“Elevatorgate” Challenge #1


I noticed something back in July about the people who were claiming “zero bad.” I’ve noticed it again, after a post promoting Dawkins new book got overrun by anti-Rebecca types. They simply can’t handle the details of what Rebecca said.

They say something. You tell them how it doesn’t fit the facts of the story. They say it again, ignoring what you’ve already told them. Alternatively, they decide that Rebecca must have been lying because…because…well, it isn’t because they were there. In fact, that seems to be the entire gist of this ongoing campaign to smear her character: Rebecca isn’t trustworthy. So, my challenge is this:

If you’re among the people who think what happened was “zero bad,” try something for me. Try assuming–say, just for the sake of argument–that the following are correct.

  1. Elevator Guy attended the “Communicating Atheism” panel at which Rebecca said she finds it sexist instead of complimentary when guys she doesn’t know express sexual interest in her.
  2. Elevator Guy was in the group at the bar where for several hours Rebecca and other discussed this panel and Rebecca made it clear that she doesn’t like being hit on at conferences–that he heard her say this.
  3. Around 4 a.m., Rebecca left after announcing to the group of which Elevator Guy was a part that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep–that he heard her say this.
  4. Elevator Guy then followed her into the elevator and asked her, in a confident manner, to come back to his hotel room.

Just for now, just assume those things. I won’t hold you to them later. I may point out that it’s creepy to assume a woman is lying unless you’ve got corroborating evidence, but I won’t say, “Well, you said here….”

Now, while you’re treating all those things as true, without blathering on about how they’re not, explain to me what makes that sequence of events “zero bad.”

Go.

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Stephanie, you’re arguing with people who would rather cut off their left foot than admit they are wrong about the whole Watson kurfungle.* Watson essentially said “guys, what EG did wasn’t cool” and she became the castrating man-hater from Hell.

    The MRAs have too much pride at stake to concede that Watson had a legitimate point. It’s their right to express their male privilege in any way they want and if that makes some woman feel uncomfortable, that’s her problem, not hers.

    But you already know this. All of us watching the MRAs in action know it. It’s so frustrating when certain people refuse to recognize something that’s so obvious that even socially oblivious me can see it.

    *I refuse to call it “elevatorgate.” I hate the “-gate” neologism used to describe some disagreement. Watergate was a political scandal. What happened in Dublin and the aftermath are neither political nor a scandal.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    The second sentence of the second paragraph of my post #1 should read: “It’s their right to express their male privilege in any way they want and if that makes some woman feel uncomfortable, that’s her problem, not theirs.”

  3. Pteryxx says

    Liars For Penis.™

    (I don’t even remember if I or someone else came up with that one.)

  4. DavidByron says

    You forgot to add (and need to add), “5 when he asked her to his room EG was hitting on her.”

    I guess I am not seeing why, even with that added assumption, this challenge is supposed to be hard, but perhaps you have a different concept of “bad”. To most sensible people “stuff I don’t like” does not necessarily constitute “bad”. Bad means stuff that someone else has a moral obligation to not do. OK? Now maybe this is a definition difference and that is all. If all you mean is that Watson didn’t like it but there was no moral obligation on the part of EG then we agree. But I assume that’s not true and you claim that EG had a moral duty to not do something Watson disliked.

    Dawkins in the original went to the bother of explaining all this. At least he did so to my comprehension. He said, what was it… he dislikes people chewing gum. He said he’d find it unpleasant to be in an elevator with someone chewing gum. Let’s say that Dawkins was at a conference and had gone at some length to express how he disliked people chewing gum at various times per your points above. Then someone who heard him say all that gets on the elevator with him and start chewing gum.

    Is that “zero bad” to you? To me (and Dawkins) that is “zero bad”, meaning that there is no moral duty on the person going up in the elevator with Dawkins to not chew gum. It’s a free country and they can chew gum if they want to, even if does annoy Dawkins, even if they know it does, even if Dawkins just got through saying so, even if it is in the tight confines of an elevator, and even if it is at 4 am.

    That’s the analogy he made and I’ve not heard anyone suggest why it doesn’t fit here, except to essentially make the claim that women have far superior rights over men (ie female supremacy) and therefore that anything which just annoys a woman should be considered a duty on men to not do. But of course the reverse is not at all true – women can do anything they like without regard to men’s feelings.

    If women had to respect men’s feelings as a moral duty then Watson would be immoral in saying no to EG’s request for coffee for example. I certainly don’t think Watson had such a moral duty. Not at all. But you believe that the man in the story did have that sort of duty of extreme sensitivity and care towards the woman and that is sexist.

  5. says

    How many times does a person have to say, “I don’t want you to do that to me,” before it becomes more than “zero bad” that somebody keeps going, David?

  6. penn says

    DavidByron (@2)

    I’m taking “bad” here to mean “creepy or rude”, which I believe were the terms originally used. You can decide for yourself if one has moral obligation to not be rude or creepy. Accepting all of the premises EG clearly showed obvious disrespect for Rebecca and her wishes, which is rude. He also waited until they were alone together at 3 AM to ask, which is creepy. That’s it. End of story.

    David, how would you feel if me and a couple of my friends asked you for your wallet while you were alone in a dark alley at 3 AM? Even if we accepted your answer would you still think it was morally akin to chewing gum in an elevator with you?

  7. says

    What amuses me about David@4’s apologetics is this.

    Imagine for a moment that this person was made aware prior to doing so that Richard Dawkins is irritated by gum-chewing. Imagine that this person then sought out Dawkins in order to deliberately take a piece of gum out of his pocket and chew it maliciously at Dawkins. Maybe Watermelon Hubba-Bubba. Which you then pop repeatedly while glaring directly at Dawkins. Would that not be considered a pretty dickish thing to do?

    Let’s ramp this up slightly. Let’s say you’re a gay person. People know generally that gay people don’t like being called “faggot”. Let’s say someone followed you into an elevator to, specifically, call you a faggot to your face while in that elevator. Is that equally zero bad?

    And even without your addendum number five — which, again, serves as apologetics for EG’s douchery (because it was UNINTENTIONAL douchery) — how does anyone with any manner of self-awareness assume all four of Stephanie’s points and NOT figure that asking someone to their room for coffee at 4 am would be taken for flirting, in direct contradiction to all of the expressed dislike that (if you assume Rebecca was telling the truth about these things) she had clearly expressed?

  8. says

    @7 paragraph 2: I screwed up on POVs, changed from 3rd person to 2nd inadvertently. Also, substitute “assholish” for “dickish”, because I didn’t intend to suggest that only a guy would be such an asshole. I didn’t even consider the gender of the term.

  9. says

    I wouldn’t say it was zero bad. But it wasn’t even close to nearly bad enough for all the ridiculousness that then ensued on both sides, and has had lasting unfortunate consequences for plenty of people. I count myself among them.

  10. kraut says

    “But you believe that the man in the story did have that sort of duty of extreme sensitivity and care towards the woman and that is sexist.”

    Guys like that behave like the Johns they are. Apparently it is their right by cock to ask a woman to their room at any time and at any place. A real pathetic excuse for a human being, even more so for the by him claimed designation “man”.

    The next time I see such an arsehole I take it to be my right to ask him for a homosexual encounter and will be mightily offended if he declines. Maybe I should rape him right then and there to show him how sexist I find his behaviour to refuse my advances.

  11. says

    penn@6: “David, how would you feel if me and a couple of my friends asked you for your wallet while you were alone in a dark alley at 3 AM? Even if we accepted your answer would you still think it was morally akin to chewing gum in an elevator with you?”

    Brilliant and concise.

  12. says

    Joey, I’m sorry you’ve been hurt in the splash on this. However, having spent time as a minor focal point of this, I have to remind people that there is nothing like equivalent behavior on “both sides” of this.

  13. DavidByron says

    People who go for an analogy with an implicit threat of violence (wallet) either aren’t very good at analogies or believe that all men always implicitly threaten women with violence simply by talking to them.

    Which is it please?

    As for folks who say it was merely rude to accost Watson, can we first of all agree that it was not sexist? Saying it was rude seems to be backing down to me, but perhaps you don’t see it that way.

    At the time Dawkins commented the assumptions stipulated in the original article here were certainly not understood so he may have meant by “zero bad” that EG wasn’t EVEN rude (or socially awkward). I didn’t interpret him that way because of his analogy to chewing gum. He presumably feels chewing gum is rude. Let’s say he says to his gum chewing elevator companion, “Could you please not chew that gum?” and they continue. Is that rude? Is that “zero bad”. I believe he’s saying that it would be rude but still zero bad.

    I also tend to interpret Stephanie’s challenge above as “Let’s assume that the EG knew he was being rude. That he doesn’t have any of the excuses that have been suggested and might or might not be true. Let’s assume he knew very well that his question was likely to be rebuffed.”

    I could certainly come up with more scenarios whereby even with Stephanie’s point 1-4 true, the EG would NOT be being rude. But I assume that would be to circumvent the point of the exercise here. Since the challenge BEGINS with the assumption that EG is rude I don’t consider that ending up concluding he was rude is exactly a hard thing to do. The more interest question is whether he necessarily went beyond being rude. I don’t believe so.

    To get beyond rude you’d need something like harassment or threats. This is what the “wallet” analogy hopes to get to but fails.

    Sometimes people feel they have to do rude things to get their desired goals. Like Jehoveh’s Witnesses coming to your house. Anyone in sales is in that position and in our culture men are landed with the shit work of being the sexual relationship salesmen. Its a shitty job and its an indication of how anti-male and sexist our society is that men are landed with that job, however that is the way it is. Attacking men again for just doing what they are pressured to by the gender role is doubly victimizing men — and of course feminists love to do that.

  14. binjabreel says

    DavidByron:

    For fuck’s sake, if you think that you get to pretend the cultural context the woman you want to talk to grew up in stops existing when you want to talk to her, you’re a fucking tool.

  15. penn says

    “I could certainly come up with more scenarios whereby even with Stephanie’s point 1-4 true, the EG would NOT be being rude.”

    Do it then. Please explain how someone can knowingly, willfully, and needlessly ignore another person’s perfectly reasonable wishes and not be rude.

  16. Philip Legge says

    kraut, a rhetorical threat of rape as pushback against “such an arsehole” isn’t cool, okay?

  17. H-Bomb says

    David @ 13:

    Sometimes people feel they have to do rude things to get their desired goals. Like Jehoveh’s Witnesses coming to your house. Anyone in sales is in that position and in our culture men are landed with the shit work of being the sexual relationship salesmen. Its a shitty job and its an indication of how anti-male and sexist our society is that men are landed with that job, however that is the way it is. Attacking men again for just doing what they are pressured to by the gender role is doubly victimizing men — and of course feminists love to do that.

    I’m sorry, what? Did you really just make the argument that men are culturally obligated to ‘sell’ a woman on a relationship? Are your relationships limited to the kind that are an exchange of services? Furthermore, did you really just discount every single non-hetero, non-monogamous relationship in existence?

    You might want to stop now before you show your true opinion about the hetero-norm and woman’s assumed servitude to man. You are already looking a bit like an ass.

  18. says

    David, you’re failing the challenge. This isn’t something Elevator Guy would think would probably be rebuffed. This is something Elevator Guy heard Rebecca say several times that she doesn’t like and doesn’t want. Deal with that part of it, or tell me you can’t.

    Your Witness analogy is fatally flawed because it fails to include the sign that says, “No solicitations. Religious solicitations count.”

    Try again.

  19. DavidByron says

    Stephanie:
    “David, you’re failing the challenge. This isn’t something Elevator Guy would think would probably be rebuffed. This is something Elevator Guy heard Rebecca say several times that she doesn’t like and doesn’t want. Deal with that part of it, or tell me you can’t.”

    I don’t see what difference that makes. Either EG thought he would be 100% rebuffed or he did not. If he did then it is clear that he had some other motivation for asking Watson. Maybe he just wanted any excuse to talk to her even for five seconds. If so he “scored”. Maybe it was a “dare” from his friends. Or in the alternative he thought there was a non-zero chance she would change her mind. Either way (under the terms of your scenario) he had his own goals and his own motivations which led him to being rude. People are generally not rude for no reason. He had a reason.

    What do you gain from suggesting that he had no reason? It’s like George Bush and “they hate us for our freedoms”. Denying someone any motivation suggests they are crazy and dangerous and to be feared. Is that what you are trying to do?

    At any rate I did answer your challenge whether you like the answer or not. Shorter version: rude (absent threats or harassment) does not imply “bad”.

    But in general I don’t think the evidence says EG was even being rude as your scenario here has us assume.

  20. says

    David, I didn’t say he has no motivation. I don’t care what his motivation is. It doesn’t matter unless he had some kind of emergency that only pretending Rebecca’s several “I don’t want you to do that to me”s didn’t exist would solve.

    This isn’t rude. This is, in fact, the line where legalities start in other matters. Take your Witnesses. If they ignored those postings, they would potentially be trespassing. That’s why you’re failing.

    Unless, of course, you can explain to me why Rebecca should be treated as public property.

  21. DavidByron says

    OK then I am not able to figure out what you meant by the first quote of yours in my post above. It looks like you are drawing a distinction between EG 100% knowing he would be rebuffed (you say) and merely thinking it likely (I say). Then you suggest the failure on my part to consider your position makes me “fail” the challenge. I don’t have a clue what you are chasing there.

    —————————————————

    You suggest that EG’s actions (under your scenario’s assumptions) are illegal. Wow. That’s quite a claim. What law do you think he was breaking? I mean even the NYPD would have to scratch their heads to come up with some shit to arrest this guy on.

    “Take your Witnesses. If they ignored those postings, they would potentially be trespassing.”

    But Watson and EG both had a perfect right to be where they were. I can’t even think of where you are going with this one.

  22. says

    But Watson and EG both had a perfect right to be where they were. I can’t even think of where you are going with this one.

    Think about it a little bit longer, David. You’ll get there soon enough. The analogy is imperfect, but it’s pretty damned close.

    A clue: what is the posting about no solicitations similar to in the actual elevator scenario?

  23. says

    You’re getting further and further from the challenge, David. Elevator Guy was told multiple times that his proposition wouldn’t be welcome. If he wasn’t 100% certain (or close enough for a normal human being) that he would be rebuffed, it was…why? Because he thought there was something about getting her alone in an elevator that would change things? Hmm….

    Yeah, I’m totally unsurprised that you didn’t understand the trespassing analogy or were entirely unable to deal with the nuances of what I said.

  24. ohioobserver says

    Evaluate this hypothetical situation: If EG had approached Rebecca as she left the bar (not followed her to the elevator or anywhere) and said “I find you very interesting. Would you be willing to meet me in the coffeeshop for coffee tomorrow morning and we can talk?” Is THIS a “bad”?

    And what’s different?

  25. says

    Not obviously any bad there, ohioobserver. It would depend on what came next. If it were the acceptance of “No” that Rebecca described, no big deal.

    He wouldn’t be inviting him back to his hotel room after she’d said she doesn’t like being hit on. He wouldn’t be waiting until he had her alone in an enclosed space to ask her something after not having talked to her all night. She would still have backup around, making it much more comfortable to say, “No,” since things don’t always go well afterward. Most importantly, he wouldn’t be combining those, getting her away from her friends into an enclosed space to ignore the fact that she’s already said, “I don’t want you to do that to me.”

  26. Tristan says

    Here’s my take:

    On a scale of zero to ten, rounding off to the nearest whole integer… it was zero bad.

  27. Munkhaus says

    Haha, love the ” ok, so what if you were being mugged in an alley at 4.35am in the morning! Huh! What then!” argument.
    Zero bad. Let’s move on.

  28. says

    No, Munkhaus and Tristan, it’s not that you’re being MUGGED at 4:35am in an alley. It’s that someone approaches you claiming to be a wallet inspector, and will you please not take it the wrong way and kindly hand them your wallet so they can inspect it?

    What are you, a mind reader?

  29. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    I don’t see what your objections about 100% rebuff have to do with the challenge. As I said above even if we make that assumption over and beyond your other assumptions, my answer stands.

    I also don’t understand why you are being so obtuse about why someone could see your scenario as less than 100% rebuff. Salesmen are often presented with poor prospects for a sale and it is their job to persuade and turn an initially unlikely prospect into a win.

    I’ve never been a salesman (even by analogy) but I would imagine unrealistic optimism and persistence helps. You just seems to lack empathy with EG.

    But it’s not important I guess.

    I thought you were saying you LITERALLY thought that EG committed a crime. If it was an analogy then I guess I say your analogy holds merit but fails to lead to a conclusion of trespass. Within the terms of the analogy EG was on public ground and not trespassing.

    Well I will leave it there and see if you get any other takers on your challenge.

  30. Munkhaus says

    Jason, that is the most ridiculous analogy I’ve ever heard. Why not try to think of something that is remotely plausible?

  31. Scrofula says

    #8:

    Also, substitute “assholish” for “dickish”, because I didn’t intend to suggest that only a guy would be such an asshole. I didn’t even consider the gender of the term.

    I didn’t even consider the gender of the term.

    Welcome to the world of those of us who have been castigated, chastised and banned for our gender-not-considering use of cunt, twat and all the rest, based on those words’ CURRENT use in our society of growing uppinness.

    Except you will be given bonus points for having opened up your mind (albeit to using male-specific insults; half points for you).

    Fanny means the ass in the US, but the twat in the UK? What do we does? Oh what a tangled twat we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

  32. aspidoscelis says

    “I noticed something back in July …”

    Can we have a new scandal, please?

    OK, what the hell… from premisses 1 to 4, it obviously follows that EG did something that Rebecca did not like, and which he had every reason to know Rebecca did not like. Is that bad? Well, that depends on the extent to which we think Rebecca’s desires reasonably compel others to act in accordance, and how bad we think it is when someone does not do so. Neither of those is determined by premisses 1 to 4. Any particular level of badness from zero to whatever the high end of the scale is can be arrived at by providing appropriate additional premisses that address this issue.

    The challenge is not to figure out how to avoid a particular conclusion based on the premisses provided, but to provide additional premisses needed to arrive at one of the various possible conclusions. This is easily done (e.g., “no one is compelled to go along with Rebecca’s desires on this matter”; “failing to do so is not bad”). However, it appears that a justification for those additional premisses is also desired, and lacking any common framework for evaluating such additional premisses, we’re simply left with various possibilities that we cannot decide between except by proclamation.

    The challenge is ill-formed. Any attempt to fulfill it can be accepted or rejected at whim.

    (As for what particular conclusion I would arrive at, I’d put EG’s actions on the low end of “bad”, in an area of the badness continuum labeled “rude/creepy”.)

  33. Guerra says

    Stephanie, why on Earth do you continue to defame Dawkins for a statement he made before these details were unknown to anyone? I have never understood this.

  34. says

    I haven’t been following this issue, but it seems to boil down to one thing: Some guy behaved like a dickhead, once.

    Hitting on someone who’s made it clear they don’t want to be hit on is not like asking someone for their wallet in a dark alley. It’s more like breaking into a loud, off-key song after someone’s asked you to stop humming.

    If this is the kind of thing which counts as a long-running scandal in atheist circles, then I’m afraid it makes them look hopelessly parochial.

  35. says

    Stephanie, I have to say, you’re one of the very few people with whom I disagree about all this but can also maintain a respectful discussion, and I appreciate that so much. For my part, I don’t think the extreme of either stance is correct, not the “zero bad” nor the people holding Rebecca up as a paragon. But I do agree that the people who found zero bad tend to be disturbingly misogynistic about it…and I also doubt they can be convinced to change that position, as with most groups predicated upon hatred and fear. (“Predicated?”)

  36. raymoscow says

    I can’t imagine how anyone can see the scenario as ‘zero harm’.

    A stranger follows someone into a lift in the middle of the night, and that person feels somewhat threatened by the stranger’s behaviour.

    Isn’t the feeling of a threat caused by an action, justified or not, a harm? This is not just a feeling from the stranger’s existence (how could he help that?) but because of something he did.

    One might consider the harm to be a small thing, when viewed from the perspective of the greater harms that fill the world, but that doesn’t make it ‘zero harm’. Heck, there’s practically nothing that can’t be trivialised by comparing it to the greater suffering of others, but that doesn’t make it ‘zero’.

    It’s also possible that the harm was unintentional, but that’s a different issue.

    The trivialising argument reminds of the defense argument in a murder trial in one of Mark Twain’s stories: yes, my client might have killed this one person, but there are literally millions of others that he has never killed.

  37. says

    I guess I am not seeing why, even with that added assumption, this challenge is supposed to be hard, but perhaps you have a different concept of “bad”. To most sensible people “stuff I don’t like” does not necessarily constitute “bad”.

    Huh. I always wondered what a Goal Post sounded like when being dragged across the stadium!

  38. says

    Munkhaus@31: you might want to look up what the word “analogy” means.

    Scrofula@32: while I’m sensitive to using gendered terms in either direction, that does not mean that people like you, who evidently fight for the right to use “cunt” or “twat” in public despite its cross-cultural differences in meaning, have that right. The privileged classes, for whom all rights seem designed, are not being unfairly castigated for using slurs on the unprivileged. Reducing a person to their genitals is bad, yes. But reducing a woman to their genitals in a culture that already ignores it when women are TREATED as mere life support systems for their vaginas, is orders of magnitude worse than reducing someone to their genitals who just wants to leave mushroom prints on every blog commenter’s face.

  39. Pen says

    If points 1-4 are true EG knew he was offering unwelcome attention, which is deliberately obnoxious.

    If he is obnoxious to everyone indiscriminately, he might argue that the behavior as such isnt’t sexist. On the other hand the content of the obnoxiousness was related to sexual and gender characteristics, which is usually called sexism.

    I have met a few people who seem to feel that they are performing a public service by being obnoxious because it challenges others on their preconceptions or senses of entitlement. Also known as trolls when they do it online. My view is 1) given that there are non-obnoxious ways of doing that, being obnoxious is still bad, 2)where privilege enters into things, you, the privileged individual, are more likely to be in need of this service, 3)you were obnoxious buddy, expect people to take action over it.

  40. says

    Joey: I agree completely that this started with an incident that should not have been blown out of all proportion. EG made a tone-deaf, context-insensitive move. Watson treated it appropriately with her anonymous “call-out” and request that guys not do the things that made her feel creeped out. Then people started misinterpreting what she asked, feelings were hurt, and it went into a death spiral where a few straw-feminists and ur-MRAs completely destroyed any proportionality to any response. Everyone on the middle ground is being caught by the splash damage repeatedly. I’m sorry that you’re among them.

  41. tarian says

    Sigh. Directed at the “zero harm” contingent: Some women are sexual assault survivors. Some survivors experience PTSD. Propositioning a woman in an elevator after she has communicated that she does not want to get hit on at conferences says that a) you are the sort of person who is willing to violate stated boundaries, and b) you are the sort of person who is at best unconcerned with the effect of trapping a woman in an enclosed space to make your desires known. EG was not a rapist, but this is *how rapists behave*. This behavior may trigger flashbacks; i.e., cause actual mental harm to the woman you’re approaching. Did that happen here? No. Is it a risk? Yes. You are of course free to decide that the risk of traumatizing another human is less important than your freedom to express your desires at that particular moment. Decent human beings, once appraised of the risk of harm, will tend to try not to do it again. Which was the point of the “guys, don’t do that.” If you weren’t already aware that this behavior is creepy and possibly triggering, you’ve now been informed.

    Furthermore, in the context of a discussion on “how do we get more women to attend atheist conferences”, the presence of creepy dude is a disincentive. Sexism in the atheist/skeptic movement makes some women unwilling to attend the events. Irrespective of the harm done to any particular woman you’re approaching badly, it’s damaging to the movement insofar as it drives otherwise sympathetic people away. Of course, the MRA contingent probably views this as a feature, not a bug: “yay, we get to keep our boys’ club! no gurlz allowed! o wait, this one agrees with us, she can come in.”

