There has been a great deal of rational, constructive dialogue in the comments on recent posts here about moving beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities. Some people from both perceived ‘sides’ of the rifts have been actively engaged in this constructive dialogue.
Also, some comments have used language that is both unfair to the people they are addressed at, and unhelpful to the process that we are trying to develop. Some people from both perceived ‘sides’ of the rifts have made such comments.
I am confident that those of us who are interacting reasonably will continue to not be provoked by the unhelpful comments, and I ask those who are posting hurtful or unhelpful comments to please phrase your points more charitably.
I have moderated this process lightly for several reasons.
- One is that I understand that a mode of hostile interaction has built up in the past two years that I think has become habit-forming. I hope that as the process continues, people will voluntarily choose to hold back from making unfair statements.
- Two is that we will soon be having a more structured dialogue which will have a clear agenda. That will be focusing on ideas and issues, without personal attacks, and I hope that this structure will move us nearer to positive outcomes.
- And three is the reality that, when people are in conflict and mistrust each other, we can’t insist on already being where we want to get to, as a precondition of getting there. This is not an easy process for anyone, but slow progress is better than no progress.
That said, I again appeal to everyone to comment in the spirit of what we are doing here, and to follow the example of the people who are interacting reasonably, refusing to respond to personal attacks, and interpreting ambiguous statements charitably.
Correction re Ophelia Benson
I asked a while ago that anyone should contact me if they believe a defamatory comment was made about them here, and Ophelia Benson has asked me to correct such a statement about her.
Two comments on a previous thread asserted that Ophelia made up and fabricated the origin of a particular abusive phrase about somebody else.
The link that was cited showed that Ophelia used that phrase before it first appeared on the current Slymepit forum. But it doesn’t follow from that that Ophelia made up the phrase.
Indeed, in the link that was cited, Ophelia says that she read it, along with other abusive phrases, on earlier threads at ERV. A commenter on Atheism Plus also recalls the phrase as being first used at ERV. While the ERV threads do not appear on google, it seems to me to be unreasonable to disbelieve Ophelia when she says she read it there.
Also, a commenter on Furious Purpose used a differently-spelled version of the same phrase as their username before Ophelia mentioned it.
On this basis I have removed, from the comments Ophelia brought to my attention, the allegation that she fabricated the origin of this phrase.
As I have said before, please contact me via the contact page if you believe a defamatory comment is made about you here. I won’t always get to it immediately, but I will deal with it as soon as I can.
If you are commenting here, one easy way to avoid making unintentionally defamatory statements is to avoid attributing malign motivations to people.
So feel free to say and substantiate that somebody said or did something, but don’t assert as a fact your speculation as to what was going on in their minds when they said or did it.
Formal dialogue with agenda next week
I hope that we will be able to start a formal dialogue process next week based on the agenda proposed in the last post:
1. How we can work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world.
2. How we can balance the right to freedom of expression and robust debate about ideas and issues, with the desire to not unnecessarily hurt people who disagree with us about those ideas.
3. How and to what extent our various communities and groups should have ethical and equality and social justice issues on our internal and external agendas.
4. How we can each, as individuals, lead unilaterally by example by behaving reasonably and charitably and constructively, while others are not doing so.
5. Any other issues that people believe are important to address.
I know that this process is difficult, but please let us stay focused on the aim of moving beyond the rifts and building strong, inclusive, caring and supportive atheist and skeptic communities and groups, that promote robust and rational debate of issues while avoiding needlessly hurting people.
65 thoughts on “Some more reflections on the dialogue so far”
Michael, I don’t know where you find the patience!
Of late I have been at the rape prevention sub-thread which appears to have gone down with a dreadful case of neener-neener disease.
To illustrate, it goes A: this is my experience/understanding – B: that doesn’t count – A: Ok, then. Tell me what your experience/understanding is, please. – B: Shan’t!!!!
If we’re to get anywhere we’ll have to start at the point where what any one person says is as likely to be sensible as what any other person says – until evidence to the contrary appears.
We cannot afford to rule out the whole of the social sciences nor rule all sorts of imaginary brands of feminism out of order before we begin.
That’s not honest discourse. It’s standing in the middle of the pitch refusing to let the game, or the dialogue, begin.
Look, Michael. Can I call you Michael? When you look for instances of words being used on Google, you tend to envelop them in quotation marks to narrow the search down. When I looked for uses of ‘Rebitchka’ (with a k added), the earliest use I could find was by Ophelia Benson. Because it was, because the original use of the name was without a k. When you use quotation marks, Google doesn’t show you instances of words lacking a letter, so how was I to know it referred to a different use?
‘Rebitcha’ and ‘Rebitchka’, and Ophelia even used ‘Rebitchka’ twice on two seperate occasions. So therefore it’s quite amusing that it should be offered up for a correction here. But if you want me to apologize, I’ll apologize. I’ll just add that if you want accuracy, then you better make sure you’re accurate in return.
I’m sorry, Ophelia, for being uncharitable. Now if you can offer an apology for embellishing with a letter and making me look like an idiot, I would appreciate that.
That hole, Pitchguest, was of your own digging. All along you had the option of taking Ophelia’s word for it and/or conducting a more thorough check.
Eh? What hole? I found out that I had been looking for the wrong use of a word only yesterday. But it turns out that one particular word (‘Rebitchka’) was in fact made up by Ophelia (whether she misremembered it or not) and therefore I really cannot be to blame for that blunder. I wasn’t looking for uses of ‘Rebitcha’ without the ‘k’ after all.
So it’s funny. You thought I was being uncharitable to Ophelia, but you’re being equally uncharitable to me right now. Because while you seem to want to pin me digging a hole for myself, it turns out that Ophelia in fact embellished herself by adding a letter to the word – thus making it difficult to make a case I was being uncharitable to Ophelia on purpose. So maybe we should just bury the whole thing by saying that both of us made a mistake and leave it at that? Yeah. Sounds good to me.
