception of the first half of MA’s post, which I am addressing here to get it out of the way before responding to the rest.

So I am responding here only to the first half of MA’s post. That may make my response here seem more adversarial than if I was responding to all three posts, so please bear that in mind while reading it.

More smears aimed at Atheist Ireland

I have no problem with satire if it is aimed at the right target. This isn’t. If you have problems with the comments on my blog, then please satirise me, not Atheist Ireland.

This post smears Atheist Ireland, not for anything that Atheist Ireland has said, but for what other people have said in comments on my personal blog.

It comes on the heels of outrageous smears linking honourable people like Ashling O’Brien, Derek Walsh and Jane Donnelly to supporting abuse and silencing victims.

It follows the strange meme of implying that Atheist Ireland does not actually exist as an organisation, which is disrespectful to many hardworking activists.

If the implication is that Atheist Ireland is selective in its approach to ethical behaviour, that is mistaken. We try to apply the same standards to ourselves as we do to others, and we apologise for and try to rectify any mistakes that are brought to our attention.

If the implication is that Atheist Ireland does not prioritise women’s rights, that is also mistaken. We actively promote and lobby for women’s rights, and we have hosted an international conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism, the declaration from which is central to our equality policies.

Every time people smear Atheist Ireland, and by extension its committee members and activists, I will respond and correct that smear and ask them to stop doing it.

Not blog comments, but reaction to them

Even if the satire had been targeted at me, I suggest that it would have been misdirected.

With regard to blog comments, I have not criticised PZ for the comments on his blog, but for his reaction to the comments on his blog.

Whereas I actively encourage commenters to be civil, PZ actively encourages his commencers to be hostile, and he has used violent and dehumanising rhetoric in doing so.

Whereas I would instantly remove any comments saying that ‘Dawkins and his rape cheerleaders can fuck a power socket’, PZ leaves them there while banning a dissenting commenter and telling them to fuck off.

I assume that dissociating the Melby Institute from that behaviour will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the Executive Committee.

I agree with some of MA Melby’s criticism

I agree with some of MA’s criticism of some of the comments on my blog.

Some of the comments she brought to my attention are outside of my comment policy. I apologise for them being there, and I will be removing or amending those comments.

That’s what I do when somebody shows me that I have done something wrong. I apologise and rectify the issue as best I can. It’s not that difficult. More people should try it.

It’s what I and Atheist Ireland did after I wrote a post about the ethics of some comments that had been published on the Slymepit.

Some members of that forum responded by highlighting some unacceptable comments that had been published on the Atheist Ireland forum and our blasphemy campaign website.

We then apologised and removed those comments. I am now responding in the same way to MA Melby as Atheist Ireland did then to members of the Slymepit.

The validity of robust debate

I will not be removing or amending all of the comments that MA highlighted, because many of them represent robust debate that I think is useful, even if I strongly disagree with the ideas that the commenters are proposing.

My comments policy allows robust debate, but there are certain things I do not allow. This includes accusing people of lying, and attributing malign motivations to other people.

You can say that somebody has said something that is not true, but to say that they are lying is to say that they know that it is not true, whereas in reality they may simply be mistaken.

My blog software, despite some glitches, is set to put certain words into moderation, and I generally get around to checking published comments every few days, but sometimes it can take longer.

Generally speaking, if you are reading comments from the past couple of days (such as those quoted by MA), it is likely that you are reading comments that I have not yet checked. On my last check I removed about a dozen comments from one commenter, and emailed the content back to them with an explanation.

If you are reading comments from longer ago than that, and you find something outside my comments policy that I have missed, please let me know and I will deal with it.

An overview of my comments policy

Here’s an oversimplified version of my comments policy. Please robustly criticise ideas and behaviour, by applying reason to the best available evidence.

Please do not insult people as people, or express hatred towards them, or dehumanise them, or threaten them, or attribute malign motivations to them.

Also, please try to follow the spirit of that policy, rather than try to find ways around it. I’m extremely unlikely to ban you, so all you are doing is creating more moderation work for me, typically in the early hours of the morning after a long day’s work.

The second half of MA’s post

The second half of MA’s post is quite reasonable. It helps to clarify some nuances for me that I hadn’t paid enough attention to before.

As I said above, I will address it as part of my response to Ashley Miller’s recent post, and to the other post by Secular Woman that has just been brought to my attention.

I do recognise how some people see one particular issue as being very different to the other issues in our concerns about PZ, and I will address that in my next post.

As a final thought for now, even the second half of MA’s post is based on the mistaken idea that our concerns with PZ Myers are related only to civility.

They are not. They are also related to substance.

For example, PZ’s claim that ‘Richard Dawkins seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children,” is phrased quite civilly, but is outrageous in its content.

But I will deal with that in more detail in my next post.

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{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davidson April 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Could it be? Over-the-top comments on the internet?

If that’s the Big Problem that must be attacked, there’s not really much of a problem, is there? They’re certainly not as bad as many Pharyngula comments, even as the latter are censored to prevent any significant dissent.

2 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 7:09 pm

MA Melby has published a post satirising Atheist Ireland’s dissociation from PZ Myers by inventing an Institute of her own and dissociating that from comments on my blog.

As satire goes, that’s feeble. Melby is drawing a parallel between things Myers has written himself and what commentators have posted on your site.

Steers, if you are reading this please explain how ‘analogies’ work to Melby.

3 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Oh, he did.

4 MissDickPizza April 15, 2015 at 8:55 pm

PZ’s game is pretty effective: Provoke outrage and then mock the outraged.

Fortunately, fewer people are buying it now.

Thanks for calling him out, Mr. Nugent. That took some guts.

5 A Hermit April 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Given that many of your commenters are affiliated with the Slymepit and the Slymepit encourages comments which are at least as offensive if not more so than anything Myer’s crowd get up to when will AI be officially and formally dissociating themselves from the `Pit?

Some of us would just like to see a little consistency in the application of your outrage…

6 M.A. Melby April 15, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Silly A Hermit –

“The Pit” is a group you insist other people reconcile WITH not a place you disassociate FROM.

7 Glen Davidson April 15, 2015 at 9:09 pm

Yes, and since the commenters here come from the internet, and the internet is filled with noxious comments, when will Nugent and/or AI disassociate from the internet?

Also, when did AI ever associate themselves with the ‘Pit?

8 Citizen Wolf April 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

@Hermit
While some of the people who post here also post at the pit, what has that got to do with the price of tea in India?

Most of the people here got here via FtB, so should Michael and AI also disassociate from all of FtB? Indeed, some of the people who post at the pit, also post at FtB. Should FtB disassociate from FtB?

Michael and AI have decided to disassociate from Myers because he is someone who has caused direct harm (libel, name-calling etc) to both Michael and AI, as well as others with which AI work with on the international scene. Myers is someone that many people follow and look to for a semblance of guidance on certain issues. Myers gives talks at conferences on issues that AI is also working on. These are all good reason that lie behind AIs’ decision to disassociate from Myers. People who comment on the slymepit don’t fit any of the criteria (AFAIK) that led to the disassociation from Myers.

9 Billie from Ockham April 15, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Given that many of your commenters are affiliated with the Slymepit and the Slymepit encourages comments which are at least as offensive if not more so than anything Myer’s crowd get up to when will AI be officially and formally dissociating themselves from the `Pit?

You do know that two things must first be associated before either party can dissociate from the other, yes?

Some of us would just like to see a little consistency in the application of your outrage…

And some of us would like to see intelligent discussion of the issues being raised, rather that attempted “gotcha”s that actually miss wildly.

10 Jan Steen April 15, 2015 at 9:22 pm

M.A. Melby wrote:

I’m pretty sure almost everyone, including PZ Myers, understands that he has a caustic style and that he is not some sinless innocent that has never said something unfair.

Classic apologists talk, straight from the William Lane Craig school of apologetics.

Seemingly conceding a point, but in fact conceding something that was never considered to be the actual problem. It is not about Myers’s “caustic style”. It is about his relentless smearing of people. It’s not his style, it’s his substance that is the problem. Melby refuses to engage with the real problem, but instead, as a true apologist, sets up and bravely attacks a strawman.

