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I Want Better Opponents

At CSICon last weekend, I introduced myself to Ron Lindsay. It had been almost a year since we’d talked on the radio, and if we met at Women in Secularism, it was only in passing.

I thanked Ron for what he’s done to professionalize these movements as the head of CFI, CSI, and CSH. I have some sense of what he inherited from Paul Kurtz. He’s worked through the growing pains of both atheism/secularism and skepticism. He’s done a good job. He’s surrounded by amazing people in his organizations. I thought he should know it’s visible from the outside.

In reply, Ron noted that he doesn’t read everything I write and doesn’t agree with me on everything he reads. However, what he does read is well-reasoned, and that’s important.

It was one of the better compliments I’ve had in a while. More than that, though, it made me want to sit down with him and hash out our differences. I wanted to know which of our disagreements are matters of priorities and constituencies and which are substantive.

We didn’t do that. There was a conference to be run and tweeted and enjoyed. But I definitely found it tempting.

One of the great ironies of my current blogging life is that there are a couple of groups of people who sit around endlessly vomiting up the assertion that I don’t want or can’t handle disagreement when what I enjoy more than anything are opponents who can challenge me. I want people who can engage with my ideas, find holes in my thinking, present me with information I haven’t already considered.

Instead, this is the sort of thing that happens.

  • Somebody who disagrees with me comes along, drops a link to a post roughly addressing a position of mine, and tells me he awaits my response. I respond, pointing out that his post is both making a ridiculous assertion and making a ridiculous assertion that is very self-serving. What does he do with my response? Does he comment on it to acknowledge any of my points? Does he write another post telling my what I got wrong?

    No, he just drops a link to my post into a forum of people who engage in vigorous insults as though they had any bearing on my post. End of discussion. Let’s all pretend that didn’t happen since it didn’t go as planned.

  • I write a post about the commonalities between being raped and being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term to point out that calling rape babies an act of God is a particular sort of cruelty. I specifically list those commonalities. Somebody who disagrees with me comes along. Does she tell me why those commonalities aren’t valid? Does she say why they only happen in one case but not the other? Does she acknowledge at all that I’ve listed specifics?

    No, she just says she’s been through both and they’re nothing alike. She tells me never to talk about the subject again. Then she goes and complains about what a horrible person I am on Twitter.

  • I write a post arguing for sexual harassment policies at conferences and conventions to address problems that many women have had in the secular and skeptical movements and that they say limits their willingness to participate in these movements. A few people come along who disagree with me. Do they provide evidence that harassment policies don’t work? Do they make an argument that the goal of getting rid of a barrier to women’s participation is a bad goal?

    No, one of them just calls the model code of conduct offered “Talibanesque“. He doesn’t specify what particular part is objectionable. He doesn’t draw any parallels between anti-harassment policies and a movement that restricts the freedom of women to fully participate in their society.

    No, one of them calls me “Femistasi” for my efforts. She doesn’t specify how rules about nonconsensual sexual interactions are bad when rules about things like interrupting speakers are fairly normal. She doesn’t make any argument for how giving people a procedure to report being harassed makes one like a government agency that spied on people in their own homes.

    No, one of them claims that women aren’t staying away because of harassment but because women falsely talked about having been harassed. He lies about having had harassment reported to him. He gets rid of his conference’s policy and replaces it with a secret procedure to put women who report problems under surveillance. He doesn’t explain how that’s supposed to make any woman feel more welcome.

    No, one of them claims I’m trying to ruin a convention. He doesn’t say why this convention in particular would be ruined by a sexual harassment policy when other conventions have happily adopted them. He just says I should blow him.

  • I write a post challenging people to make an argument for Dawkins’ “zero bad” comment that doesn’t involve leaving out parts of the story. A whole bunch of people come along who disagree with me. Do they take up the challenge and explain to me the error of my ways? Do they explain why everything that happened is good, or at least neutral?

    You’re kidding me, right?

Really, by this point, I shouldn’t even have to ask. You can read the comments for yourself. You can understand that this is when the slimepit really turned its attention to me. They did nothing like make an argument. They did nothing like trying to understand what I had to say so they could even know where we agreed or disagreed.

They still haven’t. It isn’t the point. As far as I can tell, the point is to combine a massive obfuscation campaign with a steady stream of ad hominems.

This? This form of trying to stop what I’m doing without ever giving any good reason or even challenging the reasons I give? It gets very dull very quickly. I like good arguments. I don’t get them nearly often enough.

I need better opponents.

Comments

  1. says

    As I think I’ve said before, what I find so striking about the anti-A+ crowd is their total lack of anything like a set of goals or a strategy. What is it they want? How do they intend to bring it about? Love it or hate it, you’ve got to acknowledge that the proponents of Atheism Plus have been very clear about what changes we want to see happen in the atheist movement.