Yes, of course you can. I’ve been called much worse than Michael 🙂
I understand how that mistake occurred, and I understand that you were seeking to act in an evidence-based way.
The fact that you have chosen to apologize for the mistake, and without being asked to do so, is the most significant part of this issue for me.
If we can all gradually make more small unilateral steps like that, it will make the whole process easier for everybody and more likely to produce a successful outcome.
Good. I’m all for burying the hatchet. Bring on the peace pipe. Etc.
Since Ophelia Benson seems to be worried about herself, her reputation, and the way she is represented being accurate, I can only assume she would be willing to do the same for others. Ophelia has made it a habit of misrepresenting my thoughts and words. She will repost my blogs and then claim I do not stand behind my words or that I have “changed”.
I have never met Ophelia Benson in my life how could she possibly know if I have changed when she never knew me in the first place? Before she started using her blog to put words in my mouth and/or claim that I was a racist/misogynist /sexist because I used the word “bitch” when referring to Stephanie Zvan I had never heard of her. I seriously doubt that my use of that word is enough information to form a complete, fair, and educated opinion of me.
I don’t appreciate Ophelia making claims about my character when she doesn’t know me and has no interest in having a conversation to clear up any misunderstanding. Those actions indicate she is at least in one instance dishonest. She claims to have no interest in talking with me like an adult yet she is interested in continuing to post as if she has some intimate knowledge about who or what I am.
I have had one on one conversations with literally hundreds of people. Some I agreed with and some I have been in conflict with. I challenge Ophelia to find one example to support her claim that any productive conversation with me is impossible. If she chooses to use silly excuses to avoid explaining her behavior that is her choice. If she expects me to show her any respect for that choice then she is being unrealistic.
The bottom line is this. In at least one example Ophelia Benson is the instigator of the conflict and has given an unfair assessment of my personality resulting in my defending myself from her unsupported and completely incorrect claims . When I provided examples of how she was incorrect when she described my character she gave those examples no consideration. This type of character assassination is a major part of the problem.
I have even invited you to have a conversation Michael. Not to debate but to present your opinions and thoughts with some context so that people may better get the feelings behind your words.
Unfortunately the habit of pecking out words on a keyboard with no verbal social cues seems to be preferred over actual interaction with others. I can tell you this – A 5 min phone call can wrap up years of text only conflict. That is a fact. How can anyone claim to be interested in bringing this conflict to an end yet refuse to have a verbal conversation with those they are in conflict with? Even if a resolution isn’t found at least the parties have a clear understanding of each other without guessing what the other meant in that text message.
I have offered and still do have an open invite to anyone who wants to act like responsible adults and talk about their issues. The refusal to do so or to expect some childish conditions be met before engaging in dialog shows how committed a person is to a resolution. If I didn’t know any better I would almost think some people have an interest in keeping this conflict going. I hope I’m wrong .
You know Nugent I have to drink a six pack of Murphy’s every time you start a new thread.
I’ll have a pop at the questions.
1) Surely working together is the easy part – the hard part is making people want to. Also, I don’t think that everyone does have the same goal. People in this debate seem to have a quite radical difference of opinion when it comes to critical thinking, for instance.
2) I’m not sure why freedom of expression comes up so much, since I’ve not yet seen anyone say (that I can remember) that the state should get involved to police what people say. There’s a distinction between self-censorship for ethical reasons and censorship by the state, which is what ‘free speech’ is traditionally opposing. People have a right to run their blogs as they wish, and there are only ethical concerns regarding deleting objections, and banning people that might have been talked about in the post, and so on.
3) This is a tricky one, but my view is as follows. Groups should promote internal equality and ethics even if that isn’t the explicit mission of the group. By ‘internal’ equality I mean not discriminating against speakers of a particular race or gender – that sort of thing. As far as having ‘social justice’ on the agenda goes, this reminds me of the debate when the (now moribund) idea of ‘atheism+’ came up. If a group wants to do that, fine (although opinions differ over what exactly constitutes ‘social justice’). My concern is with groups such as atheist organisations being pressured into adopting a particular mission on pain of being seen as regressive and intolerant. What we’re seeing is a mixture of things, but an important factor has been an uncoordinated entryist strategy by ‘Tumblr’-style ‘social justice warriors’. Their level of discourse is so poor and philistine that I find this development rather troubling.
4) Well, clearly not everyone wants to. In fact, the ones who promote charity seem to be in the minority. So I’m more interested in how those who reject the idea of interacting civilly, charitably and constructively can be convinced to change their mind. I don’t really think that many can be. One of doctrine often found on one ‘side’ is that civility is a weapon used by the privileged to oppress minorities. I am not making this up.
5) I have nothing else to add, other than that I don’t see this thing getting resolved… until everyone gets bored of it, which must surely happen eventually. I appreciate your effort though, and think you’re doing a sterling job, even if the project is doomed to failure! :p
The ERV threads appear here:
If Ophelia is correct that the phrase appeared at ERV prior to her using it, the evidence should be contained therein. Let’s see if anyone actually produces the evidence.
From Michael’s last thread, a response to Magicthighs (reposted here for refresh load time):
There might be a problem in communication here. I see a “welcoming environment” as a place where you are welcome to state your opinions without the threat of getting edited, moderated, or banned on a whim. Michael’s blog is a good exemple of this, and whether you agree with it or not, so is the Slymepit.
Maybe you were thinking of a “safe space”, which is something completely different. The Slymepit is a welcoming environment, in that you are free to post there (within the limits of the law), but it certainly is not a safe space. Just like Pharyngula, for exemple, is certainly not a safe space for creationists. Nor a very welcoming one, when you think about it.
