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Feb 26 2013

Vacula Talks (Updated)

Let me know if he says anything that makes it worth eight minutes of my time and sitting through a podcaster who can’t be bothered to figure out how to pronounce the name of someone who says it half a dozen times every other weekend for her radio show. Right now, it’s past my bedtime.

Or feel free to transcribe your favorite bits in the comments. I assume there was a reason it wasn’t all written down in plain text for quoting.

Update: athyco has come through with a transcript! I’m (slowly) going through and making sure we agree on the wording, as well as adding some annotations for tone and images. I’ll include them here when I’m done. These are now included.

Hi, Justin Vacula here, recording a YouTube video in response to [image of a comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] Stephanie Zvan’s blogpost February 26, 2013, titled “Think About the Consequences!”. Stephanie Zvan responds to some advice that I provided for people who face criticism and hate on the internet. I wrote:

Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.
Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.
Refrain from attacking individuals; stick to criticism of ideas rather than persons.
Consider how people might respond to what you write. Can something be reframed so as to not lead to undesirable criticism?
Avoid sharing content when experiencing heightened emotions (great anger, disgust, stress, etc)
Consider sharing something with friends before it becomes public. A second (or third) set of eyes might suggest helpful edits which would avoid negative feedback.

[image of a different comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] Steven Novella agreed with this and said, “Your specific recommendations at the end of your last comment are all reasonable.”

Stephanie Zvan does not like what I had to say. She authored a blog post here, and she talks about [dismissive tone] harassment that some people face. She says she faces harassment on the internets [sic] and claims that Novella says I am minimizing and mischaracterizing the situation. The situation which is Stephanie Zvan and friends experiencing negative…negative pushback on the internet, [image of a different comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] which is people commenting on Twitter, blogs–some of them saying nasty things admittedly. She considers it cyberstalking and harassment.

Well, it’s really besides [sic] the point of this YouTube video, and I’ve addressed this before. And Stephanie Zvan writes:

I’m not sure what I would have done in his position. [sic]

…referring to Steve Novella. She continues:

It generally sounds reasonable until you realize that half of those amount to [Valley Girl accent] “Stop talking” and the rest–given as advice–assume facts not in evidence.

I’m not really sure what she means by that. [image of a comment by EllenBeth Wachs on Center for Inquiry's blog] My recommendations here, for people who face criticism and hate to reduce the criticism and hate, are very reasonable things people can do. It’s what Karla Porter refers to–and I’m sure many others–as reputation management. The way people present themselves [image of a tweet by Amanda Marcotte] has something to do with their perception, with the criticism they receive.

After all, as I’ve pointed out on many occasions, there are many women on the internet–there are many feminists on the internet, some of them including men, who write about feminism, who write about women’s issues, who write about anything given in the world, and they don’t receive the level of criticism, negative feedback, what Stephanie Zvan calls harassment and cyberstalking. [image of a Twitter exchange with EllenBeth Wachs] They don’t receive this.

So the situation is that some people negative criticism and pushback on the internet while other don’t. So there has to be some kind of reason why this is the case. Magical harassment fairies, magical cyberstalking fairies, magical negative dissenters–whatever you want to call them–don’t just appear out of thin air and criticize people on the internet. It doesn’t happen that way.

But there has to be some reason behind it, right? These people aren’t just going to randomly pop up. So I give some advice for people. [image of a tweet from EllenBeth Wachs] And I really think that if you’re going to be on the internet, you’re going to be talking a big game, you’re going to be saying really nasty things about people–calling people “sexist”, calling people “misogynsist”–instead of approaching the situation in a different manner and being charitable and saying, “Well, maybe what you have to say there could have been reframed differently.” Instead of engaging in a call-out culture in which you’re going to talk about how your ideological opponents or whomever said this nasty thing–this alleged nasty thing–you can use the moment as an instructional tool [image of Vacula's advice] and say something like, “Well, here’s how I would have said it. Here’s the message I think that’s being conveyed by this piece.” Not making it nasty; not saying nasty things about the people.

But Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina, PZ Myers—they don’t do that. They’re very often very uncharitable, and they reach the worst conclusions possible. And I believe (and this is just my hypothesis) that the reason they receive the negative pushback is because of the way they present themselves on the internet. Again, there are many people who would identify as feminists. There are many people who are women. There are many males who identify as feminist. There are so many people on the internet, right, who are similar ideologically to Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, etc. on gender issues–as some call gender ideologues…whatever you’d like to call them…feminists…whatever.

There are people writing about feminism who don’t get the pushback, so why is it that Stephanie Zvan gets the pushback, and other people writing about feminism don’t get the pushback?

It’s a good question, I’d like Stephanie Zvan to answer that question. I haven’t really seen an answer to this just yet. I’m all ears. I’m all ears.

When people like Stephanie Zvan complain about the treatment they receive and they engage in the same tactics of this call out-culture of imputing malice, thinking people have these horrible intentions behind the words they type, when that might not be the case. They look at the worst situation possible instead of being charitable, again.

Well, why is it that she receives the criticism? I pose some tips here to reduce the criticism, and I’m fully aware that some of Stephanie Zvan’s critics are not going to go away. There are just nasty people out there who are not voicing reasonable opinions and being charitable, and some of these people, I must say, have tried in the past, but the efforts at diplomacy have failed so they’ve just resorted to ridicule and satire. But either way, I think that if Stephanie Zvan and company want the alleged bullies to go away…if they presented themselves differently on the internet, that they would go away, that people would stop talking about it.

But week after there’s a new Witch of the Week, a new person who’s horrible sexist, misogynist, women hater! when it really isn’t the case. And instead of using instances as an educational opportunity and just talking about the issues (not being nasty, not accusing people), they participate in the call-out culture. And that’s I think why they get this criticism, because of the way they present themselves.

When you’re on the internet and you going to say nasty things about people, you’re going to get a nasty pushback. It’s not to say the nasty pushback is morally justified, but it’s just a state of fact; it’s just to state how the internet “is.” It’s not to justify the behavior.

So the million dollar question once again is this: “Why is it that some feminists experience negative feedback on the internet while others do not?”

It’s a wonderful question to explore. And I can’t wait for the comments in the article and hopefully a response from Stephanie Zvan and Ophelia Benson who also commented on what Stephanie had to say.

So, we await the response.

80 comments

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  1. 1
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Well, for someone demanding you answer him, he is sure giving me a lot of attention in that video and taking my tweets of context for his misuse. What a shock!