11 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Silly A Hermit –

“The Pit” is a group you insist other people reconcile WITH not a place you disassociate FROM.

You really haven’t understood even the basics of Michael’s post have you? Your attempt at ‘satire’ was an abject failure because it rested on a false equivalence between the owner of a blog and a group of people commenting on another.

I’ll spell it out for you:

Michael has never associated with the Pit. He has never officially extended an invitation to conferences to representatives of the Pit (there are no such people), nor endorsed the Pit in any way .

I know you desperately, pitifully want to make this about the Pit but it isn’t. Others in the atheist community are rallying to Michael’s side who have nothing to do with the Pit whatsoever either.

Nobody is rallying to Myers side except other extremists who are becoming ever more isolated from the broader atheist movement, from decent human beings in general, and from reality.

12 Harrison April 15, 2015 at 9:38 pm

“when will AI be officially and formally dissociating themselves from the `Pit?”

They were associated?

AI’s past association with Myers is fairly clear. They arranged speaking gigs and paid his airfare. There was a professional relationship at one point, and the announcement was a formal cutting of professional ties. Myers will no longer be invited to give speeches on AI’s dime.

There is no formal relationship between AI and the Slymepit, nor one between Melby and Nugent’s comment section. Ergo there is nothing to sever. You and Melby seem to think “disassociation” simply means declaring that you don’t like a person or group. It does not.

13 A Hermit April 15, 2015 at 9:42 pm

I want to be clear that I’m not defending anything Myer’s has said here; I’m just asking why AI feels it’s important to speak up against his comments but not against the steady output of equally, (if not worse) rhetoric and smearing that can be found almost daily at the Slymepit. Michale can’t say he’s not aware of it…

Billie from Ockham; I wasn’t aware that PZ Myers was ever associated with AI…didn’t stop them from formally denouncing him.

14 Jan Steen April 15, 2015 at 9:42 pm

A Hermit is another one who doesn’t understand the difference between “offensive” and “defamatory”, or at least pretends not to understand this.

“You don’t have the right not to be offended.” This is what we used to say to religious people who were offended when we ridiculed their beliefs. But now that a subsection of the atheist community ridicules another subsection of the atheists community (in casu the atheist SJWs) the latter suddenly play the “you’ve offended me in my beliefs” card. It’s to laugh.

15 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Billie from Ockham; I wasn’t aware that PZ Myers was ever associated with AI…didn’t stop them from formally denouncing him.

Your lack of awareness is obvious.

16 Billie from Ockham April 15, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Billie from Ockham; I wasn’t aware that PZ Myers was ever associated with AI…didn’t stop them from formally denouncing him.

Now that you know that your previous comment was based on an incomplete understanding of the situation, would you like to withdraw it or double down?

Apologies in advance if that was a false dichotomy, but I’m out of ideas.

17 Jan Steen April 15, 2015 at 9:46 pm

@ A Hermit,

I wasn’t aware that PZ Myers was ever associated with AI…didn’t stop them from formally denouncing him.

No, AI merely invited him more than once for all-expenses-paid transatlantic speaking gigs. That is totally not-being-associated-with-the-guy. Right.

18 Mel April 15, 2015 at 9:52 pm

“You and Melby seem to think “disassociation” simply means declaring that you don’t like a person or group. It does not.”

That’s it exactly. AI paid and promoted Myers as a speaker, which is an actual professional association. AI is fighting hard for women’s (and human) rights and any association with “That atheist guy who’s gonna start carrying a knife so he can murder Christians” (to name JUST ONE thing) could be harmful to their work. How can AI say “Awww, he just has a caustic style” after Chapel Hill?

AI did what they had to do.

19 Billie from Ockham April 15, 2015 at 10:05 pm

From the original post by Michael Nugent: That’s what I do when somebody shows me that I have done something wrong. I apologise and rectify the issue as best I can. It’s not that difficult. More people should try it.

I believe that this advice applies to snarky attempts to catch someone else in hypocrisy. If it turns out that your target was not being inconsistent after all, you should apologize and rectify the issue as best you can.

As weird as this may seem, you see this about once per day over on the Slymepit (although I should probably add that I’ve had to apologize more often than most, as I make more than my share of mistakes).

20 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm

As weird as this may seem, you see this about once per day over on the Slymepit (although I should probably add that I’ve had to apologize more often than most, as I make more than my share of mistakes).

This is true, and I think it’s also important to note that when someone apologises on the Pit others accept it and move on. Anybody who is a jerk about accepting an apology is told they are being a jerk.

Had Myers apologised for the ‘haven for rapists’ smear instead of doubling down I’m pretty sure Michael would have accepted the apology rather than dismissing the apology with a ‘fuck him into the ground’.

21 MosesZD April 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm

A Hermit April 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Given that many of your commenters are affiliated with the Slymepit and the Slymepit encourages comments which are at least as offensive if not more so than anything Myer’s crowd get up to when will AI be officially and formally dissociating themselves from the `Pit?

Actually not. When people from the SlymePit act like fools, people on the SlymePit let them know they’re acting like fools. This, of course, has caused a number of arguments and even a few high-profile flounces over time. We also don’t put up with Damion’s doxxing game and he gets a ton of crap at the SlymePit for that and some other things.

But, hey, back to the subject on hand, I understand why you believe this. You’ve never hung out at the pit. You’ve been subjected to over-the-top propaganda that crassly demonizes people who, frankly, are MOSTLY LIBERAL/LEFT, but have remained skeptical of silly/dramatic/outrageous claims made on the Internet by the SJW crowd. (ie the constant, over-the-top Moral Panics coupled with Post-Modernist Cultural Marxism.)

This robust skepticism instead of your required ‘shut up and believe,’ has caused the members of the SlymePit to have had their reputations maligned over-time because we just, as a rule, do not jump on any ‘outrage bandwagon’ that becomes a media sensation and we dare to question. So we, unlike you, haven’t fallen for the rape hoax at UV, and the Duke rape hoax. And a number of other moral panic hoaxes that ya’ll sucked down hook, line and sinker.

We also, by-and-large, believe that serous accusations of serious crimes need to be taken seriously, such as reporting to the police. Yet because of this, we’re suddenly bad people. Whereas, you obviously do not believe in Western Jurisprudence, but more of the old Soviet ‘guilty until proven innocent’ method commonly used by totalitarian and regressive regimes. Which is, in itself, a terrible, terrible mistake on the part of the SJW crowd and negates any sort of moral high-ground you feel you have taken in your rush to judgement.

But back to the reputation issue. Making the reputation smearing worse, is Myer’s obsession in tarring and feathering the ‘pit. In that any half-assed troll that shows up at his blog gets immediately associated with the SlymePit. In fact, I don’t think a week goes by without Myers raging at some odious, clumsy troll and calling him a SlymePit member. Even though they’re not.

But it’s not like we, unlike the ‘The Horde’ go around making death threats/threats of violence, calling people rapists (without even the tiniest shred of proof or rumor of accusation) telling people to shove rotten, dribbly porcupines up their asses, die in a fire (meant literally), fuck a rusty knife sideways or any of that stuff. And if someone did, they’d find a lot of ‘Pit disapproval, though that’s as far as we go as we also believe in free speech, even if it’s stupid.

Unlike at FTB where that kind of misanthropic behavior is rewarded and dissent, no matter how civil, is subject to a dogpile followed with a banning..

22 MosesZD April 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Here’s an invitation for the FTB people.

Join the SlymePit with a DIFFERENT name. This is because if Myers sees your name (and he reads the pit almost daily) and recognizes it, he’ll ban you.

Don’t come in all cultural warrior and start trying to ‘set people straight.’ Just respond to comments and advance your arguments and positions. You can swear, but if you act like a big-enough dick, we’ll filter you out.

Also, if you strawman or refuse to argue with honesty, most of us will just filter you out. It happened with Steersman who tried to ‘prove’ the ‘N-Word’ was not inherently racist even though the word was coined as a racist term versus being adopted as an insult (like dick or some such).