“I haven’t seen anyone on FTB claim that the whole community is required to follow their particular brand of feminism. In fact, Atheism+ was started precisely because some people in the community don’t agree with focusing on social justice issues, and some people thought it would be a great idea to create a space where people could safely do so. That sounds to me to be the exact opposite of requiring others to follow you.”
The problem is, being labelled a “bad person” by a group only because said person disagrees with some political points made by the group is a form of requirement to follow the group.
It wouldn’t be a problem for me at all. But I do identify as an Atheist, and this “Atheism +” label will lump me with these people. And now I’m going to be very honest and maybe break Michael’s rules of engagement a bit, but what I’ve read at A+ is borderfringe ramblings.
I don’t want to be associated with these people just because I’m an Atheist. Just as I suppose you don’t want to be associated with the people at the Slymepit just because you’re an Atheist. But at least, the Pit didn’t highjack the term “Atheism”, so you should be safe.
Anyway, if you don’t mind, I will take this to Michael’s new post (the load time on this one is starting to be veeeeerry long).
do a search for “rebitcha” on the “have you met my friend Kyle’s mom” and “Periodic Table of Swearing” threads. Ophelia has done many things to exacerbate the conflicts in a/s, but she has a legitimate beef here, extra “k” notwithstanding.
Here, I’ll oblige.
The comment did not originate on ERV. It originated on Furious Purpose, Martin Wagner’s blog.
Here’s a commenter on ERV’s deep-sixed blog post referring to the post on Furious Purpose:
So we should not believe Ophelia when she says it originated on ERV.
The original phrase was ‘Rebitcha Twatson is an Airhead’, which was embellished by Ophelia to ‘Rebitchka Twatson’ (adding a ‘k’) hence making it very difficult to search for the phrase Ophelia remembered being said on Furious Purpose. That being said, we should bury it since it’s clear both of us made mistakes. I’m going to be charitable and say it wasn’t mistakes made on purpose, and I hope Ophelia will do the same. There. Done.
Aside from my concerns about dilution of resources (which I raised in your previous entry in this series) I also have another concern with the subsuming of this “brand” of feminism into atheism/skepticism.
Some of the central tenets of “feminism” as it is practiced by those across the rift from me, are unfalsifiable. Patriarchy theory being the primary example of this. To me (and maybe I’m just speaking for myself) this is a non-starter for the simple reason that atheists have been using the argument of unfalsifiable claims from the creationists (ID) and the religious (God did it) for some time now.
How long will it be before some snake oil apologist (WLC, Matt Slick, etc.) begin to call us out on the belief in unfalsifiable claims if these principles are part and parcel of atheism. These apologists will simply claim that there is no difference between their belief in unfalsifiable claims and our own. Much ground could be lost that has been hard fought and won in the mainstream of society.
I’m almost certain that someone will cite academic feminist papers in this thread to counter my comment here. To them let me say: For every paper provided, a critique of that paper can be provided which challenges the methodology, bias, and/or conclusions of those papers. Let me also give them the (1) courtier’s reply.
Let us not lose ground by allowing into the core tenets of atheism/skepticism unproven and unprovable beliefs.
I’ve written a new post: how do we evaluate good and bad and hurtful statements?
It is a response to some questions that Justicar asked me earlier in this discussion, about what I meant by saying that certain comments were hurtful.
I was addressing the use of the word “inclusive”, not “welcoming”.
Inclusiveness implies more than just being welcoming, it also implies being socially accepted, treated equally, etc, regardless of origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and identity (1).
Example: when people on the Slymepit use “s/h/it” as a pronoun for trans* people, they’re not being inclusive because they create an environment where a lot of trans* people do not feel welcome.
I disagree. It excludes you from that group. The group you don’t actually want to be a part of anyway.
How so? Because the name has atheism in it? How does that lump you in with a group you don’t want to be part of?
People from the Slymepit are hijacking the term when they say things like “atheism has nothing to do with feminism” but at the same time claim things like separation of church and state are related to atheism. Who are you to decide how one’s atheism expresses itself in their activism?
Would you go around to a black atheists meeting and tell them that their issues have nothing to do with atheism?
Reap Paden says, “Unfortunately the habit of pecking out words on a keyboard with no verbal social cues seems to be preferred over actual interaction with others. ”
How many times over the last, oh, two months, have you written incredibly rudely to me in various forms to “shut my trap?’
Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 10:56 am.
Seems to me you’re still being uncharitable when you make it sound as if Ophelia needs to apologize for your mistaken assumptions. I doubt she deliberately “embellished” anything to make you look an idiot.
A Hermit: Seems to me the Atheist community needs to grow a better sense of humour. Self-deprecation is a very good defusing tool, and that’s what Pitchguest was doing. Charitable reading and all that…
@A.Hermit, does this mean PitchGuest needs to apologise to me for making me look like an idiot? I mean he did link to the wrong comment, not the one with the apology in and I assumed he had not apologised… Hmm now I think about it, I need an apology too!
@Ellen, I just noticed Reaps comment too… More, err, not lies, what do you call them “charitably”… Misunderstandings… About Ophelia:-
Reap — Where did Ophelia call you
a) “a sexist”
b) “a misogynist”
c) “a racist”
a+b should be pretty easy…? Right…?
To clarify, I’d happily say that a lot of what comes out of Reaps mouth is sexist and misogynistic…. If shouting that Stephanie is “a fucking bitch” many times is not misogynistic then I’m not sure what is. But racist? That’snew, apart from PZ’s video which he misunderstood. Definitely still not *called* “a racist” by any one I’ve seen, let alone Ophelia! I may be totally wrong…
Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 5:05 pm
Fair enough. I took that and subsequent comments as a serious demand that Ophelia apologize for unintentionally mis-spelling someone else’s slur. Perhaps it was just an attempt a humour.
