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The Search for Slavering Dogs

Profile photo of drooling mastiff.

Photo by Robert Bejil Photography. Some rights reserved.

Dear Dr. Coyne:

I have a question raised by a recent post. In it, you set some ground rules for your comments:

In the comments section below, please stick to the interview and topics covered by Dawkins. We’re not going to have a pack of slavering dogs accusing Richard of being a “raving misogynist,” since he isn’t.

I checked. I did manage to find two people who had called Dawkins a “raving misogynist”. One of them was on Facebook. One on Tumblr. Neither of them appeared to be drooling. Neither appeared to be someone who comments on your blog.

So who are these “slavering dogs”? I mean, I can understand not wanting such a creature to comment on your blog, but with only two of them, neither of whom appears to be a fan, surely you don’t need to issue a general statement, do you?

Or maybe you’re being more general. You say in a comment:

No, I think the characterization is quite appropriate for those who call Dawkins a misogynist. And this is the end of that discussion.

I don’t think you can quite mean that, though. Reducing people to “slavering dogs” based on their opinion of one person’s behavior…well. And doing it so unilaterally, not subject to appeal?

Perhaps you don’t know what “misogyny” means beyond the most basic of translations that appears in dictionaries. If you did, how else would you characterize the suggestion that Western women have no right to object to unequal treatment because women in Muslim countries have it worse? How else would you characterize the idea that overriding a woman’s expressed desire to not be hit on is “Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that”? How else would you characterize the idea that avoiding sexual assault, which disproportionately affects women, is as simple as pushing a button? How else would you characterize the idea that seeking a discussion space free of anti-feminist trolls is just “for hit counts“? How else would you characterize the idea that women only experience sexism because they’re looking for it?

What are all those behaviors if not misogyny? And what do you call someone who demonstrates a pattern of misogyny? Do you have a better word, or are we simply supposed to shut our mouths and say nothing? Surely, surely you can’t mean that.

So who are these “slavering dogs” who have become less than human by expressing an opinion of Dawkins, Dr. Coyne?

Comments

  1. msm16 says

    There is a modern tendency to refrain from calling people out for bigoted behavior by calling them a bigot. This seems to be because often people who preform said actions claim they don’t, “hate women/blacks/gays/any other disenfranchised group.” This may be true, they may not ‘hate’ them. But this is irrelevant; as if you were to place them next to someone who did all the same things they did, but DID hate said group, there would not be a discernible difference from the perspective of the outside observer.

    I think this tendency comes from the modern over emphasis that the ‘real’ person is what is deep down somewhere in the psyche. While I think this has value, in part as a person IS more than a collection of their behaviors, one cannot simply discount said behaviors as a critical part of a person. Unfortunately the modern sense of person leads us to a hesitancy to denounce people and their actions for fear of mischaracterizing their ‘true’ selves.

    So maybe Mr.Dawkins doesn’t hate women, perhaps deep down he isn’t a misogynist, unfortunately from his behaviors we cant tell the difference. Wear the sweater you knit.

  2. Brownian says

    Jesus Christ, can we canonize Dawkins and be done with pretending that it’s religion that’s the problem already?

  3. jackiepaper says

    Wait…nobody can label Dawkins as misogynist, but calling people drooly dogs is fine? What sort of standards of courtesy are in play here? And wtf else can you call the attitudes he has proudly displayed?

  4. says

    It is one thing to do something sexist before realizing it is. It is quite another to have it repeatedly pointed out to you and then decide to dig yourself in deeper with the same behavior. The latter is the behavior a misogynist. If dawkins wants to stop being called that he can apologize for his past behavior and start listening to women when they speak.

  5. says

    Chas, I see one person calling Dawkins a “virulent” anything and a long discussion on whether it’s appropriate to attempt to differentiate degrees of misogyny or sexism.

  6. Caroline52 says

    Thanks, Stephanie. Coyne didn’t say who he had in mind. But even if he was thinking of particular commenters on someone else’s website, calling those people “slavering dogs” would have been offensive.

    But it gets worse. Anyone can be momentarily intemperate. But when your own loyal followers gently chide, and affectionately tease you –as his did — for using such a harsh, dehumanizing epithet, you really should catch yourself at that point. YOu should acknowledge that you went too far, and apologize for being offensive.

    Instead, Coyne doubled down, replying to his loyal followers that “slavering dogs” was an “appropriate” description of anyone who calls Richard Dawkins a misogynist and “that’s the end of the discussion.” He meant it, too: he deleted a reply to this remark which pointed out that it’s unreasonable to gratuitously insult people and then shut down even polite expressions of concern about that insult.

    I don’t understand how such a smart, successful, supposedly enlightened evolutionary biologist, who makes a public cause of the importance of reason, empirical evidence, and logic, and who has an influential platform like the Why Evolution Is True website can live with himself for using his power to be so unapologetically rude, mean, and nakedly reactionary.

    As the comic books say, “with great power comes great responsibility.” What Coyne said, and especially the way he handled the gentle reproaches that followed — was an irresponsible use of his power.

    As Michelle Obama reminded us in her speech last week at the Democratic National Convention, when people are given tremendous power, it tends to reveal their true character. A few days ago, Jerry Coyne revealed his character. Unfortunately — because he is such a potentially valuable voice for the free-thinking community — what was revealed ain’t pretty.

  7. ChasCPeterson says

    I see one person calling Dawkins a “virulent” anything

    Well there’s two, one I guess indirect:

    #1: Dawkins may be an atheist, but he’s a highly religious man who rejects reason in favor of faith as evidenced by his virulent sexism.
    #33: You only contrasted him against REAL virulent misogynists *eyeroll*

    But fair enough; that’s not “repeatedly”. I misremembered how many of the people calling him a “misogynist” in that thread used that particular adjective.
    My point, of course, was that since you titled your post “The search for…” and expressed puzzlement about what Coyne was talking about, I thought you actually wanted to know. Because of the timing, I think it was a reference to that thread. But I acknowledge this is post hoc ergo prompter hoc.

    But when your own loyal followers gently chide, and affectionately tease you –as his did — for using such a harsh, dehumanizing epithet

    As one of the two commenters in question, I resent being characterized as a “loyal follower” (of anybody). I read Coyne’s blog because he posts a hell of a lot more biology than PZ does anymore, and I even like some of his videos. I roll my eyes and scroll past the boots, kitties, food, and free-will stuff. I disagree with him often (and was even banned from his blog under a previous nym for being too intemperate in correcting his many errors in a post about coelacanths.)
    Nor was my comment meant to be “affectionate teasing” in any way. I feel no particular affection for Jerry Coyne; in fact he pisses me off pretty often. If it seemed a “gentle chide” it’s because I know that Coyne does not take criticism well and demands politeness. I intentionally stripped the comment of most of my pissed-off feelings about his metaphor, which (I’d like to say ‘needless to say’) I found disgusting.

  8. says

    I do want to know what behavior rates this kind of dehumanization, and I appreciate the pointer to the thread. I just don’t see anything there that looks like what Coyne seems to be suggesting he’s seeing. I don’t see how one equates dismissal with drooling.

  9. Bernard Bumner says

    A few days ago, Jerry Coyne revealed his character. Unfortunately — because he is such a potentially valuable voice for the free-thinking community — what was revealed ain’t pretty.

    Coyne happily hosted a guest post by Justicar at the height of his involvement with The Monument (all of which may or may not mean something to you). That was revealing enough for many of us.

    He seems to have been sniping at Skepchicks and FtBloggers for some time, but only passively agressively. He is far too polite to direct his shit.

  10. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Wait…nobody can label Dawkins as misogynist, but calling people drooly dogs is fine? What sort of standards of courtesy are in play here? And wtf else can you call the attitudes he has proudly displayed?

    Snark mode enabled:

    Of course it’s fine to call other people names while whining about names that no one called your god a buddy of yours. It’s not hypocrisy to do exactly what you’re pretending other people do! It’s not cowardly to accuse “people” of calling your friend names they didn’t call him, but not naming them, because that would make you accountable for what you say.

    ANYTHING is okay when avoiding the actual problem. The only really important thing is to remind the plebs that they aren’t allowed to criticize their betters. Esp all the silly, hysterical bitches who should be grateful they aren’t Muslims in the Middle East. Cuz then they’d know what REAL misogyny looks like.

    /snark

    In all seriousness, it’s a good thing that the bigotry-denying, self-righteous, privileged white dudes keep opening their mouths to choke on their feet –. It’s a nice and constant reminder: No Gods, No Masters.

    And, in a weird way, it’s making my cold black cynical heart more compassionate. Because now, I see the bigotry-denying self-righteousness for what it is – a shortcoming, a weakness, an obstacle that the strong overcome and the weak deny exists so that they don’t have to fail.

  11. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    He is far too polite to direct his shit.

    too polite, too spineless.

    Potato, Potahto.

  12. Caroline52 says

    ChasCPeterson. I apologize. By “loyal follower” I meant “regular reader.” People who “follow the blog” not “follow the man.” But the way I shorthanded it to “his loyal followers” was bad. I wasn’t being sensitive to another meaning of “loyal follower” as someone loyal to a person who does whatever they say to do, which would be insulting in this context. Obviously this doesn’t describe you in the least. Sorry.

    In fact, I don’t even know whether you or the other commenters are actuallly regular readers. If you aren’t then I mischaracterized you. It was careless of me, and I apologize. My point was that even people who read Coyne’s blog were offended.

    My reference to “affectionate teasing” was to the commenter who said “Careful Dr. Coyne I’m going to hug you so hard…” Now that you point it out, I see that this could well have been meant in a cool, aggressive tone rather than in a warm teasing tone. I should have acknowledged this ambiguity in my comment, rather than asserting my interpretation as if it was a self-evident fact. I apologize for that as well.

    BTW, see, Jerry? That’s what you do when you offend people by overgeneralizing, mischaracterizing, and insulting them–even if it’s uninstentional, but certainly when, as in your case, it was intentional. You acknowledge your mistake, and you apologize. Read and learn.

  13. phil zombi says

    I think that there is good reason to avoid labeling people as misogynist. Except perhaps as shorthand for those who repeatedly express misogynist ideas. Crommunist writes about this tactic in regards to racism. Arguing whether people are racist/misogynist is pointless. Actions/words can rightly be denounced as racist/misogynist/etc. I don’t know if Dawkins “hates women” as some allegedly have claimed. I do know that he has said things that were blatantly misogynist.

    Also if Dr. Coyne had been concerned about the comments wandering on his post he could have instructed participants to restrict their comments to the content of the video. I don’t read WEIT. Do trolls often derail threads there with commentary on Dawkins’ misogyny?

    P.S. I have two slavering dogs at home. I find them to be quite agreeable.

  14. says

    The rules are as follows:

    Criticism goes from inside to out, to theists from atheists, and never from theists to atheists or from atheist to atheist… except that criticism within atheism can only go from the top down. Wealthy white men with doctorates are always at the top, men always outrank women, white always beats not white, and you can trump anyone if you have a higher level degree no matter what the subject.