Bottom-line is he had no defenders and by the time the argument was ended, because nobody was interested in debating it with him anymore, and he ended up becoming the 4th most ignored poster at the SlymePit.

He’s still allowed post though. He doesn’t dox. He doesn’t post illegal things. Those are the two rules.

Anyway, give it an honest try. And get a thick skin and don’t expect an echo chamber where you can say some silly thing and not get challenged. Also, some people are a bit rough-around-the-edges at times. But you’re not going to get death threats, or banned, or dog-piled, or shamed, or any of the crap that goes on at FTB.

23 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Bottom-line is he had no defenders and by the time the argument was ended, because nobody was interested in debating it with him anymore, and he ended up becoming the 4th most ignored poster at the SlymePit.

Actually, oolon supported him and berated others on the Pit for putting Steers on ignore. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the absence of PoC from the Block Bot admin team. I’m pretty sure they’d have been totally objective if Steers had chosen an offensive word for transexuals to defend.

As for the others on ignore that’s largely because they suffer from mental health issues and were posting things they’d probably regret later. A couple of them have posted here at Nugent’s blog and you’ll probably know who I’m talking about. If they get their lives back on track they’ll be welcomed back but Pitters are generally decent enough not to enjoy watching people have a breakdown.

24 Zenspace April 15, 2015 at 11:18 pm

MosesZD #21

One of the best description of the Slymepit I’ve seen to date. Well done.

It continues to amaze how consistently FTB and company, as illustrated by MA Melby and A Hermit above, continue to miss, or perhaps more likely intentionally avoid, the obvious difference between questionable tone and actual, intentional defamation when they are the source of the questionable behavior or accusations. Fortunately, the unbiased can see the difference, and their disingenuous avoidance and misdirection, all too easily.

Michael, please continue in your sound and well reasoned activism. It continues to give the rest of us inspiration and hope.

25 Edward Gemmer April 15, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Some of us would just like to see a little consistency in the application of your outrage…

I’m curious – would Michael Nugent condemning the Slymepit make you feel differently about the Slymepit, PZ, or Nugent? And if so, how?

26 Zenspace April 15, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Ack. That should be Moses ZD at comment #21.

Michael, if it isn’t too much trouble to correct my slight error to avoid any confusion, please.

Thanks in advance!

27 Citizen Wolf April 15, 2015 at 11:23 pm

@Gemmer
Good point. I’d give a recommend for that if it were an option.

28 M.A. Melby April 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm

“We also, by-and-large, believe that serous accusations of serious crimes need to be taken seriously, such as reporting to the police. Yet because of this, we’re suddenly bad people. Whereas, you obviously do not believe in Western Jurisprudence, but more of the old Soviet ‘guilty until proven innocent’ method commonly used by totalitarian and regressive regimes.”

You realize that you’re advocating that everyone to be required to put aside their own discernment in deference to centralized authority and then accusing others of being totalitarian?

I just find that sort of fun. Like Nihilists getting bent out of shape or Utilitarians buying Kit-Kats.

29 Gerhard April 16, 2015 at 12:11 am

M.A. Melby:

You realize that you’re advocating that everyone to be required to put aside their own discernment in deference to centralized authority and then accusing others of being totalitarian?

Yes, let’s go back to mob rule. Fuck that rule of law shit.

30 a hermit April 16, 2015 at 12:18 am

Actually I did hang around the pit as a “guest” when it first started. Probably posted more there I ever have at pharyngula. It was the most unpleasant online experience I think I’ve ever had.

On the other hand when I posted to object to Myers Robin Williams rant I git apologies from several of his horde after a heated exchange. So my experience is quite different from the preferred ‘pit narrative.

But that’s beside the point which is that it seems hypocritical of you pitters to celebrate your own rudeness and then pretend to be offended by Myers.

But then its not his rudeness that offends is it? Its the fact that he’s rude to the wrong people…

31 Citizen Wolf April 16, 2015 at 12:21 am

M.A.Melby
**You realize that you’re advocating that everyone to be required to put aside their own discernment in deference to centralized authority and then accusing others of being totalitarian?**

Wow, critical thinking fail. You can have authorities without totalitarianism.

32 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 12:25 am

The question of mandatory reporting is a bit of a red herring, as that is a legal issue. The main complaint against P Z Myers, by my reading (and it’s been a while, so corrections are welcome), is that he named the accused (without contacting the accused, in case there was a simple resolution) and did not name the accuser or provide enough detail such that the accused could clear him or herself. He put the accused in an impossible situation; one that would cause permanent damage even if it later came out that the accused had done nothing wrong.

Put another way, the answer to P Z Myers’ question – “what would you do if someone pulled the pin and handed you a grenade” – is not to just throw it, which appears to have been Myers’ decision; the answer is to hold said grenade until you know at whom, if anyone, it ought to be thrown.

One of the main criticisms of the Rolling Stone writer was that she did not even try to contact the accused or any of the other witnesses to the events in question; she just threw the grenade that she had been handed. Myers appears to have done the same thing. Both were unethical. And both can be easily explained by looking for signs of previous bias.

33 Citizen Wolf April 16, 2015 at 12:26 am

Hermit
**But then its not his rudeness that offends is it?**

Yes, that’s correct. But, perhaps not in the way you allude to. His behavior offends, not what he says. He’s supposed to be a leading light, but all he does is tear down those that are not in his cult. I used to read his blog every day until the vitriol, spite, and bile became too much. It wasn’t that he was rude, but that he was/is a nasty piece of work.

I’m not a pitter, btw, and neither are most of the people who post here.

34 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 12:28 am

But then its not his rudeness that offends is it? Its the fact that he’s rude to the wrong people…

You had a chance to say “my bad” and walk away. Instead, you continue to miss the entire point and/or make claims that are simply untrue.

This has nothing to do with rudeness. Most (decent) people would take a truth said rudely over a falsehood said nicely any day of the week.

35 Gerhard April 16, 2015 at 12:33 am

M.A. Melby.
Are you implying that the legal system in the West is totalitarian? Weasely use of the word centralised there . I though the judiciary was independent in your average democracy. If that was a gotcha it failed miserably.

The police have evidence gathering powers and the authority to force compliance with their investigation that bloggers and SJW zealots don’t. That’s why we foolish sheeple would prefer to wait for the courts before trashing reputations over criminal matters rather than letting citizen sooper sleuths pass judgement on people they hold grudges against.

36 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 12:45 am

“Wow, critical thinking fail. You can have authorities without totalitarianism.”

Yes, unless we are forced to replace our discernment for their judgments.

Just amazed that “freethinkers” are advocating that everyone has to pretend something didn’t happen because the statute of limitations has run out + we would have to make our own personal decisions based on what the judge declared and not our independent assessment of what is most likely true.

“Mob rule” is when even the harshest punishments are meted out without the benefit of a formal process that protects the accused. Deciding not to invite someone to speak at your gig because he’s probably a rapist is not “mob rule”.

But I know that these folks are running under some bizarre assumption, based on bumper-sticker feminism ™ and MRA strawmen, that “Believe Her” means to believe all accusations regardless of the evidence.

They also seem to think that dismissing a claim is a neutral act.

I’ve looked into the information that is currently known. I have little doubt that he is a sexually aggressive person who exhibits a pattern of inappropriate behavior. I also think that it is likely that he raped someone.

He isn’t invited to my parties.

But, despite evidence being available – this discussions usually come down to the simple fact that most men are more afraid of being falsely accused than not being believed; and most women are more afraid of being silenced and shamed if they dare come forward than being falsely accused.

These discussion inevitably revolve about who we most identify with – and are an expression of our own fears.

Whether or not those fears are rational considering the typical reality of the situations – go ask HJ.

However, we’re dealing with a sample space of 1 – now aren’t we?

37 Mel April 16, 2015 at 12:48 am

So rape accusations are just “rudeness” or “caustic style.”

Nice.