  42. adamshelton says

    Maybe David et al would understand the alley analogy if it were modified a little bit to not include wallet inspectors, which they seem to have trouble imagining.

    ****************

    Panhandler A & Panhandler B are sitting on the sidewalk doing their thing. A pedestrian walks by. Panhandler A asks for some money. The pedestrian politely declines and continues walking. Panhandler B gets up and follows.

    The pedestrian walks down an alley and Panhandler B catches up, stops the pedestrian and asks for some money.

    If I were the pedestrian in this scenario, I would definitely be worried. And this does not in any way imply that all panhandlers are out for blood. But there is the possibility that this particular panhandler is unstable, would do harm and could easily do so in this location.

    Is Panhandler B doing zero bad here? They just saw the pedestrian express a lack of interest in giving money away. And now they’re asking anyway in a secluded location. Seems to contain some degree of badness to me.

  43. Crommunist says

    Scanning through this thing I was deeply depressed until I saw @tarian #42 (which, coincidentally, is the answer to life, the universe, and elevators).

    If the skeptic community has an interest in increasing diversity, then we should refrain from engaging in behaviours that impede that increase.

    EG engaged in a behaviour that made someone uncomfortable, and would likely make MANY people uncomfortable. Whether a crime was committed or human rights were abrogated is immaterial – the behaviour made someone uncomfortable.

    When people are uncomfortable, they are disincentivized from participation.

    It’s that simple. Bringing in issues of “free speech” and “men’s rights” are simply red herrings that are IN NO WAY connected to the substance of the complaint. It’s simply a refusal to engage on the actual issue – there are behaviours that make certain people uncomfortable and if we want to encourage those people to participate, we should stop doing them.

    And to everyone saying “UGH, this happened a million years ago, why can’t we just move on”, the reason we’re still on this is because people have clearly not learned from it.

  44. says

    Guerra, I suggest you actually read a definition of “defame” before you go throwing the word around.

    Scrofula, your persecution complex is showing. Did you have something to add to the challenge?

    Tristan, you fail the most basic basics of the challenge. Fake math doesn’t disguise that.

    Munkhaus, you don’t even have the fake math going for you.

    Kapitano, if you’re so ineffably bored, flounce–quietly. Your opinion of what happened while you weren’t looking is beyond pointless. Also, you can’t get the basics right either. It’s much more like following someone who has repeatedly asked you to stop humming and spent some time talking about how having to deal with humming interferes with getting work done, then breaking into song as soon as you have them alone someplace where they can’t get away. Funny how it gets creepier when you include all the information at once, no?

    By the way, folks, the word you’re looking for isn’t “rude.” It’s “sociopathic.” That’s exactly what this thread was designed to get at. Not only can you not explain yourselves without glossing over the four points of the challenge, but you can’t come up with any reason that consists of anything more than, “Well, I don’t have to do those things that allow people to manage in groups larger than one.”

  45. kerfluffle says

    @42. Thank you.

    I’m pretty new to the whole atheist scene and egate is disturbing. If someone followed me into an elevator to make sure we were alone when they hit on me after I repeatedly said “I don’t want to be hit on,” it would be creepy. Depending on the body language, it could be be scary.

    Finding out that a majority of atheists seems to think that I would somehow deserve that means that I don’t want to go where large crowds of atheists are.

  46. says

    kerfuffle, I don’t think it’s the majority of atheists. I think it’s a minority that are trying very hard to convince themselves they are the majority. Before this, I’d have said a majority were part of the problem or in denial about it, but I think this whole thing has changed the denial somewhat.

  47. kerfluffle says

    Stephanie Zvan,

    I think you’re right. I hope you’re right. I wonder if I’m getting paranoid sometimes. People are better in person, the anonymous say horrible things. There’s a lot of reasons to ignore the ramifications of egate. At the same time, why would any rational woman walk into an event knowing that a significant portion of the attendees will mock her for having an opinion about her own boundaries?

  48. says

    @48/49: Agreed, this much is evident with how often the apologists are complaining about how we’re still on this topic. The more we raise the profile of this sort of issue, the more uncomfortable they get and rally around their cry of “zero bad” and “can we get a new controversy”.

    Assholes aren’t anything like the majority.

  49. raymoscow says

    Re: kerfuffle @ 48, 50: Unfortunately it only takes a few badly behaving people to spoil things for everyone. I hope your experiences at freethought/sceptic/atheist events are better than some comments might lead one to expect.

    I think most people are pretty decent.

  50. julian says

    Why not try to think of something that is remotely plausible?

    I’m not Mr Thibeault but

    You are on your way home from grocery shopping after dark. A stranger walks up to you and says “Nice shoes.” He is standing directly in front of you and could easily impede your path. Muggings are common in this area and you know the muggers are almost always after men’s shoes.

    Is it unreasonable for you to feel wary and uncomfortable in this situation?

  51. aspidoscelis says

    @Jason, 51- Just in case I’m getting lumped in with the MRA/apologists, just thought I’d say I ain’t one. I’m not particularly excited by the details of the elevator guy situation, though. I think just about anything that could be said on either side has been. Actually, I think your comment 41 sums things up nicely. The elevator guy situation has been so swamped with vitriol that I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to try to drag reasonableness back out of it. Hence, my response was to the particulars of the challenge (which is fairly interesting) and not much to the particulars of the EG situation.

    FWIW, I’m in general agreement with Rebecca’s original video comments on the situation (which, as I recall, boiled down to: “that’s creepy, please don’t do it”), but have no particular vested interest in the situation. I’m fine with calling EG’s behavior “sociopathic” too, for that matter, although I will readily admit that I’m not entirely sure where the boundary between “creepy” and “sociopathic” lies.

  52. says

    Ok, I’ve assumed all of those things, and taken into account your note that, “I may point out that it’s creepy to assume a woman is lying unless you’ve got corroborating evidence, but I won’t say, “Well, you said here….””

    You mean like the corroborating evidence that directs contradicts propositions 2 and 3? You know, that pesky picture that is of Rebecca Watson and the others at her table. No one but those at her table seem to be within earshot. She says it wasn’t one of those 3.

    4.) her video does not say that EG followed her into the elevator, only that they were both on the same elevator. It would have been easy enough to say “and this guy followed me from the bar to the elevator and waited with me before we both got in.” Or something. She didn’t say anything like that.

    So, taking account of the actual information that’s publicly available, I’ll assume the only proposition that’s left untouched, 1.

    “Elevator Guy attended the “Communicating Atheism” panel at which Rebecca said she finds it sexist instead of complimentary when guys she doesn’t know express sexual interest in her.”

    Is now a bad time to mention that she was invited to coffee, and not actually propositioned for sex? There is nothing on record that indicates he tried to or expressed in having sex with her. Indeed, such as the information available indicates, if taken to be true, he expressed interest in having a conversation over coffee.

    Do you have information denied to the rest of us that is slightly more concrete than some people’s assertions that asking someone to coffee necessarily means let’s fuck?

  53. Munkhaus says

    Julian; well, that at least makes sense, but inventing analogies that fit your narrative is easy ( although not for the wallet inspector guy). How bout this:
    Your leaving a bar at *4am* in a lawless post-apocalypse foreign city like, I dunno, Dublin say. You’ve been talking to your mates about how you hate beggars asking you for money. As youre waiting for a taxi a friend of a friend from the bar comes out and says:
    “phew, good night wasn’t it. You, er, couldnt lend me a fiver for a cab could you?”
    You say: ” No mate I’m skint”
    He says “Fair enough, see ya”
    You go home.
    It’s easy making things up innit?

  54. says

    Penn @ 6: so, in your mind it’s materially insignificant how many people do the asking such that comparing a gang of people in a dark alley approaching one person is precisely equivalent to one person approaching one other person in a well lit building that we know has both security and cameras?

    Wow. Well, if we’re going to go changing the essential facts and call this concise and brilliant, then there’s nothing that can’t be shown.

    How about in this dark alley after you and your gang of friends ask for my wallet, my special forces friends come rappelling in and answer no for me?

  55. says

    aspidoscelis, the line between creepy and sociopathic isn’t particularly firm. That’s part of the reason I think treating the details of a situation honestly and fully while discussing it are important.

  56. says

    Justicar: that’s not assuming that 2 and 3 are true, though, so you’re evidently failing the challenge.

    And your photographic evidence does not, in fact, rebut the other parts of this assumption that Elevator Guy was at the bar and therefore had the ability to approach her at any time and, you know, make “wanna come back to my place” NOT the first words she and he exchanged.

    Beyond that, I am 100% certain that Rebecca has in fact claimed that EG left the bar at the same time as her and got onto the same lift as her, implying following. It could be totally coincidental that this happened to play into EG being able to ask her to coffee in his room at 4am.

    The fact that the Dublin hotel in question did not provide coffee makers in their rooms according to Rebecca Watson’s roommate does actually call into question whether he was likely to have meant “coffee”. However, see this post, point 2 for why it doesn’t actually matter what he was thinking and why people claiming that his intent is important are engaging in misdirection.

  57. says

    Justicar, you’re either lying or uninformed (after all this time and energy on your part?) about points two and three. Which is it?

    And you fail in your description of point 4. He invited her back to his hotel room, remember? And had plenty of time to talk to her and drink coffee with her in the bar, remember? Get on task or go away.

    Munkhaus, if it’s so easy to make things up, why didn’t you make up something where your friend of a friend followed you to somewhere isolated and without exit before asking for money? Too hard, innit?

  58. Tristan says

    Tristan, you fail the most basic basics of the challenge. Fake math doesn’t disguise that.

    Le sigh – everyone’s a critic. I thought it was funny.

  59. says

    You say I’m either lying or misinformed?

    So, there doesn’t exist a picture of Rebecca at the table in that bar?

    Yes, he invited her back to his room. I’m still at a loss to understand how that necessarily implies sexual invitation? It could very well mean that, or not. The only way to make a statement about what it must mean is to stray beyond what the data, if taken as true, can actually bear out.

    Whenever I invite someone to coffee, it’s for coffee. The location is irrelevant to me. Coffee means coffee, not coffee and screwing.

    Again, you said I lied: so are you saying this photograph does not exist?

  60. julian says

    It’s easy making things up innit?

    Make things up? The scenario I gave was something that’s happened to me. I consider the EG scenario similar even if it isn’t the same thing which is why I gave it. That and I hope to get across we all have a ‘schrodinger’s something.’ Drunk driver, burglar, identity thief ect. We all take precautions to minimize risk and that when confronted with suspicious behavior (especially in places where we expect to encounter these risks) we all raise our guard.

    Likewise we should be aware enough of what we’re doing to avoid to making ourselves seem more threatening than we wish to be. For example, peering over the shoulder of a stranger entering her pin at an ATM machine. Or popping open a beer can and stepping into your car while the police are driving by. This is pretty basic stuff.

  61. says

    There’s a photograph showing that, at one point in time, Elevator Guy was not one of the three people at Rebecca Watson’s table. As this is a snapshot, and not the permanent state of the bar, how do you know this situation did not evolve over the evening? She DID, after all, leave at 4 AM, not immediately after this picture was taken.

  62. says

    Julian: and when you get hit by a drunk driver, or get your identity stolen, do the police ignore your victimhood because you were insufficiently self-protective?

  63. says

    Jason @ 59: Justicar: that’s not assuming that 2 and 3 are true, though, so you’re evidently failing the challenge.

    That’s because of the note she put on . . . right there. Next piece. Unless there is evidence. There is direct evidence that is publicly available and freely visible to anyone who cares to look at it that shows neither 2 nor 3 are propositions that one can just freely assume without breaching ethics. They are directly contradicted by evidence; namely, photographic evidence.

    Of course, our fair hostess here has said that I’m lying about this. I’ve written a reply to her asking if she’s saying I’m lying about the picture even existing, or what? I note that said post seems to be somewhere delayed.

  64. says

    Yes, Justicar. Lying or uninformed. Rebecca has said she can’t identify EG (so much for him needing to worry about being all persecuted) because she has prosopagnosia. She can’t tell you whether he’s part of any picture, unless the people in it have something very distinctive about them.

  65. says

    I see said comment, Justicar. Your martyrdom fails if it’s a local caching issue, I’m afraid. Press Ctrl-F5 before claiming some sort of suppression in the future.

    I have addressed your photographic evidence, which I’ve seen, on two levels, in @64.

  66. says

    For the record, I haven’t seen any photograph, but Rebecca did also note that she was taking pictures with various people in the bar. Got anyone claiming these were all the people she talked to all night?

  67. says

    Ah, as Stephanie said, Rebecca has also claimed prosopagnosia, which either means she’s lying (because she’s untrustworthy about everything else in her account, amirite!?) or she has no way of telling who’s who anyway, never mind whether the situation had evolved since the picture was taken at, if memory serves, roughly 1:30am. (I’d have to find that picture again and look at the timestamp.)

  68. julian says

    Julian: and when you get hit by a drunk driver, or get your identity stolen, do the police ignore your victimhood because you were insufficiently self-protective?

    No, sir. They take those kinds of crimes very seriously and accept your testimony without the 3rd degree. Nor does foolish spending on your part disqualify you from having any money stolen from you returned. Likewise a history of drinking or being a poor driver doesn’t seem to be very relevant if you’ve been hit by a drunk driver.

  69. says

    I see my comment has made its appearance.

    Jason @ 64: “There’s a photograph showing that, at one point in time, Elevator Guy was not one of the three people at Rebecca Watson’s table. As this is a snapshot, and not the permanent state of the bar, how do you know this situation did not evolve over the evening? She DID, after all, leave at 4 AM, not immediately after this picture was taken.”

    It is not my problem that what evidence is publicly available and verifiable doesn’t jive with the story that’s being sold. This is only a problem for those telling of the event as, you know, I wasn’t there. Since I wasn’t there, I have to contrast what I am told against what is objectively verifiable.

    It is said that EG was around Watson; viz, “Elevator Guy was in the group at the bar where for several hours Rebecca and other discussed this panel[.]”

    And, “Around 4 a.m., Rebecca left after announcing to the group of which Elevator Guy was a part that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep–that he heard her say this.”

    So, he was there for hours and yet what evidence is available happens to correspond with a precise window of time during which he was conspicuously not there. It could be coincidental to be sure. However, and again, this isn’t my problem as I’m not the one who’s asking people to accept the say-so of a person who was admittedly not sober over the publicly verifiable, objective evidence that does exist.

    Remember, skepticism? Evidence > personal testimony. Especially when the two are not seemingly congruent. One’s say-so is always the least reliable form of data.

    I’ll happily take the heat for preferring objective, publicly verifiable evidence over the say-so of someone who was taking mind-altering, memory and reasoning impairing substances, but wants me to take her word that it’s exactly true.

    The evidence and her story do not agree. Again, not to put too fine a point on it, that isn’t my problem; it’s hers. If there’s an explanation for how both are simultaneously true, or at least not incongruent, I’m all ears.

  70. says

    Well, then, you’ve got one more comment, Justicar, in which to acknowledge and accept that I’ve just explained to you how the picture and the story are congruent and get back on the topic of the challenge. Use it well.

  71. Munkhaus says

    Stephanie;
    I considered adding that could take that analogy further: specifying that there was no-one around, perhaps they’d walked to a deserted street corner, maybe he even asked to share a cab or invited her back for a coffee (heaven forfend!) to talk “more”, but I thought it might be fairly obvious that it wouldn’t matter and the point I was making us that it’s easy to invent analogies to support your narrative. Once again I seem to have overestimated your intelligence.

  72. says

    Munkhaus, you think it’s insulting my intelligence to actually meet the challenge? I don’t think so. It’s a very different thing to include isolating someone and cutting them off from potential help–as has been pointed out multiple times in this thread.

  73. says

    Those following along by email will notice that Justicar’s last comment has disappeared. He’s welcome to continue to try to actually meet the requirements laid out for him. If he doesn’t he’s welcome to tell the world how horribly mean I am for not giving him a pass on his inability to follow directions.

  74. Pteryxx says

    Justicar already tried pre-judging Rebecca’s face-recognition capability yesterday, here. Apparently eyewitness testimony is only infallible if Justicar can blame the victim with it.

    PZ’s comment from here:

    He’s doing a lot of silly analysis of a photo I tweeted in that bar in Dublin, counting people and making genuinely stupid arguments about Elevator Guy (hint: I was in the middle of a crowd of people at many tables in the bar — you cannot make quantitative arguments about the people there from my photo). There was a large and lively group there: I know, I was there. Justicar wasn’t. That doesn’t stop him from making shit up, though.

  75. julian says

    Those following along by e-mail will note, also, that the comment she disappeared is the one in which I point out that she’s not seen the photograph and refuses to look it

    You mean the off topic post you made, Justicar, after being specifically told to get on topic? Really I can’t see why anyone would disapprove of your behavior.

  76. julian says

    Rebecca has said she can’t identify EG… because she has prosopagnosia.

    *wikies*

    Ah.

    Well that would explain why she’s able to pick out body language so well. Not sure what to say.

  77. says

    Another piece of evidence the Liars for Penis are ignoring is the fact that EG said “I find your ideas fascinating”, indicating either he was present for the talk, present for the discussion, both, or is lying about actually finding her ideas fascinating. All four possibilities do nothing to assuage the creepy factor.

  78. says

    Yeah, it also explains the occasional “She’s so standoffish” commentary that has perplexed me for ages. She’s hugely friendly at conventions, but if someone is expecting to be recognized and isn’t, that can cause some bad feelings.

  79. says

    Julian: I would say “associative prosopagnosia” since she has suggested she can recognize people by other aspects of their character that are distinctive. I could see learning body language as a method for identification. We also don’t know how severe it is.

  80. julian says

    That’s it? That’s *THE* picture?

    Jesus H Christ… Justicar, you have got to have better than that.

  81. says

    julian, don’t you think that if the picture were worth anything, he’d be posting links to it everywhere? No, he’s trying desperately to sow doubt. The fact that doing so requires people to just make stuff up that contradicts what Rebecca has said is kind of the point of this post.

  82. Munkhaus says

    Stephanie;
    My analogy: yes, they’d walked to the next street for a cab, it was all isolated there, he could have done anything, gone mental! No-one was around! The person might even be a previous mugging victim.9It was zero bad. But you have your own analogies.
    More interesting is: could someone (even you Stephanie)address Justicar’s point about evidence vs personal testimony from a drunk person. Is this not a fairly basic skeptical tool? Why is it not applied in this situation? “We must be open minded skeptics, taking emotion out of the equation, evidence based. Except when my friend’s involved!!!11″

  83. Tristan says

    “We must be open minded skeptics, taking emotion out of the equation, evidence based. Except when my friend’s involved!!!11″

    This. This right here is why I’m glad I’ve never invested a huge amount of myself in the online skeptical community. Everywhere I go, I see the same basic pattern: a core community of commenters and (sometimes) blog owners who seem to think that skepticism is something one only applies to one’s enemies, or to ideas that one already disagrees with. Far too often, on far too many topics, I see blatant, in-your-face lies, errors, misrepresentations and fallacies go uncorrected or even lauded by the regulars, simply because it agrees with the party line. Loud and clear, the message comes across: “Skepticism? Fuck that shit – this is important to me!”

    A true skeptic, on the other hand, understands that skepticism must be most rigorously applied to things they want to believe – because that’s where they’re most in danger of being fooled.

    What to do when the “Skeptic” community is infested by such thinking? Same thing the “skeptic” community does to purveyors of all things woo: point at it and laugh. Loudly.

  84. says

    Munkhaus, Tristan, if Rebecca wants to try to tell me, word-for-word, what conversations she had over the course of that evening, I’m going to be skeptical. If she tells me that something highly unusual and difficult to observe happened, I’m going be skeptical. If she wants to tell me that she did something stupid but that it made perfect sense under the circumstances, I’m going to be skeptical. Those are the things that alcohol affects.

    None of those apply here. Nothing about knowing that you went on at length about not wanting to be hit on at conventions is going to be impaired by some alcohol. It doesn’t take a keen eye for detail to know that the guy behind you in the hallway in a hotel at 4 a.m. came from the same place you did. It takes just as much sobriety to say a polite, “No,” when you’re propositioned on an elevator as it does to remember it happened.

    Nothing Rebecca has said requires any great degree of sobriety. None of the people in the bar have done anything but confirm details of what she’s said. No one from the bar has come forward to contradict her.

    Skepticism is one thing. Scratching about for reasons not to believe when all the evidence points in one direction is denialism. Give me evidence–not hypotheses, not insinuations–or get back on topic.

  85. julian says

    My analogy

    Really hasn’t been all that analogous.

    Up until now it’s still been two people who are fairly familiar with each other in a situation neither has particular advantage over the other.

    Your revised version seems to have some of the same elements as the EG encounter. But there’s still a familiarity between you and the other in your story that isn’t present in Ms Watson’s nor are the requests on the same level. Being out with a friend of a friend, drinking at a pub and then trying to bum some cab fare off them is very different from asking someone you’ve never really spoken to for sex after they’ve made it clear they don’t appreciate such come ons.

    Still, dismissing your companions wishes is pretty rude and following someone into a deserted street late at night and asking for money can be creepy. In the case you give though I’d say the behavior was just rude.

    could someone (even you Stephanie)address Justicar’s point about evidence vs personal testimony from a drunk person.

    Really wasn’t much of a point. Especially considering if Ms Watson has prosopagnosia identifying EG is pretty much out of the question. The story we’re given is very straightfoward and really wouldn’t change regardless of sobriety (with the possible exception of the truly blitzed).

    It may even make the encounter more ‘creepy.’ Here’s Ms Watson, visibly intoxicated (head hung, trying to focus, propping herself up against the elevator wall) having announced she’s calling it quits for the night, she’s followed by this stranger and asked ‘Don’t take this the wrong way but would you like to come up to my room for coffee?’

    I’ve heard to many date rape stories start that way. (In fact when I first heard the EG story I had to remind myself nothing happened half way through it)

  86. julian says

    Same thing the “skeptic” community does to purveyors of all things woo: point at it and laugh. Loudly

    Yes, you all did a fine bit of that to the people who shared their stories of rape and assault. Didn’t realize you were proud of it, however.

    Kinda sad actually.

  87. tarian says

    Wow, I must be hanging out in the wrong (right?) part of the internet; this is my first pass by way of the “pics or it didn’t happen!” crew. I confess I was a little confused as to why exactly the challenge was phrased as “first, assume these things are true…” because to my mind, most of them are unnecessary. About the only thing that needs to be true to make this an illustrative What Not To Do example is EG’s existence and actions on the elevator. Adding prior knowledge that this particular lady does not want to be propositioned makes it worse, but even if you have absolutely no idea whether the lady with whom you are sharing an elevator would welcome such a thing, it is not that hard to pick a time and place where you are not going to be exhibiting high threat level.

    Thanks for the friendly comments; I was really hoping one of the “zero bad” contingent would address my point of view, but perhaps that’s overly optimistic. Ah, well. Each pass through the endless sexism on the internets!!!eleventy topic seems to pick up one or two more people who really are decent human beings and just never thought about it that way, so it’s worth the typy stuff.

  88. Tristan says

    Julian@91: that had to be on purpose, right? Nobody can possibly be quite that unaware, can they?

  89. says

    Alek, you’re welcome to post here if you’re actually going to deal with the challenge. Just dropping a link is spam and has been treated as such. People already have a link to your blog above. They can wander around all they want.

  90. Munkhaus says

    Julian@90

    What is wrong with you people? You can change that analogy as much as you like… it´s not important, that you fixate in pointing out the differences to Watsons anecdote until it is exactly the same quite instructive.
    My point, as I specifically mentioned: it´s childs play to invent ridiculous analogies that conform to your preconceived narrative. And it´s pointless.

