The smears continue, with a misunderstanding becoming a moral panic

by Michael Nugent on February 21, 2016

I strongly oppose prejudice and bigotry and discrimination against anybody based on their personal identity. I strongly support fundamental human rights including freedom from discrimination and equality before the law. I encourage people to be kind, empathetic, ompompassionate, cooperative, reciprocal, just and fair in online discussions. I encourage people to criticise bad ideas robustly, while respecting the people who sincerely believe those bad ideas.

I also oppose casual defamation on the Internet, and the tendency to express every difference of opinion as a personal insult dialled up to eleven as an opening gambit. My latest experience of this is a comment that somebody posted on my blog that has been unintentionally misinterpreted, misreported, and blown up into a mythological moral panic that Tim Hunt would no doubt identify with.

Yesterday I got some coordinated emails and tweets that falsely allege that I am supporting trans-misogynistic hate speech in comments on my blog, “namely the myth that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to rape women and girls.” These emails and tweets are from good people who sincerely believe what they are saying to be true, but they are mistaken. Such is the nature of the Internet, where misinformed group behaviour can quickly escalate.

I have now read through the various comment discussions, and I think I can see how the main misunderstanding began and escalated. As this particular issue is hard enough to follow even when you are involved in it, I have tried to outline it here in way that reasonable people can form reasonable conclusions. I have also noted some other comments that don’t follow my requests to treat people respectfully while criticising their ideas, and I will address that later.

Contents of this post

Part 1 — Overview

This part is all you have to read if you don’t want to know all of the nuances.

  1. Overview of the main allegation
  2. Requests to delete other comments
  3. Some background context
  4. The idea of an ‘ally’
  5. How this particular allegation evolved
  6. My blog comments policy
  7. Summary

Part 2 — Details

You can also read this part if you want more detailed information.

  1. Aidan’s first correspondence with me
  2. The comments I removed after Aidan’s first email
  3. Next email exchange with Aidan
  4. The links that Cindy had posted
  5. Next email exchange with Aidan
  6. New allegation in Aidan’s blog post
  7. What is hate speech?
  8. Thresholds for prohibition of incitement to hatred
  9. Council of Europe Against Online Hate Speech
  10. Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime
  11. Aidan’s request for people to contact me
  12. Some of the messages I have got about this

 

PART 1 — OVERVIEW

1.1 Overview of the main allegation

Aidan Rowe contacted me on Thursday evening to say that:

“some of your supporters (are) putting forward the hateful position that trans women are men pretending to be women in order to enter women’s spaces and rape women and girls.”

and that:

“the comments section of your post is being used to promote anti-trans hate speech, namely the myth that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to rape women and girls.”

I was of course concerned by Aidan’s allegations. However, neither of these allegations were true. Aidan had, no doubt unintentionally, misread a comment and translated it into something different. Nevertheless, I deleted some comments that violated my comments policy, and told Aidan that I would look over the full comment thread after a conference the next day.

Here is a summary of the relevant parts of the deleted comments:

  • Cindy posted a comment saying that Aidan harasses women online, and linked to a page on a website called Name The Problem.
  • Aidan replied saying that the website Name The Problem was run by a named women who Aidan said was an anti-trans bigot who tries to associate the names of trans people with rape and abuse. Aidan said that this woman had smeared Aidan by calling them a rapist because Aidan had called her out for repeatedly calling a trans woman friend of Aidan’s a man.
  • Cindy replied asking if the woman who Aidan was calling a bigot was the woman who had questioned whether [a named 52 year old person with male genitals who identifies as a six year old girl] should use the girls changing room in a swimming pool. Cindy also asked about a trans woman who gained access to a woman’s domestic violence shelter and raped a woman.
  • Aidan replied saying that they loved how people who say they are post-bigotry had nothing to say about Cindy’s ‘trans women want to rape women and children’ comments.

So this, then, is the origin of Aidan’s allegation. Cindy was saying that straight men could pretend to be women to access women-only areas, and Aidan translated that the other way around into a claim that trans women are men pretending to be women. Also, Cindy was referring to specific incidents, and Aidan translated into a claim about all trans women.

Cindy also referred to a trans woman who gained access to a woman’s domestic violence shelter and raped a woman. Cindy later linked to two newspaper articles about this claim: one was about a man who assaulted a woman after falsely pretending to be a trans woman to access a women’s domestic violence centre, and the other was about a trans woman who had raped a woman before she had transitioned.

Whatever genuine misinterpretation Aidan made, based on any ambiguity in Cindy’s wording, Cindy has since clarified unambiguously what she was conveying. Today Aidan commented on my blog:

“Do you think any reasonable definition of hate speech would not include claiming that trans women are men who want to rape women and girls?”

And Cindy replied:

“Except nobody said that. No one said, specifically, that ‘trans women are men who want to rape women and girls’. It was pointed out that women and girls have the right not to be perved at and/or raped in their private spaces, by men who LIE and claim to be women based on nothing but feelz. In other words, if a law is written concerning nothing but gender identity (as opposed to gender expression), STRAIGHT CIS MEN who are PREDATORS will LIE ABOUT BEING TRANS WOMEN, GAIN ACCESS TO WOMEN’S PRIVATE SPACES AND ASSAULT THEM…. You misread, and chose to take the statement as a smear against all trans women.”

Despite this unambiguous clarification, a defamatory myth has evolved in a matter of days, to the effect that I am “supporting trans-misogynistic hate speech, namely the myth that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to rape women and girls.”

1.2 The request to delete other comments

The next morning Aidan published, on their own blog, some of the comments that Aidan had asked me to remove from my blog, and that I had actually removed, and Aidan strangely complained that:

“the only anti-trans post he deleted was the one I directly linked to him”.

Aidan and others are also asking that I remove other comments on the basis that they are hate speech. Aidan and others seem to have their own definition of this, which Aidan has not chosen to share despite being repeatedly asked, but which allows them to assume that certain comments are so obviously hate speech that everyone else should automatically agree with them. But this is not the case.

The policing of hate speech is a restriction on freedom of expression, and that requires a high threshold to qualify. Simply declaring something to be hate speech, and then demanding that other people moderate the comments in their blog to match with your own undefined opinion, is not a reasonable way to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and other rights.

I have outlined in Sections 1.7 to 1.10 below some examination of this balance, based mostly on exchanges of comments between Aidan and Jane Donnelly, who is currently conducting research on hate speech for a panel discussion in a conference about blasphemy and hate speech.

1.3 Some background context

This situation has evolved because three people chose to initiate encounters with me (Paul McAndrew) and to publish defamatory allegations about me (Aoife and Aidan). I did not initiate any of these encounters, and I have behaved reasonably throughout them, despite increasingly provocative smears about me. This is in the context of a litany of other recent outrageous smears linking me with fascists, Nazis, pedophiles, and Leeds United football club.

Another related allegation is that I have been threatening people with legal action. That is also untrue. I have been trying to deal with all of these casually delivered outrageous smears by reasoned discussion. However, I may eventually reach the stage that a defamation case may be the only way to bring some finality to the absurdity. I hope that I do not have to this. This post is another attempt to address the allegations with reasoned discussion.

I would like to thank everyone who has emailed me, or tweeted publicly and privately, to defend me against recent smears. You know who you are! I would particularly like to thank Jane Donnelly, David Hall, Ashling O’Brien, Derek Walsh, Max Krzyzanowski, Carolyn Compelli, Peter Hinchliffe, Siobhan O’Brien, and various people who prefer to remain anonymous because they don’t want to be next in line for smears. The last few weeks of escalating smears have been tough, and your solidarity has been very helpful.

I ask both Aoife and Aidan to withdraw and apologise for these smears. I am not generalising the behaviour of Aoife and Aidan onto other LGBT people, and I thank the LGBT people who have been supportive of me about this. We should treat each other with equal respect as individuals, and not assume things about each other based on aspects of our personal identities.

1.4 The idea of an ‘ally’

Some people seem to see the word ‘ally’ as a relationship that a straight person has to LGBT people, with different standards of reciprocity, in which the straight person is expected to support the LGBT people but not vice versa. I don’t use that interpretation of the word ‘ally’. I see allies as equal partners with a shared goal and equal standards of reciprocity. If you expect me to defend you against injustice, then I expect you to also defend me against injustice.

For example, I and Atheist Ireland work together with many people and groups as allies, regardless of our gender or sexual orientation or perceived race, or religious or nonreligious belief, with the shared goal of an ethical secular society where each individual is treated with respect and without discrimination. I have done the same in campaigns against IRA and loyalist terrorism, against miscarriages of justice by the State, and for assisted dying.

If someone criticises you or discriminates against you for being for being male or female or transgender, or for being gay or straight or any other gender orientation, or for being black or white or any other perceived race, then I will defend you against those criticisms. Criticising people for who they are is prejudice and/or bigotry. In this context, I condemn any prejudice, bigotry or discrimination against Paul, Aoife, Aidan or any of their friends that is based on their identity.

However, if someone criticises you for what you say or do, then I will examine that on its merits. If I agree with your behaviour, I will defend you. If I disagree with your behaviour, I will criticise you. But I will do so on the basis of my analysis of your ideas and behaviour, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation or other such criteria. In this context, I am critical of some of the ideas and behaviour of Paul, Aoife and Aidan, including some of their allegations about me.

Criticising your ideas or behaviour is not the same thing as criticising all people who share an element of your identity. If you are looking for someone who will tend towards defending your ideas or behaviour, regardless of whether they are good or bad, on the basis that your personal identity makes you more likely to be correct, then you are not looking for an ally. You are looking for a supporter of your good ideas and behaviour, and an enabler of your bad ideas and behaviour.

1.5 How this particular allegation evolved

This particular strand of the smears against me began when Paul McAndrew approached me at the Atheist Ireland information table in Dublin. I didn’t approach him. He confrontationally asked me several questions about Islamophobia, atheist States, the veil in France and Richard Dawkins. I responded reasonably to each question until he flounced away. The only reason that Paul’s sexual orientation was involved in this discussion was that he chose to announce that he was an openly gay man. Had Paul not said that, I would not have known or cared about his sexual orientation, and it did not change how I interacted with Paul once he told me.

Aoife Fitzgibbon O’Riordan then made a defamatory smear on her Facebook page, saying that I was using dog whistle homophobia to defend dog whistle misogyny. Dog whistle homophobia means being homophobic and sending secret homophobic messages to other homophobes. Aoife knows me personally, and she knows that this is not true. Not only did I not initiate this disagreement, but Aoife had intended that I would not even know that she was making defamatory allegations about me. Aoife seems to be under the impression that this makes her smearing of me ethically better rather than worse.

Aidan Rowe then made some comments on my blog, and chose to say that they are an Assigned Male at Birth transgender queer. Had Aidan not said that, I would not have known or cared about Aidan’s gender or sexual orientation, and it did not change how I interacted with Aidan once they told me. Aidan then sent me an email about some other comments on my blog. I removed comments that linked to a site that made defamatory allegations about Aidan and others, and I said I would look at the other comments later. Aidan then published a blog post titled: “Michael Nugent (Atheist Ireland) supports trans-misogynistic hate speech.”

1.6 My blog comments policy

Some people seem to think that I have ‘supporters’ on my blog. I don’t. People choose to comment on my blog based on their own agency. Sometimes they support things I say, sometimes not. These people include Paul, Aoife and Aidan, and people who disagree with them. I am not responsible for the ideas that they convey on my blog, whether they are Paul, Aoife or Aidan or people who disagree with them. I am even more obviously not responsible for what they do or say elsewhere, whether they are Paul, Aoife or Aidan or people who disagree with them.

I’ve published this before but here it is again:

“Many comments on my site 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. I generally get around to checking published comments every few days, but sometimes it can take longer. Also, any comments with more than one hyperlink go into moderation. That is to avoid commercial spam, not to censor content, and I will approve those once I identify they are not spam. Generally speaking, if you are reading comments from the past couple of days, it is likely that you are reading comments that I have not yet checked.

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.”

1.7 Summary

I have tried here and below to respond as comprehensively as I can to these developments. When people are smeared in the Internet, there are several common responses: to ignore the smears in the hope that they will go away, to return fire with more abuse, and to sue for defamation.