  2. 2
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    YouTube is being unhelpful, so I’ve only listened to the first minute. Though I do have to admit I’ve learned something; I’ve always pronounced ‘Vacula’ to rhyme with ‘Dracula’, which I now know isn’t how he pronounces it.

    Sadly, I suspect that’s the only revelation this piece will contain…

  3. 3
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Same ole shit, “bitches be asking for it”

  4. 4
    brx0

    Blech. I could only take 8 seconds of it. Something about that voice just screams “white van owner”.

  5. 5
    Danny

    There’s not a single piece of useful data in the video, at all. There’s the pronunciation thing mentioned, but even that I can’t say is useful to know.

  6. 6
    John-Henry Beck

    Apparently the “million dollar question” for Stephanie and Ophelia is, “Why is it that some feminists experience negative feedback on the Internet while others do not?”

    I can’t believe I listened to all 8 minutes of that. He seems quite certain of his ‘advice’ that it’s about how one presents themselves on the Internet, and ‘reputation management’, and apparently the problem is the ‘callout culture’ that people like Stephanie, Ophelia, and PZ engage in.
    But he comes across amazingly oblivious to the contradictions. Feminists like Stephanie and etc are being awfully nasty, assuming the worst of people, causing them to get “pushback”. And the response is, of course, just “pushback”, satire, and ridicule. Not really harassment. But, once again, it’s Stephanie and Ophelia and PZ who are being completely uncharitable and assuming the worst and being nasty…

    I guess it’s similar to an ass I ran in to on Twitter insisting that calling someone misogynist was far worse than saying something sexist. I have some trouble with some of the ‘call out’ stuff that goes on, but I don’t see at all how Vacula and such get the idea that the nastiness they employ is even remotely similar. There was massive amounts of dismissiveness in his video (you’re shocked, I’m sure) regarding what feminists are getting hit with.

  7. 7
    doubtthat

    “Why is it that some feminists experience negative feedback on the Internet while others do not?”

    Because Justin Vacula hasn’t gotten to them yet.

    More seriously, I propose this experiment: List the feminists receiving negative feedback, and identify the “spark.” It would be a real tragedy if it turned out that Stephanie, Ophelia, Amanda Marcotte and other feminists focusing on skeptical/atheist issues were receiving the negative treatment while those who don’t really venture into those subjects receive less.

    I hope poor Justin hasn’t inadvertently launched the research that proves this harassment is worse among skeptics than the general internet. Again, just a hypothesis, though I wouldn’t be upset if folks started collecting data.

  8. 8
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    This Vacula guy is packed full of more shit than a colostomy bag, man.

  9. 9
    thztds

    “Why is it that some feminists experience negative feedback on the Internet while others do not?”

    I’m sure that Justin thinks the feminists who aren’t receiving negative feedback are such luminaries as himself, ReapPaden, and others who are totes for equal pay and letting women serve in the military, but if you have to call a bitch a bitch or laugh at photo-shopped images of her with animals, well that’s just free speech and healthy criticism. Not misogyny. After all, they totally want their daughters to be respected and not get catcalled/hit on. Yes, it’s the feminists like them that don’t get reams of hate mail and death and rape threats in their inboxes everyday. Nor do they have websites devoted to mocking their every move.

    So all you have to do to be one of these good feminists who doesn’t get all the negative feedback is to never make any fuss when someone calls you a bitch or cunt. And be sure to mock any woman’s weakness as it’s just constructive criticism. After all, if they want to be treated as equals, they have to be tough and manly.

  10. 10
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Vacula seems to really badly want a response from you it appears.

  11. 11
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    “Why is it that some feminists* receive negative pushback on the internet and some don’t?”

    Well, to answer that question, how about Vacula telling us who those people are?

    And I guess if you look up “victim blaming” on Wikipedia there’s a link to this video.
    The long and the short of it: It’s your fault, Stephanie, for presenting yourself in such a way.

    *Please note that to his own definition those feminists share the same political positions

  12. 12
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Wait, didn’t this useless assbag just tell women to shut up, sit down and stop being so damn harassable? And now he’s demanding responses from the same women he just told to shut up?

    He really is the second biggest dipshit in the pit, isn’t he.

  13. 13
    Stephanie Zvan

    Huh. Somehow, when he tweeted yesterday that he’d have all the answers for me last night, I thought he meant to those questions I’d asked. Silly me.

    I’m at about 4:00 in transcribing, so don’t anyone worry about picking up the first half of the video.

  14. 14
    athyco

    I’ve got the whole thing, Stephanie, if you’d like to stop.

  15. 15
    EllenBeth Wachs

    He is tweeting at me now that , of course, it’s my fault. “Shut the fuck up and you won’t get harassed.”
    Also this gem- Talking about sexism = behaving like a “tool”

  16. 16
    athyco

    And in checking him, he says you “claim” Novella says he’s minimizing and mischaracterizing when you’re paraphrasing and linking. Sheesh, if someone replied to one of my comments with “does not begin to cover it” and “In any case – this post is not about…” I wouldn’t quibble over minimizing and mischaracterizing.

    He misquotes you, changing “I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have done the same in his position” to “I’m not sure what I would have done in his position.” He got it wrong the first time around and then missed the conclusion where you eliminated the “not sure” by evaluating Novella’s position in terms of what he may reasonably be expected to know.

    He’s not really sure what you mean that his tips “assume facts not in evidence.” Forget that you gave one example of the strength of multiple authors at Skepchick and then nine! numbered! items! that he never mentions.

    Aarrrrgh.

    And they [other feminists] don’t receive the level of criticism, negative feedback, what Stephanie Zvan calls harassment and cyberstalking. They don’t receive this. So the situation is that some people receive negative criticism and pushback on the internet while others don’t. So there has to be some kind of reason why this is the case. Magical harassment theories, magical cyberstalking theories, magical negative dissenters–whatever you want to call them–don’t just appear out of thin air and criticize people on the internet. It just doesn’t happen that way. But there has to be some reason behind it, right? These people aren’t going to just randomly pop up.

    Tell that to Ophelia about Anton Hill. Five tweets from her turn into his opportunity to make a 19-minute video, a 30-minute podcast segment, blog posts, and tweeting with the crowd that dubs him #BraveHero. Hey, shouldn’t that hashtag be familiar to Justin Vacula?

    You know, I don’t see much evidence that these people look at each other’s stuff unless they’re on the same level or above on some sort of ‘pit scale. Even though Hill has been a good little lickspittle in tweets to Vacula, surely there’s no way Vacula could say “these people aren’t going to just randomly pop up” when (1) Hill popping up on Ophelia’s radar is so recent and (2) Hill makes a point of knowing virtually nothing about Ophelia’s writing except what others had reported to him.

