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Sep 13 2012

Within the Movement (Updated)

One more response to Ron Lindsay’s post on divisiveness from yesterday. Ron suggested that the issue of abuse was largely solved “within the secular movement”. What happened in the comments–on the CFI site–suggested otherwise.

It isn’t just Ron who feels this way, either. There are plenty of people who want this to be just “some trolls on the internet”. So I started thinking about what “within the movement” really means.

  • Starting at yesterday’s thread: If you can’t have a public conversation with activists with whom you work and whose work you promote, without being hit with a bunch of misleading and debunked arguments ad hominem trying to stand between you and the person you’re conversing with, that’s happening within the movement.
  • If someone takes an out-of-context tweet from your clearly marked personal Twitter account that was never about them (see comment 59), prints it next to your professional activist title, then coordinates a letter-writing campaign with friends to attempt to get you fired from that position have your organization take some vague but serious action, that happens within the movement. [Note: Sara has commented to dispute this. Text updated here, and documentation provided below.]
  • If announcing a conference about the role of women in secularism on your organization’s site is met with charges of misandry or comments on a report of the conference have to be shut down, with the problems coming from registered users, that happens within the movement.
  • If every time it is announced that you are giving a speech somewhere or every time you are mentioned in a newspaper article, people have to comment to say that you should be shunned and ignored, that happens within the movement.
  • If a speaker and writer hosts a discussion for about a year that is devoted to tearing down those who call harassment an issue, posting personal information and lies, tracking everything said or tweeted in obsessive detail, that happens within the movement.
  • If someone known to attend a convention threatens to do…something to you when you speak at that convention because you’ve stood up for harassed women, that happens within the movement.
  • If an atheist organization’s leader declares publicly that what you received couldn’t have been a real threat and uses that organization’s podcast to grossly misrepresent what you did receive, that happens within the movement.
  • If a speaker and writer declares that your work is invalid and you should be starved of income, that happens within the movement.
  • If a speaker and writer declares unilaterally that anyone who makes a particular judgment of another speaker and writer is a “slavering dog” and that this classification is not open for objection, that happens within the movement.
  • If a speaker and writer, within the context of another speaker and writer being harassed out of her work, has a discussion about condemning “all” bullying that ends up going like this, that happens within the movement.
We should condemn ALL forms of internet, and real-life, bullying. This should not be controversial. @ @
@Metamagician
Russell Blackford
@ @ @ sounds great, who's gonna work on separating church and state while atheists wrry abt bullying?
@kevinislaughter
Kevin I. Slaughter
@ Kevin, you realise that the bullying I'm talking about is largely from the A+ folks? I think we're on the same side here.
@Metamagician
Russell Blackford

If you have to continually fight to get your colleagues to listen when you tell them what is happening or to open their eyes to see it for themselves or even to treat the strain of this as an occupational injury, that happens within the movement too. And none of this, including the need to fight the denial, is even close to stopping.

————————–

Pushing people to the letter-writing campaign, which her friend drew her attention to:

Feminists Attacking Women via @ Interesting points made here. Wonder if anyone will listen. http://t.co/iM3hGjQa
@saramayhew
Sara E. Mayhew

Conversing about the letter-writing campaign:

Twitter, I don't ask for much, but I'm thinking we should be talking to CFI-DC about the sexual harassment of @ by @
@tkmlac
Katie
@ @ What can CFI-DC do when Hensley is the executive director? What can one do when it's an official who is out of control?
@mateus_justino
Matthew Justin
@ @ I do expect more professionalism from Director of @ and organiser of Women in Secularism conference.
@saramayhew
Sara E. Mayhew

Sara and friend expected people to be awaiting the response:

CFI Responds on Melody Henlsey Malicious Remarks - http://t.co/yUAITarJ
@saramayhew
Sara E. Mayhew
There Are Four Lights » Blog Archive » CFI Responds on Melody Henlsey Malicious Remarks http://t.co/JjF1o24O
@badrescher
Barbara Drescher

Repeating the lie that Melody said she used male attention to get speaking gigs:

@ She didn't: She remarked I get speaking gigs by trying to get male approval and attention. http://t.co/33vRSg20
@saramayhew
Sara E. Mayhew

79 comments

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  1. 1
    davidjanes

    Could you possibly add: when the Executive Director of your DC Office decides to post and is immediately subject to ad hominems and out-of-context quote mining, that happens within the movement?

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Good collection.

    Yes indeed about the first one. I wanted to engage in discussion on that thread, but I gave it up quite soon, because it’s absolutely choked with dishonest dreck from the usual suspects.

    The Blackford item is what I’ve been talking about – it’s one of many, going back weeks. He does that day in and day out: works to stir up hatred against “FTB” or Atheism plus and brings Dawkins and others into it, all while roaring about people damaging his “reputation.”

  3. 3
    Hank_Says

    Blackford’s spineless, clueless, backhanded keyboard-warrior behaviour is one of the most surprising and disappointing elements of the “Woe Is Me(n)” festival on twitter – perhaps second only to Kirby’s pitiful whining and incessant re-posting of That Google Doc in lieu of anything substantive or original to say. Stangroom aligning with the cool kids to gain cred-by-association I can understand as PZ’s mauled him once or twice (and I think Coyne is just too wedded to certain anachronistic modes of thought to ever change them) but I expected better from Blackford.

    I realise now that I had nothing to base that expectation on except our shared Australianness and my occasional enjoyment of his posts. He needs to have a long talk with his former debate partner, the indomitable Jane Caro – after she’s caught up on this saga. But he’d probably only accuse her of destroying the joint.