    Tristan

    “A true skeptic, on the other hand, understands that skepticism must be most rigorously applied to things they want to believe – because that’s where they’re most in danger of being fooled.”

    Exactly. Like perhaps looking at alternative viewpoints. There is only one side to this story though… the party line, and don´t dare ask any questions.

    I have one though. Stephanie: Re this “prosopagnosia”… just to prove Justicar wrong (well to be fair, he´s only being skeptical about it) is there anything you can point to, any mention of this on an old blog or something? She must have written about/mentioned such an unusual affliction right? Can you find it please?

  91. says

    Sure, Munkhaus, just like you’ve posted every disability you’ve ever had on the web for everyone to mock. Oh, wait. It’s not like anyone would ever mock Rebecca for anything, right?

    Justicar’s basis for his “skepticism” is that Rebecca could name the people in pictures in her own PowerPoint. Are you saying you actually find that somehow compelling?

    Now, how about you get around to meeting that challenge. You haven’t even made a go at it yet.

  92. says

    Why don’t you fools just ask her about it? Or has she already blocked you for all the times you’ve called her names to her face?

    The lesson I’m taking away from this post is: it sure is easy to meet your challenge, Stephanie. All you have to do is ignore it outright and talk about other stuff.

    I just got back from the grocery store.

    What? Is that not setting off your skeptic alarms? Are you planning on doing a thorough debunking of my statement any time soon? Now why is that?

  93. Munkhaus says

    Just thought she might’ve mentioned it somewhere so we could at least clear it up. But maybe not, you’re right, who knows. I think I might have mentioned it somewhere, sometime, had it been me. Might have cleared up any misunderstandings with not recognising people, dunno.Genuine question.
    As for your challenge, I’d missed the part where he “confidently” asked her back to his “hotel” room. Is it important that he was confident? I’m trying to decide if that makes it badder. (more badder)

  94. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “Not only can you not explain yourselves without glossing over the four points of the challenge, but you can’t come up with any reason that consists of anything more than, “Well, I don’t have to do those things that allow people to manage in groups larger than one.””

    I have no real idea why you think I didn’t satisfy the challenge.

    To repeat: your scenario basically is “assume that EG was being rude” and I simply pointed out that being rude doesn’t count as “bad”. It’s not sexist or immoral. It’s not threatening or harassing. It’s zero bad. Plenty of people in this thread were rude to me. Were they all “bad”?

  95. DavidByron says

    I don’t really see the point of making this about Watson per se. For the purposes of discussing the ethics it works just fine as a hypothetical. In this thread that is made explicit.

    OTOH did she really claim she has some rare condition that means she can’t recognise faces? That’s funny. Oh come on — it’s funny! Oh you feminists have no sense of….

    Actually more interesting would be the EG guy. If he exists then you have to figure at this point he has probably heard of the debate and taken a side. Which side would he take? In my opinion he would not be on the anti-Watson side but the pro-Watson side.

    Why? Well if he disagreed he’d probably be coming forward to put his side of what went on. Why keep silent? But let’s assume this guy was telling the truth when he said to Watson that he found what she said interesting. He’s probably a feminist. He’s probably the sort of oversensitive feminized male that goes around these boards attacking other men and sucking up to feminist women.

    Under those circumstances given how things shook out he’d be highly embarrassed to admit that he was EG who has now been labeled by “his side” as a potential rapist and utter asshole / jerk. That would explain why he does not come forward and explain why he did what he did, and put his side of the story out there. Doing so would label him as even more of an asshole to all the people on his “side”.

    So that’s my hypothesis. EG was one of you feminists and you’ve been slagging this guy off from day one when in reality he’s probably EXACTLY the sort of “sensitive” guy that you pretend to wish all men were like.

  96. says

    David, I’ve already pointed out that (1) you still glossed over the points of the challenge and (2) what you’re calling “rude” is actually sociopathic. The fact that you can say it’s the same thing as people responding to you here doesn’t actually make it so.

  97. DavidByron says

    tarian asks for someone to respond to her argument.

    Basically your argument is a variation on Pascal’s Wager. You hypothesise a mentally crippled woman who is going to be seriously harmed merely by someone talking to her. In analogy that’s the “god exists” hypothesis.

    You argue that even if the odds of someone you speak to being a mental cripple such as you hypothesise (God existing) is extremely low, the damage could be very high (or the pay off if God exists is high). Therefore you say, multiplying very improbable by large result, we get to a significant concern.

    This argument can be refuted in the same ways Pascale’s Wager can be. There are several.

    For example you can point out that it is equally possible to hypothesis that the woman would suffer enormous harm if the man did NOT talk to her. Or you could point out that if the logic was valid it would pretty much prove that you shouldn’t do anything to anyone ever.

    Hope that helps you.

  98. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    I don’t understand what you mean by “glossed over”. I already said that as I understand it the purpose of your conditions 1-4 was to hypothesise that the EG had knowledge that his question was likely to be rebuffed, and therefore that his insisting on asking anyway (for some motivation) was rude. Do you disagree with that characterisation of your points?

    But rude is all you get and you had to assume that to begin with. Yes I saw you use the word “sociopathic” above. Frankly that sounds a little ridiculous. We’re not talking about a US senator here. There’s no reason to think this guy was a sociopath.

    Do you think everybody who is rude is a sociopath?

    Am I missing some argument in the comments I haven’t read yet?

    (1) assume EG was rude
    (2) ????
    (3) Profit!

    or
    (3) sociopath!

  99. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “kerfuffle, I don’t think it’s the majority of atheists. I think it’s a minority that are trying very hard to convince themselves they are the majority. Before this, I’d have said a majority were part of the problem or in denial about it, but I think this whole thing has changed the denial somewhat.”

    I had the impression that most atheists are against you on this one, the more so as the topic is talked about. As a result I am pretty happy that this stuff is being discussed. Lots of people basically saying, well I used to think positively about feminism but not any more, or otherwise saying things that suggest they suddenly get it.

    So I find it interesting that you have the opposite impression.

    I wonder if there’s any way to get a metric on this question.

  100. H-Bomb says

    I had the impression that most atheists are against you on this one, the more so as the topic is talked about. As a result I am pretty happy that this stuff is being discussed. Lots of people basically saying, well I used to think positively about feminism but not any more, or otherwise saying things that suggest they suddenly get it.

    Just want to make sure I have this right. You are saying that as this gets discussed more atheists are thinking that women are not equal persons? Or do you misunderstand what feminism is?

  101. says

    David, the requirements for rude are met well before you get to all the points of the scenario. I note that you never answered my question in comment 5. That directly gets to the difference between rude and sociopathic, as does the part about following someone until they are isolated and trapped. That last would be the most important bit you glossed over. That’s also one of the (many) differences between how you’re treated here and the scenario of the challenge. You are neither isolated nor trapped. If you don’t like the tone here, you have every opportunity to opt out.

    Recasting tarian’s comment as Pascal’s Wager is baldly dishonest here. Neither rape nor PTSD resulting from rape are rare. Then you leave out the points of this challenge. This is not “merely…someone talking to her.” This is someone ignoring the repeated statement of “I don’t want you to do this to me.” Nobody is going to be harmed by someone not doing that as requested. That also means that applying this boldly doesn’t get you to “you shouldn’t do anything to anyone ever.” It simply gets you to not doing things to people they’ve asked you not to do, granting them self-determination. You know, not being sociopathic.

    But feel free to point me to even two people who used to have a good opinion of feminism but have stated (prior to tonight, please) that they now think it’s a bad thing.

  102. Marie the Bookwyrm says

    Okay, DavidByron, let’s try coming at this from a different direction. Is a man harmed by going through life not propositioning total strangers? Does behaving that way put some great and terrible burden on him?

  103. tarian says

    @DavidByron:

    Pascal’s Wager suggests the existence of something that is not provable. Women who have experienced sexual assault exist. Your estimate of the frequency of this occurrence may differ from mine, but the >1 check is done. Also, “mental cripple” as a synonym for PTSD sufferer? I suspect there are a nontrivial number of veterans who will also take exception to this designation. Is it seriously that important to you to be able to proposition women in elevators?

  104. DavidByron says

    H-Bomb,

    You misunderstood me. What I am saying is that before this debate exploded many skeptics just unquestioningly believed the feminist propaganda that feminism is about equality. Increasingly they get it. Increasingly they can see that feminists are not about equality.

    And that’s a good thing. The spotlight is being shined on the feminist movement and people do NOT like what they see. Its true many are in denial and tell themselves that its only SOME feminists that are sexist assholes, but still it is a big improvement.

  105. julian says

    My point, as I specifically mentioned: it´s childs play to invent ridiculous analogies that conform to your preconceived narrative.

    Ridiculous analogies? How was my analogy ridiculous? Do you mean to say you don’t find analogies a meaningful part of the exchange?

    I disagree with that. Analogies help relate a message and establish common ground. When both parties assume good faith it can help us see eye to eye. Not sure what it is you have against them.

    There is only one side to this story though… the party line, and don´t dare ask any questions.

    There’s the side Ms Watson shared with us. Whoever EG was he hasn’t stepped forward. There’s no reason to believe Ms. Watson made up the event. It’s to common an occurrence to simply dismiss.

    I don’t see the problem. Besides, this is supposed to be a thought experiment. Assume the givens we have, see if we can come to similar conclusions and then move on from there. (I know you think it zero bad, but, and correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t seen you explain why.)

    She must have written about/mentioned such an unusual affliction right?

    Eh? Most people don’t broadcast those sorts of things. At least not in my experience. If they can pretend to be ‘normal’ they will.

    Anyway it seems really besides the point.

    (This new line of discussion doesn’t feel right. I neither know nor really care if she has it. I’ve never found it appropriate to dig through someone’s personal life however a public figure they might be. Just feels like I’m invading someone’s privacy.)
    —————————-

    *sees DavidByron*

    sigh… I can see where this is gonna go.

  106. DavidByron says

    Stephanie
    Minus the stipulations 1-4 you made for this scenario I don’t think EG was rude. As above I think it is likely the poor guy was a feminist “sensitive” guy who has been badly misunderstood.

    I’m not saying that because of any stuff about feminism. I just have a deep belief in innocent until proven guilty and in my experience in cases like this, you really just can’t tell the truth until you hear from both sides. And that is NOT to denigrate Watson’s perspective. I am happy to credit her account as true. But it’s only half the story.

    I think whoever this guy is he’d be shocked to hear the hurtful things that he is being accused of (if he hasn’t heard them already).

    But back to the thread where we assume that EG was rude…….

    “How many times does a person have to say, “I don’t want you to do that to me,” before it becomes more than “zero bad” that somebody keeps going”

    Well it’s a good question. Sorry I missed it. This goes to harassment. Now harassment certainly is not necessarily a sociopathic behaviour. But it would be “bad”. And it’s not a black and white thing, but in this case its an easy call that EG was not harassing Watson. He asked her one question. He got a “no” and then he respected that “no”.

    The problem with your thinking is that these public (non-specific) comments by Watson are not necessarily a “no”. We don’t know the mind of the EG but it seems he interpreted her public statements as not applying to him in some way, the nature of which remains a mystery.

    And Watson herself wasn’t complaining about the actions of any individual. She was making a complaint about a collective response so really if you feminists wanted to make a better case you’d go the route of sexual harassment against the conference organisers by making a claim that women at the conference were subjected to a hostile environment by being subjected to propositions by men — all of which AS INDIVIDUALS were perfectly OK, but in the aggregate constituted a pattern of discrimination against women on the grounds that men were not similarly subjected to being hit on (because women don’t tend to approach men).

    I take it you understand the basis for sexual harassment law? I dont have to enlarge on that point?

    “following someone until they are isolated and trapped”

    That didn’t happen. Your points 1-4 don’t ask me to assume that it did either. Watson said they entered the lift together. He did not follow her.

    “Recasting tarian’s comment as Pascal’s Wager is baldly dishonest here. Neither rape nor PTSD resulting from rape are rare.”

    Sure. But a woman SO badly effected that she sustains damage from a casual interaction from a stranger AND that person wandering around in public knowing that she is very likely to be so subjected…. that’s pretty rare.

    “Then you leave out the points of this challenge.”

    Yeah I concede that. However I don’t think it adds anything because I don’t think that would add to the likelihood of triggering anything. Recall there’s no element of threat here. For that matter if a hypothetical EG had considered the possibility of Watson having some rare PTSD that would cause ehr to lose it if spoken to… he’d dismiss such a concern after listening to her talk since she would surely have mentioned such a disability had it existed. Hell she’d have to have a placard telling people to not talk to her or have a minder with her 24/7 if she was that badly effected. at any rate as I say .. all phenomenally unlikely. People that fragile and agoraphobic may exist but they don’t go to conferences full of strangers and make an address. They don’t chat for hours at the bar.

    “granting them self-determination”

    Do you grant EG the self determination to be rude?

  107. Pteryxx says

    By the way, prosopagnasia’s completely beside the point. Eyewitness identification isn’t very reliable anyway, even for neurotypical people. (Not to mention selective attention… remember the gorilla videos?)

  108. says

    So, David, you’re going to put all your chips on, “Maybe he didn’t know, ‘I’m tired of being hit on at conferences,’ applied to him.” Yeah, doesn’t fit with that whole feminist guy theory. Doesn’t even fit with a functioning social being, for that matter. But if you want your argument to be that this guy was the biggest idiot at the conference, you can have it.

    Then the question becomes whether you’re the same kind of idiot or whether you’re ready to say, “Yeah, that kind of numbskullery is bad.”

  109. says

    Also, you’re still being dishonest about the PTSD thing. Given the points of the challenge, this wasn’t a casual encounter. This was an action executed by EG against Rebecca’s clearly stated wishes.

    So are you saying that harassment has to rise to the level of a legal matter before it’s bad? Anything up to that is just fine?

  110. DavidByron says

    tarian,
    “Also, “mental cripple” as a synonym for PTSD sufferer?”

    No, and I certainly apologise for shitty words that made it sound like I meant that. I didn’t mean “cripple” derogatorily but I guess my sense of meaning is a little different. What I meant was that you were hypothesising someone who would have to be very seriously crippled – meaning a very extreme dysfunction / inability to basically get out into society.

    Ah fuck it I’m just diggin’ my hole here aren’t I?
    Honestly I didn’t mean it like that AT ALL.

    My point I was TRYING to make was that such an extreme disability would preclude someone being in Watson’s position to begin with.

  111. julian says

    Ah yes. The ‘no means ask again in 5 minutes’ guy and his posse of ‘she posted naughty pics of herself therefore she’s a worthless whore.’ Was wondering when he’d get linked to by another MRA idiot.

  112. says

    My point I was TRYING to make was that such an extreme disability would preclude someone being in Watson’s position to begin with.

    Actually, that’s a circular argument, assuming that there is zero bad in the incident in order to argue that a tiny likelihood of someone being hurt makes the episode zero bad.

  113. DavidByron says

    Marie,
    “Is a man harmed by going through life not propositioning total strangers?”

    I feel I ought to point out that Watson and EG were NOT total strangers. They were fellow attendees at a conference. The purpose of the conference was to allow skeptics to get together and meet one another. So they had that. In addition inside this thread we assume that EG was at the bar with Watson for several hours. Several HOURS they were talking. That is not a “total stranger” by any stretch of imagination.

    But to answer your question, “no”. However it is an unreasonable imposition, especially in view of the gender role men have forced on them to be the initiators of (heterosexual) relationships.

  114. says

    Actually, Rebecca has said they were part of the same group but that he didn’t speak to her in the bar. So, yes, they were strangers who had spent a few hours in the same place.

  115. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    I guess it does not sound likely to you but I have seen people fly off the handle far too many times because they just ASSUME that someone else’s behaviour could only be explained by them being an asshole and then, turns out later on, when the other side of the story is known, there turn out to be good reasons for the behaviour.

    I really do believe in innocent until proven guilty because of this.

    You are saying this guy was sitting with Watson for several hours at the bar. Maybe he was a little drunk. Maybe he thought he was getting a come on sign from Watson. Maybe he honestly believed that he wasn’t the sort of guy she was talking about BECAUSE he was a sensitive feminist type of guy. Maybe he really did want coffee. Maybe he figured she was only talking about being hit on by strangers and he considered himself out of that category after talking to her for several hours. Maybe Watson contradicted her earlier statements in part during the course of the night but she does not recall that.

    We JUST DON’T KNOW.

    But yeah I reckon this guy was one of yours. If I had to bet.

  116. DavidByron says

    “2. Elevator Guy was in the group at the bar where for several hours Rebecca and other discussed…”

    You did not stipulate more details in your hypothetical but in any case if she was aware that he was there, that implies a certain level of familiarity. Just how much is not stipulated.

  117. says

    Wow. DavidByron hit on a conspiracy theory I didn’t even touch on in my post. I’m impressed. The conspiracy being that Elevator Guy is “one of us feminists”, and just happened to do something he’d know would be misconstrued as creepy. I’m guessing as a false flag operation? Now THERE’S a conspiracy, David!

  118. says

    So the stipulation that DavidByron demands that Stephanie make, is that Rebecca’s claim that EG was in the bar but did not interact with her is accurate.

    Why can’t David and others just assume that to be the case without someone stipulating it in a challenge?

  119. says

    Oh, no. You see, Jason, the idea of actually listening to a woman expressing her preferences is so foreign to David that he projects onto this hypothetical feminist man. Instead of being feminist in that he believes a woman means what she says, he is instead all helplessly bewildered by what she possibly could mean. Because women are soooo damned confusing.

    That would explain the stipulation bit as well.

    Yeah, I’m laughing again.

  120. Guerra says

    Stephanie, why on Earth do you continue to Dawkins for a statement he made before these details were known to anyone? I have never understood this.

  121. DavidByron says

    jukian,
    “she posted naughty pics of herself therefore she’s a worthless whore”

    It’s women not men who attack other women who are “sluts”. Men _like_ women who do that stuff. Even I think that’s a big positive in her favour.

    I think Watson’s use of “sexualized” was a very poor choice of words and she’s been ridiculed because of its ambiguity. I think that criticism is kinda missing the point though.

    Now there is a genuine criticism of the point she was making and it goes like this:

    OK, Watson, you say you are tired of getting pestered by men (either for sex or for other attention), but at the same time you obviously want to be popular with men, and have taken steps to become more popular with men. Steps which include but are not limited to publishing the nudie calendar. That’s fine but don’t you have to take responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of your goals? It’s like a movie star complaining about her fans. You’re pretending the issue is common to all women at these meetings but a lot of it is quite specific to you because of your popularity.

  122. says

    David, you’re saying that it’s reasonable that posing in a calendar would stop guys from listening when you repeatedly say, “I don’t want you to do that to me”?

  123. says

    Guerra, am I to assume that you took my advice, looked up “defame,” and are now instead suggesting I’m doing nothing at all to Dawkins? I’m fine with that.

  124. DavidByron says

    Stepahnie,
    “Actually, that’s a circular argument, assuming that there is zero bad in the incident in order to argue that a tiny likelihood of someone being hurt makes the episode zero bad.”

    Im not seeing how that is circular.

    All I need is to show that the crippling PTSD is really unlikely. I dont need to assume anything about the zero bad stuff for that.

    Well anyway it seems like I have over stayed my welcome here so goodnight.

    Jason,
    “So the stipulation that DavidByron demands that Stephanie make, is that Rebecca’s claim that EG was in the bar but did not interact with her is accurate.”

    You forget the context of this thread namely that we are NOT discussing what ACTUALLY happened, but what Stephanie stipulated happened in her points 1-4. We’re discussing Stephanie’s scenario.

    And that was a good idea of hers because we gain nothing by arguing about what ACTUALLY happened and it just lends to personal attacks on Watson. Pointlessly.

  125. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “David, you’re saying that it’s reasonable that posing in a calendar would stop guys from listening when you repeatedly say, “I don’t want you to do that to me”?”

    Gosh you are just gunning for a fight tonight aren’t you? :)

    No. This goes back to what I said about individuals vs collective as an issue. I don’t know if Watson would agree with me but it just seems to me that she really was not trying to say that this guy acted especially badly, or well I guess she did but she shouldn’t have because it just undermined her own best case.

    Her best case is NOT to try and make out that EG, who many see as behaving perfectly as a gentleman here, (“zero bad”), was somehow acting in a sexist way.

    Her best case would have been to point at the collective result of a lot of guys, all of them perhaps the most polite and respectful guys ever, all aiming to do the same thing, and creating a problem that none of them as individuals was responsible for.

    Blaming EG was a mistake and it cost her. Also he was the wrong target for her to go after.

    You got my sexual harassment definition concept??

  126. says

    Ooh, we’ve gone from “rude” to “behaving perfectly.” David, you’ll say whatever you think it takes, won’t you? There is no gunning for a fight. There is simply reminding you that you continually fail this challenge. Why you stick around and continue to demonstrate that and other transparent dishonesty is beyond me.

  127. Guerra says

    Stephanie, the formatter here stripped my less-than / greater-than signs. My question was the following, this time with quotes instead:

    Stephanie, why on Earth do you continue to “insert your preferred word here” Dawkins for a statement he made before these details were known to anyone? I have never understood this.

  128. says

    Guerra

    Stephanie, why on Earth do you continue to “insert your preferred word here” Dawkins for a statement he made before these details were known to anyone? I have never understood this.

    Well, there are several facts that make people bring him up time after time again:
    a) He made such a statement before he had, what you deem to be, all the facts (I’m not sure what facts he was originally missing) does not shed a good light on somebody who is a scientist and a skeptic and who should therefore be cautious to make such statements.

    b) He never felt it necessary to stand up and say “I’m sorry, what I said was insensitive”. Hell, even if he excused his stupid behaviour with “not aware of all the facts”, people would be much more inclined to simply forget about the nonsense or use it as an example of how good people can go wrong.

    If Dawkins is tainted by anything he said without ever correcting himself, it’s his fault and not that of people bringing it up.

  129. Guerra says

    I am referring to “A Letter to Professor Dawkins from Victims of Sexual Assault”. It begins with “Dear Dick:”.

    Doesn’t it seem to be chiding Dawkins in some way? And please don’t get hung up on the word “chiding” there. Use whatever word you think is best. Now, with that word,

    Stephanie, why on Earth do you continue to YOURWORDHERE Dawkins for a statement he made before these details were known to anyone? I have never understood this.

  130. says

    That’s your “defamation,” meanie poopyheadedness, whatever? That?!? Oh, for fuck’s sake.

    Guerra, Dawkins asked for an explanation and promised an apology in return. That letter is the explanation. Why are you coming to me accusing me of whatever instead of going to him asking where the apology is?

  131. Konradius says

    Ah, sucked into an EG thread at last :(
    First, let me propose another reason for EG to say what he said: humour.
    I can understand that EG realized this invitation would be the worst thing to say at the worst possible moment and then said it anyway with in his mind an ironic tone.
    After all, who’d think he would actually mean it? Answer: in 20/20 hindsight nearly everyone.

    And then RW said ‘don’t do this’.

    Now some people think this was new legislation coming from some skeptical ruling body. So they rejected it and said paraphrasing: Hey! It’s legal to say that!

    But the point was never to impose any rules. It was not ‘don’t do this because it should be illegal’.
    It was ‘don’t do this because it’s STUPID’

    I mean really, if there’s one self selected group that should embrace doing things that are smart in stead of stupid shouldn’t that be us, atheists and rationalists?

  132. Philip Legge says

    Wow, 140+ posts in and still no answer explaining why the challenge is “zero bad”.

    However even Konradius’ ingenious supposition looks “bad” as inept humour in the wrong place and the wrong time.

