Kate Donovan is wonderful and patient and finally done. Here is part two of the transcript of this video. Part one is here. There will probably be a few errors in the detail here. I told Kate not to bother to do one last play through after she’d immersed herself in the nastiness for this long. Please let me know if you find errors, so I can get them corrected. Part three coming soon is up.
Trigger warning for dismissal of claims of abuse, gendered slurs, and jokes about rape.
Wendell: Wouldn’t have to be right now. I’m just saying there should be something
Emery: I want to take us to this point then. I think that the people who claim that JREF is not a safe place and that it needs this policy to be a safe place, or to feel like it’s a safe place, are wrong. I think that the evidence shows that it’s an extremely safe place for women. And men. And gays. And transsexuals. I think that the evidence shows—
Wendell: What about queers?
Emery: Queers are all right too. I think that, in my opinion, the evidence that supports the idea that this even needs to be a fucking discussion is completely bullshit. I think it’s completely bullshit. And the reason I think it’s bullshit is because every example I’ve seen so far, I haven’t seen a single one that is impressive in the sense that it suggests that it would change anything to have the policies that you’re describing. Nothing would change. What we’re seeing is, we’re seeing political bullying. We’re seeing positioning by this one particular—
Wendell: Why? What do they have to gain by it?
Emery: Well, I can give you examples of what they have to gain. I can’t tell you what they think or believe, or have proof that anybody is doing these things in order to gain something from it. But there’s a lot to gain. Rebecca became ten times more well known the second she started this fight. The second she stood up against Dawkins in the moment that was so fucking stupid on Dawkins’ part, and that for the record, I said very clearly was on Dawkins’ part, very fucking clearly in my show. And for you to have walked away with a different—
Wendell: I can play you the recording on that.
Travis: Yeah, Emery has it queued up.
Emery: yeah, I have it
[the audio of tape—may be off, was fuzzy; individual voices are not currently identified] I’m backing Rebecca up. When I heard the original, about the guy in the elevator, I didn’t think she was stepping out of line. I found that so innocuous. It was ‘hey guys, don’t do that. I don’t like that’. And in her defense, now maybe this is the old criticism, but her initial statement was innocuous, but the commenters on various blogs sort of radicalized the discussion.
It sorta changed the topic from ‘hey guys, don’t do that’ to ‘women consistently get objectified’ and ‘how do you know he wasn’t a rapist?’. And you know, so many conversations I don’t think she intended to have.
(woman’s voice) In other words, it got blown way the fuck out of proportion, which I’ve been saying over and over and over again. People need to just calm the hell down.
I think so. And a lot of the skeptics who don’t follow this inside, baseball stuff, don’t realize how horribly she was treated. Not by, I would argue, something called the skeptic’s community, but by anonymous commenters on Youtube and elsewhere, and there’s some conflation about anonymous guys in their underwear in their parent’s basement commenting on the internet, and self organizing skeptics who are trying to make the world a better place with critical thinking.
Well, you’re trying to be polite, as I think you should be. I’m not going to be as polite. I’m pissed off right now at how Rebecca has jumped on this course of bullshit. And that’s got me fucking furious, and I’m not going to ask [mumble] to agree with that. And when she went after Dawkins and turned it into this thing, it just turned into this absurd, in my opinion, comedy of errors on her part.
Well, for context, you mentioned she went after Dawkins, when what happened, what preceded that is, Dawkins commented on one of her blog posts, this sorta way you might expect an Oxford don to do. He punctured the pretensions of an argument he thought was a bad argument. Maybe he overstated what her initial case was, fine. Maybe he was responding to some of the commenters blowing stuff out of proportion. And he had that ‘Dear Muslima” comment, where he said, you know, dear Muslim woman in the Muslim world, stop complaining about how bad you have it, because of the rigid structures of that absurd monotheism that oppresses you. Look, some woman was offered coffee in an elevator, triumph of feminism, she said no, and the other guy said ok. So you can debate. Was that kind of, wise of Dawkins to be commenting, and then he doubled down…
It wasn’t! It was an error. It was a guy coming from his perspective, an Oxford don! When someone just grabs it
Wendell: You can stop it there. That was my point.
When someone just grabs it like a fucking set of rings!