  4. 4
    Laurence

    I’m really disappointed about Russell Blackford. I always enjoyed his blog, and he really made me think about some important philosophical issues. I even convinced the library that I work at to order a copy of his book. It’s a real shame that he has blinders when it comes to this topic. I can only hope that he will one day come to his senses.

  5. 5
    Eneraldo Carneiro

    Hi

    I’ve been following this from the South Hemisphere since the so called Elevator Gate, to the Harassment “debate”, with mixed fellings of fascination and dismay. I’ve even exchanged a line or 2 with Ophelia on Twitter (@eneraldo) recently.
    Now one thing I’ve been observing is that the frequent claims about the need for civility “from both sides” is often focused on name-calling, ignoring kinds, or patterns of behaviour that are not reasonable, resemble (at least) trolling, but because are low toned, and mostly don’t involve explicit name-calling, are not seem as un-civil, but should be. What should we call the systematic strawmanning that have been happening since the EG episode? The systematic elysions that Stephanie Zvan so well pointed? Shouldn’t this deserve to be called un-civil, notwithstanding their occasional low tone?
    Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” for instance. If that piece was droped by anybody else, it would be called by what it was: trolling. And the one who’d done it would be called a troll, and this wouldn’t be seem as “un-civil”. the troll would be the un-civil one, more or less by definition. But he’s Dawkins, and Dawkins is not supposed to be un-civil. Only his religious adversaries claim he is. He is accused of bigotry by them, but they are the wrong ones right? In the same way I don’t remember seem many atheists complaining over PZ/Pharyngula when the target are creationists, or religous fundamentalists. I don’t remember nobody calling PZ a bully when he targets Behe, or W.L. Craig.
    What bring me to Blackford. He has 2 blogs but in none of them he ever engage in this discutions, either the RW/EG affair or about harassment policies (where he claims to have expertise btw). He only say something more extensively commenting in other people’s blogs. Then he sounds very reasonable, very civil, but only if we accept falsehoods, strawmen, misreports, etc., as part of civil discourse. And if we ignore his intense activity on Twitter, where his rants (been one of the main responsibles for the difusion of the “FtBullies” hashtag, calling A+ a “hate group” (that’s when I stopped following him on TW), etc) are anything but civil. If we ignore the double standard: scream “bullies” on bloggers at FtB but say nothing on the anti-FtB/Skepchick harassmentat at all. At least until McCreight’s give up when what he have to say was very very mild in contrast to anything he ever said about the “FtBullies” “bullying”.
    All this is so un-frankin-believably out of proportion (think that it starts with a girl just saying “guys, don’t do that”) that makes me wonder if there are something else going on that I can’t see…

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    I’m disappointed too. Also deeply puzzled.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    eneraldo, well I have exactly the same reaction – “what is all this?” If there is something else going on, I too wonder what on earth it is.

  8. 8
    mikmik

    It happens when you try to change the purpose of a fundamental principle. It happens when we tie our(freethinkers) identity to specific personalities as leaders and representatives of a group that then places undue emphasis on these ‘leaders’ to be perfect.

    Because then, it suddenly ties its identity to specifics that have non=negotiable constraining boundaries that are is disharmony with the general purpose and understanding of the fundamental principle.

    So when RW says something that is controversial, it suddenly speaks to the individual identities ‘place’ in a hierarchy where there are/were no hierarchies. When the willful adherence to the generalized fundamental principle is changed to become tied to specifics, then everyone’s identity is vulnerable to one that is constraining, and defined by others, and not each individuals self actualization.

    When you are no longer in control of your own identity, the you will try to exert the identity to conform to your original understanding of that personal identity.

    Atheism and scepticism is not about promoting special interests, no matter how moral they may be, then your fundamental principle is suddenly a moral statement subject to interpretation.

    We should be debating about the place activism, of any kind, has in relation to the philosophy of atheism and scepticism, not what place it belongs, the very focus of the fundamental meaning is immediately changed. It is changed.

    Are you and atheist, or a civil rights activist? You can not equate the two. To do so is to betray the original meaning of what atheism is.
    People don’t like that, and very understandably so. I pointed out that A+ was segregating and fractioning to the principle of atheism, and that A+ers were taking MY name and using it for promotion of extraneous principles, some people kindly told me in no uncertain terms, that atheist is not ‘my’ name.
    When RW became a representative(which she should never have become) of the skeptical community, it immediately placed her in a position of authority.

    And now, I want to address that. It seems to me that there are two extremes at play here. It is a fight for identity, that of being a skeptic. It has become politics. Do you see that?
    Like the political parties in the US, where the Republicans have usurped the authority to define whether you are a republican, or a socialist, with no in between, and very, very specific requirements to being identified as a republican – which is the same as what they define as a true American.
    Now you have introduced the power of ‘special interest’ and ‘extremism’ to dictate definitions and factions within those definitions.

    I think it is the prevailing attitude in our world, globally, to isolate and increasingly specify what you stand for. In the US you are4 no longer a Republicans with general values and purpose, but that is now splintering into tighter and tighter sub systems trying to dictate to the whole. You MUST be religious, you MUST be a certain religion(which is why everyone is amazed that Romney got nominated), you MUST be against any form of gun control, must be against taxation, must bo for the reduction of the power and size of government, and etc.
    These special interest groups have wrangled control of what it means to be republican.
    This is my, and many others, fear will happen to skepticism, and I personally detest that there is a right way, and a wrong way, to be an atheist or sceptic. Even if implied.
    Hierarchy is now established for various reasons, stating, I think, with a general slide towards isolating and dictating, as opposed to gathering and accepting. It is the politicization of society that is the primary instigator, but it then is the adoptees of this mindset that put it into play.