I have tried over the past few years to take a different approach when I am smeared, starting with PZ Myers’ allegation that I defend and provide a haven for rapists. I respond as comprehensively, as civilly and as reasonably as I can, providing evidence for reasonable people to come to reasonable conclusions.

This seems to work, over time, but it has its price in time lost that could be spent on directly promoting an ethical secular society or watching football or having a day off, and the personal toll on my emotional commitment to wading through shit to get to somewhere better.

For the time being I will maintain this approach, but as I said earlier, on some smear or other, I may eventually reach the stage that a defamation case may be the only way to bring some finality to the absurdity.

Also, I still like Aidan’s music :)


 

PART 2 — DETAILS

2.1 Aidan’s first correspondence with me

Aidan sent me these tweets on Thursday evening:

“Hi Michael, you may not be aware of this but the comments section of your post on the “flounce” incident has taken a nasty turn with some of your supporters putting forward the hateful position that trans women are men pretending to be women in order to enter women’s spaces and rape women and girls. I wonder would you consider either posting a comment denouncing those views and making clear that that kind of support is not something you want, or removing the comments. I’m sure you agree that those kinds of comments are dangerous and unacceptable, whatever our disagreement.”

Aidan also sent me this email on Thursday evening.

“Hi Michael, I’ve already tweeted you about this but I felt it would be a good idea to also contact you here to make you aware that the comments section of your post “The outrageous smear that I am using homophobia to defend misogyny” is being used to promote anti-trans hate speech, namely the myth that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to rape women and girls.

Your supporters are also deliberately misgendering me despite having been told several times to stop. I’m asking that you either delete the comments in question or post in the thread denouncing these views and making clear that this form of support is not welcome (or preferably both). I trust that whatever our disagreement you recognise that this conduct is unacceptable and that such views are vile and dangerous and will act swiftly to deal with them. Sincerely, Aidan Rowe”

I was obviously concerned by Aidan’s allegation. I would be strongly opposed to anybody commenting on my blog claiming that “trans women are men pretending to be women in order to enter women’s spaces and rape women and girls.”

I would be strongly concerned if the comments section of my blog was being “used to promote anti-trans hate speech, namely the myth that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to rape women and girls.”

However, neither of these allegations were true. As I described in Section 1.1 above, Aidan had misread a comment about specific incidents, mostly about men who are not trans women, and translated it into a generalised allegation about trans women.

2.2 The comments I removed after Aidan’s first email

I looked briefly over the 250+ comment thread, and discussed it for an hour with Jane Donnelly. We concluded that the overall allegation warranted careful consideration rather than a quick response while tired. We did find one discussion that contravenes my comment policy. I removed the relevant comments, and published the following explanation:

“I have removed some comments that linked to a website where a named person was accused of harassing feminists, and/or that discussed that website and other accusations made on it, and/or that referred to named people as having had rape allegations made against them.”

If anyone wants me to email them any comments that they made which I have deleted, I’d be happy to do so, if you want to edit them to exclude such allegations while keeping any other points you made. Also, as per my preferences for this blog, can you please try to criticise ideas rather than the people who are communicating the ideas? Thanks.”

I have described the relevant comments that I deleted in Part 1.1 of this post above.

2.3 Next email exchange with Aidan

This is my next email to Aidan:

“Hi Aidan, I’ll look over those comments tomorrow. I’ll be at a conference all day, so I’ll look at them in the evening. In the meantime I have removed some comments that linked to a website where you were accused of harassing feminists, and other related allegations. I’m sorry you had to go through such smears. Michael. PS I like your music :)

This is Aidan’s next email to me:

“I think the appropriate thing to do if you don’t have time to moderate the discussion properly would have been to leave Cindy’s comments “proving” that trans women are rapists in the moderation queue. Instead what you have done is allow her to publish a slew of links to an anti-trans hate site on your site.”

2.4 The links that Cindy had posted

What Aidan was referring to here was a comment including some links that Cindy had posted and that had been caught in my moderation queue because it included more than one hyperlink. That moderation rule is to avoid commercial spam, not to censor content, and I approve such posts once I identify they are not spam.

Putting aside that Aidan was still under the mistaken notion that Cindy’s earlier comments were about trans women generally, Aidan described Cindy’s links about this issue as “a slew of links to an anti-trans hate site.”

The links that Cindy had posted were to articles in three newspapers:

New York Times — Seattle man undresses in women’s locker room at local pool to test new transgender bathroom rule
From the article: “We’re not here saying that the transgendered community are predators,” a woman who was a victim of sexual assault told KING-5 TV, “We will never say that because we don’t believe that. What we do believe is that this code is so poorly written that predators will abuse. We know it because we have lived it.”

Toronto Sun — A sex predator’s sick deception
From the article: “A convicted sexual predator who falsely claimed to be transgender and preyed on women at two Toronto shelters could be declared a dangerous offender this month… He pleaded guilty in February 2013 to two counts of sexual assault and one count of criminal harassment involving two women — a deaf and homeless Quebec woman and a Toronto survivor of domestic violence — while he was living at a Dundas St. W. shelter and the Fred Victor women’s shelter.”

The Guardian — Transgender woman who raped girl before transition sent to male prison
From the article: “A transgender woman, convicted of carrying out a rape when she was a man, has been remanded to a male prison… The justice minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Transgender adult prisoners are normally placed according to their legally recognised gender. However, we recognise that these situations are often complex and sensitive.”

These articles support the points that Cindy was actually making, and unsurprisingly do not support the point that Aidan mistakenly misread Cindy as having made. Cindy wrote this about these links:

“Are trans women generally great people? Sure they are. But laws which permit a be-penised person to enter a woman’s changeroom or domestic violence shelter based on nothing but gender identity alone simply opens up the doors for abuse. Perverts who pray on girls and women will abuse this loophole.”

On my reading, this is not a concern about trans women, who are not men. It is a concern about protecting women from men who could abuse laws that enable them to access women only spaces by pretending to be a woman. I don’t know to what extent it is a problem beyond the linked stories. Most reasonable people would agree that the reasons that most trans women want to access a women only area, are the same reasons that most women want to access a women’s only area, that is, to go to the toilet or change their clothes or seek refuge in a women only domestic violence refuge. However, given all of that context, it is a valid concern to discuss.

Also, the New York Times, the Toronto Sun and the Guardian could hardly be classified as hate sites, so I decided to clarify further with Aidan.

2.5 Next email exchange with Aidan

This is my next email to Aidan:

“Aidan, Feel free to explain what you mean by a hate site, and how the links posted support that description, and I will take that into account. Michael”

This is Aidan’s next email to me:

“As I’ve already explained, those links are being proffered in support of the thesis that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to enter women’s spaces and rape women and girls. If it isn’t obvious to you that that’s hate speech then you have no business calling yourself an LGBT ally.”

We are now at 1:20 am on Friday morning. At this stage, Aidan still mistakenly believes that a general allegation has been made, and is being defended, “that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to enter women’s spaces and rape women and girls,” Again, this allegation was never made.

I had intended to examine the entire comment thread again on Friday evening. Jane and I had also discussed the idea of asking Aidan to write a guest post on my blog outlining their concerns. I then retired for the night, and woke to find a link in my email to a blog post by Aidan.

2.6 New allegation in Aidan’s blog post

On Friday morning Aidan published a blog post titled “Michael Nugent (Atheist Ireland) supports trans-misogynistic hate speech”. In this, Aidan again misunderstood Cindy’s comment and links on my blog, saying:

“Cindy then attempted to post a series of links in support of the thesis that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to gain access to women’s spaces and rape women and girls… “

Aidan also added a new allegation, which they had not made in any of the correspondence the previous night, by saying:

“Cindy then made a number of comments alluding to the trans-misogynistic conspiracy theory that trans women use accusations of transphobia to try and force lesbians to have sex with them.”

Cindy provided some links in support of this argument, and wrote:

“Is this the definition of transphobic? Trans women shaming lesbians, in their own words, for not wanting penises inside them? I was very very careful with my links. The words of actual trans women, fighting for their *right* to have PIV sex with lesbians. If anything, it’s pro-trans. In fact, it is 100% pro-trans according to the trans women who wrote those comments. Not my fault if you all are so embarrassed by the words of trans women that you have to accuse the rest of us of being transphobic.”

I’m not sure of the extent to which this attitude exists. I assume it does not represent the views of most trans women, because most trans women are as reasonable as most people generally. However, it doesn’t seem to be a conspiracy theory to suggest that such attitudes exist. I followed one of Cindy’s links beyond the first link to the original source, and it seems to be based on opinions that actually exist among at least some trans women.

I have also found several sincere discussions about this issue online, with people arguing either side while remaining civil to each other to each other. So, if you disagree with Cindy, then feel free to counter her argument. But do not misread it as hate speech against all trans women, because that is not a reasonable interpretation. And do not try to close down conversation about it on somebody else’s blog, based on your misreading of it.

2.7 What is hate speech?

I now want to discuss the idea of hate speech. Aidan and others seem to have their own definition of this, which Aidan has not chosen to share despite being repeatedly asked, but which allows them to assume that certain comments are so obviously hate speech that everyone else should automatically agree with them. But this is not the case.

The policing of hate speech is a restriction on freedom of expression, and that requires a high threshold  to qualify. Simply declaring something to be hate speech, and then demanding that other people moderate the comments in their blog to match with your own undefined opinion, is not a reasonable way to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and other rights.

As it happens, Jane and I are already researching the idea of hate speech for a panel discussion that we will be talking part in, in an upcoming conference on blasphemy law and hate speech. As Jane has said in the following exchanges (between Jane, Aidan and Ashling O’Brien), we would welcome any suggestions of sources for useful information about this.

Jane Donnelly:

“If you are getting into the definitions of how different people define ‘hate speech’, then we could be here for a while. It means different things to different people. I don’t think it is wise to just accept such an accusation without looking at the details. If you think that it is an easy thing to get your head around what constitutes hate speech, then think again. I would be very reluctant to accuse anyone of hate speech and /or supporting hate speech without examining everything and in detail.

Not only do people define hate speech in different ways but so do different countries. The UN/Council of Europe are working to define what constitutes hate speech, it is not an easy subject. Hate speech is linked to ‘freedom of expression”. The are restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and it is obvious that we are discussing those restrictions. It is clear that some people have made up their mind and are clear in defining hate speech. They could be correct in that assessment. I just need more time to examine this before I could agree that what was said constitutes hate speech.”

Aidan Rowe:

“Sorry no I’m not going to allow you to relativise this, when precisely these kinds of trans-misogynistic fantasies are being used by rightists in the US and elsewhere to mobilises movements aimed at excluding trans women and girls from public space and services, not to mention encouraging violence against a population who are already beaten, raped and murdered at a far higher rate than the general population (particularly those who are non-white). You are either with us in naming this as hate speech, or you’re against us, apologising for, minimising and obfuscating calculated strategies aimed at our marginalisation.

And as Sarah has already pointed out, these strategies should be wholly familiar to those who fought for gay rights in much more hostile times, where gay people were routinely insinuated accused of being paedophiles in order to mobilise people against them. (It’s also one of the signatures strategies of fascists in building support for racism and genocide, something we are seeing re-emerging today in opposition to the human rights of refugees.)”

Jane Donnelly:

“I’m very glad that you referred to human rights in your response to my comment. Let me reassure you that I am looking at the research, published documents, general comments, guidelines and case law with regard to hate speech of the UN, COE and OSCE. If you have links to any research/documentation from any of these bodies or published research regarding hate speech please let me know. I have discovered a lot of research and guidelines but you might like to draw my attention to a particular piece given that you seem to know a lot about it.”

Aidan Rowe:

“I expect Michael to exercise the capacities he has in solidarity with transgender people against hate speech. The critical claim I make is that allowing clear hate speech to be transmitted on a platform you control is a form of material support for hatred and therefore can legitimately be discussed as support for that hatred. ”

Ashling O’Brien:

“Aidan, as already mentioned in an earlier comment by Jane, hate-speech is not necessarily a straightforward concept to define. Could you give us the definition you would use, so that we can make sure we are all on the same page here. Thanks.”

