The Source of the Division


I dislike disagreeing with Ron Lindsay. He has done and continues to do an amazing amount to rejuvenate and professionalize atheist, humanist, and skeptical activism within the U.S. I have a great deal of respect for him.

Usually, I don’t have to disagree with him, either. He’s a smart, nuanced thinker, well-versed in a number of subjects. Usually, I learn from him.

This morning, however, he posted “Divisiveness Within the Secular Movement” at the Center for Inquiry blog. It’s his answer to the discussions of the “divisiveness” of Atheism+. There are parts I like. His suggestion to not borrow trouble over something that is designed to broaden the appeal of movement atheism is good. His description of the current divisions within movement atheism, and the diagnosis of the source of the division, however, I think is badly off.

Go read his whole piece. I won’t do it justice by describing it. I’m copying the comment I left there to here because I think it articulates some general principles well, not because I want it reflect on Ron’s remarks out of context.

Ron, with a great deal of respect, I’m going to have to disagree with much of what you use to create your argument here. To be more precise, I’m going to have to fill in missing details.

You point to Amy’s series of guest posts and recent changes by atheist groups as an indicator that things are largely all right in organized skepticism. Those moves are much appreciated. I think you’ve felt that in the feedback you’ve been getting.

They are, however, all *very* recent moves. They are all also moves that have come after years of mostly polite complaint from female atheists about the treatment they’d received. Those complaints did not lead to changes. The nearly a year of abuse hurled at Rebecca and others of us who took part in those discussions did not lead to the changes. The converstations at Women in Secularism about harassment did not spontaneously generate promises of anti-harassment policies. My blog post documenting the problem, which was framed as a FAQ because these discussions were becoming almost rote, did not spontaneously generate promises of anti-harassment policies.

What made that particular change was Erista stepping up to say, “This is bullshit. These organizations are not entitled to my attendance, and unless they change, they won’t have it.” What made that change was me sharing that message with people and telling them to make the same demands.

What led to Amy’s series of posts were a bunch of people stepping up to say, “This harassment is bullshit. Why are the guys in charge of our institutions treating it like a non-problems? What douchebags.”

I appreciate the eagerness with which many of you spoke up and with which many of you adopted policies, but it was not spontaneous. It didn’t happen until the discourse had already become quite accusatory.

(I apologize to Dave Silverman if he already had something in the works beyond merely thinking a policy had become necessary. I acknowledge and appreciate that many other changes over recent years have opened, in particular, leadership of our movement to women. I appreciate your role in these changes, Ron. We’re talking about the source of the discord right now, however.)

You’ll notice as well that there was some swearing and invective involved in the important tipping points. That is not accidental. It is not because these people are inarticulate. It’s not because they’re abusive. It isn’t even simply because they were justifiably angry. It’s because this kind of langugage serves a purpose when there is a power differential.

This has been explained a number of times in a number of ways, but I’ll do it again here. The people at the top of a power hierarchy set the rules for what constitutes “polite society”. Those rules are frequently arcane and look pointless until you understand that they are the shiboleths of power. Seriously, there’s no reason to use three forks over the course of a meal. Clothing designers don’t suddenly go from good to bad or vice versa in a season. These things are used to determine who is “us” versus “them”.

The same is true with the language of insult. There is no real difference between “You cannot compel me to talk to you” and “Fuck off” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. Similarly, there is no difference between “You’re unfairly opposing my interests as a woman in this situation” and “Douchebag” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. The first example in each case defers to the social order. The second challenges it while conveying the same information.

I think that by now you’ve noticed that we are challenging a social order that did not work for us as women—and several as other minorities—trying to be active in atheism. The swearing and invective serve a purpose in that. The evidence suggests that they are, if not effective in themselves (because they have never been used on their own to test this), then part of an effective strategy. The strong challenge to the current order has brought about change where other strategies haven’t.