    But the trolls on the other side of this debate seemingly have nothing but a low-grade haze of harassment and invective. They want to bully some of us into silence, that’s quite obvious, but other than that it doesn’t seem like they’ve even thought about what it is they’re trying to accomplish.

  2. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    How long til your detractors crawl out of the woodwork because you wrote this post…?

  3. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    Adam Lee:

    I think you’ve unintentionally nailed it.
    They don’t *want* things to change. Like it or not A+ is trying to make changes to the Atheist/Skeptic community.
    Those fighting vehemently against A+, as well as Stephanie, Greta, PZ, Ophelia, Rebecca, et al don’t want progress. They want status quo.

  4. Lofty says

    Public debate for most people isn’t about rational debate. It’s about volume and quantity of rhetoric, drowning out the opposition. You canna win against a troll except by ripping out its tongue.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    No, 1 & 3, you’re both wrong. I think they’re very clear on what they want.

    They want to be able to go to conventions where there AREN’T any women who will express opinions, disagree with them in any way, or possess any form of personal boundaries,

    but there ARE women who will be willing to have no-strings-attached passionate elevator sex with them whenever they’re asked.

    What do you mean those women don’t exist? Surely there are millions of them out there! The feminazis are just scaring them away. As soon as Stephanie, Ophelia, Amy and Rebecca have been kicked out, the women they’re seeking will start emerging like shy forest creatures.

    How can you say that’s too much to ask?

  6. says

    The anti-crowd seems to be a swirling mixture of “you can’t tell me what to do!” libertarian immaturity and “I’m just here to feel morally and intellectually superior, so stop criticizing me!” narcissism. There’s no goal beyond serving their self-regard and preserving their freedom from even the most basic rules of decent human interaction.

    They don’t make arguments because they don’t actually have one. What they have is a desire to preserve the status quo with them on top, like Tony says. Why strive to be better when you can shout down critics and maintain the illusion of perfection? And who is anyone to be a critic anyways, if you can simply refuse to accept that other people have the authority to judge?

  7. says

    You are making a mistake just blogging here you see, the centre of the sceptical universe is at the Slymepit itself! On the surface it seems like a bunch of misogynistic monkeys drawing willies on pictures of women they don’t like but really they are sceptic knights chomping at the bit for a good argument. Can I play matchmaker and send you over there for a good argument? In the words of Michael K Gray…

    Have the FfTB no-one who is able to logically engage with us?
    Oolon is a lost cause, a member of the Borg who is fighting a losing battle against his assimilation, and Steersman is just bloody boring and entirely vapid:- never actually making a single substantiated point.
    PZ, Beccy, Jen! Send us your best champion, I beg of thee.
    The two so far have been abject failures.

    We could do with the policing and I, for one, would welcome it.

    I assume no [sarcasm] tag is required? Although I find it interesting they actually claim to think like this, anyone disagreeing on there will quickly find themselves an addition to the members killfile/ignore list :-)

  8. says

    It’s all Rebecca Watson’s fault!

    ++++

    but there ARE women who will be willing to have no-strings-attached passionate elevator sex with them whenever they’re asked.

    I’m afraid there isn’t enough Mallorie to go around for everybody…

  9. Rob says

    Posts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 (and 8 especially 8!) all have parts of it right. It’s also pretty clear that there are people who are just plain contrarian and like to argue a position for the jollies. Some do it because they find it amusing to stir up others. Some think they are being terribly clever.

    As for MKG accusing FTB writers and commentators of being illogical, boring or lacking substance – HA! Pot. Kettle Black.

    Any time I’ve seen him post here my immediate reaction has been to rearrange the words pretentious vapid twit into a new combination.

    Stephanie, maybe another FTB writer or commentator could make a good faith effort to argue against you on a defined topic? It would make an interesting post in two parts. Not quite the same as when you’re arguing against someone who actually disagrees, but at least someone will have an honest attempt.

  10. says

    Some do it because they find it amusing to stir up others

    *guilty as charged here too*. I find taking the piss out of the Slymepit amusing, but on a more serious note I think humour is vastly preferable to hyperbole. Denouncing them all as ‘misogynistic scum’ for example will likely increase their membership. I’m sure franc, ERV and the gang were very happy with that post discussed in the link!

    So hence the sarcasm in my post as reasoned argument does the architects of the Slymepit no favours so I don’t believe they want it. The current polarised situation where they can twist the narrative to one of FtBs hating them all plays into the nuttier Pitters hands. How else would anyone on there keep a straight face when Tuvok, MKG etc denounce all of ‘FfTBs’ as “Psychopathic ideologues”.