  15. Caroline52 says

    Phil zombi. Whether or not Richard Dawkins is or is not a misogynist is irrelevant here. Do you not see the problem with calling people “slavering dogs”?

  16. says

    Isn’t there also something wrong with a man who has shown no particular interest in or support of feminism, and a certain amount of disdain for feminism, deciding that he gets to make a global blanket determinism of who is and isn’t a misogynist?

  17. Caroline52 says

    Phil zombi
    To answer your question about trolls, no, people do not derail Jerry Coyne’s threads with insults about Richard Dawkins. He keeps his commenters civil, which I appreciate, and whenever Richard Dawkins is the topic, the comments tend to be overwhelmingly positive and on topic.

    But come to think of it, maybe people do often try to post comments like that on Jerry’s site when he posts about Dawkins. And maybe he’s been monitoring such comments and preventing them from posting. If so, he should have explained this so people could put his outrage in some kind of context. To those who read what actually shows up in his comments, this belligerent insult seemed to come out of nowhwere.

    This still would not excuse calling people “slavering dogs” but it would at least have allowed us to make some sense of why an apparently otherwise nice person would behave in such an unbelievably callous and mean-spirited way.

  18. Utakata says

    @phil zombi, 15:

    To answer your question as layperson who is a following lurker of WEIT (but not always in agreement with it), I can say Jerry has fairly strict policy for posting regarding to flaming. That is, he clearly doesn’t like it. And seems to step in immediately to put out any flames. So trolling is not a big problem there from what I’ve seen. And the known trolls I’ve seen of over there tend to behave themselves. I am not sure they’re playing Jerry or Jerry is playing both sides of this – the jury is still out on me for that…

    …however, I do find it distressing that Jerry is not playing by his own rules with the “slavering dogs” remarks. That was totally uncalled for. And an inflammatory ad hominem directed seemingly at an invisible enemy as Stephanie has pointed out. That seems quite beneath him. Which suggests he has issues with those he looks up to being criticized for right or wrong. And this is problematic for anyone who considers themselves to be rational.

  19. Caroline52 says

    Utakata, your idea that Jerry Coyne has trouble when people he looks up to are criticized is interesting. You are right that, this is problematic in someone who touts rational thinking — I’d also say it’s hypocritical. It shows a lack of “integrity” – meaning literally, someone who is internally consistent across contexts. Someone pointed out that it’s ironic Jerry can’t take having his own “gods” criticized, since he agrees about criticizing other people’s gods.

    Someone told me today that Russelll Blackford tweeted the other day about “slavering dogs” and therefore Jerry may have picked it up from him — or vice versa.

    Whoever made the comment about Jerry feeling entitled because he’s a white male with a PhD, I respecfully disagree – I think it’s emotional insecurity. There are plenty of white men with PhD’s who would look down contemptuously on someone who uses “slavering dogs” as he’s used it.

  20. Valindrius says

    In relation to Dawkins’ past behaviour, I’ve been intrigued by those insisting that his nebulous passive-aggressive tweets aren’t related to this issue, that people are presuming and reading into them too much. It’s just coincidence and is no way indicative of his support for any given position. He even relied on that defence when I commented on the matter. However, I think his response to a complaint about the Lucy Wainwright RT acts as a definitive example of his intent. Why refer to Ms McCreight at all unless his original RT was intended to be a very direct attack? Irrespective of the additional drama it would create, I’m sick of his views being hidden behind ambiguity and sly jabs. He’s already emboldening those resisting empathetic inclusion via his implications of support but is dodging responsibility.

    I sincerely hope Dr Coyne isn’t adopting the same tactics. If the intended targets of the dehumanising insult is obvious then avoiding the use of specific names isn’t politeness, it’s insidious cowardice.

  21. Bernard Bumner says

    …I’m sick of his views being hidden behind ambiguity and sly jabs… I sincerely hope Dr Coyne isn’t adopting the same tactics…

    Like the comment here when noting that a fish genus was named after Dawkins using the gender feminine Dawkinsia,that “I wonder if this now officially qualifies him to be a Gender Traitor™.”

    Actually, as you can see in the comments, he originally wrote: I wonder if that will eliminate his status as a Gender Traitor. He changed it in response to Peter Beattie writing that, On the contrary, it will only make it possible in the first place for him to be that. Heretofore he was just a Privileged White Male. Good for him!

    It is very clear that Coyne is not only dismissive of the complaints about Dawkins’ Dear Muslima interjection, but that he is very keen to strike a few sly blows when the opportunity arises.

  22. ChasCPeterson says

    Caroline52, thanks for your response.

    My reference to “affectionate teasing” was to the commenter who said “Careful Dr. Coyne I’m going to hug you so hard…”

    I can’t figure that one out. I’m not sure that person ws expressing any criticism at all.

  23. says

    Bernard Bumner:

    Coyne happily hosted a guest post by Justicar at the height of his involvement with The Monument (all of which may or may not mean something to you). That was revealing enough for many of us.

    Yeah, he’s good pals with Abbie Smith.

    Phil Zombi:

    I think that there is good reason to avoid labeling people as misogynist. Except perhaps as shorthand for those who repeatedly express misogynist ideas.

    A case is made for this w/r/t Dawkins in Stephanie’s OP.

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    From personal observation, I can deliver the finishing blow to this narrative:

    Cats slaver too!

  25. kain says

    @11

    Coyne happily hosted a guest post by Justicar at the height of his involvement with The Monument (all of which may or may not mean something to you). That was revealing enough for many of us.

    Who is Justicar and what is “The Monument” ?

  26. Pierce R. Butler says

    kain @ # 29: Who is Justicar and what is “The Monument” ?

    Welcome to the post-Elevatorgate arena!

    “The Monument” was what Abbie Smith called the gigantic threads of extreme sexism on her ERV blog, before scienceblogs.com/National Geographic Society finally forced a shutdown of same. It’s more widely known, particularly at FtB, as “the slimepit” (aka “slymepit”).

    Justicar was one of the most prolific and nasty of the many misogynists who congregated there. Inviting him into your online residence could be considered on a plane with hosting a tea at your home honoring as special guests Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, &/or Karl Rove, only without the glamor.

  27. says

    Improbable Joe,

    I think you are slightly mistaken, Dawkins probably thinks of himself as a feminist and compared to some men of his generation, he would have a better claim to that. (Interesting that this is a rehash of the Asimov thread.) The difference is, Asimov can’t do any more harm. Dawkins’ failure to grasp where feminism is at currently is causing harm NOW; he is a living fossil of harmful misogynist attitudes of the past and requires consciousness-raising on numerous fronts. Dawkins has displayed numerous times that he has blinkers on to anything more than a superficial understanding of feminism and his sexist views and behaviour are well and truly of the past, not of the future.

  28. Pierce R. Butler says

    kain @ # 31: Was there something else ?

    There ya got me – I gave up on WEIT after Coyne deleted a comment in which I called him out for an extremely elementary arithmetic error (which he did not correct or acknowledge).

  29. phil zombi says

    Caroline52 I do see a problem with calling people “slavering dogs.” I should have stated that in my original comment. At this point it is unclear to me why Dr. Coyne felt the need to specify that accusations of misogyny against RD would not be tolerated. Unless there is something in the content of the video that may have triggered that sort of reaction?

    Ms Daisy, I recognize that Stephanie has made an excellent case for dubbing RD a misogynist. The point that I wanted to make is that it is easier to have a conversation about ideas rather than people. We can never know a person’s motivation or their “true self.” If there is such a thing. But we can criticize their ideas/actions.

  30. Caroline52 says

    phil zombi, thanks – actually, you did make perfectly clear that was your opinion. It was my bad for initially misunderstanding your very thoughtful comment.

  31. mandrellian says

    Yep, I’ve been disappointed with Jerry’s occasional passive-aggressive swipes at FtB and Skepchick – they’ve come every so often since that thing with the guy and the “don’t do that”. I think his friendship with ERV may well be a contributing factor to his professed disdain for “drama” and this certainly isn’t the first time he’s had a go. His indirect statements lead me to think he’s either not that well-informed as to the realities of E’gate, the harrassment policies and all the subsequent hateful bullshit or that he doesn’t care or that he really does think it’s all unserious, unimportant and a non-issue blown out of proportion. Perhaps he should talk to Jen McCreight or Greta C or Ophelia or Surly Amy or any other female skeptic that has been subject to constant harrassment and vitriol and threats since they dared open their mouths in support of feminism.

    And really, if Jerry didn’t want anyone to mention their objections to Dawkins’ sexist behaviour, why did he even bring it up? Seems to me that if the comments had suddenly filled up with people critical of Dawkins that Jerry would’ve brought it on himself. Since he’s a fan of Barbra, I would’ve thought he’d heard of the Streisand Effect.

  32. jose says

    I think the problem is the opinion that equality among the sexes has already been achieved in the west, something Dawkins seemingly believes. Or maybe he’s so used to see women in burkas and nonstop genital mutilation and women stoned to death and “witches” being killed too, that he considers the political, economic and social inequalities of the first world don’t matter.

  33. mandrellian says

    I’ve always found it odd, this attitude that says “Other people have it worse than you, so your personal problems and negative experiences aren’t worth complaining about.”

    I know I should be grateful that worse things haven’t happened to me than have actually happened, but am I meant to be so damned grateful as to keep my mouth shut every time I get a raw deal or the sharp end of a stick or a shit sandwich?

    Is Jen McCreight supposed to be so grateful that she’s not actually been assaulted that she should shut the fuck up about receiving threats of violence?

    Is Rebecca Watson supposed to be so grateful that none of the year-long string of hateful fantasies she’s been subjected to (as a direct result of saying, very gently, “Don’t hit on me in a small enclosed space box at dawn”) have been realised that she should shut the fuck up about being held up as Everything That’s Wrong With Skeptical Women?

    I could go on but I won’t except to say: maybe Richard and Jerry should just quit complaining about and campaigning against and criticising creationists and theologians since people in Islamic theocracies can be executed just for being atheist, or even questioning scripture. “Dear Muslim,” they could write, “While you rot in jail awaiting beheading for daring to question the Prophet, I ask you to spare some sympathy for me, a poor put-upon scientist, who daily must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ignorance perpetrated by people who don’t accept we’re apes and have told me in no uncertain terms that I’m to burn forever in Hell after I die.”

    Honestly, I like Richard and Jerry and am for the most part a fan of their writing and advocacy for science and opposition to ignorance; however I think on this subject they should either revise their opinions or recuse themselves from the argument.

  34. Bernard Bumner says

    …I couldn´t find any guest posts by this Justicar guy on WEIT however… Was there something else ?

    No, it was that I was referring to. I’m quite happy to characterise reposting without further comment, and in lieu of normal content, of material produced by one of your regulars as a guest post.

    Even if you don’t consider it to be a guest post, that is a largely unimportant semantic distinction; it is certainly an endorsement of Justicar as an argumentator.

    …but it was uploaded by Greg Mayer while Jerry was travelling.

    Which is convenient, but Coyne knows what is hosted on his own blog. I know that people tried to raise the issue with Coyne. I know that Coyne knew who Justicar was. I know that Justicar was blogging and generally and prolifically commenting on the wrong side of the issue of sexism.