Wendell: You all did say it was a mistake
Sara: Hi, Mallorie!!
Wendell: You totally minimized it. You said, oh just an Oxford don doing his thing, no big deal.
Emery: (shouting) You’re absolutely right that’s what I did! I’m minimizing it because it’s minimal! It’s not what it was turned in to! That’s my point, Wendell!
[interruption for tech]
Emery: It really upsets me when I say very clearly that I don’t agree with his position, I don’t agree with his choice of words! And absolutely I minimized it, because my complaint is that it shouldn’t have been conflated like that. It shouldn’t have been turned into… You know, when our grandparents say these things about blacks, or colored people, you don’t go screaming around the house “my grandma’s a fucking racist!”. They were raised in a different time, from a different perspective. And I think perspectives should be considered when you have a reasonable discourse between people. But that’s not what Rebecca did. Rebecca didn’t have a reasonable discourse—
Wendell: No, what happened was that they asked him if that’s what he really meant, and he doubled down on it and said ‘absolutely, that’s what I meant’.
Emery: I know he did!
Wendell: He did not back off in the least!
Emery: And I wouldn’t expect him to! He doesn’t have the perspective to understand why what he said was maybe not worded well, or why it might have had a—
Mallorie: Why then? Why was it not worded well? What was wrong with that?
[everyone tries to respond]
Mallorie: She said “I felt threatened, therefore, I was threatened” Which is not okay and [muffled]
Wendell: No, that’s not what she was talking about.
Emery: Dawkins, we’re talking about what Dawkins said.
Mallorie: No, I know what was said, and I honestly didn’t think it was insensitive, and I didn’t think it was wrong, and I found it kind of amusing. What was wrong with [muffled]
Wendell: Okay, I’ve got to ask you, because in the very same show, you made the exact same point, and got very upset about what other people were doing and minimizing and saying you should do other things instead. PETA vs. world hunger was my comment. It’s exactly the same point people like Rebecca and other people were getting upset about.
Emery: Right. I think that you’re right, that Dawkins made the mistake of comparing what happens to Muslim women to the complaint that Rebecca was making. There’s two reasons he made a mistake there, in my opinion. One of them is, one is real, and the other is bullshit. That’s my opinion. The thing that is happening to these Muslim women is fucking real. The thing that is happening to Rebecca is being conflated, and being turned into something that it isn’t. She isn’t being sexually harassed. She is a public figure, who is actually having people react really, really hotly to her. Really angrily to her, okay? And it’s a thing that happens on the internet, and it’s bullshit. If it becomes a death threat, which is something we found with Mabus, there’s something legal you can do. Other than that, she, in my opinion—and by the way, in my opinion—she wasn’t afraid to go to TAM, Wendell, she went to TAM. And she was fine until all of this. She only went back and turned this into what she turned it in to after she got mired down by this fucking position she built up.
Travis: And not only that, if she had a problem at TAM, why didn’t she—
Wendell: Okay, once again, we’ve wandered., if we could. I mean, I’d like to be clear about what you said about the Dawkins comment that made me make my comment—
Wendell: was that you said—well, actually, you seem to agree with me that he said something really stupid—
Emery: I agree with that.
Wendell: [muffled] no big fucking deal.
Emery: And I don’t think it was that big of a deal. I think it was stupid what he said, and someone here doesn’t think that. Mallorie.
Wendell: Hi, Mallorie.
Emery: Would you like to chime in on what Dawkins said, and how you felt about it?
Mallorie: I had no problem with it. I mean, it pointed out what I think needed to be pointed out, which is you’re asserting that something bad happened here, and let me give you a parallel, and demonstrate that no, nothing bad happened here. I have no sympathy for Rebecca in this. Somebody prefaced asking you for coffee, with don’t take this the wrong way and asked you for coffee. To act as though there’s anything wrong with this, on any level! Guys, please do that! Please!
[everyone talking over one another]
Mallorie: I like the parallel he drew, by saying this is not a problem, here is a problem. If you want to address women’s issues, address these women’s issues, because what you’re doing now is a joke. And it is!
Emery: Let me…I’m going to challenge one thing that you’re saying there, if I may. I’m going to side with Wendell, I have a feeling, now. I liked when Rebecca stood on a stage, and Travis, you know exactly what she said?