    I’d add that Ophelias and Stephanies posts on the various issues and to and fro have been great. Ophelias ‘cat lady’ jokes and the parody of Marias Rebecca post were perfect in humour. This one is a clear denunciation of their lack of reasoned criticism.

  11. Rob says

    Hi Oolon

    Oh I have noooo problems with humour. I wish I was consistently better with it. Too often I come up with the perfect comeback 2.5 hours later. Parody and satire are powerful weapons used correctly. The hijacking of #FTBullies was a thing of beauty for example. Keep right at it. Bullies, the irony challenged and those suffering cognitive dissonance hate humour being used against them in my experience. Possibly because they sometimes have trouble recognising it, but more likely because at the end of the day they tend to be far to full of their own importance.

  12. johngreg says

    The truth would be more like this:

    - Somebody who disagrees with me [Stefunny] comes along, drops a link to a post roughly addressing a position of mine, and tells me he awaits my response. I ignore most of his argument, good or bad, misrepresent and Gish-gallop the rest, then insult him, tell him he just doesn’t get it, then delete his post and place him in moderation as a prestep to outright banning.

    - I write a post saying that pregnancy is like rape in a lot ways. Then somone who has been both raped, and pregnant, informs me that she does not think they are at all similar, and asks me to not make that claim again. Another commenter says that my claim of pregnancy being like rape is absurd. So I just ignore them both.

    - I wrote an angry post about creating sexual harrassment policies at conferences, and lots of commenters here and elsewhere disagreed with my proposed methods of achieving this goal. So I thoroughly misrepresented their disagreement about method as being against having any policies at all, and continue to misrepresent their argument to this day, ’cause it’s fun.

    - I write a post challenging people to make an argument for Dawkins’ “zero bad” comment that doesn’t involve leaving out parts of the story. And when they did, I insulted, deleted, moderated and/or outright banned them while all the while misrepresenting their arguments, ’cause it’s fun.

  13. says

    @12: I want to personally thank you for illustrating Stephanie’s point so ably. Especially since you failed to fulfill any of the criteria you set out in your first bullet point for what counts as a “rebuttal” of her points.

  14. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Didn’t you read the title of the OP? We want *better* opponents. Johngreg, go away and come back when you can find a detractor who knows how to link to evidence for their shitty claims.

    See all those blue bits in the OP? Your comment should have them too, if it is supposed to be taken seriously.

  15. Nepenthe says

    @12

    You can’t Gish Gallop in writing. The term is only meaningful if one’s opponent has a limited amount of time to deal with one’s arguments.

    If you’re accusing someone of Gish Galloping you in print, what you’re actually saying is “I’m too lazy to read a long argument or too stupid to deviate from my talking points or both”.

  16. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Johngreg, how about you attempt to show us that you are not actually the quintessential inept opponent that Stephanie is talking about.

    1) What is one contention of Stephanie’s that you disagree with. Link to it so that we can judge the argument and context as well.

    2) Now, explain why you disagree. Link to articles/studies/additional information substantiating your claim.
    .
    .
    .
    3)Profit!

  17. Joe says

    @17

    I don’t see how the post he is refering to could be considered a Gish-Gallop even if there was a response time limit – it makes, like, two arguments and provides evidence to back them up. As far as I am aware, Gish-Galloping involves making lots and lots of arguments with very little evidence.

  18. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    There was a brief discussion over at Ophelia’s about the generally poor quality of her detractors*.

    One commentor, Jenora Feuer, hit the nail on the head,

    Regarding the enemies thing from the start of the thread, I think in this case what it means is that the clever enemies would have figured out by now that opening their mouths is a losing proposition. Not so much that you’re not worth clever enemies than that the clever ones wouldn’t be putting their heads directly on the chopping block and taunting you like this.

    * http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/10/reap-paden-is-another-mencken-or-even-hitchens/#comment-330143

  19. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    The second half of Jenora’s comment was good as well, I’ll post it too just for more exposure,

    And I think I’ve figured out where guys like this are coming from: Atheism is not his primary philosophy. His primary philosophy is ‘Yer not the boss o’ me!’ Atheism just comes from his willingness to include God and church in the list of things that aren’t the boss of him, as opposed to any rational or skeptical approaches to the world.

    This is not to say that the anti-social justice atheist dolts are not True Atheists, but merely states the fact that not everyone approaches their atheism from a skeptical/scientific worldview.

    I definitely get a strong whiff of “Yer not the boss o’ me” from johngreg.

  20. says

    John:

    What parts of Vacula’s argument do I ignore that are of any substance whatsoever?

    Why should I address comments that (1) contain no argument, as I discussed here, or (2) other commenters have already amply addressed? Also, what part of mentioning the comment here and talking about how it fails to contain an argument counts as ignoring it?