    For me, it was the watershed of moment when my disappointment of Coyne crystallized, but I don’t demand anyone else should feel that way.

    I wrote, but didn’t post, a comment before you raised the defense that Jerry was travelling, just to point out that plausible deniability would surely form a strong argument if Coyne ever decided to explain himself.

    His snipes are usually indirect and innuendo, his support for Dawkins or for Abbie Smith never directly addresses specific controversies, and he is deafening silent on those issues himself. Still, there is a pattern of behaviour that suggests that Coyne is too comfortable with the status quo, and perhaps even tolerant of and apologetic for bad behaviour; this latest attack simply adds to that evidence.

  35. kain says

    Even if you don’t consider it to be a guest post, that is a largely unimportant semantic distinction; it is certainly an endorsement of Justicar as an argumentator.

    Linking to a youtube video and inviting someone to your blog for a guest post is a “largely unimportant semantic distinction” ? Seriously ?
    Also, when PZ links to a Video that contains statements by Richard Dawkins as he did here:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/07/no-compromises/
    does this mean that PZ automatically endorses all sexist comments that Dawkins made before that video was produced ?
    If not, why would you argue that Jerry endorses anything that this Justicar guy ever said / wrote except the stuff he said in this particular video ?

    Which is convenient, but Coyne knows what is hosted on his own blog. I know that people tried to raise the issue with Coyne. I know that Coyne knew who Justicar was.

    So what exactly was the issue ? Greg Mayer links to a video where this Justicar guy makes some jokes about the TSA – what should Jerry have done after that in your opinion ?

    I wrote, but didn’t post, a comment before you raised the defense that Jerry was travelling, just to point out that plausible deniability would surely form a strong argument if Coyne ever decided to explain himself.

    Plausible deniability ? You´ve just got to be kidding…
    So you think that he was talking to Greg Mayer and told him something like: “Hey Greg, I would really like to post some sexist BS on my blog – could you do that for me while I´m travelling ?? Just link to a video by this Justicar guy where he talks about TSA agents touching my Junk, people will know what that means [diabolic laughter]” ?

  36. B-Lar says

    There ya got me – I gave up on WEIT after Coyne deleted a comment in which I called him out for an extremely elementary arithmetic error (which he did not correct or acknowledge).

    Isnt he meant to be some kind of scientist? Do you have a link to this error?

    If his attitude to criticism can be shown to be blinding his judgement, then he is a chump and I dont need to care about what he says.

  37. Bernard Bumner says

    Linking to a youtube video and inviting someone to your blog for a guest post is a “largely unimportant semantic distinction” ? Seriously ?

    I already told you that I’m happy to characterize a video produced by a regular and reposted without further comment (and in lieu of normal content) as a guest post.

    The entire post was by Justicar, expressing Justicar’s opinion, and devoting the forum to Justicar.

    …does this mean that PZ automatically endorses all sexist comments that Dawkins made before that video was produced ?

    It certainly is a qualified endorsement of Dawkins, but of course not his sexism; I am better able to form nuanced opnions than you give me credit for.

    I never said that Coyne endorses Justicar’s sexist bullshit, but specifically that hosting his video endorses Justicar as an argumentator.

    Dawkins is (merely!?) sexist, whereas Justicar was at the centre of the bullying of Rebecca Watson and ensuing shitstorm that has affected so many at FtB and beyond. Dawkins has a profile, reach, and expertise which gives him a usefulness, even in light of his sexist behaviour. Justicar, on the other hand, is a minor internet entity who devoted much of his online time and space to harming people.

    Justicar was being actively toxic – I deliberately phrased it thus:

    Coyne happily hosted a guest post by Justicar at the height of his involvement with The Monument…

    I’m not of the opinion that Justicar is necessarily irredeemably evil to be forever condemned, just that he enjoyed/enjoys the attention and plaudits that came with being a bully and playing to that crowd. At that time, it was a poor choice to be associated with Justicar. Do you mean to tell me that you don’t judge people by the company they keep?

    So what exactly was the issue ? Greg Mayer links to a video where this Justicar guy makes some jokes about the TSA – what should Jerry have done after that in your opinion ?

    Acknowledged that Justicar was being a shithead elsewhere, refused to give a forum to someone of that quality, and taken the post down. Distance himself from someone who was devoting some much energy to behaving like a misogynistic bully.

    Plausible deniability ? You´ve just got to be kidding…

    No. I think he is publicly deliberately blind to the behaviour of people he likes. I think that his refusal to engage with these controversies directly conveniently allows him to distance himself from the worst behaviour, but that his snipes demonstrate that he is aware of them and has an opinion of them.

    Your conspiracy-before-the-fact scenario is ridiculous, and you knew that already, but that he deliberately maintains a distance whilst providing tacit support so that he takes less flak, that isn’t quite so implausible.

    Anyway, when I raised this it wasn’t because I’m very interested in convincing you, I’m merely noting that I perceive there to be a pattern of behaviour by Coyne that I (personally) would like to see him disavow.

  38. kain says

    The entire post was by Justicar, expressing Justicar’s opinion, and devoting the forum to Justicar.

    Yes, or, slightly rephrased – Greg Mayer posted a link to a youtube video of Justicar making fun of the TSA.

    I never said that Coyne endorses Justicar’s sexist bullshit, but specifically that hosting his video endorses Justicar as an argumentator.

    Justicar did not argue anything in the video in question – he made jokes about the TSA. Again, it was not even Jerry himself who linked to this youtube video. This was no endorsement in any way.

    At that time, it was a poor choice to be associated with Justicar. Do you mean to tell me that you don’t judge people by the company they keep?

    The entire “association” is the fact that someone with posting privileges on his blog posted a link to youtube video where Justicar makes fun of the TSA.
    I frequently link to essays by Isaac Asimov who, as it turns out, was probably a sexist asshole – I´m not going to apologize for having linked to his essays before and I´m not going to stop linking to his essays, because those links mean nothing except that I endorse this particular essay.

    Acknowledged that Justicar was being a shithead elsewhere, refused to give a forum to someone of that quality, and taken the post down. Distance himself from someone who was devoting some much energy to behaving like a misogynistic bully.

    I assume (please correct me if I´m wrong) that Jerry never participated in any discussion where this Justicar guy did behave like a complete asshole. So, when someone tells him that this guy did behave like a complete asshole elsewhere – he could either spend some time searching and reading Justicars posts in other places to fact-check this claim or simply do nothing whatsoever, because all that happened was that a guy with posting privileges on his blog posted a link to a youtube video of Justicar making fun of the TSA.
    Quite frankly, if I would have been in this situation, I would have done nothing as well.

    I think that his refusal to engage with these controversies directly conveniently allows him to distance himself from the worst behaviour, but that his snipes demonstrate that he is aware of them and has an opinion of them.

    I´ve seen one snipe so far (frankly, counting the Justicar video as a snipe would be ridiculous).

    Your conspiracy-before-the-fact scenario is ridiculous, and you knew that already, but that he deliberately maintains a distance whilst providing tacit support so that he takes less flak, that isn’t quite so implausible.

    If you count the link to the Justicar video as “tacit support”, which you apparently do, and assume that he “deliberately tries to maintain a distance” – then my scenario was not ridiculous at all, either it happened like that, or one of the assumptions is wrong.

  39. Bernard Bumner says

    I’ve spent too much time arguing this already, it is a derail, but I’ll just say my last words on this.

    This was no endorsement in any way.

    Continuing to link to it after people pointed to Justicar’s other activities, well it certainly looks like endorsement to me. Justicar is a regular commenter on Coyne’s blog.

    Quite frankly, if I would have been in this situation, I would have done nothing as well.

    Would you? I would judge you on that. Justicar really was behaving appallingly.

    My entire judgement of Coyne is not based upon that video alone, that video simply caused my disappointment to coalesce. It is simply, by my perception, part of a pattern of behaviour.

    I´ve seen one snipe so far (frankly, counting the Justicar video as a snipe would be ridiculous).

    I never said that video was a snipe, I said it was choosing to keep bad company. Anyway, there are at least two snipes mentioned in this thread just around Dawkins, but I meant his passive-agressive snipes in general.

    I quite like/liked Coyne’s writing, but I’m disappointed by his behaviour when it comes to this issue. That naturally colours my perception of his opinions. This is no different to my opinion of Dawkins, whose popular writing I still consider consider to be both important and useful.

    I simply see them as becoming increasingly, unfortunately, irrelevant because they don’t seem willing to address social justice outside of the narrow scope of religious injustice.

    I’m going to leave it at that, because my perception developed over a period of time and I refuse to spend the time and effort to forensically reconstruct that process for you. Take my complaint as my own, because it isn’t really anything other than that.

  40. kain says

    Continuing to link to it after people pointed to Justicar’s other activities, well it certainly looks like endorsement to me. Justicar is a regular commenter on Coyne’s blog.

    And apparently, he behaves well as a commenter on his blog (I don´t know – I just assume that since Jerry requires rather high standards for civility from his commenters). I see no reason why a blog owner should be required to google-stalk his commenters to see whether some of them might behave like assholes in other places.

    Would you? I would judge you on that. Justicar really was behaving appallingly.

    I don´t doubt that. But Jerry blogs for fun – if he is not interested in fights that some of his commenters engaged in at other websites that are in no way related to his person or his interests, I would neither blame nor judge him for that.

    I’m going to leave it at that, because my perception developed over a period of time and I refuse to spend the time and effort to forensically reconstruct that process for you. Take my complaint as my own, because it isn’t really anything other than that.

    Alright then.

  41. says

    I think I give up. I hear see all of these men explaining why women are wrong about what they experience, how we’re WRONG to interpret words in the way they are clearly written and intended, and these are supposed to be people whose ideas I’m supposed to consider & digest, people who are described as “leaders.”

    Yeah there’s good ones too. But I think my initial reaction of never wanting jack shit to do with conferences or buying their books or purchasing group memberships was the right one.

    Not to dis A+, but I think I’m going to start my own group. A♫.
    Atheists who compose music. Alone in their studio/music room.

    I can do that all by myself.

    I’ve reached my limit. The last year of crap has shown me that while there are many great individuals in organized atheism (whatever that is), the general atmosphere is SHIT because there are too many asshole.

    Too any people who seem to think atheism is something membership in Mensa.

    Fuck this. I’m done. I’ll always fight (to the degree I can) for feminism, LGBTQ rights, secularism in government and all my other causes, but fuck atheism itself as a cause.

    I’ve spent too much of my life already around assholes. I’m not going to wade into a sewer of them anymore.

    Too many people in positions of “leadership” who need to STFU and step aside.

    I’m out. I’m apart from Justicar and his scumbag cohorts on Twitter, I’ve never been a personal target of this. I can only imagine what some of the women being targeted feel.

    Fuck this shit.

  42. says

    Jafafa, I’ll be sorry to see you go, but I completely understand about self-protection. When you’ve got to, you’ve got to. Just check back from time to time. The point of making a lot of this stuff so visible is to decouple the assholes and the power. The end goal is a lot fewer assholes in power and a lot more people in power who know better than to be an asshole in public. I can’t promise results, but we’re trying.