38 Shatterface April 16, 2015 at 1:20 am

You realize that you’re advocating that everyone to be required to put aside their own discernment in deference to centralized authority and then accusing others of being totalitarian?

We’re advocating that we don’t lynch someone based on hearsay and innuendo.

As for Myers brave stand against the forces of law and order, it looks like he capitulated pretty quickly a few hours ago when even the hordelets advised him not to ignore a subpoena.

He’s all for ignoring the law when it comes to making accusations or spurring black and poor people he doesn’t know into confronting armed police because no justice, no peace, yo but he’s not going to stand his ground when someone in a suit waves a piece of paper at him.

Shatterface

39 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 1:26 am

Might I introduce you to the concept of the risk-benefit analysis?

There is such a thing as a risk-benefit analysis.

40 MosesZD April 16, 2015 at 1:30 am

Actually I did hang around the pit as a “guest” when it first started. Probably posted more there I ever have at pharyngula. It was the most unpleasant online experience I think I’ve ever had.

On the other hand when I posted to object to Myers Robin Williams rant I git apologies from several of his horde after a heated exchange. So my experience is quite different from the preferred ‘pit narrative.

But that’s beside the point which is that it seems hypocritical of you pitters to celebrate your own rudeness and then pretend to be offended by Myers.

But then its not his rudeness that offends is it? Its the fact that he’s rude to the wrong people…

Billie checked up on your story. You were severely dog-piled and exactly ONE of the attackers apologized for their rude and boorish behavior.

And pardon my skepticism, but I can no longer accept anything you have said about anytime in the pit. Anyone can claim ‘guest’ then tell a story. And when one of your stories doesn’t pass muster, a vague little “I was a guest once’ story is rejected.

So, as the expression goes, put-up or shut-up.

41 MosesZD April 16, 2015 at 1:32 am

37 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 1:26 am
Might I introduce you to the concept of the risk-benefit analysis?

There is such a thing as a risk-benefit analysis.

Yes, the other term for this particular type of ‘risk-benefit’ is ‘cowardice.’ Talk tough, cave in.

42 MosesZD April 16, 2015 at 1:35 am

Mel April 16, 2015 at 12:48 am
So rape accusations are just “rudeness” or “caustic style.”

Nice.

And you’ve got that completely wrong. You make creationists like Hovind and Ham look like paragons of virtue.

It’s about truth. It’s about enlightenment values, such as western jurisprudence and ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Not your cultural-Marxist, quasi-totalitarian “guilty until proven innocent and then I’ll refuse to accept the innocence’ like Amanda Marcott and the Duke rape scandal.

43 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 1:39 am

Also – could you stop with the implication that I think Myers is The Second Coming when I said the opposite?

Annoying.

I mean the pattern of:

A: Hey [this] that has something to do with Myers.
B: Defend [something Myers did]!!!!!
A: Ah? Why are you asking me to do that?

Is getting a bit old.

You know, especially when it’s stuff that’s been put to bed about 2 years ago. o.O

The quote-mining is a bit much there too Mel? – might want to dial that back.

But – whate’ves.

44 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 1:40 am

Just pretend my punctuation is spot-on.

Do it.

Pretend.

45 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 1:49 am

Ack – comment 35 got caught by one of Nugent’s word-search moderation filters.

Freeze Peach.

46 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 1:58 am

Just amazed that “freethinkers” are advocating that everyone has to pretend something didn’t happen because the statute of limitations has run out + we would have to make our own personal decisions based on what the judge declared and not our independent assessment of what is most likely true.

Yep. You nailed it. That’s exactly what many people have been saying and I thank you for not using a quote from me to make this point.

Oh, and if you happen to come across a comment from me that says something close to the opposite of what you just wrote, just ignore it. Thanks.

47 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 2:02 am

Well what do you want then?

What does “innocent until proven guilty” mean in this context when there is no possible legal remedy available currently?

48 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 2:09 am

Can you not read? I had already answered in Comment #32. At a minimum, I want the person holding the grenade to get in contact with the accused before throwing it and I want the accusation to be made in a manner that allows the accused to respond.

Please note that I did not say that the grenade-holder must clutch it to his stomach and take one for the team, nor did I say anything that comes close to pretending that nothing happened. But what I find unethical and unacceptable is making an anonymous accusation to which there cannot be an answer, especially when you have a clear, previous bias against the accused. And if P Z Myers made no effort to contact the accused, paralleling the Rolling Stone case, then toss that on the list.

49 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 3:50 am

Shermer could have put this case in front of a court himself by forwarding a libel case. He decided not to do that.

The statute of limitations has passed for both sexual assault and libel.

Yet people still say these things:

“That’s why we foolish sheeple would prefer to wait for the courts before trashing reputations over criminal matters rather than letting citizen sooper sleuths pass judgement on people they hold grudges against.”

That is what I’m talking about.

There is no court coming to save you from having to make your own decision about this. Sorry.

Further – NOBODY that I have seen has even hinted at any sort of “lynching” – so the ridiculous notion that anyone is assuming the same sort of authority as an actually honest-to-goodness court is just a cop-out.

(Get it – a cop-out.)

I know you are unhappy about how the allegations originally were made public because you wanted a situation where Shermer had a chance to defend himself – but the only way that could happen is if the accuser gave up her anonymity.

In some ways, making public the allegation which was already rumor – gave him more of a chance to defend himself than he would have otherwise.

I know you want to make parallels with the Rolling Stone case. I think that Oppenheimer did a much better job living up to journalistic ethics than that.

Whether or not PZ Myer should have published what he did is not a clear-cut ethical question. He certainly had a responsibility to not publish if there was evidence that the account was impossible or otherwise not credible.

For example, remember when someone made up a claim of rape against a FtB blogger was wasn’t in the same country at the time it supposedly happened? I do. I suspect that was some sort of weird “object lesson” but it illustrated how it is not as easy as people think to just make something up and have it stick.

I am well aware that this whole situation is much much less than ideal.

In a better world where our culture considers accounts of rape more reasonably, the people that were told what happened at the time would have acted much better and the person making the claim would not have to worry that she would be retaliated against or otherwise harassed and assumed to be lying and malicious motivations manufactured to rationalize convenient dismissals.

There are serious ethical questions about how events unfolded and how information was made public – and some of that rests with PZ Myers – but a large portion of it does not.

As far as I know, PZ Myers relayed information that he had every reason to believe was accurate, making clear how he obtained the information – and the people reading that information had a responsibility to act on it *given it’s level of uncertainty*.

If the only information made available was that post – the only action I would have taken in response was not to party with him.

Given the subsequent information made available – I would rather not be near him.

That is a choice I get to make.

50 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 6:28 am

Oh – and the way I am using the term “civility” involves both substance and tone.

fyi.

51 Steersman April 16, 2015 at 7:14 am

An interesting if problematic statement from the Secular Woman post that Michael referred to:

The concept of formally disassociating from a person one has no formal ties with seems unusual to us, and we have no desire to take an official stand regarding what appears to be an extremely belabored personal disagreement regarding tone.

While one might argue that that isn’t entirely the same as the following statement (1), just somewhat analogous to it, one can’t help but get the impression from it that Myers and Melby and Secular Woman are, at best, engaging in calling the kettle black. To wit:

”There is a new atheism brewing, and it’s the rift we need, to cut free the dead weight so we can kick the C.H.U.D.’s back into the sewers and finally disown them, once and for all …. I was already mulling a way to do this back in June when discussion in the comments on my post On Sexual Harassment generated an idea (inspired by Anne C. Hanna) to start a blog series building a system of shared values that separates the light side of the force from the dark side within the atheism movement, so we could start marginalizing the evil in our midst, and grooming the next generation more consistently and clearly into a system of more enlightened humanist values.” (1) The inimitable and far too modest, Richard Carrier

Speaking of “tone” …. The standard that one creates or promotes is the standand one can’t very well walk by. And all that, so to speak.