Jane Donnelly:

“Aidan, I’ll ask again, Can you please let me have your definition of hate speech? You have referred in a comment to human rights, am I to take it that your definition is based on human rights? Can you please provide a link to any research, document or guidelines that you would like me to take into account? I have published research here from the UN, COE Guidelines and case law at the ECHR but I would like your input into this.”

Aidan Rowe:

“Do you think any reasonable definition of hate speech would not include claiming that trans women are men who want to rape women and girls?”

Jane Donnelly:

“I’m still looking for any human rights based research or documentation that you want me to take into account here. I really would appreciate your input. You have referred to human rights with regard to this subject and that is what I am looking at.”

So Aidan has no definition of hate speech, other than suggesting that Jane is relativising. Actually, the opposite is true. Jane is trying to come to an objective definition, or as close as one can to this, and Aidan is relativising it to coincide with their own undefined opinion.

2.8 Thresholds for prohibition of incitement to hatred

The organisation Article 19 prepared a report on Thresholds for the prohibition of incitement to hatred, for a regional expert meeting organised by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Here are some excerpts from this report:

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights places an obligation on States Parties to prohibit hate speech. Article 20(2) provides that: Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law…
The majority of states under consideration recognise intent or intention as one of the defining elements of incitement. In the UK (in relation to religious speech), in Ireland and in Canada, the criterion of intention is a specific and necessary element of the legislation. For example, it is a defence under the Irish Prohibition of Incitement Act 1989 for the accused to show they had not intended to stir up hatred or not have been aware that the words, behaviour or material concerned might be threatening, abusive or insulting…

The European Court has emphasised the importance of distinguishing between publications that exhort the use of violence, which are properly categorised as “hate speech”, and those that simply offer a genuine critique on a matter of public interest…

In one case, the Court specifically stated: “It cannot be ruled out that such a text may conceal objectives and intentions different from the ones it proclaims. However, as there is no evidence of any concrete action which might belie the sincerity of the aim declared by the leaflet’s authors, the Court sees no reason to doubt it.

The degree to which the speech involved advocacy is relevant. Advocacy is present when there is a direct  call for the audience to act in a certain way… A call to such action which is unambiguous in as far as the intended audience is concerned and could not be interpreted in other fashion would suggest the possible presence of incitement under article 20.”

2.9 Council of Europe Against Online Hate Speech

Here is an excerpt from an expert paper titled ‘The Council of Europe against online hate speech: conundrums and challenges,’ written by Dr Tarlach McGonagle, Senior researcher in the Institute for Information Law (IViR) Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam:

“Unravelling “hate speech”

“Hate speech” has not (yet) been defined in a watertight or authoritative way, either in international human rights law or in relevant scholarship. The term is a convenient shorthand way of referring to a broad spectrum of extremely negative discourse stretching from hatred and incitement to hatred; to abusive expression and vilification; and arguably also to extreme forms of prejudice and bias.

Robert Post has posited that a certain threshold of intensity must be reached before a particular expression can be qualified as hate speech. He points to the Oxford English Dictionary entry for “hate”: “an emotion of extreme dislike or aversion; detestation, abhorrence, hatred”. For Post, the threshold or definitional prerequisite is the qualification, “extreme”, because ordinary “intolerance and dislike are necessary human emotions which no legal order could pretend to abolish”.

From a legal perspective, the hate speech spectrum stretches from types of expression that are not entitled to protection under international human rights law (eg. incitement to various specified acts), through types of expression that may or may not be entitled to protection, depending on the existence and weighting of a number of “contextual variables” (eg. extremely offensive expression), to types of expression that presumptively would be entitled to protection, despite their morally objectionable character (eg. negative stereotyping of minorities).

The right to freedom of expression necessarily covers expression that may “offend, shock or disturb” certain groups in society (which is not the same thing as a right to offend). Democracy is not without its rough edges and tough talk is part of the cut and thrust of public debate and discourse.”

2.10 Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime

The Council of Europe has also published an Explanatory Report to the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning racist and xenophobic acts committed through computer systems. This discusses the idea of incitement to hatred in a way that would also be relevant to trans-misogynistic hate speech. Here are some excerpts from this Report:

“Article 10 of the ECHR recognises the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas. Article 10 of the ECHR is applicable not only to information and ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population…

The definition contained in Article 2 of this Protocol refers to certain conduct to which the content of the material may lead, rather than to the expression of feelings/belief/aversion as contained in the material concerned. The definition builds upon existing national and international (UN, EU) definitions and documents as far as possible.

The definition requires that such material advocates, promotes, or incites hatred, discrimination or violence. “Advocates” refers to a plea in favour of hatred, discrimination or violence, “promotes” refers to an encouragement to or advancing hatred, discrimination or violence and “incites” refers to urging others to hatred, discrimination or violence. The term “violence” refers to the unlawful use of force, while the term “hatred” refers to intense dislike or enmity…

All the offences contained in the Protocol must be committed “intentionally” for criminal liability to apply. In certain cases an additional specific intentional element forms part of the offence. The drafters of the Protocol, as those of the Convention, agreed that the exact meaning of ‘intentionally’ should be left to national interpretation. Persons cannot be held criminally liable for any of the offences in this Protocol, if they have not the required intent.”

2.11 Aidan’s request for people to contact me

Yesterday Aidan asked their Facebook friends to tweet or email me, insisting that I do several things, including (1) making a public post denouncing the transphobia Aidan has had to deal with, (2) delete all of the hate speech on my blog and ban those responsible for posting, and (3) publicly apologise to Aidan.

Aidan again used the false description of “Michael Nugent’s supporters,” this time to describe people who are members of a different website called The Slymepit, which I have no association with.

Here’s an analogy, from a comment by Sarah Malone who was defending Aidan in a comment on my blog. I had mentioned that my email on Friday morning had contained link to Aidan’s defamatory blog post and to an unrelated abusive trolling comment about my dead wife. Sarah commented that:

“Furthermore, to write a blog post like this, where you detail both Aidan’s calling attention to the events concerning them last night and, the vile harrassing blog you also found in your email, as if they both represent unfair or cruel attacks on you in an even remotely similar way, is seriously low.”

Sarah’s point was that Aidan should not be associated, even indirectly, with comments published elsewhere. I agree with this. Indeed, my point was to highlight that Aidan’s post was considerably less bad than some unrelated abuse that I get. However, Aidan is associating me directly with comments published elsewhere.

I have repeatedly made it clear that I disagree with people on any website criticising other people for their personal identity or appearance on any website, and that I support the right of people on any website to use humour and ridicule about ideas and behaviour that they disagree with. I’m always happy to repeat that about any website. But I am not responsible for policing the Internet and, much as I might like to, I have no control over what happens on other websites.

If I did have control over what happens on other websites, then Aoife and Aidan would not be publishing defamatory smears about me. Nor would other people have been publishing that I am supporting and providing a haven for rapists, allowing feminists to hijack Atheist Ireland, being sexist and misogynistic, supporting feminists who are bullying people, being racist, a Fascist/Nazi/Neo-Nazi/Nazi sympathiser, an admirer of the pre-1990 Soviet Union, an Islamophobe, a creepy xenophobe, a champion of horrible people, a monster, an Irish wanker, a demented fuckwit, actually crazy, and to top it all, an allegation that people like me supported the Pedophile Information Exchange.

2.12 Some of the messages I have got about this

Here are some of the tweets and emails I got yesterday from friends of Aidan, along with my responses. To everyone who contacted me, I accept that you are good people who sincerely believe what you are saying to be true, and I respect that you are standing up for a friend who you believe has been unfairly treated. To those who have emailed, I will email you back with a link to this post.

Please note that the Facebook post that asked you to contact me contained remarks that would have prejudiced your opinion of me while you were writing to me, namely:

“Michael Nugent’s supporters seem to be largely drawn from an “anti-SJW” forum where they are calling me things like ‘it’… I particularly want cis people to step up on this as Nugent’s supporters are clearly the kind who will target those they recognise as trans.”

Firstly, I do not have supporters. Secondly, this implies that an attribute of supporting me would be targeting trans people. That is an outrageous smear against me and the people who are presumably mistakenly described here as my supporters.

Here are my responses to you:

@CuteCatriona, @Aline_Courtois, @KayACairns, @GuySerious, Chaka1987, SaoirseTV, @Sharmander, @Muir_maid, @Siobhan_Locke, @wantico, @TheDefiled666, @shaneocurry, — suggesting that transphobic comments on my site directed against Aidan are hate speech. My response: I don’t agree that they are hate speech, for the reasons that I have outlined above. I’m happy to look at it again after further study on the topic of hate speech. Also, I have a light moderation policy that encourages robust discussion about ideas, which some people may mistakenly conflate with the idea of hate speech.

@shakesnDOGS, @DaithiHartery, @Anaemic_Royalty, @MarkHoskins — various comments to the effect that my “supporters” are doing various things. My response: I don’t have supporters. People are responsible for their own behaviour.

@AdamDMurray — “By not denouncing these voices in YOUR community, you are endorsing them. Your silence is violence, @micknugent.” My response: This doesn’t make sense. People are responsible for their own actions. Also, I am not silent.

@Theresa_O’Keefe, beardy911, shaksnDOGS — various comments to the effect that Atheist Ireland and/or Atheist Ireland supporters are responsible for various things. This issue has nothing to do with Atheist Ireland.

@chaka1987  — asking me to delete the posts referring to a real breathing person as an “it”. My response: This did not happen on my blog.

@sharrow_ie — asking me to set comments to moderation. My response: I’ve done that with some words. I’m reluctant to add trans to the list, as I think discussion of trans issues is valid.

@nnisjanemoran, @AdamDMurray — comment about being an ally. My response: I have addressed this above.

@ownomanny, @Bubblenoma — asking me to write a public post about this. My response: This is it.

@mlennox — “can’t wait to read @micknugent 30,000 word screed on how this makes Mick Nugent the victim…” My response: Closer to 6,000. Why are you following the fake Twitter account set up to mock me that includes a tweet mocking people with autism?

@AtheistVeuthan — Anyone who is that popular doesn’t need to deal in reasoned discussion on or off twitter surely? My response: Sorry, I don’t know what you mean.

Thank you to everyone who tweeted or emailed. I know that you did so out of good motivations.

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{ 147 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob February 21, 2016 at 6:35 pm

“I don’t use that interpretation of the word ‘ally’. I see allies as equal partners with a shared goal and equal standards of reciprocity.”

An ally can never be an “equal partner” with someone who is actually a member of a marginalized group. You occupy fundamentally different statuses with respect to the oppression in question, and the failure to recognize that makes you a bad ally to that extent.

2 Michael Nugent February 21, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Then you are not looking for an ally. You are looking for someone with a sense of noblesse oblige, rather than a sense of partnership.

3 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm

“and Leeds United football club.”

That’s just disgusting!

4 Becca Ryan February 21, 2016 at 7:08 pm

You, as a cishet white dude, don’t get to define allyship. It is not an equal partnership as allies tend to come from the oppressive majority. If you allyship is dependent on what, marginalised and oppressed people being nice and fitting into whatever standards you hold them to, then we don’t want your allyship or your support.

5 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:10 pm

A lot to absorb here but thanks for clarifying the legal definitions of ‘hate speech': I suspect many of us will be bookmarking this page for future reference.

Too many people seem to think ‘hate speech’ is just something they hated reading rather than material which actually incites hatred, and think the onus falls on the writer to second-guess the emotional fragility of every potential reader.

Since you mentioned the Slymepit, its absurd for anyone to suggest you should be responsible for content since there is no editorial control, save the enforcement of rules against doxxing or posting illegal material.

There is an ‘ignore’ function so people don’t have to read posts from people who bore or annoy them (worse crimes than ‘offending’ someone) but that puts power and responsibility for what people read onto the reader.

The consequence of this is that when people come across opinions they disagree with they have to respond as adults and not expect an authority figure to step in and manage their reading on their behalf.

6 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Well said, Becca.

7 racismisbaddude February 21, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Becca @ 4

Thank you for talking some sense. The only way to win the hearts and minds of the majority is to keep our groups as small and as ideologically pure as possible. It doesn’t matter how normal people perceive us because we are on the right side of ourstory.

8 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:15 pm

If you allyship is dependent on what, marginalised and oppressed people being nice and fitting into whatever standards you hold them to, then we don’t want your allyship or your support.