  43. says

    (clarifying, the “I’m apart from Justicar …” should be “Apart from Justicar and his… etc., I’ve never been a target…”)

    Anyway, best of luck everyone.
    I think I may restart my little zero-traffic blog where I just post about things I like. Time to restart doing pleasant things in life.

  44. qbsmd_ says

    Stephanie Zvan says:
    Chas, I see one person calling Dawkins a “virulent” anything and a long discussion on whether it’s appropriate to attempt to differentiate degrees of misogyny or sexism.

    There were a fair number of people accusing Dr. Dawkins of sexism, racism, etc. as well as a fair number defending him. What there was not was discussion of anything related to the actual video. You have to admit that “please stick to the interview and topics covered” is a more than fair reaction, even if you find “slavering dogs” to be provocative.

    And looking at those comments, Dawkins is called “a highly religious man who rejects reason in favor of faith as evidenced by his virulent sexism”, “not a skeptic”, a “discredited, authoritarian pig”, irrelevant, unpleasant, having “shallow, myopic opinions on gender equity”, “an unfit candidate for reverence”, and accused of having “defended outright sexism with a nice added dollop of racism aside”, and “actively belittled the plight of women”. And that’s in the first 20 comments. On a video about creationism. If any mention of Dr. Dawkins brings this response, I think a comparison to a pack of dogs is fair, especially from someone whose site is devoted to science and not social issues.

  45. says

    You have to admit that “please stick to the interview and topics covered” is a more than fair reaction,

    Has anyone said otherwise? You don’t “admit” something you outright agree with, and and suggesting someone would have to is cheap point-scoring. Don’t do that.

    even if you find “slavering dogs” to be provocative.

    I don’t find it “provocative”. I find it to be highly supportive of a culture that has done its best to dehumanize me for more than a year now so that no one will object to people abusing me.

    Dawkins is called [blah, blah, blah]. And that’s in the first 20 comments.

    Are you saying Dawkins may not be labeled for his behavior? If you’re saying the labels are inaccurate, feel free to ask those who applied them for evidence to back up their statements. I believe many of them already provided this, however, as I did.

    If any mention of Dr. Dawkins brings this response, I think a comparison to a pack of dogs is fair, especially from someone whose site is devoted to science and not social issues.

    I don’t get what you’re arguing. Dehumanization is a good thing? It’s a good thing coming from science-y people? Please tell me what you’re actually advocating here.

  46. kain says

    @Stephanie

    I don’t get what you’re arguing. Dehumanization is a good thing? It’s a good thing coming from science-y people?

    I don´t think that the commenters who accused Dawkins of being a pig actually meant that he is less than human. For the same reason, I don´t think that Jerry intended to dehumanize those who call Dawkins a mysoginist by calling them dogs.

  47. Bernard Bumner says

    If any mention of Dr. Dawkins brings this response,…

    Does it? I see a lot of fair and even-handed criticism, which Dawkins shouldn’t be immune from. I also see a lot of anger and/or expressions of distaste, which is fairly unsurprising given both the status of Dawkins and the context of the bahaviour attracting criticism.

    I certainly haven’t seen anything like the hate directed at Dawkins from religious quarters, which is certainly inhumane (if not actually unhuman).

    I think a comparison to a pack of dogs is fair,

    For a start, it is inconsistent with rules about civility, it is also dehumanizing, as well as being unnecessary. A simple instruction would have sufficed, a sly snipe was simply unjustified.

    …especially from someone whose site is devoted to science and not social issues.

    But Coyne himself is raising the spectre of social issues, simply by repeatedly referring to the accusations of misogyny. If he wants to keep those things off his blog, then he should be consistent in his own behaviour.

    If Coyne really wants to ignore social issues, why bother with sociological arguments directed to the harm that creationists cause?

  48. kain says

    Stephanie, english is not my native language – but I have seen the word “pig” being used colloquially to refer to people that are obese, sexist, unclean or stupid and I´ve seen it being used as a generic insult with no deeper meaning.

  49. Caroline52 says

    qbsmd – I assume your initials stand for “Querulous Boorish Straw-Man Defender.”

    You didn’t address what Stephanie actually wrote about, presumably because you know perfectly well that Jerry Coyne abused his power when he gratuitously announced, apparently a propos of nothing, that anyone who characterized Richard Dawkins as a misogynist, after Dawkins doubled down unapologetically on his clueless remarks about women last year, are “a pack of slavering dogs.”

    No one on this thread has defended Jerry Coyne’s “slavering dogs” comment, including you, and that’s because it’s indefensible. He has not defended it himself. He was criticized for it on his own site — gently and politely — and his response was to shut down the criticism.

    Shutting down criticism? Some scientist. Some voice of reason. Physician, heal thyself.

  50. Bernard Bumner says

    Even if (Male chauvinist) pig is a problematic lable, then it doesn’t excuse or justify Coyne pre-emptively characterising his opponents as dogs.

  51. ManondesSources says

    So who are these “slavering dogs” who have become less than human by expressing an opinion of Dawkins, Dr. Coyne?

    The same people who nodded like donkeys when the term “white supremacist” is thrown about at conference panels?

    But wait, is the pushback getting you down, Stephanie?

    Shutting down criticism? Some scientist. Some voice of reason. Physician, heal thyself.

    This on a forum belonging to a site which shuts down criticism far more than anybody else. Thanks for the lulz.

    Oh, and since we are now taking criticisms such as “slavering dogs” literally, I expect Zvan will take exception and critique the FTB regular who wishes people to die in fires.

  52. says

    But wait, is the pushback getting you down, Stephanie?

    Quite the opposite. Watching this all go passive-aggressive and dog-whistley and underground has been immensely heartening. But thank you for asking.

    Oh, and since we are now taking criticisms such as “slavering dogs” literally, I expect Zvan will take exception and critique the FTB regular who wishes people to die in fires.

    Do you know what “literally” means?

  53. Bernard Bumner says

    But wait, is the pushback getting you down, Stephanie?

    Someone else gleefully rubbing their palms in the hope that they can break their opponents rather than win an argument?

    This on a forum belonging to a site which shuts down criticism far more than anybody else.

    I always enjoy seeing this accusation endlessly repeated by the many dissenting voices who choose to troll here.

  54. Caroline52 says

    I don’t approve of people calling other people pigs either. So what? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Nevertheless, it is much worse for Jerry Coyne to have used the “slavering dogs” insult than for the people he’s complaining about to have used the “pig” insult.

    If your native language isn’t English, or if you’re not familiar with the history of the women’s movement, you may not know that it was common in the early 1970s for some American feminists to label sexist men “Male Chauvinist Pigs” in order to express outrage, build solidarity, and do consciousness raising.

    The decision to use “pig” to denote a sexist man back then was a direct response to the problem that sexist men commonly referred to women as “bitches” — female dogs — and sometimes just “dogs.”

    The dog was the animal chosen as a metaphor for women — particularly women who (“bitchily”) asserted themselves or argued with men — because it conveyed the idea that the man was supposed to be the master, and the woman was supposed to be obedient, and to want only to please her master. It was to “keep women in their place.”

    In response, the women’s movement took up using the “pig” metaphor deliberately in order to try to point out to those men how it felt to be dehumanized and degraded, by being casually equated with non-human animals. And the pig was the animal chosen as a metaphor for sexist men because pigs are seen as disgusting. The idea was to help everyone become disgusted with sexist behavior. It was a consciouness-raising tool.

    The phrase “male chauvinist pig” became so common that many liberal men in that era would self-deprecatingly use it to describe themselves, and it was abbreviated “MCP.” They would catch themselves saying something sexist, laugh, and say “oops, there I go again, being a male chauvinist pig. Sorry.” They did this because, as their consciousness was being raised, they themselves didn’t want to perpetuate the old sexist habits of thinking and speaking that they’d been raised. They got it. They understood. They wanted to change.

    Now, Jerry Coyne was born in 1949. He was in college around 1970, at the height of all this. So he’s quite familiar with this history of dogs and pigs as metaphors for “inferior” women and “sexist” men. In choosing “dogs” as the label for people objecting to sexist behavior, Jerry Coyne wasn’t just being insulting — he was being reactionary.It was a very precise political statement. For anyone of Jerry’s generation and cultural background, it was, whether consciously or unconsciously, quite precisely a notorious sexist slur. It’s by way of putting those bitches back in their place.

    And by calling them not just “dogs” but “slavering dogs,
    Jerry is trying, consciously or unconsciously, to re-direct the disgust which he and all of us should be feeling for sexist behavior, whether conscious or unconscious, back onto women who dare to object to such treatment.

    But there’s also another reason Jerry’s insult is worse than theirs. Jerry Coyne has prestige, power, and privilege. He
    s using that prestige to publically insult people with less prestige, power, and privilege. And he’s a man insulting women (among others) for complaining that another prestigious, powerful man behaved in a sexist way.

    When there is a power imbalance, it is more immoral for the person with more power to insult the person with less power. With power comes responsibility. His insult was irresponsible. It was a reactionary political statement. Jerry Coyne should apologize.

  55. gingerbaker says

    “Perhaps you don’t know what “misogyny” means beyond the most basic of translations that appears in dictionaries. If you did, how else would you characterize the suggestion that Western women have no right to object to unequal treatment because women in Muslim countries have it worse? How else would you characterize the idea that overriding a woman’s expressed desire to not be hit on is “Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that”? How else would you characterize the idea that avoiding sexual assault, which disproportionately affects women, is as simple as pushing a button? “

    So, are you indeed saying that Richard Dawkins is a misogynist?

    And would you also say that, because he is a misogynist, he would not be a welcome member of Atheism+ ?

  56. says

    gingerbaker, given my goals, I find it much more useful to detail the specific harmful things Dawkins has done when I want to talk about his behavior. I do that for most people. As for Atheism+, are you suggesting he would want to join?

  57. gingerbaker says

    Are you saying that a person who engages in more than one unrepentant acts of misogyny is not a misogynist?

    As for Atheism plus, I am suggesting that he would not be welcome, at least according my reading of Richard Carrier’s pretty explicit definitions. Which is, in a nutshell, that misogynists need not apply.

    I have asked this question (would Richard Dawkins not be welcome to join Atheism+ ) on more than one FtB blog, and have not yet received a forthright an explicit answer.

    Will you take the bull by the horns?

  58. says

    You know, reading your comment, I really think there must be a bull around here somewhere. Scat and all, you see. But damned if I can find anything more than your bullshit attempts at getting me to phrase something in a way you can quotemine elsewhere. Did you have anything to contribute that isn’t, “Please provide some simplistic description of your position that won’t increase anyone’s understanding a single iota and which will be based on improbable hypotheticals”? You’ve got one more chance to try.

  59. Pierce R. Butler says

    Though I’m hardly one to defend Coyne, and can’t disagree with those above pointing out the parallels between his use of “dogs” and misogynistic use of “bitches”, another possibility may have been overlooked.