Reap Paden racist accusation of Ophelia… I realise my “I may be totally wrong”, might mean I think there is a chance Ophelia called Reap racist. I meant in regard to the misogyny and sexism claim only. So clarifying racist –>
Specifically says he would *not* do a racist version of his podcast.
In terms of the actual place where “my racist friend” came up (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/10/12/for-al/)
The “friend” was Reap, but he was not being accused of racism but of being a vile misogynist.
So clearly the song was about his misogynist friend, Reap.
Also his dungeon entry does not mention racism
Reap, no one called you a racist, least of all Ophelia. You should apologise to Ophelia for the defamatory statement and probably PZ as well, but I doubt you could manage that.
I’m not sure whether Reap’s rant is more amusing or sad (as a lurker not targeted).
Seems to me one of Reap’s main failures is not understanding that his “bitch” rant is considered direct evidence of misogyny. He complains that Ophelia doesn’t know him well enough to determined that, which shows that failures of comprehension as to what others see as misogyny.
And that is kind of amusing in that the same rant is complaining about Ophelia finding an old post of his she thought less awful than his currency hate-filled rants.
I think that’s just one example of where the conflict lies, and a hurdle hard to cross. If Reap can’t understand or acknowledge that “bitch” is seen as a slur and that screaming it repeatedly is viewed as misogynistic then conversation isn’t going to get started even.
I think you need to take personal responsibility for your mistake, Pitchguest. Ophelia did not set you up; she didn’t even know you back then–none of us did. You are the one who overlooked the facts and got tripped up by a simple linguistic error. And to call it an embellishment is just as wrong. I’ve explained that to you in the previous thread, but to reiterate, “ka” is how the actual name ends, so it isn’t a big leap to add it back in after an “itch”. I remember you said you are not a native speaker of English, so this is probably one of those times where you will have to make a note of it and move on.
Furthermore, I don’t think Ophelia ought to have to do anything for you with the way you have been treating her. Can’t we just see you be charitable to her for an extended period of time and call it a day? Why should someone who you’ve been trying to condemn based on faulty premises have to give you even the time of day?
Can you at least acknowledge that your using the word “bitch” toward a colleague is at least enough information to fairly inform someone about the kind of person you might be?
Evidence of the claim that she claimed that? When bringing up claims like that against a person, you need to bring evidence with you. In the meantime, I await a full retraction from you on that and an apology to Ophelia Benson for claiming it.
That isn’t fair or charitable, Reap. You get to call women any number of slurs, but they can’t then talk about your character based on what you have said? I think that we do get to talk about people’s character based on what they have actually done.
That is not a charitable interpretation.
I’m sorry, but this is ludicrous coming from you. You have assassinated the characters of a number of people. You were cruel even to Oolon who at least seems to be able to take your abusive rhetoric with a smile. There has never been a clearer case of someone needing to do a little introspection on himself first and possibly apologizing to those he wronged first and then applying the principle of charity to the words of others first before complaining about others talking badly about him.
Michael, speaking for myself, I think you are right that hostile interaction does indeed become habit forming. And woe-is-me for allowing that to happen with myself. After all, one of my primary complaints about PZ Myers is his unending regressive nastiness. So I will make a charitable and serious attempt at reducing my own hostility.
And, speaking of speaking for myself, that too is something that I think both the Pit and FTB (and Skepchick and A+ for that matter), should really start taking more into consideration. While I believe quite firmly that FTB, Skepchick, and A+ operate far more as an echo chamber, in broad and general terms, than an environment that encourages free thought and a range of disparate ideas, I still think it would behoove all of us to focus on the specific ideas and the individuals who propose them when engaging in discourse, and cut back on “all of FTB is this”, and “all of the Pit is that”, and so forth.
Lastly, while I think that your goal is honourable, though somewhat naive (in that I really honestly do believe that neither the FTB blog hosts, nor most of the FTB commentariat are capable of honest, reasoned, discourse), I am nonetheless willing to throw my name into the ring and join in the discussion when it gets going.
I find myself agreeing with John Greg.. If individuals is removed as I’m not sure what that is doing there
This is less promising
Everyone is capable of it, even the “worst” pittizens. That is a daft assertion IMO. Reasoned discourse is possible, especially if the “who did/said what” crap is dropped and the pittizens talk about what *they* believe not try and use what they think FtBs believe in some game to score points. To be charitable bringing up things the pit has done wrong would not push things forward either. What principles both sides adhere to is much more interesting…
Oolon, you hit on a good point about everyone being capable of reasoned discourse. Some of the problem is the unwillingness of certain people to let something go and move on. I’m not talking about the people being nasty just to be nasty to others, like the ones practically spitting in the face of a blog host because of moderation. But sometimes I think even reasoned discourse can grow tiring and at some point a break–a long break–is needed. That means not pressuring the blog host or the commenters there to address your pet issue.
Also, can we not turn this thread into a discussion about a single person without him being present here? I don’t think it is fair to him to drag him in here. It wasn’t fair to drag Ophelia into the conversation, either, in my opinion. For certain people, this conversation is not something they will want to do, and I think we should respect that and let people come here on their own terms. I guess that was part of my beef with Louis, too.
Oolon, and Aratina, I disagree with both of you in regards to your statements that everyone is capable of reasoned discourse.
Being capable of reasoned discourse demands the ability to reason rationally with someone who holds a position with which you vehemently disagree. And I’ve almost never found that sort of rational and reasoned discourse in my erstwhile adventures on Skepchick or FTB.
“Also, can we not turn this thread into a discussion about a single person without him being present here? I don’t think it is fair to him to drag him in here. It wasn’t fair to drag Ophelia into the conversation, either, in my opinion.”
Nonsense. The only thing stopping anyone from being here to defend themselves or argue their position is themselves. If someone were, for some reason or other, incapable of being here, or was disallowed from being here, then you might have a valid point.