  17. 17
    Stephanie Zvan

    Thanks, athyco! Would you mind sending me an email with the transcript or adding it in a comment here? I’ll add it to the post. I’ve added a few annotations to mine, and I’ll get them in this one too, but it will be a lot quicker to do that on copy that’s already written.

  18. 18
    shari

    #15 – EllenBeth – this makes me so so so happy i don’t follow twitter.

    is there any proof he isn’t 14? because i can’t comprehend real, grown-up human beings saying that crap out loud, in public, in the twitterverse. I know it happens, but i still am floored when I see it right here, right now.

    words fail.

  19. 19
    athyco

    [Transcript moved to the main post. --SZ]

  20. 20
    doubtthat

    “Wonderful question to explore”?

    Haha, what? I getting to the point where the awe at their own profundity (always based on either completely trivial or completely false concepts) is the feature I find most annoying about these folks (I don’t get any of the harassment–if anyone wants to know how I manage my reputation to avoid negative feedback and harassment, I will be giving a seminar at the learning annex).

    What a stupid question. Because some assholes have fixated on them as opposed to others, and the frightening possibility that this fixation is the result of women engaging on skeptical/atheist topics. Certainly, all a woman needs to do is write something negative about Islam in a high-profile setting and the backlash will come. I hope our dear S&A community hasn’t become a similar population.

    Why are some people assaulted and others aren’t? Perhaps they should avoid engaging assailants, either directly or indirectly.

  21. 21
    A Hermit

    “Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.”

    Making a 7 minute Youtube video addressed to one of them doesn’t count…

    Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.

    Instead find a hate group that focuses on people like your ideological opponents and comment about them there…or just mock them on Twitter…http://manboobz.com/2012/10/02/why-is-the-secular-coalition-for-america-giving-justin-vacula-online-bully-a-voice-for-men-contributor-a-leadership-position/

  22. 22
    chasstewart

    @EllenBeth Wachs

    You made it sound like Justin Vacula actually said, “Shut the fuck up and you won’t get harassed.” when that’s your interpretation.

  23. 23
    chasstewart

    @A Hermit

    His advice is for people who want to avoid overly harsh criticism. I don’t think he has a big problem with harsh criticism but does want the atmosphere to be more civil, in general.

  24. 24
    hoary puccoon

    If Vacula wants to know why certain people are being targeted, it’s pointless for him to focus on the people who are being targeted. He has to focus on the people doing the targeting. They, and they alone, know why they are doing it.

  25. 25
    EllenBeth Wachs

    #15 Shari-
    The only evidence I truly can discern that he is not 14 years old is that he is capable of growing a Walrus mustache.

  26. 26
    Stephanie Zvan

    You made it sound like Justin Vacula actually said, “Shut the fuck up and you won’t get harassed.” when that’s your interpretation.

    Well, no. Given that she commented where anyone can get his exact words, she did not.

  27. 27
    hoary puccoon

    If Vacula wants to know why certain people are being targeted, it’s pointless for him to focus on the people who are being targeted. He has to focus on the people doing the targeting. They, and they alone, know why they are doing it.

    “She did X” is never an explanation of why somebody else chose to target her.

  28. 28
    Stephanie Zvan

    I don’t think he has a big problem with harsh criticism but does want the atmosphere to be more civil, in general.

    Bullshit. He made this video in “response” to a post in which I listed nine instances of his own crappy behavior and asked how they could have been avoided. If he wants a more civil atmosphere, he can quit doing things like his “dramatic reading” of comments for the amusement of the slime pit. He didn’t trip over his shoelaces and fall onto YouTube and a group of friends who think fat shaming is the height of humor. He has fucking choices, just like any other adult. If he wants to be treated like one, it’s about damned time he took responsibility for himself instead of talking about his own behavior in the passive voice as though he woke up one day and it had all just happened.

    Go away, you enabling twerp.

  29. 29
    Anne C. Hanna

    Interesting video. Vacula appears to be naming certain people who have supposedly engaged in a terrible behavior referred to as “calling out”, telling them and the world at large why that behavior is supposedly harmful, and asking them (and any others who might be considering doing similar things) to stop. I feel like there’s a term for what he’s doing here, but I can’t quite remember what it is. Sounds like halling gout, maybe? Falling doubt? Damn, it’s on the tip of my tongue.

  30. 30
    A Hermit

    chasstewart @ 23

    I don’t think he has a big problem with harsh criticism but does want the atmosphere to be more civil, in general.

    He could start by cleaning up his own act.

    If he’s so concerned about civility maybe he could go lecture the slymepit or his misogynist MRA friends at AVfM about their behaviour…

  31. 31
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    What a ridiculous, scumbag hypocrite.

  32. 32
    A Hermit

    This is what Vacula considers ‘civil” a re-tweet from our old friend Emery Emery

    https://twitter.com/emeryemeryii/status/306589847974453248

    “Not defending @TheOnion but a simple google search shows that the word Quvenzhané is Swahili for disagreeable twat! “

    Yeah Justin, real civil, attacking a 9 year old child with a sexist slur. You’re setting a fine example there…

  33. 33
    Timid Atheist

    So nice of Emery Emery to throw in some old fashioned racism with his sexist slur. Because as well all know all black people speak Swahili. Even though Quvenzhane is from Louisiana and it’s quite possible her family is too.

    I’m truly tired of hearing from these people who have nothing original to say.

  34. 34
    Worldtraveller

    So, no one explained the first rule of holes to vacula, eh? I’m gonna pop some more popcorn. Anyone want some? :)

  35. 35
    hjhornbeck

    Vacula has my respect, as that the best, most eloquent restatement of “bitches be lyin’ and deserved it anyway” that I’ve come across. It isn’t obvious at a casual glance, but when you consider in more depth his subtle dismissal of harassment as invented, and his admonition against bringing up complaints that conveniently ignores how valid those complaints are, the true meaning behind his words becomes crystal clear.

    It has me wondering, when did the skeptic community start to value reputations above facts and reason?

  36. 36
    Stephanie Zvan

    Timid Atheist, not necessarily. She’s said in interviews that her name is Swahili. Technically, only the last part of it is, but it’s a distinction without much difference.