Seems to me the waters of the entire “atheist movement” – a rather problematic term and concept in itself as there’s an element of it that can be just as narrow-minded and dogmatic, and as “religious”, as the worst of religious fundamentalism (2) – are being roiled by all sorts of questions over proper “tone” [“rape grading”, anyone?]. No doubt there are some substantive issues, and some that are less so, that are contributing to that. But it sure seems to me that the libelous nature of accusing someone of a serious crime (3) has to qualify as one of the former – and as the primary bone of contention at the moment.

——
1) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150416064024/http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/2207”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation#Defamation_per_se”;

52 JackSkeptic April 16, 2015 at 9:02 am

Focusing on one point or issue is irrelevant and a derail. The point being made is clear. Part of the community, mainly those from FtB but there are plenty of others, involve themselves with attacking and smearing others on a regular basis for political reasons. That is affecting the community as a whole to the extent there is concern it could seriously affect activism. Simple really. That’s it. The discussion of innocent until proven guilty is irrelevant to that point.

If someone thinks it is fine to attack and damage others through their words and actions (such as doxxing) then they will not have an issue with it. Some of us do have an issue. I know which shows more compassion and integrity.

53 Kirbmarc April 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

“You realize that you’re advocating that everyone to be required to put aside their own discernment in deference to centralized authority and then accusing others of being totalitarian?”

That’s not what is asked. If you want to believe that Person X is a rapist, and you take the private decision not to invite them at cons, meetings, etc., this is your prerogative.

What is asked is that people stop referring to Person X as “a rapist” as if it were a proven fact instead of an allegations.

What PZ should have done before publishing the allegation should have been, at least, to contact Person X, ask him for his side of the story, then inform them he was going to publish the allegation from Person Y.

He could then have written, if he desired, a post where he outlined the serious allegation of Person Y in a clear fashion, add what Person X replied (or that they refused to comment) and say that he was going to let his readers form their own informed opinions.

What Myers did, instead, was to tease his audience with a gradually unraveling story about a “hand grenade post”, employ an emotionally charged language against someone he didn’t even ask for comments, and then ultimately decide he “knows” that Person X is a rapist.

54 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 16, 2015 at 11:24 am

Hermit Boy: Actually I did hang around the pit as a “guest” when it first started. Probably posted more there I ever have at pharyngula. It was the most unpleasant online experience I think I’ve ever had.

Translation:

Yeah, yeah, I tried a spliff once, but really, really, really hated it….and I didn’t inhale of course!

55 Shatterface April 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Might I introduce you to the concept of the risk-benefit analysis?

There is such a thing as a risk-benefit analysis.

Yes, it’s what people should do before they start making accusations in public.

56 Rufus April 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Being a semi-computer-literate dark humourist I thought I’d look up the “Melby Foundation”, and it turns out that there is one (in Michigan).

You’ll excuse me if I leave out most of their details, but it turns out that it is a small foundation that appears to spend most of its money on small grants to other 501(c)s that do things like “promote religious [i.e. Christian] education/teaching”, “promote Christian education/values to athletes”, “support Christian ministry in the United States” and so on.
Really, is it me, or to be dissociated from that particular fellowship sounds more rather than less desirable for AI?

57 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I’m going to ignore the gish and all of your irrelevant stuff about statutes of limitations, M A Melby, and only look at what you wrote that’s actually on-topic. Please also note that I’m going to ignore anything that happened after the Grenade was tossed, because that’s irrelevant to the ethics of what P Z Myers did.

Whether or not PZ Myer should have published what he did is not a clear-cut ethical question. He certainly had a responsibility to not publish if there was evidence that the account was impossible or otherwise not credible.

That’s a pretty low standard so far. We’re talking about an accusation of rape, not something mundane.

As far as I know, PZ Myers relayed information that he had every reason to believe was accurate, making clear how he obtained the information – and the people reading that information had a responsibility to act on it *given it’s level of uncertainty*.

And this is your only positive requirement? You have to believe it. So anything that isn’t impossible or incredible and you happen to believe is fair game in your view? Nothing else is needed before writing the blog-post?

Let me give a few items that I believe ought to be on the list of requirements:

– you make an effort to confirm or rule out the claim; you contact the accused at a minimum

– you include enough information for the accused to be able to respond to the accusation; you don’t pass along anonymous “gossip”

Passing along an anonymous accusation of rape without the above two is, in my view, unethical and unacceptable. It may also be seen as a gateway drug. Once you have passed along an unanswerable, anonymous rape accusation (and gotten away with it), it’s a small step to labeling an entire group of people as rapists and/or rape apologist with even less evidence.

Although not a requirement, per se, I would also suggest:

– you take you own biases into account when deciding if your own belief in the claim is enough; you might even ask yourself why you were chosen to be given the grenade

58 Gerhard April 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm

I used to find it amazing that self-described proponents of reason and ethics can be so foolish as to believe that they can determine the truth of accusations through internet gossip. No allowance for all the well known confounding factors that even a jury trial struggles to untangle. Never mind that, some internet heroes who’ve been frantically trying to dig up a rape charge for years have discerned that they’ve found their perp, so obviously long accepted standards of due process don’t apply. They’ve discerned guilt, after all. Where does that leave the ‘perp’ ? It leaves him with a permanent stain on his name and possibly with his career in decline unless he throws the dice and risks losing it all on a court case. He’ll doubtless be called a bully trying to silence his victim in that case.

This is all after getting egg on their faces the last time they discerned someone’s guilt and were really, really sure of it. But this time they are really,really, really sure.

It isn’t about whether the man is guilty or not. Personally I’d like to see him exonerated in court purely to illustrate a point, but if he isn’t I have no earthly reason to want to shield the guy. There is no cabal of ‘dudebros’ trying to keep the “community” to itself, or at least that I have ever seen. There must be though because, apparently, I’m one of them.

59 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm

@Billie from Okham,

“Passing along an anonymous accusation of rape without the above two is, in my view, unethical and unacceptable. It may also be seen as a gateway drug. Once you have passed along an unanswerable, anonymous rape accusation (and gotten away with it), it’s a small step to labeling an entire group of people as rapists and/or rape apologist with even less evidence.”

That is an interesting slippery slope fallacy. You seem to be implying that the label of “rape apologist” is being applied with no evidence. And, I concede that may very well be the case in some instances, but let’s look at one particular case.

Consider that the problem I and others have with you personally is not simply that you failed to come to the same conclusions that we may have, given the evidence, but because you say really horrible shit.

For example this little gem from the Sylme Pit:

“Out of curiosity, but only to those who like to use the wheelchair in an elevator as evidence that Michael S raped Alison S: is Melody H repeatedly raped or drunk, given her inability to get out of bed?”

Some of what has been said concerning this issue echoes classic “rape apology” similar to the rhetoric surrounding the Steubenville case and many other cases where popular or prominent men are insulated from the consequences of their actions and those coming forward are systematically demonized for daring to speak about it.

For example, what you said implied that being too drunk to consent is not an element worth considering, this is similar to the rape apologists who ridiculed the victim of the Steubenville rape for being drunk and not the young men who repeatedly took advantage of her vulnerability by [doing things I would rather not describe]; and made the profoundly unjustifiable argument that since she was unable to resist that a rape had not occurred.

Perhaps you were simply trying to make case that simply *being drunk* does not mean that rape occurred. That is true. However, your argument is so ridiculous and needlessly crass, considering that Alison S does not have a condition that would otherwise cause to have not know where she was or be unable to stand, and that her drunkenness is only evidence of rape in the context of other accounts – including Michael S’s.

Just transport yourself into a universe where both Melody H and Alison S are not assumed to be liars and where all evidence concerning their situations are taken into account instead of selecting the weakest aspects of their claims in order to post rationalize their status as liars.

Also, in this thought experiment, if you are able – you could also imagine a place where Melody H’s mental illness is not used as an excuse to cause her more harm for your entertainment.

Explain to me how people should react to your behavior, if they are friends and associates of the people you target for ridicule?

Do you think it was unfair for me to point out evidence that you claimed was lacking? What would have been a better course of action?