    Whose specific arguments have I misrepresented and where?

    Which comments in the challenge post meet the challenge?

  21. says

    So, Renee, your argument is that they don’t have anything in common because they have differences? No, differences are what keep them from being the same thing, which I never claimed. It does not keep them from having commonalities.

  22. says

    Steph, you’re comparing an *inconvenience* to a complete and thorough violation of a person. It’s like comparing an apple to a space station. I did notice you felt it completely unnecessary to address where you lied and where you asked for me to talk about our “disagreements”.

  23. says

    Renee, being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is only an inconvenience? Really? Also, you seem to have trouble understanding the difference between making a comparison and equating two things.

    What lie or lies are you talking about, and where did I ask you to do anything? Please be specific.

  24. Rodney Nelson says

    Renee, your initial statement on this blog read as a non sequitur coupled with “don’t ever mention this again.” The last statement tells people you don’t want to talk about it. So don’t complain if nobody starts a conversation with you.

  25. says

    Rodney – I did not say “don’t mention this again”. I said don’t “compare the two” again. Very different. And if I wanted to be an ass (like so many I see ranting about) I would say “check your privilege” because unless you’ve been raped and/or in the position of having an unwanted pregnancy, you’ve got no business comparing the two.

  26. Rob says

    Renee. I am terribly sorry that you were raped. As a male who has never been raped or coerced into unwanted sex I struggle to understand the sense of violation that must engender. However, your experience and view point is a single anecdotal data point. It does not tell us how many, let alone all woman who have been in that position feel. It certainly doesn’t tell us how woman who have been in only one or neither of those positions feels about the proposition. It is simply valid for you alone. Others may agree. Clearly not all do – see…

    I’m here to tell you an unwanted pregnancy is *NOTHING* like rape. Not even remotely. One is an inconvenience. The other is a complete and thorough violation of one’s body and mental stability.

    The latter is exactly what my unwanted pregnancy felt like to me. Had I not had access to a safe abortion, I would have ended it through whatever means possible, self-harm included. Zvan’s comparison won’t resonate with every woman, but for my own self, the description was very apt.

    from LicoriceAllsort just four posts below yours in that thread. Again, one persons point of view, but clearly different from yours. Does your point of view negate hers? You complain that Stephanie never addressed your point of view or engaged you in conversation. Yet you never attempted to address LicoriceAllsort’s. In fact you didn’t post to that thread again that I can see.

    Perhaps a little less flouncing off and a little more engaging in the conversation is in order from you?

  27. says

    “Stephanie’s criteria” I’d like to make a point. Stephanie, you seem to think the world needs to answer to you and any demands/criteria you require. The reason no one meets your criteria Stephanie is because you lack comprehension skills. I pointed out that you did/do not know Justin Vacula and were in no position to label him. Women/people who do know him in real life have disagreed with your judgement of him. I would tend to believe those people. I’ve met him in real life, consider him a good friend and I can tell you he is not a hater of women. I’m not making up stories Stephanie. The fact don’t like me doesn’t make me a liar nor does it make my opinion worthless. Justin is a young adult who makes mistakes, and learns from them. You act as though you never make mistakes because you are unwilling to give him a break. You think it is your place to make sure he is punished for your perception of his wrong doings.You are intent on painting him as an enemy. You can choose to take your limited knowledge of him which is comprised of actions on the internet and label him as evil. I don’t think that is reasonable or fair, it indicates an ego that is at least disturbingly over-inflated. In other words- We disagree. I think that if more people start to behave like you many good people would never get a chance to do good work. People learn from mistakes Stephanie, it’s how we grow. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you and the fact I do have to explain it supports my earlier point- You lack comprehension skills in at least some aspects of human behavior and don’t seem to grasp how people learn. I know being so damn perfect has probably been a great burden on you and it has taken an obvious toll on the number of things about you which are likeable. Maybe try to be more forgiving because you are not perfect (sorry) and you make yourself look silly when you fail to consider the other people who live on the planet and the fact they may not think exactly like you. That doesn’t make them wrong, it makes them different. If you still don’t get it, that’s your problem. If I explain it again I’m gonna have to bill you. You are more than welcome to ring me up and discuss these points with me. I do a live radio show weekly on Tuesdays at 5pm pst the number is 559-316-4737 or I’ll even call you- email me the number. The listeners can choose for themselves who is being rational. It will also provide an opportunity for you to get over yourself, glad to help.

  28. says

    Justin is a young adult who makes mistakes, and learns from them.

    Oh? So you agree he made mistakes?

    I haven’t seen you call him out on those, nor have I seen him admit to them.