That’s just as well because if that’s your idea of allyship you, personally, don’t get mine.

I hope up enjoy the ideological purity of your marginalisation.

9 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Bob can’t stop cis-splaining and man-splaining for a moment, can he.

Stop denying women their lived experience, Bob.

As a male, as a true ally, you should know that you, as a white cishet male, have no right to talk over women. To talk over lesbians, those you claim to support.

You are no ally.

10 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm

‘You, as a cishet white dude, don’t get to define allyship. It is not an equal partnership as allies tend to come from the oppressive majority.’

I’m a person of colour and I think Michael’s definition of allyship is sound.

Problem?

11 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:22 pm

@Cindy

I haven’t referred to trans people or women in my comments on this thread, so I don’t know why you’re accusing me here of cis-splaining and man-splaining. Nor do I see why you think I am talking over women.

12 jimthepleb February 21, 2016 at 7:25 pm

As a Bolivian, WOC of restricted growth I have to say that Bob is no ally to me. Unless he identifies as Kate.

13 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Bob @11

I think it’s to do with your writing ‘Well said, Becca’, which came across as patronising in the light of your respective genders.

Becca doesn’t need you validating her posts, and nor should you be assuming she does.

14 Aidan Rowe February 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Michael is being selective in the evidence he’s willing to engage with. I will respond in due course, but in the mean time, anyone interested should acquaint themselves with all of the evidence I provided here: https://automaticwriting1.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/michael-nugent-atheist-ireland-supports-transmisogynistic-hate-speech/ and on my twitter @kanelloscore

15 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Listen up Tigzy, Becca’s whitesplaining to you.

You thought me and Phil were your allies but we’ll never be equal.

KNOW YOUR PLACE!

16 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:34 pm

I haven’t referred to trans people or women in my comments on this thread, so I don’t know why you’re accusing me here of cis-splaining and man-splaining. Nor do I see why you think I am talking over women.

It’s not that you were talking over her, it’s that you thought patting her on the head with a

Well said, Becca

somehow validated her lived experience with your masculine authority.

17 Citizen Wolf February 21, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Becca Ryan
**You, as a cishet white dude……**

Isn’t ‘white dude’ used as a pejorative term in certain quarters. That’s not very nice Becca.

**……don’t get to define allyship**

He’s not defining it. He’s explaining his understanding of the term. Nothing wrong with explaining his position. How are any of us going to understand each other if there’s no attempt at communication. I know I’m not a psychic or able to read minds. Can you Becca?

**It is not an equal partnership as allies tend to come from the oppressive majority**

So, if I understand you correctly (remember I’m not a mind-reader), you won’t accept nor reciprocate help from someone who’s white and male? That seems like a very prejudiced viewpoint.

** If you allyship is dependent on what, marginalised and oppressed people being nice and fitting into whatever standards you hold them to…**

That’s most definitely NOT what MN said. I think that’s your prejudice showing again. He said that he would and does defend anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, color, etc, if they are marginalized and discriminated based on any of those qualities. He also hopes that those people that he does defend will be willing, in so far as they can to defend him and any others who are also subjected to discrimination. As far as I have witnessed in his writings and actions, MN doesn’t demand that anyone conform to any behavior other than decent human behavior.

18 jimthepleb February 21, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Bob, your presumption that your voice should be heard first before that of any marginalised persons in the commentary on this blog belies your self-importance and that you feel the right to have your views literally and figuratively take precedence over those you purport to support. You really need to Shut Up and Listen, to those of us with lived experience of oppression.

19 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm

@Tigzy

“I think it’s to do with your writing ‘Well said, Becca’, which came across as patronising in the light of your respective genders.

Becca doesn’t need you validating her posts, and nor should you be assuming she does.”

I think that’s an overly-charitable interpretation of Cindy’s intentions, and an uncharitable interpretation of what I wrote.

20 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:37 pm

@Shatterface

Don’t you just hate it when people feign offence in order to score cheap rhetorical points?

21 An Ardent Skeptic February 21, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Michael,

The last paragraph in Section 2.7 reads as follows:

“So Aidan has no definition of hate speech, other than suggesting that Jane is relativising. Actually, the opposite is true. Jane is trying to come to an objective definition, or as close as one can to this, and Aidan is relativising it to coincide with his own undefined opinion.”

“His” in the last sentence should be “their” according to how Aiden wishes to be referred. I did notice that you were obviously doing your best to use the terminology Aidan wishes as you used “them”, “their” etc in other places throughout the post.

I wouldn’t want this understandable slip up (because of habits we develop over a lifetime) to be used as yet another example of your lack of support for the concerns of transgender people. Therefore, I would suggest that you edit the post and then include an apology for the mistake in a footnote about the edit.

22 Citizen Wolf February 21, 2016 at 7:38 pm

@Aidan Rowe
Yes, I’ve already read your defamatory post. It’s unconvincing.

23 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm

@jimthepleb

I have lived experience of oppression. You shouldn’t be so presumptuous.

24 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

‘Ally’ has the same root as ‘alloy’, from the Old French aleier, ‘to combine’.

It doesn’t mean to subordinate or prostrate yourself to others.

25 Citizen Wolf February 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

And, btw, Aidan, I’d very much appreciate it if you could respond to MNs latest post within the hour. You know, so that I don’t get offended by your lack of attention aimed towards me.

Wait…… you still haven’t responded!?

This is an OUTRAGE!!!!!!!

26 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm

‘Listen up Tigzy, Becca’s whitesplaining to you.’

Heh. It’s been one of those days for it. One of Aidan’s supporters – @Stephanenny on twitter – just did the same, and when I voiced my concern with it, I was dismissed with a trite ‘Any time’.

Aiden seems quite happy to have racist supporters while denouncing Michael for having, in their view, transmisogynistic supporters. Hypocrite.

27 Ashling O'Brien February 21, 2016 at 7:43 pm

@Aidan,

I’ve read your blog. Can you point out which evidence you have presented there that Michael is not engaging with?

Also, can you provide us with the definition of hate-speech that you are working from as requested many times?

Thanks

28 Gunboat Diplomat February 21, 2016 at 7:44 pm

@4 Becca

“You, as a cishet white dude, don’t get to define allyship. It is not an equal partnership as allies tend to come from the oppressive majority. ”

And what about me? I’m white and cis male but I come from a working class background and was also a member of a minority oppresssed group (irish in london). Do I get to choose my definition of allyship? Or is it based on who’s more oppressed? Who decides who’s more oppressed? Its a pretty oppressive fucking world out there and most people are oppressed to some extent.

It seems to me that as you seem to have a problem with equal partnership for allys you’re in no position to lecture on equality.

Regarding identity, I recently came across this insightful lecture from the famous marxist historian EJ Hobsbawm on the rise of identity politics.
http://banmarchive.org.uk/articles/1996%20annual%20lecture.htm

He was in favour of equality for everybody. If you’re not, on the basis that a chosen group is more oppressed than another, Becca’s nuttiness is where you end up.

29 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Bob:

@Shatterface

Don’t you just hate it when people feign offence in order to score cheap rhetorical points?

Are you referring to the ‘joke’ about autistics made by someone passing himself off as ‘Mick Nugget’?

30 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

@Shatterface

I am referring to the meme of “these people are just looking for reasons to be offended because they are children/suffering from mental illness/engaged in a conspiracy/generally bad people” that seems to be extremely popular here.

31 Jack Rawlinson February 21, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Michael, I do not know you apart from what I have read on your blog and seen of you elsewhere on the internet. On that basis you strike me as an incredibly decent, thoughtful, concerned man who, unlike lazy bastards like me, actually gets out there and takes action to back up his beliefs.

The people you are wrestling with here are unworthy of the time and effort you are giving them. I know you’re a nice bloke who doesn’t like to see personal insults on his blog, so I won’t mention any names, but these people are not only hysterics, whiners and precious little spoilt-brat idiots, they are time-wasters. You have better things to do with your time than to try to reason with them at length like this. They are an irritant. They are fleas. They are no better than trolls.

Numbering the specific libels, lies and smears that hypocrite Myers levelled at you was worthwhile because it turned over a particularly dirty and troublesome rock. Engaging with the sort of abject, perspective-free moron who would suggest you are homophobic for using the word “flounce”, or that you are somehow responsible for each and every comment left on your blog, is a sheer waste of your time and energy. You would do better to just tell them to fuck off and get on with your very worthwhile life. Seriously. They are a disgraceful drain on the energy of an obviously decent man.

32 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:48 pm

And what about me? I’m white and cis male but I come from a working class background and was also a member of a minority oppresssed group (irish in london). Do I get to choose my definition of allyship?

You just used the c-word.

They don’t like it when you mention class.

33 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

I am referring to the meme of “these people are just looking for reasons to be offended because they are children/suffering from mental illness/engaged in a conspiracy/generally bad people” that seems to be extremely popular here.

You don’t see a difference between the wilful misinterpretation of a single word (‘flounced’) leading to the demonisation of someone as a dogwhistle homophobic misogynist, and misrepresenting the causes of autism?

34 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Bob @ 19

‘I think that’s an overly-charitable interpretation of Cindy’s intentions, and an uncharitable interpretation of what I wrote.’

You find my calling out of your patronising attitude to women ‘uncharitable’. Well there speaks the voice of numerous entitled dudebros everywhere.

Sorry Bob, but I don’t think you’re quite the ally you think you are.

35 jimthepleb February 21, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Bob it is not my job to educate you that your presumption that you can dominate the commentary by sitting atop the progressive stack is deeply problematic.

36 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Shatterface #15:

“You thought me and Phil were your allies but we’ll never be equal.

KNOW YOUR PLACE!”

In the comfy chair right now. I feel equally comfortable.

37 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Once people start using words like ‘class’ they’re on the slippery slope to ‘solidarity’, meaning mutual support, or common interests.

No room for special snowflakes in a world where people have to work together.

38 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Shatterface @ 36

I think the ‘together’ in that final sentence is redundant.

39 Bob February 21, 2016 at 7:59 pm

@Tigzy

I found your interpretation of my remarks as patronizing or indicative of a patronizing attitude to be uncharitable.

On reflection, however, I can see why it could reasonably be interpreted like that, and I accept that I ought to have figured out a better way to express what I wanted to express (which was that Becca has said what I would have said in response to Michael, but in terms that were clearer than I could probably manage). I’d like to apologize to Becca for not being more thoughtful in how I expressed myself.

(Oh look, I was criticized for a problematic choice of words and I managed to concede that I was wrong without writing half a dozen blog posts about it….)

40 Jack Rawlinson February 21, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Comment #4 reads like something out of The Onion. I mean, wow. So far down the rabbit hole it’s not even funny.

“…then we don’t want your allyship or your support.”

Oh no. The horror. I will never sleep again.

41 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:02 pm

@Shatterface

I don’t agree with your characterisation of what followed Michael’s use of the word “flounce”, and I don’t agree with making jokes about autism.

42 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Bob, you’ve just apologised to someone for for fuck all because a bunch of shitlords guilt-tripped you.

Don’t you see how easy your ideology makes it to manipulate you?

43 Gunboat Diplomat February 21, 2016 at 8:04 pm

@ 31 Jack Rawlinson

Personally I’m finding the discussion on these issues to be very educational. Given the internet is a new communicative forum that is being heavily used by identity politics and intersects with issues of oppression, free speech, privacy, hate speech among many others, I think its time well spent.

@ 32 shatterface

Well of course class is not a priority for identity politics, its an identity like any other, despite the fact that it intersects the oppression of every oppressed group and often either nullifies that oppression or makes it far far worse. Poor women in many societies are at a distinct disadvantage vis a vis wealthy women for example.

I suspect this might be related to the likely middle class nature of many of the activists, but of course this is not always the case and there are likely many other factors, such as the decline in the cultural importance of marx and freud Tom Wolfe noted decades ago. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/feb/21/vaughan-bell-neuroscience-human-behaviour-predictions-tom-wolfe

44 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 8:04 pm

‘Ally’ has the same root as ‘alloy’, from the Old French aleier, ‘to combine’.

It doesn’t mean to subordinate or prostrate yourself to others.

I really have to correct this: it’s “allié”.

Aleier means declaring with conviction, or adjudicating by the rule of the law.