[everyone tries to find it; Emery has it]
Emery: (quoting Rebecca) “…all except that one man who didn’t really grasp what I was saying on the panel, because at the bar later that night—actually at four in the morning—we were at the hotel bar at 4 am, and this is what we would call the ignition for the whole silly debacle, as I like to refer to it. At 4 am I said ‘I’ve had enough guys, I’m going to bed” So I walked to the elevator, and a man got in the elevator with me and said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?”
Emery: Now here’s the last paragraph: “Ummm, just a word to the wise, guys, don’t do that. I don’t know how to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 AM in an elevator with you. Just you. And don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner, so yeah.” So there’s the quote! Now I read it! I did a show on it. I don’t know what show it was, maybe you can figure it out for me, Travis. It was when I had Kathy……yeah, I had Tracy. Anyway, I disagree with you, Mallorie. I think any man worth his weight in one fucking ounce of grain, doesn’t get a girl cornered at 4 in the morning somewhere to ask her if she wants to hang out and be sexual, or intimate that he might want to be sexual.
Mallorie: I didn’t honestly, I wouldn’t have taken that sexually, especially if prefaced with ‘don’t take this the wrong way’.
Wendell: Oh, as a man, I’m sure it was sexual.
Mallorie: Maybe I’m naive in that regard. But, on top of that, what was the alternative? Uh, humiliate this person publicly while they’re obviously engaged in [muffled] conversation at the table? I think it would be polite to wait and step aside. I am not threatened by every man I see. That is her problem. That is her choice.
Wendell: She’s not said she’s threatened by every man. And the alternative is you get to know someone. You talk to them at the bar, or you introduce yourself.
Mallorie: Or you ask them to talk! [muffled—she has really bad audio]
Wendell: or you get a feeling as to who they are before you corner them. I got to tell you about this, one brief thing on this point, is that my first reaction to this was kind of neutral either way. Until I talked to my wife and two of her girlfriends. And they, all three of them, unanimously explained to me what it was like to be a woman. I’ll give you an example. Last [something] I was talking to my wife—
Mallorie: [had been talking in the background] your woman, but I’ve got to disagree.
Wendell: I’m just telling you how they felt. They’re older than you are. I don’t know if it makes a difference.
Emery: Mallorie, don’t worry about it. They have drugs for this!
Mallorie: It didn’t devolve! [still muffled, I might be getting this wrong]
Wendell: Well good for you! It’s like, my wife was talking to me on the phone last night, on a cell phone. And she said to me, “We’ve got to stop talking. I’ve been sitting outside of my friend’s house in my car, but it’s getting dark now. I don’t want to walk from my car to their house in the dark.”
Travis: Just real quick—
Sara: That’s called being an American, not being a woman.
Travis: Just real quick, I want to interject. It was episode 21, from July 6th, 2011.
Travis: So yeah, almost a year ago.
Emery: So we had Tracy Harris on that show, and who else was on that show?
Travis: Jessie Marin, and Vanessa.
[Mallorie has more technical difficulties]
Emery: I did the same thing you did, Wendell, I addressed the question. I went to women, and I asked the question, is this right? And I learned something that week. I learned that if you wait for a woman to be alone at four in the morning in an elevator, where she’s kind of technically trapped with you, that’s not the best place to make an amorous move. And I think that what she did in that situation—and Mallorie, I got to tell you, a lot of people kind of attacked her for that, and I think it’s wrong to attack her for that. I think there’s a lot to attack Rebecca for—
Mallorie: [more muffled stuff] shut down. For what she actually did in the elevator, fine. But to [something] and publicly humiliate this person, and to tell men not to behave in that way, on behalf of all women, is not acceptable. That’s not okay.
Emery: Well, did she name him?
[Sara, Mallorie, Wendell talk at once]
Mallorie: I’ve got a rule: don’t make rules for how an entire gender should conduct themselves.
Wendell: She didn’t present it that way. In the video, she just said for her.
Travis: Wendell, you and I disagree, Wendell.
