Harming TAM

So, Emery Emery thinks D.J. should refuse to clarify that the TAM harassment policy will apply this year and be publicly posted. Why?

No, it’s not all they have to do! She is fighting them, Wendell! Do you not see that she’s trying to harm TAM!?

And just how did I try to harm TAM? What did I do? Well, here’s what I blogged before D.J. made his first public statement about harassment policies.

  • Zero Intolerance I filled in the details around the statement that set off a small explosion at Women in Secularism.
  • Making It Safer in the Meantime I suggested that organizations that wanted to address concerns around this should adopt an anti-harassment policy that covered race, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability status, etc.
  • Real Progress I talked about which conventions had let me know they would be adopting policies.
  • On Witches and the Hunting Thereof I explained that standardized policies protect the innocent much better than “naming names” does.

That’s it. You may notice that there’s no mention of TAM in any of those. There’s no mention of specific “prominent speakers” who could tarnish TAM’s reputation by being on the agenda there, because there is no mention of specific “prominent speakers”.

Now, what didn’t I do? [Trigger warning for denial of sexual harassment and assault.] [Read more...]

“The Great Penis Debate” Transcript, Part III

Kate Donovan is wonderful and patient and finally done. Here is part three of the transcript of this video. Part one is here. Part two 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.

Trigger warning for dismissal of claims of abuse, gendered slurs, and jokes about rape.

Minute 1:05

Emery: Travis?

Travis: Actually, I’ve put that to a lot of people, and nobody has really given me an answer. I have a little bit of an answer. So TAM 9, they had a harassment policy. It was in everybody’s packet. They talked about it onstage at least once, that I know of. They did a survey, an anonymous survey that over 800 people filled out. DJ has the specifics. I’m not going to get to it on here, but basically, nobody complained about sexual harassment on it or anything else. What more do you want TAM or DJ to do?

Sara: Get rid of all misogyny everywhere on the planet. [Read more...]

“The Great Penis Debate” Transcript, Part II

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.

Minute 30

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. [Read more...]

“The Great Penis Debate” Transcript, Part I

Kate Donovan is wonderful and patient and finally done. Here is part one of the transcript of this video. 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. Parts two and three coming soon are done.

Trigger warning for dismissal of claims of abuse, gendered slurs, and jokes about rape.

Wendell: Okay, we got the compliments out of the way. I just want you to understand, nothing personal here. I think you guys are all great.

Emery: I think we just strongly disagree. Obviously, about the cries of sexism and um, what’s the word that just doesn’t apply, in my opinion…sexual harassment. [Read more...]

Saturday Storytime: Sleep No More

James Schmitz has long been a favorite author of mine. He was one of the first science fiction authors I came across who wrote strong female characters. They were a bit superwomany, but that was still a vast improvement over much of what was available at the time. This Telzey Amberdon is resonating with me recently for some reason.

It had been a trap in several ways then. If she’d entered Robane’s house, she would have vanished in the explosion with him. Since she’d checked first, they’d turned this thing on her. It was either to destroy her outright or force her into behavior that would identify her to its masters—and she had to get rid of it before the need to sleep brought down her defenses.

She felt the psi bolt begin to assemble itself. No ordinary brief sharp slash of psi was likely to serve here. She’d turn the heaviest torrent of energy she could channel on her uncanny pursuer. Something like a black electric swirling about her was sending ripples over her skin. Not at all a pleasant sensation, but she let it develop. It would be to her disadvantage to wait any longer; and since the psis weren’t around themselves, this was as good a place as any for the encounter. The Cloudsplitter was drifting up a wide valley into the higher ranges of the park. There was a chill in the breeze and few tourists about. At the moment she saw only three aircars, far ahead.

The energy pattern grew denser, became a shuddering thunder. She gathered it in, held it aimed like a gun, let it build up until she was trembling almost unbearably with its violence, then abruptly released her shield.

Almost at once, seeing the dark shape plunge at her through the nothing-space of psi, she knew that on this beast it wasn’t going to work. Energy smashed about it but found no entry point; it wasn’t being touched. She expended the bolt’s fury as the shape rushed up, snapped the shield shut before it reached her—immediately found herself slewing the Cloudsplitter around in a sharp turn as if to avoid a physical collision. There was a sound then, a deep bubbling howl, which chilled her through and through.

Glancing around, she saw it for an instant twenty feet behind the car—no mind image, but a thick powerful animal body, plunging head downward, stretched out as if it were diving, through the air of Melna Park. Then it vanished.

It was a psi creature whose natural prey were other psi creatures, she thought; that was why she hadn’t been able to touch it. Its species had a developed immunity to such defensive blasts and could ignore them. It had a sense through which it traced out and approached the minds of prospective victims, and it had the psi ability to flick itself across space when it knew by the mind contact where they were to be found. For the kill it needed only physical weapons—the strength of its massive body, its great teeth and the broad flat nails of the reaching beast hands which had seemed only inches from her when the shield shut them from view. If she hadn’t swerved aside in that instant, the thing would have crashed down into the car and torn the life out of her moments later.

Her attempt to confront it had made the situation more immediately dangerous. Handling that flood of deadly energy had drained her strength; and a kind of dullness was settling on her now, composed in part of growing fatigue and in part of a puzzled wonder that she really seemed able to do nothing to get away from the thing. It was some minutes before she could push the feeling aside and get her thoughts again into some kind of order.