    Try harder, guys.

  133. Guerra says

    Stephanie, the letter isn’t an honest request for an apology. It begins with “Dear Dick:”. That is not how a person opens a letter if he or she is sincere and sincerely expects a reply.

  134. says

    Actually, that is exactly how one opens a letter to a British man named Richard when one is following his lead of unwarranted familiarity. Title first, diminutive form of his name second.

  135. says

    Guerra: why is “Dear Dick” a bad opening to a person named Richard? Mostly because it implies a level of familiarity with them that is unwarranted, like someone calling Darwin “Chuck”. The similarity to a euphemism for “penis” is coincidental, and while Stephanie may or may not have factored it into in the naming (I suspect she did), you assuming that it MUST HAVE BEEN is entirely projection.

    And what are we talking about here? Transactions that are disproportionate to the levels of familiarity by the persons involved. Funny that you apologists have zeroed in on the use of “Dick” in the proffered explanation and demand for an apology. Makes you a self-selecting group, really, of people incapable of recognizing your own cognitive biases.

  136. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “Ooh, we’ve gone from “rude” to “behaving perfectly.” ”

    No we didn’t. Maybe you need a break from this now? It just seems like you’re getting ratty. It doesn’t seem like you are listening any more.

    BTW, with the “Dear Dick” thing its obvious it was intended as a petty insult. You don’t mind insulting people. Why the reluctance to cop to this one?

    Perhaps it would be best if I debated you on some other issue to calibrate if you are always like this or whether this is a result of an emotional identification with the feminism thing.

    Kind of a sad state of affairs when a debate can’t take place on a skeptic board. Do you know what I mean? Feels like it shouldn’t have to be this hard.

  137. Guerra says

    Stephanie, I asked a legitimate question at the outset: Why would you hold Dawkins accountable for not knowing information that was not even available? You refused to answer four times, preferring instead to complain about a word I used. Why? Because you don’t give a shit about me — you wouldn’t give me the time of day because my opening remark was confrontational. Had I opened with “Dear Bitch” your response would have been even worse.

    Is it so hard to imagine that Richard Dawkins would have a similar reaction to “Dear Dick”? He is only called “Dick” by creationists and others who dislike him.

    Dawkins: “Such and such.”

    Stephanie: “Dear Dick: there’s more information.”

    Dawkins: “?? Bye.”

    It doesn’t take a psychology degree to figure out what happened here.

    You’ve given your justification for the insult, but that doesn’t make it not an insult.

    If you received a letter that opened with “Dear Bitch:”, do you think it is likely that your reaction would be, “I should really take seriously what this person has to say!” No, you take it as a sign that the author has some sort of problem. That’s how I read “Dear Dick”. Even if you can ultimately justify it, you come off as a crazy person.

  138. says

    Guerra: and if Stephanie’s name was actually Bitchemina, that might be an appropriate analogy.

    The fact that Dawkins has been offered this “more information” several times (in several places, including the Pharyngula thread where he posted his first two petrol bombs) and has, instead of offering further clarification that he has taken in and considered this new information and provided further thoughts on the matter, basically gone completely silent instead, suggests that he knows he’s turned a bad situation toxic and is staying above the fray now.

  139. says

    David, you’ve gone from equating “zero bad” with being rude to associating it with being a perfect gentleman. It isn’t my fault that you can’t argue your point without changing definitions and terms.

    This post lays out the terms of what you mean by “zero bad” exactly because you and plenty of people like you keep trying to shift those definitions in order to confuse the issue of exactly what we’re discussing.

    You tell me Rebecca should expect…something because she posed for a calendar. I remind you exactly what behavior we’re talking about for approximately the tenth time. You accuse me of wanting to fight. Feel free to tell me that no, Rebecca does not deserve what you’ve agreed to stipulate by participating in the challenge, or explain why being in that calendar should mean that she loses her right to be heard when she tells someone, “I don’t want you to do that to me.”

    Or if you can’t handle the challenge, give up and go away. You’re the one who wants this to be “zero bad.” Justify that without resorting to slight of hand. If you can.

  140. says

    Guerra, I interacted with your opening statement the way I did because it was nonsensical. Or did you want to explain now how I might possibly be “defaming” Dawkins?

    No, I’m not holding him responsible for talking before having all the information. I wrote him a letter that provided him with information; of course I know he wasn’t omniscient when I wrote it. I am, however, holding him responsible for offering an apology then not giving it.

    Now, why aren’t you writing to Dawkins to ask him why he was so pettily confrontational in writing his original comments? He hasn’t retracted them, you know, despite having had plenty of people explain the situation to him by now.

    And are you really telling me you think he’s so petty that he counldn’t possibly cope with a diminutive form of his name in an otherwise perfectly respectful letter? Your opinion of Dawkins is mighty low.

  141. julian says

    Why? Because you don’t give a shit about me — you wouldn’t give me the time of day because my opening remark was confrontational.

    So your whole reason for accusing our blog hostess of defaming Richard Dawkins is to make some point about being respectful when trying to communicate with someone?

    I don’t think there’s enough sigh to express how I feel about that.

    But when was Stephanie Zvan disrespectful, at least in the degree you were, to Richard Dawkins? She said, as she explained to you, ‘Dear Dick’ where dick is a shorthand for Ricahrd. It’s common enough and given the body of the letter I doubt she meant it to mean the equivalent of ‘Dear Bitch’ (unless you’re writing to Bitch Magazine) It’s like ‘Dear Paco’ where the person’s name is Francisco.

    It may have been a misstep (who ever thought Richard Dawkins would be the type to ignore less than reverant criticism) but it was not an insult.

  142. DavidByron says

    Stephanie:
    I don’t think we can get any further here. I don’t think you’re listening and I am not sure you have ever listened in the entire thread to what I said. Maybe we made a tiny amount of progress and maybe not. How do you feel about it from your side?

    Anyway what I was wondering is, why is that so hard to do? Why is it so hard to discuss this? is that something you might be interested in talking about?

    Did you read this post at FreethoughtKampala?

    http://freethoughtkampala.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/elevatorgate-part-2-the-failure-of-skepticism/#comment-1053

    Would you say that it is a failure of skepticism that these two sides cannot discuss this issue that separates the skeptic / atheist community?

    Is it just because people can never discuss anything rationally (ie that skepticism itself is essentially impossible to do), or is it something special about feminism / sexism that makes it more difficult?

  143. Konradius says

    Philip Legge said:

    Wow, 140+ posts in and still no answer explaining why the challenge is “zero bad”.

    However even Konradius’ ingenious supposition looks “bad” as inept humour in the wrong place and the wrong time.

    Try harder, guys.

    I think you got it, but I wanted to clarify that I do not think this was a ‘zero bad’ situation. I did want to give EG the benefit of the doubt, or at least to give the most favorable light in which he could have made his comments.

    Thanks for thinking it’s ingenious btw.

    As to Richard Dawkins, I was very disappointed in his reactions.
    Not knowing all circumstances is no excuse for him. He has a lot invested in his public persona and has made himself a leader of the atheist movement.
    Why not call RW personally and check out what the deal is before writing a comment on a blog? What was he afraid of? Hearing his own voice in a voicemail message? (He repeated some of his hatemail clearly for RW’s ringtone at the Dublin conference).

    To me it looked similar to James Randi writing about climate change and getting everything wrong. It you want to stand for more rational public discourse, make sure you practice it yourself and research before posting.

  144. says

    David, if it is impossible for you to discuss this situation under the terms of the challenge, you are, of course, welcome to bow out. You seem to be having a grand time shifting the topic to suit your preferences at Ophelia’s. You’re certainly not required to meet my requirement for consistency.

  145. DavidByron says

    Well either that or Dawkins thinks it is trivial and since most of the movement agrees with him, sees zero point in adding anything more to what he already said.

    A number of people have tried to communicate with the feminists and all have failed to get past their ideological block. People are getting that communicating with a feminist just doesn’t work.

    I think that basically the skeptical movement needs to kick the feminists out, or for them to leave of their own accord (presumably over weird perceived “sexist” complaint of theirs).

  146. says

    Ideological blocks? Like the one that keeps you from being able to talk about the scenario in this post, no matter how many times I ask? David, get on topic or get out. You can start by answering my calendar question that you’ve evaded three times.

  147. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    Again it seems like you want a fight. It seems like I am the only person who took up your challenge and we got nowhere. I think that’s kind of interesting, do you?

    This thread is a failure along the lines of “the failure of skepticism”. A failure of communication. At least you tried. I am actually surprised you got no takers apart from me.

    I don’t think we can get any further like this. Do you agree? I cannot understand what your problem is with the answer that I gave. And you don’t seem able to explain it.

    Would you like to talk about the meta issue instead?

    To be honest at this point I was expecting that you’d be calling me a rapist or something because that’s how things usually go down. However, it seems like the block is still there and the frustration is still there even if we didn’t end up slagging each other off.

    I think it would be interesting to discuss why this issue cannot be discussed. Do you agree?

  148. H-Bomb (again, too lazy to log in) says

    David:

    I think that basically the skeptical movement needs to kick the feminists out, or for them to leave of their own accord (presumably over weird perceived “sexist” complaint of theirs).

    I’m sorry, what?

    Kick the feminists out? This isn’t some church where you can excommunicate those you don’t agree with. This isn’t your private little playground where you decide who can and can’t have the ball.

    From the evil Wikipedia:
    Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.[1][2][3] Its concepts overlap with those of women’s rights. Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men’s liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles. Feminists are “person[s] whose beliefs and behavior[s] are based on feminism.”[4]

    Which movement would you like to kick out, exactly? Do you have a favorite? Maybe just the movement that says don’t hit on people you don’t know in enclosed places after they have expressed a desire not to have that happen? Or maybe just the ones who are open about the expression of the rudeness of that? Maybe you prefer the feminists who keep to themselves and do not interact with men at all?

    Or maybe your skepticism is limited only to ideas that you want to think about. Maybe you don’t think that women are worth the time and thus there is no point in examining the roles they have in society and in the “skeptical movement.” Or, maybe, at this point, you are just trying to look like the biggest, bestest jackass you possibly can.

    Newsflash, David. It is totally working.

  149. says

    No, David, I don’t want a fight. I want you to clarify your position on the calendar. Should, in your opinion, a woman who poses for a calendar expect to give up her right to be heard when she says, “I don’t want you to do that to me” (see the terms of the challenge above)? If that isn’t what you’re saying, feel free to clarify–within the terms of the challenge.

    I do indeed find it fascinating that the requirement to stick to the terms of the challenge has somehow made it impossible for you to discuss your very own assertions. You’re free to speculate on the reasons for that.

  150. Munkhaus says

    Stephanie, at a time when the skepchicks et al were calling it dickish behaviour, your letter comes out with the Dear Dick. That EG actually wanted coffee is much more possible than you meant Dick as a shortening of Richard. You can’t have it both ways; if you insist that you were unaware that it would be taken as slang for schlong, then you must accept the possibilty that EG wanted a chat over coffee.
    Of course, the imperative form was used there in case you wanted yo take yourself seriously.

    Secondly, I don’t think Dawkins was missing information, I think he had more than most. He’d sat through Watsons amateurish and egotistical hijacking of panel time to embarrassingly throw fallacies at a colleague, maybe he’d heard about Watson going OT and OTT berating Mcgraw in a key note. Maybe he was pissed off with her using everyones time to pettily moan at women who disagreed with her, at a time where he was involved in frying bigger fish like the campaign against women being stoned to death.
    I think it perfectly understandable he wrote some sarky comments, not to her, but in response to the jackholes at pharyngula.
    In perspective, taking this into account, and on a scale that includes actually being stoned to death, he was absolutely correct to describe it as zero bad. (I “posit” this as an answer to your challenge)
    For the utterly tasteless and juvenile letter campaign, and attack on his character, you owe *him* an apology. Not that he cares, he is, and has been during this whole waste of skeptic resources, been doing actual, real world, effective work. You and your friends have actively been trying to undermine that. In your efforts to discredit him you’ve been working against the efforts to communicate atheism, which is also the title of the panel Watson interrupted to engage in her hackish behaviour.
    That’s why he’s a class act, and you don’t even show up on his radar.

  151. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “You can start by answering my calendar question that you’ve evaded three times.”

    Sigh.
    Answered in 135 right after you asked it. But it was a rhetorical question anyway.

  152. DavidByron says

    Apparently my “no” to Stephanie can just be ignored and she gets to repeatedly ask me again and again and again…..

  153. H-Bomb (again, too lazy to log in) says

    David:

    Feminists don’t represent women no matter how much you keep saying it.

    I’m sure what you meant to say was all women. Right?

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one and assume you did.

    But, just so we are clear on your stance… A black person speaking out against racism does not represent all black people. So their opinion is worthless, even if they are the one experiencing the racism.

    Also, for the record, I actually cited a formal definition of feminism, which does seem to contradict your decidedly nearsighted definition. I wonder why that is.

  154. says

    It was not a rhetorical question, David. You said:

    OK, Watson, you say you are tired of getting pestered by men (either for sex or for other attention), but at the same time you obviously want to be popular with men, and have taken steps to become more popular with men. Steps which include but are not limited to publishing the nudie calendar. That’s fine but don’t you have to take responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of your goals? It’s like a movie star complaining about her fans. You’re pretending the issue is common to all women at these meetings but a lot of it is quite specific to you because of your popularity.

    Either the consequence of being in that calendar is what is stipulated to have happened here under the terms of this challenge, or you’re retracting that statement, which “No” does not cover. Which is it?

  155. DavidByron says

    “For the utterly tasteless and juvenile letter campaign, and attack on his character, you owe *him* an apology.”

    Yes she does (they do), but that will never happen which puts them in a bind of their own making. They can’t ignore or undermine Dawkins and at the same time they can’t drop their petty complaint, or diminish its importance for them. That is why I suggested they may split.

    It actually makes sense because to them the feminist crap is more important so they don’t want to associate with us “misogynist” atheists, and as for us we’d rather not associate with a pack of ideological idiots, even if they happen to not believe in God.

    Nature will take its course eventually just as increasingly there’s little cross-over within the respective blogs. A split is already taking place. People get banned or ridiculed for crossing over and there’s no communication. Also there appears to be no middle ground.

  156. DavidByron says

    H-Bomb, nobody believes feminism is about equality these days. Everyone says they believe in equality, especially between the sexes. But hardly anyone says they are a feminist. Understand?

    “I actually cited a formal definition of feminism”

    Ooooh gosh well your dictionary and Sarah Palin are on your side but most people are not.

  157. DavidByron says

    Stephanie, that part you quote wasn’t under the terms of this challenge. Hope that helps you.

  158. says

    Munkhaus, I’m perfectly happy to give Dawkins a great, big, public apology for using the diminutive form of his name any time he wants to ask me for one.

    How about you? Are you coing to apologize to the Skepchicks for spreading misinformation about them? None of them were calling Dawkins a dick. In fact, the issue didn’t really come up until people wanted to dismiss that letter. And at that point, plenty of people came out against gendered insults in general, including “dick.”

  159. H-Bomb (again, too lazy to log in) says

    Ooooh gosh well your dictionary and Sarah Palin are on your side but most people are not.

    Ouch. An insult and an unsubstantiated claim in the same sentence. Did you hurt yourself coming up with that? You can speak for most people? Really? Wow, you must be very popular. Or full of shit.

    Not surprisingly, I am leaning toward the later. But, hey, if you don’t know anyone who doesn’t agree with you, they must not exist.

    I do find it interesting that the only thing you could argue is that you don’t agree with my definition. I know plenty of women who would disagree with you. But, of course, they are women, so they don’t count by your estimation.

    Let’s take a moment and remove the term feminism from the equation. Do women have the right to be treated as equals in society? Yes or no?

  160. says

    Well, then, David, I think you owe Rebecca an apology for saying she was complaining about something she wasn’t complaining about at all. The points of this challenge aren’t arbitrary things I decided should have numbers next to them. They’re all points of context she’s given for her remarks.

  161. says

    I am convinced that david byron either has some severe trouble with reading comprehension or is a troll. I feel comfortable saying so based off his complete inability to absorb and respond to the things that are said to him. I made a post at my blog saying I wouldn’t allow his comments and he left more than 10 after that. The plague of byron will continue long after it is appropriate. I would consider ignoring or banning him to make life less painful. I predict that nothing will be gained from engaging him further.

  162. DavidByron says

    H-Bomb again with the weird sexist feminist framing. Only a feminist could come up with a weird sexist way to talk about equality.

    “Do women have the right to be treated as equals in society?”

    I believe people should be treated equally with regard to gender. Since women are often far better off than men however the bizarre way you phrased the question is like saying,

    “Do the rich have the right to be treated as equals in society?”

    Everyone believes in equality. It’s your freaky sexist crap that people reject. Do you think men should have the right to be treated equally? it sure doesn’t sound that way to anyone listening to the EG saga.

  163. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Ohai guys.

    I think this argument needs some clarification.

    You see, if I say to you, “I had a sandwich for lunch yesterday,” you could be super-skeptical and demand evidence, which, of course, I don’t have, because I’m not the sort of person that videotapes myself eating lunch with today’s newspaper prominently displayed to prove what day it is. But it’s not really reasonable to doubt my sandwich story – lots of people eat sandwiches for lunch. This is not unusual.

    On the other hand, if I told you I ate a baby seal for lunch, your skepticism would be entirely warranted. After all, it is extremely rare to eat baby seals. You don’t really have any reason to believe me without any sort of proof.

    With me so far? Okay.

    Knowing facts such as:
    -Rape and sexual assault are common
    -Rape and sexual assault in elevators is a thing that happens all the time
    -Rape and sexual assault are by far more likely to occur when the victim is isolated and alone
    -Men are almost always the perpetrators of rape
    -It is rare to invite someone to your hotel room for coffee at 4am and really, truly 100% mean JUST coffee
    -Some people become violent when their advances are refused, these people are usually men
    -Rapists and violent people do not wear big flashing buttons that say “OHAI I AM A RAPIST” and, in fact, look pretty much like everybody else
    -Rapes are rarely successfully prosecuted, and often the victim’s inebriation is used against them to accuse them of sending “mixed signals”

    Is it really necessary to be skeptical about a strange man hitting on a woman? And is it really such a stretch to understand how this behavior, noting all the above facts, can be creepy and threatening? Taking all this into account, these are all relevant facts to the proposed scenario, which is a)not unlikely to have occurred, and b)even if it were entirely hypothetical, the hypothetical proposed obviously is still affected by all the stated facts. It is creepy for a man to ask an intoxicated woman back to his room for coffee, at 4am, in an elevator. This conclusion is supported by all the above-mentioned evidence.

    This story is not asking you to accept that a man covered in green paint jumped into the elevator with Watson and asked her to have his moon-babies. This is a scenario that is entirely believable. And regardless of whether this man had heard Watson say that she didn’t want to be hit on, it is still creepy and threatening behavior. “Nothing happened” is actually NOT the correct response, because what happened was that Watson was made to feel uncomfortable.

    So PRO TIP: If you want to make friends with someone, or hit on someone, or just enjoy coffee while listening to their interesting ideas, and not make them uncomfortable and therefore NOT want to hang out with you, try not approaching them at 4am in an elevator. Because that is the bad – you just made someone else feel bad. And unless you lack empathy for other humans, you should be able to understand that making someone feel bad just so you can, what, try to sell yourself? Hit on them? Fulfill your desperate need to not drink coffee all by yourself in your hotel room? IS bad. Elevator Guy’s intentions don’t actually matter in this scenario, because the effect of his actions are that the target of his attention did not feel neutral, or positive, but mildly threatened (hence, “uncomfortable”) because the target of his attention was aware of all the facts listed above.

    [Also, as a side note, engaging in the oppression olympics means no one wins. Women can’t complain about getting hit on in elevators because in other countries women are stoned to death? Well then I guess men can’t complain about being forced into an archaic he-man gender role, because women are still underrepresented in government. You see how silly that is? The only way to win is not to play.]

  164. DavidByron says

    Hey skeptifem,
    Feeling any better?

    “I made a post at my blog saying I wouldn’t allow his comments…”

    You did not.

  165. says

    David, do you remember where you are? You’re saying that the suggestion that people should be listened to when they say “I don’t want you to do that to me” is sexist crap? Or are you in line to issue another apology?

  166. H-Bomb (again, too lazy to log in) says

    Only a feminist could come up with a weird sexist way to talk about equality.

    It really is cute how you try to use feminist as an insult. Why not just say feminazi and be done with it?

    Now, what you call sexist I call baby steps. See, I just wanted an answer to one question without any waffling before I asked the next one. I, and everyone else here, have already seen how well you don’t handle the multi-part stuff.

    Since women are often far better off than men however the bizarre way you phrased the question is like saying,

    “Do the rich have the right to be treated as equals in society?”

    Really? Women are far better off? Now, are they ‘better off’ because of the man they are with? Or because things are equal? If things really were equal, there would not be pay gaps and gender discrimination and the need for EOE. So, you have only succeeded in making yourself look even more like a troll.

    By the way, yes, the rich have the right to be treated as equals in society. However, having wealth and being a certain sex are NOT the same thing in scope, so your argument is both unfounded and an uninteresting straw man. That is like saying that black people live in the best neighborhoods because 50cent and Kobe do, and the Fresh Prince lived in Bel-Aire. I saw it on TV, so it must be true.

    Do you think men should have the right to be treated equally?

    Actually, shocking to you though it may be, I do believe that men have the right to be treated equally. However, that does not mean they have the right to completely disregard someone’s stated wish. Guess what, women don’t get that right, either. And if this were a case of the gender roles being reversed and all the other circumstances being the same, I would be saying the exact same thing.

  167. DavidByron says

    Alukonis,
    “Knowing facts such as:
    -Rape and sexual assault are common”

    It isn’t common at all. That’s just feminist bullshit.

    Bottom line is that everyone knows if the exact same shit had happened with the sexes reversed? No feminist would have had any problem with it.

  168. H-Bomb (again, too lazy to log in) says

    It isn’t common at all. That’s just feminist bullshit.

    I’ll be sure to let the DoJ know they are just feminist puppets.

    I think, however, that I am done with you. You spout nonsense, avoid or evade questions, and generally sound like someone who does not have a place in a modern society.

    Good luck to you, sir.

  169. says

    David, the National Crime Victimization Survey is feminist bullshit?

    By the way, Brian Dunning told women not to do that at the start of this whole thing and got zero blow-back, so no, feminists aren’t behaving the way you are. Your problems are all your own.

  170. DavidByron says

    Stephanie,
    “David, do you remember where you are?’

    No.

    The last thing I think I was up to was that I couldn’t see why you were trying to say I hadn’t fulfilled your challenge which seemed simple to me. You tried to explain it to me but it sounded like gibberish to me so we go nowhere. I don’t think you tried exactly very hard mind you.

    My best guess is that you want to claim that ignoring someone’s stated desires makes you a psycho, and I just think it makes you a normal regular human being who *maybe* is being rude but might just have an overriding agenda of their own and they don’t feel the need to respect someone else’s desires over their own.

    Frankly your entire case seems like female supremacy. You think any MAN should automatically obey any WOMan but of course never vice versa. You can’t understand why people don’t see that like you do, and the reason is they are not sexist nut cases. You see a man’s refusal to obey any woman’s edict as a hanging offense, whereas most people are like, “Huh? Big fucking deal. Live with it.” and see such a refusal as “zero bad”, exactly as they would had a man asked a woman to do something or respect his boundaries and they also refused.

    That’s where I am.

  171. Guerra says

    Stephanie, do you think it is reasonable to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person you insulted?

  172. DavidByron says

    I am familiar with that survey and with the NVAWS. So what is your point?