  37. 37
    maudell

    I am not a regular commenter, but I’ve been reading for a while. First, thank you Stephanie for speaking out on this issue. You are brave to put your foot down facing such blatant harassment. You are inspiring. As much as I still often fear disproportionate retaliation when I bring up sexism online, I think the path you and other atheist feminists are opening is making it much easier for us all to demand equal respect and dignity for women and minorities in the atheist community.
    (This is a bit long to make a point, sorry)
    There’s this weird lack of awareness here (assuming Vacula is well meaning). It usually goes as follow: (in response to statement that some women are cyberstalking targets in the atheist community)
    Q= Well, I haven’t seen real harassment. I’m a good, unbiased skeptic, so prove it. Then, it must be approved by me as absolute, factual harassment. Then it must be directly witnessed and testified by 4 men in a court of law (oops, that’s Sharia. My bad).
    A=*Gives examples of harassment*
    Q=Well that doesn’t count because it could have been made up. And since I have redefined “atheist” as someone who does not harass people, it can’t be from an atheist. No true atheistman, you see.
    A=Ok, *more examples of harassment, coming from a known atheist*
    Q=Well I personally know this guy, and some of his best friends are women! He was just joking! He stalks his male friends all the time too, so it’s not sexist.
    A=Seriously?
    Q=Show me proof of transitional forms.
    A=Wrong argument.
    Q=You see? You keep bringing up examples, you are clearly a professional victim. I’m sure you bring up this issue because you think women are weaker than men and can’t take it in silence like a civil strong man does.
    A=How is fighting against a problem instead of submitting to it being weak or a victim?
    Q=Well here: I fought against a [nativity scene/homeopathy/ID in schools] and I received tons of threats. I didn’t bring it up, I just took it. Rawr.
    [hum... prove it! And if you provide documents, we'll think you made it up to gain victim privilege and ask for more proof, until we complain about how much drama you cause, etc. etc. Oh wait, only the "other side" does that.]

    Who questioned Vacula that he received threats from his actions against a nativity scene?

    Chris Clarke had a good example of this when he got his Jeep stolen. He asked his readers if they could help him financially. No one doubted his story, even though had he been dishonest, he could have made up the story for financial gain. Why do we distrust women’s motivations? What is the incentive to be labeled a drama queen and a “false accuser”?

    My question to him is here (hum, I’m almost as verbose as he is):

    Ok, Vacula received threats from his atheist activism. Why is it that some atheist activists receive threats but others don’t?

    I would like to know the rationalization for this one. Perhaps certain feminists are stalked based on their horrible personality, criticism-asking and for offering trolls irresistible rape jokes on a silver plate, while Vacula was targeted because he is a fierce warrior for a great cause against hordes of unenlightened Christians? Am I close? Who knows, maybe he’ll notice that the question means nothing at all, for the same reason that his Christian “critics” were not targeting him based on some flaw of his.

    I apologize for the monologue, I am interested in the conversation, but I just needed to get it out. The lack of self-awareness of the “la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you-therefore-the-problem-doesn’t-exist” crowd is getting ridiculous.

    To wrap things up, I have a questions for people who are more familiar with the topic than I am. Slymepit people often write that “anti-harassment people” (for a lack of better term — I am not saying others are necessarily “pro-harassment”) insult women who disagree with them as “gender traitors”. Where does this come from? Did I miss something? I just can’t imagine Ophelia or PZ seriously calling a woman a “gender traitor”. I can see why they would call her out for speaking on behalf of all women or for minimizing other women’s experience, but “gender traitor”? Sounds like a straw genderradfeminazi to me.

  38. 38
    A Hermit

    I apologize for the monologue…

    Apologize!? Hell no!

    That was brilliant…your Q and A described the whole “debate” perfectly.

  39. 39
    Timid Atheist

    One has to wonder if Emery Emery knows that, however. But I will retract my statement since I did not know that.

  40. 40
    Timid Atheist

    To wrap things up, I have a questions for people who are more familiar with the topic than I am. Slymepit people often write that “anti-harassment people” (for a lack of better term — I am not saying others are necessarily “pro-harassment”) insult women who disagree with them as “gender traitors”. Where does this come from? Did I miss something? I just can’t imagine Ophelia or PZ seriously calling a woman a “gender traitor”. I can see why they would call her out for speaking on behalf of all women or for minimizing other women’s experience, but “gender traitor”? Sounds like a straw genderradfeminazi to me.

    That term was used by a commenter once and as far as I know they eventually retracted it. The other term that’s used in place of that is “chill girl” and it’s used to describe a woman who tends to ignore or downplay sexism as not that bad and nothing to get upset over.

  41. 41
    tonyinbatavia

    maudell @37, I rather enjoyed that comment. I was especially taken by your question, “Why is it that some atheist activists receive threats but others don’t?” Vacula’s lack of self-awareness appears bottomless, doesn’t it?

  42. 42
    Anthony K

    “Not defending @TheOnion but a simple google search shows that the word Quvenzhané is Swahili for disagreeable twat! “

    As someone who actually has passing knowledge of Swahili, that shit’s fucking racist.

    So, he’s pretty much a lit bag of dogshit looking to be stomped out.

  43. 43
    Caveat Imperator

    @maudell,

    eloquent wall o’text

    You’re very welcome, welcome to FTB! It always makes me happy when non-regulars and lurkers speak up in support of social justice.

  44. 44
    Brony

    @Maudell 37

    That was great!

    What you are seeing is the difficulty in wrestling with system 1.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_process_theory

    System
    One just wants to win and has no interest in how what it hears or sees compares to reality, especially if you are challenging something that involves your discussion partners tribe (or do I mean opponent? It changes from sentence to sentence). It will not spend any effort on understanding your meaning merely substitutes it’s own.

    This is especially a problem among people who love to post Youtube videos. I have a feeling that System One is much better at letting you be a selfish person when it comes to communication with ears than with eyes. But this might be a cultural artifact since most people are probably better at communicating with discussion than text.