If you want them to stop, the best way to make that happen is to work toward a movement in which that strategy isn’t needed. When that happens, we’ll all be part of the power structure, with interests in it to protect, and this sort of thing will end up strongly discouraged. Until then, you’ll need to get used to it, or at least to understand better why it bothers you, as an important part of the existing social order.

In the meantime, however, the movement is still stratified, well beyond any leadership model that is useful in getting things done. That is a division, it is an important division, and it is a division that the kind of harassment and misrepresentations we’ve been subject to have been designed to uphold. Many of our official and unofficial leaders have enthusiastically heeded the calls to change. Several others gone far beyond what is ethical to protect the current order.

Russell Blackford’s behavior in this regard consists of much more than what you describe here, but others will tell you all about that. The point is that he is entrenching power and division, often in ways that add to the harm being done. What you see in his treatment is a reaction to that. If he insists that others must remain down, he will be reduced to the same level. It is ugly, but power politics are generally ugly. And they’re happening here and now in reaction to that stratification.

That stratification is the division. What you complain about here? Those are symptoms.

Comments

  1. Andrew Tripp says

    Great post. Only thing I would add to it is to argue with Lindsay’s point that the Human Rights Campaign does great work; they don’t. They do great work if you’re well off and white and gay, but if you’re of a low socioeconomic class, or a person of color, or a trans* person, they pretty much want nothing to do with you.

  2. says

    @Andrew Tripp

    Seconding this. I joined the HRC when I first came out and started to get involved with gay rights activism. I think I still have the little Equality Bear that came with my membership. It didn’t take long, though, before I was regretting that decision, and I won’t ever renew my membership.

    Those little eqaul sign bumper stickers they give out are everywhere where I live (San Francisco Bay Area), and I feel unreasonably angry when I see them. I know that 90% of the people with the bumper stickers are just trying to show their support for the GLBT community in general, but man, the HRC pisses me off so much that sometimes I feel more of an urge to deface their stickers than the occasional Romeny/Rand sticker I see.

    (Note: I would never deface anyone’s bumper stickers; it’s an urge, like wanting to dump my soup in my brother’s fiance’s lap when she starts talking about evil feminists. I check my base impulses.)

  3. Sgaile-beairt says

    Heres another relevant link, a Metafilter thread discussing the io9 article on the intersection of rebellions, which is almost an anti-reddit, so many voices in support of the harassed & not taking it any more, so few douchebags and chill girls opposing it….but more than one former Chill girl renunciating and examing her old behaviors….
    (bonus awesome snarks at Dawkins for ‘Dear Muslima’ in the thread!!)

    http://www.metafilter.com/119804/Creeper-no-creeping

    i think I found it thru a chain of trackbacks from Genevieve Valentine talking about HER backlash experience, the hyperskepticism & especially in the wake of the revelation that Rene Waller was not just AT worldcon BUT in a position of authority AND was once agin Creeping, as well as moaning about how unfairly persecuted he was….

    http://glvalentine.livejournal.com/346102.html

    but the thing that keeps leaping to the fore in both of these threads is–this is NOT something new, these Deep Rifts! its just boiling over, now….

  4. phil zombi says

    We’ve divided the movement because we’re not talking to each other; we’re just insulting each other.

    Both sides do it. Why can’t we all just get along? I get really tired of this false equivalency. Prominent women in the secular movement have been shit on for too long. I don’t think I need to rehash what happens to those who blog while even vaguely feminist. But call some guy a douchebag and suddenly you’re just as bad as the ones making rape/death threats. I’m not buying it.

    Quote from the link.

  5. jaggington says

    Oh dear. I just don’t know where to start.

    From the linked article:

    … Greta Christina … then asked rhetorically why such vile conduct has not been called “divisive.”

    But if hate-filled comments and threats to women have not been expressly called divisive, it’s because such conduct does not threaten to divide the movement. It has already been repudiated, both implicitly and explicitly, by many, if not most, of the organisations in the movement.