“For certain people, this conversation is not something they will want to do….”
Tough cookies. That’s their decision. I mean, it’s not like FTB or Skepchick, where both the blog hosts and the proletariat thrill to lambasting people who are banned and have absolutely no option to join the dialogue to defend themselves, or to support their argument. I’d like to see you both make such a proposition on your favourite FTB bogs, and see what kind of response you get.
It would be especially entertaining if you were to tell FTBers to refrain from saying bad things about Pit people because most Pit people cannot join in and defend themselves. HAHAHAHA! That would be a hoot.
There has been much said in Michael’s posts/comments to date – a lot of good discussion and whittling away of misunderstandings, gratuitous or otherwise. I’m just going to pick on one little comment from above, to address.
“Example: when people on the Slymepit use “s/h/it” as a pronoun for trans* people, they’re not being inclusive because they create an environment where a lot of trans* people do not feel welcome.”
The s/h/it pronoun was most definitely not generated as a pejorative pronoun for trans people. It was (what is called in the antipodes) a piss take on the creation of all sorts of new pronouns on FTB that was becoming ridiculous. xie, zy,xo,zum!
Everybody is welcome to comment at the Pit, but you have to go in boots and all, dishing it out as much as you get it. And not take things personally (or too seriously). Delicate petals may not find that environment safe. But so what?!
Ok, one more thing.
The disingenuous oolon said, upthread:
“To clarify, I’d happily say that a lot of what comes out of Reaps mouth is sexist and misogynistic…. If shouting that Stephanie is “a fucking bitch” many times is not misogynistic then I’m not sure what is. ”
Does this make calling a guy a fucking wanker, misandrist?
If so, colour me misandrist many times over.
Oolon may like to laugh, but his point is serious. For many of us, that was our introduction to Reap Paden, and it does fit in to what I hold as a kind of misogyny, something you’d expect from Eric Cartman on South Park, not from an actual adult person and certainly not something you would expect to be aimed at an actual woman by an adult man.
Wanking is a behavior and one that is done by an individual, so I would say no. There probably is something there about how using it goes against all facts about healthy sexuality, however.
Yes, you are right about wanking being a behaviour. However i would argue:
1) that calling someone a bitch is also an allusion to behaviour, rather than a reference to a female dog; and/or
2) that it’s not really about the act of masturbation when one calls someone a fucking wanker.
And I call oolon disingenuous because of his repeated behaviour on various blogs. He is mischevious and an agent provocateur.
I wouldn’t do that because those are not my blogs. They can handle their commenters how they like. Anyway, I wouldn’t make such a proposition because it doesn’t bother me that different people moderate their blogs differently. On some of them, I’ve become more familiar with what type of behavior is acceptable and I do my best to keep that in mind when commenting. I guess I don’t see the activity of commenting as one that makes demanding things of the blog owner acceptable. I do sometimes want to know things and I ask about it, and at other times I may try to convince the blogger of something, but if I wear out my welcome and get moderated or banned, I know that I am capable of moving on.
I have yet to see something said about the slimepit by people I know on Pharyngula and B&W that I didn’t find morally justified, so you won’t see me asking anyone to do that.
Alright, but it still is dehumanizing for almost everyone it gets used on. I’ve seen it used on me in the Slymepit forum. Why don’t you just remove the slashes? With the slashes, you get the humor of being able to refer to people as “shits” but you also end up referring to them with “it”, which I find homophobic and others might find transphobic. Referring to gay people as “its” (as in, not human) has a long sordid history in the USA at least.
Because women acting assertive are comparable to dogs, right? There is so much more awful stuff wrapped up in the word “bitch” than there is in the word “wanker”, wouldn’t you agree?
OK. I don’t think that is true in the USA, however.
I don’t agree. He just has a different style of writing and comes from a different point of view on many of these issues. He has done exactly as you said one would need to when he went to the Slymepit forum and then he had the audacity to go to Pharyngula and, again, do what John Greg asked of me and ended up in the dungeon there. He has taken mounds of verbal abuse from Reap Paden and still seems fairly happy to converse with Paden. Just because he doesn’t get depressed by all the tough and even nasty talk doesn’t mean he is disingenuous.
I would never refer to a woman asserting herself as a bitch. I am married to a strong assertive woman and have a strong assertive daughter. My five sisters are strong assertive women. My female friends are also strong assertive women.
Any one of us would refer to someone who is behaving in a distasteful manner as a bitch.
Male or female may also be bitchy or catty!
In NZ we also call people buggers, without any consideration that they may be a pederast.
I was always perfectly polite to oolon, and initially appreciated him being devil’s advocate and holding up a mirror at the Pit. But I observed over time that he did not seem to be acting in good faith, and so my opinion changed. Steersman, on the otherhand, is consistent in his contrarianism and calling out of dissonance.
Who determines what is distasteful behavior? You may not think certain women act distastefully, but someone else might, and then, by your standards, that other person would have license to call those women by that slur. Is that what you want?
When you use that word as an insult to a men, you are still drawing on the inherent anti-woman ideas wrapped up in that word, in my opinion. That’s why I would argue people should stop using it as an insult–at least on blogs and at events where people would rather you didn’t.
I’m seeing a pattern here. You or the society of English speaking people you are part of take words that are considered bigoted in the USA and use them as if they are not problematic. “Bugger” is a word I would consider to be homophobic if used as an insult, for instance. I think a main cultural difference between you and I is that the metaphor (the reason those words even work as insults) is much more apparent to me in the insults that are also slurs. To me, they say much more about you and the kinds of people you dislike than they do about the person you aim them at.
Then it seems you are contradicting your own notions of what kind of behavior ought to go on in the ‘Pit:
But that’s what it is, a pejorative term for trans* people. Are you seriously going to claim that the fact that it spells “shit” is completely irrelevant and had nothing to do with the usage?