The More You Know *rainbow*

45 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Bob @ 39

Okay, that’s progress – but this:

‘(Oh look, I was criticized for a problematic choice of words and I managed to concede that I was wrong without writing half a dozen blog posts about it….’

No. Kindly don’t do this. When you try to salvage virtue from your failings, it makes your confession look insincere. I get this a lot from well-meaning white folks who still can’t quite shake their internalised racism. It would have been much better if you had left that final paragraph out.

46 Ashling O'Brien February 21, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Can I remind everyone, all of this is because of the use of the word ‘flounced’ in a blog.

There are so many things that I would like to say right now, but out of respect for Michael, and because I know he really is sincere in his attempts to engage in a discussion in the hope of reaching a mature, mutual and respectful understanding, I’m holding my own counsel.

47 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:09 pm

@Shatterface

Your comment makes it sounds like I’ve suffered some kind of harm or loss in apologizing. I haven’t. It cost me absolutely nothing, and will make me think twice before I make similar comments in future, which will make it easier for me to express myself.

48 Jack Rawlinson February 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm

#43 “Personally I’m finding the discussion on these issues to be very educational. ”

Bully for you. That has nothing to do with my point, which is that these fulminating self-righteous people are a waste of Michael’s valuable time.

49 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:15 pm

@Tigzy

“No. Kindly don’t do this. When you try to salvage virtue from your failings, it makes your confession look insincere. I get this a lot from well-meaning white folks who still can’t quite shake their internalised racism. It would have been much better if you had left that final paragraph out.”

I didn’t mean to suggest that my apology was “virtuous” – on the contrary, I meant to suggest that it was easy to do, and that it would have been easy for Michael to simply have apologized for his use of the word flounce, rather than to expend so much energy denying that he had been, at best, careless in his choice of words.

It is one thing to be careless, and another to be obstinate when one’s carelessness is pointed out.

50 Michael Nugent February 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Just a reminder that I ask people, while commenting here, to treat people respectfully while robustly criticising their ideas.

51 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

@Tigzy

Apologies for bothering you.

52 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Your comment makes it sounds like I’ve suffered some kind of harm or loss in apologizing. I haven’t. It cost me absolutely nothing, and will make me think twice before I make similar comments in future, which will make it easier for me to express myself.

If a few words posted by complete strangers on the Internet is enough to manipulate you can’t you see that associating only with people who share the same ideology can warp your perception?

Do you know how cults work?

53 Gunboat Diplomat February 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm

@ 48 Jack Ralwinson

These “fulminating self righteous people” are part of a cultural change that has been taking place over the past few years. You dismiss them at your peril, as they intersect with several of MN and atheist Irelands goals of social justice. I don’t know of anyone else who has engaged in such detail and in such an honest open spirit of frank discussion, despite often outrageous provocations. MN is doing a service for all those interested in social justice (including myself) and creating a resource that will be if use in the future.

54 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Sorry Michael. But Ashling @ 46 really brought home the…absurdity of it all.

Honestly, these people – Aoife & Aiden – they’re not worth all this time and effort. You know that both of them can be safely ignored, right?

55 Citizen Wolf February 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

@Michael Nugent
Btw, Michael, regarding this whole supporters-gate issue, I was wondering what sort of supporters model we should be following.

Should it be:

A) Football supporters type of model, where we pay annual subscriptions for which we get in return, a little booklet with the team loggo and our name saying we’re a supporter, reduced rates on certain merchandise, a supporters scarf, subscription to an online magazine etc.

or

B) Paid shill type of model, were we subvert online comment sections and say fawning things about your great character and works, in return for which we get a monthly cheque.

Because if it’s B, I haven’t gotten any bloody cheques yet.

56 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

@Shatterface

So, your theory is that I’m a member of a sort of cult and that I am so committed to this ideology that I am willing to change my opinion in response to comments from people who don’t clearly share that ideology.

Sounds like a pretty ineffective cult.

Now, if I were part of a group that told me that whenever someone disagrees with me it’s because they are brainwashed, or engaged in a conspiracy against me, or just stupid, I guess I would be less inclined to change my views…

57 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 8:36 pm

Bob @ 51

I take it you saw what I wrote in response to you before Michael deleted it?

58 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:38 pm

@Tigzy 57

Sure. (Which was nothing malicious, for those keeping score at home)

59 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Aleier means declaring with conviction, or adjudicating by the rule of the law

Are you Francosplaining?

60 Pitchguest February 21, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Good lord. Michael, I realise that seeing the potential in people, no matter how stubborn they are, is a virtue, but look at their blog. This Aidan person is just repeatedly begging the question and doesn’t even attempt to consider the possibility they might be wrong. Your time is better spent in the pub.

61 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Bob

Good. However, once again, you’ve demonstrated the problem you have with the concept of intent.

It *was* malicious. You have no idea.

62 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:45 pm

@Tigzy

Just trying to extend the charity towards you that you apparently like to deny to others.

63 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Shatterface 59:

Bet your ass I am! (I forgot to mention “aleier” and “alleging” have similar meanings, but I eat crayons for a living, so there’s that.)

Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Michael supports Manchester United.

Disgusting!

(am I doing this right?)

64 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Bob

I do not need you extending your charity towards me. Once again, you’re being patronising. It’s almost as if we’re all ‘little people’ who need your lofty condesension. Especially, it seems, if we’re women or PoCs.

65 Mark Hoskins February 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Well done on mansplaining hate speech Michael.

66 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Bob #62:

“Just trying to extend the charity towards you that you apparently like to deny to others.”

I’m pretty sure more people here have shown more charity towards your crew than anyone of said crew has.

67 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 8:54 pm

So Aidan Rowe just accused me of being a bigot, and of not telling the truth when relating the story of well known trans activist Stefonknee.

Here is a story on her. Google: The Transgender Project: Stefonknee Wolscht

She actually exists. I am not making anything up. I have done my research, Aidan. Stefonknee identifies as a 6 year old girl. She is a 52 year old 6ft5…girl. She has fathered seven children. She met her ‘dad’ on fetish site fetlife. This is all in the public domain. She even has a youtube channel, and numerous photos of her if you google it.

Aidan’s tweet:

Incidentally, this (from MN’s blog) is the Cindy that @micknugent thinks is a good-faith commenter and not a bigot: (Which links to where I told Stefonknee’s story).

Numerous other commenters here are very familiar with the story of Stefonknee.

I do my research. I am very thorough.

You should withdraw your comment, Aidan.

68 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

@Tigzy

Everyone deserves to have their remarks interpreted charitably, both as a matter of basic decency and as a way of making productive discussion more likely. To suggest that you are entitled to it is not to imply that you need it (though given your penchant for resorting to insults when you run out of arguments, I suspect it would benefit you a lot).

69 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Mark #65:

You seem suspiciously male, if I have to go by your avatar/nym.

Could you stop mansplaining mansplaining?

Or maybe you too identify as an attack helicopter? That would be kind of awesome.

70 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Now, if I were part of a group that told me that whenever someone disagrees with me it’s because they are brainwashed, or engaged in a conspiracy against me, or just stupid, I guess I would be less inclined to change my views…

If I start using common words like ‘ally’ contrary to their normal use, or if I have to work out where in a hierarchy I stand and who to defer to before I open my mouth, I’ll start wondering if I am in a cult.

71 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Bob #67:

“Everyone deserves to have their remarks interpreted charitably, both as a matter of basic decency and as a way of making productive discussion more likely”

So, about that “flounce” thing…

72 Bob February 21, 2016 at 8:58 pm

@Phil,

“I’m pretty sure more people here have shown more charity towards your crew than anyone of said crew has.”

That might be because some of the worst comments have been removed by Michael.

73 Aneris February 21, 2016 at 8:58 pm

I’ve seen this routine too many times from the social justice warriors to believe them anything. It didn’t even begin with “flounce” but with a tribal premise that Michael Nugent is not a social justice warrior himself. Evidently, you can dedicate your life’s work to social justice — it isn’t enough. They are only concerned about their ideology. It’s known from too many places how they harass, dox, threaten, try to get people fired in the name of their particular ideology. It’s a mistake to approach these people with any seriousness.

You cannot ignore them, but it is a mistake to address anything they want addressed. One “flounce” become ten topics. Nobody can follow anymore but your alleged “dubious views” are smeared all over the place. That’s exactly how it works. Rich data in countless comments is then exploited with confirmation bias, selective perception which condenses into reporting bias: rinse and repeat. Since social justice warriors put most effort into “social-justicier-than-thou”, and then on attacking (their postmodern hogwash has the “gaze” as one important concept), you become the subject of this gaze.

Where Creationists and religios people try to move the burden of proof, the social justice warriors do this with accusations. You want to defend yourself and address concerns, and your cooperative behaviour is exploited and abused. They will simply add more and more and thus never have to justify anything, themselves.

74 Bob February 21, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Phil #67:

“So, about that “flounce” thing…”

The charitable way to interpret that is that Michael unknowingly used a word that had homophobic connotations, given the context in which it was used.

That’s not a capital offence – people do that sort of thing all the time. My objection was to Michael’s subsequent behaviour, which was to defend his behaviour and attack those who had made the original criticism. I’ve subsequently been caught up replying to other commentators who have defended things far worse than anything I’ve ever heard Michael say.

75 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 9:07 pm

bob #71:

“That might be because some of the worst comments have been removed by Michael.”

Or again, it might not. Michael has clearly explained in the OP why he deleted some posts, and has explained their content.

Now, if your thrill is to try and paint Michael as an ass by claiming he deleted some horrible comments, it’s your dog-given right.

But that shit doesn’t work on normal people, so good luck with that.

76 Pitchguest February 21, 2016 at 9:08 pm

#56

No, what Shatterface is saying, Bob, is that you change your opinion and tone depending on who you’re addressing. That’s what cults do. Tigzy doesn’t deserve more or less of your respect and adherence simply because he’s a ‘person of colour’, and your certainly don’t have to apologise to him simply because of his say so. If you want to say, ‘Well said, Becca’, that’s your prerogative. Stand by your convictions.

77 Bob February 21, 2016 at 9:16 pm

@Pitchguest

The issue wasn’t about giving Tigzy respect – it was about respecting Becca, and whether Tigzy’s claims were sincere or not, the point was a good one.

My convictions tell me that I would be a hypocrite to accuse Michael of acting badly by not reflecting on his behaviour, while not doing the same thing myself, merely to avoid conceding a point (albeit a rhetorical one) to someone on the opposite side of an argument.

78 Al C February 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm

#72
“I’ve seen this routine too many times from the social justice warriors to believe them anything. It didn’t even begin with “flounce” but with a tribal premise that Michael Nugent is not a social justice warrior himself. Evidently, you can dedicate your life’s work to social justice — it isn’t enough. They are only concerned about their ideology. It’s known from too many places how they harass, dox, threaten, try to get people fired in the name of their particular ideology. It’s a mistake to approach these people with any seriousness. ”

So what is a social justice warrior by your definition? Some sort of cyberbully, by virtue of “their ideology”? Do you have examples of “social justice warriors” engaging in the behaviour you describe?

Are you saying Michael fights for social justice but is not a social justice warrior? Or is he?…Then what is the difference?

79 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Bob @67

Yeah, what Phil @70 said. Dude beat me to punch.

80 Kristine February 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Aneris – hammer, nail, head. You hit it. The parallels between the tactics of Gish-Galloping creationists and these predatory, post-Kitzmiller human web spiders who trawl for quote mines and masquerade as “freethinkers” and “activists” is beyond alarming.

81 Ashling O'Brien February 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm

@ Bob #67

“Everyone deserves to have their remarks interpreted charitably, both as a matter of basic decency and as a way of making productive discussion more likely. ”

I’m curious, will you be extending the same courtesy to Michael any time soon?

82 Bob February 21, 2016 at 9:30 pm

@Ashling O’Brien

“I’m curious, will you be extending the same courtesy to Michael any time soon?”

As I’ve said above, the most charitable interpretation is that Michael used the word without realizing that it could reasonably be interpreted to have homophobic connotations in the context in which he used it.

The fact that Michael’s initial reaction was to defend himself against the idea that he is some kind of secret homophobe rather misses the point. Good allies make mistakes all the time. The best allies are quick to recognize and acknowledge that.