    When someone is unwilling to use your actual words and quote your specific examples and meaning and instead substitutes hyperbole or exaggeration I have taken to calling that “paraphrasing while present”. You are on the damn internet, act like it you lazy uncivil primates…

  45. 45
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    A Hermit
    Wow.
    I mean, I saw EmeryEmery’s tweet
    Yeah, what opponents those grown men pick, little girls, because we all know that they’re the worst people in the world, especially if they’re black.
    Her horrible crime? Being female, talented, apprently absolutely adorable and, what’s worse, not sufficiently humble and subservient.*
    I knew EmeryEmery was a lost case, but maybe I was just too naive in thinking that Vacula had enough decency not to go after a 9 year old child. And then he complains why people think him unsuitable for any kind of office…

    *I need to get my hands on that movie
    +++
    BTW, I’m still waiting for the names of those feminists who are just like us but only nicer and who don’t get the pushback…

  46. 46
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Vacula’s advice is the same victim blaming crap women always get. If we were only silent and invisible the it would not fall to others to pile on abuse to keep us in our places.
    “Some feminists don’t get that kind of attention” reminds me quite strongly of men telling women what kind of woman to be in order to avoid rape and abuse. Clearly we need to stop being so uppity/slutty/out of the kitchen if we don’t want to deserve being lied about, referred to as cunts, or the subject of a 2 year long harassment campaign. Those actually behaving repulsively can’t be held responsible because they can’t help but treat women (or men who loose their Man Card by taking a feminist stance) a certain way if they refuse to sit down, shut up and let our betters tell us what’s what. Is that any different from suggesting that we cannot expect men not to rape, so women better live in constant terror and vigilance in order to make sure they never cause a man to rape them?

    What a sick, twisted worldview. I’d pity him if his point of view was not so prevalent and dangerous.

  47. 47
    Marcus Ranum

    “Why is it that some feminists* receive negative pushback on the internet and some don’t?”

    Because they’re female feminists?

    I’m not really sure how to say this, but of the few males they go after (PZ? who else?) they seem to steer away from the young, strong, big, types who might be more physically intimidating. Does that fit into the overall picture of internet cowards? I don’t know the overlap between the slimepit crowd and the PUA crowd but their behavior seems to be that of a pack of beta-males whipping eachother into a frenzy to gang up on someone they’re pretty sure they can handle.

  48. 48
    Marcus Ranum

    If we were only silent and invisible the it would not fall to others to pile on abuse to keep us in our places.

    I truly believe that they subconsciously assess their targets with an eye toward making sure they’re not the kind of people who’ll bring their actions home to them. I know folks who’d just show up with a crowbar if they were subjected to abuse like some of the feminists are getting. Oddly, they never seem to pick on that kind of person; it probably has something to do with free speech.

  49. 49
    doubtthat

    This seems relevant (perhaps you have already read about it, it’s making the rounds, Skepchick had a link):

    Marino admitted during a conference call this week announcing her retirement that she has been battling depression for over six years and all the negative energy from the social media outlets just pushed her into a darker place instead of improving her outlook on life.
    “Social media has also taken its toll on me,” Marino said, saying that she would receive numerous tweets that tell her to “go die” and “go burn in hell” and even scold her for costing her money if people had bet on her during certain matches.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/tennis-busted-racquet/rebecca-marino-quits-tennis-because-bullying-social-media-175955476–ten.html

    I guess she shouldn’t have indirectly requested that abuse by…playing tennis?

  50. 50
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Marcus,
    Well, there may be a keyboard cowboy lurking in the depths of all our shriveled black hearts. But I think there is more to it than that. I think they feel safe that not only will nobody harm them physically (and that’s a very good thing) but also that they will get to pile on without losing social standing or the respect of their peers. I think they also really do blame the women they harass for their own harassment or don’t believe that they are doing anything wrong. Abusive men will usually tell you that a woman made them do it and rapists usually don’t think they’ve committed rape. They are just doing what society has told them they are allowed to do to certain people. Feminist women aren’t easy targets because we can’t or won’t swing a crowbar, but because we seem outnumbered and disregarded. It is “normal” to hate us in a way that it would be considered aberrant to hate another group of people. It is just part of our screwed up culture. Think about it: If it is so easy for so many people to lay the fault of rape at the feet of women (and 10 min online will show you that lots of people do that), then how much of a stretch is it to lay down the fault of lesser forms of abuse at the feet of women?

  51. 51
    Marcus Ranum

    @jackiepaper -
    Thank you! You really explained that to me beautifully and succintly. I stand corrected!

  52. 52
    A Hermit

    I think they feel safe that not only will nobody harm them physically (and that’s a very good thing) but also that they will get to pile on without losing social standing or the respect of their peers.

    Not only will they not lose standing, by creating spaces like the “slymepit”, which they can run to in order to to slap each other on the back over their latest “triumph”, they can actually increase their sense of standing. They’ve got a self reinforcing mechanism which rewards their sexism regardless of what anyone else might say or do.

  53. 53
    Jadehawk

    There are people writing about feminism who don’t get the pushback, so why is it that Stephanie Zvan gets the pushback, and other people writing about feminism don’t get the pushback?

    because not enough people read my blog :-p

    seriously though, the only feminists I know who don’t get harassed on the internet are very niche writers generally only known to a small group of people. who are these well-known feminists who supposedly don’t get harassed?

  54. 54
    Jadehawk

    if they presented themselves differently on the internet, that they would go away, that people would stop talking about it.

    pretty sure Amy wrote an entire article about how that very much didn’t work, so yeah…

    But week after there’s a new Witch of the Week, a new person who’s horrible sexist, misogynist, women hater!

    oh sure; but it’s PZ and Stephanie who are “very often very uncharitable, and they reach the worst conclusions possible”. lol.

    this call out-culture of imputing malice, thinking people have these horrible intentions behind the words they type, when that might not be the case.

    boooooring. it’s not like we haven’t explained that “intent is not magic” about a million times by now.

  55. 55
    Jadehawk

    I don’t think he has a big problem with harsh criticism but does want the atmosphere to be more civil, in general.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  56. 56
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    Thanks Marcus. I’m not very good at rubbing two thoughts together to make a coherent comment, but sometimes I try anyway. What can I say? Hope springs eternal.

  57. 57
    monkeymind

    #5 in the google hits for Justin Vacula is an article he wrote for A Voice for Men, a site listed by the SPCL as a misogynist hate group. Does he really think it’s worse for one’s internet reputation to be the *target* of that article than to be theauthor? He’s not qualified to give advice on reputation management.

  58. 58
    Jadehawk

    The other term that’s used in place of that is “chill girl” and it’s used to describe a woman who tends to ignore or downplay sexism as not that bad and nothing to get upset over.

    AND it started out as a non-ironically used self-reference. Unfortunately the original was lost when SciBlog Pharyngula comments died, but it’s preserved as a quote elsewhere. The comment was (emphasis mine):

    why the hell would I have a problem with women? The issue lies with thinking that forming maginal side groups is the answer. That isn’t equality. But, hey, if you want to it will allow the people at conferences to tell the chill girls like me from the unhinged girls shaking their fists at supposed, vague injustices.