    My point is that the haters are not threatening to divide the movement. No matter how frequently the haters pollute our blogs, they are outside the movement already. No one in a position of responsibility wants them in the movement. Whatever differences may exist among the various movement organizations, we are united on this issue.

    Have the haters, the enablers, and the denialists all suddenly exited the movement and just forgotten to mention it?

    Does he not see that the hateful behaviour has also divided the movement, between those who find it completely unacceptable, enough is enough, and those who seem to say “Meh, get over it, it’s not that bad and it’s going away now that you’ve finally got around to bringing it to our attention.”

  6. standancer says

    To many important points were brought out in Stephanie’s post for me to comment further, except to say, great post, and that I completely agree with both Stephanie and phil zombie: I’m not buying it either. The movement was already divided, by those defending their positions and issuing threats, and A+ might just be healing it, or at the very least, removing the deadweight.

  7. Brad says

    I agree with the sentiment expressed, but one minor issue:

    There is no real difference between “You cannot compel me to talk to you” and “Fuck off” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. Similarly, there is no difference between “You’re unfairly opposing my interests as a woman in this situation” and “Douchebag” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. The first example in each case defers to the social order. The second challenges it while conveying the same information.

    In the second case, “douchebag” by itself does not communicate anywhere near as much information as the provided alternate.

  8. The twelfth vote says

    God. I just had this same debate in IRC, it’s exahausting. I’m beginning to despair of the fight. Thanks you for continuing, Stephanie, you lend me strength.

  9. Sgaile-beairt says

    ….at least they arent blaming the Deep RIfts on selfish Gen Xers coddled by helicopter parents until they believe theyre entitled to not be harrassed in public spaces….in public, at least….!!

  10. kain says

    Stephanie,

    My blog post documenting the problem, which was framed as a FAQ because these discussions were becoming almost rote, did not spontaneously generate promises of anti-harassment policies.

    I assume you mean this blog post:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/20/zero-intolerance/ (20th May – was this the one you meant ?)
    but you announced “real progress” by five atheist conventions reacting to your posts on harassment policies and promising to implement such policies just three days(!) after that:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/23/real-progress/
    Isn´t this as close to “spontaneous” as it gets ?

    You’ll notice as well that there was some swearing and invective involved in the important tipping points.

    Really ? So what was the tipping point ? (I´d say it was around May 23 and the days before that, when you announced “real progress” – it was obvious that other organisations would soon follow and that harassment policies will be implemented, would you agree ?). How was invective helping to reach this tipping point ? (you didn´t use any insults in your blog posts on this matter, and still your voice was heard and you got very quick and positive reactions)

  11. says

    kain, did you miss the part of the post where I told everyone what the tipping point was? Also, how did you navigate from the first of those posts to the last? How did you miss the one in the middle that featured Erista’s comment and told people how to fix things?

  12. says

    Brad, in context, “douchebag” is pretty clear. The people who don’t understand the meaning are generally the same ones who won’t understand the long-form either.

  13. kain says

    Stephanie,

    kain, did you miss the part of the post where I told everyone what the tipping point was?

    Do you mean the “What made that particular change was Erista stepping up to say…” part ? Why do you think that this was the tipping point and not the Women in Secularism conference ? (do you think atheist organisations would have ignored you without this particular comment ? Again – three(!) days)

    How did you miss the one in the middle that featured Erista’s comment and told people how to fix things?

    I didn´t miss it. But I can´t find any invective whatsoever in Erista´s comment – no insults, no personal attacks, not even harsh language (with a very low threshold for “harsh language”, one could count the “fucking network” part…).
    So, to repeat my question, do you know of a single example where personal attacks / insults were actually helpful in reaching your goals ?

  14. says

    Why do you think that this was the tipping point and not the Women in Secularism conference ?