Sara: And that’s where the problem lies, right? She initially said one thing, and then you have internet commenters and internet trolls, in between, adding to the conversation. And then a guy like Dawkins comes in, and thinks that Rebecca said the stuff that actually, internet commenters said. And then Rebecca replies, not only to what Dawkins said, but to what Dawkins said plus all the internet commenters, what they said. So it’s a problem of the internet commenters are getting in the way, and you have people who are more prominent in our communities, like Watson, and DJ, who should be talking to each other, and not talking via blog commenting threads. Because it’s not working. And we have each others numbers. If I have a problem or a concern, I have numbers of people that I could pick up and contact someone and say, “Hey, I have a problem”. So you know, putting it out publicly and letting internet trolls add to the conversation is not doing anyone any good at all.
Richard: Everybody, absolutely everybody has DJ’s number. Everybody has DJ’s number. He answers the phone. Call him.
Emery: He’s such a slut.
Travis: But I just want to say–
Wendell: I really like what Sara said. I thought yeah, you’re absolutely right. The biggest problem is that people aren’t talking to each other directly.
Emery: Well, and let’s be clear about what else she said. There’s so much inaccurate information. I had personal friends, high up in the skeptical community, very high up, who completely misunderstood what was initially said by Rebecca. I literally, at that point, had it on my iPhone so I could play it for people. And I would go, “What happened? What the fuck was said here?” [indicates phone] What people were claiming was said wasn’t accurate. And they were building arguments on it. And you know what that is, everybody? It’s the opposite of skepticism. It’s the opposite of critical thinking. Find out what the facts are. That’s why I like to discuss, for example, whether or not there’s a real power imbalance. I know we didn’t reach and agreement on that, but it’s all about that, in my opinion. This is a house of cards, in my opinion. There is no reason to restrict speakers from being sexual, amorous, or attracted to TAM-goers. We’re all fucking adults!
Wendell: Okay, there’s one reason I can give you, which you probably aren’t going to think much of, but I’ll do it anyhow. There are certainly now numbers of women who, for right or for wrong, don’t feel as comfortable going to these conferences as they did six months ago. Can we all agree to that?
Wendell: I’m not saying right or wrong. I’m just saying that it seems there are.
Emery: I will agree with that, but I have to add an addendum, a caveat. And that is, because of all the awfulness and misinformation, and just the incendiary shit that was being said by a relatively small group of people. That’s why that’s true.
Travis: And I just want to add, I mean, I run a local skeptics group, but I have nothing to do with TAM, and I’ve gotten three emails personally, from women who say they’re not going, specifically because of the rumors they’ve heard on the blogs. Not Rebecca exclusively, it’s other blogs as well. But it’s being billed as an unsafe space.
[everyone talks over each other for a while, stops, and then does it again]
Sara: Out of all the conferences, and out of all the people trying to do good in making spaces comfortable for everyone in TAM, DJ and the JREF have done the most, that you can see, from any other conference about skepticism or atheism. They’ve done the most.
Emery: That brings us to a very very important point.
Wendell: Can I complete the point I was trying to make?
Emery: Yes you may, I’m sorry.
Wendell: We agree for right or for wrong, more people are upset. One thing, having the kind of harassment policies and so forth would do, is they would assure some of these people who are upset about it, for right, or for wrong. They might feel safer, whether they are physically safer or not. I think they would feel better.
Emery: I don’t think that’s true.
Sara: We have to remember too, that the people who are upset in situations are always more vocal than the people who don’t. I don’t go around telling people when I don’t have a problem with something.
Emery: Maybe you should!
Sara: I tell people when I do have a problem. So there’s all kinds of people that don’t have a problem, or have had positive experiences, and you can’t know if there are more people on one side than the other, based on what you here.
Travis: On that point as well, there are a lot of women that are afraid to say anything because they’re afraid of getting badgered.
Sara: Right, and if you have a dissenting opinion, saying, “I’ve had a positive experience”, even if you say, “This doesn’t mean that I’m saying that it’s perfect” or that what other women are saying, that it doesn’t go on. You try to make the point that women are people and that we all have the same opinion and experiences, that’s like a major point. Like, if you have a conflict between two male skeptics, and they have dissenting opinions, you don’t start in asking them things about “Well, what is it like being a man in this situation?” It’s only when women are involved that it’s like, “Well, I went and asked my…”. You know I wouldn’t go, “Well, I went and asked my husband or boyfriend and his friends….”