    Could it be that speaking of “slavering dogs” was an allusion to Ivan Pavlov’s most famous experiment, and that JC intended his insult to connote mindless conditioned reactions rather than (or as well as) sexist sneering?

  60. Caroline52 says

    Interesting theory about salivating dogs = mindless conditioned reactions. Worth considering.

    Three reasons why I don’t think that was what Jerry had in mind.

    First, the emotions don’t match up. When people are condemning others for mindless knee-jerk reaction, the go-with emotions are usually contempt and pity. By contrast, Jerry is clearly angry — even furious — and disgusted at what he perceives as outrageous slander on someone he respects and loves.

    Second, Jerry’s reference is not simply to “slavering dogs” but to a “pack” of slavering dogs — that is, he sees the “dogs” as ganging up to attack a victim, like a pack of wolves.

    Third, anyone who had Pavlov in mind would probably have used the word people usually use when describing Pavlov’s experiments: “salivating.” The word “slavering” is not an exact synonym of the word “salivating.” “Slavering” conveys a sense of disgusting aggression, disgusting lust for the kill, rather than simply an automatic physiological reaction.

  61. kain says

    Stephanie,

    Interestingly, kain, that isn’t at all what I said. Also, as long as we’re specifically talking about language, it’s “all right”. Pet peeve of mine.

    Alright, my understanding was that you think that “slavering dog” is dehumanizing language while “discredited, authoritarian pig” is not (because “pig” has established colloquial meanings). So that is not what you meant ?
    Regarding harsh language – I also think that it is most likely that Jerry had the Pharyngula horde in mind (see #5). And at pharyngula, it seems to be perfectly acceptable to use completely over-the-top and insulting language as long as no sexist / racist / ableist slurs are used (not only acceptable, but actively encouraged by many regular commenters – while those that argue that some of the more extreme comments are maybe just a little inappropriate are told that they are tone-trolls who should GTFO).
    Currently, any post that is in some way associated with Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens is seen as a challenge by many pharyngula commenters to invent new creative ways to insult Dawkins as a women-hating asshole, Harris as a racist scumbag, and Hitchens as a sexist, racist, war-mongering douchebag.
    That´s ok, it´s PZ´s blog and he seems to like it that way.
    Jerry doesn´t want these commenters on his blog – and calling them “a pack of slavering dogs” is now out of line ? Why ? Because it´s dehumanizing while “discredited, authoritarian pig” is not ? Should he have called them a pack of slavering fuckfaces instead ? (or substitute “fuckfaces” by any of the other creative non-sexist/racist/ableist insults that are acceptable at Pharyngula).
    Or is it that “discredited, authoritarian pig” has a kernel of truth to it while “a pack of slavering dogs” has not – and as long as there is a kernel of truth to it, any insult, no matter how over-the-top, is acceptable ? In this case, one could argue that parts of the pharyngula horde show signs of pack-mentality / tribalism, so there would be also a kernel of truth to the “pack of slavering dogs” insult.

  62. kain says

    @Caroline,
    thanks for the explanation. I´m aware of the colloquial use of “pig” to refer to sexist men (although again, I´ve also seen the word “pig” being used frequently to refer to people that are obese, uncleanly, capitalist, stupid or just as a generic insult – in english, german and in french).

    It was a very precise political statement. For anyone of Jerry’s generation and cultural background, it was, whether consciously or unconsciously, quite precisely a notorious sexist slur. It’s by way of putting those bitches back in their place.

    Really ? Are you sure that “dog” (instead of “bitch”) is a precise way to insult women ? As I said it´s not my native language, but this is really surprising to me – I googled this and this is the first thing that popped up:
    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-155477097.html
    – which doesn´t seem to support the idea that “dog” and “bitch” are both sexist insults.

    But there’s also another reason Jerry’s insult is worse than theirs. Jerry Coyne has prestige, power, and privilege. Hes using that prestige to publically insult people with less prestige, power, and privilege. And he’s a man insulting women (among others) for complaining that another prestigious, powerful man behaved in a sexist way.

    As some other commenters pointed out – he was most likely referring to PZ´s blog / commentariat. And while Jerry´s blog is influential (for an atheist / science blog) it absolutely pales in comparison to Pharyngula (Pharyngula is in the top 20,000 websites of the Alexa Ranking – Jerry´s blog is ranked at place 94,127). Jerry is not nearly as influential as PZ is.

  63. kain says

    Stephanie, I have read the OP. It doesn´t answer my questions:
    1. is any insult, as long as there is a kernel of truth to it, acceptable – no matter how over-the-top it is (assuming that it is not a sexist / racist / ableist slur) ?
    2. is the problem that “a pack of slavering dogs” is dehumanizing while “discredited, authoritarian pig” is not ?

  64. says

    kain, you’re still arguing you have some special insight into a language that isn’t your own.

    As for your questions: (1) What do you mean by “kernel of truth” and under what circumstances are you asking whether it is acceptable? (2) After you’ve heard from Caroline52 at comment 64, which part of my comment 54 are you still having trouble with? I think it’s a very straightforward answer.

  65. kain says

    you’re still arguing you have some special insight into a language that isn’t your own.

    No, I don´t. I pointed out that it was news to me that “dog” is a sexist insult (like “bitch” is) and that it is definitely dehumanizing (while “pig” is not). I also explained why I think that and mentioned that, since it is not my native language – I´m happy to be corrected on that. But you didn´t do that, you accuse me of claiming “special insights into a language that´s not my own” (which is exactly what I did not do, I did the exact opposite and mentioned myself that I have no authority on that as a non-native speaker) but gave no reason whatsoever why you think I am wrong on that matter except for pointing out that I´m not qualified to have an opinion on that as a non-native speaker.

    As for your questions: (1) What do you mean by “kernel of truth” and under what circumstances are you asking whether it is acceptable? (2) After you’ve heard from Caroline52 at comment 64, which part of my comment 54 are you still having trouble with? I think it’s a very straightforward answer.

    I thought I was clear on that in #73. But ok, I´ll try to rephrase my point. As others pointed out, it is most likely that Jerry had the Pharyngula horde in mind (because PZ linked to this video before Jerry did, because PZ´s commenters again took the opportunity to invent new creative ways to insult Dawkins as a woman-hating scumbag and because it is well known that Jerry reads Pharyngula). And, based on #50+51, it seems to me that you think that the language employed by Pharyngula commenters is perfectly acceptable because the labels / insults that are being used have a kernel of truth to them (example: “discredited, authoritarian pig” is just fine, because Dawkins actually is sexist – did I understand that right or is that not what you meant in #51 ?). And by “circumstances” I mean the tone / standards of civility that are thought to be acceptable by a blog-host and his / her commenters.
    What I´m gearing at is essentially – why is Jerry out of line with calling some of PZ´s commenters “a pack of slavering dogs” while it is perfectly alright for said commenters to call Dawkins a “discredited, authoritarian pig” ?
    Is it because one insult has a kernel of truth and the other has not ? (if so, is there really no kernel of truth whatsoever in “a pack of slavering dogs” being used to label parts of the pharyngula horde ? (for example because of signs of pack-mentality / tribalism))
    Or is it that one insult is definitely dehumanizing while the other is not ? (and again, not a native speaker – but this does not seem to be a clear-cut issue, I´ve googled it and found one article which points out that “dog” can be used as a generic insult in many languages, including english (and has special meanings in arabic for example where it is extremely insulting): http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-155477097.html and another site which points out that “dog” can be a derogatory label for women that are considered to be “physically unattractive” by the person who uses the label: http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/lang/langsoc.htm (and I heavily doubt that Jerry meant that the women who call Dawkins a mysogynist are “physically unattractive”)).
    Or is it because Jerry is being hypocritical by demanding high standards of civility from his commenters while using a mean insult like “a pack of slavering dogs” himself ?
    What is it ?

  66. kain says

    Brief addendum regarding the use of “dog” as a derogatory label, the wiktionary says that “dog” can be used to refer to “a dull, unattractive girl or woman” or alternatively to refer to “someone who is morally reprehensible”:
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dog#Etymology
    While “bitch” is unambigiously sexist as a derogatory label, this apparently cannot be said for “dog”.
    Btw, I don´t think that “a pack of slavering dogs” is in any way acceptable, but I´m not surprised that the tone is getting very harsh. And yes, I know that the members of the Pharyngula horde, which Jerry most likely had in mind when he wrote this, have every right to be angry and that they didn´t start this.
    But seeing the ongoing competition among some commenters at the most widely read science / atheism blog to come up with the most hyperbolic ways to call Dawkins a sexist asshole, Harris a racist scumbag and Hitchens a sexist, racist, war-mongering pig, it is not surprising that the average standards of civility are decreasing in the wider community.
    I´m not suggesting that sexism should not be called out when it happens (it most definitely should be called out) and I´m also not suggesting that harsh language is not acceptable (it most certainly is in these situations), but I do think that the hyperbole in Pharyngula comment threads (and some other places) is going too far and is counterproductive.

  67. Bernard Bumner says

    @Pierce R. Butler

    Could it be that speaking of “slavering dogs” was an allusion to Ivan Pavlov’s most famous experiment…

    Possibly, but in that case it is a very good example of unexamined privilege, because Coyne didn’t even consider that dog/bitch are commonly used sexist epithets addressed to vocal women.

    Anyway, his pre-emptive snipe is still inconsistent with his notion of the primacy of civility, a failure of open dialogue, and also revealing of his attitude towards Dawkins’ sexist behaviour.

    @kain

    But seeing the ongoing competition among some commenters at the most widely read science / atheism blog to come up with the most hyperbolic ways to call Dawkins a sexist asshole, Harris a racist scumbag and Hitchens a sexist, racist, war-mongering pig…

    Is this true?

    I’ve seen people calling those people those things, but I’ve seen no evidence that there is any sort of competition as you describe it.

    People are simply applying labels that they see fit. Plenty of other people are debating the use and types of labels. There seems to be an entire spectrum of opinions about how to treat the old guard, in light of their sometimes reactionary politics.

    …it is not surprising that the average standards of civility are decreasing in the wider community.

    I have seen no evidence whatsoever that standards of civility are decreasing. However, as we can plainly see, it is perfectly possible to use relatively polite words which a free from hyperbole to convey incredibly rude sentiments.

    Civility should not be a shield for bigotry and discriminatory behaviour. Civility should not be an excuse for ignoring valid criticism and avoiding self-examination. Civility is worthless if it prevents progress.

    …but I do think that the hyperbole in Pharyngula comment threads (and some other places) is going too far and is counterproductive.

    Any damage caused by hyperbolic language pales in comparison to the damage done by placing individuals and organisations beyond criticism or providing phoney pretexts for dismissing genuine complaints of bad behaviour.

  68. kain says

    @Bernard

    Is this true?

    I’ve seen people calling those people those things, but I’ve seen no evidence that there is any sort of competition as you describe it.

    No, that was hyperbole on my part – and I retract that (complaining about hyperbole while engaging in it is pretty hypocritical I guess ;-) ).
    What I meant is, that I have the impression that insults are being thrown around at Pharyngula with increasing hyperbole, and that criticism of comments that are completely over-the-top is usually dismissed as tone-trolling.