    If you can’t see it from the documentation of everyone’s reactions, and what they were reacting to, maybe you just had to be there. Or maybe you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing.

    So, to repeat my question, do you know of a single example where personal attacks / insults were actually helpful in reaching your goals ?

    Is this your problems with English again? That isn’t what this post says.

  15. kain says

    Is this your problems with English again? That isn’t what this post says.

    These are your words:
    “The same is true with the language of insult. There is no real difference between “You cannot compel me to talk to you” and “Fuck off” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. Similarly, there is no difference between “You’re unfairly opposing my interests as a woman in this situation” and “Douchebag” except the difference assigned to protect the social order. The first example in each case defers to the social order. The second challenges it while conveying the same information.”
    and:
    “The swearing and invective serve a purpose in that. The evidence suggests that they are, if not effective in themselves (because they have never been used on their own to test this), then part of an effective strategy.”

    Now, since my english skills are apparently not sufficient to communicate with you, I also looked up the word “invective” to be sure that it indeed means what I thought it would mean, and this seems to be the definition:
    “of, relating to, or characterized by insult or abuse”
    I don´t see any invective in Erista´s comment – no insult, no personal attack, no abuse – nothing. The comment is however very assertive.
    I see that assertive language is part of an effective strategy (not only in this context). However, I am not aware of any instance where insults, personal attacks or abuse accomplished anything (but of quite a lot of instances where it made matters worse than they were before) and asked you to point to an example.

  16. says

    I see that assertive language is part of an effective strategy (not only in this context). However, I am not aware of any instance where insults, personal attacks or abuse accomplished anything (but of quite a lot of instances where it made matters worse than they were before) and asked you to point to an example.

    I hope you understand that you went on to answer this question of yours in your comment on the other post. Expressed anger is reinforced anger, “anger being useful as a motivation to fight against injustice”. Also being a very strong signal to those in a position to make change that such anger exists.

  17. kain says

    I hope you understand that you went on to answer this question of yours in your comment on the other post. Expressed anger is reinforced anger, “anger being useful as a motivation to fight against injustice”.

    As I said in the other post, anger can be expressed in many forms – invective is not required to express anger.

    Also being a very strong signal to those in a position to make change that such anger exists.

    And this is where I disagree. You highlighted Erista´s comment, and I´ll repeat – it was very assertive, but completely free of any form of invective, no insults, no personal attacks, no abuse, nothing.
    I see how assertive language is part of an effective strategy (in this and in countless other cases) but I´m not aware of a single example where insults, personal attacks, abuse etc. were part of an effective strategy – that´s why I asked you if you know an example.

  18. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    kain, it’s that you very, very, very much don’t like invective and very, very much want to believe it’s never effective. Let’s just be honest, OK? You don’t understand that people have othergoals aside from (what I assume to be) your narrow definition of “effective,” which seems to be “everyone speaks and then minds are changed. Lunch is then served.”

    Invective can be very effective for the following goals:

    1. Creating in-group solidarity (you don’t need to tell me this can be dangerous; I’m not stupid).

    2. Socially stigmatizing outrageous behavior.

    3. Unnerving people in power so much they’re forced to modify their behavior (ACT-UP is a good example of this from the 80s)

    4. Signaling to other vulnerable people that someone has their back and they don’t have to worry that no one will stand up for them

    These can, and often do, contribute to the longer term goal of changing a culture. Invective is not the only or always appropriate tool, but it is one of them.

  19. says

    As I said in the other post, anger can be expressed in many forms – invective is not required to express anger.

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s required. That’s a completely different question and irrelevant to the question at hand. It matters whether excluding it will exclude people whose anger and energy are important. Including those people, invective and all, has been quite effective. It is part of the strategy that made those changes.

    The people you whine about being competitively hyperbolic (if you look at the recent Mollies, by the way, the first ones given for specific comments, you’ll find that the competition at Pharyngula is for something else entirely) are angry and motivated to make change. They produce invective here, then they go on to produce messages elsewhere that are tailored for more formal audiences. They sharpen their anger, their energy, and their arguments here, then they go to work on the institutions.