    I do find it amusing that you’re trying to drum up some intelligent conversation for your podcast. I think you’ve built up a clientele of assholes and misogynists, and I doubt that they’d appreciate hearing from someone with a smarter point of view, so you’re wasting your time.

  29. birdterrifier says

    I’m saddened that you took this opportunity to drag up an old controversy (JREF) in order to ask for better opponents. For one, DJ is always trying to bring skeptics together as it is a part of his job so I despise you taking another shot across the bow when he has clearly stepped out of the conversation. Second, the Grothe example should be a warning to anyone that dare address you on your blog in an earnest manner. Because you and your commenters will pile on and react with scorn when a taboo view is voiced, I doubt you truly want a “better opponent”. But then again, you do go back and forth with James Croft so I could be wrong :).

    You seem to leave out that DJ had said that women had sent missives to him detailing outrageous accusations so I would say that he had good reason to believe that people were being fed misinformation, and he simply said that that may be part of why less women were returning. It certainly is not the case that less women were registering because there was no sexual harassment policy.

    Also, the sexual harassment that you claim was filed to DJ and proves him lying may not have been considered sexual harassment or harassment at all by DJ. The person that filed the complaint gave details as to what they had filed. What was filed was a complaint that a man may be taking up skirt photos but he was not seen taking the up skirt photos so I can see how DJ may not have considered this a sexual harassment complaint. What about you?

  30. says

    Really? This lie, asshat: “She tells me never to talk about the subject again.” That’s not what I said. I said “Please, do me a favor and never, ever compare the two ever again.” NOT the same thing. But I’m sure you’ll tapdance and attempt to make it similar. Please continue.

  31. Nepenthe says

    What is it with anti-social-justice types and abysmal writing? And not merely poor writing, but violently incoherent ramblings that make all our want loan words scramble aboard boats to head back to their motherlands. (Sorry totem, pecan, and moccasin, you’re stuck here.)

    Just one question for you Reap: what is that “Stephanie’s criteria” appended to your comment? You never address her criteria for a good opponent in your post beyond asserting that someone (maybe you mean Vacula?) meets them.

  32. says

    “Here’s all the reasons I think you’re wrong and should shut up and should stop participating in the movement in deference to those who are attacking you day in and day out. Now here’s my number if you’d like me to reiterate these points in audio form. Also, I’ll charge you for the privilege of being told you’re wrong again. What, evidence for my assertions? Piffle.”

  33. birdterrifier says

    @Thibeault Your translations for people you don’t like are… predictable.

    (Is it sarcastic comments like that that get me in moderation mode? I seriously don’t know what else I’ve done.)

  34. A. Noyd says

    reappaden (#33)

    [Y]ou seem to think the world needs to answer to you and any demands/criteria you require.

    Oh, that’s rich coming from the guy who’s constantly trying to get people to contact him directly or call in to his craptacular wannabe shock jock radio show. You’ve even done it in this very same post!

    Women/people….

    Nice of you to separate out the two.

  35. says

    Oh, and when *anyone* can give some actual facts on how being raped is so similar to being pregnant erroneously, please do stop by my blog and tell me alllll about the similarities. I’ll be all ears.

  36. Mr. Dank says

    Waa, waa, waa. Has it eve occurred to you that your ‘arguements’ are so ridiculous that some people have no but choice to mock, jeer and satirize your statements. One day you will realize that you and your ilk are a stain on the skeptic/ atheist movement. The low turnout to your events should be evidence enough.

  37. Bjarte Foshaug says

    If your opponents were better they couldn’t be holding the views they are advoctaing in the first place.

    When your opponents accuse you of “labeling people as misogynists and bigots only for disagreeing with you”, they are just being disingenuous. I just want to briefly comment on what seems to be the unstated premise behind this particular piece of well-poisoning, namely that no one deserves to be condemned for “only disagreeing”. I don’t think it’s as simple as that. It depends on what it is they are disagreeing with. Not all disagreements or differences of opinion are created equal.

    If, for instance, I say that women should be treated with the same respect as men – and not only on the condition that their personal boundaries never get in the way of entitled male assholes’ desire to seek pleasure at women’s expense – this is not something any decent person can disagree with.

    No decent person can disagree that it’s unacceptable to call women “bitches”, and “cunts”, and “feminazis” for refusing to shut up and take the insanely malevolent and sociopathic abuse, bullying, harassment, and threats they are subjected to on a daily basis lying down.

    No decent person can disagree that it’s unacceptable to tell women to just shut up and be grateful for whatever level of “respect” entitled male assholes are willing to give them, because “Dear Muslima” has it worse.

    No decent person can disagree that parodying a woman’s art for the sole purpose of humiliating and mocking her is a shitty thing to do, and if you behave that way you’re an absolute excrement.