    People are simply applying labels that they see fit. Plenty of other people are debating the use and types of labels. There seems to be an entire spectrum of opinions about how to treat the old guard, in light of their sometimes reactionary politics.

    And I think it´s good that people are discussing that. I personally think that hyperbolic insults are very unproductive (the only thing that hyperbole accomplishes is provoking emotional reactions from others).
    It´s not only the “old guard” – this applies to pretty much everyone who is being criticized in a Pharyngula comment thread (the criticisms directed at Kylie Sturgess and Sara Mayhew would be other examples – I´m not saying that the criticism was not valid (although I still think that Sara´s comment which caused the reaction was misunderstood) but it was completely over-the-top and downright vicious from some commenters).

    I have seen no evidence whatsoever that standards of civility are decreasing.

    The only evidence I have for that are anecdotes and my personal impression (since there is no objective measure of civility, this is the only type of evidence that can be provided for such a claim I guess).

    Civility should not be a shield for bigotry and discriminatory behaviour. Civility should not be an excuse for ignoring valid criticism and avoiding self-examination. Civility is worthless if it prevents progress.

    I agree 100%. But there is continuum between the two extremes of handling people with kid gloves and vitriolic hyperbole.
    Sexism (or any other ism) should be called out when it is observed, and using harsh language is perfectly appropriate in such situations.
    But I think that both extremes make criticism very ineffective – handling people with kid gloves is ineffective because such criticism can easily be ignored, and hyperbolic insults provoke emotional reactions and are more likely to cause people to double down and lash out instead of reconsidering their views.
    Tone does matter.

    Any damage caused by hyperbolic language pales in comparison to the damage done by placing individuals and organisations beyond criticism or providing phoney pretexts for dismissing genuine complaints of bad behaviour.

    Of course. But I never suggested that anyone should be beyond criticism or that harsh language is not acceptable and appropriate even sometimes.

  69. Caroline52 says

    Well said, Bernard.

    kain, Coyne’s “slavering dogs” insult is inappropriate regardless of whether it’s a particularly sexist insult. It’s an abuse of power regardless of how many readers Coyne has.

    Coyne made clear that his insult isn’t directed specifically at particular people who made particular comments on a particular other website. He explained in a reply to one of his commenters that he believes “slavering dog” is an “appropriate” description for “anyone” who calls Dawkins a misogynist.

    He also says that this pronouncement by him is the “end of this discussion.” Has Jerry Coyne forgotten about the Barbra Streisand Effect?

  70. kain says

    @Caroline52

    kain, Coyne’s “slavering dogs” insult is inappropriate regardless of whether it’s a particularly sexist insult.

    Of course it is, I said so myself in #79 ;-).

    He also says that this pronouncement by him is the “end of this discussion.” Has Jerry Coyne forgotten about the Barbra Streisand Effect?

    I´m pretty sure that it really is the end of this discussion for him (in the sense that he is not going to answer requests for clarification and will not allow a discussion on this topic to happen on this blog).

  71. gingerbaker says

    “You know, reading your comment, I really think there must be a bull around here somewhere. Scat and all, you see. But damned if I can find anything more than your bullshit attempts at getting me to phrase something in a way you can quotemine elsewhere. Did you have anything to contribute that isn’t, “Please provide some simplistic description of your position that won’t increase anyone’s understanding a single iota and which will be based on improbable hypotheticals”? You’ve got one more chance to try.”

    For heaven’s sake! Why are you reacting in such a paranoid manner? I’m NOT interested in quote mining, thank you very much. I’d like a straight answer for once – that’s all.

    And yes, it would increase my understanding of the issue a single iota. Is that not reason enough to respond to me in good faith?

  72. Bernard Bumner says

    Sophistry, thy name is Svan.

    You do realise that Hamlet was misogynistically expressing bitter distaste at his mother’s remarriage in response to being apparently de-manned by his uncle-father?

  73. kain says

    @Bernard
    Regarding the “competition” among pharyngula commenter to come up with the most hyperbolic vitriol imaginable – as I said, this was an exaggeration on my part, but the current pharyngula comment thread about Ronald Lindsay actually comes pretty close.
    Quote from comment #30 in this thread:

    Not divided for any good reason? Really? REALLY!?

    Fuck you, you blithering piece of nematode shit. Fuck you for your inability to hear what women are saying about the way they are being treated. Fuck you for your false balance, you pertussis infested phlem pile. Is the bigotry and hate that drove Jen off her blog really the same to you as the frustrated anger of people who can’t believe they are still fighting this shit? Fuck you for your oh so calm voice of condescension, you retro-viral bloody flux of a would- be Vulcan. I’m angry, pissed off, down right furious come to that, and if you’re not, then your head needs to be extracted from it’s cozy peristaltic excretatory organ, your eyes flushed, your ears unstopped and your brain cudgelled until you start to see that there IS a fucking problem, and it comes from bigotry, not from the response to that bigotry. And if you can’t shed the shit stained glasses of privilege that are keeping you ignorant, then shut the fuck up and let those of us who care enough to be angry do what we can to make our community better than the fucked up world in which it resides.

    (it is pretty obvious that this commenter either didn´t read Lindsay´s post at all or chose to misrepresent it because reality might have gotten in the way of a nice rant)
    And instead of anyone pointing out that this comment might have been a teeny-tiny bit over-the-top, we get this:

    FossilFishy: Here is a sniny new Internets. Good show!

    Well, this is as close to a “competition” as it gets, isn´t it ?

  74. Caroline52 says

    Bernard, zing! well played.

    Those of you discussing the problems with Pharyngula commenters – you do realize, don’t you, that Jerry Coyne didn’t reference Pharyngula on his website–that he said, in fact, “anyone” who refers to Dawkins as “misogynist” is a “slavering dog,” right?

    As some others have said, a reason I started following WEIT and stopped following Pharyngula,is that Jerry keeps commenters reasonably civil.

    And, as some others have pointed out, that’s exactly what made Jerry’s insult so egregious. He was violating his own standards while shutting down any reaction to his violation.

    If he had wanted to be uncivil to Pharyngula commenters, he could have made the “slavering dogs” comment on the Pharygula website. That would have been more acceptable, because then he would have put himself on an equal footing with other commenters, who could have responded to the insult. There is a principle that the answer to hateful speech is more speech, not suppression of speech.

    Again, using the power of a public platform to insult people and at the same time suppress criticism of the insult is an abuse of power.

  75. kain says

    @Caroline52

    Those of you discussing the problems with Pharyngula commenters – you do realize, don’t you, that Jerry Coyne didn’t reference Pharyngula on his website–that he said, in fact, “anyone” who refers to Dawkins as “misogynist” is a “slavering dog,” right?

    Absolutely. I didn´t try to defend that statement and I´m not going to – I only pointed out, as did others, that the Pharyngula horde was what he most likely had in mind when he wrote that.

    And, as some others have pointed out, that’s exactly what made Jerry’s insult so egregious. He was violating his own standards while shutting down any reaction to his violation.

    Again – absolutely right. However, I´m really not surprised that such things happen (and I´m almost certain that it will happen again with someone other than Jerry Coyne) because this is what hyperbolic vitriol leads to – the sole purpose of hyperbole is to provoke emotional reactions, and sometimes it works, as it did with Jerry apparently.

    If he had wanted to be uncivil to Pharyngula commenters, he could have made the “slavering dogs” comment on the Pharygula website. That would have been more acceptable, because then he would have put himself on an equal footing with other commenters, who could have responded to the insult.

    I don´t know what he was thinking when he wrote that – my best guess that this was his way of saying fuck you and stay the hell away from my blog to the pharyngula horde (or at least the parts of the Pharyngula horde who thinks that Dawkins is a virulently sexist asshat and a discredited, authoritarian pig). You are absolutely right that he insulted many others as well with his “pack of slavering dogs” remark (knowingly or unknowingly – maybe he thought that all people who think that Dawkins is sexist are like those Pharyngula commenters ? I don´t know – he certainly does not seem to be interested in giving this matter any further thought, not a rational approach, but few people manage to stay rational when they are filled with rage).

  76. Caroline52 says

    kain, one thing I really appreciate about your last reply is that you validated my point of view, and didn’t try to justify Jerry’s behavior, but at the same time you gave me a reasonable explanation for why he might have acted the way he did, so that I could feel some sympathy for him. Most people aren’t able to empathize with both points of view like that in such a nuanced and precise way. It’s a good gift to be contributing to long-suffering humanity. Thanks.

  77. Caroline52 says

    And thanks to Stephanie, too, for ably and calmly providing a forum in which some more understanding of the problem could be reached–and for doing the hard work of clearing the obstacles that some commenters sometimes strewed along the way.

  78. kain says

    You´re very welcome Caroline. And thanks again for your detailed explanation of the derogatory meanings of “dog” / “bitch” in context of the history of the women’s movement!

  79. LicoriceAllsort says

    I was a daily reader of WEIT until this week, when I removed it from my blog reader. I’ve toyed with removing it from my blog feed for several months now and recently made the jump because of: growing disappointment in Coyne’s blindness toward sexist/bigoted thinking in others and, occasionally, himself; his passive aggressiveness in broaching certain controversial topics while not permitting conversation about them among readers, or controlling the conversation with a heavy hand that favors one side; and continued prioritization of tone over content, to the point of ignoring content that is pretty ugly so long as it’s presented with a veneer of politeness (narrowly defined; the OP illustrates one case in point).

    Apart from the OP and the specific example I linked to above, it’s hard to identify individual posts that made me put on my walkin’ boots. That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to walk away. Much of the damage occurred as quick jabs in the comments section to tell visitors that certain topics, behaviors, or criticisms of pet topics/people would not be tolerated—paired with a telling silence in response to commenters who were obnoxious in sexist, or other trivial (to him), ways. Taken together, his blog is not overtly hostile to readers like me, but it has certainly developed a chilly climate about it.

    I’ve really developed a fondness for Coyne over the couple of years that I’ve been reading his, erm, website, and I get no satisfaction from walking away. I’d love to see him apply the same rigorous thinking that he has demonstrated for some topics (e.g., free will and its implications for the justice system) to the issue of privilege. Or even discussion about how free will intersects with privilege—that could be a fantastic contribution. In the meantime, I’ll use my limited reading time to follow other blogs.

  80. screechymonkey says

    Well, it looks like Coyne has decided to wade further into the discussion with today’s post:

    This talk [by Steve Pinker] is particularly relevant to the current debates going on in the skeptical community, in which certain subjects and opinions seem to be prima facie off limits for discussion.

    The commenters then ran with this as an invitation to denounce everything they dislike about A+, Pharyngula, the Horde, FtB, Rebecca Watson (of course), etc.

    And I can’t blame them for doing so, as I think that’s pretty much what it was. And that’s what I find so irritating: if you want to keep your site free of the ongoing controversies, I can understand that completely. But don’t pop off with these kinds of snarky remarks and then insist that people don’t sully your comment section with the topic.

