Hate speech is bad. Offensive satire of bad ideas is good. Richard Dawkins was right.

by Michael Nugent on January 29, 2016

Richard Dawkins recently, and reasonably, retweeted a funny animated video of a song called ‘Feminists Love Islamists’ by YouTube satirist Sye Ten Atheist, about using ideology to silence criticism. In response, the New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society effectively proved the underlying point that Richard was highlighting, by publicly withdrawing their invitation for Richard to speak at their upcoming Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism. They did this unilaterally, without discussing the matter with Richard.

The song, like all effective satire, is controversial. It uses stereotypes to convey extreme versions of ideas that in reality fall on a spectrum. Most reasonable people understand how satire works, and most atheists and skeptics are able to recognise the formula when they watch satirical video songs by Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, Tim Robbins, Lily Allen, Sarah Silverman, Tim Minchin, Roy Zimmerman or Paul Woodfull.

Some atheists and skeptics, however, are treating this song differently. It satirises the uncomfortable fact that some Islamists and some feminists sometimes use similar language methods to try to close down criticism of their ideologies. For those unfamiliar with satire, Richard pointed out in his tweet that this did not represent all feminists, of whom he said he is one, but only the views of a pernicious minority.

I believe Richard was right to retweet the video. Offensive satire about bad ideas is good. But even if you believe he was wrong, the response by the conference organisers is disproportionate. Their stated reason is harmful: retweeting material that — in their subjective opinion — is “unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech” will result in a unilateral withdrawal of an already-publicised invitation to address a conference.

Why offensive satire about bad ideas is good

I have written and co-written satirical comedy. The Dear John Letters relied on the actual words of people being satirised in prank correspondence. The comedy musical play I Keano exaggerated personal attributes of real people for comic effect. Both projects were very successful with the Irish public, because most people in Ireland seem to understand how satire works. That does not seem to be the case with some people on the Internet.

I hope that I don’t have to elaborate on why hate speech about people is bad. I have consistently promoted ethical secularism based on compassion, empathy, cooperation, reciprocity, fairness, justice and human rights. But I do want to elaborate on why offensive satire of bad ideas is good. We all believe some bad ideas, or passively accept some bad ideas without reflecting on them, and satire can be one way of breaking through such thought processes.

One of the keys to enjoying good satire is to recognise that it is playing on stereotypes, and that it is not suggesting that everybody in the stereotyped group thinks that way. Instead, it is highlighting the harmful impact of certain ideas associated with the stereotype, and empowering people from within the group to distance themselves from those harmful ideas.

Here are some examples of good satirical songs. They work if you recognise the formula, but not if you mistakenly think they are actually characterising everybody in the groups concerned. Indeed, some people have actually criticised some of these songs for that reason. These people either do not understand or do not respect the role of satire in positively reshaping culture.

Tom Lehrer – National Brotherhood Week

“Oh the white folks hate the black folks,
and the black folks hate the white folks,
To hate all but the right folks,
Is an old established rule…
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews…”

Randy Newman – Rednecks

“We talk real funny down here,
We drink too much and we laugh too loud,
We’re too dumb to make it in no Northern town,
And we’re keepin’ the niggers down…
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks,
We don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground
We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks,
We’re keepin’ the niggers down…”

Randy Newman – Political Science

“We give them money, but are they grateful?
No they’re spiteful, and they’re hateful.
They don’t respect us, so let’s surprise them,
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them.
Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old,
Africa is far too hot and Canada’s too cold,
And South America stole our name,
Let’s drop the big one,
There’ll be no one left to blame us…”

Tim Robbins as Bob Roberts – Complain

“Some people will work. Some simply will not.
But they’ll complain and complain and complain
and complain and complain.
It’s society’s fault I don’t have a job,
It’s society’s fault I am a slob,
I have potential no one can see,
Give me welfare, let me be me…
I don’t have a house, I don’t have a car,
I spend all my money getting’ drunk in a bar,
I wanna be rich, I don’t have a brain,
Just give me a handout while I complain…”

Lily Allen – Hard Out Here

“It’s hard, It’s hard out here for a bitch…
If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking,
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking,
You should probably lose some weight
cause we can’t see your bones,
You should probably fix your face
or you’ll end up on your own…”

Sarah Silverman – The Porn Song

“Your vagina has so many penises in it,
That you might as well talk about
The times there are none in it,
Because those are the times that are more unique…”

Tim Minchin – The Good Book

“Swing your daughter by the hand,
But if she gets raped by a man,
And refuses then to marry him,
Stone her to death!”

Roy Zimmerman – Let’s Go After the Buddhists

“They’re a threat to our standard of living,
And the cheap supply of oil,
I say let’s rout their sorry asses out,
Before they soil our American soil…
Oh, let’s go after the Buddhists
Let’s knock some shaven heads
Those humanistic, non-materialistic,
Pacifistic slugabeds…

Paul Woodfull – Spit at the Brits

“We spit at the Brits, we spit at the Brits,
And we shower them in a lovely sea of green,
We spit at the Brits, we spit at the Brits,
And then they blew us all to smithereens…”

What does this particular video satirise?

This video satirises the uncomfortable fact that some Islamists and some feminists sometimes use similar language methods to try to close down criticism of their ideologies.

It compares the impact of ideas like ‘haram’ and ‘problematic’, ‘triggering’ and ‘unQuranic’, ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘misogyny’, and blaming the Jewish media and the patriarchy. This is a valid area to explore. These ideas mean a lot to some Islamists and some feminists respectively, but to other Muslims and feminists, never mind to people outside of those communities, the way that these words are used can seem not only silencing but literally ridiculous.

It also addresses Muhammad’s sex with a nine-year-old girl, the idea of cultural appropriation as applied to sexual morality, and different attitudes to rape when the perpetrator is Muslim. This is a very controversial area to explore, particularly given the recent sexual assaults on women in Germany and other parts of Europe, but satire has its place in our response to these horrific developments.

The video addresses these issues in a crude way. It is offensive to some people who have deeply held views on these issues. But that is part of the nature of satire. Ideas should always be open to robust debate, including ridicule. You have rights, your beliefs do not. That is why we can have campaigns against blasphemy laws, while also opposing incitement to hatred against people.

The response of the conference organisers

Here is the official reason given by the New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society for withdrawing the invitation to Richard:

We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video. We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

Let’s look at the stated reasons. This video, like all effective satire, is certainly divisive. Whether it is counterproductive depends on what your aim is. But neither of these should be reasons to withdraw an already-publicised invitation to a speaker to address a conference.

The big leap that the conference organisers are making is to imply that Richard is in some way culpable of promoting hate speech, to an extent that he should be unilaterally and publicly disinvited from speaking at their conference.

There are indeed some prominent atheists, such as the shock-blogger PZ Myers, who explicitly engage in hate speech, by naming specific people and groups of people who they hate, despise and hold in contempt. Ironically but predictably, PZ is among those praising the New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society for withdrawing Richard’s invitation.

That Richard was not promoting hate speech is evident from his response to later developments about the video.

Caricatures in the video

As well as the content, there is another aspect to the video that Richard, like I suspect most people who watched the video, did not know. That is, the characters in the video seem to be caricatures of two real people. Sye Ten Atheist has also caricatured other real people in other videos.

In this video, the Islamist character seems to be a caricature of Imran Ibn Mansur, who posts videos on YouTube as Dawah Man. He has previously argued that atheist morality is flawed because atheists are unwilling to drink their father’s sperm.

The feminist character seems to be a caricature of Chanty Binx or ‘Big Red’, who came to prominence in a YouTube video in which she was shouting at supporters of men’s rights. Some people made Richard aware of her existence as a real person.

The ethics of caricaturing real people in satire is complex. How prominent are they? Are they actively promoting their own views, or have they been passively thrust into public glare? Are their views being accurately represented in the satire? What are the possible or likely real-life consequences for the people being caricatured?

In this case, when Richard was told that some people had been harassing and threatening violence against this woman in real life, he deleted his retweet of the video, saying that it was wrong of anybody to threaten violence against anybody and asking them to stop.

That is the opposite reaction to that of a person promoting hate speech. The New York City Skeptics and the New England Skeptical Society are wrong about Richard, and are playing into a now-established tradition of some people demonising Richard by misinterpreting ideas that he publishes on Twitter.

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{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

1 tina January 29, 2016 at 2:22 pm

It’s pretty common knowledge that many of these so called ‘threats’ of violence are self generated using sock puppets in order to better play the victim card. Richard should not have deleted that tweet in my opinion: it was perfectly valid satire.

2 tina January 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

I hope some of the other attendees will now reconsider attending this Necss event in light of their regressive anti free speech bullying.

3 ripple January 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Thou shall not satirize feminism.

Thou shall not poke fun at feminists.

Comedy is hate speech.

Amen.