    No decent person can disagree that posting a woman’s home address along with pictures of her house on a known hate-site is totally unacceptable in every possible universe.

    No decent person can disagree that it’s unacceptable to demand that every woman on the planet behave in ways that would increase her own risk of getting raped in order to give you the benefit of the doubt (and then blame the victim for behaving that way if she ends up actually getting raped).

    No decent person can disagree that it would be totally intellectually dishonest to frame anything I have said in this post as an attack on cognitive liberty or free speech. It’s not your freedom to say any damn thing you want that’s the problem. It’s wanting to say said “damn things” in the first place that makes you an asshole.

  38. says

    reapif-you-want-me-to-stop-calling-you-a-bitch-stop-behaving-like-one Paden

    I’ve met him in real life, consider him a good friend and I can tell you he is not a hater of women.

    I’m pretty sure Michelle Bachman will assure you that Mitt Rmoney isn’t racist.

    Rene Hendricks
    I’m glad your pregnancy went well and smooth as pie. Because as a two times mother of wanted babies with relative smooth pregnancies I can’t imagine to describe even these pregnancies as a “fucking inconvenience. They were a major sacrifice I made. Puking non-stop for 3 months wasn’t inconvenient, it was horrible. The pain like being stabbed with a knife at every step when the fetus was in a bad position wasn’t inconvenient, it made me cry on the street. And let’s not even talk about labour and childbirth. Having to deal with the housing company because the roof is leaky, that’s an inconvenience. Pregnancy was not.
    Did you choose to carry the unwanted pregancy to term or were you denied access to abortion? Did you give up the baby for adoption or choose to keep it? Do you notice the word choose in those?
    You see that other people have a different experience, why is yours the one that trumps all the others.

    John Greg
    Pronouns, they’re not your friend, apparently.

  39. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Reap, you forgot to accuse Stephanie of eating too much cat food, or something.

  40. hjhornbeck says

    Aaahhh, this thread pretty much has it all, from insightful analysis to insipid trolling that only proves that analysis is spot on. I really don’t have much to offer. Hmmm…

    Tell you what: when I have a decent chunk of free time, I’ll swoop into another thread with my Devil’s Advocate hat on. Once the dust settles, we’ll see if an occasional A+ defender can do better than a committed anti-A+ one.

    Deal?

  41. says

    Reap, the only label I’ve applied to Vacula is “vacuous shitbag troll”. That was based on his behavior, done right out in the open where I could observe it. Troll because he was disrupting a discussion. Vacuous because he was doing it without any substance to his complaints. Shitbag because of the topic he was disrupting. That last is a value-call on my part.

    But you don’t mean that. You mean the petition. Read it again. There are no labels there. There is only a list of behaviors that are unsuitable for someone in a leadership position.

    If you actually want to have an argument about what I did, you have to understand what I did, as opposed to the straw-bitch you keep in your head. You have to be able to describe it accurately. Then you have to point out why it’s wrong.

    So Vacula’s friends love him. That’s kind of the point of friends. It doesn’t make someone’s behavior any more suited to a leadership position. So people can learn. What has Vacula learned that makes him more suited for a leadership position? He hasn’t said. In fact, he’s continued at least some of the behavior listed in the petition. So I’m not perfect. I’m not the person asking to be put in a leadership position.

    See how this works? This is how you actually argue, Reap.

  42. says

    Renee, the comparison of the two was the subject of that post, as I noted when I said, “I write a post about the commonalities between being raped and being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term to point out that calling rape babies an act of God is a particular sort of cruelty.” [emphasis added] If I’m not to compare them, please explain how I am supposed to talk about that subject.

  43. says

    Also, Renee, there was plenty of further discussion on that post. It just wasn’t conversation with me, because I was at a conference. I was busy, and other commenters had the subject well in hand.

  44. says

    …please do stop by my blog and tell me alllll about the similarities.

    How about you address the commonalities that were listed in the original post you complained on. If you manage to convince us those are all invalid, maybe we’ll come up with more. Maybe we’ll tell you you’re right. First, however, you have to do something more than say, “Nuh-uh.” I made an argument. Make a counterargument that is something more than, “You don’t have any right to make this comparison, but why don’t you make it again on my blog.”

  45. says

    Sex is to rape what a wanted pregnancy is to an unwanted pregnancy.

    It’s a violation of my body, against my will, in which I am rendered powerless to control what happens to my own personal being. In which I am subjected to another, with my emotions and feelings on the subject rendered valueless. In which someone other than myself is believed to have greater entitlement to my body than I do. In which my choice and agency are stripped from me. In which my consent doesn’t matter fuck-all. In which any negative consequences to myself are rendered immaterial. In which my life, health, mental and emotional well-being are all in danger and I have no recourse. And in which I will be blamed, no matter where the responsibility should actually lie or how many precautions I actually took.