Ah, so because you don’t like ungendered pronouns being used by certain FTBers you take it out on trans* people by calling them “s/h/it”, simultaneously telling them you think they’re “shit” and an “it”?
Yes, all you trans* people out there, what makes you think you’re not welcome at the Slymepit, even though you’re referred to as “s/h/it”?
I guess by welcome you mean they’re welcome to come over to be called cunts, s/h/it, baboons, and have their likeness photoshopped?
But so what? It means it’s disingenuous to call the Slymepit welcoming or inclusive. You’ve created a forum that’s none of those, but love to pretend you’re somehow better than others, because FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
Magicthighs: commenters at Pharyngula who don’t identify as Trans* nonetheless insist on using these weird pronouns with lots of “z” and “x” and whatnot. As a non-native english speaker, I find those ungraceful, disgustingly offensive, even, to the english language. Not to me, though, I don’t care THAT much.
So, why do you want to ascribe the Pit’s s/h/i/t to Trans persons? Why not to asexuals? Genderqueers? Two-spirits ( LOL )? It is nothing but a parody, simple as that. And there is nothing wrong with parody.
But you know what I find very, very wrong? The usage of “it” to refer to someone. This is dehumanizing. The last time I saw this pronoun used before seing it popping up at Pharyngula was in Silence of the Lambs. Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine, excellent by the way):
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Now it places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: Please! Please I wanna go home! I wanna go home please!
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: I wanna see my mommy! Please I wanna see my…
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Put the fucking lotion in the basket!
So yeah, I think there’s going to be a long talk to be had before we can settle things up.
You find it offensive to the English language. I’m sorry, would you like a tissue?
Wait, so you don’t find it offensive? Which is it?
Because I’ve seen it used to refer to Zinnia Jones, for instance.
I didn’t say it was used exclusively to refer to Trans* people, did I?
And what’s with the “LOL”?
There can be all kinds of things wrong with parody if you want to claim to be inclusive and welcoming, and if you actually want to have any kind of meaningful dialogue with the people you’re potentially alienating by using terms like “s/h/it”.
Which is exactly what you’re doing when you used pronouns like “s/h/it”. But I guess it’s only wrong when it’s done at Pharyngula (and a citation of that would be appreciated, by the way). On the Slymepit it’s just FREE SPEECH!!11!!
“You find it offensive to the English language. I’m sorry, would you like a tissue?”
Your concern is noted. Would you like a tissue for the words I use here and at other places? That was a joke, right? Or maybe you don’t see the hypocrisy of such a statement as yours?
“Wait, so you don’t find it offensive? Which is it?”
I find it offensive to the english language as I’ve learned it, and read it in so many enlightening books. I don’t find it offensive to ME. As a person.
“Because I’ve seen it used to refer to Zinnia Jones, for instance.”
So? It’s also been used to refer to Josh Spokesgay, who is not, as far as I’m aware, a Trans person. It’s been used to refer to pretty much anybody in the SJW circles. It’s a PARODY!
“I didn’t say it was used exclusively to refer to Trans* people, did I?”
“But that’s what it is, a pejorative term for trans* people.”
Well, you did now, didn’t you? Why assign its use just to Trans* people? Because we at the Pit don’t, and it might say more about your way of thinking than ours.
“And what’s with the “LOL”?”
Not familiar with Crommunist’s guest blogger who identifies as Two-Spirits, having some sort of a link to Native American people (although not having NA ancestry), embracing all kinds of woo incompatible with skepticism? Such as the right for HIV positive persons not to have to disclaim to their eventual partner they are HIV positive because it would be discrimination?
“There can be all kinds of things wrong with parody if you want to claim to be inclusive and welcoming, and if you actually want to have any kind of meaningful dialogue with the people you’re potentially alienating by using terms like “s/h/it”.”
Well, I don’t use that pronoun. I use “he” when the person is a known and identified man, “her” when the person is a known and identified woman, and “they” for anybody else. Maybe you would like me to petition the Pit to change the letters order in their shorthand? Not gonna happen.
“Which is exactly what you’re doing when you used pronouns like “s/h/it”. But I guess it’s only wrong when it’s done at Pharyngula (and a citation of that would be appreciated, by the way). On the Slymepit it’s just FREE SPEECH!!11!!”
If you want citations on that, go either to the Pit or Pharyngula. I won’t do your homework for you. And if someone at the Pit refers to another human being as a “it”, I will call them out. s/h/it is a bloody JOKE!
Go buy a sense of humour!
magicthighs, please drop the free speech shit. You people use that more than pitters. It gets old.
I thought s/h/it was supposed to annoy by saying “whatever gender you are.” If the person you are replying to is commenting on the use of it as a gender neutral pronoun and criticizing using that, my reply is this: People can be referred to it if they want to. It doesn’t have to refer to objects. It can just be a gender neutral pronoun.
And yeah, the fact (if they’re a pitter) that they forgot about the s/h/it shows they were trying too hard to find something to complain about.
No, that wasn’t a joke, that was me ridiculing your claim that it “offends the English language”. The English language is not capable of being offended.
Hypocrisy would be objecting to genderless pronouns while defending the use of s/h/it.
Like I said, the English language is not capable of being offended. It really sounds like you’re just looking for something to object to.
When you apply it to a self-identified trans-woman it’s not just a parody, it’s offensive. You are denying her right to gender-identification.
No, I didn’t. What I said is that, when applied to trans* people, it’s a slur.
Yes, I am. Does the fact that you disagree with them mean you should mock the concept of two-spiritedness?
In the case of Zinnia Jones, who identifies as a trans women, referring to her as s/h/it (he, she, or it, pronounced “shit”) is incredibly disrespectful of her, and is likely to alienate other trans* people.