60 Shatterface April 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Being a semi-computer-literate dark humourist I thought I’d look up the “Melby Foundation”, and it turns out that there is one (in Michigan).

I thought it had something to do with the Spice Girls.

61 John Greg April 16, 2015 at 5:30 pm

A Hermit said:

Given that many of your commenters are affiliated with the Slymepit and the Slymepit encourages comments which are at least as offensive if not more so than anything Myer’s crowd get up to when will AI be officially and formally dissociating themselves from the `Pit?

I formally challenge you to find anything as directly and immediately offensive and/or hostile as “rape apologist”, “rape supporter”, “die in a fire”, “shove a rotting porcupine up your ass”, on the Pit. Go on; let’s see you at least try.

… the steady output of equally, (if not worse) rhetoric and smearing that can be found almost daily at the Slymepit.

Saying something negative about someone, something that is provable and can be cited, quoted verbatim, and or screenshot, is not a smear. Once again, the challenge is issued. Prove your words.

62 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Oh gosh – you scared me. I should have googled the name before I used it.

The foundation in Michigan has a slightly different name (longer). Melby is a common name because it a geographic name that covers several large regions of Norway. There are many Melby’s that aren’t related to me scattered about.

ANYWAY:

Hey John Greg – maybe you have people on mute at the Pit or something?

It took me one minute to find an entire thread labeled “Bleeding from the Bunghole”.

By the way, the whole porcupine thing was really terrible – which is why it was called out and a stop was put to it about 2 years ago.

“Saying something negative about someone, something that is provable and can be cited, quoted verbatim, and or screenshot, is not a smear. Once again, the challenge is issued.”

But not if you put the quote in Comic Sans or something? That’s except?

Christ.

At least own your shit, would you?

63 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Oh yeah – John Greg – do you use the same name on the pit; cause you were posting to the “Bleeding from the Bunghole” thread.

I found the thread by searching my name, btw.

Have a nice day.

http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=351&start=29120&hilit=MAmelby#p149628

64 John Greg April 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Melby said:

Hey John Greg – maybe you have people on mute at the Pit or something?

Nope. I am an admin, and as meaningless as that ultimately is at the Pit, it nonetheless behooves me, in my personal opinion, to ensure that I mute nobody. And, to answer the question in your nether comment, yes, I do indeed post under the same name there as here.

It took me one minute to find an entire thread labeled “Bleeding from the Bunghole”.

Ooh! Oh! Such, evil evilocity. A somewhat context-free thread header titled Bleeding From the Bunghole. Ouch. Such ultimate wrongness. Yes, yes, equally bad as “die in a fire”, the many varied porcupinisms, and the endless mendacious smears of misogyny, rape apologia, etc. Yes, truly evil. Bleeding from the Bunghole. Oh my.

You might note that one of the reasons for that thread title, at least in my memory, was that Lsuoma, who owns the Pit, so to speak, was having health issues involving precisely that which the thread is titled, and which led to surgical procedures and life and death concerns. I have no doubt, however, that such facts are of scant, if any, interest to you.

By the way, the whole porcupine thing was really terrible – which is why it was called out and a stop was put to it about 2 years ago.

Indeed, after the Pit had been pointing it out for only two years prior, the message finally got through. Nonetheless, it was replaced with the ever popular “rape apologist” “Die in a fire”, “misogynist”, “sexist”, “MRA”, etc., ad-almost-infinitum. Not to mention that PZ’s championing and proselytizing of that meme-theme is still in place. (so far as I am aware).

“Saying something negative about someone, something that is provable and can be cited, quoted verbatim, and or screenshot, is not a smear. Once again, the challenge is issued.”

But not if you put the quote in Comic Sans or something? That’s except?

Well, I am not clear on your point; nonetheless, there is a difference between intentional smears and satire.

At least own your shit, would you?

I do; we do. People like yourself just keep redefining (and inventing) what is and/or is not our “own shit”.

65 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm
66 Billie from Ockham April 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

M A Melby, I see nothing in what you wrote to me that has anything to do with whether P Z Myers’ Grenade post was ethical, so I have nothing to add to what I’ve already written.

67 Shatterface April 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm

You might note that one of the reasons for that thread title, at least in my memory, was that Lsuoma, who owns the Pit, so to speak, was having health issues involving precisely that which the thread is titled, and which led to surgical procedures and life and death concerns. I have no doubt, however, that such facts are of scant, if any, interest to you.

Lsuoma has been pretty open about his health problems and discusses them frankly but with great humour. Many people share stories about their health problem or injuries, often in language that may be coarse but defiant rather than self-pitying.

68 Michael Nugent April 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm

In my opinion, there is the makings of a constructive discussion here, and I hope on further posts, if we can respect each other as people while discussing it.

A quick reminder of my comments policy. Please robustly criticise ideas and behaviour, by applying reason to the best available evidence.

Please do not insult people as people, or express hatred towards them, or dehumanise them, or threaten them, or attribute malign motivations to them.

69 John Greg April 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Michael, thank you for the editorial corrections to my comment. Much appreciated.

Also, as I am one who is frequently guilty of dissing commenters, rather than their ideas, I actually appreciate your reminders to remain on target.

Cheers.

JG

70 M.A. Melby April 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Well – I wasn’t aware of this actually.

No – the “points” really don’t make up for finding it.

Have a fucking awesome afternoon, everyone, I’m out.

https://twitter.com/MAMelby/status/588814696209231872

71 Phil Giordana FCD April 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm

“Have a fucking awesome afternoon, everyone, I’m out.”

April 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

:/

72 John Greg April 16, 2015 at 10:32 pm

I am having something of a rather brain-dead day. What does the following mean:

Well – I wasn’t aware of this actually.

No – the “points” really don’t make up for finding it.

I do not understand that comment.

73 Gerhard April 16, 2015 at 11:08 pm

M.A. Melby:

There is no court coming to save you from having to make your own decision about this. Sorry.

Further – NOBODY that I have seen has even hinted at any sort of “lynching” – so the ridiculous notion that anyone is assuming the same sort of authority as an actually honest-to-goodness court is just a cop-out.

You may hold all the opinions you wish, however you are not obliged to spread around your personal opinions about unproven criminal acts.

The lynching has already been done. The damage is done with the public allegation. Can you really not grasp how damaging the allegation of rape is? To try to mitigate this by saying the accused can defend himself in court is ridiculous. He faces a choice between living with the stain on his reputation or risking financial ruin by going to the courts with no guarantee of success. A third party has no moral right to put someone in that position, and if they must they have an obligation to verify as much as possible before doing it.

I hate to disagree with you Michael, but nothing will come of this debate. All the usual shifting word definitions and point dodging are in play.

74 Shatterface April 17, 2015 at 1:29 am

Over at Richard Carrier’s site, the polyamorous intellectual artillery of FTB shoots his brain out:

Summary of the Present Issue

Atheist Ireland (more like just Dublin) is essentially a fiefdom wielded by Michael Nugent. He (or possibly they, if really anyone else at AI had their hand in this) received or collected propaganda from an anti-feminist hate-site (literally called the Slymepit) and used it to attack PZ Myers. It seems that Nugent did this for really only one actual reason: Nugent defends [Voldemort] instead of [Tinkerbell], the woman who has a credible claim of rape or at least extreme sexual misconduct against [Voldemort] (one better evidenced than many such claims against Catholic priests), and people who see things the other way around have said Nugent is defending a rapist, at which he took such offense as to spiral out into the most extraordinary example of high dudgeon.

https://archive.today/Aq8gM

So we have:
(a) Another dismissal of Atheist Ireland based on it’s size
(b) Another claim that Michael is the sole voice in AI on this matter, despite the explicit support of AI’s Executive Committee
(c) The claim that Michael spoke out because of ‘propaganda’ collected by the Slymepit when in fact Michael spoke out before Pitters commented here.
(d) That the Pit is a hate-site, as evidenced by the fact it is called the Slymepit – the name PZ Myers gave it.
(e) That Michael’s motivation is to defend one man accused of rape.
(f) Most disgustingly of all, the implication that there is no more evidence of sexual offences committed by Catholic priests in Ireland than the rumour and innuendo Myers is spreading about Voldemort.
(g) And that Michael’s response to being accused of defending a rapist was to ‘spiral out of control into the most extraordinary example of high dudgeon’.