    There is your similarity.

  46. fwtbc says

    The mindset of these opponents makes me think very much of Mens Rights Advocates. Their approach seems more about achieving equality in the areas they care about by making things worse for women, rather than making things better for men.

    I find the defence of Vacula to be amusing as well. You shouldn’t criticise him via your online platform for things he says on his online platform because offline, external to his activism, he likes to cuddle teddybears and he thinks girls are really neato.

  47. says

    It’s like comparing an apple to a space station.

    If you can’t find similarities between an apple and a space station, I think you’ve identified your problem.

  48. says

    For one, DJ is always trying to bring skeptics together as it is a part of his job

    That assumes he does his job well, an assertion that has been a matter of quite a bit of dispute.

    so I despise you taking another shot across the bow when he has clearly stepped out of the conversation.

    Has he? Last I saw he was still taking passive-aggressive swipes on Twitter. If this has changed, that would be good.

    Second, the Grothe example should be a warning to anyone that dare address you on your blog in an earnest manner.

    Yet you dare. Repeatedly. You hero.

    Because you and your commenters will pile on and react with scorn when a taboo view is voiced, I doubt you truly want a “better opponent”.

    Yes, this blog is all about the taboo. That’s why I’ve written sympathetically about pedophilia and sex work and…wait for it…religion.

    That is scorn, by the way, but I don’t usually find anything wrong with scorn as long as it’s both warranted and accompanied by critique.

    But then again, you do go back and forth with James Croft so I could be wrong .

    I do, and I have a great deal of fun doing it. That you could be wrong should maybe have occured to you sooner.

    You seem to leave out that DJ had said that women had sent missives to him detailing outrageous accusations so I would say that he had good reason to believe that people were being fed misinformation,

    I don’t know what Grothe received in those emails, and frankly, at this point, I’d want to read them for myself rather than trust anything he had to say. As for misinformation, on the matters he mentioned, people were “fed” this blog post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/03/dammit-dj/. Good luck finding the kinds of accusations he says are being passed around.

    and he simply said that that may be part of why less women were returning.

    Oh, no. He said quite a bit more. It’s all there at the link in the post, in his own words, in case you don’t remember and haven’t bothered to check before posting your comment.

    It certainly is not the case that less women were registering because there was no sexual harassment policy.

    Whom do you think you’re arguing with here? No one said that that I know of.

    Also, the sexual harassment that you claim was filed to DJ and proves him lying may not have been considered sexual harassment or harassment at all by DJ. The person that filed the complaint gave details as to what they had filed. What was filed was a complaint that a man may be taking up skirt photos but he was not seen taking the up skirt photos so I can see how DJ may not have considered this a sexual harassment complaint. What about you?

    Me? I paid attention to what Lee said was in the report. There was a good bit more than the camera, and they received promises from Grothe personally about the other harassing behavior. See here: http://skepchick.org/2012/06/guest-post-harassment-happens/

    You want to know why you’re in moderation? For throwing around a bunch of misinformation just like this.

  49. Martha says

    You certainly deserve better opponents. Your readers would appreciate them, too.

    Alas, this reader sees no evidence of such opponents here. The only argument here that has any potential at all is Renee’s, but she completely loses credibility by insisting on re-stating your argument inaccurately.

    Elisions, I believe you once wrote an excellent post about them…

  50. birdterrifier says

    I don’t have a discernible status in the movement to protect, so no, there is no fear posting here (besides, hardly anyone here goes by their real name so there are no repercussions). And, I’m not spreading misinformation. I’m just interpreting the facts differently from you.

    I know everything about Lee’s account (That is I thought I did. I read this link to her full story over at Skepchick and now know that they were not just talking about the camera but Buzz0′s entire body of unwanted attention giving) and how brave they were to come out and then explain in exact detail what was filed. There was more than just Buzz0 looking suspicious but I’m not going to act like I would know exactly how to address him and just because he came out of this with a different opinion does not make him an unworthy opponent.

    On the contrary, the thread for the “Dammit, DJ” post reveals how well he reasoned and dispassionate his opinions were regarding the outrages at the time. I know that dispassionate is not seen as a good thing around here (and impossible to do, for sure, but maybe something to strive for?) but possibly you can see that the style in which he was trying to argue does not escalate emotions on purpose. Grothe was attempting to answer questions in ways that satisfied both him and the audience without taking personal umbrage even while accusations were thrown about (not the least the uncharitable “translations” provided by the commentariat). This seems to me the only way that you can have a worthy opponent. If you are willing to accuse them of spreading misinformation (as if I’m just making shit up so as to confuse others) whenever they are attempting to critique you then I don’t know that you will find that higher echelon of opponent that you seek.