    Let me illuminate. RW said something. Period. Normally that would be end of story, and secondary debate would take place as to the interpretation of what she said, and whether or not it was appropriate. We are skeptics: we question and explore, we do not question and dictate answers!
    But , we instead have two extremes in a power struggle over whether RW was out of line, or in line with the principles of skepticism – because we have, or have not, tied our identity as skeptics to her pronouncements and attitudes too tightly.
    What she said is not a representation of scepticism. It is a representation of social justice. Period.
    We have to understand this. Grothe(?) is a representative of scepticism. We are perfectly justified in judging what he says.

    We are not perfectly justified in putting RW in a position of representation of skepticism when she is advocating, or speaking to, sexual abuse, because it is not up to her to define what is of importance. Is it? It’s not up to Dawkins, so why should it be up to Watson. Why should anyone, as a skeptic, be debating what part these people say as it defines atheism and skepticism?

    The reason it got, and still is, so out of hand is because it has become a matter of very undue relevance to defining skepticism and/or atheism.

    It is people that make to much importance out of their own interpretation “(think that it starts with a girl just saying “guys, don’t do that”)” and “(that skank should quit being so hysterical;it’s not a bid deal).”

    It is people that want to associate a moral stance as belonging to atheism, and naming it PLUS, for christ’s sake, versus those who, opportunistically, want to stamp the name (or category), of atheism – with unbridled ignorance towards whomever they please.
    That doesn’t sound right.
    Some want atheism to be concurrent special interests(feminism, humanism, etc), and some then want atheism to be inclusive of the idea that atheists can be irresponsible and ignorant fucks.

    Sure, as an individual, you CAN be a civil rights activist, or a sub-human degenerate, but you cannot say that atheism also condones one position over the other, or includes it in it’s definition.

    The rank bitterness and hostility in the skeptic community is due to us blindly accepting ‘new world politics’ as standard operating procedure. And the universal access to presenting opinions without filtration, due to the internet, has changed the rules of discourse as well.

    That is why it is more important than ever not to dilute and segregate atheism and skepticism. It must remain an institution of individual rights and expression. Period.
    (LOL at self).

    I just write like I’m sanctimonious, for various reasons. Remember that I am/was one of the insularists that want to use atheism as a foundation for belittling and insulting anyone that I don’t
    agree with, thus antagonizing and alienating those I don’t think belong… sigh.

    I’m not really trying to criticize anyone in particular, although I’m sure my agenda and bias over certain topics must show. I have to realize myself how much I get drawn into politics and judgmentalism just as much as anyone else I point fingers at!

    Finally, being unwilling to shut up, and leave well enough alone, I’m almost certain I have been confusing and desperately unclear in my diatribe tonight. Damn it.

  9. 9
    see_the_galaxy

    All this is so un-frankin-believably out of proportion (think that it starts with a girl just saying “guys, don’t do that”) that makes me wonder if there are something else going on that I can’t see…

    I strongly suspect that this would have died out without a little outside help to shape and mold the network. Now opinions are hardening, trolls are emboldened, and so on.

  10. 10
    callistacat

    mikmik

    Treating women not like crap in this movement isn’t a “special interest,” it’s the bare minimum of being a decent human being. Yes atheism means disbelief in dieties, but a movement has people in it and asking them to not discriminate or treat people badly based on their race/sex/orientation is not in any way a special interest.

  11. 11
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    It is people that want to associate a moral stance as belonging to atheism, and naming it PLUS, for christ’s sake, versus those who, opportunistically, want to stamp the name (or category), of atheism – with unbridled ignorance towards whomever they please.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I *do* associate a moral stance with atheism. Obviously, other people don’t. That’s completely fine. That’s why I think A+ is a good idea. For those that do associate the two, it can be a good community to be part of.
    Yes, I know what atheism means.
    I took that basic definition of non belief in a higher power and applied it to my world view. If there is no god, how do I view the world? Rejecting religion led me to humanism. Atheism, however, provided the doorway to becoming a humanist. The label atheist is important to me. It’s foundational in a way that humanist isn’t. That’s why A+ works for me. I’m not certain why anyone would try to tell me that it’s wrong for me to do this. I’m not advocating anyone else approach their world view in the same way. My approach doesn’t redefine atheism and it doesn’t force anyone to adopt the A+ label for themselves.

  12. 12
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    9

    So, if those interested should declare that we are Social Justice (And Atheists, Too!), would that satisfy all you whingers? Or are we not allowed to identify as atheists and talk about atheism (or skepticism, or humanism, or whatever)? WTF is the deal? Lay it out for us, that we may soothe your sore privilege.

  13. 13
    Myoo

    @mikmik

    People don’t like that, and very understandably so. I pointed out that A+ was segregating and fractioning to the principle of atheism, and that A+ers were taking MY name and using it for promotion of extraneous principles, some people kindly told me in no uncertain terms, that atheist is not ‘my’ name.

    Because it’s not ‘your’ name, you don’t own atheism and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you that invented the word.

    Are you and atheist, or a civil rights activist? You can not equate the two.

    Why is this an OR? You can be an atheist AND a civil rights activist, and thats what Atheism plus is about, as has been stated several times, its Atheism PLUS social activism.

    We are not perfectly justified in putting RW in a position of representation of skepticism when she is advocating, or speaking to, sexual abuse, because it is not up to her to define what is of importance. Is it? It’s not up to Dawkins, so why should it be up to Watson. Why should anyone, as a skeptic, be debating what part these people say as it defines atheism and skepticism?

    I’m sorry, questioning entrenched views of gender and acceptable behavior is not skepticism why, exactly?

  14. 14
    Argle Bargle

    mikmik #9

    Atheism and scepticism is not about promoting special interests, no matter how moral they may be

    Why not? Because you have trouble wrapping your mind around atheism and social justice simultaneously? Or because you don’t care about other peoples’ concerns?