    “Brian Dunning told women not to do that at the start of this whole thing”

    “that”?
    You’d have to explain at more length…

  173. DavidByron says

    Off hand Stephanie would you guess the odds of being raped in a hotel elevator is less than or greater than the odds of being struck by lightning?

  174. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    David-

    Google News for “rape”

    Please now define what you mean by “common” because it clearly doesn’t match mine, which is, “occurring frequently.”

    Also you are wrong about “if the sexes were reversed.” I am a feminist and I have a problem with that. (Now you can accuse me of lying, which I’m willing to bet you will.) I mean you ARE aware that female-on-male rape happens, right? It’s even more under-reported than male-on-female rape because so many fools insist that it’s impossible for a woman to sexually assault a man. These people are wrong and they are a big part of the problem. All victims of sexual assault/abuse deserve justice, no matter their sex/gender.

    Anyway way to be a terrible skeptic! “I ignore your reality and substitute my own” much? *eyeroll*

  175. says

    All right, David. Time to demonstrate that you actually understand the terms of the challenge or be done here because you’re not competent or willing to handle it. Rephrase your question about elevators to actually include all the parts of the challenge so that what you’re askig about is comparable. Like Justicar, you get one chance. Go.

  176. says

    Does the rape HAVE to happen in the elevator proper, or can it also happen in the hotel room you’ve just been invited back to, where you went under the naive assumption that you were just visiting for coffee?

  177. says

    Munkhaus Guerra, have you chastized Dawkins for insulting Rebecca and expecting to be taken seriously, or am I the only person you think should be held to some kind of standard? I’m sensing a trend here.

    Also, you still have yet to try your hand at the challenge. Are you unable to defend your “zero bad” position or just unable to follow directions?

  178. Ys says

    My husband and I have discussed this at length. Unfortunately, since he’s much taller and stronger than I am, it’s pretty difficult to get him to understand how uncomfortable it makes me when men trap me and hit on me…especially when I’ve made it clear that I have no interest in them. I can’t call these occasions “isolated” because along with those incidents, I’ve had three stalkers (one via the internet), and I’ve been sexually assaulted (twice) and raped (once). So no, I don’t regard it as “zero bad” when a man traps me in a small space and presses me for attention that he already knows I have no intention of giving to him or anyone else.

    There is no enshrined “right” that allows men to hit on women (or women to hit on men, or women to hit on women, men to hit on men…etc.) whenever they want to. It’s not a right. No one has the right to demand another person’s attention in order to fulfill a selfish need. And before the MRAs chime in, no, claiming that you need to propagate the species does not qualify as a serious argument…not with 7 billion people currently existing on this planet.

    The given scenario is not an interaction where the person pressing the attention regards the other as an equal. It’s an interaction where the person pressing the attention knows that the other person doesn’t have an easy way to reject – or walk away from – an unwanted advance.

    That’s called manipulation. That is not “zero bad”. That says, “I don’t care how uncomfortable or nervous you are, you WILL pay attention to me.”

    I’d call it more narcissistic than sociopathic…but either way, this type of interaction implies that the person pressing the attention thinks he/she/etc. somehow has rights over the other person involved.

  179. says

    For those who want to know what kind of outcry Brian Dunning received when he said he didn’t want to be hit on at conventions, check the comments here: http://skeptoid.com/blog/2011/07/05/sexism-in-skepticism-or-just-sex-in-skepticism/

    See how those feminists leapt up to bite him, chastize him for daring to speak to an entire gender about something that merely several people had done, accuse him of sexism. You’ll have to look for the blogs obsessively dedicated to tearing him down because of it on your own, though. I couldn’t find any. Those feminists must be sneaky.

  180. says

    Jason, you’re replying to a comment that is no longer there. David failed quite badly, which was hardly unexpected. As with Justicar, he is welcome to keep trying. As with Justicar, I expect him to wander off and whine about how his failure equals my censorship, despite the warning.

  181. Ys says

    lol @ Stephanie

    IT’S ALL ABOUT TEH BAYBEEZ!!!11! Intelligent people must breed so teh smarties don’t get overrun by teh stupids!

    *eyeroll*

  182. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    David, you should really consider seeing a professional therapist about your issues with half of the species. All this bile, it’s really not healthy. You should really work these problems out, you can’t avoid women unless you do something drastic like join a monastery, after all.

    And I am being serious here. This kind of frothing-at-the-mouth denial of reality is not a good sign for your mental health and well-being, it is akin to the rabid insistence by fundamentalist Christians that they are being oppressed because there’s no prayer in schools.

    As for your citation of VAWA, I disagree that an imperfect bill that is designed to protect the vast majority of violence and abuse victims which may have left out men as well as (guessing from the summary I read) transsexuals, is not evidence of “sexism to the core,” but rather, that progress requires many small steps, because passing one magic bill that fixes everything is not feasible. It is unfair to point to a bill that is a step forward and call it sexist and wrong because it doesn’t step forward far enough.

    PS Thanks for calling me sexist. I know you have obvious deep-seated issues but did we really have to start making accusations of prejudice? I’m not the one who refuses to rationally evaluate the evidence presented on its own merit and come to a reasonable conclusion. I’m not the one who has derailed this discussion into a bizarre diatribe against feminists. I mean it’s obvious you haven’t dedicated any serious amount of time to educating yourself on modern feminist thought, so this level of vitriol is all from an ignorant and uninformed standpoint, which, again, is hardly what one would consider proper skeptical behavior.

    Are you even part of the skeptic community at all?

  183. says

    But aren’t we supposed to attempt to outbreed some other race or group bogeyman, or something? I thought that was Why No God Put Us Atheists On This Planet™.

  184. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Whoops, put in a double negative by accident there.

    ETA: I disagree that an imperfect bill that is designed to protect the vast majority of violence and abuse victims, which may have left out men as well as (guessing from the summary I read) transsexuals, is not evidence of “sexism to the core,”

  185. Ys says

    Jason – I suppose you’re right. Why should we women get the right to do what we want to with our lives like you men get to do? We’re only here to pop out rugrats! In fact, why am I allowed on the internets? I should be making sammiches for you guys, amirite? ;)

  186. says

    Alukonis, David appears to have had a run-in on Greta’s blog about a year ago, but otherwise he appears to be a n00b in skeptical circles, at least according to Greg Laden’s custom Google search for skeptical sites.

    I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait for any more answers until he sorts out the difference between terms of service and censorship. At the moment, he’d rather call me names than try to deal with the challenge that is the whole point of this post. Not that he’s been good at answering questions anyway.

  187. Pteryxx says

    Incidentally, the FBI is currently updating its definition of rape, due to the action of *gasp!* feminists:

    Nearly 100,000 people have signed onto the Ms. and Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) campaign to change the FBI’s definition of “forcible” rape. After a Ms. investigative report found that the FBI’s fundamentally flawed definition excludes hundreds of thousands of rapes from the yearly Uniform Crime Report, Ms. and FMF started a Change.org petition urging the FBI to fix the outdated definition. The petition has amassed over 95,000 signatures–and counting–over the past few days.

    For 82 years, the FBI has defined “forcible” rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” This means that rapes using fingers or an object aren’t counted–as well as non-consensual anal and oral penetration. The rapes of men, boys and transgender people also fall outside the legal definition. What’s more, the emphasis on “forcible” means that other categories of rapes often aren’t counted, either: those of victims who were unconscious, unable to consent because of physical or mental disabilities, or those where drugs or alcohol were used to gain control over the victim.

    quoted from: Ms. magazine

  188. Ys says

    I don’t mean to derail anything, but I’d like to try and illustrate a point.

    To the men: You are at a hotel conference and you’re hanging out at the bar with a large group of people. Some of them you know well – some you don’t – and you’re listening in on a lot of the conversations. It’s now 4 a.m., and one of the guys you only know by reputation says he’s exhausted and is going to head to bed. He gets up and leaves the table.

    Would you follow him into an elevator, wait until the doors close, and then invite him back to your room for coffee, knowing that he has no clue who you are and that he’s already said he’s exhausted and needs some sleep? If so, why?

    If you would not do this, *why* wouldn’t you do this?

  189. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Stephanie-

    Ah, I see. No wonder my appeal to rationality failed! I guess we’re still without serious takers on your challenge, then.

  190. Ys says

    Here you go, Jason – one ham and cheese sammich with jalapeno havarti. Sorry, no honey mustard on hand. I put spicy mustard (turmeric) on there instead.

    *hands over sammich*

    I only dropped it on the floor two or three times. Promise!

  191. Munkhaus says

    Steph
    I know you guys have trouble fighting your bias and understanding the information in posts that challenge it, but I’ll be charitable and presume you must have missed my post above (or maybe it’s a hitherto unknown to science form of comment blindness); have a read: Dear Dick vs fancy a coffee and a chat. what do you think? Try approaching it with some intellectual honesty.

    Jason: you’re like that guy from ghostbusters that turned off the protection grid :)

  192. says

    Munkhaus, your description of the event in Ireland fails the challenge. If you can manage to restate it in accordance with the challenge, you can have an answer. Can you do it without glossing anything over?

  193. says

    Ys: om nom floor bits.

    Munkhaus: do you seriously think I won’t get the reference to Walter Peck, or as Venkman refers to him, “a giant pecker”? Seeing as how this is not any known short version of my name, I really don’t get your intentions in comparing me with him.

  194. julian says

    For the utterly tasteless and juvenile letter campaign, and attack on his character, you owe *him* an apology.

    See, this is how I know you know fuckall of what has actually been said or written. Can you explain how and which letters were particular examples of ‘utterly tasteless’ and ‘juvenile’ behavior?

    You can’t have it both ways; if you insist that you were unaware that it would be taken as slang for schlong, then you must accept the possibilty that EG wanted a chat over coffee.

    Ha!

    You understand context and setting, right? Stephanie Zvan wrote a letter using the diminutive of Richard (Dick). The letter was entirely respectful and assumed good faith on Richard Dawkins part. There is the letter to suggest she meant dick as in penis. You can go ahead (I did when I first heard of it, rolled my eyes and didn’t read it) but that’s hardly being fair or ‘intellectually rigorous.’

    EG approached a strange woman late into the night in a hotel with a request to come up to his room for coffee. That’s what we have to work with with the EG scenario. There’s nothing else there that would make his meaning clearer. You go with what it’ll mean 9 out 10 times.

    But honestly, none of this has anything to do with Egate or the Egate Challenge. Really you should stay on topic.

  195. julian says

    “There is the letter to suggest she meant dick as in penis.”

    should read ‘There is nothing in the letter…’

  196. Munkhaus says

    Jason No, I didn’t expect you wouldn’t get it, that’s why i made it (earth to Jason!) I wasn’t referencing giant pecker though, in fact I don’t even remember that line.
    Anyway: Watson is a “strange woman” now? That’s not very nice.

    Of course, Zvan has refused to acknowledge the perfectly reasonable comparison between Dick and coffee with her characteristic ” er, um.. I’ll set some rules for you to do something else which means I don’t have to answer your question to which I have an answer but wish to formulate a more dishonest one that means I’ve won on da internetz”
    You guys are not skeptics. It’s as simple as that. Sure, you like to use the term as a descriptor because you think it sounds cool, but employing the methodology?… not a chance. And I think somewhere, deep down, you know it. It’s risable.

  197. says

    Can’t manage it, huh, Munkhaus? The only way you can make your comparisons come out in your favor is to ignore what Rebecca says happened? Because somehow using the diminutive form of someone’s name versus following Rebecca into an isolated area without an easy exit in order to disregard her multiple repetitions of “I don’t want you to do that to me” doesn’t look quite the same, now, does it?

    By the way, the methodology for skepticism does not consist of going around saying, “You guys aren’t skeptics! Nyah!”

  198. says

    You’re not a skeptic in this guy’s books unless you’re a 9/11 Truther, Birther, Moon Landing Hoaxer level of skeptic. I even wrote a post about it. It’s linked at 112. Whee.

    So, Munkhaus, what exactly were you trying to say? That I’m trying to shut down a containment field that will ultimately doom the city to a flood of paranormal activity just because I don’t understand what it does? I see no part of this analogy that makes a lick of sense in context of our conversation.

    Either that, or you just think I’m a giant pecker. Why don’t you explain further?

  199. Philip Legge says

    Konradius,

    Thanks for thinking it’s ingenious btw.

    You’re most welcome. I know I didn’t make it precisely clear in my brief post that I wasn’t lumping you with the trollish challengers, but I think you got from my use of the word “ingenious” that that was my way of quickly saying your supposition was easily the best attempt at meeting the challenge so far – which doesn’t say very much for those challengers.

    After his most recent off-topic rant, is it time to give Munkhaus the “your next post must be on-topic, or it goes bye-byes” drill, o enlightened blog-host? (By the way, I look forward to seeing what “Elevatorgate” Challenges #2 and #3 might entail.)

  200. says

    Do we even get a 2 or 3 if there’s no takers for 1? This shouldn’t be that hard, people! Just assume all those things and explain why it’s still zero bad. I don’t know why you have to even bother trying to haggle for each of them, when that’s patently circumventing the point of the challenge.

  201. julian says

    Sure, you like to use the term as a descriptor because you think it sounds cool, but employing the methodology?

    I don’t call myself a skeptic. I call myself julian. And I try to be skeptical. May not always succeed but that’s not the point to me. I’m skeptical because I’m prone to paranoid thinking, so I try to temper that by asking myself what are reasonable assumptions, how far am I reaching over this conclusion and am I becoming obsessive over this one point.

    Of course, Zvan has refused to acknowledge the perfectly reasonable comparison between Dick and coffee

    You’ve failed to draw any kind of comparison. You’ve basically just sat the two next to each other without comment.

    Guessing here, but you’re point, I think, is that we shouldn’t exclude any one meaning of a phrase or word. I disagree. It’s perfectly valid to exclude meanings based on the context of the exchange.

  202. says

    There are, in fact, a #2 and #3. I don’t want to step on #1 while it’s still going, however.

    Munkhaus is doing his best to flunk entirely, but he can try explaining what he meant to Jason or try explaining how what he said is equivalent to what I said. Of course, I doubt he will. For the record, neither Justicar nor David has even attempted to meet the challenge while in moderation. It’s much easier to label their unwillingness to meet the challenge as my censorship.

  203. julian says

    I don’t know why you have to even bother trying to haggle for each of them, when that’s patently circumventing the point of the challenge.

    It’s like when you pose to a Creationist (no this not me poisoning the well. I don’t think you’re all dishonest like Creationists.) ‘if the fossil record were highly detailed, you’d accept evolution, right?’ and they respond ‘What about piltdown man?’

    Their case relies to strongly on rejecting that premise. If they assumed it (despite you explicitly saying you wouldn’t use that against them) they feel as if their case is diminished.

  204. Munkhaus says

    My original comment: “Stephanie, at a time when the skepchicks et al were calling it dickish behaviour, your letter comes out with the Dear Dick. That EG actually wanted coffee is much more possible than you meant Dick as a shortening of Richard. You can’t have it both ways; if you insist that you were unaware that it would be taken as slang for schlong, then you must accept the possibilty that EG wanted a chat over coffee.”

    You all find that difficult to understand? Jevus.
    Ok, baby talk:
    You lot propose that inviting someone for coffee is most likely to be meant/perceives as an offer of sex.
    I propose that calling someone Dick, even if his name is Richard, at a time when “dick” was being thrown around to describe that persons behaviour, is most likely to be meant/perceived as an insult.
    Now if you say that dick wasnt an insult, then isnt it possible that the other wasnt an offer of sex.

    I’m sort of interested if you can understand/appreciate that. Not massively though.

  205. Philip Legge says

    Munkhaus, if you’re friends with Tristan, please let him know I wish to know what sample size he used to generate the statistics in post #28 – otherwise, one might strongly suspect he was basing it on #26, where N clearly was equal to 1, or that he failed to obtain an unbiased sample group. (Like all of your pals over at ERV.) Methodological scepticism applied properly demands fuller documentation of experimental design and controls.

  206. Tristan says

    Philip: either you have no sense of humour, don’t share my somewhat idiosyncratic sense of humour, or your sense of humour is far too meta for me.

    That being said, on a scale of zero to ten, zero being Dawkins’ “chewing gum near me when I don’t like it” and ten being genital mutilation and honour killings, where would you place elevator guy’s faux pas. While I tried to frame it in a relatively lighthearted fashion, I’m serious when I say that to me, it seems so close to zero as to make no real difference.

  207. says

    Munkhaus, that EG wanted coffee in his hotel room in a hotel without coffeemakers is not exactly high on the list of likely things. That I would call Dawkins a penis in a letter that starts with a proper address to him and is otherwise entirely respectful is only likely in the minds of people who want to discredit the letter for some frivolous reason.

    Now, are you going to try to deal with the challenge, or are you going to get out?

    Tristan, it’s your turn to restate your comment. “Faux pas” doesn’t come close to meeting the terms of the challenge. Can you manage to make the same claim while including all the details, or does your sense of honesty get in the way?

  208. Ys says

    Stephanie – they know they’re in the wrong, or they wouldn’t keep trying to change the conversation.

    Men like that are the ones I run away from…because they won’t admit there’s anything in the world outside of their experience, and they will never admit that they’re wrong.

  209. tarian says

    There’s a bit of a self-reinforcing bubble going on with some of these people, I suspect. The gist of the response to “this is bad because some people are sexual assault survivors and may get triggered by something like EG’s behavior” seems to be to assert that hardly anybody gets raped, and/or if they do, and are traumatized by it, they won’t be out in public anyway so there’s a negligible chance* you’d actually hurt somebody that way. This point of view pretty much ensures that any rape survivors they meet won’t say anything about it; somebody who really thinks rape is rare will likely dismiss whatever happened as “well, it must’ve been your fault somehow; the guy** might have misunderstood what you wanted.” So they don’t find out about the real-life rape survivors among people they care about, and it stays in the realm of abstract mental exercise.

    You’d think Google would help sort that crap out, but I guess you have to dust off the ol’ empathy gland first.

    * For me, any chance at all is enough to change my behavior to a mode of operations that won’t hurt people. “Any chance” turns out to be all too common, though.
    ** Obligatory “or woman; men get raped too” footnote.

  210. julian says

    Now if you say that dick wasnt an insult, then isnt it possible that the other wasnt an offer of sex.

    We have been addressing that very point. Why do you think we keep explaining context to you? The context in which a phrase or proposal are given matter. EG’s scenario points to one meaning; I would like sex. The Dear Dick letter when content and who’s doing the writing are taken into account points to a different meaning than penis.

    Again, if you had nothing to go by but Dear Dick, you would be justified in believing it was meant as an insult. But what we do know of Stephanie Zvan, the contents of the letter and her own explanation point to something else.

  211. says

    Any of you jerkies ever consider that Stephanie might have used the word “Dick” to make people who think words can’t have alternate meanings, dependent on context and subtext, complete hypocrites when you say “but coffee just means coffee”? By trolling on the basis of that one word, it makes you asses really easy to identify.

  212. H-Bomb (too lazy to log in) says

    Jason:

    Any of you jerkies ever consider that Stephanie might have used the word “Dick” to make people who think words can’t have alternate meanings, dependent on context and subtext, complete hypocrites when you say “but coffee just means coffee”? By trolling on the basis of that one word, it makes you asses really easy to identify.

    I love you so hard right now. QFT!

  213. julian says

    That being said, on a scale of zero to ten, zero being Dawkins’ “chewing gum near me when I don’t like it” and ten being genital mutilation and honour killings…

    So what would be a 5?

  214. Guerra says

    Something is amiss here. Stephanie, can I get an unequivocal answer on whether or not you actually expected Dawkins to respond to the “Dear Dick” letter?

    Also, do you think it is reasonable for you to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person you insulted?

  215. says

    Yes, Guerra, something is decidedly amiss. Here you are chastizing me for behaving far, far better than Dawkins while treating his behavior as perfectly appropriate. Why is it that you think the burden is on me to be utterly without sin when seeking Dawkins’ promised apology for acting the ass? Is there something about me that makes you think it appropriate for me to grovel where Dawkins wouldn’t? What’s the difference between Dawkins and me that you feel justified in your behavior?

  216. Guerra says

    Stephanie, I’m just trying to establish the facts. It would appear that you are pleading the fifth to my questions.

  217. says

    No, Guerra, you’re trying to establish something about me without establishing the same whatever for Dawkins. That’s not “the facts.” That’s one small set of the available facts you think will somehow bolster your position.

    And why would I plead the Fifth? I already described the use of the diminutive form of Dawkins’ name as a transgression.

    Now, when are you going to get to the challenge? Or am I to assume you recognized what happened as a bad thing?

  218. Guerra says

    Stephanie, when I read the “Dear Dick” post I thought it was a weird hit piece on Dawkins. Try as I might, I could see no connection between Dawkins and sexual assault. That is the defamation part. The “Dear Dick” confirms the ‘tude of another internet crazy. I am telling you the impression that it gives. Many people, men and women alike, see the same. It is completely obvious why Dawkins would decline to participate.

    Talking with you now, though, you have been nothing but evasive. You don’t answer my questions. You seem to acknowledge that you are both seeking an apology and not seeking apology at the same time. You acknowledge that your opening remark was an insult, which confirms the hit piece aspect and for which no reply would be expected. But you also say that you are holding him accountable for not replying.

    Do you think it is reasonable for you to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person you insulted?

  219. Philip Legge says

    [meta]
    Tristan, I recognised the obvious humour in your #28, but thought it demanded a more serious reply. Just because I have a sense of humour doesn’t oblige me to employ it in everything I write.

    My suspicion is that although Dawkins at the time clearly viewed the incident as “zero bad”, he might subsequently have reflected from the significant number of people who did not agree with him that there might be something pertinent to their arguments that he had overlooked. Indeed, the signatories to Stephanie’s letter might give a completely different value than 0.1 +/– 0.2 (insignificant deviation from zero) bad that you described as having 95% confidence in: obviously, different people bring their own varied experiences and knowledge to bear when they assess whether a scenario is “bad” or not.

    [on-topic]
    Speaking of this challenge scenario – if you’re claiming EG made a “faux pas” I suspect you must be neglecting items 1, 2, and 3 of the challenge, which severally make it clear that EG is a guy who won’t take “no” for an answer in the abstract and shows no respect for another person’s autonomy.

  220. Munkhaus says

    This is hilarious! That’s Stephies MO alright… evade, evade!
    But now at least she’s calling it a transgression… step in the right direction.
    What makes all this funny is that at first, I thought Zvan and her mob might be a significant amount of people, available to rational argument and thus worth having a conversation with. After a while you notice it’s just the same few people at each others blogs, desperately confirming each others bollocks like some crazy bunch of Cnuts ordering back the tide of common sense.
    #laughingstock

  221. Tristan says

    Speaking of this challenge scenario – if you’re claiming EG made a “faux pas” I suspect you must be neglecting items 1, 2, and 3 of the challenge, which severally make it clear that EG is a guy who won’t take “no” for an answer in the abstract and shows no respect for another person’s autonomy.

    He received exactly one direct ‘no’ – which everyone agrees he accepted amicably and wandered off into complete anonymity. This does not seem to be a good indicator of malign intent. An equally cromulent explanation is that the poor guy has a capacity for abstract reasoning on a par with approximately 90% of the Pharyngulite horde. Or there’s good old-fashioned dutch courage.

    I mean, haven’t any of you ever had a bit too much to drink in a social situation? Had thoughts which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, but made you groan and clutch your head when remembered in the harsh light of the following day? “She said she doesn’t like people sexualising her – that must mean she doesn’t like people objectifying her body. But it’s what she’s saying that resonates with me* – surely that can’t be what she was referring to. I should give it a go, just in case. But, don’t want to be embarrassed by getting shot down in public. Oh look, an elevator! Quick, look suave and confident, and go for it!”