  51. birdterrifier says

    Shit. Pronouns do me wrong so often and I crafted a very confusing sentence regarding Buzz0 and Grothe in the second paragraph. Sorry about that.

    I said: “There was more than just Buzz0 looking suspicious but I’m not going to act like I would know exactly how to address him and just because he came out of this with a different opinion does not make him an unworthy opponent.”

    Let’s change this to:
    “There was more than just Buzz0 looking suspicious but I’m not going to act like I would know exactly how to address him. Also, just because Groethe came out of this particular argument with a different opinion does not make him an unworthy opponent.”

    Now I feel like I should change all of that. Oh well.

  52. says

    I’m not spreading misinformation. I’m just interpreting the facts differently from you.

    No, what you’re doing is pointing selectively to a few facts and acting as though the rest don’t exist. That’s a form of misinformation.

    There was more than just Buzz0 looking suspicious but I’m not going to act like I would know exactly how to address him.

    Given that TAM had a much-vaunted policy, the process for dealing with him should have been quite clear. At the very least, Grothe should have followed up as he promised to do. He did not.

    Also, just because Groethe came out of this particular argument with a different opinion does not make him an unworthy opponent.

    “No harassment claims filed” is not a difference of opinion. Grothe didn’t leave that comment to tell us all that, in his ever-so-humble opinion, TAM was a cool place to be. He presented statistics, and he made a truth claim about sexual harassment reports. It was a lie.

    On the contrary, the thread for the “Dammit, DJ” post reveals how well he reasoned and dispassionate his opinions were regarding the outrages at the time. I know that dispassionate is not seen as a good thing around here (and impossible to do, for sure, but maybe something to strive for?) but possibly you can see that the style in which he was trying to argue does not escalate emotions on purpose. Grothe was attempting to answer questions in ways that satisfied both him and the audience without taking personal umbrage even while accusations were thrown about (not the least the uncharitable “translations” provided by the commentariat).

    Which part would that be? Would that be where he said, “It may be the atheist blog sort of thing to do to insist someone who disagrees with something on one blog weeks before repeat themselves on multiple other atheist blogs weeks later (does that help with page views?)”? Where he said, “there is deceptive and dishonest tarring-and-feathering”? Where he kept responding to PZ and ignoring my points? Where he said, “I know it may be good for blog hits”? Where he said, “I think so many of these internet kerfuffles seem to distract from that important and necessary work.” Where he characterized disagreement as attacks? Where he said, “Few of these sorts of blog posts, this one included, appear genuinely to attempt to change anyone’s behavior for the better; instead, they seem to me to be deliberately controversialist, and focused on excoriating individuals for various things”? Where he accused me of creating an ad hominem when I was specifically disagreeing with his behavior, not his ideas? Where he said, “Of course, the rewards resulting from these sorts of unfair polemical and personal attacks ilk your blog post may be too great to change your MO, which I can sort of understand”? Or was it where he said:

    I’ll go back to believing what I have believed for a while now about some of these atheist blogs, now yours included: that fomenting movement controversy often seems to be prized over honest and sincere argument, that some folks are too quick to vilify and engage in destructive in-group/out-group thinking, that these online communities are exclusive rather than inclusive, and that unfortunately as a whole, the feminist and atheist blogospheres often operate quite separately from and counter the growing skeptical movement working to combat unreason and harmful pseudoscience in society.

    If that’s dispassionate to you, you’ve got some work to do on reading comprehension.

    If you are willing to accuse them of spreading misinformation (as if I’m just making shit up so as to confuse others) whenever they are attempting to critique you then I don’t know that you will find that higher echelon of opponent that you seek.

    The fact that I point out that you’re spreading misinformation–within a comment listing the misinformation you’re spreading–is no indication at all that I accuse everyone of spreading misinformation. Unless you think everyone spreads misinformation the same way you do?

  53. JoeBuddha says

    Ahh, blog perfection. To clearly and succinctly state your position in the post itself and to allow your “opponents” to provide the supporting material in the comments. If I wore a hat, it’d be off to you.

  54. DrVanNostrand says

    I’m shocked by how how obviously evasive Renee Hendricks is being. I’ve read this entire thread and the entire previous thread (about rape and forced pregnancy) and she has offered absolutely no arguments to any of the following:

    1. There is a difference between an unplanned pregnancy and a forced unplanned pregnancy
    2. Her experience does not invalidate the experiences of many other women, who find forced unplanned pregnancy repugnant, crushing, vile, and much more than a mere inconvenience.

    I don’t know why she refuses to engage anyone other than Stephanie, but I’ve personally found the contributions of the commenters to be even more powerful than her original post.

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