83 Pitchguest February 21, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Also, is this whole thing really predicated on Michael using the word ‘flounce’ at one point? Really? ‘Flounce’? That word that has been in circulation since before Charles Dickens wrote it in ‘A House to Let’? That word? The word that has, quite literally, nothing to do with either gay or trans? Where did Aoife even get that from?

I’m just flabbergasted. It reads like a parody sketch. Not to mention the ‘transmisogyny’ debacle. I think Aidan and Aoife needs to both take a step back and rethink their strategy at this point.

84 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Al C @ 76

It’s kinda like North Korea. Now in general, democratic peoples’ republics are good things (in comparison to the alternatives, at least). However, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of North Korea is not a good thing. Not at all.

So it is with social justice and ‘Social Justice Warriors’.

Also, the ‘warriors’ bit is kinda like how we sometimes nickname short people as ‘Lofty’. A fact which appears to elude many SJWs, it seems, as some have made a few half-hearted attempts to render it an ’empowering’ appellation.

85 Tezcatlipoca February 21, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Michael, I appreciate and support your definition of ally. When we would organize Xicano students here in the Midwest (USA) we would often have discussions on coalition building and working with allies (and not working with them). It is an act of mutual respect to have discourse, especially when there is disagreement. It takes significantly more effort.

86 Jan Steen February 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

SF author Will Shetterley has written an insightful book, How to make a Social Justice Warrior. He also has a blog called <Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage. I would urge Michael, and others, to take that blog title as a piece of sound advice.

You are wasting your time trying to reason with people like Aidan, Aoife, and Bob, who have no intention of argueing in good faith. They are identitarians; they have already classified you as “a member of a group that is not an oppressed minority who is not a good ally.” A “good ally” being someone who will never criticize a member of an oppressed minority. Any arguments that you put forward will either be ignored or twisted beyond recognition. Any argument from them is almost invariably a strawman, a Kafka trap, or a complete fabrication. They deal in baseless assertions, while behaving as selfrighteous bigots (in their speak, they are “punching up”).

The way to interact with such people is to show them (or rather the onlookers) your evidence once, and then either ignore or mock the hell out of them. Reasonable people will understand, based on your evidence, that you are not a homophobic, transphobic, misogynist racist who supports the wrong football club. Believe me.

You are being distracted from your valuable work and from the pleasures of life by a small clique of complete nobodies who managed to get hold of a virtual megaphone in the shape of a Twitter account or a shitty blog, with which they are now trying to harass you. Do not engage. You empower them by engaging them. Ignore them (once you have made your point) or laugh at them. That’s all they deserve.

87 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Bob @ 82

‘Good allies make mistakes all the time. The best allies are quick to recognize and acknowledge that.’

In which case, you’ll recognise that you’ve been highly patronising to both Becca and myself, right? And you’ll own that without any further attempts at trying to justify it, attempting to salvage a proclamation of virtue from it and/or inserting a snide little aside – right?

88 Jan Steen February 21, 2016 at 9:48 pm

@Becca Ryan,

You, as a cishet white dude, don’t get to define allyship. It is not an equal partnership as allies tend to come from the oppressive majority. If you allyship is dependent on what, marginalised and oppressed people being nice and fitting into whatever standards you hold them to, then we don’t want your allyship or your support.

1. cishet white dude
2. oppressive majority
3. marginalized and oppressed people
4. we don’t want your allyship or your support

Bingo! Four empty, self-righteous SJW clichés in a row. Where can I claim my prize?

89 Ashling O'Brien February 21, 2016 at 9:48 pm

@Bob #80

That fact is that Aoife’s initial reaction to call Michael out for homophobia for using the word ‘flounced’ was, without any doubt at all, the least charitable position she could have taken. There was nothing reasonable about her assertion. Will you be asking Aoife to reflect on this?

You are also assuming that Michael didn’t take time to reflect on the use of this word. Do you think he wrote the ‘flounced’ blog without engaging in reflection of any kind? If you think that I suggest you read it again. Having reflected, he then came to the conclusion that no, he is not some kind of secret homophobe. Those who know him and have worked with him on various campaigns in the past agreed, no – he is not some kind of secret homophobe. He has the right then to defend his reputation.

Would you have been more satisfied if Michael had beaten his chest crying mea culpa, mea maxima culpa? Is that what this boils down to?

The most charitable interpretation is that Michael used a common word to describe an action, nothing more, nothing less.

“Good allies make mistakes all the time. The best allies are quick to recognize and acknowledge that”

Have you any idea how patronising that sounds? Please try not to patronise me.

90 Mada February 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm

OK….I figure I’m going to go all SJW activist with this one, no, I’m not going to twist anybody’s words in an effort to find offense but I am, however going to make it all about ME.

See, I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place on this issue of trans* women vs cis women on this whole bathroom issue and the greater issue of access to women only spaces.

As a white cis hetero AMAB ( read the enemy of all things SJW ) I don’t have a dog in this fight and not one fellow cisman who I’ve discussed this whole bathroom thing with has an issue with cis women entering a men only space, especially if they really “gotta go” so we can safely classify any cis man’s objections to women entering men only spaces as an “unpopular” opinion.

Having no dogs in the fight I’m forced to make a choice between feminists wanting to keep their women only spaces and trans* women’s demands for access to those spaces. I can either be labeled an MRA anti-feminist or a transphobe. I suppose I could simply shut up, but that’s not an option as I’m genetically disposed to being opinionated, sorry.

Now I don’t have any trans* people in my life and I’m not about to make any attempt to go meet any because I’ll just get labelled a creep who has some sort of trans fetish if I initiate contact but I do have several cis women in my life who have voiced concerns regarding “men” in the ladies room. I know what side my bread is buttered on so I’ll take the transphobe label as a matter of self preservation and continue to use my lived experiences as a guide in determining just which group I throw my support behind.

There’s that whole Schrodinger’s Rapist thing to take into consideration too. Who am I to discount a cis woman’s concerns with having the visibly trans* sharing a very personal space.

Gender neutral bathrooms, change rooms and shelters for the win ? Maybe in some place weird, like Europe, but I can’t see that idea flying here.

Pass the popcorn….please.

91 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 9:55 pm

@Jan Steen 86

Evolutionary psychologist Gad Saad related a really intresting story about how some SJWs chose to attack him for whatever reason. He immediately informed them that he was a short, balding, Lebanese man, and they *left him alone* after that. They realized that, where identity politics are in play, that they could not get away with savaging a minority.

Of course, that doesn’t stop some well known people from accusing famous ex-muslims from being ‘porch monkeys’ and so on….

92 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Ashling is right.

93 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 10:06 pm

I wish there was a word for treating someone differently according to their sex, race, sexual preference, etc.

94 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Re: Aiden’s claim to having been misgendered.

I might have missed something, but has Aiden stated outright what gender they identify as? It would help to know, as it might help prevent any further mishaps.

Aiden claims on their twitter bio to be a ‘queer shapeshifter’. I’m not sure if that’s a gender, so it would be appreciated if they could clarify this.

95 Jack Rawlinson February 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

#53 Gunboat Diplomat: “These “fulminating self righteous people” are part of a cultural change that has been taking place over the past few years.”

Yes, but only in the fake ivory rent-controlled apartments of post-modernist academic airheads and their educationally subnormal and deeply precious dupes. You may have noticed that in spite of your best efforts, your sort have not achieved the slightest traction outside of your own snotty little pseudo-liberal echo-chambers and a few opportunistic hit-hungry pieces in the mainstream media. The world at large thinks you’re just the latest bunch of self-important sparts deluded by your own sense of ineffable political sanctity.

“You dismiss them at your peril”

Ooh. Ooh. At my peril? Oh dear. Once again my sleeping pattern is under threat.

I’m 56 years old, matey. I’ve seen your dismal sort come and go with variations of the same dirge-like theme about once every decade since I was in my teens. It’s tiresome. It’s predictable. And you will fade and die in a storm of derision that will subside to a doldrums of disinterest just as surely as the SWP and the Dworkinites and the RadFems of the eighties did. Want to take a small wager on that? You’re just making bloody fools of yourselves.

96 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Oh, dear. Looks like Aidan wasn’t always careful about them’s choice of words:

@KanellosCORE
Dublin South in middle class Dublin elects right-wing cunt shocker #ge
26 Feb 2011

https://twitter.com/KanellosCORE/status/41537837643993088?s=17

Didn’t them realise them was using words that hate women?

97 Jack Rawlinson February 21, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Misuse of the word “disinterest” permitted for reasons of alliterative charm. Man, I rock.

98 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Tigzy #93:

Comment #48 on the relevant thread.

99 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Shatterface #95

@KanellosCORE
Dublin South in middle class Dublin elects right-wing cunt shocker #ge
26 Feb 2011

So Aidan uses a misogynist term and dismisses the concerns of rape victims (over in the other thread he said that the belief that ‘negotiation = coerced sex’ could be disregarded because the rape victims who believe this are but a tiny # of people).

100 Lancelot Gobbo February 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I have a problem with this concept of being an ally as currently defined by soi-disant oppressed types who come from wealthy families in the western world and attend expensive universities. The problem is that it assigns an inferior, supporting role to one’s opinion. If I want to advance women’s rights, for example, I don’t see why my arguments for that cause shouldn’t be as valid or be just as worthy of being heard as anyone’s. If they are good arguments they will survive, and if not they will sink without trace and I shall be embarrassed. But to assign me the status of an ally as currently defined is simply to tell me I must agree with what the main protagonists say, never deviate from their line at all, and just do as I’m told. Frankly, anyone telling me that is my position in the world isn’t someone I can support at all. Their cause might be worthy, but they themselves have lost sight of the equality that we ought to be aiming to achieve. So, Bob, enough of micro-managing my ally status. I don’t want to be allied with you. I’ll spend what time and energy I can on causes I believe in, but I’ll always disagree with a shithead like you.

101 Jan Steen February 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm

@Cindy,

Of course, that doesn’t stop some well known people from accusing famous ex-muslims from being ‘porch monkeys’ and so on….

But of course. Once a moaom (member of an oppressed minority), always a moaom. How dare these people leave their faith and thereby become less oppressed? Marginalized people have to know their place. And stay there.

102 Guestus Aurelius February 21, 2016 at 10:20 pm

@39 Bob

@Tigzy

I found your interpretation of my remarks as patronizing or indicative of a patronizing attitude to be uncharitable.

On reflection, however, I can see why it could reasonably be interpreted like that, and I accept that I ought to have figured out a better way to express what I wanted to express (which was that Becca has said what I would have said in response to Michael, but in terms that were clearer than I could probably manage). I’d like to apologize to Becca for not being more thoughtful in how I expressed myself.

(Oh look, I was criticized for a problematic choice of words and I managed to concede that I was wrong without writing half a dozen blog posts about it….)

I applaud you, Bob. If all the privileged people would only do exactly this every time they were “called out” by someone claiming to represent oppressed people, then the world would be a better place.

Thank you for leading by example, Bob. You’re making a difference.

103 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Guestus #101

I am especially impressed with how Bob is standing up for the rights of horrifically oppressed ‘women’ who happen to look like 1:1 clones of men like Arnold Schwarzenegger to use and to be safe in women’s bathrooms/changerooms/domestic violence shelters since, clearly, an ultra masculine man who secretly identifies as a woman BUT DOES NOTHING TO CHANGE HIS APPEARANCE is in danger of being murdered in a mens’ bathroom.

104 Guestus Aurelius February 21, 2016 at 10:24 pm

@52 Shatterface

Your comment makes it sounds like I’ve suffered some kind of harm or loss in apologizing. I haven’t. It cost me absolutely nothing, and will make me think twice before I make similar comments in future, which will make it easier for me to express myself.

If a few words posted by complete strangers on the Internet is enough to manipulate you can’t you see that associating only with people who share the same ideology can warp your perception?

Do you know how cults work?

Uh, if Bob were in a cult, don’t you think he’d already know that?

105 Kristine February 21, 2016 at 10:25 pm

“Didn’t them realise them was using words that hate women?”
IOWWDO syndrome – It’s OK When We Do It.
WWSJWD? Whatever it is, IOWWDO! Imagine that on a shirt.
Actually, we could just reduce their blatherings to acronyms – saves time.
cishet white dude – CWD
oppressive majority – opmaj
marginalized and oppressed people – MOP
we don’t want your allyship or your support – WAH!
Come to think of it, a lot of jargon could just be abbreviated as WAH!