    Are you and atheist, or a civil rights activist? You can not equate the two.

    Possibly YOU can’t equate the two, but a lot of other people have no trouble doing so.

    We are not perfectly justified in putting RW in a position of representation of skepticism when she is advocating, or speaking to, sexual abuse, because it is not up to her to define what is of importance.

    Watson can say what’s important to her and other people can agree with her. Jen McCraight said that working for social justice was important to her and a whole lot of people agreed with her. Just because you disagree with Watson and McCraight doesn’t automatically mean the rest of us have to dismiss them. In fact, since I agree with them and not with you, guess what, I’m dismissing the rest of your argument as being inconsequential.

    I just write like I’m sanctimonious, for various reasons.

    One of them being that you are sanctimonious.

  15. 15
    tonyinbatavia

    I really love/loathe the “who’s gonna work on separating church and state while atheists wrry abt bullying?” line from Slaughter. It really highlights the short-term thinking of these guys.

    Imagine: If you are inclusive rather dismissive today of those who don’t fall precisely into your particular demographic, you’ll have far, far more resources at your disposal to fight for church/state and other assorted issues for years to come. Alienate a large contingent now and, while you might win a few battles, you will lose momentum over the long haul. How can Slaughter or Blackford or Dawkins or Grothe — all very intelligent people, no doubt — not see this?

  16. 16
    daedalus2u

    Promoting human rights is not a special interest unless you are non-human.

  17. 17
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    My god. How I long for the day when women’s demand for full humanity, and LGBT peoples’ plea to be recognized as full and equal citizens is not labeled a special interest. You have NO IDEA how demoralizing and soul-sucking that is.

  18. 18
    Eshto

    Stephanie I forget, did you ever apologize for publishing screen captures of my private facebook page on your very public blog, of comments I made in anger after Greta Christina and her fans dogpiled me in a thread and accused me of “misogyny” and “trolling” for simply disagreeing on an extremely minor point; posting them without the background context to make me look like an awful sexist person (even though I’m pretty sure I have more of a formal background in gender studies than most of the utterly unqualified FtB opinion bloggers behind your so-called “social justice movement”); and then carelessly mixing in comments by D.J. Grothe and thus making it look like he said them?

    Because I’m still waiting for that.

  19. 19
    simonsays

    Josh, there’s a great line in (if I recall correctly) Manufacturing Consent about how Reagan was the first to start the Orwellian practice of referring to organized groups representing the population at large like workers, minorities, the elderly, etc. as “special interests” whereas big business and defense contractors where simply “the national interest”.

  20. 20
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Simon, that’s just exactly how it is.

  21. 21
    Stephanie Zvan

    Actually, Ryan, I believe I did apologize to D.J. at the time for the people who confused your remarks for his.

  22. 22
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, is this Ryan Grant Long? The one who’ll kick everyone’s cunt and micropenis?

    Enchante!

  23. 23
    Aratina Cage

    Josh, that’s the one. He’s been leaving little droppings about his superior feminist qualifications (which apparently don’t include knowing that threatening violence against women is totes not feminist!) all over the place lately.

  24. 24
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Well, Aratina, I’m charmed, to be sure! I just wish I could figure out where I left my diacriticals. . .

  25. 25
    Aratina Cage

    I just wish I could figure out where I left my diacriticals. . .

    Oh, you should see the hot mess that became of them at scienceblogs!

  26. 26
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, you should see the hot mess that became of them at scienceblogs!

    I’m gonna need a silk fan for this, right? Right?

  27. 27
    Aratina Cage

    I’m gonna need a silk fan for this, right? Right?

    And two special assistants to collapse into! :P

  28. 28
    saramayhew

    “If someone takes an out-of-context tweet from your clearly marked personal Twitter account that was never about them (see comment 59), prints it next to your professional activist title, then coordinates a letter-writing campaign with friends to attempt to get you fired from that position, that happens within the movement.”

    Ophelia Stephanie, you have some mistakes here.

    -The context of Melody’s tweet was in a convo about Amy making mean-spirited fun of me. She tagged me and another woman in the tweet. It was therefore in context of criticising me.
    -I didn’t organize a letter-writing campaign. Everyone who wrote CFI did so independently.
    -I have never voiced that I think Hensley should be fired, in my blog, tweets, or private correspondences. Because I don’t believe she should be.

    Melody sent the insulting tweet at me and I took offense. If it wasn’t meant to hurt me, Hensley should have told me this, and apologized for unintentionally hurting me. Instead, she deleted the tweet, continued to make insulting remarks about me (she’s scared of my “crazy MRA followers”) and blocked me.

  29. 29
    Stephanie Zvan

    Sara, my name is Stephanie.

    Melody’s tweet was in the context of talking generally about the insults to Skepchicks, as Julian has attested. If you didn’t care to pay attention, I can’t help you.

    You pointed your Twitter followers to the letter-writing campaign: https://twitter.com/saramayhew/status/244659560051253251 I can add the Twitter discussion you had that started with the statement that people should complain to CFI-DC if you need me to. You did this despite taking screen caps of Melody’s tweets that say, “Comments are my own and not to be attributed in any way to CFI.”

    I’ve seen plenty of people explain plenty of things to you over the last several months, only to have you act as though no one had ever said a single word of any of them. If people don’t speak to you directly, except in moments of extreme exasperation, this is probably why. Consider fixing that. Or accepting that people think it’s pointless to explain anything to you. Either one. I care not one whit.

  30. 30
    daedalus2u

    I came across a quote from the Dalai Lama the other day:

    “The world will be saved by the Western Woman”.

    https://eleanororourke.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-skinny-on-the-divine-feminine/

    I think this is correct, that is if the world is going to be saved.