4 tina January 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Here is an entertaining piece satire pertaining to this issue….
http://thescepticalpoet.com/2016/01/29/richard-dawkins-in-offensive-twitter-tirade/

5 Nathan (formerly GerardO) January 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm

As satire I don’t think it was particularly good, but it didn’t really go overboard until the end (the rape part). So in the end I don’t think Dawkins should have retweeted the video.

That said, I don’t like the idea of ‘no platforming’ anyone, unless they are inciting violence against people or groups. I find the claims that RD is encouraging hate campaigns against Chanty Binx or feminists in general to be dubious.

6 Jan Steen January 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm

We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However,

Stop right there. If you profess to believe strongly in freedom of speech, you do not let that assertion be followed by “however” or “but”.

“I am not a racist, but–”

This so-called skeptical organisation NECSS is pandering to the SJWs and is thereby digging its own grave. SJWs destroy everything they infest. You never make concessions to them; you never apologize to them; you don’t want to have anything to do with them. They should be as welcome as bed bugs. Containment is the only option. Let them rot in their safe spaces. When will reasonable people learn that you cannot reason with the unreasonable?

SJWs are among the most unreasonable people on the planet; in that respect they are quite similar to islamists, trotskyists, maoists, nazis, etc. Mocking them (the SJWs) mercilessly is at present the best tactic, in my opinion. Satire hurts them. You can see that from the response Dawkins got.

7 Yo January 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

No “Throw The Jew Down The Well” – Im offended

8 TF January 29, 2016 at 3:21 pm

The problem for me about the “threats” SJWs claim to receive is that so many are obvious exaggerations for effect. We can actually SEE responses on social media, and those responses are not threats. Many are of course discourteous, if not outright reprehensible. Barring certain exceptions, words should not be assigned a meaning out of their ordinary, everyday, and reasonable use. For example, someone writing, “I hope you die,” is not a death threat, but is instead a horrible thing to say. Yet many of those chief critics of Dawkins would declare, “I’ve just been threatened!” (because they seek to use the word “threat” as THEY define it), and rely on the average, everyday, and reasonable interpretation of the word. This is Humpty Dumpty level thinking (“A word means what I choose it to mean.”).

With their history of redefining these words as THEY see fit, and using their new definition to their advantage, by relying on the common interpretation of those words, it is hardly surprising that people would say, “Show what these threats were,” and not take them at their word. The response, of course, is accusations of victim blaming. But the track record of exaggerating horrific, but not criminal, comments into claims of being a crime victim justifies asking for proof. Professor Dawkins believed those telling him the model for ridicule in the video was being threatened with death, and deleted his tweet, according to subsequent explanations he gave. This strategy thus provides insulation from sharp criticism and parody.

9 Shatterface January 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Have to admit I didn’t even know what NECCS was until this kicked off. Seems like banning someone famous is a shortcut to notoriety. A bit like shooting a pop star or president. I think Dawkins’ response to the banning – done, cowardly, publicly and without speaking first – should have been ‘Just as well, I was getting my hair cut that day anyway.’

Glad that Maryam Namazie stood up for Dawkins. Apparently she’s also due to appear on Sam Harris’s podcast soon. I can’t understand what she’s still doing at FTB as they seem to stand for everything she doesn’t. I expect she’ll be purged over the next few months.

10 Jack Rawlinson January 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

That Lily Allen one is brilliant. And with wearisome predictability it got attacked by the usual suspects, most absurdly for using all black dancers for the “sexist” dancing. It’s like these people had never actually seen the sort of videos being satirised.

11 Shatterface January 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

SJWs are among the most unreasonable people on the planet

Also the most hateful. Jenny McDermott has a video up attacking autistics and linking to Autism Speaks, an organisation that characterises autistic children as monsters and which, in the past, promoted the view autism was caused by vaccines.

12 Shatterface January 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

Dawkins gets actual, credible, death threats all the time. His response is to read them out on YouTube.

Nobody says we can’t criticise Dawkins because of these threats. Myers was happy to let commenters on his site suggest Dawkins be handed to ISIS or threaten to rape him by a water cooler.

13 Guestus Aurelius January 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Absolutely nailed it, MN.

The video satirizes the intolerant censorial strains of Islamism and feminism, incisively (and crassly) depicting them as strange bedfellows indeed. And just as you say, disinviting Dawkins for tweeting it only confirms the existence of the very strain of feminism the video lampoons.

Actually, “only” isn’t the right word there, because the disinvitation also confirms something else: namely, that the intolerant censorial strain of feminism already has the institutional power it purports to be fighting against, at least in this sphere.

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” — (not) Voltaire

Think of it: mocking an ideology now disqualifies you from speaking at a skepticism conference.

A skepticism conference!

You can’t make this stuff up.

14 Glen Davidson January 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Really, I don’t know why Dawkins would re-tweet a bludgeoning and rather unfunny video like that one. The censors are going to get some mileage out of its being rather unclever and over-the-top. I can see why someone went for a hyperbolic comparison, especially since nothing less than a two-by-four over the head gets through skulls of the group-thinkers, but I don’t see why Dawkins bothered to appear to approve, when better is out there.

That said, if Dawkins wanted to blast the problems of the regressive left into the open, well done. That the NECSS couldn’t do anything but reflexively seek to reduce exposure of the delicate brains of non-thinking “skeptics” to a speaker like Dawkins over a re-tweet, only underscored the appalling state that North American atheism/skepticism is in, due mainly to uncompromising and censorious feminists and a host of unskeptical enablers. Dawkins could be twisting in the wind for approving of something less subtle than Beavis and Butthead, if the NECSS hadn’t simply proved the censorious tendencies of feminism and a cowardly A/S leadership by attempting to shut him up.

It was a tweet, and the “leaders of skepticism” fell over themselves to turn it into “hate” or some such thing, as bad or worse a performance than fundamentalists whining about atheist “hate-speech” when their holy ideas are skewered. They can do anything they want as a group, of course, but I can hardly see how they deserve the term “skeptic” or have any basis upon which to tell others to question their sacred cows.

Question your own reactionary reflexes, or shut up about everyone else’s.

15 Glen Davidson January 29, 2016 at 4:53 pm

NECSS, with the rest of the regressive left, says to the world: Call us censors, and we’re shutting you down.

16 Guestus Aurelius January 29, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Bingo, Glen Davidson.

17 David Jones January 29, 2016 at 4:57 pm

‘Really, I don’t know why Dawkins would re-tweet a bludgeoning and rather unfunny video like that one’

Because while you didn’t find it funny, he found it funny? Is that a good enough reason? That ok with you?

For what it’s worth I found it funny. I recognised the caricature of that hair-dyed harpy. The common cause with Islamists & ignoring of rape was most recently seen following the events at Cologne but also, previously, in the events at Maryam Namazie’s talk.

As Dawkins said, it’s a minority. I think it probably still is. But he wasn’t wrong and it needs saying.

18 Jan Steen January 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Unless they want to be seen as supporters of a censorial organisation that stands for the opposite it claims to stand for, those who are engaged to speak at the NECSS can only do one of two things.

1. Withdraw in protest from the conference.
2. Use their platform at the conference to teach the organisers a lesson in skepticism and free speech. They need it.

19 Rodney January 29, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Dawkins did delete the post when he realised the video was about a real person, who had been threatened. But not before suggesting she was ‘mentally ill’. Classy.

https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/692467119645184000?s=09

20 John Moriarty January 29, 2016 at 6:16 pm

short version: go and shite

21 CSQ January 29, 2016 at 6:25 pm

It’s overly generous to say that only ‘some’ feminists use Islamist tactics. Among self-identified feminists–especially on social media–every appearance is that the overwhelming majority have a great deal in common with Islamists, from tactical choices to a common hatred of all sexuality.

22 Jay January 29, 2016 at 7:26 pm

@Nathan

The rape part is particularly interesting because of the twist, you think that on the issue of rape, the feminist would split with the Islamist, but instead she brings in explicitly brings in cultural appropriation (and implicitly intersectionalism) and demonstrates that what these feminists really want is to blame western culture, white men. And that has been amply shown many times in the past year. Where crimes made by specific Muslims are diminished and we are told over and again, Western society is worse and Western society (men) is to blame.

We saw that with Goldsmiths, we’ve seen it with Cologne. We’ve seen it with burkas.

Where the feminists will not critique the bad ideas and the horrible behaviors in many Islamic cultures and instead defend them (burkas) or try to use them as cudgels against all men. You can hear a recent Young Turks where Ana Kasparian in the course of a minute can be heard saying that the US is a rape culture, then moments later, saying she doesn’t think the Islamic cultures where the Cologne assailants grew up in are “rapey”.

The “rape” joke attacked rape. It did not punch down at women or rape victims. It punched feminist arguments and feminist weaseling.

23 Jay January 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Chanty Binx became an Internet meme for rabid feminism.
Melody Hensley became an Internet meme for the silliness of triggering.