  59. 59
    oolon

    Well my observations of attacks from assorted slymepitters and anti-FtBs types is that towards female and trans* people the extreme modes of attack often degenerate into sexual and personal attacks. Attacks on appearance and judgements of worth based on looks. The majority men get are attacks on arguments and general childish playground stuff – or at worst homophobic comments like “You suck PZs dick” or even better “mangina” or other attacks comparing them to a woman. Pretty much nothing demeaning men for their gender at all or using sexualised imagery to demean or shut them up. Not so for the women I’ve seen arguing against the same crew – especially where they know they can get away with it – youtube and unmoderated blogs like Thunderf00ts.

    It just doesn’t compute for them that what they dismiss as “just trolling” is inherently misogynistic. The great sceptics never question why it pops first into the “trolls” heads to “ridicule” the women they “disagree” with using images of sex and ideas of worth based on personal attractiveness. Why the attractiveness or otherwise of the female opponents is so important but PZ is just a big poopy head – regardless of his obvious unattractiveness. He says it not me! I’d lump myself in as well in that category but when they found a pic of me on the pit they lost all interest in photoshopping it after a couple of derogatory comments. If I’d been an equally “ugly” woman or trans* person who disagreed with them … Well that would clearly be a “weakness” for no reason they need to think deeply about at all!

  60. 60
    latsot

    The transcript is missing sneer tags.

  61. 61
    athyco

    tl;dr: Justin Vacula is a mealy-mouthed, hypocritical, well-poisoning, minimizing and misdirecting “skeptic.”

    Lately, the message from Justin Vacula “and company” (as he said in this video about Stephanie) seems to be that insult/denigration is just too subjective. One of his latest blogposts is “Microaggressions atheists experience,” but he makes it clear that he’s “skeptical of many examples of microaggressions Sue and Sue list (and the concept itself)” even as he quotes Counseling the Culturally Diverse.

    Oh, insult and denigration like “sexist” and “misogynist” are not too subjective for him to identify as “not the case” and classify as bullying with #FTBullies or to congratulate others in fighting with #BraveHero. No, it’s Stephanie and company who are incapable of correctly differentiating “criticism and negative feedback” from “harassment and cyberstalking.”

    He’s sure that there must be a real reason, but not the “magical harassment theories, magical cyberstalking theories, magical negative dissenters” that doesn’t happen with people who “just randomly pop up.” Oh, he must admit that there are “just nasty people out there” (without naming them) who “are not going to go away,” and some others who are nasty because “efforts at diplomacy have failed” (without naming them or evidence of their diplomatic efforts), but if Stephanie and company want the “alleged bullies” to go away, all they have to do is present themselves differently.

    After having identified (anonymously) those who provide (charitably) mainly dissent, criticism, and pushback and identified (by name) the uncharitable, worst-conclusions-possible reaching, call-out cultured, gender ideologues (whatever you want to call them–just not “poisoning the well”), he asks his wonderful to explore, million dollar question.

    Justin Vacula is in many ways the answer to his own question, of course. He wants to name names and somehow connect them (not actually hyperlink them) with horrible phrases–just not specifically, and not at all for any names in his company. He wants his broad arguments accepted when he tweets that #atheismplus is a “divisive blight”–without actually making the argument. He’ll ignore even someone dubbed a #BraveHero who asks him about that statement. It’s unremarkable for him, I guess, when the tweet question includes “and don’t pull an @Ophelia Benson! I’m just asking. :)” He wants to return to reopen grievances over and over months after they’re done. He wants to minimize argument against him as laughably “magical.”

    He claims to want a discussion, especially in light of the “peace process” since he’s written two blog posts on Lee Moore’s first two blog posts about that topic. And Lee Moore’s third blog post about it was an interview with Justin Vacula. But there is nothing in that interview that isn’t platitude and complaining. He clings to the interaction that brought him to the heights of hurt feelings and made him do bad things: Amy Roth’s DMCA and everyone else’s uncharitable accusations against him possibly wanting to dox, to which he responded by actually doxxing. What does that bring to a discussion of a peace process? Nothing. And I believe that if comments about his civil January interaction with Amy hadn’t been made public on Lee Moore’s site and twice on his own site (the second one less than an hour before his second comment at Steven Novella’s), Justin Vacula still would not have said anything positive about Amy Roth–even on a thread presenting good news about her and a third party.

    It’s nice that Dr. Hall and Amy could come to a sort of understanding through private messaging. Perhaps this can be a future standard, but what about the attacks on Dr.Hall and the misrepresentation by people like Amanda Marcotte — to just provide one example — who suggest Dr. Hall is trying to ‘preserve a position as a token?’ This comment is most offensive and egregious…and the accompanying article is trumpeted by many friends of Amy. I won’t say Amy is guilty by association, though, but it hardly seems to be the case that there can be ‘ceasefires’ or mutual respect and comments like these linger and are trumpeted by those under the banner of feminism. Perhaps there is some hope…

    Justin Vacula was on his way, with the above comment as his first on Steven Novella’s post, to being identified as a combatant (not VulcanAtheist, oh noes!) who minimized and mischaracterized. He couldn’t have that. It would make all these recent noble pull quotes look hypocritical:

    Skepticism is not defensiveness, but rather a questioning attitude someone has when something seems awry.*

    If you expect or demand civility from others, it would be best to model the behaviors you’d like to see.**

    Disagreements, additionally, can be taken off blogs and had in private. People can be mistaken, after all, and even make uniformed comments once in a while. It would also help to treat people more charitably – interpreting their words or arguments in a more favorable light.**

    Unfortunately, I don’t see this ceasefire working when some of the persons involved in this — whether they admit it or not — unwilling to have a discussion. I’d like to have a discussion about these issues and move forward to at least give it a chance.**

    So he copy/pasted the advice list from his post “Negative criticism and the internet” (that targeted Amanda Marcotte on the basis of one tweet, btw) to make him look like the reasonable moderate once again. He couldn’t resist more off-topic digs at Rebecca Watson, but he did receive about his list an “all reasonable” from Steven Novella that gave him a platform for even more digs at anyone who disagreed with that.

    If it wasn’t a “dig” video, Justin Vacula, then why ignore the nine numbered, detailed, specific items from “Think About the Consequences!” with the simplistic, mind-blowingly dismissive “Not really sure what she means by that” in this video?

    You could have asked, Justin. That’s what you said skeptics do, you know, when “something seems awry.” You could have said “Well, here’s the message I think that’s being conveyed by this piece” for more discussion. You didn’t have to demonstrate once again that you MO is to change the subject…without thinking of the consequences.