    Male power is top-down and is typified by the Patriarchy. People only move up all top-down power social power structures by tearing down those who are higher up.

    Female power is bottom-up and is characterized by the nurturing of the next generation of children to be strong, independent and capable adults.

    All creation and change only comes from the bottom-up.

    Those who are trying to “lead” a movement, can only do so by tearing down those they perceive are threats to their acquisition of top-down social power.

    Those who want to produce change, can only do so from the bottom-up, by being the change they want in the world.

    Humans have what is called Hyperactive Agent Detection Device. Humans perception is biased to detect agency because when trying to detect a predator, a false positive has a lot lower cost (running away) than a false negative (being eaten).

    This bias in detecting agency extends to essentially everything. It is why people attribute supernatural agents to things like the weather. It is also why many humans are compelled to structure their social power systems in a top-down manner. There has to be an “agent” at the top that is responsible for how the things below the top happen. This fits the alpha-male top-down Patriarchal power structure so well that many “skeptics” (particularly male “skeptics” who consider themselves to be in a leadership position) are unable to see that it is an artificial construct. A social group or movement doesn’t necessarily need to have a “leader” who “leads” from the top-down.

    A “leader” is only a “leader” if the “leader” has power and authority over the non-leaders.

    This is where bullying by would-be “leaders” happens, to try and weaken the non-leaders so that the “leader” will be the strongest, or the only one left.

    This is typical Patriarchal behavior due to the zero-sum nature of top-down social hierarchies. If the leader cannot control something, then it is better to destroy it so it does not threaten the leader later. This is what is playing out in US politics, the Conservatives would rather destroy the country than allow Obama to succeed.

    This is the unconscious mindset that those who want to “lead” what ever this “movement” is have hidden in their unconscious monkey brains. They need to become aware of it and stop.

    The “movement” is not something that can be run from the top-down. To try to do so will only destroy it. Would-be “leaders” need to get out of the way and support those who are building the movement from the bottom-up. The best way to support is to protect them from the misogyny and bullying that other would-be “leaders” are heaping upon them.

    If you can’t interact with people without bullying them, please go away. The movement will be better off without you. Modeling the movement after a top-down power structure the way that all the Patriarchal Religions are modeled will doom it to the same fate that all the Patriarchal Religions. The power of the Patriarch at the top will corrupt as it always has and as it always will.

  31. 31
    Stephanie Zvan

    Then, Sara, there’s your bit from your blog post on the subject:

    CFI’s Ronald Lindsay responded to me about the issue, pointing out that Hensley doesn’t speak on behalf of the CFI in her personal twitter account, and that they disavow the implication in her remarks.

    Both Hensley and Roth deleted their tweets, without apology, and have blocked my account. While I wouldn’t hold CFI or Skepchick responsible for what their members say on their personal accounts, I do believe those who present themselves as activists and community leaders should hold themselves to higher standards than using personal attacks.

    You don’t hold CFI responsible. You just sent a letter to their president to…do what? What did you ask of Ron, Sara? What did you say to him?

  32. 32
    PatrickG

    I hope that the recent CFI debate, and the comments there, will bring more attention to the issues at hand. It’s hard to stay blind when it’s happening at your own damn site.

    We’ll see what Lindsay responds with.

    And great post. I’ve bookmarked it to put in comments in various places. It’s very nice to have a comprehensive source.

  33. 33
    Stephanie Zvan

    Heh. Not even close to comprehensive, Patrick. Among other things, I haven’t included any of the crap that Tracie gets at Atheist Experience.

  34. 34
    saramayhew

    @Stephanie

    Again, Ophelia’s your comment says I organized a letter-writing campaign. I didn’t. There’s a difference between sharing a blog post link, and organizing a letter campaign asking for Hensley to be fired. The letter that blogger posted and sent didn’t ask for Hensley to be fired either.

    “Melody’s tweet was in the context of talking generally about the insults to Skepchicks, as Julian has attested.”

    Her remark was a reply to Amy and myself, in the context of a conversation where Amy was claiming my recent blog post attacked her. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to view the statement “I can get more speaking gigs and the boys will like me if I rag on Skepchicks” as pertaining to Amy (a Skepchick) and me (a TAM and CSICon speaker) when it was in reply to our ongoing conversation.

    Regardless, I was hurt and left feeling belittled, so an apology is warranted.

    And Ophelia is you are wrong to say that I organized a letter-writing campaign to get Hensley fired. It’s not true.

  35. 35
    Stephanie Zvan

    Sara, Ophelia has said nothing about you. I did.

    Now, what did your letter to Ron say? What did you ask for?

  36. 36
    saramayhew

    “Sara, Ophelia has said nothing about you. I did.”
    My mistake. I mixed up Freethought blogs again. Sorry.

    So, you, Stephanie, wrongly claim that I organized a letter-writing campaign. I didn’t.

    And the one blog that *does* encourage people to voice concerns to CFI didn’t ask for Hensley to be fired either.

    So, your statement in the post is inaccurate. No one organized a campaign in the attempt to get Melody fired.

  37. 37
    Jason Thibeault

    So what did your letter to Ron Lindsay say about Melody Hensley, Sara?

  38. 38
    Jason Thibeault

    So, you, Stephanie, wrongly claim that I organized a letter-writing campaign. I didn’t.

    From one of the folks in the crowd claiming Rebecca Watson organized a boycott of Richard Dawkins, this is an interesting claim in its implications for the greater discourse.