What Lindy West doesn’t want to tell you is that Chanty Binx was reading Lindy West’s own words (from a Jezebel column). It was an idiotic, refuted column when West wrote it, and it was an idiotic speech when Binx shouted it in a very public demonstration that she invited herself to, that she participated in knowing there were many cellphones capturing it, in an age of YouTube.

But wait, there’s more.

Chanty Binx is also known for her hypocrisy. For participating at an LGBT demonstration and yelling at a preacher who came by and using the same tactics of Binx at the MRA demonstration, preached to the gays about the errors of their ways.

All of this and more was captured on camera at public events.

She may be a minor public figure, but she is a PUBLIC figure, and an internet meme.

The casual observer looking at Sye Ten’s video does not see Chanty Binx, a person they need to harass, they see a meme. They see the meme that represents the face of rabid feminism.

Do I feel bad for her? Actually yes, the same way I feel bad for Melody Hensley and Rachel Dolezal and the same way I feel bad for anyone in our world whose idiocy, however legal, makes them the object of scorn (no matter how correct) of much of the net.

I don’t know what you do about that, but Lindy West wants to stop it when it reflects poorly on feminists and on Lindy West.

I think the worst crime of NECSS is a) bringing no platforming into the US, and b) being very imprecise about what it is they found so terrible it could not be repeated.

The rape joke?
The claim Binx is being harassed by the video or the video exploits her in some way other memes do not exploit other people?
The comparing of feminist extremism to Islamic extremism?

What precisely is it that NECSS found objectionable, because I find it deplorable that the men and women who made this decision would do so in anonymity, hiding behind the power of NECSS and using NECSS as a pulpit to smear Dawkins (or any person) without being precise on the bill of indictment. That is gross beyond words, and I condemn every board member of NECSS and its sponsoring organizations that participated.

24 WTF January 29, 2016 at 8:07 pm

You guys are all a bunch of jerk-offs. How’s the view from up there on your throne of white male privilege? It’s pretty clear that you just want to control conversations, just like you accuse others of doing.

Has anyone picked up a fucking dictionary lately? Feminism only means that women should have the same rights as men. Anyone who is adding anything onto that definition is doing so in their own mind, or to control perception of feminism.

You do realize that women cannot speak their minds in public without getting rape/death threats. Isn’t that censorship? Women are going to jail for having miscarriages in this country. Are you really going to tell me there is no such thing as misogyny? Horrific atrocities are happening to women all over the world, and you have managed to trivialize feminism to the point of caricature. Open your fucking eyes, idiots. Bashing women for asking for basic rights just shows that you really just want to reinforce the status quo, where women are second class citizens or even property that can be owned. And you want to censor them to shut down conversations. Piss off.

25 racismisbaddude January 29, 2016 at 8:48 pm

WTF @25:

Please consider that your use of terms such as “jerk-off” could easily be seen as homophobic. I am guessing that is not your intention, but gay men and the partners of trans women across the world still face an unfair stigma for the acts of love they share.

“Idiot” is a term that has long been used to silence, erase and marginalize the neuroatypical community. Please remember that language has meaning and that words translate directly to evil actions that result.

26 WTF January 29, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Nice deflection. “Jerk-off” is usually the term for masturbation, which is apt for your article here.

Are you OFFENDED? I’m sooooo sorry. Love the use of sarcasm to completely evade everything I wrote.

27 tina January 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm

WTF @ 25

” And you want to censor them to shut down conversations. Piss off.”

Perhaps you need to consider the verifiable reality that the majority of people seeking to shut down free speech are feminists and islamists. The comparison is apt as well as accurate.

28 sinister January 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm

Not very subtle troll is not very subtle.

That said, well written article. It is important we come at this with levity you don’t usually see about issues like this.

The more people are shown just how illiberal and anti-free expression these “outrages” have become, the less people will settle for click bait drama as a means to find out what the story is.

29 Gary January 29, 2016 at 9:11 pm

This whole story is just complete twitter stupidity.
Dawkins clearly said it didn’t represent all feminists. So what, you’re not allowed to suggest that SOME feminists are a bit insane?
Some people in nearly every movement are crazy.
I hope some other people boycott. These guys aren’t skeptics at all.

30 JackSkeptic January 29, 2016 at 9:14 pm

The fact NECSS fell over themselves to ban Dawkins suggests to me they were just waiting for an opportunity. Organisations are entitled to invite and ban whom they wish but they can not then claim they are open to the free exchange of ideas and freedom of expression.

Their statement was a master class in Orwellian doublething. ‘We support the free exchange of ideas but actually we don’t’ is what they said. They could have saved all those other words which were just hang wringing obfuscation. Embarrassing, I actually laughed reading their statement.

The NECSS have failed in their duty of care to protect their very core principals and should be ashamed. I would not care who it happened to either. If P Z Myers were banned I would have the same reaction.

Upholding core principals are no longer of interest to many US AS Org’s as they are becoming political advocates and patsies for an extreme regressive ideology. Until this is corrected the AS community will remain a laughing stock and no longer fit for purpose.

This is a serious matter. The same voices that shut down wrongthink are the same who shut down news of rapes and sexual assault. Those same people wish to silence the fact gay men are being thrown off buildings, children stoned to death for being raped and atheist bloggers being murdered. They wish to silence the fact women are treated like chattels.

The regressives are open in their ‘with us or against us’ mentality and anyone who sits back and lets this happen is complicit in the harm they cause. Too many stay silent or play lip service hoping to garner points from their moral posturing.

Regressives are causing the real harm, including those that sit back and say nothing.

31 Ieva Zagante January 29, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Attacking bad ideas, it is good, but this stupid video with generic Arab was more directed against Arabs, than Islamists. Author should have at least included a black and a white person two. Although generic Arab is better than very specific woman chosen to show how bad is feminism in general (according to the author).
What makes it worse is accusations by different groups that feminists supported sexual predators in Cologne and elsewhere, because they were Muslims. First that was a mixed crowd and nobody interrogated all people of Middle East and European origin, and second: WHY SHOULD MUSLIMS BE TREATED ANY OTHER WAY THAN WHITE MALES? One may consider surveys revealing that huge proportion of European women have been sexually abused already in the childhood, but one must be deaf and blind or self-conceited asshole to ignore the disrespect women encounter from white males every day. And often keep silent, because most are told that men are foul-mouthed animals. Those with bigoted parents are in even worse situation, because they are shamed for provoking men. I thought Scandinavia does better, but the scandal in Sweden when police ignored reports of teenagers about sexual assaults during festival organized mainly for teenagers, shows they have problems too. The same attitude: if you go to the festivals, be ready that you may be groped or even raped, or stay at home! Though there was an interview with teenagers who were not shocked at all, because unwanted advances and other disgusting behavior by males of all ages. Towards teenagers. And you know what is likely to happen when woman who has been treated with disrespect from her very childhood gets assaulted? She is very likely not to go to the police.
Do you think you are always respectful? You can, for example, check your language: how many of the words you use to describe woman are stylistically neutral, although the process of describing female bodies, especially in the presence of other women is kind of …

32 racismisbaddude January 29, 2016 at 9:22 pm

WTF 27

Thank you for at least acknowledging that you have offended me. You seem to endorse the way Dawkins was reprimanded for offending women and reminding them they have fewer rights than others. Do you have the consistency to recommend a punishment for doing the same to me, a nonbinary transwoman of color, in addition to all GLBTQI and neuroatypical people?

33 WTF January 29, 2016 at 9:32 pm

The video is a) not funny and b) false equivalency. It also just feeds into this notion that what the media is calling “new atheists” are antagonistic towards women. I have seen many articles claiming Dawkins, et al are sexist. This behavior supports those assertions.

You completely gloss over the actual problems and just go for the trope. This helps no one. Yet, you just want to sit around and ponder whether feminists and Islamists have a right not to be offended. This solves nothing.

Perhaps if you focused on topics that could actually have a positive impact for women, you could be taken seriously. Sitting around mocking people while there are actual lives being lost does not help your case. What are you actually doing to make the world a better place? This is what makes people hate atheists. And that bothers me, because I am one.

34 John Greg January 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm

WTF said:

“It’s pretty clear that you just want to control conversations, just like you accuse others of doing.”

How so? Specifics? Got any examples of us guys deplatforming, and/or censoring, and/or banning, etc.

“Has anyone picked up a fucking dictionary lately? Feminism only means that women should have the same rights as men.”

There are many types or paradigms of feminism, ranging from Hoff Sommers’s egalitarian feminism, to extremist feminism that proposes what is basically gendercide in the removal of 95% or more of the male population from the planet.

“Anyone who is adding anything onto that definition is doing so in their own mind, or to control perception of feminism.”

So far as I know, the only people working really hard to inappropriately, and inaccurately control the perception of feminism are SJWs, RadFems, and many of the bloggers and commentariat at FTB.

“You do realize that women cannot speak their minds in public without getting rape/death threats.”