Wendell: I think you should. The Bible says you really should do that. I mean, you should be speaking in public, as I recall!
Sara: So it can be annoying. Even though Rebecca, you know, going back to the whole Elevatorgate thing, she didn’t say she was speaking for all women. It was the internet that made her say that. But it does become annoying to hear the talk of “Well, women think this about this subject, and women think this about that, and this is how women feel”. When it’s like, we’re people. I come from a different background and different country and different culture than most women at TAM. And you know, we’re people. Just like how men are people. You can’t put all men under one umbrella the way you do women and [trails off].
Emery: You kind of could though, for the record. We’re pretty simple.
Mallorie: I don’t think you should put yourself in a hole like that. You’re not, and neither are we.
Wendell: No, no, he’s right. Men really are.
Mallorie: His point was to make a playbook for how to behave. We have laws in place—like actual laws! Not TAM, not gray-area, but actual laws in place that handle sexual–
Travis: Well, I think there’s an interesting point about that, though. Because TAM has a different dynamic than a lot of the other conferences because, especially since [TAM] 7, we’re in a hotel, that the conference and where everybody hangs out in are all in the same place. People don’t tend to wander off. It’s not on the Strip, the Strip’s not as easily accessible. So everybody hangs out in the Del Mar afterwards. It’s not part of the conference, technically. The JREF really has nothing to do with anything that goes on there. And from my experience, the little tiny bit that I’ve heard and seen about, it all happens there. It doesn’t happen at the conference.
Sara: Right, if you have a problem at a TAM event, like at the opening reception, you know, anything that is on TAM time, then you go to TAM staff. And every conference, you know I’ve been to all kinds of conferences, not just skeptic conferences, and the responsibility of conference staff is to kick people out and revoke badges, and keep their conference free of troublemakers. That’s there responsibility. Anything beyond that, you contact hotel staff, or the police. It’s not the responsibility of convention staff to take harassment reports and police people and take down names and keep private information of people. They’re not trained for that. You’re putting people in a position that I don’t want staff to be put in any kind of danger either. There’s responsibilities of the conference, and then there’s hotel security and the police.
Emery: Lemme jump in here—lemme jump in, hun. Wendell?
Emery: I know that you want to react to that. I need to hear exactly what you’re going to say.
Wendell: Well, my reaction really is, cause it goes back to, you spent some time, which I didn’t mention, implying basically the same thing Sara just said. If it wasn’t illegal, then it wasn’t harassment. Sara, and Mallorie in particular, is that a true statement? I you went to a convention—
Mallorie: We aren’t all women!
Wendell: –are there activities that you would consider to be improper, that people should be called upon, that should be recorded, that should be thrown from the event, that aren’t actually illegal? Or do you agree with what Emery said, that it’s largely the same? Which is kind of what I just heard Sara say.
Emery: Well, I think a more telling—
Wendell: He just interrupted you because you’re a woman, that’s all.
Emery: That’s right. I think a more intelligent, or a more sensitive way to ask that question would be: “Let me ask Sara, Mallorie, and Travis, that question”.
Travis: What are you implying?
Emery: What I’m implying is, do you not hear, Wendell, what you do when you’re doing that?
Wendell: Yes, you’re right, you’re find Emery, that’s cool. I understand.
Emery: See what I’m saying? And that’s one of the problems with this whole discussion. It’s clumping all women into this one specific group, like they’re the only ones that can speak on it. And it’s not necessarily accurate, by any stretch. Women are very complex, as a group, as a gender.
Wendell: This might be me speaking from my slightly elevated age [muffled, as multiple were talking; might be wrong]
Sara: I just wanted to clarify what you just said about if something isn’t illegal, is it harassment? And I’ve had this response before, when I’ve tried to discuss what the convention, what their responsibilities are and then what should be forwarded on to security or police. I’m not saying that if it’s not a big enough deal to call the police, then not to do anything. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying there’s stuff the convention can deal with, that you know, it’s not a right to be at TAM. They could throw anyone out for any reason they want to, because it’s their event. So if they…if you report something to the convention staff, and they feel…let’s say a guy has had too much to drink, and is causing some uncomfortable situations, they can ask him to leave. Either that specific event at that time, or ban him from the convention, whatever. That’s their turf—kicking people out of conventions. If that drunk guy becomes rowdy, and doesn’t want to leave, or the lady wants, the woman wants some sort of report taken down of what this guy did to her, that is going beyond convention responsibility, and to either hotel security or law enforcement. So that’s what I’m saying.