  39. 39
    brucegorton

    On those bad atheists

    You’re not a bad atheist if

    You dismiss the complaints of those with darker skin
    And argue that stupidity is a heritable sin
    From long past days under the African sun
    When all races were still one

    You’re not a bad atheist if

    You seethe with hate and burn with that intensity
    Against those of other gendered identity
    With quotes time from context edited
    Returned and against them pitted

    You’re not a bad atheist if

    You homosexuality condemn as an abomination
    With sharp words just short of damnation
    And back such hate with pseudoscience
    Lie to push others into compliance

    You’re not a bad atheist if

    You believe your wealth by you alone was earned
    So against the poor your tongue is turned
    That there is no duty as you thrive
    To help others to survive

    You are, however, a bad person.

  40. 40
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I’m just glad that I don’t belong to the movement from within which this shit is coming, and I don’t see how any person in his/her right mind would want to see it succeed. It’s anathema to me. Radioactive. Just another evil to be fought alongside the Christian Right and militant Islam. As I see it, there is no possible benefit of having a movement that could even begin to outweigh the infinite cost of having to share it with the likes of Dawkins, Kirby, Blackford, Stangroom and all the other [EXPLETIVE DELETED] who have turned it into such a loathsome, detestable, disgusting, stinking sewage since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”. I would no more support a movement that has people like that in it than join the Taliban or The Westboro Baptist Church. I support A+ precizely because these people want nothing to do with it. The greater the schism, the better.

  41. 41
    mickll

    @ bjartefoshaug

    A thousand times this!

  42. 42
    Stephanie Zvan

    Sara, what did you write to Ron? What did you ask him for?

  43. 43
    Gen Fury

    I’m just glad that I don’t belong to the movement from within which this shit is coming, and I don’t see how any person in his/her right mind would want to see it succeed. It’s anathema to me. Radioactive. Just another evil to be fought alongside the Christian Right and militant Islam. As I see it, there is no possible benefit of having a movement that could even begin to outweigh the infinite cost of having to share it with the likes of Dawkins, Kirby, Blackford, Stangroom and all the other [EXPLETIVE DELETED] who have turned it into such a loathsome, detestable, disgusting, stinking sewage since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”. I would no more support a movement that has people like that in it than join the Taliban or The Westboro Baptist Church. I support A+ precizely because these people want nothing to do with it. The greater the schism, the better.

    QFT.

    Sarah Mayhew – I’m not seeing you engaging honestly with the questions here, nor have I seen it anywhere else.

    Whoops, “I confused FTB blogs again”, seriously? Are all of the FTB just one big borg hivemind-like creature to you? Talk about dehumanizing. That’s pretty damn disgusting.

    Perhaps if you pay attention to stuff like that and your nasty habit of Eliding entire conversations and contexts, fewer people will think that you are being dishonest about and downright purposefully harmful to feminist causes.

    So answer clearly, without any equivocating or weaseling, the question posed to you:

    Now, what did your letter to Ron say? What did you ask for?

  44. 44
    JayTeeAitch

    Stephanie Zvan #30

    I’ve seen plenty of people explain plenty of things to you over the last several months, only to have you act as though no one had ever said a single word of any of them. If people don’t speak to you directly, except in moments of extreme exasperation, this is probably why. Consider fixing that.

    Except:

    1. You can apply this same argument to either *side*.
    2. They were gender specific slurs.
    3. Amy and Melody are prominent members of the community with a large, and sometimes impressionable, following.

  45. 45
    Ophelia Benson

    Uh…Sara? Stop doing that thing where you “mix up Freethought blogs again” and keep saying I did something I didn’t do, please. A perfunctory “sorry” isn’t good enough.

  46. 46
    Ophelia Benson

    Stephanie, could you do me a favor and put a line through the three places where Sara uses my name? Because I know damn well it will instantly become part of the Troll History that I did what Sara said I did, while her “mixing up of Freethought blogs again” will drop out.

  47. 47
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The incredible Sara Mayhew again
    I know, it’s really about you. It’s always about you and it’s so much about you that you can’t even remember the names of the people you’re talking to, whom you’re accusing of things and which blogs you post at. Because none of this is important because it’s not about you.

    But the fact that your feelings were hurt, that’s all important. It really doesn’t matter that you usually behave like a bulldozer in a nature preserve because that is not about you, but you complain about the fact that those damned endangered species bleed all over you.

    So, your feelings were hurt. Did they threaten you with violence? Used slurs? Tried to get you fired? Run to your boss? Tried to ruin your business? Post your home address? Tried to organize/support a campaign against you? Accused you of ruining a major event?
    No?
    In that case you might consider that it’s actually not all about you.
    And they say we have a perpetual victim mentality…

  48. 48
    Ann M.

    Holy fuck, Sara. You can’t even tell whose post you’re reading, even after Stephanie tells you, and you expect anyone to take you seriously when you say Melody was talking about you? Holy fuck.

  49. 49
    Stephanie Zvan

    Good idea, Ophelia. Done.

  50. 50
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Ann M.
    That’s because Sara has a neat little system to organize the world:
    Category A, important: herself
    Category B, unimportant: the rest

  51. 51
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Daedalus2u, we really don’t need gender-essentialist and superstitious nonsense on “the divine feminine.” I’d suggest reading Carol Tavris’ The Mismeasure of Woman to learn how inaccurate that shit is.

    Nor do we need any more reverence for the greatly overrated Dalai Lama.

    Bjartefoshaug: Right on.

  52. 52
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks Stephanie.

  53. 53
    Eneraldo Carneiro

    I mixed up Freethought blogs again. Sorry.

    Right here another good example of behaviour that could and would trigger harsh responses but would pass as civil discourse. This and the refuse to answer the questions.

  54. 54
    Argle Bargle

    I cannot be impressed by somebody’s complaints when they don’t even remember who supposedly insulted them.