    Seriously, there’s absolutely no justification to assert that EG was a bad guy, or “entitled”, or a wannabe rapist, or otherwise creepy. It’s at least as plausible that he was infatuated, a little shy, a little bit drunk, and/or not incredibly bright.

    * Think beer goggles, but for the mind.

  222. says

    Guerra, if you can’t read the post you claim to have read, that’s hardly my fault. Projecting your own inability onto a scholar of Dawkins’ caliber, however, is inexcusable. As is your inability to comprehend the difference between explaining why a promised apology is due and begging for an apology.

    Poor, confused child. Perhaps my very first comment on the situation at Ophelia’s will shed some light on the situation for you:

    I wrote it perfectly willing to apologize to Dawkins if he objected to either the familiarity or felt that I was comparing him to a penis. If he was unwilling to offer his promised apology in return, well, that would say something too, now, wouldn’t it?

    Feel free to ask questions. I understand that this may require some work on your part to understand the politics involved.

    Try calling me evasive, however, and you’re going to look just as hypocritical as Munkhaus there, given that you’re both ignoring the challenge as though it weren’t the entire point of the post.

    [Confidential to Munkhaus: “following his lead of unwarranted familiarity” is a transgression. See the definition of “unwarranted.”]

  223. says

    Tristan, you fail the challenge. Care to try again, actually incorporating and dealing with all the points? Unless Elevator Guy was not at a conference, “I’m tired of getting hit on at conferences” is pretty damned direct.

    Don’t be a David.

  224. julian says

    Stephanie, when I read the “Dear Dick” post I thought it was a weird hit piece on Dawkins.

    Eh? What about the letter made you think it was a hit piece?

    Try as I might, I could see no connection between Dawkins and sexual assault.

    Didn’t he also ask why his remarks were seen as so offensive? Part of that had to do with how he dismissed rape concerns and fears. How exactly was sharing with him the prevalence of rape and the affect it has on many women amount to attempting to defame Richard Dawkins?

    Is having your name mentioned anywhere where rape is being discussed considered defamation by you?

    Talking with you now, though, you have been nothing but evasive. You don’t answer my questions.

    You realize she has stated her reason behind writing the letter multiple times and that this is an off topic discussion on her blog. You also haven’t posed nearly enough question to be able to say ‘You don’t answer my questions.’ (which, believe it or, she has.)

  225. says

    All you “hit piece on Dawkins” idiots are missing the fact that, at a meta level, as a diminutive and a transgression on their lack of familiarity, she’s also making a point about how familiarity is important in making transactions like requesting an apology or, say, requesting “coffee” at 4am on an elevator.

    Seriously. If Stephanie is as cunning as I believe her to be, I strongly suspect that both this point and the point I made at 230 were entirely part of her master plan all along. You guys get all uppity about her calling Dawkins “a dick”, because she can’t possibly just be calling him “Dick”, because they’re not familiar enough for that. Meanwhile, you’re arguing that EG was well within his rights to cold-proposition Watson as their first goddamn interaction. You’re hypocrites on two levels. If you want to establish that Stephanie transgressed on Dawkins, then you are also suggesting that EG transgressed on Watson, and therefore (by extension) that Dawkins wasn’t correct about his statements.

    You guys are in checkmate and you’re still moving pawns around.

  226. julian says

    He received exactly one direct ‘no’ – which everyone agrees he accepted amicably and wandered off into complete anonymity.

    He received more than one no, however. When Rebecca Watson spoke and then an implied no when she showed no interest in him at the bar (or at least no sexual interest.) EG truly had no reason to suspect his proposition would be welcome by Ms. Watson but several by this point to believe it wouldn’t be. But he decided to make it anyway.

    I mean, haven’t any of you ever had a bit too much to drink in a social situation?

    Yes.

    And during the earlier days of this I told one Ms Miranda Hale she could join a blogger Prometheus dying in a fire. I did not mean it as a threat and I was definitely not thinking it would make her feel as intimidated as it did, but it was rude, offensive and raw. Was she wrong to ban me? Would it be wrong to hold my behavior up as inappropriate?

    “I should give it a go, just in case. But, don’t want to be embarrassed by getting shot down in public. Oh look, an elevator!”

    sigh

    This would be an example of disregarding someone else’s feelings and expressed desires to make yourself more comfortable and shift the power balance in your favor. It’s PUA tactics 101.

    May, I ask you a question? Why are you defending his behavior if you know it was inappropriate and insensitive at best? No one is calling him a rapist or a stalker. Creepy yes (propositioning a complete stranger is something many people consider creepy as well as rude) but no one is mounting a campaign against this guy. We’re advising him and other men to put a little more thought into where and when they ask women for sex. Is that so terrible, Tristan?

  227. julian says

    [meta]
    *marks the “echo chamber” square on Troll bingo*

    Is projection on there. I think Munkhaus sidestepped and ignored pretty much everything that’s been said to him.

    Me fail challenge? That’s unpossible!- Tristan

    It’s a thought experiment. Assume the givens, see if you agree, if not figure out where and continue working until you figure out what it is that is causing the difference of opinion. For it to work you have to assume good faith.

  228. Munkhaus says

    Steph said:” What’s the difference between Dawkins and me…”

    Well, apart from the obvious, one doesn’t have a clue or care who the other one is.

  229. Tristan says

    julian @248: why am I defending EG? Honestly?

    Well, mostly I’m just playing along with this silly little “challenge” while I try, out of morbid curiousity, to determine who (if any) actually believes the majority of those in opposition to you actually care about elevator guy and “mens’ rights to hit on women inappropriately” – and how many (if any) are dishonestly framing the argument that way to make it easier to demonise people.

    Elevator guy and “guys, don’t do that” are trivial. Irrelevancies. Have been almost from the start – and that has been very clearly stated by multiple people. Yes, early on there were a few DavidByrons (who isn’t popular at Abbie’s either, despite what you’d like to believe – more on that below) and similar who deserved all the shit they got. But where the shit really started to hit the fan was when honesty and rationality got thrown out the window. When people making obviously sincere, polite, thought-out disagreements were tarred as precisely as bad as the worst of the “MRAs”. When regulars at Pharyngula, Greg Laden’s, Butterflies & Wheels etc. – hell, at times even the blog owners themselves – descended to a level of debate no less dishonest than a typical creationist. Quote mining, blatant misrepresentation, strawman arguments, tone trolling and heavy-handed censorship – suddenly all these things that have been decried on skeptic blogs for years were not only a-ok, but cheered – and the people calling for a better level of debate were the ones being hounded out.

    Certain people watching this, people for whom true skepticism, intellectual honesty and reason trumps ideology, got more and more upset. Abbie Smith was one of the more prominent members of this group to act, and did so in typical Internet-generation fashion – she poked the whole stinking mess with as big a stick as she could find. More shitstorm followed. Yes, she also attracted a few truly repugnant characters, but by far the majority were similar to her – people who value skepticism deliberately posting a few trigger words and phrases, and watching as seemingly the whole “skeptic” community devolved into gibbering irrationality.

    It’s certainly not the only incident that has caused the faux skeptics to show their true colours – to anyone watching closely, it’s been evident for years which (precious few) of the regulars at Pharyngula, for example, are actual quality thinkers and which are just groupies. But it’s certainly the clearest.

    Oh, and I was going to say something about everyone’s friend DavidByron. I’ll just repost what I said over at ERV:

    Yep – DavidByron is simply an annoyance best tuned out. To actually address him simply lowers the tone of the whole thread.

    To anyone lurking, I will say this: given Abbie’s clearly stated anti-censorship stance, DavidByron’s comments here (or anyone elses’ for that matter) don’t reflect on her one way or the other. They only reflect on those making the comments.

    For the Myers’, Ladens, Bensons and Zahns of the world the story is a little different. See, once you go down the censorship route, you become responsible not just for the posts you censor, but for the posts you choose to leave. Every lie, every misrepresentation, every strawman, every hateful comment you choose to leave up because it happens to be in your favour – every one of those comments reflects directly back on you.

    It’s a funny thing, that censorship. Can cut in really unexpected directions.

    And with that, I think I shall flounce. And yes, I will stick it.

  230. Ys says

    I find it fascinating that no one has been able to address the challenge…and that those people who agree with the “zero bad” designation keep trying to change the argument so they can “win”.

    Avoiding the full text of the challenge and only addressing one point demonstrates that you guys clearly know EG was in the wrong, but you’re unwilling to admit it because you know you’ll look like idiots.

    It demonstrates that you agree that women are sex objects first, and people second – and that women never have a right to say a preemptive “no”.

    Comments denigrating Rebecca and Stephanie while seeking to absolve EG and Dawkins demonstrate that you hold a double standard when it comes to men and women…in some cases, several double standards. Congratulations, that’s sexist behaviour too.

    I’d like to show these comments to a team of psychiatrists and see how many different mental pathologies could be identified within this conversation.

  231. Guerra says

    Stephanie, the question was: Do you think it is reasonable for you to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person you insulted?

    Your response: That you said something in a comment somewhere on another blog about how you would apologize after the person you insulted apologizes.

    Is this the answer which you have proffered?

  232. says

    Guerra, you asked whether I thought it was reasonable. I provided the reasoning. That you can’t paraphrase it without getting it exactly backward is mildly amusing. It also tells me why you won’t take on the challenge.

    However, since you’re so keen on getting questions answered without any kind of evasion, try answering mine above about why you’re treating me differently than you’re treating Dawkins. As you can see from the comments here, the double-standard is obvious to anyone reading.

  233. Ys says

    “Stephanie, the question was: Do you think it is reasonable for you to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person you insulted?”

    Guerra, do you think it is reasonable for Dawkins to insult someone and then expect an apology from the person he insulted?

  234. julian says

    Elevator guy and “guys, don’t do that” are trivial. Irrelevancies. Have been almost from the start – and that has been very clearly stated by multiple people.

    Eh? So all those blog posts by people like Franc Hoggle, all those people complaining about feminists restricting men’s right to ‘hit’ on women, all the people arguing that Rebecca Watson demonized men in her original video don’t exist or something?

    Yes, early on there were a few DavidByrons (who isn’t popular at Abbie’s either, despite what you’d like to believe – more on that below)

    A few?

    We have very different definitions of a few.

    It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like people like porn or DavidByron or the people at InMalaFide. You use the same arguments they do to dismiss feminism, rape prevalence and misogyny, and mock women who’re afraid of rape much like they do. You can say you’re different all day. You’re actions say otherwise.

    But where the shit really started to hit the fan was when honesty and rationality got thrown out the window.

    Says the ‘smelly skepchick snatch to sniff’ crowd…

    suddenly all these things that have been decried on skeptic blogs for years were not only a-ok, but cheered

    Heh, I felt the same way about atheists like Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins. Both often argued against the privileged position religion in society has, and often urged people not to automatically dismiss the concerns of atheists simply because others elsewhere were suffering horribly.

    Dr. Coyne’s criticism of the Dear Richard Dawkins letters was especially ironic.

    Certain people watching this, people for whom true skepticism, intellectual honesty and reason trumps ideology, got more and more upset.

    Aye. And many of the skeptical women who’ve survived rape, sexual assault and molestation got more and more upset at seeing their concerns laughed at and mocked by fine skeptics like Abbie Smith. One of the reasons Dear Dick was censored; so that those who wished to share their stories could do so without the fear of having someone throw their life experience back at them.

    people who value skepticism deliberately posting a few trigger words and phrases, and watching as seemingly the whole “skeptic” community devolved into gibbering irrationality.

    You realize this is an admission of trolling, right?

    And contrary to what you and your friends believe, that isn’t a good thing. Especially when the discussion involves very emotional and personal issues and your trolling could very well be reopening painful wounds.

    It’s certainly not the only incident that has caused the faux skeptics to show their true colours

    Ha!

    Tristan, why are you defending ERV here? Have we been digging up pictures of the regulars or Ms Smith? Posting them with little titles like ‘You’d need to be shitfaced just to consider letting your dick near that’? Why exactly does this warrant derailing?

    The lulz, Tristan? Is that why you’re here?

    I can’t help but laugh.

  235. Munkhaus says

    Steph:

    Accepting all your retro-fitting points, the incident was still zero bad because a human being asking another human being for coffee and a chat is zero bad.

    What do I win?

    Of course, you´ll now add some other caveats like “point 5: assume EG is a rapist”.

  236. says

    No, Munkhaus, you didn’t do it. You’ve been following along in the comments. You know that’s not the challenge. Write the whole damned thing out or don’t bother. Tell us, in detail, how that specific sequence of events is “zero bad.”

  237. Guerra says

    Stephanie, do you think you have been effective in communicating your side of the issue? There are many who see the “Dear Dick” + sexual assault letter as pretty absurd, men and women alike. Why is Miranda Celeste, for example, against it? Just a gender traitor?

    In response to straight questions you offer these weird evasions such as “Poor, confused child.” Do you think that is an appropriate way to answer a question? Is Miranda Celeste a poor, confused child, too?

    Given that I thought your “Dear Dick” letter was unreasonable, do you think the behavior you shown here has been effective in persuading me otherwise?

  238. says

    Guerra, I don’t think there’s a thing in the world that would persuade you that I’m reasonable, just as I don’t think anything on Earth would persuade you to step up to the challenge.

    Think Miranda would do it?

  239. Philip Legge says

    Now that the first “Elevatorgate” challenge is winding to a close I must say I find it fascinating that Tristan’s priorities as spelled out in his flouncing post framed the difference between the “sides” in the Rebeccadämmerung as an ideological one. I sort of reject the idea that there are only two well-defined “sides” with complete polarisation between them, but recognise that there are some entrenched alliances of common ground seems obvious, as well as people whose views in some respects evidently fall across both areas’ defended turf.

    Tristan would like to portray only one “side” of the issue as rational, sceptical, honest, and capable of engaging in a mature debate (when a website on one “side” is routinely described as a “slimepit” and its counterpart as the “baboon house”, this last is a particularly disingenuous claim). The issue touched controversial and emotional grounds, and few arguments that I saw conducted over the last three months stood up to scrutiny as fair, balanced, respectful and rigorous: too often trollish behaviour derailed the discussions. To pretend this proved the merit of one or other “side” actually does no favours to anyone. Quote mining, meretricious representation of opponents’ arguments, homicide of strawmen and censorship have been observed in numerous places and the unwillingness to see all of this amounts to the biblical cliché of seeing “the mote in thy brother’s eye” while ignoring one’s own beam.

    One thing seems obvious: “feminism” is a dirty word to many* within sceptical and atheist circles, just as within the context of the United States, “atheists” are viewed extremely negatively, to the extent it is hard to imagine a successful politician espousing an atheist viewpoint (here in my own country, atheism is viewed far more tolerantly by a much-less religiose populace). (* I would not claim this is a majority, but at the least it seems a significant minority.)

    Given that many of these blogs have a considerable weight of US-based bloggers and commenters, I am somewhat curious to what extent the negative ideological slant against sub-types of feminism reflects aspects of the political structure and ideologies within the US itself. A range of anti-feminist accusations were made: Rebecca was characterised as an extreme radical (which seems ironic if you compare the actual extreme of the movement!) and her supporters (dubbed “Team Watson”) likewise branded as radicals when uttering what appear to me to be fairly moderate claims. And aside from those who view any wave of feminism as totally beyond the pale, some of Watson’s critics asserted a preference for a less-threatening flavour of “equity” feminism.

    Before this severe fall-out, I naïvely thought that some of the most basic tenets of feminism (such as, women are people, duh) were uncontroversial, and that it was the extent to which sociological ideas like “privilege” were viewed as useful concepts that were more questionable – as a white male in an affluent Western democracy it is an utter no-brainer for me to observe the advantages I’ve had in my life as well as comparative disadvantages others face. Such factors don’t have to be ubiquitous to have effects on people’s lives. Tristan also used the word “entitled” with scare quotes, which makes me wonder if he’s questioning the fact that society at large does have patterns and customs that perpetuate these advantages and disadvantages, and my (probably inaccurate) observation as an outsider is that the US seems to be leading the way in maximising disparities like the rich/poor divide.

  240. says

    Philip, one additional thing worth noting: “radical” feminism is the proposition that institutions in a sexist culture tend to be designed to perpetuate the sexism. One example would be jobs that penalize for parental leave in a society in which women do the vast majority of care-giving. It was radical in the 60s because it hadn’t been proposed until that point and it fit in with the rest of the radical movements that pointed out that our society, by design, gives weight to certain ideas and people over others, regardless of merit.

    There were a few feminist theorists of the time who suggested that this required that institutions be torn down and replaced. Again, this was in keeping with the general ethos of the human rights activists of time. These are the people that anti-feminists still point to when they want to claim that radical feminism is just too…radical by modern standards. However, the truth is that recognition of how our institutions are biased has become mainstream, and the consensus on how to deal with it involves changing the institutions instead of dismantling them.

    To use my example from above, where we now have parental leave policies that may still slightly disadvantage parents who use them, we used to have a situation in which women were fired when their employers found out they were pregnant. We now have institutions that are less sexist, due to the work of radical feminists.

    And I need to do a full post on that one of these days.

  241. says

    @DavidByron

    Excuse me, but when you said that “It [rape and sexual assault] isn’t common at all. That’s just feminist bullshit.” you just told every survivor here that our experiences, the very real assaults that happened, are “just bullshit.” That pretty much amounts to, “You’re lying.”

    Why would I lie about being hit? Hello, BRUISES? Cigarette burns? Strange scars? The times he choked me? Kicked me repeatedly in the ribs? The time he pinned me down and held a knife to my throat? And let’s not forget the rapes.

    Oh, and on top of that? Every time I reached out for help? Every goddamn time the police just acted like I was “just a hysterical woman”, and I just needed to “calm down”. They even told me once that I couldn’t press charges, or I’d have charges pressed against me.

    Guess who now has PTSD thanks to one miserable jackass who thought it was his God-given right to use me as a punching bag and sperm receptacle? Guess who now flinches away from her own father even though she knows he’s not violent?

    Me.

    Fuck. You.

    You may not be a rapist yourself, but you are, without doubt, a rape-apologist and a rape-enabler.

    Now I’m going to go take a shower and try to feel clean again.

  242. says

    WMD Kitty
    [sarcasm]Oh, but you have to understand that DB’s definition of assault and rape are not the same as yours.
    Groping and pinching don’t count. After all, you’re not charged with theft if you pick up an apple to see if it’s good quality, so why should you be when doing it to a woman?
    Being taken advantage of when you were too drunk to consent? Not rape, you’re just sorry the morning afterwards. Same goes for drug-related rape.
    Prostitutes probably can’t be raped anyway, they can only be victims of fraud.
    If you just hold still and cry? Not rape, how the fuck is he supposed to know you’re not enjoying it?
    And there’s the not uncommon enough notion that wives gave consent to be fucked whenever he feels like until they get a divorce.
    So, if you substract all those things, not much left[/sarcasm]

    I’m truely sorry for what happened to you, and many other women (and men) on these boards. You have my utmost respect and, yes, admiration for coming forth, telling your tales and fighting.
    I can only imagine how this must be for you.
    Those threads have been hard on me, they have left marks on me and I am a very lucky woman, because every bullshit I had to take so far has been minor stuff. I really don’t know how you can bear it.

  243. simon says

    just like to say ive been active as an atheist and pro-equal rights since childhood and have never missed an opportunity to question anyone and indulge in debate with anyone on many issues.

    however, i have never belonged to any group and remain away from people connected with this or any other scene. and this here is as good an example as any other as to why.

    you are all pathetic. how many weeks will this pointless argument continue. In the greater scheme of things this is a non issue.

    You all act like ur still at school, arguing in small social clicks. How you all love ur little dramas!

    I keep reading posts that just distort what actually happened to try and prove a persons point of view. this is Ego! Wallets and alleys, male brutality and rape. childish distortion to prove a personnel point.

    Someone got asked for something they didn’t wont in an elevator.

    This is not sexism, rude yes, inconsiderate yes but not sexism. If he had assumed some sort of sexual right then that is. but that didn’t happen. he took a punt, she said no and he left.

    i live in the real world where men and woman ask the people they desire for coffee/dates/sex. its how we reproduce and/or find love. animals have acts of courtship. its not an act of sexism to do so. an act doesn’t become sexist because the person on the receiving end didn’t like it. If the same thing had happened in a different place and time and she had said yes would you still be arguing that it was an act of sexism. i don’t think so.

    i have read all the facts. even if we agree that the “victim” stated several times that that kind of behavior is not wanted or appreciated and we also assume the the “perpetrator” new this and chose to ignore it. so what. In the greater scheme of things its still a pretty small issue.

    and yet its been weeks of arguing. why? is there nothing to do where u all live. got no important issues to worry about, say equal pay or the fair political representation for all?

  244. says

    simon, see above, where I point out that this isn’t rude but sociopathic. What are the possbilities if he knows that his advance won’t be welcome (barring David’s delusion that feminist men don’t listen to women)? Either he knows it won’t be successful and he does it because he wants to do something to her that she doesn’t want, or he thinks something about being isolated and trapped in the elevator will change her mind. Both of those go well beyond rude.

    When people understand this, we can stop talking about it.

  245. simon says

    if he is a sociopath then this is a condition of the brain and they act the way they do without thought to the consequence and others feelings. try and find the difference between a mild sociopath and someone who is just rude. is there a difference?

    also, you point out a list of possibilities for his action as if that’s a complete list. it is not. all your points are negative.

    i agree ur point absolutely if the incident is taken at face value, however, it could be that what she said only applies to those she doesn’t find attractive (this is irrelevant of gender). if she had found the person to be attractive the outcome may have been different. now obviously he is not in that group. but he may have thought he was. this fact applies to everyone, the way we react in those situations depends on how attractive we find the person asking. we are mammals. that’s how mammals are.

    its very easy to listen to a version of the facts from the side u most sympathize with. there may have been things said that have not been discussed after the fact. a smile, a piece of small talk at the coffee point that has been forgotten that may have led him to believe (mistakenly or not) there was some attraction and what she had said previously didn’t apply to him. i think this point is valid in a situation where a simple offer is made. obviously i am not arguing for rape because she talked to me. how many of us have made an idiot of our self by reading the signals badly.

    this situation is the result of two people interacting. the outcome is a result of both of those individuals experiences. I would not have reacted as she did. and this is irrelevant of male/female. I also would not have done what he did. i am shy :(

    but again, this is all mute. my point was not that what he did was right or wrong. my point is that its not really an issue. its a small incident that has become a monster. its just become a silly argument because of social grouping and ego. if you look from the outside all you see is petty distortion and personnel attacks that do the movement no good at all.

  246. says

    No, Simon. It’s a big deal exactly because a bunch of people decided a woman had no right to have her words about her own experience and preferences taken at face value, starting with EG. Feel free to not add to it, but don’t act surprised or offended that other people have something to say on the matter.

  247. Ys says

    Simon,

    When a woman says, “I don’t want guys to hit on me”, do you think men still somehow have a right to impose their sexual attention on that woman even though *they know in advance* that she has no interest?

    If so, that’s treating women as sexual objects and not respecting them as individual people. She’s already said “no”. Why do you think a man should have the right to get in her face and push the issue?

    That’s called harassment, genius.

    Thanks for reminding me that I’m not a person.