Balls, horsepucks, and hysterical invention for the most part.

“Isn’t that censorship?”

No.

“Women are going to jail for having miscarriages in this country.”

Most of the sane folks who post here are deeply opposed to such blatant abuses of human rights.

“Are you really going to tell me there is no such thing as misogyny?”

No. Just not the kind of or degree of misogyny proposed by SJWs and the doolally RadFem brigade.

“Horrific atrocities are happening to women all over the world, and you have managed to trivialize feminism to the point of caricature.”

Perhaps because the worst of the worst kind of atrocities happening to women seem to happen in Islamic states, and those states, and Islam in general is, as perverse as it sounds, being defended by feminists.

….

Or am I being PoeFished?

35 racismisbaddude January 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm

WTF 34

It sounds as though you wish for me to divulge personal information and that you are blaming me for not doing enough to effect my own liberation.

I agree with your ideas and I am sure we have both done our part to support the brave women at Goldsmiths who kept Namazie from defaming Islam and the many decent people who have done their part to keep Ayaan Hirsi Ali from doing the same at gatherings across the world. We seem to agree that no one has a right to offend without consequences, but you keep deflecting about your own problematic and hurtful speech.

36 Jay January 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

You folks are being derailed by a poorly written troll.

37 WTF January 29, 2016 at 9:56 pm

So, in short, anyone who doesn’t start goose-stepping behind this article is a troll? That’s right because we must all unilaterally believe the exact same thing! That’s not like religion at all!!

You cannot see your own hypocrisy.

John Gregg: “Hysterical” = Typical word used to dismiss women. Why don’t you do some research on comments and threats that women in online media receive. Ever heard of “doxxing”? You are in total denial.

You are all just showing here that you really don’t give a fuck about women and that’s why it doesn’t bother you to trivialize the actual, serious problems that feminism is trying to address.

38 Jay January 29, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Don’t feed badly written, over the top trolls.
That’s the soft bigotry of low trollpectations.

Trolling is an art form, demand Banksy.
Ask, what would Godfrey write?

39 John Greg January 29, 2016 at 10:06 pm

WTF said:

“John Gregg: “Hysterical” = Typical word used to dismiss women. Why don’t you do some research on comments and threats that women in online media receive. Ever heard of “doxxing”? You are in total denial.”

HAHAHAHA. What a lugoon! I must be being PoeFished; I must.

“… that’s why it doesn’t bother you to trivialize the actual, serious problems that feminism is trying to address.”

Um, radical Islamism being apologized for and defended by feminsts? I’m curious, where does that fit within your sanctified world view?

40 Shatterface January 29, 2016 at 10:39 pm

WTF:

Perhaps if you focused on topics that could actually have a positive impact for women, you could be taken seriously.

Maybe you should actually do a bit of research on what Atheist Ireland has actually achieved.

Clue: it’s a bit more than shouting at the Internet.

41 Guestus Aurelius January 29, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Jay is smart.

42 Nialler January 29, 2016 at 11:49 pm

One issue I have with the blog is as to whether The Dear John Letters actally constituted satire. For me, prank letters don3t really qualify as satire.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book since it was originally published. I read it then and found it utterly hilarious and a superb piece of Irish humorous construction. I’ve frequently regretted the fact that I haven’t read it in many years and no longer have access to my copy.

But satire?

I admit that I haven’t seen I Keano, but is caricature satire?

43 Steve Vanden-Eykel January 30, 2016 at 12:45 am

Don’t forget Elton John’s ‘Texas Love Song’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LXBI5fPics

44 Iamcuriousblue January 30, 2016 at 12:55 am

I’ve got to partly disagree with you here, Michael. You are correct to point out the video is satire and that NECSS is showing a poor understanding of that, and that NECSS’s actions are out of line and divisive. (It could also be added that this was likely behind-the-scenes lobbying of Steve Novella by former SGU co-host Rebecca Watson, much the way the Point of Inquiry staff, led by Watson’s partner Adam Isaak, walked out of CFI when she was mad at Ron Lindsay.)

But, really, comparing Sye Ten Atheist to Tom Lehrer or Sarah Silverman? I’ve got to give the old Lloyd Bentsen “He’s no Jack Kennedy” response to that one. Sye Ten’s “Islamists Love Feminists” video, like all of his videos, tend not just to stereotypes, but to really gross, ugly, and lazy caricatures that absolutely undercut his satire. Google his YouTube channel and you’ll see what I mean. His video on Jaquelyn Glenn is particularly gross, even if he was a bit ahead of the curve in dismissing her as a wholesale plagiarist.

45 Chris January 30, 2016 at 2:50 am

Well, I don’t know what to say. This is a perfect article. Agree one hundred percent, well put.

46 Jet Lagg January 30, 2016 at 3:18 am

WTF, anyone who walks into a conversation and aggressively expresses an unpopular opinion is almost a troll by definition. That or genuinely ignorant of the situation they’re in.

47 Mark Senior January 30, 2016 at 5:18 am

Someone on the thread thought that the video went too far when it referenced rape…I disagree. SyeTenAtheist is making a very valid point here in his video. For decades feminists have put as a main focus of their activism the fallacious assertion that we in the Western world live in a ‘rape culture’…they ‘bang’ on about it all the time…yet when the attacks in Cologne at New Years eve occurred, perpetrated by men who do come from a culture which shows the hall mark of something more akin to the feminist concept of a rape culture, they (the feminists) remain silent…not willing to criticise members of a minority group! Good on you Dawkins and SyeTenAtheist for pointing out the double standards of contemporary feminism.

48 Priest_Of_Ramen January 30, 2016 at 7:01 am

I found the video mildly amusing at best, at parts. But the rest was pretty bad IMO. I didn’t get, and am not a fan of, the use of “spastics”. I also think it could’ve done a little to avoid tarring all feminists with the same brush.

Frankly, it’s rather crude; it lacks the subtlety and cleverness of good satire. I’m a bit surprised RD retweeted it, at least without criticising it at all – but it’s not reason to disinvite him. He came out with a bit of criticism, and rightly responded by deleting the tweet – I respect that. NCSS have just put them in the middle of what I think is going to become the big theme for 2016 – the backlash against the Regressive Left.

49 Claus Larsen January 30, 2016 at 11:40 am

Ieva Zagante,

You said,

“I thought Scandinavia does better, but the scandal in Sweden when police ignored reports of teenagers about sexual assaults during festival organized mainly for teenagers, shows they have problems too. The same attitude: if you go to the festivals, be ready that you may be groped or even raped, or stay at home!”

That is incorrect. The Swedish police were instructed not to report the ethnicity of the culprits, because they didn’t want to appear racist. The police never did anything like you described they did.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/its-not-only-germany-that-covers-up-mass-sex-attacks-by-migrant-men-swedens-record-is-shameful/

50 Shatterface January 30, 2016 at 1:54 pm

NECCS weasely excuse making:

http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/necss-and-richard-dawkins/

The bit where he likens Dawkins to those who teach creationism is particularly scummy.

American skepticism is fucked. We can’t keep dressing the zombie bite when the arm is clawing at our faces.

51 Jan January 30, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Because of this tempest in a teapot more people are watching the video. That’s good. Even if you don’t like it the message of Orwellian tactics to shame people into silence has been sent.

52 Jan Steen January 30, 2016 at 4:04 pm

From Novella’s pathetic and disingenuous piece of apologetic drivel:

Another frequent point is that we are against any criticism of feminism, as if it is a taboo topic. This is also not true. No topic should be taboo, and we favor open and vigorous discussion of all important issues. In fact, pointed criticism is good for the feminist movement – or for any movement. (This does not mean that NECSS is the proper venue for any particular topic.)

The point, rather, is that this video, and the discussion that surrounded it, was not constructive. It was hateful and divisive.

Somehow this sounds so familiar. I wonder why that is.

Another frequent point is that we are against any criticism of Christianity, as if it is a taboo topic. This is also not true. No topic should be taboo, and we favor open and vigorous discussion of all important issues. In fact, pointed criticism is good for Christianity – or for any religion. (This does not mean that our church is the proper venue for any particular topic.)

The point, rather, is that this video, and the discussion that surrounded it, was not constructive. It was hateful and divisive.

Whenever criticism really touches a nerve it is dismissed as being hateful and divise. The religious do that, and the Regressive Left do it. Novella and his sad little club of former skeptics have now openly admitted that they fall in the camp of the totalitarians who have embraced the kind of rabid feminism that is part of the larger intersectionalist movement.

This movement, which is at heart the ideological successor of maoism and trotskyism and which attracts the same kind of little-red-book-waving people, is antithetic to skepticism. These people are dogmatic, dishonest, and dangerous. They hate criticism that points out how they are apologists for islamists and how they use the same tactics as islamists do. Like islamists, these intersectionalists love to play the “oppressed minority” card, and like islamists they have all kinds of beliefs that cannot be questioned (The Patriarchy, Rape Culture, everything is a social construct, white people are the root of all evil, privilege trumps everything, etc.)