  55. 55
    kaboobie

    Gen Fury @ 44

    Whoops, “I confused FTB blogs again”, seriously? Are all of the FTB just one big borg hivemind-like creature to you? Talk about dehumanizing. That’s pretty damn disgusting.

    There’s that, and then there’s the fact that Sara said this:

    While I wouldn’t hold CFI or Skepchick responsible for what their members say on their personal accounts, I do believe those who present themselves as activists and community leaders should hold themselves to higher standards than using personal attacks.

    And yet she said nothing about DJ Grothe when he used his Facebook account to accuse female bloggers of scaring women away from TAM.

  56. 56
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah yes good point. I’ve asked about that before (and never received an answer). Why is it that we’re evil for being critical of people who have slightly smaller blogs but it’s quite all right for the president of JREF to blame us for speaking up? Being the president of JREF is a considerably more powerful position than having a blog.

  57. 57
    julian

    I don’t consider gay rights a special interest. I don’t consider countering sexual harassment within a group I (apparently) belong to a special interest. I don’t consider ant-racism a special interest.

    That’s why I’m with A+. To avoid people who tell me they are.

    I cannot be impressed by somebody’s complaints when they don’t even remember who supposedly insulted them.

    Most people won’t remember every detail of being insulted or an altercation. They’ll remember the hurt and the offense. Names, particularly when they are new or simply part of a much larger group, are hazy and usually not something retained very well or for very long.

    Please don’t write someone’s experience off because they lack a photographic memory.

  58. 58
    julian

    Being the president of JREF is a considerably more powerful position than having a blog.

    Yeah. Something I’m still confused about. It sorta goes with that Blackford tweets in Stephanie’s post. There is absolutely no standard being fairly applied here. Blackford describes A+ as the true bullies (and to say this he must literally have ignored everything that happened to Jen and Watson in the last month alone) and hardly anyone has chastised Grothe for “picking on” less prominent figures.

    And the elisions! God! History keeps being rewritten every single time a complaint against FtB, Watson or skepchick is raised. Of course omitting vital information is only a problem when it’s done by Watson, FtB or skepchick. Even when it’s only arguably a relevant piece of information.

    If you want to talk divisive, that’s what’s done it for me. I’d happily keep arguing but the rules aren’t even the same for all parties.

  59. 59
    Argle Bargle

    Most people won’t remember every detail of being insulted or an altercation. They’ll remember the hurt and the offense. Names, particularly when they are new or simply part of a much larger group, are hazy and usually not something retained very well or for very long.

    Please don’t write someone’s experience off because they lack a photographic memory.

    This would be a valid point except that Sara Mayhew was corrected and continued to blame Ophelia for the “insult” when Stephanie specifically said it was her, not Ophelia who did the deed. Making a mistake once is excusable. Making the same mistake after correction is going into Bill O’Reilly territory.

  60. 60
    julian

    Sara, what did you write to Ron? What did you ask him for?

    Is this really something she needs to share?

    Whatever you may think of Mayhew, private communications are still just that. Even if she were writing to complain about an employee it still wouldn’t be something that should be (or that we should be pushing for to be) shared publicly.

  61. 61
    Ophelia Benson

    Silly me – I thought Sara Mayhew would actually answer me @ 47 and 48…perhaps giving a less perfunctory apology for saying – three times – that I did something I had nothing to do with.

  62. 62
    saramayhew

    Yes. I got Almost Diamonds mixed up with Butterfly Wheels. I’m sorry.

    -The claim that I organized a letter campaign to get Melody fired is wrong.

    -The blog that DID encourage people to write, didn’t say Melody should be fired or that people should suggest so.

    -I didn’t ask Ron Lindsay to fire Melody.

    In fact, it was Ron who contacted me, after I had written to my CSICon guest liaison about what their take on the situation was; since it involved a CFI director claiming that there are women in skepticism who get more speaking gigs by ‘sucking up to boys’, in a tweet that was directed at me, one of their speakers.

    So, the statement in this blog post is wrong. I find it slanderous.

    And whether or not Hensley’s comment was directed at me, it offended me, and makes the accusation that there are women speakers who get speaking engagements NOT by their own talents and expertise, but simply by getting male attention.

    A CFI Executive Director says there are female skeptics who ladder-climb their way into speaking at skeptic events by sucking up to men!

  63. 63
    Sassafras

    See? She didn’t organize a letter-writing campaign, she just encouraged people to take part, falsely presented the remark as specifically about her so it would sound like a personal attack, and overemphasized Melody’s professional position so as to make it seem reasonable to contact her employers. And the letter-writing wasn’t to get Melody fired for conduct outside work, it was just to get her in trouble for it.

  64. 64
    julian

    @Sassafras

    No, she didn’t organize a letter writing campaign. She wrote a letter and encouraged people with similar complaints to write too. Since when is writing to organization heads about perceived inappropriate conduct by their employees wrong? It’s something we all have the right to do.

    I’m sure if a prominent member of your local skeptics group made what you perceived as overly offensive (and possibly personally insulting) comments you’d try to get it addressed. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want someone fired. You’re just trying to get the stuation looked at so it gets resolved.

  65. 65
    Stephanie Zvan

    Sara, I’ve updated the text here and documented the steps you took on the letter-writing campaign. I’ve noted the post is updated, and I will tweet it again once this comment is in place to let people know it’s updated. I will add a comment at Butterflies and Wheels, where Ophelia linked this, to let people know it’s updated.