  248. simon says

    i agree we are starting to go round in circles :)

    i would like to clarify my position though.

    i am not arguing against ur point of view. i agree.

    however. society changes over time. its values are not static. but the idiots are always there. they will not change. and there numbers in any given group remain about the same.

    if we woke tomorrow and the world had become a utopia of equality the idiots would still be there. they are the constant.

    therefore it does no good to argue with them. u will not change them or the society u live in using that method.

    the only way to change things is to rise above them and talk about/communicate with the forces that can have an effect on society. all the time spent on these blogs arguing, i feel, would be better spent discussing the actual mechanisms behind what happened and how to fix it.

    again, i support ur argument in principle i just think its got out of hand and should have ended weeks ago. u are just giving them the ammunition to keep on hating.

    i will leave u with a Buddhist quote:

    “to oppose is to maintain.”

    give that some thought. i learnt a lot from it.

  249. says

    simon, you’re demonstrably wrong in this case.

    Quite a number of people have said that they’ve learned from this, that they didn’t really understand what women had to deal with before they got to see it firsthand and before people exlained it.

    Additionally, any talk aboout the actual issues involved here has been invaded by people insisting that EG did nothing wrong, using a distorted version of the story to make their point. It isn’t that no one has tried. It’s that people don’t don’t want it to happen and have worked to make their preferences paramount.

    On top of that, no one was talking about this much through August and most of September. Your prediction that the opposition would just dry up and blow away has failed to materialize. Rebecca continued to be harassed during that entire period.

    So, no. Those pesky, all-important facts say you’re wrong.

  250. anon atheist says

    Not that I think Rebecca Watson did that (though I’m not sure that the assumptions you make about the situation really exclude that possibility) but do women never play hard to get? And why is it under the current societal circumstances creepy to assume such lying? It is essentially a bluff. And a good bluff has the property that there is no corroborating evidence. To find out you need to call the bluff.

    Furthermore a lot of people go to shrinks because they have “issues” that hinder them in various stages of their romantic relationships. So there are people out there that are actually more romantically available than they publicly are comfortable to display.

  251. says

    So the solution to some people playing idiotic games is to assume everyone is lying when they go on at length about how tired they are of getting hit on and to wait until they’re trapped and isolated to suggest that they are?

  252. H-Bomb says

    Anon Atheist:

    Except, of course, that if a person sends an entire night saying no, expecting that answer to change once someone is isolated in an inescapable location is rude, creepy, and incredibly stupid.

    Just sayin.

  253. anon atheist says

    Well there are a lot of different solutions from just having women hit on the men to only hitting on people you already know to some extent. But I don’t believe in ruling other people’s lives so these should only be taken as recommendations.

  254. anon atheist says

    @ H-Bomb

    If we assume that the elevator guy actually wanted to have sex with Rebecaa Watson he obviously was not successful.

    Just sain.

  255. Ys says

    @ Anon Atheist

    The solution: if someone says “I hate getting hit on” or “I don’t want to get hit on”, don’t hit on that person.

    That’s a helpful first step.

    Next good step: don’t assume women always lie because “that’s what women do”. That’s like assuming all Hispanic-looking people in the U.S. are illegals, or that all Asian people are good at math.

    ASS-U-ME, remember?

  256. illuminata says

    If we assume that the elevator guy actually wanted to have sex with Rebecaa Watson

    yeah, inviting her to his room for coffee (which has totally never been a euphemism for sex), in a hotel doesn’t have in-room coffee facilities is just so ambiguous!

    but do women never play hard to get? And why is it under the current societal circumstances creepy to assume such lying? It is essentially a bluff. And a good bluff has the property that there is no corroborating evidence. To find out you need to call the bluff.

    Cuz porn is definitely reflective of reality – chicks love it when you ignore what the very clearly and repeatedly say and “call their bluff”. Its not creepy at all to assume she’s lying. She totally wants you when she says “don’t do that”.

  257. H-Bomb says

    illuminata:

    Cuz porn is definitely reflective of reality – chicks love it when you ignore what the very clearly and repeatedly say and “call their bluff”. Its not creepy at all to assume she’s lying. She totally wants you when she says “don’t do that”.

    Well obviously. No doesn’t mean no, it means keep trying.

    The sad thing being I actually had to have that discussion with a male friend of mine. No means no. Don’t do that means…wait for it… don’t do that.

    Why is that really so hard? Why is the assumption automatically that she is playing hard to get, that she is lying. And people wonder why others are angry about this.

  258. Pteryxx says

    but do women never play hard to get? And why is it under the current societal circumstances creepy to assume such lying?

    Because when someone assumes a woman’s lying about her own boundaries, when they assume wrongly and cross those boundaries, they have harassed or raped her. Why do you think that’s an acceptable side effect?

    You do realize “assume” means “suppose to be true without proof” right? If you don’t want to harass or rape anyone, believe them when they tell you what their boundaries are. Don’t assume you know better than they do about their own bodies.

  259. Ys says

    It’s fascinating, if disturbing, to see how some men justify not listening to women when women say “no”, and then in nearly the same breath claim that they think of women as equals.

    If you thought of women as equals, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. You would recognize that women have the right to set boundaries for themselves – that women have the right to a preemptive “no” – and you wouldn’t accuse us of lying when we make it clear that we do not want sexual advances.

    Hello, predators. You guys must not do well with the dating scene…I can’t think of many women who’d put up with that kind of demeaning treatment. Are we children now? Do you want to tell us what to watch on TV and what time to go to bed, too?

  260. anon atheist says

    The biggest irony in the reactions to what I said is that while accusing me of assuming too much you are the ones making so many assumptions that you could build an entire universe from them.

    If I wasn’t that rational I would take that and the fact that you are females to draw some conclusions. But I don’t want to deprive you of the fun of assuming even more.

  261. Dhorvath, OM says

    anon atheist,

    Not that I think Rebecca Watson did that (though I’m not sure that the assumptions you make about the situation really exclude that possibility) but do women never play hard to get?

    Does the fact that some people like to play hard to get mean they should set the rules of social interaction? I am in the school that those who are made uncomfortable, feel threatened, or have impositions on their time have an important stake in what is acceptable. If you take that assumption and tether it to the fact that you can’t tell a priori if a person will welcome an advance or would prefer it not to have happened where does that leave us? Just letting people be who they are and talking in context seems a good place to start. No one has to be propositioned in elevators, it won’t cause the collapse of society to not stop people and ask them for coffee in an intimate space.

    And why is it under the current societal circumstances creepy to assume such lying? It is essentially a bluff. And a good bluff has the property that there is no corroborating evidence. To find out you need to call the bluff.

    Because all the other people who aren’t bluffing are now drawn into the game of those who do want to bluff. They are now also required to respond to those who are looking to call the bluffers on their bluff. The fact that some people are bluffing also means that those who are calling will also frequently misinterpret a ‘no’ as ‘go on.’ It’s not fair of some subset of a group to say “This is how I like to play, and I will do so even if it therefor makes you have to play the same game.” There is no opt out and no reason to suppose that opting in is necessary for anyone to live a good life. Thinking that is okay seems pretty creepy to me.

    Furthermore a lot of people go to shrinks because they have “issues” that hinder them in various stages of their romantic relationships. So there are people out there that are actually more romantically available than they publicly are comfortable to display.

    Really? So those who don’t want to be hit on by strangers now owe it to people with intimacy hang ups to allow regular interuptions to their life?

    Well there are a lot of different solutions from just having women hit on the men to only hitting on people you already know to some extent. But I don’t believe in ruling other people’s lives so these should only be taken as recommendations.

    Why hit on anyone? Do you really think that it’s necessary in order for people to hook up? If we stopped do you think no one would form relationships, both casual and intense, intimate and public. It’s all I can infer from your solutions.
    I don’t hit on people, yet I form many lasting and short relationships, some grow physical, others stay cerebral, surely I am not alone in that.

    The biggest irony in the reactions to what I said is that while accusing me of assuming too much you are the ones making so many assumptions that you could build an entire universe from them.

    I can only reply to what you write.

    If I wasn’t that rational I would take that and the fact that you are females to draw some conclusions. But I don’t want to deprive you of the fun of assuming even more

    Oh, feeling a little under the bridge are we? Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered.

  262. says

    anon atheist #285:

    The biggest irony in the reactions to what I said is that while accusing me of assuming too much you are the ones making so many assumptions that you could build an entire universe from them.

    List these assumptions.

    If I wasn’t that rational I would take that and the fact that you are females

    How many of us, and which of us?

    to draw some conclusions.

    And what is the point in mentioning this, other than to imply these very same conclusions?

    But I don’t want to deprive you of the fun of assuming even more.

    Are you going to actually make a point or are you going to keep passive-aggressively dancing around on implications so that you can’t be held to any point?

  263. Ys says

    It’s not really much of a euphemism when you take into account that the hotel rooms didn’t have coffee makers… :)

  264. says

    Nor was it the name of a minigame in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (“Hot Coffee”) that was never completed and whose incomplete code’s inclusion in the game resulted in lawsuits and recriminations over the sexual content therein.

  265. says

    Right, and in GTA4, “Ohhh Niko!! You’re such an AMAZING conversationalist!” is a common line in the middle of the cutscene. While your controller’s rumbling and the camera’s shaking on the zoom-out of the apartment.

    Which obviously means they’re just having coffee and conversation.

  266. Kapitano says

    Stephanie Zvan says:
    Kapitano, if you’re so ineffably bored, flounce–quietly. Your opinion of what happened while you weren’t looking is beyond pointless.

    Next time, try responding to the issues raised in a comment, instead of throwing non-relevant insults at someone who hasn’t disagreed with you on most particulars.

    But before that, go and look up ‘ineffable’. It does not mean quite what you think it means.

  267. says

    Definition of “ineffable”: Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words: Kapitano was ineffably bored. How does it not make sense they way it was used by Stephanie Zvan? It’s just another way of saying “bored out of your mind”.

  268. says

    Hi Stephanie,

    Sorry to be late to the party. I am not going to claim ‘zero bad’ on this issue but I will claim ‘seriously overblown’.

    While I am sure Rebecca was disturbed by elevator guy clumsy attempt at a pass and , rightly, thought ‘Crap – we just got through discussing this for hours’, I am willing to bet on 2 things.

    1. Elevator guy is a nerd.
    2. Elevator guy is somewhat socially inept.

    Being a nerd is not bad – I have always been one and I claim the title proudly. And in my youth I was very socially inept – especially around the opposite sex. I could see myself in elevator guy’s shoes pretty easily.

    However, one guy’s stupid attempt at a pass does not immediately justify the cries of rampant sexism in the ‘atheist movement’. Yes, there are sexist atheists – but for each one of the misogynistic atheists there are at least one other who gets it.

    And the fact of the matter is this…Rebecca was not even touched physically if I understand the facts correctly. Nor did elevator guy attempt to lay a hand on her. She had the right to feel uncomfortable in the situation, but threatened? I can only speak as a male (since the last time I undressed I am one) I will concede the ‘threatened’ point even though I don’t understand completely why she felt that way. A public elevator is not a great place for a rapist given that there were probably cameras in the car and unless the building was over 100 stories tall, the ride doesn’t last very long.
    You can insert the premature ejaculation joke of your choice here.

    And while I am male, I know quite a few females, since I am married to one and have a lot of female friends IRL and online. I have asked more than a few of them about this and most (not all) are puzzled by Rebecca’s reaction.

    We guys are sometimes put in a difficult position – if we are interested in a female and show it you don’t know what in hell might happen. When I was single the worst thing that happened was the female in question simply said no – OK fine no harm done. Now you could be fired for sexual harassment, be accused of being a sexist pig or many other things not very pleasant.

    TL;DR – I think the entire thing is overblown and everyone should just frakkin’ calm down. Rebecca had a valid point (to some extent) and so did Richard Dawkins (to some extent). It doesn’t make either person ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. Work it out like adults for FSM’s sake.

  269. Dhorvath, OM says

    bradfeaker,

    Sorry to be late to the party. I am not going to claim ‘zero bad’ on this issue but I will claim ‘seriously overblown’.

    What is overblown? The initial comments from RW were very casual, the response from the community was less so. So who blew it out of proportion?

    While I am sure Rebecca was disturbed by elevator guy clumsy attempt at a pass and , rightly, thought ‘Crap – we just got through discussing this for hours’, I am willing to bet on 2 things.

    1. Elevator guy is a nerd.

    What does this even mean? Pretty nearly anyone who goes to conventions fits some aspect of nerd classification, it’s pretty much a meaningless term for describing why a person acts in specific ways.

    2. Elevator guy is somewhat socially inept.

    So? What does a nice person do when someone who is socially inept steps on their toes? I think it’s pretty classy to say, “Hey, don’t do that.” No names, keep it simple, and move on.

    However, one guy’s stupid attempt at a pass does not immediately justify the cries of rampant sexism in the ‘atheist movement’.

    Is that really what you think has happened? Rebecca Watson was already talking about sexism in the atheist community, in fact the talk she gave before the elevator incident was about that very thing, so talking about the specific incident wasn’t to ‘justify cries of rampant sexism’ as you put it, but to illustrate what an ongoing dialogue was about.

    Yes, there are sexist atheists – but for each one of the misogynistic atheists there are at least one other who gets it.

    Is there? Care to support that with some figures? Sexist people are being sexist, how often are they encouraged not to do so? Acceptance of bad behaviour is not the same as active commission of the same, but it fosters a receptive environment.

    And the fact of the matter is this…Rebecca was not even touched physically if I understand the facts correctly. Nor did elevator guy attempt to lay a hand on her.

    So? Does that make it okay?

    She had the right to feel uncomfortable in the situation, but threatened? I can only speak as a male (since the last time I undressed I am one) I will concede the ‘threatened’ point even though I don’t understand completely why she felt that way.

    Pro-tip, if you are conceding a point, don’t continue to argue against it. It’s pretty shifty behaviour.

    A public elevator is not a great place for a rapist given that there were probably cameras in the car and unless the building was over 100 stories tall, the ride doesn’t last very long.

    And yet sexual assualt does happen in elevators. For instance: Here

    You can insert the premature ejaculation joke of your choice here.

    Pro-tip number two, save the sexual dysfunction jokes for when we aren’t talking about people’s safety from sexual assualt.

    And while I am male, I know quite a few females, since I am married to one and have a lot of female friends IRL and online. I have asked more than a few of them about this and most (not all) are puzzled by Rebecca’s reaction.

    Does that make her feelings go away? The reason this is getting the mileage it has is because Rebecca is not alone, she isn’t the only person who doesn’t want strangers making passes at her, on elevators or otherwise. She isn’t the only person who would feel threatened in the situation related, some people would find it quite traumatic. People shouldn’t have to wear badges saying that they find strangers hitting on them threatening or otherwise uncomfortable, other people should assume that as the default. We want more people to feel comfortable just being around, saying that it’s not a great idea to hit on women alone in elevators is a great way to move in that direction.

    We guys are sometimes put in a difficult position – if we are interested in a female and show it you don’t know what in hell might happen. When I was single the worst thing that happened was the female in question simply said no – OK fine no harm done. Now you could be fired for sexual harassment, be accused of being a sexist pig or many other things not very pleasant.

    Pro-tip number three, this one’s a question: what’s the worst thing that could happen to a woman when approached by a stranger? It’s not rejection. Think about it, who has the larger right, the person who fears being called sexist or the person who fears being raped?

    TL;DR – I think the entire thing is overblown and everyone should just frakkin’ calm down. Rebecca had a valid point (to some extent) and so did Richard Dawkins (to some extent). It doesn’t make either person ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. Work it out like adults for FSM’s sake.

    How very useful.

  270. says

    Brad, you missed two things. First, you missed that your bet contradicts what Rebecca ha said about EG’s demeanor. EG isn’t so socially inept that he can’t project a confident, smooth manner while he’s ignoring everything Rebecca has had to say about what she wants.

    The second thing you missed is that the fuss and furore aren’t particularly about EG. They are about the people who refused to hear what Rebecca had to say (and keep doing so here). They are about the people who insisted that they had a something-given right to hit on any woman, anywhere, any time. They are about the fact that a woman who expressed some limits in public was dragged through the mud for her temerity.

    The poeple who did thise things are a minority, yes, despite their own claims to the contrary. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a disproportionate influence on the experience of women in the atheist community. If you want those women to continue to participate in any but a the few communities that are more civilized, or to participate in larger numbers, something needs to be done about this.

  271. says

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for the reasoned response. Unlike Dhovrath, OM who added nothing to the conversation – just acted like a jerk. I should have expressed myself better – Rebecca initial response was indeed reasonable. The shit storm that followed with cries to boycott Richard Dawkins and all the vicious blog posts that followed made me use the overblown adjective. And I still think all the vicious name-calling on both sides made the participants look like children fighting on the playground.

    I stand by my last statement – work it out like adults. Is the a problem with sexism in the atheist community? Yep… Is the sexism in the community at large? Yep… Calm clear-headed education is called for – not hot-headed infighting.

    Hope I communicated my position a little better.

    Cheers…

  272. says

    Oh – BTW…Dhovrath, OM – you are a perfect example of what I am talking about. Act like a grown-up. You made a few very good points in your response – but you childish vehemence does nothing to promote your cause. It just made me almost completely ignore you. Which I shall now do from now on.

    Cheers…

  273. Dhorvath, OM says

    Brianfeaker,
    Well, I can’t force you to pay me any mind. All I can do is attempt to respond to what I see written and hope to have an impact. It appears we both found the other somewhat childish. What to make of that? I dunno.

    It would shape the rhetoric I use if I reply to you in the future, but is unlikely to inform my general voice which I find relatively effective in a number of venues. Not that I can’t change voice, (hell, it’s not even consistent hour by hour,) but that when I do endeavour to change it tends to be weighted on more opinions than just one.

    I don’t agree that all, or even a lot of those, who are in the ‘lets fix the sexism in atheism’ camp have behaved poorly. Pushing back is generally viewed as more confrontational than those who uphold the status quo. Being effective is important to me, but based on what I have read here I am unconvinced that your way is the way I should travel.

  274. Dhorvath, OM says

    Ah, and so sorry to have messed your name up. Never trust to memory what cut and paste can do better. My apologies.

  275. says

    Unlike Dhovrath, OM who added nothing to the conversation – just acted like a jerk. … And I still think all the vicious name-calling on both sides made the participants look like children fighting on the playground.

    My, my, my, my, my…

  276. says

    Dhovrath, OM,

    No worries about the name – it has been butchered much worse! I am not trying to convince you to adopt my tone or rhetoric. I am simply pointing out that for me, if you refute my points and act like you did in your reply – you have lost me and any respect for your opinions I might have had.

    I will be blunt – I could care less what you think of me – you are a stranger. But I respond to reasoned points made politely – not smart-ass rejoinders. Just sayin’…

    Stephanie,

    I don’t care how confident elevator was in making his pass at Rebecca – I still say he is socially inept because he managed to ignore several hours of talk and discussion about the very thing he did. That spells socially inept or just stupid to me.

    @Aratina Cage – hoist by my own petard! Touche…

    @Dhovrath – my apologies for the jerk remark – it was uncalled for.
    Cheers..

  277. Dhorvath, OM says

    Bradfeaker,
    This is a new space for me and as I don’t yet have a handle on how Stephanie prefers her commments get used by us guests I will refrain from any further comment on what you have said. I would say this: Did you note that you have mispelled my nym four times? No, of course not, because it’s not important to you to have it spelled properly. How would you respond were I to say you have therefor lost me and any respect I may have had for your opinions?

  278. says

    @Dhorvath, OM

    Point made – my apologies for butchering your handle. See – when you respond to me like that I listen and have respect for your points. When you respond like your first reply you send me the wrong message.

    And don’t take my comment the wrong way…while I really do not care what a complete stranger thinks about me – I expect the same when posting on an internet forum. I am to old to worry about what people think of me on the intertubes. I worry about what my friends and family think of me. That comment was not meant as a personal insult and I am sorry if you took it that way.

    But put yourself in my place – how much do YOU care about a complete stranger’s opinion of you? Probably not much…and if you do – stop now…it isn’t worth it.

    I still stand by my comments that this entire issue was blown out of proportion. Men calling Rebecca and other females ‘cunts’ is way too extreme. If someone called my spouse that name, I wouldn’t have the chance to take up her cause – she would make that person a eunuch at the first opportunity. And calling for a boycott against Richard Dawkins is equally ridiculous. Most educated people respond to well reasoned arguments – not threats.

    So once again I call upon all parties involved to slow the frak down…and act like adults. Is that really to much to ask for?

    So everyone calm down a bit and quit acting like this is the end of the world. It isn’t – plus infighting distracts us from the real issues atheists face…ignorance, superstition and magical thinking. Isn’t that enough of a threat to pull us together?

  279. says

    I don’t care how confident elevator was in making his pass at Rebecca – I still say he is socially inept because he managed to ignore several hours of talk and discussion about the very thing he did. That spells socially inept or just stupid to me.

    Grossly entitled and disinterested in how Rebecca feels is ruled out by what, aside from your preference?

    Also, I’m unaware of anyone who actually called for a boycott, although I know of several who were very upset with Rebecca over the boycott that she didn’t ask for.

  280. says

    Oh, no, there was a boycot, if memory serves — I believe the plan was to never buy a single book by Dawkins on the topic of feminism. Seeing as how he has never written a book on feminism, I can’t see that as a huge loss for Dawkins.

  281. says

    Don’t put words into my mouth Stephanie. Not kosher. I never stated any such thing and it is disingenuous for you to do so. I never stated that Rebecca did not feel threatened – just that I did not understand completely why. That is a matter of my understanding – not any measure of judgement on how it made her feel.

    That comment just made me question your motives…putting words in my mouth that were never uttered. This is your blog and your voice – I have no such outlet and quite frankly have no desire to. But at least play by consistent rules. I have no problems admitting when I am wrong…but no one here has convinced me that this wasn’t overblown by providing empirical evidence that it wasn’t.

    Will you stoop to calling me names now? You have already laid statements I never made to my account – how about telling me why I am wrong instead of moving the goalposts. I am sure you know what that is. As to the boycott of RD – I will find the link and post it here…and BTW – I never said Rebecca called for that anyway. Read what I wrote – not what you want to hear.

    For what it is worth Rebecca Watson is one of my personal heroes…I am a former fundamentalist Xtian. Folks like Rebecca and the rest of the rogues are a major part of why I embraced science instead of dogma. I have no personal agenda here…I still have the utmost respect for Rebecca and countless others in the skeptical movement – they literally saved my life from idiocy.

    So spare me the snarky BS and address my points directly – please?

  282. says

    I wasn’t defending you, bradfeaker. I think you’re conflating the reaction to Elevator Guy, with everyone else’s reaction to Watson. Yes, people’s reaction to Watson was blown way out of proportion. No, people telling those people who went apeshit at Watson that that wasn’t cool, they’re not out of proportion at all.

    And Stephanie didn’t put any words in your mouth. She asked you a question. Why did you rule out “grossly entitled and disinterested in Watson’s feelings” when you said he’s stupid or socially inept? Because those are ALSO possibilities.

  283. says

    “Grossly entitled and disinterested in how Rebecca feels is ruled out by what, aside from your preference?”

    WTF? Exactly where did I state that?

    I am defensive about nothing I said – you are making shit up and laying it to my account.

    I admit I cannot see this from a female perspective – can you admit you cannot see it from a males?

    What exactly is it that you want me to answer. Spell it out simply – you know – I am a man…kind of dim apparently.

  284. says

    I’m a man too. I understood her perfectly. She’s suggesting you haven’t considered that EG is entitled and disinterested, and is assuming that because you haven’t mentioned it, you ruled it out because you’d prefer that not to be true. She didn’t put any words in your mouth.

    She asked you a question. That’s all. Chill.

  285. says

    I quoted your relevant statement. You settled on “socially inept” as your explanation for what happened. Settling on an explanation means ruling out other explanations. You haven’t said why those explanations are ruled out. They fit the “confident” portion of the description of events much better than “socially inept” does.

  286. says

    Jason – I was merely thanking you for stating that a boycott of RD WAS called for…I don’t need you to defend me or anyone else to either.