    Or sometimes I take a more tempered message elsewhere, with the anger there to point to as the political force behind me. That works fairly well too.

  20. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You are also making the mistake of freighting the terms you’re using with prima facie negative moral connotations. “Personal attacks,” for example. Do you think it’s prima facie morally wrong for someone to yell at Pat Robertson, “You’re a horrific religious bigot and a misogynist pig who supports men dominating their wives. Fuck you!”

    That is a personal attack. Are you really going to tell me that’s absolutely morally wrong? Note that I am not asking you if you think it’s polite and I’m not asking you if you think it’s “effective.”

  21. kain says

    Josh,

    kain, it’s that you very, very, very much don’t like invective and very, very much want to believe it’s never effective.

    No, I don´t want to believe that.

    Let’s just be honest, OK? You don’t understand that people have othergoals aside from (what I assume to be) your narrow definition of “effective,” which seems to be “everyone speaks and then minds are changed.

    Not necessarily. “Changing minds” is one possible goal – I know that there are many others. The goal I had in mind here, based on the OP, was for example “get the attention of conference organizers and make atheist conferences a safer and more welcoming place for women”. And I pointed out that the comment by Erista, that Stephanie highlighted, was very assertive, but also free of any form of invective. I believe (again, I don´t want to believe that), that invective would have made Erista´s comment less powerful and effective, not more.

    Invective can be very effective for the following goals:

    These can, and often do, contribute to the longer term goal of changing a culture. Invective is not the only or always appropriate tool, but it is one of them.

    Very interesting examples (especially #3). I think you are right that invective can be a tool for effecting cultural change, but it is a very dangerous one, and one that can be counterproductive (especially when your goal is changing minds – invective is more likely to cause people, that have said or done stupid or hurtful things, to double down instead of reconsidering their views).

    That is a personal attack. Are you really going to tell me that’s absolutely morally wrong?

    Not at all! I wasn´t talking about whether invective is morally acceptable (in the case you described it most certainly would be ;-) ).

  22. says

    I think you are right that invective can be a tool for effecting cultural change, but it is a very dangerous one, and one that can be counterproductive (especially when your goal is changing minds – invective is more likely to cause people, that have said or done stupid or hurtful things, to double down instead of reconsidering their views).

    Well, now that we have the effectiveness of invective settled, let’s talk change. Did you know that one of the best ways to get someone to change their mind is to get them to change their behavior?

    Besides, it’s practical change we’re looking for anyway.

  23. kain says

    Stephanie,

    It matters whether excluding it will exclude people whose anger and energy are important. Including those people, invective and all, has been quite effective. It is part of the strategy that made those changes.

    I did not suggest that those people should be excluded, I said that I find it worrisome when hyperbolic vitriol is actively encouraged and any form of criticism directed at comments which are completely over-the-top is dismissed as tone-trolling.

    They produce invective here, then they go on to produce messages elsewhere that are tailored for more formal audiences. They sharpen their anger, their energy, and their arguments here, then they go to work on the institutions.

    “Sharpen their anger”… I think we both agree on the notion that anger can be potent motivation to fight against injustice, but too much anger is a very dangerous thing – we talked about this in the other thread, I really don´t think that the comment I linked to still counts as “righteous anger” (do you ?), I would rather say that this is almost irrational hate…

  24. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Thanks for the reply, kain. I don’t think invective is as dangerous as you do, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    The reason I can’t get that worked up over it is that people of good faith have done everything under the sun to be nice, diplomatic, measured, reasonable. . . and guess what? We’re still where we are. If you’re new to this debate, understand that it goes back a couple of years now (just in its current incarnation). The horse is already out of the barn. There’s a reason people are saying “You know what? We already did that. Your tone concern is noted.”