    Now, what steps are you going to take and when correct the lies (still published, and as I documented at the end of the post, repeated) that:

    1. Melody was talking about you with that tweet? Julian has confirmed that she was not.
    2. The tweet accuses you or anyone of using male attention to get speaking gigs? It accuses unnamed people of thinking they can get both speaking gigs and male attention by bashing Skepchicks. If anything, that refers to the questions that were asked over how Miranda Celeste Hale ended up invited to be on stage at TAM before she’d had any other public speaking gigs. (People tend to forget that teaching is performance.)

    When will those be corrected, and how will you push the correction as far as you pushed the lies?

  66. 66
    julian

    Wait, sexual harassment?!

    Jesus fucking Christ. These people don’t say one damn word about what Jen, Watson and the rest are receiving but this is sexual harassment?!

    Fuck them.

  67. 67
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Now, Stephanie, you’re a mean #FTBully witha ll your evidence and sources and stuff…

  68. 68
    julian

    I just had a look at tkmlac’s profile. Jesus what an idiot.

    She retweets Vacula saying he welcomes you regardless of your politics (“#inclusiveatheism”) What a fucking joke.

    I do not welcome you regardless of your politics because some politics are down right disastrous. Limiting scientific research, access to contraceptives and abortion, health coverage, marriage equality. Expect hostility if you’re backing dangerous and harmful politics.

    And the she has the audacity to blast Aiken after that retweet?!

    Fuck! I don’t remember blocking her but boy did I make the right call.

  69. 69
    julian

    I can’t get over this. Sexual harassment? What happened to Sara Mayhew was sexual harassment?

    Where are the calls of degrading what the word means? Where are the hyperskeptics arguing this example can’t possibly count?

    Where the fuck are all the people that have been harassing Watson and Jen (calling them filthy sluts, attacking thei families, actually trying to get them fired, accusing them of only getting by by sleeping their way to the top) this whole fucking time to call out this “hysterical” accusation?

    Why is this pissant movement unable to apply the same fucking standards?

    I feel like I need to break something. I can’t believe I felt anything resembling kinship with these people.

  70. 70
    julian

    Silver lining

    2 new twits (@badrescher and @mteus_justino) to block on twitter.

  71. 71
    Stephanie Zvan

    julian, Drescher is the person who was tweeting Jen that, yes, she really was a narcissist, if maybe just not clinically diagnosable as having narcissistic personality disorder. I don’t know much about Justino, but in that conversation over the letter to CFI, he was disagreeing that what Melody said was not sexual harassment. For whatever that’s worth to you.

  72. 72
    julian

    I remember Drescher. Not that conversation specifically but her mocking Jen over Boobquake. That and another where she was having a laugh over EllenBeth Wachs personal situation. Dunno why I didn’t block her then.

  73. 73
    julian

    And yes, I realize that was a private conversation. I don’t care. If I walked in on two people doing that in meat space I’d be no less put off by them.

  74. 74
    Sassafras

    julian @ 65 – Sure, but if I did that, I wouldn’t act all innocent like I didn’t know ahead of time that getting a bunch of people to write in complaints about an employee wouldn’t be putting that person’s job at risk. Especially since she had the nerve to defend and praise Harriet Hall for insulting Amy in person for days, but no, don’t dare offend Sara in a tweet or she’ll get people to complain to your boss.

  75. 75
    saramayhew

    I still take issue with the accusation in your post. I did not coordinate people to write letters.

    I’m not sure why you want to defend a person who is spreading the narrative that there are women in skepticism who attempt to get more speaking appearances by going after male attention. This is insulting to both speakers and event organisers. It’s not the first time Hensley has accused specific women as doing so. Like you said, she made this accusation of Miranda Celest Hale.

    After all the efforts to get more women speakers on event programs, it’s sad to see a CFI branch director, in their personal time, spreading rumours that some women are getting on these programs by ‘sucking up to boys’.

  76. 76
    Stephanie Zvan

    Sara, are you telling me you’re going to repeat lies about Melody because you don’t like that I characterized you promoting and talking about the letter-writing campaign as “coordinating”? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing here.

    Tweet: “Hey, I can get more attention, speaking gigs, and the boys will like me if I keep ragging on Skepchick!”

    Cause: I keep ragging on Skepchick

    Effect 1: I can get more attention
    Effect 2: I can get more speaking gigs
    Effect 3: The boys will like me

    Sara says: “a person [] is spreading the narrative that there are women in skepticism who attempt to get more speaking appearances by going after male attention”

    I say: It accuses unnamed people of thinking they can get both speaking gigs and male attention by bashing Skepchicks [perhaps because] questions [] were asked over how Miranda Celeste Hale ended up invited to be on stage at TAM before she’d had any other public speaking gigs.

    Sara says: Like you said, she made this accusation of Miranda Celest Hale.

    Those are lies, Sara. When are you going to correct them just as publicly as you made them?

  77. 77
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Mateus_Justino on twitter in Matthew Justin. He helped start the petition to get me removed as president of Humanists of Florida. Read it. It’s a gem. Just so happens his father is the past president. Matthew pitched a fit over the fact that I brought in PZ and Rebecca to speak at our upcoming conference.

  78. 78
    julian

    Matthew pitched a fit over the fact that I brought in PZ and Rebecca to speak at our upcoming conference.

    Lovely person, I’m sure.

  79. 79
    callistacat

    Note to all religious folks who debate the Real Atheists (excluding the Approved Male Chorus), if they condemn you for the way you treat women, feel free to laugh in their faces.

  1. 80
    What happens within the movement | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] has a good collection of items in her post Within the Movement - items that are more than just “trolls on the [...]

  2. 81
    How to use UK libel law to try and suppress free speech but end up looking stupid » Oolon's Blog

    [...] my honest opinion that Sara Mayhew (real name, I think) is an ill-informed petty person who joins in with harassment campaigns against women in our community and does nothing to stop the misogynistic nasties from attacking [...]

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