    *Vacula comment on “Microaggressions atheists experience” on his blog
    **Vacula interview “Insight on the Infighting” on A-News blog

  62. 62
    Feline

    Well, at least we have gotten an answer to the question of who actually claims that scepticism has a problem with sexism and misogyny greater than the rest of the world. Given that it’s Vacula it’s still not a reason to attack the people who are not pitters, but at long last we have a name to put to that nebulous accusation.

  63. 63
    Jadehawk

    wait, vacula is skeptical of the concept of microaggressions?

    I guess we’ve moved on to not just being sociology-denialist, but also psychology-denialist :-/

    small sample:
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/pro/39/3/329/
    http://tcp.sagepub.com/content/38/7/923.short
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19361653.2011.584204
    http://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2010.29.10.1074
    http://spq.sagepub.com/content/68/1/75.short (this one’s stupidly named, but demonstrates how microaggressions might be worse than macroaggressions)

  64. 64
    Jadehawk

    a comment with a bunch of psychology links about microaggressions is stuck in moderation. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that vacula is now hyperskeptical of psychology, too. guess soon enough, EP will replace all the social sciences in the minds of some folks.

  65. 65
    Jadehawk

    damn you Stephanie for making a liar out of me :-p

  66. 66
    Stephanie Zvan

    What? Comments with data are important. :)

  67. 67
    athyco

    Jadehawk @ 63:

    wait, vacula is skeptical of the concept of microaggressions?

    I’d say that he’s had to come to that position or the cognitive dissonance would be overwhelming. The time frame of the Deep Rifts™ have added day after day (almost hour after hour) examples of @pokes on Twitter, new photoshops, Storify, videos, podcasts, blog posts, comments to screen cap, etc. Without denying the concept–in his case claiming that others are diminishing it by making it too broad and (with adjectives “extremely” and “completely”) subjective–there’d be no way to deny the harm being done. The prospect of the peace talks means that Vacula must be above it all, even though he’s been mightily harmed, you know. His “blatant” injuries can’t be balanced with anyone else’s, so when possible, things like microaggressions need to become dismissable.

    In comments on his “Microaggressions atheists experience,” a passage from Counseling the Culturally Diverse was quoted for him. He still equivocated. (Vacula’s comments are first and last below.)

    I’m skeptical of many examples of microaggressions Sue and Sue list (and the concept itself) because the ‘messages being sent’ seem extremely subjective; not all people would feel denigrated upon hearing a certain message.

    That’s exactly what the authors thought you might say and hoped you’d guard against:

    In closing, I want to emphasize that understanding the worldview of diverse populations means not only acquiring knowledge of cultural values and differences but being aware of the sociopolitical experiences of culturally diverse groups in a monocultural society. This perspective means the ability to empathize with the pain, anguish, mistrust, and sense of betrayal suffered by persons of color, women, gays, and other marginalized groups. Sad to say, this empathetic ability is blocked when readers react with defensiveness and anger upon hearing the life stories of those most disempowered in our society. I implore you not to allow your initial negative feelings to interfere with your ultimate aim of learning from this text as you journey toward cultural competence.
    p. 29, Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice

    I’m on board with some microaggressions listed in the book and not others – and that’s only when considering myself. If a concept is completely subjective and people might take offense at anything (whether there is good reason or not), the weight of the concept appears to be diminished. I find Sue’s Christmas example to be quite weak and I, as an atheist, don’t take offense when people say Merry Christmas. Skepticism is not defensiveness, but rather a questioning attitude someone has when something seems awry.

  68. 68
    Jadehawk

    I’m starting to wonder whether “but it’s subjective” even makes sense as an argument against phenomena that effect psychological and psychosomatic reactions. I mean, unless we’re dealing with dishonesty (outright lying over whether something is hurtful, or exaggerating it), the effects are caused by the subjective experience of something as a microaggression.

    Granted, I’m sure the vaculas of this world would that this interpretation as an excuse to go back to the times in which the experiences of all non-hegemonic folks were considered pathologies (e.g. hysteria); but from where I’m sitting, it looks more like we’ll just have to live with the fact that people will subjectively experience various things as aggressions and simply try to a)minimize the inequalities that often produce the context for something being a microaggression; and b)in the meantime, take care to simply avoid those microaggressions that are commonly identified as such in situations where the microaggression happens on an axis in which we’re the privileged ones, while the other person is the disprivileged one.

  69. 69
    athyco

    …simply try to a)minimize the inequalities that often produce the context for something being a microaggression; and b)in the meantime, take care to simply avoid those microaggressions that are commonly identified as such in situations where the microaggression happens on an axis in which we’re the privileged ones, while the other person is the disprivileged one.

    I certainly agree, Jadehawk.

    This “completely extremely subjective” angle, pushed harder to portray others as too emotional (angry, thin-skinned) to agree to the “peace process” or to Justin Vacula’s oh-so-reasonable behavior list, is one that I think helps us.

    I see it going the way of pushing the “War on Christmas” by the loud voices like Bill O’Reilly. For a while, “Merry Christmas” was used as a shibboleth, and the cudgel came down on companies that had a policy for their employees. Then folks began to realize that it was usually hapless employees who were bearing the heat face-to-face, that even FOX News sold ornaments under the heading “Happy Holidays.” To most, the “War on Christmas” is stale comedian fare now.

    The more Justin Vacula wants to claim abilities such as culling a list of microaggressions from a psychology text, the more questions he’ll get. On what objective basis does he say this and this and this are “criticism and negative feedback and pushback” but not “harassment and cyberstalking”? On what objective basis does he claim that the “attention” Stephanie receives is due to her actions and not the inclination of those reacting to her? With anyone else, I’d say that honesty would require a look at the support those inclinations receive. It would also require an honest look at differences in those who respond to the crazy Paden videos, the @pokes, the photoshops, especially the material on Stephanie’s recent post linking to the Slymepit.

    All of this has actually gone on in a small section of the atheist/skeptic movement (Elevatorgate hates that word). The “peace process” may cast a wider net, but the ones calling most loudly for it may find that they can’t change their spots quickly enough. Lee Moore, Brian Allen, and Reap Paden discussed it on the last ReapSowRadio (ep 47), with Lee Moore saying “But the crazy people in our movement who want to try to make us some kind of fringe movement, who do not want to have rational and civil discourse with the rest of us, we have to do everything in our power to [rest garbled by Reap Paden talking over him]. Brian Allen said of those declining the offer of talks, “Then that makes them seem like assholes because that’s what they’re being.” Reap Paden, when responding to how others thought FTB and Atheism+ and Skepchick would decline, warned “You never get rid of Peter Popoff.”