  81. LicoriceAllsort says

    screechymonkey, it’s very similar to the way he’s previously waded into discussions involving feminism—like it’s maybe part of a pattern or something. (Heh.)

    By not squelching comments about A+, it shows that A+ is not considered “off-topic”, which confirms that A+ was indeed a/the motivation for his post. He’s putting the coy in Coyne, I see. He should be more forthcoming—why not just state that he thinks we should be more skeptical about claims regarding equality? It’d at least be more honest.

  82. callistacat says

    Do you think it might be that the word privilege is being misinterpreted as accusing someone of being a bigot or mysogynist?

    I’m white and live in the U.S., I know that gives me privilege. And I know someone pointing that out isn’t calling me a bigot.

    Which is strange, considering Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” thing was basically saying Rebecca is privileged for being a woman living in the West and being white, therefore she has no right to complain.

    Dawkins gets what privilege means only when pointing it out to white Western females, but gets all snarky when it’s suggested he is also privliged? Even more so being male.

  83. callistacat says

    “This talk [by Steve Pinker] is particularly relevant to the current debates going on in the skeptical community, in which certain subjects and opinions seem to be prima facie off limits for discussion.”

    Off limits my ass.

  84. says

    kain, a great deal of whether I think an insult is acceptable has to do with the effect it has. A dehumanizing insult makes it easier to attack someone. Coyne’s comes in the midst of damaging attacks on the people he is dehumanizing.

    The people who are using insulting shorthand in talking about Dawkins, what harm are they going to do? They’ve all made their cases elsewhere, and those are generally much more damning.

    Additionally, there are issues of being open to argument.

    Additionally, there is hypocrisy.

  85. says

    gingerbaker, I have given you a blog post in which I lay out a definition of misogyny. I have given you a blog post in which I lay out why it is not an unreasonable thing to look at Dawkins’ behavior and label him a misogynist by that definition. I have given you a comment in which I explain that me personally calling Dawkins a misogynist, while the definition fits, would be counter-productive given my aims.

    If you look at all that and still think I’m somehow obscuring my position, you should get a refund from the teacher who taught you how to read.

  86. kain says

    Stephanie,

    The people who are using insulting shorthand in talking about Dawkins, what harm are they going to do?

    As I told Bernard, there is a continuum between handling people with kid gloves and hyperbolic vitriol.
    There is nothing wrong with insults per se, but some Pharyngula comment threads degenerate quickly into cesspools full of hate and hyperbolic vitriol – case in point, the current one about Ronald Lindsay (see #89). Some of those hyperbolic insults have a kernel of truth to them, but they are still causing real harm – hyperbole provokes emotional reactions (and that is the only thing that hyperbole is good for), and sometimes, people write or say ugly things when they are filled with rage, things they would have otherwise never said.

    Additionally, there are issues of being open to argument.

    Agreed. But quite frankly, IF Jerry was thinking that everyone who accuses Dawkins of being a misogynist is like those Pharyngula commenters – I don´t blame him for not being open to a discussion about this topic.

  87. Bernard Bumner says

    IF Jerry was thinking that everyone who accuses Dawkins of being a misogynist is like those Pharyngula commenters – I don´t blame him for not being open to a discussion about this topic.

    Coyne’s blog; coyne’s rules. Fine.

    But his hypocrisy in placing that area of discussion off-limits whilst also obviously expressing his own not uncontroversial opinion is notable.

    He is not really trying to create a civil atmosphere, because his own words are entirely an uncivil snipe at others. He is simply trying to control content and suppress criticism using the pretext of maintaining civility.

    Have a look at the post LicoriceAllsort linked to above; Coyne states that certain areas of discussion will not be tolerated, yet he intervenes only very selectively to rebuke those on one side of the argument. Those on the other side not only go unchallenged but are able to develop a discussion of exactly the thing Coyne placed off-limits.

  88. says

    Some of those hyperbolic insults have a kernel of truth to them, but they are still causing real harm – hyperbole provokes emotional reactions (and that is the only thing that hyperbole is good for)

    No, it is not. And that is not what happened in the thread you are suggesting Coyne was reacting to.

    But quite frankly, IF Jerry was thinking that everyone who accuses Dawkins of being a misogynist is like those Pharyngula commenters – I don´t blame him for not being open to a discussion about this topic.

    I do. If he knows so little about this, he should either refrain from commenting on it, particularly hyperbolically, or he should remain open to correction.

  89. kain says

    Stephanie,

    No, it is not.

    True, there is a second thing that hyperbolic vitriol is good for, if the people who wrote it were very angry, they will most likely be even angrier afterwards (this has been demonstrated in many studies – a summary is here for example: http://www.amazon.de/Anger-Misunderstood-Emotion-Carol-Tavris/dp/0671675230 ).
    Is there something else that hyperbole / hyperbolic vitriol is good for in your opinion ?

    And that is not what happened in the thread you are suggesting Coyne was reacting to.

    So you think that calling Dawkins a fucking sexist asshat, women-hating douche and discredited, authoritarian pig is not hyperbole ?

    If he knows so little about this, he should either refrain from commenting on it, particularly hyperbolically, or he should remain open to correction.

    We are humans, not vulcans – everyone fucks up from time to time and all that vitriolic hyperbole accomplishes is making it more likely for people to fuck up and less likely to reconsider their views and apologize.

  90. kain says

    Bernard,

    Have a look at the post LicoriceAllsort linked to above; Coyne states that certain areas of discussion will not be tolerated, yet he intervenes only very selectively to rebuke those on one side of the argument.

    I have not read all comments yet – but it seems to me as if all that Jerry is doing in this thread is insisting that people who want to talk about Elevatorgate should do that at another place and that the discussion should stay focussed on the video linked to in the OP. There are at least three sexist assholes in this thread that I´ve found so far, but they don´t talk about EG and the aftermath of it.

  91. says

    I have not read all comments yet

    You’re just going to argue about them. How charming. Stop that now.

    There are at least three sexist assholes in this thread that I´ve found so far, but they don´t talk about EG and the aftermath of it.

    And attempting to derail. That won’t be tolerated either.

  92. says

    Is there something else that hyperbole / hyperbolic vitriol is good for in your opinion ?

    Yes. It’s expressive of an emotional state. That’s why it enforces the emotion involved. Nor do I consider anger to be a wholly negative thing, particularly as a response to injustice. There are times and places for less emotional responses, but that doesn’t mean the emotion is invalid or serves no purpose.

    We are humans, not vulcans – everyone fucks up from time to time and all that vitriolic hyperbole accomplishes is making it more likely for people to fuck up and less likely to reconsider their views and apologize.

    And you’re not telling Coyne this…because you don’t think the people he’s being nasty to have anything to apologize for?

  93. kain says

    Yes. It’s expressive of an emotional state. That’s why it enforces the emotion involved. Nor do I consider anger to be a wholly negative thing, particularly as a response to injustice. There are times and places for less emotional responses, but that doesn’t mean the emotion is invalid or serves no purpose.

    I don´t disagree with that (anger being useful as a motivation to fight against injustice). However, anger can be expressed without hyperbole, and when hyperbolic vitriol is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged – you´ll get a downward spiral where people get angrier and angrier and the results look like this:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/13/repudiation/comment-page-1/#comment-454880
    I think that it has reached a point where it becomes counterproductive (and downright vicious sometimes) – but I guess we have to agree to disagree on that point.

    And you’re not telling Coyne this…

    Why do you think that I am not doing that ?

  94. LicoriceAllsort says

    kain, the context of the post on WEIT that I linked to above is crucial to understanding why it was damaging. The post features a panel on the topic of women atheist activist. The panel featured a speaker (Paula Kirby) who had been very vocal in the aftermath of the EG situation, and controversially so.

    That’s certainly not a problem in itself—the problem is that the panel was glaringly one-sided in support of that one position (that there isn’t a significant problem of sexism within the atheist movement). Any viewers who were privy to the broader discussion knew that a large number of voices were not represented at all in this panel that claimed to represent “women atheist activists”.

    Attempts to bring up the larger context of why this panel even took place (EG) were quickly rebuffed. By making EG, Watson, and Dawkins unmentionable topics, Coyne created a situation where only one side of the discussion could be presented favorably. On a site that generally welcomes objective analysis and good-faith discussion, except for certain topics (this was the most glaring example but certainly not the only one), do you not see how that would be a problem?

  95. says

    Why do you think that I am not doing that ?

    Because you haven’t reported that he’s banned you from his site. Or did you forget that the context here is that he will brook no dissent?

  96. kain says

    Because you haven’t reported that he’s banned you from his site. Or did you forget that the context here is that he will brook no dissent?

    But his email address is very easy to find.

  97. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I’m interested in what you told him too, kain. I’m also interested in why it would take the form of email—a private communication—when your criticism here is quite public. Is there a reason for this imbalance?

  98. Pierce R. Butler says

    kain @ # 91: … the sole purpose of hyperbole is to provoke emotional reactions…

    [Reading yr # 107 as an elaboration of the same point, I won’t count that as a contradiction of same.]

    However, it is a sign of our times that hyperbole is also employed for its own sake, an expression of the absurdism now rife in our culture and our politics.

    Hyperbole has become our distinctive art form, practiced assiduously from the ivory towers and glass-faced skyscrapers to us mere plebeians posting blog comments. In expressing the Universal Truths of our era, hyperbole is the greatest form of art now known!

  99. kain says

    I’m interested in what you told him too, kain.

    That I can understand him getting very angry over the hyperbolic vitriol being thrown around at Pharyngula nowadays but that his “slavering dogs” remark was also very insulting to many other people who criticized Richard Dawkins without using any hyperbole and that I think he owes an apology for that. No response yet (but, being a random nobody – I also don´t really expect to get one).

    I’m also interested in why it would take the form of email—a private communication—when your criticism here is quite public. Is there a reason for this imbalance?

    Yes, comment moderation – he does not allow a discussion on this topic on his blog (yes, I do agree that this is unfair, but see #91).

  100. says

    kain

    That I can understand him getting very angry over the hyperbolic vitriol being thrown around at Pharyngula nowadays but that his “slavering dogs” remark was also very insulting to many other people who criticized Richard Dawkins without using any hyperbole and that I think he owes an apology for that. No response yet (but, being a random nobody – I also don´t really expect to get one).

    Well thank you. So, it’s apparently OK to dehumanize me because I’m a Pharyngula commenter and therefore apparently fair game. It’s just not OK because it might cause splash damage.
    Now I’m glad we got that straight.

  101. kain says

    Well thank you. So, it’s apparently OK to dehumanize me because I’m a Pharyngula commenter and therefore apparently fair game.

    As I pointed out, comments like these:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/13/repudiation/comment-page-1/#comment-454880
    are not only perfectly acceptable (no one thought that this was even a little over-the-top) they are actively encouraged:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/13/repudiation/comment-page-1/#comment-454886
    Try arguing that the “pack of slavering dogs” remark is totally out of line, while the dehumanizing hyperbolic vitriol thrown around at Pharyngula is just fine, without sounding like a hypocrite (maybe this can be done – but I don´t know how).