They attack scientists for wearing the wrong kind of shirt or for making jokes they don’t understand, they accuse Charlie Hebdo of being a racist publication (implying “they didn’t have it coming, but…”), and at the same time close their ears and eyes when an atheist speaker (Mariam Namazie) is being heckled by islamists (or they wil even support the hecklers), or when a mob of muslims sexually assaults hundreds of women in one night in Cologne. Because these inconvenient facts do not fit their victim narrative and their simplistic black-and-white world-view.

The truth makes them think, and they hate doing that. Like the religious, they believe they already have all the answers. For every question they have a thought-terminating cliché at hand, which they will smugly insert into the conversation. But when they are confronted with an incisive critique they are exposed as the stammering parrots of the Party line they really are. Then they have no serious reply. Then they will resort to empty insults, snark, and smears.

It looks as if Dawkins has only recently realized the extent of the mind-rot that has infected the a/s movement. It is great that he now raises his voice against the totalitarian ideologues who are behind certain segments of modern feminism.

To quote Novella again:

This was ultimately about the character of NECSS and the statement we wish to make (or not make) to our community.

Apparently he believes his community no longer consists of skeptics, but of ultra-left-wing authoritarians who hate free speech. Good to know that. Yet another organization that has fallen victim to the invasion of the mind snatchers.

53 Spoonerisms January 30, 2016 at 4:09 pm

This is elevatorgate all over again. I can’t help but think that the Novellas had something to do with this. Although I respect Steven Novella, it seems he and his sons have fallen under the spell of Rebecca Watson, who is not doubt following the old adage that “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” However, this is a small “victory” for her, and ultimately worse off for NECSS… Dawkins is a giant in biology, and until I heard this story, I’d never even heard of NECSS.

54 Roy Zimmerman January 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Thanks, Michael Nugent, for including me in this well-considered piece. I’m in great company. For my part, I’ll say that Richard Dawkins can tweet or retweet anything he likes, and it does nothing to diminish the brilliance of his contributions.

My quarrel is with the satirical song in question. In fairness (and funniness) it should have been called “Feminists Love Islamists Love Atheists.” A touch of self-deprecation would make a stronger point about groups who use “similar language methods to try to close down criticism of their ideologies.”

55 Nathan (formerly GerardO) January 30, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Jay #22
Mark Senior #47:

The main reason I thought that the rape part crossed the line is that Dawkins has made errors on that subject before, ie. https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/494012678432894976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

This is an area that RD should know to steer well clear of, if only for his own benefit. It’s hard to believe that he wandered into this minefield again.

56 Glen Davidson January 30, 2016 at 5:42 pm

What a scummy response from the NECSS. Like this bit:

Dawkins retweeted a video (called “Feminists Love Islamists”) depicting an Islamist and an angry feminist (who it turns out is a real person and not just a character) and essentially making the claim that these groups share an ideology.

Essentially making the claim? Does he have a clue about satire, even over-the-top satire like this? The equation of the two is made in order to compare the similarities between the two groups. Sorry that’s too difficult for you to understand, Novella.

Then there’s all of the weaseling about free speech, that they exercise free speech by choosing their speakers and Dawkins isn’t being deprived of free speech. As if that were the issue, and not whether “skeptics” are too delicate to have as a speaker someone who tweeted (along with some careful framing) a ham-handed satire on some very unpleasant and censorious people.

As an analogy, creationists often complain that firing professors who teach creationism is a violation of their free speech, while the real issue is about academic quality control. In our case, the issue is about our right to craft our own conference the way we wish.

Sure, like creationists get to craft their own conferences as they wish. That’s the real analogy, not Novella’s BS analogy. And the problem is that we can all see through the crafting of creationist conferences to prevent skepticism and dissent in the ranks. We can see through the NECSS’s crafting of its conference to prevent skepticism and dissent in the ranks, too. For creationists it’s a virtue, for skeptics it’s a crock.

Further (as Dawkins later acknowledged) the video targeted a woman who is allegedly already the target of threats and harassment.

A woman who targeted others with harassment. Get your facts right, Novella. Her harassment is on camera, not the “alleged” “threats and harassment” that we get from these ideologues as a matter of course. Cry bullying has no place in honest skepticism.

It is our sincere hope that the movement can grow and mature out of this experience, and our previous travails. This has been a learning experience. Thank you for your patience with these very difficult decisions.

Why not grow up?

57 Citizen Wolf January 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm

RD is a very public figure, and just to avoid hassle, he should have known better than to link to this video.

He did say that it refers to *some* who identify as feminists, but that’s not going to assuage those very same and very vocal people to which the video is parodying.

The organisers of NECSS found themselves in a difficult political situation, but they too should have known that RD attracts this sort of attention when they invited him in the first place. If he hasn’t done anything before now that they felt warranted banning, then this latest episode is hardly any different to any previous ‘controversy’. So what exactly was it about this episode that crosses the line for them. Stephen Novella has given an explanation on his Neurologica blog, but it doesn’t really explain for me why this is anyway different from anything that’s happened before.

58 Jet Lagg January 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Ramen@48

I found the video mildly amusing at best, at parts. But the rest was pretty bad IMO. I didn’t get, and am not a fan of, the use of “spastics”.

I saw someone else at Myers’ blog express the same sentiment, and honestly it’s baffling. Spastics is about the tamest insult I can imagine. Is there some subculture I’m unaware of where this is universally seen as offensive on the level of, say, the n-word?

Serious question.

59 james January 31, 2016 at 1:54 am

@Tina it’s well alleged that it’s sock puppets but rarely/never proven. Then as soon as the opposing side gets harassed or threatened, they cry blue murder not realising the irony.

@Michael he took it down because it represented a real person. Satire as you point out attacks ideas, this was a thinly veiled a tack at a very recognizable person. While agree with you interpretation of critisism, I disagree that this was clever representation of it

60 Silentbob January 31, 2016 at 1:57 am

@ 58 Jet Lagg

The “subculture” of sufferers of cerebral palsy.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spastic

Perhaps not on the level of “the n-word”, but of something like “faggot”.

61 Claus Larsen January 31, 2016 at 6:15 am

james,

Satire can refer to real persons as well, and still be satire. That type is perhaps the most effective satire. Just think of the satirical cartoons of Hitler, during WWII.

62 Silentbob January 31, 2016 at 8:27 am

@ 61 Claus Larsen

Oh, FFS. “Chanty Binx” (not a real name) was just some random woman who, to her great misfortune, happened to be videoed losing her shit at a protest years ago. She’s not Hitler.

If you want a more accurate WWII equivalent to the demonization of her by “Sye Ten Atheist” and other anti-feminists, it would look like this.

63 Silentbob January 31, 2016 at 9:48 am

Y’know the weird thing. I remember when there used to be a decent Michael Nugent. A decent bloke. He used to care about the harassment of women online. He wrote stuff like this:

Some people insist that we can say what we want because the Internet has its own rules, while others argue that the right to free speech, even when hateful, must be protected. When New Statesman wrote an article about the Anita Sarkeesian case, a commenter named AllyF provided this counter to that argument:

“What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.”

There is also the wider context of sexism in general. If we as men faced this pattern of sick online abuse simply because of our gender, I suspect that we would urgently take action to tackle the problem. If we fail to take the same action when women face this problem, our inaction reinforces prejudice and discrimination against women generally. We may not mean to do that, and we may not even be aware of it, but the impact of our inaction remains the same.

Now that same bloke — Invasion of Body Snatchers style — seems to have been replaced by someone quite different. 2016 Michael Nugent sees nothing wrong with an atheist celebrity siccing his 1.3 million followers on a woman with no power whatsoever. A woman who’s only crime was being a bit shouty and sweary years ago at a protest. He sees no problem with the famous atheist saying, “she deserves abundant mockery, the more the merrier”, “She most certainly deserved mockery. In spades.”. Presumably knowing that if just 1% of Dawkins’ followers were to take his advice, that would be, not 5 thousand, but 13 thousand mockers descending on the same woman, years after her supposed “crime” (of being a bit rude).

All I can say is, “Michael, I liked your old stuff better than your new stuff”. What the hell happened to you? Was being true to your principles too much hard work? Was it easier just to shrug your shoulders and join the nutty anti-feminist brigade?

64 Harrison January 31, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I wonder why people keep forgetting that the video also made a mockery of a man.

I wonder why nobody’s accusing Dawkins of promoting or contributing to harassment against men online.

65 C O'Gara January 31, 2016 at 12:50 pm

I thought the video was hilarious and brought up an important point about silencing critics. Humour is of course, subjective, and anyone here who claims the video is unfunny would do well to remember that.

66 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 12:54 pm

If you want a more accurate WWII equivalent to the demonization of her by “Sye Ten Atheist” and other anti-feminists, it would look like this.

You are quite a disgusting human being.