75 tina April 17, 2015 at 7:16 am

Richard Carrier PhStD (World Renowned): “This is a quick source document for anyone who “hates drama” and doesn’t want to do much work to investigate what all the hubub is about” [….snip snip snip]
That’s the sum of it.”

http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/7217#more-7217

Oh, indeed it is. I love the smell of irony in the early morning!

76 tina April 17, 2015 at 7:55 am

Carrier has, of course, unlike Ashley Miller, no intention of dialogue. Essentially he is a tribalist. I predict any further input he makes will be purely propogandist in nature.

77 Steven Carr April 17, 2015 at 8:12 am

And Carrier says ‘Irish w**ker’ is not a racist slur….

78 tina April 17, 2015 at 8:43 am

I also predict he will not appear here but make pronouncements from on high.

Perhaps he deserves his own special thread?

79 Michael Kingsford Gray April 17, 2015 at 8:49 am

“Steven Carr April 17, 2015 at 8:12 am
And Carrier says ‘Irish w**ker’ is not a racist slur….”

Do you have a reference for this claim?

80 Steven Carr April 17, 2015 at 10:24 am

I do have a reference for this claim, but I am not allowed to publish it as it was on a closed group.

Basically, Carrier says ‘Irish’ is a nationality, not a race and that Nugent is , in fact, Irish.

I guess the EDL will now want to hire him as a character witness and get him to say that ‘Pakistani’ can’t be used a racial insult, because Pakistan is a country, not a race.

Carrier says Nugent has attacked Myers. I think the word he was looking for was ‘quoted’. Nugent has quoted Myers.

81 Shatterface April 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Basically, Carrier says ‘Irish’ is a nationality, not a race and that Nugent is , in fact, Irish.

There are people of African descent who are, indeed, illegitimate. Doesn’t mean ‘black bastard’ isn’t a racist slur.

There’s a legitimate argument that Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion. Legitimate in that it’s bloody obvious. Carrier isn’t willing to entertain that thought so I’m not buying his distinction between race and nationality here.

Every Brit over 40 will remember the ‘No Irish’ signs in B&B windows.

We know jokes that begin with ‘This Irishman walks into a bar…’ aren’t going to paint a positive picture of the Irish.

82 Deepak Shetty April 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

@Michael
If you have problems with the comments on my blog, then please satirise me, not Atheist Ireland.
So what is your blog policy ? Are the comments here representing your personal views or are they representative of AI ?
If the former – then you should dissociate with Myers, not AI , because all the disputes were in your personal space.
If the latter than AI is fair game as a target.

I will agree that some of the comments were particularly unfair to AI and to the other people who form AI and that was stupid from this side.

Even if the satire had been targeted at me, I suggest that it would have been misdirected.
Some of this dispute stems from the opinion that you provide a “haven for harassers” – hence the satire is valid (atleast from the point of view of this side)

That’s what I do when somebody shows me that I have done something wrong. I apologise and rectify the issue as best I can.
Seriously? You expect people to go through all the comments and keep pointing out places where things have slipped through your filters? Rinse and repeat ? As was pointed out these were just comments on one post – not years worth of posts.

83 Billie from Ockham April 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

I love the idea that satire is “valid” when based on an opinion (as opposed to, e.g., evidence). But aren’t you a little bit worried, Deepak, that the beneficial effects of satire may be slightly diluted when absolutely everything comes a “valid” target?

84 JackSkeptic April 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

@Deepak Shetty

I think Nugent is simply trying to protect AI’s officers and members from attacks for which there is no justification or where the attack should be directed at him personally. Guilt by association is a logical fallacy but it’s used routinely. Personally I think Nugent’s comments on this will have no effect whatsoever but it is worth at least making them.

As I said it is a waste of time of course. Anyone not anti-Nugent will be automatically seen as a misogynist, racist and a very bad person who must be shunned and attacked irrespective of who they are or what they actually think or do. It is how identity politics works and a key component in the strategy of Cultural Marxism. These attacks are guaranteed and the chilling effect on people’s ability to speak their mind intended.

85 Deepak Shetty April 17, 2015 at 5:03 pm

@Billie Ockham
But aren’t you a little bit worried, Deepak, that the beneficial effects of satire may be slightly diluted when absolutely everything comes a “valid” target?
Take it up with the people who like to photoshop stuff . Besides whatever happened to no sacred cows?

86 Deepak Shetty April 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm

@JackSkeptic
I think Nugent is simply trying to protect AI’s officers and members from attacks for which there is no justification
Which I already conceded.

87 Nathan (formerly GerardO) April 17, 2015 at 5:13 pm

One meme that has taken hold in SJW circles lately is that blogsites are a ‘private space’ where free speech rights don’t apply (precisely the view of Right-wing Libertarians), therefore supporting the notion that banning commenters for trivial reasons has some natural basis.

The first real test for Myers & Horde were Michael Nugent’s posts on Myers late last year, and the attendant swarm of ‘Pitters and other anti- PZ types that was likely to occur. Safe to say, Myers reverted to type, infuriated that Nugent was allowing people he didn’t like to comment on his blog.

88 Shatterface April 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Had Melby actually produced a valid satire we might be laughing with it not at it.

It was an abject failure because it tried to draw a parallel between comments posted on Michael’s blog and the behaviour of Myers himself.

It tried to draw a parallel between an organisation that had formally associated with someone they had supported and paid expenses for, and a bunch of people commenting on a blog.

It tried to draw a parallel between accusing people of a criminal acts and taking the piss.

Most people would have recognised this instantly and not even finished reading it.

It was lame satire.

It didn’t just fall short of its target, it aimed for the wrong one and missed.

If this was an archery contest Melby would be the one sitting on her arrows.

89 Mel April 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Of all the BS flailing going on right now the most hilarious (imo) is that Myers is ONLY under attack because he’s a feminist.

Because women’s rights activists attacking people for being feminist makes perfect sense (in Bizarro World).

90 Billie from Ockham April 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Your first argument, Deepak, would require the assumption that anyone who does Photoshop satire believes that anything is a valid target of satire. Your second argument appears to assume that I believe that being a sacred cow is the only way to evade being a valid target of satire.

I do not believe that either of these is correct (and I’ve quite confident that the second is erroneous, based on privileged information).

91 An Ardent Skeptic April 17, 2015 at 8:33 pm

I wrote what follows yesterday but decided not to post it. Now I see that Carrier has weighed in on the issue making essentially the same claim that Michael Nugent is supporting rapists, harassers, etc. Against my better judgement I decided to post what I wrote yesterday. I expect to get called a rape apologist, rape supporter, etc. I don’t care. I’m fed up with people claiming the moral high ground as a way to justify what I consider unethical behavior. So here goes:

IMO, what P. Z. Myers did by “throwing the grenade” was wrong for the following reasons:

1) He posted an anonymous accusation against a named individual, thereby, making the accused appear to be the victim of a vicious smear.

2) He used hyperbolic rhetoric in his post which made the accusation appear to be nothing more than sensationalized rubbish.

3) He didn’t consider his own status and the pushback he has been receiving on places like the Slymepit since 2011 and, as a result, he didn’t protect the accuser from being negatively association with him. Is evaluating the accuser based on who has posted the accusation fair? No, not really. But, P.Z. Myers has engaged in exactly this behavior by dismissing criticism of himself as being the work of trolls or pitters. He should expect to be treated in the same manner in which he treats others.

The fact that the accuser chose to go public subsequent to P.Z.’s post is of no consequence when evaluating P.Z’s. actions in this matter. He should have consider the possible negative consequences to all involved based on the assumption that the accuser would not go public because of her unwillingness to go public when he wrote his post.

I have no opinion about the rape accusation P.Z. Myers published because I don’t know enough about the ethics and behavior of any of the people who were involved in this situation. My ethics demand that I remain neutral on the matter.