I seriously could not care less about what the pitters do. What I object to is the constant claims of being more inclusive, open, welcoming, whatever the fuck you want to call it, while complaining that FTB/skepchick/A+ are alienating and othering people because of their adherence to philosophies they don’t agree with.
Ah yes, let me do a search for “it”. Seriously?
Oh, the irony….
And you don’t see how that’s incredibly disrespectful when you use it to refer to a trans* person, when you bloody well know she refers to herself as female?
Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by this.
magicthighs, Exactly. It’s very ironic, claiming that slymepit always talk about free speech when you are complaining about it 10x more than it happens with stupid 1!!1 patterns or misspelling it as freeze peach. It’s not even an insult.
And yeah, but um, using “It” on a trans person who refers to themselves as male or female is not relevant to using “It” on a gender queer person who identifies as neutral, so Idk why you’re driving that point at me as if I need to read it.
So, the “s/h/it” is supposed to be a parody? A parody of what, exactly?
A parody of the people (trans*, genderqueer, etc) that don’t fit the man/woman binary the language has been stuck with for centuries?
A parody of the attempt to be inclusive of those people who don’t fit the gender binary? (With the horrific *gasp*horror* method of trying to invent more appropriate pronouns!)
I really don’t see an angle where the ‘parody’ is something that is beneficial, and that doesn’t make out the people who do it, or the people who tolerate it, as really lacking in empathy for marginalized people while actually participating in furthering that marginalization.
I’ve already said this above (my comment was in moderation), but please, calling people “its” is dehumanizing. “It” is for objects, not people.
Phil, that term doesn’t have anything to do with woo other than the idea that people have spirits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-Spirit What it does is it describes people who break normalized gender roles. I don’t think we ought to take skepticism that far as to eliminate all such words, do you? If so, there are far more common woo-infested terms in English, such as the days of the week.
Also, I’m not sure where you are getting your information from that a person is claiming to be Native American without having Native American ancestry. Even if one person feels an affinity to a specific tribe or to Native Americans in general and yet isn’t, that doesn’t mean Native Americans are not part of the skeptical or atheist community.
PZ Myers, yesterday, banning someone who had made one post because its nym was registered at SP:
“The Bovarchist slyme has been scraped off my shoe and deposited in the lymepit, where it belongs.”
No, not about people who don’t fit the binary — a parody of made up gender-neutral pronouns — xe, hir, etc. — that are used for people with gender neutral Internet pseudonyms.
Aratina: I was referring to the HIV stuff when I talked about woo. Maybe not the best qualifier, though. Bullshit might fit better. As for “two-spirit”, it might just be a pet peeve of mine. Sounds WAY to wooish to me.
Days of the week: well, that’s one I’m going to have to investigate. I remember reading something about them names a while ago. I was fascinated, as a kid, to learn that french weekday names apparently came generally from the name of planets (or Roman gods, depending of where your looking at it from): lundi (Moon/Luna), mardi (Mars) mercredi (Mercury), Jeudi (Jupiter), vendredi (Venus), samedi (Saturn) and, sadly, dimanche (God). Interesting stuff.
As for this guest blogger’s claims, I didn’t say they claim to be Native American, but they sure as hell are trying to highjack Native American identity and/or culture. They’ve been called out on it by, well, Native Americans. I’ll try and find the link. And I never said Native Americans couldn’ be part of the A/S community, just that this guest blogger’s attitude WRT Native beliefs and culture is infuriating (to me). I may have to expand on why it’s infuriating, and will do so if you want me to.
I could have been a lot more charitable towards that guest blogger, but the HIV thing alone pisses me off. Sorry about that.
John-Henry: it’s a parody of a perversion of the english language. Case in point: “xir”, “xe”… It doesn’t seem to occure to some people that this is both very confusing and very annoying to non-native english speakers. Now, that’s just my own personal take on it, and just my own opinion. YMMV, as they say.
“No, that wasn’t a joke, that was me ridiculing your claim that it “offends the English language”. The English language is not capable of being offended.”
If you’re not able to readily comprehend figurative language, then I don’t see the point in continuing to discuss with you without laying down the path (NOT an actual path!) for many misunderstandings. Which is a shame. Maybe we can find a solution to that?
John-Henry Beck, are you really trying to imply s/h/it is an attack on transgendered people??? Especially when its not being used on them? I took it as “I dont know your sex” or in some cases “I dont REALLY know your sex – I never saw your picture bro,” especially when it was used on me multiple times.
Same with cases I see “xe” on there used on people whose identity I thought was determined as man or woman. Basically to be annoying by going “Well, whoever you are”
“I wouldn’t do that because those are not my blogs.”
OK, fine. So why are you doing it here? Is this your blog?
“Anyway, I wouldn’t make such a proposition because it doesn’t bother me that different people moderate their blogs differently.”
OK, fine. So why are you doing it here? Is this your blog?
“Alright, but it still is dehumanizing for almost everyone it gets used on. ”
Good gawd, what a special flower you are. It’s satire, you dimwitted shit. It’s satirizing the incredible degrees of precious nonsense that all these endless fucking pronouns represent. Are you really so dim witted that you are unable to understand that?
“… which I find homophobic and others might find transphobic. ”
Bingo. BingFuckingGo. Stupid is as stupid does.
“But that’s what it is, a pejorative term for trans* people. ”
No, that is not what it is. It is a satirical term for anyone, regardless of their gender or sex, to highlight the idiocy propelled by people who have paranoid delusions about precious pronouns. And of course we all know that it spells shit; that’s the whole fucking point. The term sh/i/t is gender fluid, you ninny. HAHAHAHA.
“I didn’t say it was used exclusively to refer to Trans* people, did I?”
Not specifically, perhaps, but you most certainly implied it; quite strongly too. C’mon; grow up and take responsibility for your rhetoric.