67 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm

From what I’ve seen NECCS is some kind of family business. They appear to have more guests called Novella than black guests. I guess that’s their idea of diversity. #NECCSSoWhite

68 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Dawkins is a giant in biology, and until I heard this story, I’d never even heard of NECSS.

That may be the point. Who’d heard of Goldsmith College before they went ban-crazy? This has brought world attention to a convention which will be attended by 400 people, most of them related.

69 Claus Larsen January 31, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Silentbob,

You are quite right, Chanty Binx is not Hitler. As you will understand, once you read my post again, I didn’t compare her to Hitler, but used the latter as an example of satire referring to real persons.

She is, however, someone who has, by her actions and behavior, earned a reputation for being, shall we say, quite agitated, in her approach and fight for a certain kind of feminism.

Her fame, if we can call it that, does not, as you imply, stem from just one incident of her losing her “shit”. She has done it several times, indicating a general problem with her aggressive behavior.

So, she is not “some random woman”, “a bit shouty and sweary years ago at a protest”.

One of the things she has been most criticized for, is when she mocked a person who had committed suicide.

What do you think of her behavior then?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvByTdMXlPM

70 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 1:17 pm

OT. Terry Wogan has died. He was, apparently, an atheist. Here he talks heartbreakingly about the death of his daughter:

http://youtu.be/3WzCv_77YfY

71 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 1:52 pm

One of the things she has been most criticized for, is when she mocked a person who had committed suicide.

‘Cry me a river!’

Male suicide always brings out the real hatred in a certain breed of feminist.

Think of Julie Burchill’s ‘it’s good to find something men are good at’ (I wonder if she’s still laughing now?) or Myers sneering response to the death of Robin Williams.

72 ASBr0ad January 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Silentbob January 31, 2016 at 1:57 am; @ 58 Jet Lagg
‘The “subculture” of sufferers of cerebral palsy. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spastic. Perhaps not on the level of “the n-word”, but of something like “faggot”.’

Does Silentbob equate with the above a medical condition, e.g. cerebral palsy, with sexuality, e.g. being gay, or – although seemingly looser – race? If yes, am I to understand that homosexuality is, according to Silentbob’s implied definition of it, a medical condition, unlike (or perhaps to a larger extent than) race?

73 ASBr0ad January 31, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Silentbob January 31, 2016 at 9:48 am: ‘Michael Nugent sees nothing wrong with an atheist celebrity siccing his 1.3 million followers on a woman with no power whatsoever.’

This implies intent on the part of the atheist celebrity, which you’ll find difficult to prove, and I am being generous with ‘difficult’. More to the point, said celebrity commented subsequent to the alleged ‘siccing’ that intimidation and threats aimed at a real person are not acceptable, to the celebrity that is, and in its name or indeed by others in general. Lastly, for unintentional or intentional ‘siccing’ to occur the instigator, e.g. the atheist celebrity in question, needs to have called for, however subtly, the particular treatment inflicted upon the victim. Showing a video that mocks a group’s ideology through a character associated with the group and its ideology does not represent a call for or an incitement to abuse aimed at the group/character. ‘Communism is corrupt’ does not equate ‘Persecute communists’ but neither is it equivalent to the relationship between ‘Homosexuality is wrong’ and ‘Kill gays’. The former is ideology/subscribers whereas the latter is about an innate behaviour/agents of that behaviour. Separating ideology from the people who subscribe to it is both possible and justifiable, unlike in the other example. Giving some thought to the semantics and reasoning one employs for argumentation is after all necessary. Else there’s no point in engaging in debate.

74 Guestus Aurelius January 31, 2016 at 2:35 pm

@silentbob:

The fact that Chanty Binx is a woman is neither here nor there. She went to a public event with the express purpose of shutting it down. She knew there were cameras there, and yet she proceeded to behave like an entitled, spiteful, petulant child.

You seem to believe that her womanhood should shield her from the public ridicule she worked so hard to earn. Funny, that. Here we have someone who went out of her way to be terrible. She and her posse literally made a special trip for it. They pulled the fire alarm as a silencing tactic. Her response to male suicide was “cry me a river.”

She wasn’t just “a bit shouty and sweary.” That’s risible! As if she just had bad luck because the cameras were rolling without her notice; as if she were simply caught at a bad moment, and it could have been you or I.

No, she was downright malevolent. If any nonviolent offender is deserving of public ridicule, it is she, who set out to be as cruel and ridiculous as she could be in public.

But you social justice warriors say that mocking her is off limits because, well, some people do more than mock, and that’s unacceptable because she’s a woman (or, more accurately, because she’s a woman doing SJW stuff, since none of you seemed to complain about the treatment of Justine Sacco).

Where were you SJWs when Matt Taylor was pilloried for cluelessly wearing a tacky shirt? or when Tim Hunt was crucified for making a self-deprecating toast? Surely you all were telling everybody to cut it out, because you feared that some people might be emboldened to cross the line into threats and harassment, right?

Oh wait, no, I remember now: you folks were leading the brigade!

So Taylor and Hunt make inadvertent faux pas, and we’re supposed to countenance the throwing of all proportion out the window because “privilege.” But Chanty Binx goes on a mission to be an odious monster, and suddenly it’s out of bounds to mock her because of what other people might do.

I’m sorry, but threats and harassment are unacceptable regardless of the target.

I’d at least have some respect for your position if your faction applied it consistently, rather than making special rules based on identity politics. I’d still disagree with it, because I don’t think that those who mock should be held responsible for those who do worse, but I’d regard it as more than mere virtue-signaling.

And by the way, the evidence suggests that men and women are roughly equally likely to be the target of online harassment: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/pi_2014-10-22__online-harassment-03/

75 Jan Steen January 31, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Feminist allies like Silentbob feel obliged to put women on a pedestal. Even when they quite obviously misbehave, like this Chanty Binx, they will snap like little attack poodles at anyone who dares to get them off that pedestal. It probably has some fairly banal psychological explanation.

76 Jan Steen January 31, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Myers is totally deranged now. He really is no longer worth bothering with. He is just a silly crank who can be dismissed without a second thought

In that kind of black-and-white mind, anyone who refuses to nuke a Muslim country is “bend[ing] over backwards to appease Islamism”. That’s what Dawkins was saying with his initial tweet, and that is what he is continuing to say now, after the fact, as he tries to extract himself from the hole while digging it even deeper.

Let Myers rot into oblivion in Morris, Minnesota. Forget him.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/01/30/feminism-isnt-a-side-issue-it-is-a-central-issue-in-any-movement-with-a-pretense-to-rationalism/

77 Nathan (formerly GerardO) January 31, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Jan Steen #76:

I thought I’d misread the part where Dawkins is supposed to want to lob some weapons-grade plutonium into a Riyadh shopping mall, but apparently not.

This is an accusation PZ usually throws at Sam Harris. I suspect he’s so wound up right now he can’t remember which enemy to spit venom at.

78 Jan Steen January 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Nathan,

I suspect that Myers has really lost his marbles. Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens — they have all merged into a single boogeyman to him. Maybe he should stop blogging altogether.

79 IM608 January 31, 2016 at 6:47 pm

@Silentbob
“Michael Nugent sees nothing wrong with an atheist celebrity siccing his 1.3 million followers on a woman with no power whatsoever.”

No such thing happened, but the SJW echo-chamber perpetuates it as established fact.

You’re actually making the satirical video’s point.

80 P. George Stewart January 31, 2016 at 9:03 pm

It’s amusing in the black humour sense (and probably worth a satire), how feminist/SJW outrage mimics in its intensity, disproportion and ridiculousness, the kinds of intense, disproportionate, ridiculous outrage some Muslims have indulged in when people draw cartoons of Mohammed.

Why, it’s almost like a sort of copycat phenomenon …

81 Shatterface January 31, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Where were you SJWs when Matt Taylor was pilloried for cluelessly wearing a tacky shirt? or when Tim Hunt was crucified for making a self-deprecating toast? Surely you all were telling everybody to cut it out, because you feared that some people might be emboldened to cross the line into threats and harassment, right?

Tim Hunt contemplated suicide during the hate campaign against him. I’m sure Big Red, Myers and the rest would have been as sympathetic as they have been about other male suicides.

82 Silentbob February 1, 2016 at 6:54 am

@ 64 Harrison

Well, gee, I dunno. Do you think it’s possible a few millennia of institutional misogyny might have something to do with it? Think it over, Einstein.

@ 66 Shatterface

Many thanks for sharing your opinion, I promise to treat it with all the seriousness in deserves.

@ 69 Claus Larsen

I watched the video a couple of times, I didn’t see her mocking a person who committed suicide. I saw her mocking the idea that men were oppressed.

@ 72 ASBr0ad

No, lunkhead. You’re to understand that Silentbob thinks both sexual orientation and cerebral disorders are unchosen and invalid targets of mockery or stigmatisation. (Are you sure your grown up enough to participate in this conversation?)