  102. says

    Kain
    Well, woof, woof, bark (hey, I’m a dog, not a full human being, remember, and a bitch at that, too)
    You’re another one of those idiots who are unable to find out what an insult actually is.
    The rant by Fossil Fishy included exactly ONE insult (bile of shit), the rest was a good meassure of “fuck you’s” and a substantiated one of them.
    It’s not dehumanizing somebody to call him out on the shit he wrote.
    Since it flew over your head: that post had substance. It was a rant that voiced the frustration that another privileged old white guy has declared that there is no problem, nothing to be seen, move on people and don’t dare to think there is a problem.
    And as you might have noticed if you hadn’t been too busy calling each and every person commenting on Pharyngula slavering dogs, there were several dozen commenters in that thread and you think it’s fine to call all of them “Slavering dgs” because one of them didn’t behave according to your high privileged standards.
    But hey, why am I arguing, I’m just a dog, remember. I should bow to my master.

  103. kain says

    (hey, I’m a dog, not a full human being, remember

    Lucky you – at least you are still a mammal, Lindsay was degraded to the level of the excrement of roundworms (which actually isn´t that disgusting but what the hell) and a variety of other slimy things.

    The rant by Fossil Fishy included exactly ONE insult (bile of shit), the rest was a good meassure of “fuck you’s” and a substantiated one of them.

    1. blithering piece of nematode shit
    2. pertussis infested phlem pile
    3. retro-viral bloody flux of a would- be Vulcan.
    I count three.

    It’s not dehumanizing somebody to call him out on the shit he wrote.

    Got it – “dog” = dehumanizing, “blithering piece of nematode shit” = just goofy! Man, you must really hate dogs…

    It was a rant that voiced the frustration that another privileged old white guy has declared that there is no problem, nothing to be seen,

    Right, “Is the bigotry and hate that drove Jen off her blog really the same to you as the frustrated anger of people who can’t believe they are still fighting this shit?” – was a perfectly valid response to Lindsay because that was exactly what he was writing and totally not something that this commenter made up. (Btw, I agree with PZ´s criticism)

    if you hadn’t been too busy calling each and every person commenting on Pharyngula slavering dogs

    I didn´t do that. I don´t think it was acceptable. I actually told the guy who said that I think he owes an apology. But I find it impossible to condemn the slavering dogs remark without condemning the hyperbolic vitriol at Pharyngula as well (yes privilege matters – that doesn´t mean that being in a less privileged position gives you a free pass to pile a mountain of shit on a decent man (who btw, did so far a terrific job in improving the situation for women in our communities, but what the hell – he made a mistake, so fuck him, amirite ?!)).

  104. julian says

    I think I’m with kain on this. Some people went way overboard on Lindsay. They may have been fed up, frustrated and sick of having to argue this bullshit for the nine millionth time but that doesn’t mean Lindsay didn’t get a bad shake.

  105. says

    kain
    First, you’re right, there were three insults. I missread you as your.
    Second: You’re either: A liar or just not good enough at English to debate this.

    That I can understand him getting very angry over the hyperbolic vitriol being thrown around at Pharyngula nowadays but that his “slavering dogs” remark was also very insulting to many other people who criticized Richard Dawkins without using any hyperbole and that I think he owes an apology for that. No response yet (but, being a random nobody – I also don´t really expect to get one).

    Do you understand what you wrote? You write that it’s understandable that he throws that shit at people at Pharyngula but that it’s bad because it hurts other people, too.
    You wrote that yourself.

    Got it – “dog” = dehumanizing, “blithering piece of nematode shit” = just goofy! Man, you must really hate dogs…

    No, you didn’t get it. The question whether FossilFishy’s insults thrown at Ron Lindsay are over the top or not have nothing to do with you and Coyne dehumanizing a whole group of people who have been demonized and dehumanized not only historically but also very acutely over the last year.

    But I find it impossible to condemn the slavering dogs remark without condemning the hyperbolic vitriol at Pharyngula as well (yes privilege matters – that doesn´t mean that being in a less privileged position gives you a free pass to pile a mountain of shit on a decent man (who btw, did so far a terrific job in improving the situation for women in our communities, but what the hell – he made a mistake, so fuck him, amirite ?!)).

    You’re playing the “both sides” fast and you’re losing, especially since Coyne made his remarks several days before FossilFishy went on a rant.
    And if you weren’t that fucking dishonest you’d notice that most people actually didn’t go on further rants but acknowledged what Ron Lindsay has done and that his remarkable fuck-up on this matter is due to his limited perspective.

  106. Rodney Nelson says

    kain #121 & 123

    Ron Lindsay pontificated on a subject that he’s profoundly ignorant about. He scolded the victims of abuse and bullying. He loftily admonished both sides as being equally culpable. While I wouldn’t have used the language FossilFishy used, that’s just personal preference. I certainly agreed with what FossilFishy was saying about Lindsay.

    I posted on that Pharyngula thread that you linked to. I do not apologize for any of my remarks nor for any remarks anyone else made on that thread. I especially do not apologize for any vitriol which was thrown at Lindsay. He deserved it.

  107. drosera says

    Some commenters here seem to suffer from the dog delusion.

    Coyne explicitly characterized people who called Dawkins a ‘raving misogynist’ as slavering dogs. Only people with a persecution complex can infer that he aimed at Pharyngula commenters in general. Whom the shoe fits, etc.

  108. kain says

    Do you understand what you wrote? You write that it’s understandable that he throws that shit at people at Pharyngula but that it’s bad because it hurts other people, too.
    You wrote that yourself.

    Yes, I understand that. Because people often say or write ugly things when they are filled with rage. This doesn´t mean that I support or even just condone this statement (and if you would have bothered to read my earlier comments, you would know that – I was very explicit about it).

    No, you didn’t get it. The question whether FossilFishy’s insults thrown at Ron Lindsay are over the top or not have nothing to do with you and Coyne dehumanizing a whole group of people who have been demonized and dehumanized not only historically but also very acutely over the last year.

    No no, I get it – it´s completely out of line when it happens to you and your friends, and just awesome when it happens to your enemies (or friends who made a mistake because we all know that good people never make mistakes).
    And please stop lying about me dehumanizing pharyngula commenters. “Understanding” does not mean encouraging, supporting, agreeing or condoning (and even if it did – it doesn´t change the fact that those are not my words).

    You’re playing the “both sides” fast and you’re losing, especially since Coyne made his remarks several days before FossilFishy went on a rant.
    And if you weren’t that fucking dishonest you’d notice that most people actually didn’t go on further rants but acknowledged what Ron Lindsay has done and that his remarkable fuck-up on this matter is due to his limited perspective.

    This is so stupid and removed from what I actually wrote that I don´t even know how to respond. Maybe you should stop lying before you lecture others on the subject of honesty.
    Also, compare the vitriol hurled in Lindsay´s direction with the vitriol hurled at Pat Robertson or JohnTheOther (or some other “enemy”) in old pharyngula threads – I question the value of a community that treats friends who screwed up just like it treats its worst enemies. But you seem to like it like that.

  109. says

    And kain has hit his third strike with responding to a point about the varied responses within a community by saying the community “treats friends who screwed up just like it treats its worst enemies.” He’s out.

  110. Guest says

    “You do realise that Hamlet was misogynistically expressing bitter distaste at his mother’s remarriage in response to being apparently de-manned by his uncle-father?”
    Misogyny is the distrust, dislike and hatred of WOMEN, even if what Hamlet was saying was pure hatred and malice or even if his entire view of his mother was all of fury and contempt it would not follow that those views applied to all women.
    I read your blog on the frivolous debates over what the word misogyny means and you are either misrepresenting the arguments against your position or deliberately ignoring it, the argument is perfectly exemplified on your Hamlet comment that being that just because someone hates Gertrude, or Zvan or Watson it does not make them misogynists.

  111. Guest says

    From cliffnotes.com

    “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (Act I, Scene II)

    What does it mean? Hamlet is still speaking in his first of five soliloquies. The “woman” he specifically refers to is his mother. Hamlet felt she was weak, or not strong enough to mourn his father longer. Hamlet goes on further to say that not even an animal or beast, who has no reasoning skills, would have abandoned the mourning so quickly. All in all, this shows how angry and confused Hamlet is by his mother’s remarriage.

    http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/hamlet/study-help/top-8-quotes-explained.html

    From enotes.com

    “Frailty, thy name is woman!” It’s not so much that Hamlet is a misogynist as that his mother’s sexuality has poisoned his own, as we shall see in his relations to Ophelia

    http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/frailty-thy-name-woman

    From sparknotes.com, here the analysis was about a entire page so in order to not pollute the page I reduced to the part referring to his mother.

    “…Hamlet then goes on to describe the causes of his pain, specifically his intense disgust at his mother’s marriage to Claudius. He describes the haste of their marriage, noting that the shoes his mother wore to his father’s funeral were not worn out before her marriage to Claudius…”

    http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/hamlet/quotes.html#explanation1

  112. says

    You mean, in order not to show the bit about misogyny:

    As he runs through his description of their marriage, he touches upon the important motifs of misogyny, crying, “Frailty, thy name is woman”…

    You missed this analysis too:

    This situation of male authority is reflected in correlative unfairness throughout the society and in the play ‘Hamlet’. The Shakespearean era was a patriarchal society where women were seen as powerless to the extent that in the time that Shakespeare wrote his plays; women were not authorized to act on stage, which meant that boys were required to dress up as the female characters in plays. Frailty can be a condition of being frail, whether it is being mentally frail, physically or morally. ‘Frailty, thy name is woman,’ is a statement, which at the very least could infuriate a feminist critic who may view Shakespeare’s opinion of women misogynistic because he frequently displays women as being dependant on men.

    And this one:

    Hamlet is angry that his mother, Gertrude, has married his uncle Claudius within a month of his father’s death. The speech generalizes the attribution of weakness of character from one particular woman to womankind.

    And this one:

    As he moves to the core of his disaffection, Hamlet utters one of the most famous lines of the play, ‘Frailty, thy name is woman!’ making a sweeping condemnation of all women as weak because of his mother’s actions, revealing an incipient misogyny that will later play a pivotal role in the play.

    All on the first page of results. Astounding how you missed them. Also rather astounding how you thought no one would call you on the cherry picking. Really, how poor does your argument have to be to do something that ridiculous?

  113. Guest says

    All the ones that I linked are in the first page.
    And also my mistake on that last link, did not mean to misrepresent the analysis genuinely missed the part about misogyny.
    Also was not cherry picking, you posted a link to a google page as if all I was going to find were people that agreed with you and I didn’t, was just pointing those analysis out, sorry should have made my intentions clear.

  114. says

    This is really very simple. “Frailty, thy name is woman” is a statement about women collectively. It is misogynistic. “Frailty, thy name is Gertrude” is a statement about Hamlet’s mother.

    Your thesis is wrong.

  115. Guest says

    Now come to think of it, since Gertrude is the only strong woman in Hamlets life when she does disappoint him, would make sense for the character in his grief to make crazy generalizations, hopefully I ll find some time to reread it and gain some more insight.
    Talks for the talk, later.

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