John-Henry Beck said:
“So, the “s/h/it” is supposed to be a parody? A parody of what, exactly?”
Yes. It is a parody of all those juvenile, ignorant, language-deficient clowns who invent, on a seemingly daily basis, endless new ways to bastardize language and invent meaningless, stupid, pronouns to characterize generally imaginary/faux so-called gender and/or sex differences.
Doing what? You mean asking what the policy is on using slurs to insult people on this blog? I figured I might as well see if it could be nipped in the bud, and I believe it has been.
I wasn’t sure what Michael Nugent’s moderation policy was, that is why I asked him if the things those two people said was acceptable. Gladly, it wasn’t.
(Side note: ^^^^ If anyone ever wonders why I went through the trouble of often reminding John that his name is a synonym for “toilet”, that kind of behavior from him is why. )
It was used on me, John. I read it. It does cause disturbing feelings to read that; I would have preferred being called a “shit” to that. Of course I understood that it was satirizing people who want to be precise and non-bigoted in their usage of gendered pronouns, but my understanding of that didn’t make it painless to read. If they were talking about me like that on Pharyngula, I would never have joined in the discussions there or read the comments. I find it extremely bigoted.
Could you at least try to be more charitable to people in this thread?
Telling the blog host, and commenteers how to behave/what to say in a blog that is not your blog, to wit:
“Also, can we not turn this thread into a discussion about a single person without him being present here? I don’t think it is fair to him to drag him in here. It wasn’t fair to drag Ophelia into the conversation, either, in my opinion.”
Aratine, if the words “her”, “she”, “him”, “he”, etc., are bigotted and imprecise, then welcome to the land of “Let’s just make it up as we go along ’cause we’re all such precious flowers who take offense at snowflakes falling where we do not want them to fall, and they even have the audacity, the Audacity, I say, to melt. Imagine that. Audaciouses.”
“Could you at least try to be more charitable to people in this thread?”
To you? No, I don’t think so. You have, over time, earned otherwise. And, in my opinion, you continue to do so. And, no, I will not bow to such juvenile linguistic foolishness as to use such nonsense terms as Xe, Zi, Xhe, FeFieFoeFum, etc.
I was asking everyone not to do that, and in another place I was asking the blog host for a better understanding of what I should expect. It has come to my attention that some people are sick and tired of having their words and behaviors dissected and do not wish conversations about them to be taking place even here on neutral ground. My hope is that people will care enough during these talks to not do that.
No no no, those words are not bigoted, in my opinion. Using “it” in place of those words is bigoted, in my opinion. And it is imprecise to call someone “he” when you should have used “she”, which is why the non-gendered pronouns were created. Now, we can be precise again by using a pronoun that acknowledges we do not know the gender of the person of which we speak. “It” doesn’t cut it, in my book. “It” robs people of their humanity by comparing them to non-human things.
Then can I ask that you cease all communication with me from here on out? I don’t believe I do deserve the abuse you dish out to me, and I never have.
“It has come to my attention that some people are sick and tired of having their words and behaviors dissected and do not wish conversations about them to be taking place even here on neutral ground.”
Tough shit. If they do not want their words and behaviours dissected, then they can stop preaching and get the fuck off the Internet.
“No no no, those words are not bigoted, in my opinion. Using “it” in place of those words is bigoted, in my opinion.”
Oh. OK. I can endorse that. I have been guilty of using it a couple of times in the past; but I no longer do (I don’t think I do). I had never used “it” in place of a pronoun until I saw it used frequently by loyal proles on FfTB. So, like most of my linguistic interactions with FfTB, I copied its use in the hopes of exposing some of that old time fabled FfTB hypocrisy.
“Then can I ask that you cease all communication with me from here on out?”
Sure, you can ask.
“I don’t believe I do deserve the abuse you dish out to me, and I never have.”
Well now, that’s just a matter of opinion isn’t it.
Aratina Cage said (#59):
Yet you seem to have no problem dishing out abuse to others, notably accusing (1) windy of “joking about cross burning” – and on diddly-squat in the way of evidence (2) – which is being charitable.
Michael: maybe centralize your talks? Running amok with 4 tabs opened is not very helpful.
The structure and a dedicated website for the dialogue is now online
I never said I was a totally nice person or that I couldn’t be a raging asshole. However, the things you point to as abuse in both 1 and 2, are in no way abuse under any reasonable definition of the term.
Please go back and read my explanation of those tweets to realize your mistake. As for 2, this is not secret information but I don’t want to name people here and the work on the graph is not on a public forum so I cannot repost it. You can do the work yourself. 🙂
Aratina Cage said (#64):
What absolutely unmitigated horse crap. “You keep using that word [reasonable]; I do not think it means what you think it means”. By your definition of the word, that might well be the case, but from my perspective that definition of yours still only looks like “in my opinion” as you’ve provided absolutely diddly-squat in the way of evidence to justify it – you know, the essence of reason and skepticism.
More specifically, I think that you’re not actually addressing what I’ve said – i.e., responding in detail to my rather lengthy argument (1). All you’re doing is saying “my opinion is the truth, and I refuse to actually look at what you’ve said”. Rather similar to creationists, is it not Aratina?
If you’re referring to my link to the Pit then of course it is a “public forum” – virtually anyone can read and post there even without registering. That you refuse to even look at it suggests that you’re not much interested in reading anything that might conflict with your preconceived notions, your pre-judgements, your prejudices. Again, rather like creationists ….
No, it is you who is making those types of claims – i.e. that windy was guilty of arguing that “cross-burning [is] an OK thing to joke about” – so it is you who have to provide that evidence and reasoning to justify it. “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”, i.e., in this case that one can quite easily conclude, particularly in light of a counter argument that you haven’t even responded to much less refuted, that you are absolutely full of it … rather much like creationists ….