@ 73 ASBr0ad

This implies intent on the part of the atheist celebrity, which you’ll find difficult to prove, and I am being generous with ‘difficult’. More to the point, [blah de blah de blah de blah de blah]

If Dawkins doesn’t realise that encouraging his followers to ridicule a powerless woman who’s already been subject to more ridicule than I would ever want to experience in a lifetime — and has been shown evidence that it is so — is an inhumane thing to do, then he’s more clueless than I can possibly imagine him being.

@ 74 Guestus Aurelius

I’m sorry, but threats and harassment are unacceptable regardless of the target.

Do you concede that harassment does not necessarily involve threats? That years of mockery of a powerless person by thousands of strangers online does indeed constitute harassment?

@ 75 Jan Steen

Assuming from your ‘nym that you are a woman, it would be trivial for me to disprove your hypothesis. But Michael might not approve of me being gratuitously rude. Suffice it to say I don’t see you on a pedestal.

@ 79 IM608

The bits in quotation marks after the blockquote @63 were direct quotations of Dawkins’ tweets. If you don’t see an implicit encouragement to mock the woman than what can I say? Practise reading comprehension?

@ 81 Shatterface

Whereas, if “Big Red” had committed suicide I’m sure you’d be overflowing with tears. (/sarcasm)

83 Claus Larsen February 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

Silentbob,

You could actually say that she was mocking the idea that men were oppressed.

But you are leaving one thing out: Her reaction was triggered – if that is the right word? – by the other party bringing up the example of the man who committed suicide.

Do you deny that?

84 Silentbob February 1, 2016 at 8:25 am

@ 83 Claus Larsen

Claus, I’m not bullshitting. I watched that vid a couple of times before replying to you, I just watched it a couple of times again. I see “Big Red” mocking the idea that men are oppressed, I see her singing “Cry Me A River”, there’s a lot of talking over each other, I hear people talking about mental health issues… , exactly what’s going on is not clear. I didn’t hear the word “suicide” mentioned once. It may be that I’m lacking context. I can only judge by the material provided. My honest opinion is that she’s not mocking male suicide. I could be wrong. It didn’t look that way to me. And so much absolute shit has been attributed to feminists by the nuttier wing of atheism (Hi, slimepit!) that I’m extremely skeptical of anti-feminists claims.

85 ASBr0ad February 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

@Silentbob: Wow, an ad hominem and a straw man? That the best you’ve got? 1. I urge you to re-read your post no 60 in which a clear continuum of ‘bad’ words is being proposed, by you, where ‘spastic’ and ‘faggot’ are just about equally ‘bad’ but not as bad as (or ‘not at the level of’ as you put it) the ‘n-‘ word’. Subliminal bias much or just plain ol’ bigotry on your part? Or is it merely the type of single-track mentality at work here that locks on to an argument for dear life on pure faith? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on the bigotry count. 2. You positively claim Dawkins knew the character in the video was a real person from the start. Clearly he didn’t for he withdrew the link to the video once he realised a real person was involved. I sympathise with you for experiencing lapses in reasoning but am less so inclined where reading comprehension is concerned. The irony is you accuse others of the latter without appearing to make the distinction between mocking on the grounds of one’s views vs. their physical characteristics, let alone vs. threatening.

86 Jan Steen February 1, 2016 at 10:23 am

@Silentbob,

Thanks for misgendering me, fuckface.

/Chanty Binx

87 Kieran O'Sullivan February 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

A list of satirical songs without Phil Ochs what were you thinking? Ochs often poked fun at himself. His song The Party (linked below) is a grate example of this.

When a critic slammed one of his albums he put the critics comments in the song book beside a full page picture of himself in a trash can with the title “The Critics Raved” that’s how you do satire!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG4I2Bky5AM

88 Harrison February 1, 2016 at 1:50 pm

“Well, gee, I dunno. Do you think it’s possible a few millennia of institutional misogyny might have something to do with it? Think it over, Einstein”

So mocking any woman is an attack on all women? All the Palin-bashers are horrific sexists? People who laugh at pictures of Michelle Bachman eating a corndog are irredeemable misogynists?

Good to know.

89 Claus Larsen February 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Silentbob,

You are critical of a small segment of atheists, because you think they give atheism a bad name?

Isn’t that what Dawkins did, in his tweet? He was critical of a small segment of feminists, because he thought they gave feminism a bad name.

90 Guestus Aurelius February 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

@82 Silentbob

@ 74 Guestus Aurelius

I’m sorry, but threats and harassment are unacceptable regardless of the target.

Do you concede that harassment does not necessarily involve threats? That years of mockery of a powerless person by thousands of strangers online does indeed constitute harassment?

In answer to your first question: yes, of course I concede that harassment does not necessarily involve threats. That’s why I listed them individually in my comment… twice.

As to your second question: that may qualify as harassment, depending on the details. For instance, if you were to repeatedly send unwanted comments directly to the person, then that would constitute harassment. If, on the other hand, you mocked them on Twitter or, say, in a comment section under an article or blog post, then no, you haven’t harassed them—even if they find out about it.

Being mean ≠ harassment.

And if thousands of people are being mean in a non-harassing way, then they don’t magically become harassers by virtue of their numbers. Surely the sting the ridiculed person feels can be magnified in such a scenario, and that can be truly awful, but that doesn’t turn mockers into harassers.

Of course, what you’re really doing here is transparent, Silentbob. You’re trying to redefine harassment so that it casts as wide a net as possible but only for targets whose politics and identity you’re sympathetic to.

Again, the main point of my comment was that people with your outlook operate with precisely this sort of double standard. I talked about the Justine Saccos and Matt Taylors and Tim Hunts of the world, none of whom acted with malice or even with intent to offend (unlike your beloved Chanty Binx). Predictably, you ignored all that, opting instead to sneak in that charged but amorphous qualifier “powerless,” an almost meaningless word that you intersectionalists can reinterpret on the fly in order to maintain your tribalistic double standards.

Chanty Binx? Well, she’s a woman! And women are historically marginalized! Powerless. Off limits.

Melissa Click? Woman. Ally of students of color (the ones who aren’t Uncle Toms, anyway). Made a little mistake, sure, but in the name of doing social justice. Powerless victim. Off limits.

Justine Sacco? Oh, well, sure, she’s a woman, but she had a job in PR, and also she has white privilege. Off with her head!

Matt Taylor? White. Male. Successful scientist. Fuck him.

Tim Hunt? White. Male. NOBEL LAUREATE. Drive him to suicide, for all I care. Good riddance.

And who really had the power in these scenarios, Silentbob? When Sacco was sacked, when Taylor was brought to tears on what should have been the happiest occasion of his career, when Hunt was censured and discarded by the scientific organizations he was affiliated with—who had the power?

Melissa Click still has her job at Mizzou, by the way. She’s facing charges for assaulting a student, but she hasn’t lost her job. I wonder why that is?

And I wonder why Mireille Miller-Young still has her job at USCB? She likewise assaulted a teenage girl on campus and stole and destroyed her property. But she’s a pregnant woman of color, you see, and the white girl was holding a pro-life sign that offended the marginalized professor. So Miller-Young was just doing social justice. Clearly not a fireable offense. I mean, hell, if you think about it in context of misogyny and white supremacy, really it was self-defense, an “act of challenging anti-abortion violence”: http://www.thefeministwire.com/2014/03/miller-young-toward-decriminalization/

Who has the power in these situations?

91 Guestus Aurelius February 1, 2016 at 4:27 pm

*UCSB

92 P. George Stewart February 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Guestus Aurelius says:-
“Of course, what you’re really doing here is transparent, Silentbob. You’re trying to redefine harassment so that it casts as wide a net as possible but only for targets whose politics and identity you’re sympathetic to.”

Almost – but bear in mind that he’s unlikely to be doing it consciously, it’s more that such persuasive redefinition is part of the “oppressor/oppressed class Narrative” memeset, and poor Silentbob has caught the sniffles.

Persuasive redefinition, bait-and-switch, and the Motte & Bailey form of argument, are an intrinsic part of any analysis of society in terms of social relations defined by their closeness to, or distance from, “power” (defined apriori) and whatever resultant “oppressor/oppressed group” division (defined apriori) falls out from it. This type of theory isn’t necessarily Marxist (because Marxism concept of “power” is by peoples’ relations to the means of economic production, so its “oppressor/oppressed groups” are socioeconomic classes), but it was Marx who first birthed and concretized a generic form of argument that’s mutated out of Marxism, spread through all liberal arts in academia, on through to society at large, and become little more than a sort of game of one-upmanship.