Emery: I want to add this to what you said. DJ spoke really clearly on this, and I wish I had a transcript of it. I know I don’t, maybe someone here will remember.
Travis: He did. Richard posted it in the chat. [quotes] “So if someone is accosted or assaulted, and to be legal about it, sexual harassment cannot happen in a public event. Right? Sexual harassment can only happen in a workplace, by definition.”
Emery: So, but DJ went on to say that they have always been personally responsible for being sure that everybody is as comfortable as possible. And when somebody acts up, as someone did in ’09, they’re taken care of. They’re asked to leave. It can be reported. But I got to tell you, Wendell, folks on your side of this discussion—
Wendell: My side?
Emery: It is! You’re on a particular side, and your side—
Wendell: Come on, I’m an individual. Rebecca’s opinions aren’t my opinions. I have my own opinions, just like the women do. Right, women?
Emery: Let me ask Richard. He’s got a beard!
Wendell: Yeah, but it’s the wrong color.
Emery: My point is, really people on your side of the discussion, on this side of the discussion, there doesn’t seem to be anything that DJ or JREF are going to do to make them feel like they’ve sated this monster juggernaut that is the sexist scandal of TAM! There’s nothing. In my opinion—
Wendell: I’ve not seen any of the actual bloggers say anything like that. Commentators, yes, but not me.
Emery: No, no, no, bullshit! You stop for a minute Travis, I’m sorry. You did too say it! You said earlier in this discussion! You said that there should be a way that someone can file a report–
Wendell: Yes, I said that! And you just said that—
Emery: –and that they can do it anonymously. But what I’m saying is—
Wendell: But your last paragraph—said stuff about the ‘sexist horrible disaster that TAM is’. Your last paragraph said there wasn’t anything you could do to satisfy, that DJ was doomed no matter what he did. I never said those things.
Travis: I have a comment on that, but I want to hear what Mallorie has to say.
Wendell: Oh, Mallorie, are you still here?
Mallorie: Yeah, I was being quiet after this man told me to shut up.
[general laughing, Emery leaves as a joking protest]
Mallorie: I’m fucking terrified because I have a vagina! No, I wanted to interject that not only is it not TAM staff’s place to police these things, but they really really shouldn’t be. Sexual assault—and that paragraph posted in chat deals with sexual harassment—let’s talk about sexual assault, which is the same thing, but not in the workplace, essentially. I don’t want TAM staff dealing with that. They can’t collect evidence. They can’t decide if the woman’s making it up, and the guy actually did something. They have no authority. That idea is kind of terrifying to me. They should not be dealing with that. That is definitely not their place. If rape or sexual assault takes place, some guy with an extra badge takes care of it? No. No. That needs to be—
Wendell: I don’t think they’re saying that they would. It excludes—
Mallorie: No, I’m not saying that you said that. But they have no business addressing that. Not only is it not their place, but it’s not their job and it’s not safe for them. But it’s also not their job in that they don’t have the authority, the training, or the ability to do anything about it, and certainly not what needs to be done about it. And for none other reason than that. Rules at TAM, fine. But those don’t even touch on the nasty things that a lot of people say—allege—happen or could happen. And I’m not talking about [muffled] commenters. I got yelled at—Penn published a letter of mine that kind of put me on the map, and I got yelled at a lot. And I got messages about like “I was assaulted’ like, two of them. And I was like, please don’t tell TAM staff about this. Or tell them about it as a secondary measure. Please don’t blog about this. Call the police. Because they [TAM staff, I presume] can’t stop that. They don’t have the authority to stop that. That’s not a conversation we need to be having. If we’re talking about this, we’re talking about it on the level of basic social interactions, not… And they have policies. As far as I know, DJ did a survey, and nobody complained.