    I never made the statement that anyone was ‘grossly entitled’ or should not take Rebecca’s feelings into account. Please show me where I made such a statement. I will save you some time…you cannot.

    I merely made a statement of opinion – I wasn’t there. And my opinion can also be totally wrong. My opinion is based on MY life experience and is ONLY an opinion.

    So let’s get it straight – I think EG is socially inept and probably (in MY OPINION) meant no harm. That does not mean Rebecca cannot feel threatened. It’s an OPINION for FSM’s sake.

    And Rebecca’s initial response to the matter was not overblown IN MY OPINION. The total shit storm that followed WAS (IN MY OPINION).

    I don’t know – maybe all the women I know are just stupid. No scratch that – they are intelligent as hell and my opinion has been influenced by their feelings on the matter.

    And again – act like frakking adults. My stating an opinion does not make you, me or anyone else right or wrong. It is just an opinion. Damn – is that too hard to understand?

  287. says

    And Stephanie I did not rule anything out – you are doing that for me.

    opinion: noun

    “a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.”

  288. says

    WE. KNOW. YOU. DID. NOT. MAKE. THAT. STATEMENT.

    Stephanie didn’t SAY you made that statement.

    Stephanie asked you a question. That is all.

    So I ask it again, for you. Why did you rule out entitlement and disinterest in Watson’s feelings? Because if EG did ANYTHING creepy, it was one of those, or both.

  289. says

    Ha! You have outed my breakfast cereal empire, damn you!

    Jason – where did I rule anything out? Once again I was stating an opinion based on my personal experience…that is all.

    Stating an opinion is NOT ruling out ANY other explanation. I never said that and never meant that.

    Jesus Fucking Christ on a crutch…is that too hard to understand?

  290. says

    bradfeaker, seriously. This is how it works. You’re presented with a bunch of facts about a situation, then you make your judgement. If someone points out that you overlooked a possibility that better explains one of the facts (his confidence, which points to him NOT being merely socially inept), then either you revise your opinion, or you stubbornly hold the opinion that is less well supported by the facts.

    When the other possibility actually casts the situation in a different (and more creepy) light, then holding onto your opinion is actually kind of jerkish. For instance, imagine if I were to get sideswiped by someone, who then ran a red light, and I say I saw his hand up to his face. You saying “oh, he might just have been in a big hurry”, when the alternate possibility that he was talking on a cell phone and thus negligent never occurred to you, and me suggesting that you missed a possibility, means either now you should revise your opinion to discount the cell phone or accept that he was a bigger jerk than you thought.

  291. says

    This entire conversation has taken on the very atmosphere I have been trying to point out.

    I am damned for stating an opinion (read the definition again) which I freely admit could be totally wrong. WTF is the matter with people today? Is being a part of the skeptical movement now requiring we all march to the same drummer?

    My opinion is different than Stephanie’s – OK – so what? Remember what opinions are like (you know – assholes…everyone has one and they all smell bad).

    I am not passing judgement on anyone – I just think the entire event has caused more harm than good.

    OK – the good…it has made us all aware of the sexism that exists in our midst. And that is a good thing – we should never forget it and should work to root it out wherever we find it.

    The bad…fractured in-fighting, insults and poorly thought out threats. We need to rise above that – myself included.

    ]Is it too much to ask that people act maturely? Is it too much to ask folks to think before they post? Is it too much to ask for us to try and understand where we are wrong and to humbly ask to be educated?

    I think not…but I am being proven wrong right here, right now.

  292. says

    Brad, you didn’t just state an opinion. You made a bet. You said you didn’t care how confident he was; you were still sticking with your explanation. You argued for your position.

    Yes, that means you were ruling out other things. I want to know why.

    Also, because you still don’t seem to get this: A boycott against something that doesn’t exist is not a call to a boycott. It’s a joke. Jason was telling you there was no actual boycott.

  293. says

    Is it too much to ask that people act maturely? Is it too much to ask folks to think before they post? Is it too much to ask for us to try and understand where we are wrong and to humbly ask to be educated?

    Ironic.

    Stephanie asked you for a reason to discount two other possibilities that you apparently aren’t willing to give a real reason for. You can keep holding that opinion without justifying those other possibilities if you’d like, but she asked to be educated as to your thought processes, and you went off on a paranoid rant.

  294. says

    Jason – am I that stupid in explaining myself. Apparently so. Try reading the definition of an opinion again.

    Stephanie’s opinion is no better than mine. And mine is not better than her’s.

    WTF is so hard to understand about that? Neither of us were there and are depending on another party’s facts about the incidence to inform our opinions.

    OK – you and Stephanie think my opinion is wrong. I am OK with that. I think that I have a valid point. I could be totally wrong about that too.

    That is why they are called ‘opinions’.

  295. says

    And I am not on a ‘paranoid rant’. I will tell you what I told Dhorvath – your opinion of me is meaningless. You are electrons in a void.

    However, I do not appreciate words being attributed to me that I never said. Do a little google search and you will see I use my real name on the intertubes. I do not hide behind anonymity. So when someone claims I stated something that I clearly did not, I must answer.

    And you even admitted that I did not say what Stephanie accused me of saying.

    And I never said that my opinion was the absolute answer – again (for the slow) it is an OPINION! I absolutely admit I could be wrong – is that too hard for you? Or anyone else?

  296. says

    Read this very slowly so it sinks in.

    Stephanie never put words in your mouth. Stephanie asked you a question, which you have repeatedly refused to answer.

    She and I both blog using our real names too, you know.

  297. says

    Stephanie,

    Where did I discount anything Rebecca said? And it is your opinion that your explanation ‘fits the facts better’.

    Or were you actually there?

  298. says

    I give up Jason…you are either too stupid to understand what an opinion is or you are deliberately ignoring it – which is worse.

    This is pointless and a waste of my time and yours. Your world is binary – you refuse to see the shades of grey between 0 and 1.

    I am glad the wonderful women in my life have a bit more perspective than I find here.

    Peace…

  299. says

    This is you discounting:

    I don’t care how confident elevator was in making his pass at Rebecca – I still say he is socially inept because he managed to ignore several hours of talk and discussion about the very thing he did. That spells socially inept or just stupid to me.

    Rebecca is the one who was there. The points of the challenge are things she has said. You’ve decided your own opinion is more important than what she’s described.

    I still want to know why.

  300. Charlie DX9 says

    Anybody who thinks that coffee in this instance equals “can I put my penis inside of you” is a complete and utter effing moron. (Or even I would like to get know you better to see if were compatible for me to put my penis inside you”) I don’t have to explain why. It’s intuitively obvious to anyone with high enough IQ.

    Elevator Guy did not in any way “proposiotion” (make a “come on”) Rebecca Watson. Any intelligent discussion on the Elevator Gate matter has to begin with that basic assumption.

    I invite others to begin an intelligent discussion.

  301. says

    I don’t have to explain why. It’s intuitively obvious to anyone with high enough IQ.

    Translation: I couldn’t explain this convincingly if my life depended on it, so I’m just going to poison the well instead.

  302. Munkhaus says

    Jason said:” Hooray! I’m stupid and see the world in binary…”

    Let`s face it Jason, you are a fucking idiot.*

    *(I`m using Benson-Myers boards conversational techniques)

  303. Charlie DX9 says

    “Translation: I couldn’t explain this convincingly if my life depended on it, so I’m just going to poison the well instead.”

    No it translates to so effing obvious that it doesn’t require explanation. You want it to mean something that it doesn’t mean.

    Men know that women do not respond warmly to cold proposition especially men who attend lectures on objectification. Yes there are drunken idiots that make desperate passes at women for “blowjobs” but even those men know they aren’t getting anywhere. it takes very little reflection to see that EG was of sound enough mind to know that asking for pussy wasn’t going to get him anywhere so we can logically conclude that he wasn’t making a pass.

    But reason won’t persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded. I stick to my original assertion that this is something that is intuitively obvious to any bright person (who wants to see the truth.)

    I welcome a truly intelligent discussion on the elevator incident and watson’s discomfort.

  304. says

    Elevator Guy couldn’t have been doing anything stupidly bad because that would mean he would have been doing something stupidly bad. You’re right, Charlie. Nobody ever does anything stupidly bad at atheist conferences.

    Unless, of course, you listen to the women on the receiving end of all the stupidly bad stuff. Or are they just not bright people?

  305. Charlie DX9 says

    You can deny the obvious all you want but that doesn’t mean that I am going condescend to make this an intellectual debate when the truth is stating at your face.

    The real nature of this event is how people responded to it rather than the objective truth behind it.

    I could almost imagine Errol Morris (“I believe there is such a thing as truth”) making a documentary about this. There are aesthetics here that almost parallel Roshomon in there sheer catastrophic “ambiguity”.

  306. says

    The only thing obvious about your statement about an invitation to coffee is that you want it to be true. You’ve already “condescended” to explain your reasoning, and it turns out to be based in wishful thinking. Thanks for playing, though.

  307. says

    The problem for me here is that when a woman says she was date raped after being invited “to my place for coffee”- invariably there are those who claim that the woman was inviting sex by agreeing to go to His place.
    “Going to my place for coffee” has a cultural meaning- a significance that can’t be downplayed.
    “To my place for coffee” means, according to people like Charlie, whatever meaning best excuses the man’s behavior.
    To claim that a man couldn’t possibly have meant it to be a sexual invitation because Watson had made clear that she was in no mood for sex assumes that at the best of times men always respect obvious sexual cues and at the worst of times women are never sexually assaulted.
    That is a pretty huge assumption.

  308. says

    Indirect speech is indirect to provide plausible deniability when someone thereafter takes you to task for it. It’s not indirect to make the actual intent ambiguous. It’s indirect so you are less likely to offend when you’re outright asking for a social transaction well outside the level of familiarity your respective relationship merits.

    “Wanna come back to my room for coffee” when just leaving a neutral environment that has coffee is asking for one-on-one time in a private setting that “may, eventually” lead to sex and should be taken as such. Especially given that, if a woman says “sure why not?” then is assaulted, the victim-blaming can begin. By the same disingenuous asses who say “butbutbut coffee just means coffee!”

  309. Philip Legge says

    Well, I was wrong. Nearly a month ago, I opined that the challenge had petered out, and no one had come close to offering a convincing “zero bad” argument that took account of all of the circumstances. But here comes Charlie DX9 to inform us that a request for coffee can only ever be a request coffee. To be fair, he doesn’t offer any explanation why, because he doesn’t need to; instead he truculently asserts “I don’t have to explain why. It’s intuitively obvious to anyone with high enough IQ.”

    So knock me over with a feather, Charlie’s totally convinced me. There’s only one possible interpretation that words can have, ever. Moreover, when someone starts to talk to me by saying “Don’t take this the wrong way, but …” then I will never, ever refuse to take their words at face value.

  310. Charlie DX9 says

    Stephanie, your logic is too easy to deconstruct. Just because you have a few anecdotes of guys being obnoxious doesn’t mean that we should think that EG is similar. Wallah, too easy. Wanna go with me for coffee?

  311. Charlie DX9 says

    “””But here comes Charlie DX9 to inform us that a request for coffee can only ever be a request coffee. To be fair, he doesn’t offer any explanation why, because he doesn’t need to; instead he truculently asserts “I don’t have to explain why. It’s intuitively obvious to anyone with high enough IQ.””””

    Should I validate this obtuse evaluation of my supposed argument by engaging it? I guess but only because I can’t help myself.

    No coffee can mean sex sometimes but even then it’s not necessarily as straightforward as coffee = sex. In this instance however coffee does not mean sex.

  312. Charlie DX9 says

    “Indirect speech is indirect to provide plausible deniability when someone thereafter takes you to task for it. It’s not indirect to make the actual intent ambiguous”

    Your wrong. Ambiguity of intent is a reason for indirect speech. Read this blog to be enlightened. I don’t agree with everything he says but he is smarter than most observers of the subject.

    http://kazez.blogspot.com/2011/07/elevator-guy-hits-wires.html

  313. Charlie DX9 says

    **The problem for me here is that when a woman says she was date raped after being invited “to my place for coffee”- invariably there are those who claim that the woman was inviting sex by agreeing to go to His place”

    You are branching off into a pretty deep and complicated subject that is however only tangentially related to EG. It relates to people’s perceptions about EG and there psychological make up and character. The “room” equals sex because people want the situation, a situation which male initiated, to be responsible for the sexual activity rather than the individuals involved. An “ideology of seduction” is at work here.

    Fact: Most sexual assault takes place after consent has been granted and can take place during regular intercourse. Think about that. Think about it good and hard. We as a culture however refuse to think about and consider its “implication” (to use the language of Amanda Marcotte) and that is connected to an unconscious cultural attachment to the ideology of seduction.

  314. says

    Charlie, first you say guys wouldn’t do that. Now you say they would, just not Elevator Guy, for no apparent reason. And you’re boringly mucking up the thread without addressing the challenge. Time to either respond to the challenge or go away.

    And the word you’re looking for is “voila.”

  315. Charlie DX9 says

    A minority of guys are obnoxious but that “obnoxiousness” does involve a degree of calculation. Rebecca Watson was having intellectual conversation after a conference and while she was probably drinking she wasn’t exactly acting like a party girl looking to hook up.

    It’s just too much too assume that EG was such an idiot that he was thinking “yeah this Ho who was just lecturing about being objectified is going to be bouncing on my cock just cus I asked her to my room to ‘talk’ without any prior introduction. he he.”

    Even obnoxious guys aren’t that dumb. And guys who attend conferences and bother to express intellectual interest in a woman’s lecture on objectification are even less likely to be that dumb.

    You can give me anecdotes of men behaving badly but I bet you that those anecdotes take place in a context much different than the EG incident.

    And if you find a few that do match the EG incident in it’s context okay then that just means that there is a small but improbable likelihood he made a pass at her.

  316. Philip Legge says

    My obtuseness in answering you was to slightly make a strawman of your argument in order to make a larger point on the ambiguity of language (viz, a patently obvious surface meaning can be flatly contradicted by deeper levels of meaning, or tone), but I will also point out that Jean Kazez doesn’t agree with you in thinking intent is ambiguous: the ambiguity she (note her gender) refers to is the veil of misdirection that language flimsily throws in front of intent, and which then permits the other attributes she describes: deniability, and refusability. Without these the nature of such a proposition would be undeniable.

    No coffee can mean sex sometimes but even then it’s not necessarily as straightforward as coffee = sex. In this instance however coffee does not mean sex.

    And still you make a nakedly unsupported assertion of certainty that could only be justified if you, Charlie DX9, actually were Elevator Guy. If so, a confession is order. If not, you can’t claim certainty without providing an argument in good faith. This, you have not done. Show your working and prove your case. (The “zero bad”-ness of the encounter is also waiting to be addressed.)

  317. says

    Charlie, missed this in moderation. However, you’re just repeating yourself. You’re still relying on your personal incredulity. “Obnoxious” guys aren’t dumb. They just don’t care that their advances are unwanted.

  318. Charlie DX9 says

    Yes, I am relying on my incredulity which you call personal as if labeling the process of sound judgment “personal” invalidates it. You have yet to come up with any good reason to not be incredulous.

    You argue that dumbness is irrelevant because obnoxious guys don’t care if their sexual advances aren’t wanted.

    But that claim is false because you lump all obnoxious men together. Most obnoxious guys want to get laid and propositioning women they know won’t respond to them doesn’t help them obtain that end.

    But you say that many men are obnoxious in many instances and it’s clear they know that their advances won’t be reciprocated. I think that it’s even more unlikely that Elevatorguy is in this smaller category of obnoxious men. Men such as that don’t attend conferences on objectification. They just don’t. It’s a personal but sound judgment. To imply that somebody would take an interest in the topic of sexual harassment only to deliberately and consciously sexually harass RW seems a little far fetched especially when theyre are other more plausible ways to interpret the situation (ie. Coffee=coffee)

  319. Challenge Declined says

    What a wacky post. You’ve decided, after hearing so much about how the details as recounted by Rebecca don’t fit in the context of the narrative she’s telling, that the whole thing is just a story, a hypothetical scenario to be crafted in the shape of your message. This, and Greta’s similar article (“An attempt to discuss the actual issue”) both seem to be missing the largest picture their opponents are painting: that the stories themselves are exaggerated, twisted, or otherwise false. “Wouldn’t this be awful if it actually happened?”

    While Rebecca’s character may be smeared by the opposition, the entire message here depends on smearing the character of the anonymous “Elevator Guy.” I need no further evidence than your own details: Of importance is that Elevator Guy specifically knew beforehand that Rebecca wanted to go to sleep. This detail does not change the action, nor the environment. It provides no use other than to establish a “guilty mind” for the subject.

    But if details can be rearranged at will to fit a given narrative, then it’s highly likely that such a perception of malice by Rebecca, a fragile interpretation based on many contextual details, would be in err.

    The context of a “guilty mind” is so prevalent that you extend it to everyone who would support Elevator Guy and everyone who would oppose Rebecca.

    So the simple need to establish this as a hypothetical story causes it to fall apart on any attempt to use it to project into the real world. “Wouldn’t this be awful if it actually happened?”

  320. says

    *snerk* Yeah, dude. Totally. You’re onto me, even though no one ever noticed my tricks before. This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that no one would answer the stupid question. Like you didn’t. *snerk*

  321. DaveElectric says

    Just because the EG was bad doesn’t mean Rebecca Watson is good.

    I accept that the EG is not 100% good. My first challege is was Rebbecca Watson’s handling of the issue 100% good? Did she need to bring it up in an online video? Was EG’s intention so obvious that she needs to publicly attribute malicious intent to him? Did she need to bring it up in a public speech? Did she need to bring it to FFB? Was EG’s behavior some kind of indicator of mass misogyny? And what of the supposed internet trolls who blasted her online in the firstplace? Did she handle them correctly? Did she need to bring them up at a public forum? Are a bunch of douchebags on the internet some kind of proof of mass misogyny? Does anything they say mean anything at all? And what of her dismissmal of Kirby in an earlier conference? Doesn’t her anecdoal claims count as evidence against Watson’s anecdotal evidence? Haven’t we learned that anecdotal evidence is a poor form of evidence by now?

    Of course, she being a feminist has made people even more critical of knee-jerk reaction to the EG, but let’s just forget that issue for a moment. Assuming she isn’t a feminist did Watson handle this issue correctly? I do not think she did.

    I also have a second challege. What is the empirical evidence that there is a sexism problem in the atheist community? Anecodal evidence does not count. I want numbers. And even if there was a sexism problem is the atheist community is that the biggest problem? Have atheists “won”? Has there been a secular conquest of religion throughout the world? Do we atheists really have NOTHING else to do? Also, is sexism in the West the worst sexism? And what exactly is wrong with sexism anyway? Is all sexism bad? Don’t different sexes EXIST? Don’t the sexes exhibit different behaviors? A different brain structure? A different sexuality? Isn’t gender codification necessary since different sexes exist?

  322. Bernard Bumner says

    Did she need to bring it to FFB?

    1) You joined a zombie thread just to post a rehash of the same old crappy hyperskeptic apologetics?

    2) The bit I’ve quoted demonstrates that you don’t even have the facts straight.

    3) FFB?! Did you hot-foot it here from the SlymePit?

    4) Er, yeah. BINGO!

    Perhaps it is time to cut off the head and destroy the brains of this thread?

  323. ou812 says

    We don’t even know for sure how much of Rebecca’s talk was heard by Elevator Guy. And as I recall, she was complaining about aggressive come-ons, not invitations to coffee.

    If Elevator Guy had given her a hard time after she said no, I would be firmly in her camp, but that’s not what he did. If he had, no doubt she would have made some mention of it.

  324. prodegtion says

    OK, I accept your challenge. The short answer is because that account of the events is zero bad! But let me explain further:

    1. Irrespective of whether or not Rebecca Watson finds it sexist instead of complimentary when guys she doesn’t know express sexual interest in her, it is not sexist. The reason for this is simple — guys don’t express sexual interest in her because she’s a women; they express sexual interest in her just because they find her attractive. This doesn’t happen to all women, and it can happen to men — sex has nothing to do with it.

    2. “Rebecca made it clear that she doesn’t like being hit on at conferences” – again, what Rebecca doesn’t like is irrelevant. As Richard Dawkins said, he doesn’t like it when people chew gum in the elevator, but that doesn’t mean chewing gum in the elevator is wrong. Likewise, the fact that Rebecca doesn’t like being hit on at conferences doesn’t mean hitting on her at conferences is wrong. It’s like saying drawing the prophet Muhammad is wrong because it offends Muslims. Sure, it would, but that’s their problem, not ours. Rebecca has an irrational fear of being hit on. Her attitude is the one which needs to change.

    3/4. OK, first of all, merely asking someone to come back to your hotel room is not the same thing as hitting on them. But even if that’s what he did, it’s still OK for the reasons I mentioned before.

    Now let me ask you this: If a woman had asked Rebecca Watson to come back to her hotel room for coffee, would that still be wrong?

  325. says

    prodegtion, your argument is that doing something to someone that you know that person doesn’t want done to them is just fine. And when that something is hitting on the person who doesn’t want it, you can’t even dangle a possible positive outcome as a carrot (unlike your Mohammed example). That means that you’re advocating doing something to someone that you know they don’t want and doing it to no other end. That’s sociopathic.

    And yes, it would still be sociopathic if a woman did it. Gender doesn’t change any part of that equation.

  326. prodegtion says

    You’re implying that this man hit on her because she didn’t want to be hit on. That’s ridiculous. He probably just wanted to have a coffee with her. That’s a possible positive outcome. How is that sociopathic?

    My argument is that there are some things that do not require consent, even from an purely ethical standpoint. Being asked for coffee is one of them.

  327. says

    No, I stated that he hit on her knowing she didn’t want to be hit on. He did something to her he knew she didn’t want. That’s sociopathy.

    And forget the “just coffee” bullshit. You’ve stipulated he heard her say she wanted to go to bed, remember?

  328. says

    Stephanie, it’s not worth engaging with this person. He’s either a troll, or he’s a sociopath who thinks it’s OK to rape 4-year-olds. He’s been hitting all the FTBlogs. Maybe it’s some kind of troll challenge to see how many FTBlogs he can get banned from, I don’t know. Either way, he’s gross.

  329. Pat says

    “‘Rebecca made it clear that she doesn’t like being hit on at conferences’ – again, what Rebecca doesn’t like is irrelevant. As Richard Dawkins said, he doesn’t like it when people chew gum in the elevator, but that doesn’t mean chewing gum in the elevator is wrong.”
    Chewing gum is not something that is done to Richard Dawkins. The comparison is invalid.

  330. Pat says

    I realize that this is way out of date, but I only just came across it today and I see that you’re apparently still reading comments, so…

    I don’t think your challenge is valid.
    See, you’re asking people to assume that some bad things are true that they don’t necessarily agree are true–that part’s fine. But then you’re asking them why they still think it’s wrong, and that’s where you’re making a bad assumption.
    If you said “Do you still think it’s wrong, if you make those assumptions?” that would be meaningful, but you instead said “Now, while you’re treating all those things as true, without blathering on about how they’re not, explain to me what makes that sequence of events ‘zero bad,'” and they never said that sequence was zero bad.
    I agree with you in substance (I know little about the situation, but frankly I don’t think all of your points need to be true for the situation to have >0 bad), but I find your logic faulty.
    I think a perfectly reasonable and good response from your detractors would be to explain why they don’t think your challenge is relevant or meaningful, or to point out that they find the situation as presented to, in fact, be bad.

    So I think it says a lot about the quality of your opposition here that the closest I see to anybody actually doing that is “Challenge Decline” who accuses you of bashing the character of an unknown person (how does that even work?).

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