I have been a victim of rape. I have no proof that I was a victim of rape. No one who doesn’t have enough data about my dealings with others to evaluate my ethics, should believe the claim that I have been raped as they have no proof or any other way to evaluate the veracity of my claim. Without any basis for determining it’s veracity, a person of reason should remain neutral on the matter. You will notice that I have not specifically named my attacker. Why? Because I have no proof and, therefore, I consider it unethical to specifically name that individual.

I was a minor when I was raped. I didn’t know what my options were when dealing with this issue. I did not get the support I should have received from my parents. But, at this point, when I can no longer prove what happened, I have no right to hurl anonymous accusations while specifically naming my attacker. In my ethical view, that would be unjust, and I can’t fix an injustice by behaving unjustly.

I understand that rape is a highly traumatic event for the victim, and when it happens it is expected that the victim will do their decision-making about how to deal with this in a highly emotional state. That highly emotional state can cloud our judgement about how best to proceed. Unfortunately, the feelings of shame that a victim may have because of the overall hangups we have about sex will often cause the victim to avoid exercising their rights as a victim by reporting the incident to the police and having the perpetrator arrested and brought to trial. We don’t fix this problem by engaging in mob justice.

It’s time we seriously discuss the problems that rape victims face and find solutions which are most likely to result in ethical and just solutions to these problems. When are we going to have a serious discussion about the psychological damage that religious fundamentalists’ views about ‘sex outside of marriage’ have on society and the shame that rape victims feel as a result of this puritanical view of sex? When are we going to have a serious discussion about the perception of what happens to a victim who reports rape and how best to change that perception? Should we enact laws requiring that a rape counselor and a legal expert be part of the reporting process? Would it be easier to report rape if the victim knew that the immediate response was not just a police officer but also someone who can calmly explain the victim’s legal options and someone to insure that the victim is provided with the emotional support they need to proceed? As people who claim to be people of reason we should be leading the effort to do the data collection necessary to determine what the current problems are with reporting rape and how best to address the issues which the data collection uncovers. As people of reason, shouldn’t we consider it wrong to say “You can’t go to the police.” without providing evidence of why this is true, if it is true? Shouldn’t we be doing our best to address these issues in such a way that we can say with some confidence that justice is being served?

Michael Nugent has not supported a rapist by expressing concern about P.Z. Myers’ “grenade” post. I have not supported a rapist by criticizing Myers’ blogpost. Both Michael and I are expressing our great concern about the serious problem of rape and how best to deal with this problem ethically and justly. Personally, I have grown extremely tired of nuanced and serious discussion from people like Michael Nugent being misrepresented and dismissed by people who claim to be fighting the good fight while being unable or unwilling to view this issue in a nuanced way.

We don’t get do-overs in life, and we must accept the fact that when we make decisions in a highly emotional state we will have to live with those decisions. I have to live with a decision my parents made 45 years ago. It isn’t easy knowing there is a pervert out in this world who sexually abused me as a child. I certainly understand the desire to want to fix a past mistake so that no one else will be victimized. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. People are too quick to pass judgement without realizing that they are making an emotional decision rather than a well-informed one based on facts. Attempting to have my attacker publicly censured via mob justice would be a disservice to all rape victims as it is too easy to dismiss my claim as bullshit because I have no proof. And, that is precisely what would happen – my attacker was well liked and admired in the community because he was a star athlete and I was a shy, unattractive teenager who was never asked out on a date. I’m a pragmatist. I live in reality not internet Lalaland where people get to behave unethically while patting themselves on the back because they think they are making the real world a better place for everyone. Anyone who claims to be a person of reason while making public statements about the veracity of this allegation without personal knowledge of these events and the people involved is behaving unethically, IMO. That includes both people who have dismissed the claim as bullshit and people who claim that Nugent has supported a rapist.

To be crystal clear, I am not even remotely suggesting that rape victims should keep their mouths shut. I’m not keeping my mouth shut about my history. I am suggesting that we attack this problem in such a way that it will address the important issues we face in dealing with rape while not behaving unethically while doing so.

92 Billie from Ockham April 17, 2015 at 9:31 pm

IMO, what P. Z. Myers did by “throwing the grenade” was wrong for the following reasons:

I’d be interested to hear why you did not include either: “the accusation was presented in a manner to which the accused could not respond” or, more importantly, “he made no attempt to contact the accused before posting the accusation, while also admitting that he had no direct evidence to support the accusation.”

93 John Greg April 17, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Jeepers, Ardent, that is one hell of a good post. Moving too. Thanks for that. Can I quote you elsewhere (remaining, of course, in context)?

94 An Ardent Skeptic April 17, 2015 at 11:08 pm

@ Billie from Ockham

I did not mention these things because I don’t expect P.Z. Myers to behave like an ethical journalist because he isn’t a journalist. However, I believe that if you aren’t a journalist and, therefore, you can use “not a journalist” as an excuse, you shouldn’t be writing public posts which contain anonymous criminal accusations against specified individuals.

@John Greg
I live in the real world. When I posted my comment I was aware that it could be cherry-picked and misquoted to use against me. Having someone ask me if I can be quoted elsewhere in context is a luxury I was not anticipating. Thanks very much for asking, and feel free to post elsewhere in context.

95 Billie from Ockham April 17, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Interesting. I definitely agree that non-journalists should avoid writing public posts that make anonymous accusations. What about contacting the accused before posting (especially when you have no direct evidence of your own)? Do we agree on this, too?

Sorry for not saying this before, but thanks for posting your story.

96 An Ardent Skeptic April 18, 2015 at 1:19 am

@ Billie

P.Z. Myers was sent a private e-mail containing the accusation and, obviously, from his post he did not have permission to publicly identify the accuser. That being the case, he should not have contacted the accused because he could not identify the accuser and, therefore, the accused would have no way of answering the accusation except to say “I haven’t raped anyone.”

Let’s not cloud the issue by saying he should have contacted the accused because that would make it seem as though there is an acceptable way for bloggers who are not held to high journalism standards to make public anonymous accusations against specified individuals.

97 john welch April 18, 2015 at 2:21 am

Oh lordy Mykeru’s three year old “threat” counts?

That’s a laugh given the same thing happened on Pharyngula and when someone pointed out how that was kind of fucked up, the INSTANT response was “It’s OBVIOUSLY a JOKE! CHILL!!!”

the FTB lot has zero problems with threats when it suits their purpose, and they get very whiny when people make threats from the “right” people public. Look at PZ’s reaction to Laden threatening Justin Griffiths. He got mad that Justin published the email.

That’s some intellectual ethics right there.

98 Billie from Ockham April 18, 2015 at 3:20 am

I did not actually say that P Z Myers should have contacted the accused. At least, that was not my intention. My point was that he should have contacted the accused before making the accusation public. Failing that, for whatever reason, the blog post should not have been posted.

And please note that this has nothing to do with journalistic ethics. This is common decency.

99 John Greg April 18, 2015 at 6:34 am

Ardent said:

I live in the real world. When I posted my comment I was aware that it could be cherry-picked and misquoted to use against me. Having someone ask me if I can be quoted elsewhere in context is a luxury I was not anticipating. Thanks very much for asking, and feel free to post elsewhere in context.

Nonsense (so to speak). You are, and so far as I am concerned, always have been brave and outspoken (while I fully understand your reasons for leaving, I miss your input in Dante’s inferno) .

I promise you that if I do quote and/or link to you, I will do so in context, with no quote mining of any kind, and, I hope, with no misleading or misrepresenting of any kind (well, at the very least, I will make a conscious effort to do so; if I fail, log it to intellectual incompetence, rather than malice or otherwise chthonic intent).

As I say, you’re post moved me, and I think it should be dissemminated.

All the best.

JG

100 Richard Weed July 18, 2015 at 6:48 pm

It’s amusing to see the slymepitters on these comments acting on their best behavior while the teacher is in the room. Meanwhile over in their own unsupervised sandbox, they “joke” about killing Jews.

http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=260518#p260518

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