We see it all around us today, in SJW/feminism (where “power” is said to lay in some particular gender or race, usually), but also in Islamism (where the “oppressor/oppressed” narrative was taken directly from Western socialism via Sayyid Qutb, who more or less kick-started the phenomenon). This is the real root of the bizarre similarity between, say, SJW/”feminist” hysteria about whatever hurts their feels, on the one hand, and Muslim hysteria about cartoons of Mohammed, on the other. AND THIS SHARED STRUCTURAL FEATURE IS WHY THE SATIRE WAS A SATIRE AND IS PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE.

Marxoid theory itself is the “Bailey”, the sunlit, fertile (of word salad) but difficult-to-defend land on which Marxoids gambol. It’s only convincing to those who don’t need to be convinced; it’s really a sort of religion-substitute, which gives its dupes certainty (and a sense of self-righteous moral fury) at the cost of vacuity. On the Bailey, words like “rape” or “harrassment” are as broad as they need to be in order to spout whatever self-righteous claptrap you want to spout and get paid for it.

If Marxoids are challenged, however, they retreat to the easy-to-defend “Motte”, which is grounded in the easier-to-defend, philosophically Individualist principles that most people generally agree with, that are enshrined in law and commonly practiced morality. This allows a Marxoid to either:-

1) elicit agreement for the broad definition by challenging their interlocutor to stick to their own principles (“you’re not in favour of rape, are you?”). The interlocutor doesn’t notice, on the spot, that their actual principles are based on a narrower definition, so they go along with version of “rape” that’s based on the broader definition (which ends up being so ludicrously broad as to include looking at a woman funny or offering them a cup of coffee in an elevator) because they think that by doing so and agreeing with the Marxoid, they’re sticking to their own principles with more integrity; or

2) if the interlocutor notices the bait-and-switch, and challenges the Marxoid to defend the massive weight of the more difficult-to-defend theory that lies behind the broader definition, the Marxoid can cut the converesation short by screaming “rapist!”, and because onlookers also hold to the narrower definition, they think there’s no smoke without fire, and become suspicious of the sceptic.

This is also what causes “virtue signalling” – the person who has been fooled by 1) above feels obliged (in order to have some peace or respite, to keep their job, or to keep making piles of money) to signal, “I’m ok, look, I’m agreeing with your prescriptions for society, I’m supporting whatever language policing or law you want, I’m not a rapist!”

Between Marxoids themselves, the same game is played orgies of heresy-hunting. You get the hideous spectacle of a sort of limbo dancing competition in which everyone seeks to prove their virtue by submitting to the analysis and demonstrating their virtue by affiliation with a more and more oppressed group. Everyone starts gnawing everyone else’s face off, and the only way to survive is to be ever more ‘umble and to accept ever-more fractally-convoluted divisions and subdivisions of human beings into “oppressor/oppressed” groups.

In Soviet Russia, the analogous tropes led to the revolution eating itself; nowadays, both SJW/”feminism” and Islamism show the same heresy-hunting tendencies within themselves. And we can already see an analogous process happening today with our SJWs/”feminists”. But because there’s no centralized authority like there was in Soviet Russia in either Islamism or the SJW/”feminist” movement (everyone does this on instinct, in order to conform) you get fragmentation instead of purges; although in any sub-sect, you can get purges.

Silentbob is just someone who’s at the stage of 1) above and has succumbed to the first stages. Whether he pulls through and gets ejected as a 2) sceptic, depends on how strong his commitment is to reason, philosophical Individualism and good, old-fashioned liberalism. But in order to shuck it off, he has to come to terms with the fact that he might be called names, or even lose some friends. It can be tough, depending on one’s particular circumstances.

93 OirishM February 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Is there any evidence whatsoever that Binx was harassed following Dawkins’ tweet? All the hoohah seems to refer to harassment she received three years ago.

Being treated shittily online does not make you immune to criticism. Lest we forget, the same logic would apply to Dawkins himself.

94 Matt Cavanaugh February 1, 2016 at 9:24 pm

NECSS wrote: “… essentially making the claim that these groups share an ideology.”

No, the point clearly was: the two employ the same tactics in attempting to silence criticism.

Steve Novella, in showing that his devotion to SJW dogma greatly exceeds his grasp of logic or the principle of free thought, has done the rest of the A/S community a great service. We can now stop pretending he’s anything other than an ideologue and a hack.

95 Jet Lagg February 2, 2016 at 2:36 am

Silentbob@60

The “subculture” of sufferers of cerebral palsy.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spastic

Perhaps not on the level of “the n-word”, but of something like “faggot”.

If it’s true that people have taken it that way, they’re being absurd. Going just by the definition quoted, there are, at a minimum, two ways to interpret the statement that involve it not being a statement in any way related to cerebral palsy. If you get offended by something with more inoffensive interpretations than offensive interpretations, you’re just looking to be outraged, and I’m just going to laugh at you.

96 Chas Stewart February 3, 2016 at 12:43 am

Sadly, the angry SJWs who threw a fit about this cartoon comparing feminists to Islamists can’t see how they are strengthening the argument made by SyeTenAtheist. If their luminaries only sat back and asked, “wait how would an Islamist react to a racy cartoon?”

97 Travis February 3, 2016 at 7:54 am

People who think that this video leads to people knowing about big red (who didn’t already) are making a fairly large assumption (based on their own knowledge of her existence as a meme) that those who don’t already know her as a meme will now want to know who she is because they recognize that she is a caricature of a real person. Something the Dawkin’s detractors seem to have proven doesn’t hold true for Dawah Man, the other caricature in the video. They didn’t recognize him, after all, and as far as I can tell there’s been no one harassing him, either. He’s also a meme thanks to his “drink your dad’s sperm” atheist morality bit but… he’s a man so who cares?

In fact, I think that by pointing out to Dawkins and others that big red is a real person that the camp who is against people being aware of her existence in a negative light have done the very thing they’ve claimed is irresponsible.

98 John Greg February 3, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Travis said:

“Dawah Man … he’s a man so who cares?”

Precisely.

99 Astraea February 4, 2016 at 9:00 am

So to summarize:

1. Freedom of speech is important.

2. Abusing people for what they say is valid.

3. Unless the people who say it are being “satirical” in which case if you make fun of them for saying something stupid it’s evil and wrong.

Did I get that right?

She doesn’t have the freedom to say what she wants, without being threatened.

He must have the freedom to say what he wants, without being criticized.

Are we still on track here?

100 Jan Steen February 4, 2016 at 2:29 pm

@Astraea,

1. Freedom of speech is important.

Yes, it’s the cornerstone of democracy.

2. Abusing people for what they say is valid.

Criticism and mockery are often called “abuse” by those who cannot tolerate people who disagree with them. Physical abuse and threats are of course unacceptable and against the law.

3. Unless the people who say it are being “satirical” in which case if you make fun of them for saying something stupid it’s evil and wrong.

But people on your side are rarely seen making fun of their opponents; instead what they prefer to do is: calling for censorship; non-platforming; going after people’s jobs; doxxing and smearing. Somehow you people respond poorly to satire. Which is why we need more of it.

She doesn’t have the freedom to say what she wants, without being threatened.

Serious threats do not fall under free speech; they are against the law. But mockery is still allowed, last time I looked. The video doesn’t threaten anyone, but ridicules the dogmas and the behaviour of a certain kind of people. If they cannot handle ridicule, then that is their problem. Boohoo.

He must have the freedom to say what he wants, without being criticized.

Nobody is saying that. Making up strawmen like this is dishonest. Typical.

Are we still on track here?

No, you derailed after your first point.

101 John Greg February 4, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Hmm. I thought Astraea was being sarcastic. Maybe I’m wrong?

Sarcasm, like irony, is often rather difficult to spot online.

102 Deepak Shetty February 5, 2016 at 4:42 pm

No one is saying satire cant be offensive. People are complaining about the accuracy (as well as the targeted harassment).
Or should I make a satire about pompous white Irishman who supports rape ? Would you be saying I’m right ? or rescinding my Atheist Ireland invitations ?

103 Jan Steen February 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm

@Deepak Shetty,

Satire is also supposed to be funny. What you propose looks like simple defamation. Not funny.

But then, SJWs are not known for their sense of humour. Calling Dawkins a racist misogynist dudebro is the height of wit in their circles.

104 Claus Larsen February 7, 2016 at 5:48 am

Jan Steen,

Yes, satire is supposed to be funny. But to whom?

Many Muslims found the Mohammed cartoons less than funny, and very much defamatory.

Now what?

105 ASBroad February 7, 2016 at 9:58 am

@104:
Satire by definition means to ridicule, often with the intent of shaming. Being funny is the merely the means for that, and it doesn’t require not does it follow that satire has to be funny to those it aims to ridicule. So it’s hardly surprising, and more importantly it is entirely justified, that e.g. Muslims will find satire aimed at their religious beliefs not funny. I do take issue with branding satire of that kind, e.g. the Mohammed cartoons, defamatory. Defamation, again by definition, requires spreading false claims about someone. I think you’ll find it very hard indeed to demonstrate how exactly Mohammed cartoons or in fact any such satire of religious belief is defamatory.

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