106 Kristine February 21, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Oops – IOWWDI.

107 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Lancelot #99

Soit-disant.

#Frenchsplaining

I hope it trends.

108 Michael Nugent February 21, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Mark Hoskins wrote:

“Well done on mansplaining hate speech Michael.”

I’ve responded to Mark here:

Was Jane Donnelly mansplaining to Mark Hoskins?

109 Tigzy February 21, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Phil @ 97

Ah right. An ‘AMAB transgender queer’ as opposed to a ‘queer shapeshifter’.

Glad that’s been cleared up, then.

110 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Tigzy #109:

To be honest, I skipped most of their “contributions”.

It took me a while, along with search functions, to know they identified as such.

Whatever I think of them (not very nice), I’ll stick to their pronouns. For a while. Then I’ll revert back to “pants”. Then we can all witness Bab having hysterics.

Should be fun.

111 Jan Steen February 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm

“queer shapeshifter”

Maybe Aidan identifies as an amoeba.

112 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Should have been Bob. :/

113 Aneris February 21, 2016 at 10:38 pm

Al C wrote: So what is a social justice warrior by your definition? Some sort of cyberbully, by virtue of “their ideology”? Do you have examples of “social justice warriors” engaging in the behaviour you describe?

I don’t have a crisp definition, and in fact nobody does. It’s quite complicated and I can only offer a simplification. It starts with the premise that people actually agree on the causes, for example equality for women. Social justice warriors direct their energy towards people who are already, more or less, on the same page. The atheist-skeptic movement has been generally an ally for the LGBTX rainbow. Social,justice warriors never emerge to combat KKK, or engage with reactionary republicans. They invariably turn up in communities that are already open to these causes.

1) they need numbers for their tactics to work.
2) they need an audience that cheers them on.
3) they need foils that are actually sympathetic to the cause, otherwise they could not manipulate them, and the audience.

I believe Critical Race Theory is a pretty good candidate of an explanation that covers a great bulk of the content of the ideology. It features radical identity politics with race and gender essentialist notions. The violation of this makes headlines as “cultural appropriation”. You find storytelling and narratives as an important tenet. “Lived experience” and such buzzwords come to mind. It also features “Intersectionality” which is a key concept. This was popularized by Kimberlé Crenshaw, one co-founder of the Critical Race Theory movement. The other influental name is Richard Delgado, who did work on — now it gets spooky — hate speech.

So if I had one pick, I’d say social justice warriors are Critical Race Theory adherents. But doesn’t tell you the whole story!
This belongs broadly into the postmodernist corner, i.e. post-structuralism, cultural relativism and so on. This is also a good pick, for a number of reasons, and also bridges over to postmodernist “dialogue” that is notoriously slippery and filled with word games and obscurantism. You know you argue with postmodernists when it feels like wrestling a weasel-eel (electric eel, if this is a social justice warrior postmodernist).

Maybe even more typical is however the structure of social justice warrior discourse, i.e. the methods with which the content is communicated. Here this movement truly shines. A large part is simply trolling in the most ordinary sense: injecting disruptive talking points to derail a conversation. The key trick is that the content sort of excuses the behavior as necessary and worthy. Hence, it pays off that people are generally sympathetic to the causes. It becomes an “ok-derail” in the eyes of many, who want to show that they also find the cause worthwhile.

This creates a particular dynamic together with a third element of social media vanity and identity to an online tribe: saying that you also want equality for women is not enough anymore. It’s what a biologist might call cheap signalling. It’s easy to fake, hence not good enough to assert identity to the tribe. The ideology is structured as such that you might have “internalized misogyny” or in general terms, have a false conciousness. Maybe you do not really want change, maybe you only say so. Maybe you are a dreaded “brogressive”. The ideology is filled with ideas that are like thought control: have you done enough?

Social justice warriors thus go “fighting the good fight” feeling they are on “the right side of history” — these are indeed common terms, as the whole thing is quite a remarkable memplex of ideas and catchphrases and tought terminating cliché that shield it. By policing their neighbour, they are seen and by that gain social currency in their circle. They show that they “really mean it” and at the same time the evil forces of misogyny, patriarchy etc become tangible. This is a powerful confirmation, it creates emotional investment and it is rewarded by cheers and support from other social justice warriors. This leaves out a lot that could be said.

Eventually, these people don’t care about what is true. This is not where the incentive is, it can be even threatening, since disagreement can make someone the next foil (and thus outcast). The agreement is not mediated through complicated discussions and truth-seeking, but it’s the premise of being in this whole faction in the first place: you agree ideologically, and this is most important. Again you find that the ideology shields itself exceptionally well: e.g. there are victims of abuse who need support (this is again the agreeable core, which is rhetorically exploited).

But since truth isn’t the important thing, which gels well with postmodernist thought, the movement is remarkeable how it adopted practically every shady tactic you can think of. This is often summed up “the end justifies the means”. The takeaway is: they don’t care about what happened, or who is right. They have entirely different motivations and incentives. Aidan earns social justice points, gets cheers and moral support from peers, and has the feeling of “doing something”. Attacking Michael Nugent is overcoming cheap-signalling, which he can afford since Mick has made known that he is sympathetic to Richard Dawkins, doesn’t share the SJW ideology sketched out here, and provides platform of people — such as myself — who are extremely critical of it.

That still an incomplete picture. I also believe certain psychological traits such as “Right Wing Authoritarianism” (cf Altemeyer) play an important role; Authoritarianism in general; the “Feeler” trait that makes people more vulnerable to emotional manipulation; maybe helicopter parenting and millenial angst; there is an element from therapy and abuse, i.e. DARVO tactics, drama triangle etc. Maybe a cultural shift from dignity culture to victimhood culture is at play, as Jonathan Haidt suggests.

Who’s the policemen who shouts “hey you there!” and thus with his gaze turn the other person into the subject? The social justice warriors do this, hence “witch hunt” or thought police is often invoked. No surprise that postmodern thinkers like Althusser dealt with such things. Challenge the hegemony/prerogative of interpretstion: you need to make THEM the subject, and not accept their police-role, and the “narrative” they want to establish. Althusser was the teacher of many postmodernists, like Foucault, who appears on top of Aidan Rowe’s blog.

114 Gunboat Diplomat February 21, 2016 at 10:39 pm

95 @jack rawlinson

That’s a lot of vitriol in one post. You might have more in common with some factions of the “SJW’s” than you realise. Lets agree to disagree about the relative value of MN’s work in this area..

115 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm

It would be oh so much better if Aidan identified just as Aidan.

Be yourself kid, and don’t try to smear other people because your feels are hurt.

116 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Aneris #113:

“I don’t have a crisp definition, and in fact nobody does. It’s quite complicated and I can only offer a simplification”

No, SJW is pretty much defined.

Social Justice is a good cause. A great one actually.

But fighting for it as a nobody keyboard warrior on the internet is ridiculous, especially when you witness the way they’re acting.Aidan and friends are great examples.

Social Justice activists, I can get behind. But SJWs are not activists. The most active thing they ever do is turn on their computers. Literally.

117 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Nobody – at least on the Left – mocks ‘social justice activists’ or ‘social justice advocates’.

The scorn is reserved for ‘social justice warriors’.

You can liken SJW to MRAs. After all, nobody sensible could actively oppose men’s rights could they? That’s just part of social justice.

But ‘MRA’ is understood to mean something beyond advocating for paternity rights, etc.

118 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm

I don’t want to worry you Aiden but given your incontinence on Twitter how long do you think it would take someone willing to wade through your posts to find something ‘problematic’ on race?

Or Islam, since the soft-peddling on Islam by the LGBT community is comparatively recent.

Or, since queershapeshifter is clearly a neologism concocted very, very recently, on transpolitics?

119 Bob February 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm

@Tigzy 87

“In which case, you’ll recognise that you’ve been highly patronising to both Becca and myself, right? And you’ll own that without any further attempts at trying to justify it, attempting to salvage a proclamation of virtue from it and/or inserting a snide little aside – right?”

I don’t know why you think I have been highly patronizing towards you. I have tried, and am trying to be respectful towards you, despite the fact that you have not returned the courtesy.

@Ashling

“That fact is that Aoife’s initial reaction to call Michael out for homophobia for using the word ‘flounced’ was, without any doubt at all, the least charitable position she could have taken. There was nothing reasonable about her assertion. Will you be asking Aoife to reflect on this?”

I don’t agree that Aoife’s interpretation was the least charitable position she could have taken, or that there was nothing reasonable about her assertion.

“You are also assuming that Michael didn’t take time to reflect on the use of this word.”

I think there is good evidence to support that assumption.

“Do you think he wrote the ‘flounced’ blog without engaging in reflection of any kind?”

Yes (or if he did reflect, it was the wrong sort of reflection)- his initial response was to point to his work on LGBT rights issues, which is evidence that he misunderstood (and still misunderstands) Aoife’s original claim. He also spent a lot of time discussing dictionary definitions of the word “flounce” and trying to score a “gotcha” on Aoife by pointing to how other people on FTB have used the word. You’re not likely to find evidence for the claim that “flounce” has homophobic connotations in a dictionary (though if he had consulted a thesaurus that might have given him more pause for thought). Instead of wasting his time on these blogs, he ought to have simply asked the opinion of LGBT people (preferably Irish ones), and trusted them to know whether words have homophobic connotations.

“Would you have been more satisfied if Michael had beaten his chest crying mea culpa, mea maxima culpa? Is that what this boils down to?”

I would have been satisfied if Michael had edited the blog to use a different expression (“stormed off” works perfectly well) and made a brief note of apology at the end of the piece, explaining that he made a simple mistake, and did not realize that the word had the connotations that it has.

“Have you any idea how patronising that sounds? Please try not to patronise me.”

I don’t have any idea how patronising that sounds. Apparently there are lots of people commenting here who don’t understand what it means to be a good ally to LGBT people.

120 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 11:38 pm

Shatterface @118

According to Aidan, lesbians who value their privacy and who do not want to be at risk of being raped by cismen who use gender identity laws to gain access to women’s private spaces are transphobic pieces of shit who should shut the hell up, because Adian is the only true victim here.

I mean, how dare lesbians worry about rape. The nerve of those women!

Thank god they Bob can mansplain to the lesbians and Aidan can sit back and nonchalantly accuse them of bigotry should they have the unmitigated gall to worry about their personal safety.

121 Phil Giordana FCD February 21, 2016 at 11:39 pm

“I don’t have any idea how patronising that sounds. Apparently there are lots of people commenting here who don’t understand what it means to be a good ally to LGBT people.”

Thank fog you’re here to tell us all how it’s supposed to be !

Any more delusions of grandeur?

122 Shatterface February 21, 2016 at 11:40 pm

I don’t have any idea how patronising that sounds. Apparently there are lots of people commenting here who don’t understand what it means to be a good ally to LGBT people.

I’ve read you description and it sounds like being the Gimp from Pulp Fiction.

123 Cindy February 21, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Oh yeah, and I would like to point out that two of the women here, you know, members of an *oppressed* class, one a sexual abuse survivor, explained their concerns re rape, and they were ignored by the penis-owners who claim to stand for marginalized peoples.

These.women.were.ignored.

Let that sink in.

124 Bob February 21, 2016 at 11:45 pm

@Shatterface

I confess I’m having trouble recalling the scene in Pulp fiction where the gimp decides to acknowledge the fact that he does not have the experiences of marginalization that some of his friends possess, and decides to give them the benefit of the doubt when they criticize him, rather than assume that they are engaged in a smear campaign against him.

Is it in the director’s cut?

125 Lancelot Gobbo February 21, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Bob wrote:
“Apparently there are lots of people commenting here who don’t understand what it means to be a good ally to LGBT people.”

And there you go again.
Please understand that it is possible to be passionately involved in fighting for something without being an ally as described by your very narrow definition. I am not willing to be a follower, a toady who simply agrees with your every grunt, Napoleon. I am my own pig. Can you see where I am coming from? Just because I agree with your cause does not mean I must lose my own agency and subsume all thoughts and opinions under yours. I want you to be equal, but not more equal. You have absolutely no idea where I fall on the LGBTQ2S>vanilla cis-het spectrum, and you have no idea what I have done about it. But I’m willing to bet you’re quite capable of telling me I’m a bad ally simply because I won’t give up my own intellectual freedom and grunt in agreement whenever you come up with a new diktat.