The creature’s dip through space seemed to have confused it temporarily; at any rate, it had lost too much contact with her to materialize near her again, though she didn’t doubt it was still very close mentally. There were moments when she thought she could sense its presence just beyond the shield. She’d had a respite, but no more than that. It probably wasn’t even a very intelligent animal; a species with its abilities and strength wouldn’t need much mental equipment to get along in its world. But she was caught in a game which was being played by the animal’s rules, not hers, and there still seemed no way to get around them.

Some time past the middle of the afternoon, she edged the Cloudsplitter down into a cluster of thickets on sloping ground, brushing through the vegetation until the car was completely concealed. She shut off its engines and climbed out, stood swaying unsteadily for a moment, then turned and pushed her way out of the thickets.

If she’d remained sitting in the car, she would have been asleep in minutes. By staying on her feet, she might gain another period of time to work out the solution. But she wasn’t far from the point where she’d have to call the park rangers and ask them to get a fix on her and come to her help. Stimulants could keep her awake for several days.

At that point, she would have invited danger from a new source. A public appeal for help from someone in Melna Park could be a beacon to her enemies; she had to count on the possibility that they waited alertly for just such an indication that their hunter had the quarry pinned down. She might be identified very quickly then.

But to try to stay awake on her own for even another fifteen or twenty minutes could be fatal.

Keep reading.

Minnesota Atheists at Juneteenth Festival

The local Juneteenth Festival is tomorrow at the North Mississippi Regional Park in Minneapolis. Minnesota Atheists will be there, and they could use some help.

The Juneteenth Festival observes the June 19th 1865 proclamation of the abolition of slavery in Texas. This celebrates the freedom for people of all racial backgrounds.

The Minnesota Atheists will be hosting a booth at the Twin Cities Juneteenth Festival this Saturday (June 16) from 11am to 6pm. We need people to help distribute flyers for our newly developing MN Chapter of Black Atheists of America.

This is the first regional chapter of Black Atheists of America. Aly Jiselle LaJune is heading up the efforts to get this chapter started. Frankly, this is a wonderful thing as Minnesota Atheists has never quite figured out how to reach out to non-white communities here.

If you’re up for representing both of these organizations (yes, even if you’re not black), head over to the Meetup site and sign up.

Atheists Talk: Jen Hancock on “The Bully Vaccine”

Bullies are…well, they’re not the most creative types. They tend to have a small number of strategies they use to get what they want and make our lives miserable. That leaves their tricks vulnerable to analysis and defusing. Jen Hancock offers to do just that for you with her book, The Bully Vaccine: How to Inoculate Yourself Against Bullies and Other Petty People.

Should you have to deal with this? No, but if you or your child is suffering from bullying, you don’t have many good options. You can either allow it to continue and hope for a miracle. You can muddle along as you already have trying a variety of techniques that only serve to make the problem worse because you are inadvertently training your bully to escalate their behavior because you do not know enough about how to properly manage the rewards and punishment that affect their behavioral choices.

Listen on Sunday morning as Jen shares some of her ideas.

Related Links

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Those Meddling Kids

Well, first it was:

It should be said that there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM to my knowledge and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

Then Ashley became inconvenient. She could be managed, though:

In her blog post and in further comments, Ashley says she didn’t feel like the harassment was worth reporting to JREF staff or hotel staff at the time, nor did she nor anyone else mention it in one of the TAM attendee surveys.

Except that she stayed inconvenient. So it changed:

…no one reported to JREF staff or hotel staff any incident of assault or sexual harassment at our speakers reception last year, and no JREF staff were told about nor knew about any such incident until last week.

And now there is a new inconvenience. [Trigger warning for covert predatory behavior and absolute lack of support for a reporting victim.] [Read more...]

“The Great Penis Debate”

Wendell Henry contacted me over the weekend to let me know about conversations he’d been having with the crew of The Ardent Atheist about anti-harassment policies, etc. Emery from Ardent Atheist wanted to take these conversations public, and Wendell felt a woman should be holding up the feminist side. It was another one of those discussions that didn’t promise to be exactly friendly, but I agreed in principle.

Circumstances conspired to make it such that Wendell went to bat for anti-harassment policies on his own. I haven’t caught up on sleep since Women in Secularism (May 18-20). This was supposed to be my weekend for that, but then this happened. I left Wendell hanging as I ran out of time and energy. And he took care of it.

This is the result. [ETA: If you're not sure whether you're up for more nastiness on this, read the comments before deciding whether/how much to watch.] [Read more...]

Begging the Question: A How-To

“That begs the question”, may be the most generally false assertion in English, at least among those statements that aren’t universally false. What people usually mean when they say it is that something raises a question. That’s a good thing to point out, of course, but it isn’t the same thing as begging the question.

Begging the question is a logical fallacy. It’s a form of circular argumentation in which one basically says that something is true because it is true. It supports the conclusion with the premise and the premise with the conclusion, and the question begged is, “But is it true?”

Katherine Kersten, conservative think tanker and contributor of venomous culture war opinion pieces for Minneapolis’s Star Tribune, has produced a masterwork in begging the question on the topic of marriage equality. It is truly worthy of being used to illustrate this fallacy for decades to come. [Read more...]