    There are much bigger problems than the invective. I wish you’d find a way to stop being so sensitive to noticing it. Even though you don’t intend to, it quickly becomes a fetish that distracts from the real issues. Also, one’s personal comfort level with invective (the way it makes you feel when you hear it) is *not* a barometer of the universe of responses, nor necessarily the correct or most common one. Please consider that.

  25. kain says

    let’s talk change. Did you know that one of the best ways to get someone to change their mind is to get them to change their behavior?

    Really ? I´m aware of the research that shows that changing your behaviour is effective in changing your thinking (while “willing” yourself to think different doesn´t work) – but that is irrelevant for changing the minds of others, isn´t it ?

    Besides, it’s practical change we’re looking for anyway.

    What do you mean by “practical change” ?

  26. says

    Josh, it was the nearly poetic set of insults at Pharyngula in response to Ron Lindsay’s post, which, bless his heart, made all the haters very, very happy. It was some very righteous anger. I don’t know that it was irrational hate.

    kain, it was my behavior I was looking to change. I want changes to institution behavior that embed respect for individual differences. I’m happy to let the change in ideas follow from that.

  27. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Stephanie, I was wondering exactly what kain thought was irrational hate. As you can imagine, I’m . . .skeptical.

  28. says

    Ah, the details within the comment. Got it.

    I should also mention that, while I didn’t agree with the particulars, I found it very cathartic to have someone else express the frustration I have to work to keep in check while being diplomatic. And some of them made me laugh.

  29. kain says

    Josh,

    The reason I can’t get that worked up over it is that people of good faith have done everything under the sun to be nice, diplomatic, measured, reasonable.

    I didn´t suggest that harsh language or insults should not be used (I think this is perfectly acceptable and appropriate even sometimes). I elaborated on this in the other thread, in a nutshell:
    I think that, if you consider the continuum between the two extremes of handling people with kid gloves on the one side and hyperbolic vitriol on the other side, both extremes are ineffective. The one extreme is ineffective because it can too easily be ignored, and the other because it is more likely to cause people to double down and lash out instead of reconsidering their views.

    There are much bigger problems than the invective.

    Absolutely! And I don´t think that harsh language and insults cause problems, only when it reaches an extreme level(i.e. hyperbolic vitriol), do I think that this can cause problems that could have been avoided otherwise.

    Also, one’s personal comfort level with invective (the way it makes you feel when you hear it) is *not* a barometer of the universe of responses, nor necessarily the correct or most common one. Please consider that.

    Sure. I don´t take myself as the standard (I myself am not bothered by invective at all – but I think Jerry (to take one example) was).

    Please link me to the comment you believe is irrational hate.

    It´s in the other thread (#89; and I retract the “irrational hate”… make that “ridiculously over-the-top, completely out of line and almost vicious”)

  30. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Kain, I’m not trying to be a pain, but please tell me which “other thread” you mean, by name or by link. I don’t know what it is.

  31. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Nevermind, found it.

    This is what happens when you fetishize your own comfort level with incivility over substance. You have no right to say someone’s anger is completely out of line when they’ve been putting up with abuse, mockery, and apathy. You don’t get to chide them for being “vicious.” You have no fucking idea whether it’s out of line or not.

    Seriously. Have you been the target of anti-gay harassment? Casual use of “gay” as an insult for three decades? Politicians who say “I didn’t know you had families?” Have you? If not, you have no goddamn idea what’s out of line.

    The world is a much nastier, meaner, and grinding place for people like me, women, people of color, LGBT people than you understand. And every goddamn day some kain or another turns up to look at our language and scold us for not conforming to their etiquette.

    Get this through your fucking head: We don’t have to please you, answer to you, or accept your petty moralizing in order to be fed the fuck up with something you can’t even imagine.