126 tina February 22, 2016 at 12:01 am

Ashling @89
“Would you have been more satisfied if Michael had beaten his chest crying mea culpa, mea maxima culpa? Is that what this boils down to?”

Of course. But then, they’ve got you if that’s what you do. Just like the priests, so you have to return again and again for absolution… and they can go on feeling good about themselves being authoritarian monsters.

127 Bob February 22, 2016 at 12:06 am

@Lancelot Gobbo

“Please understand that it is possible to be passionately involved in fighting for something without being an ally as described by your very narrow definition.”

Of course it is. But if you fight for the interests of other people without also being a good ally to them, you are more likely to disrespect those people. If you care about someone’s interests you are likely to also want to ensure you treat them with respect.

“I am not willing to be a follower, a toady who simply agrees with your every grunt, Napoleon. I am my own pig. Can you see where I am coming from?”

That isn’t how I understand what it means to be a good ally. If that was what being an ally meant, it wouldn’t be a coherent concept, since marginalized people disagree about virtually every topic, so allies would be expected to endorse lots of contradictory positions.

The aspect of being a good ally that matters in this case, is the need for the ally to recognize important differences between their position and experiences and those of the people they want to support. That does not entail assuming that the opinions of a marginalized person are necessarily correct, and it does not entail that you cannot argue against them.

128 Jack Rawlinson February 22, 2016 at 12:06 am

Oh look. At least one of these drips has started to grow up and face reality. The rest of you will catch up eventually. Unless you’re really incorrigibly stupid, of course.

https://medium.com/@UptheCypherPunx/why-this-radical-leftist-is-disillusioned-by-leftist-culture-63419aa85a58#.itc6u4pzn

129 tina February 22, 2016 at 12:36 am
130 racismisbaddude February 22, 2016 at 4:05 am

Bob @24:

I agree that the metaphor is a bit extreme, but we must admire The Gimp for his positive attitude toward gay rights and his willingness to support gay law enforcement members during a time when society did not look as favorably on members of the gay community as they do today.

If nothing else, we can appreciate The Gimp for remaining stalwart in the face of Marsellus Wallace’s homophobia.

131 racismisbaddude February 22, 2016 at 4:09 am

Cindy @123:

I have tried to get everyone here to understand that being a woman who has suffered sexual trauma confers instant correctness on every issue, but far too many people are still interested in colonialist versions of truth that are grounded in classical logic instead of personal perspective as described by a person who may or may not have been dreaming.

132 Pitchguest February 22, 2016 at 5:41 am

#94

‘Queer shapeshifter.’ Sounds like a really shit superhero name. Is it a him, is it a her? No! It’s Aidan, the Queer Shapeshifter! [DOING]

I haven’t kept tabs on the otherkin business, but at what point does one just get to say, ‘That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life’ without being accused of being a bigot? Because it’s really becoming quite ridiculous.

133 Phil Giordana FCD February 22, 2016 at 9:57 am

“Queer Shapeshifter” does sound like a desperate call for attention.

Why not go with the more mainstream “GenderQueer”?

134 Shatterface February 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm

Queer Shapeshifter” does sound like a desperate call for attention

It’s like being an anti-chameleon: adapting to the encmvironmrnt in such a way as to constantly draw attention to oneself.

135 Tigzy February 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Bob @ 119

‘I don’t know why you think I have been highly patronizing towards you. I have tried, and am trying to be respectful towards you, despite the fact that you have not returned the courtesy.’

Why should I return the courtesy? It’s as if you’re expecting some sort of…reciprocity in this. As you said yourself: ‘An ally can never be an “equal partner” with someone who is actually a member of a marginalized group.’

Are you a member of a marginalised group, Bob? I’m assuming you’re not, because your attitude is very much in line with what I requently experience from well-meaning but overbearing whites. But I stand to be corrected.

136 Shatterface February 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Are you a member of a marginalised group, Bob? I’m assuming you’re not, because your attitude is very much in line with what I requently experience from well-meaning but overbearing whites. But I stand to be corrected.

If you stand to be ‘corrected’ you are doing it wrong.

137 Nialler February 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Hi, I’m the archetypal one-legged Black lesbian single Muslim mother from Wales.

Wait now, I’m not. I’m in actuality that Daily Mail victim: a white heterosexual middle-class male.

What am I to do?

I seriously don’t understand this new language I am expected to use. Can someone translate for me?

138 Leighanna Rose Walsh February 23, 2016 at 5:17 pm

It’s amazing the depeths to which you managed to take a shitty ally, Michael.

One of the first rules of being an Ally is – don’t make shit about you. And somehow not only are you doing that, but you’ve constructed a new definition for Ally that makes being an Ally even MORE about you than all the other shitty allies out there.

This whole thing is the definition of cis/het/mansplaining. It’s not your place to define what transphobia or homophobia looks like. The fact you went to the effort for digging up laws and definitions(written primarily by cis het white men) to support you just shows that you have no interest whatsoever in actually fucking listening. This is all about defending your status and privilege and why you basically never have to admit you’re wrong. You don’t take any responsibility for the supporters you have who ARE viciously anti-trans, anti-SJW sorts. You’re all too happy to have them.

I mean look at your own comments section! You’re leaving all of these up here even when people have called you out on it. You’re putting any trans/queer readers you have in the way of harassment. You literally don’t give a shit. If you’re saying you don’t support queer people untl they give you backrubs, then fuck you. You’re not an ally, and you’re almost as queerphobic as they are. We’re not here to bolster your ego.

Either you support someone or you don’t. Either you listen or you don’t. You’re not just looking for ally cookies, you’re looking for people to put up with your shit, with you enabling trans people to be put in harm’s way.

139 Leighanna Rose Walsh February 23, 2016 at 5:35 pm

lol Aneris what a load of pseudo-intellectualist white apologist bullshit. And from a “Discordian”, of course.

140 Tigzy February 23, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Leighanna @ 138

‘You don’t take any responsibility for the supporters you have who ARE viciously anti-trans, anti-SJW sorts. You’re all too happy to have them.’

Once again, I have to point out – because I am continually being fucking ignored by both Aiden and their supporters on this – that I was subject to racist abuse by one of Aiden’s supporters. Despite having let them know about it, I’ve not received even the slightest acknowledgement from Aiden.

So please at least spare us any lectures about taking responsibility for one’s supporters unless you believe that Aiden ought to take responsibility for their supporters too.

141 Guestus Aurelius February 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm

@138 Leighanna Rose Walsh

… You don’t take any responsibility for the supporters you have who ARE viciously anti-trans, anti-SJW sorts. …

And there it is.

You place “anti-trans” and “anti-SJW” together, as though they’re in any way comparable. The first is bigotry, the second is a rejection of your with-us-or-against-us sociopolitical mindset and its associated smear tactics.

That you regard sociopolitical disagreement with you as being in the same ballpark as bigotry is precisely why you’re an SJW, and why I’m “anti-SJW.”

Anyway, your self-righteous authoritarianism is duly noted.

142 Matt Cavanaugh February 23, 2016 at 9:48 pm

I see that Aidan Rowe still accuses Cindy of claiming that trans*women are rapists. The stories Cindy linked to clearly show that the perps in question were pretending to be trans*women. (Given the massive loopholes the ordinances in question, anyone with half a brain could’ve seen this coming.)

Aidan’s inability to acknowledge Cindy’s eminently obvious point cannot be chalked up to either ignorance or poor reading comprehension. One must, therefore, conclude that Aidan is being willfully disingenuous & belligerent for the purpose of attracting attention.

143 Matt Cavanaugh February 23, 2016 at 9:51 pm

With allies like Leighanna, who needs enemies?

144 Henry Fitzgerald February 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Leighanna Rose Walsh @138

You criticise Michael for making this “about him”. Are you saying he doesn’t have the right to defend himself against attacks at all? Or that he only has the right to defend himself provided he can do so without making the defence “about him”? (I’m curious as to how that could be done.)

Also, if you want to criticise him for allowing “vicious” bigotry to remain in his comments section, the most glaring candidate example I can see in this thread is your own – for instance, attacking laws and definitions on no grounds other than the fact that they were, you claim, “written primarily by cis het white men”. Presumably you have some sort of defence for this apparent bigotry on your part, and I think Michael is right in allowing your comment to remain; but given you made it, you’re in a very weak position to demand other people be censored.

145 Pitchguest February 23, 2016 at 11:39 pm

#138

Perhaps it would be prudent, then, Leighanna, if Aoife and Aidan wouldn’t make shit up about Michael so that he wouldn’t have to “make it all about himself” defending himself? Who on Earth would want people like that as allies, and who on Earth would be allied with them?

146 Matt Cavanaugh February 24, 2016 at 1:18 am

“… you’ve constructed a new definition for Ally that makes being an Ally even MORE about you than all the other shitty allies out there.”
That’s a hoot, considering SJWs have concocted a neologism of “ally” that defies the standard definition the rest of the world is working off of.

“It’s not your place to define what transphobia or homophobia looks like.”

As with any claim, it’s up to the person making the claim to provide evidence for it. Argument by assertion = FAIL.

Perhaps, Leighanna, the reason you keep attracting such “shitty” allies has less to do with the prospective allies, than with you?

147 Kirbmarc February 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm

@Bob:

“You’re not likely to find evidence for the claim that “flounce” has homophobic connotations in a dictionary (though if he had consulted a thesaurus that might have given him more pause for thought)”

What would the homophobic connotations of “flounce” be?

A quick internet search shows no significant results. Indeed the first result for “flounce homophobia” is Michael’s blog.

But that’s beyond the point. The point is that the meaning of words is contextual, not absolute. It’s pretty clear what the meaning of “flounce” was in the context Michael used the word, and it wasn’t a homophobic meaning. You suggested a synonym yourself.

Even if Michael used a word which in a different context had homophobic connotations, only a language prescriptivist would chastise him for referring to a term whose meaning was clearly not homophobic in that context.

Let’s take a word with a clear history of homophobic connotations, like “faggot”. The word has a very different contextual meaning in certain contexts, for example the meaning in the context of metalworking “faggoting” is the process of welding rods or bars of iron together.

If Michael wrote about metalworking and used this technical term (like for example, by saying “The irons bars were faggoted to form this structure” only a language prescription fanatic would blame him for using a word with a homophobic connotation in a context which clarified that in THAT precise context there was no homophobic connotation.

Language is context-dependent. Any word can have different meanings in different contexts.

Let’s take a pretty common word, like “apple”.

Compare the sentences a)”Newton’s apple is a myth with no basis in reality” and b)”My wife is the apple of my eye”. Nobody seriously thinks that the word has the same exact meaning in both contexts.

People recognize that those different meanings carry different connotations, and nobody is surprised that the wife in sentence b) isn’t a fruit like the one mentioned in sentence a).

Only an extreme language prescriptivist (or someone making a joke) would police the use of the word in sentence b) as expressing a “false statement” (“Your wife isn’t really an apple!”). People who accept that meaning is context-dependent easily understand what “apple” in sentence b) refers to.

“Instead of wasting his time on these blogs, he ought to have simply asked the opinion of LGBT people (preferably Irish ones), and trusted them to know whether words have homophobic connotations.”

This is simply ridiculous. The most common contexts which define the most common meanings of a word are determined by language use. Michael has shown through dictionaries (which record the most common meanings) and cases of use in other communities that “flounce” has a history of being used with clear non-homophobic connotations.

Contextual meaning is determined by…well, context. The context in which Michael has used the word was clearly non-homophobic (as you acknowledged by providing a synonym, i.e. a word with roughly the same contextual meaning).

There is no official committee which defines the meaning of words with absolute, context-free precision. LGBT people have no more power over the rules of language or the meaning of words than non LGBT people.

Accusing Michael Nugent of fostering homophobia by using a term with a clear contextual non-homophobic meaning is, quite frankly, ridiculous. You might as well accuse him of fostering anti-weak people feelings by having used the word “robustly” in a context which suggests a highly positive connotation.

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