    Seriously. Do some thinking. You’re not as kind and on-the-right-side as you think you are. But you can get better. I know, because I used to be that way too about other people whose experiences I knew jack shit about. I was wrong, and I was obnoxious. You’re there now.

  32. says

    One addition to what Josh said: Don’t assume we don’t think about this stuff. We’ve been the targets of plenty of invective. We know what it does at its worst. We’ve seen it in ourselves. We’ve seen it in others. We know.

    You? Look at the evolution of your position through these threads. You’ve had to concede. You’ve had to develop something approaching nuance in your positions. You’re not an expert, probably because you haven’t had to face this from both ends. (It’s an assumption, but it’s one based on what you have and haven’t argued.) You just had some ideas, and then you thought we should justify ourselves to you because you made naive judgments about what we’ve been doing.

    Don’t do that.

  33. kain says

    Josh,

    Seriously. Have you been the target of anti-gay harassment? Casual use of “gay” as an insult for three decades? Politicians who say “I didn’t know you had families?” Have you? If not, you have no goddamn idea what’s out of line.

    No, I have not been the target of any of this. But tell me then, what would be out of line ? Could you rephrase this particular comment and give an example for something that would be “out of line” or is there simply no such thing ? (i.e. do you think that this is this simply a meaningless concept ?)

    The world is a much nastier, meaner, and grinding place for people like me, women, people of color, LGBT people than you understand.

    I don´t doubt that for a second. But doesn´t this basically mean that any abuse hurled in the direction of Ronald Lindsay (to stay in the current example) is ok, because people like you (for example) have it even worse ? (i.e. one injustice is ok, because there are other injustices out there which are even worse).

    We don’t have to please you, answer to you, or accept your petty moralizing in order to be fed the fuck up with something you can’t even imagine.

    You don´t have to do any of that and I didn´t ask you to.

  34. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    The very fact that you feel a pressing need to find “that one line”, that demarcator that makes it “out of line,” is a direct reflection of your privilege never to have endured this. Your priorities are off-kilter. It’s precisely the same thing as the so-called pro-choicers who say, “but what if the fetus were 8 months and 3 weeks and 6 days old and the mother just wanted to lose weight? Would THAT be OK?”

    You can see that you’re doing this because you shifted, above, from criticizing FossilFishy’s comment to posing a “well, if not that, then what would be” question. This tells me you place a higher priority on enforcing civility guidelines and that the actual experiences of people effected by Ron Lindsay’s blase riposte aren’t as important. It’s more important to you to find a way to protect Ron, or to find the limit of what Ron can be expected to endure.

    It’s very typical for privileged people who have no experience of systemic oppression. And it’s morally wrong.

  35. kain says

    Stephanie,

    You? Look at the evolution of your position through these threads. You’ve had to concede. You’ve had to develop something approaching nuance in your positions.

    Really ? I think I´ve commented on 4 (maybe 5) of threads on your blog – how did my arguments evolve and what did I have to concede except for Josh´s point that invective can be part of some strategies to effect cultural change.
    Also, you saying that I lack nuance would suggest that some of my views are extreme – which really surprises me because a criticism of extremes was frequently a part of my arguments. So tell me please, what do you mean by a lack of nuance.

    You just had some ideas, and then you thought we should justify ourselves to you because you made naive judgments about what we’ve been doing.

    Could you give me one example for such a naive judgment I allegedly made ? (I´m surprised to hear that I made any judgment – I can´t remember having done such a thing on your blog).
    Also, I didn´t ask you to justify anything, you don´t have to talk to me and if you don´t want me here then I´ll leave.

  36. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Stop the linguistic rules lawyering. Just because you didn’t explicitly say, in these words, “You have to justify yourselves to me” doesn’t mean you didn’t do it. Your entire premise—arguing that we’re wrong and insisting we provide you with something that meets your standards—is exactly that.

    If you’re not aware that you’re doing this, please step back and look at it again in a few days.

  37. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Could you give me one example for such a naive judgment I allegedly made ? (I´m surprised to hear that I made any judgment – I can´t remember having done such a thing on your blog).

    Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. What do you call this:

    I see that assertive language is part of an effective strategy (not only in this context). However, I am not aware of any instance where insults, personal attacks or abuse accomplished anything (but of quite a lot of instances where it made matters worse than they were before)

    if not a “judgment?” (And yes, it was naive, as you conceded later) Do you understand how words work? Do you understand that the term “judgment” does not necessarily carry moral connotations? That it’s sometimes a synonym for “conclusion?”

    I kind of wonder if you understand that it’s OK to be wrong and that you don’t have to twist yourself into self-contradictions and rules-lawyering to defend your honor (that doesn’t work). This isn’t a zero-sum game. We’re all wrong sometimes. I am often.

  38. kain says

    Josh,

    You can see that you’re doing this because you shifted, above, from criticizing FossilFishy’s comment to posing a “well, if not that, then what would be” question.

    Yes, there is obviously no objective measure for these things, only subjective standards – and that´s why I asked you if there would be such a thing as an out of line comment based on your standards or if you simply think that the concept itself is meaningless.

    This tells me you place a higher priority on enforcing civility guidelines and that the actual experiences of people effected by Ron Lindsay’s blase riposte aren’t as important.

    Fuck civility. The point is that being on the receiving end of a shitstorm (and this is one) hurts. If you argue that any form of abuse hurled in his direction is acceptable because others have it even worse, then this means that Ronald Lindsay doesn´t matter at allanything goes, fuck him, he wrote stupid shit so he had it coming.
    Yes, you have it much worse. No, I don´t think that he shouldn´t be criticized. No, I do not think that harsh language and insults are not acceptable in this criticism. But yes, I do think there has to be limit somewhere.

  39. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Your continued concern for an (unwitting) enabler of the status quo as a higher priority is noted.

  40. kain says

    Josh,

    if not a “judgment?” (And yes, it was naive, as you conceded later) Do you understand how words work? Do you understand that the term “judgment” does not necessarily carry moral connotations? That it’s sometimes a synonym for “conclusion?

    Didn´t you see that I asked instead of telling Stephanie “You are wrong! And here is why…” – that´s no rules lawyering, this simply was not a judgment.

    I kind of wonder if you understand that it’s OK to be wrong

    Why do you think I immediatly conceded your point about invective if I didn´t believe that it´s ok to be wrong ?

  41. kain says

    Your continued concern for an (unwitting) enabler of the status quo as a higher priority is noted.

    Right, because an anything goes approach when it comes to verbal abuse is obviously the only way to change the status quo. Maybe we should dial it up a few notches so that Lindsay realizes more quickly what a slimy pile of nematode shit he is.

  42. kain says

    There was no first warning Stephanie. But after #39 I´m not really surprised that you would make such a thing up.
    Let´s make this my “third” strike then – I wish you all the best with your goals but I want nothing to do with you.

  43. Aratina Cage says

    I wish you all the best with your goals but I want nothing to do with you. –kain

    That doesn’t seem very honest of you.

  44. shari says

    Stephanie, does Josh have a fanclub? I want to sign up.

    I am following these discussions because your cause is significant enough to you to put this forum out there. I am thinking more about privilege, and the theme that suggests itself as important is that if ‘you’ hold a privileged position in any contentious situation, ‘you’ lose the right to dictate the boundaries. Mainly, because you don’t see boundaries too well anyway.

    I’ve been lurking through this discussion and others, and I am grateful for the education. i find it an honor to educate myself here. You and I see more than a few things differently (that whole Theism thing :-) but that just opens up opportunities to learn how to…do things better. Including being a responsible member of a movement.

    thanks :-)

  45. carlie says

    kain, do you realize you’ve made this entire comment thread all about you? Usually that’s a really good sign that you need to stop, listen, and just read for awhile.

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