    Lee Moore, supported by Justin Vacula: Peace Process Organizer. Yeah.

  70. 70
    sawells

    Interesting that people who can spot the fallacy in “lots of little erosions couldn’t make a Grand Canyon, it musta been Noah’s flood” or in “lots of microevolution can’t make macroevolution, it musta been a miracle” will apparently fall for the idea that lots of microaggressions can’t add up to actual harm.

  71. 71
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Jadehawk

    because not enough people read my blog :-p

    seriously though, the only feminists I know who don’t get harassed on the internet are very niche writers generally only known to a small group of people. who are these well-known feminists who supposedly don’t get harassed?

    Definetly.
    What’s Quevenzhané Wallis’ big crime? Being 9 years old, female, black and visible.
    Why does Kate Middleton have her boobs fotographed from several hundred metres away and not me? Well, because I married somebody with more hair and less known ancestors.
    But even with that, it’s enough to be a fairly regular commenter at Pharyngula or to tweet femeinist stuff once in a while just to get a taste of it…

  72. 72
    Matt Penfold

    With regards giving Vacula the benefit of the doubt, and assume he is acting in good faith, I am afraid that his willingness to post at A Voice for Men pretty much rules that out. AVfM has been called a hate site by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  73. 73
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 37 – no. I’ve never called anyone either a gender traitor or a chill girl. Neither is part of my vocabulary. (I have sometimes referred to other people using “chill girl” – for instance I’ve mentioned that Rebecca says she used to be a chill girl – but that’s all.)

  74. 74
    Brony

    Just for fun I’m going to analyze the hell out of this. *Snick Snick…*
    I am also not going to read anything other than the transcript. Missing context is the creators fault especially with how bad this ended up being when it came to actually looking at what another person is really saying.

    Hi, Justin Vacula here, recording a YouTube video in response to [image of a comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] Stephanie Zvan’s blogpost February 26, 2013, titled “Think About the Consequences!”. Stephanie Zvan responds to some advice that I provided for people who face criticism and hate on the internet. I wrote:

    “…criticism and hate…”, keep that in mind.

    1. Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters. (I added numbers because it helps me)

    Define dissent. Without knowing what you mean by dissent I do not know if you and others agree on what is or is not dissent. Because of the qualitative difference between dissent and harassment you have more work to do. Also what does engaging with dissent have to do with harassment? This seems to imply that you think that harassment is somehow excused just because someone tries to engage with “In-group disagreement”.

    2. Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.

    Why? Does disagreement somehow excuse harassment? This is tone trolling otherwise. Social change through engagement with other groups is legitimate and dissent is not a problem. Harassment is a problem.

    3. Refrain from attacking individuals; stick to criticism of ideas rather than persons.

    That’s nice since dissent should not require this. Hate on the other hand can lead to harassment and things that REQUIRE criticism of personal behavior. The individuals in question are defensive and interpret personal criticism as attack. You are enabling adult children.

    4. Consider how people might respond to what you write. Can something be reframed so as to not lead to undesirable criticism?

    Where did that hate part go? I hear people who have problems with harassment and you keep talking about criticism. This is a useless list for individuals who have harassment issues. Go take this to people with mean professors or something.

    5. Avoid sharing content when experiencing heightened emotions (great anger, disgust, stress, etc)

    When harassment is present it is often not possible to do that. The solution is to remove the harassment so that the person can share content influenced by heightened emotions. The only possible solution is to not share content, how convenient for harassers. Congratulations on helping no one.

    6. Consider sharing something with friends before it becomes public. A second (or third) set of eyes might suggest helpful edits which would avoid negative feedback.

    Same as number 5. This is useless when dealing with harassment. Useful when you have a problem being overly critical. We are not on different pages, we are in different books.

    [image of a different comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] Steven Novella agreed with this and said, “Your specific recommendations at the end of your last comment are all reasonable.”
    Stephanie Zvan does not like what I had to say. She authored a blog post here, and she talks about [dismissive tone] harassment that some people face. She says she faces harassment on the internets [sic] and claims that Novella says I am minimizing and mischaracterizing the situation. The situation which is Stephanie Zvan and friends experiencing negative…negative pushback on the internet, [image of a different comment by Melody Hensley on Center for Inquiry's blog] which is people commenting on Twitter, blogs–some of them saying nasty things admittedly. She considers it cyberstalking and harassment.
    Well, it’s really besides [sic] the point of this YouTube video, and I’ve addressed this before. And Stephanie Zvan writes:

    This is the most amazing bit to me. His entire video seems to be based on responding to Stephanie’s criticism, but actually addressing Stephanie’s criticism is not the point of the video.

    We are now free to impute motives without a moral concern.

    I’m not sure what I would have done in his position. [sic]
    …referring to Steve Novella. She continues:
    It generally sounds reasonable until you realize that half of those amount to [Valley Girl accent] “Stop talking” and the rest–given as advice–assume facts not in evidence.
    I’m not really sure what she means by that.

    I am guessing that you did not read attached information then. You do not mention that she had no examples so I don’t even know if you looked for them. Its kind of lazy to make a video about someone criticizing your words and leave out information about their words.

    [image of a comment by EllenBeth Wachs on Center for Inquiry's blog] My recommendations here, for people who face criticism and hate to reduce the criticism and hate, are very reasonable things people can do. It’s what Karla Porter refers to–and I’m sure many others–as reputation management. The way people present themselves [image of a tweet by Amanda Marcotte] has something to do with their perception, with the criticism they receive.

    So where is the part where you specifically point out one of Stephanie’s situations situations that she refers to as harassment and demonstrate precisely how your list would have helped her prevent this “criticism”. Still lazy.
    Question: Has he ever applied this list to a situation described as harassment? I would honestly like to see an example.

    After all, as I’ve pointed out on many occasions, there are many women on the internet–there are many feminists on the internet, some of them including men, who write about feminism, who write about women’s issues, who write about anything given in the world, and they don’t receive the level of criticism, negative feedback, what Stephanie Zvan calls harassment and cyberstalking. [image of a Twitter exchange with EllenBeth Wachs] They don’t receive this.

    So where are her examples and words? There is a spectrum from paraphrasing to lying. I have doubts about where you are on it.

    So the situation is that some people negative criticism and pushback on the internet while other don’t. So there has to be some kind of reason why this is the case. Magical harassment fairies, magical cyberstalking fairies, magical negative dissenters–whatever you want to call them–don’t just appear out of thin air and criticize people on the internet. It doesn’t happen that way.

    You used the word “Reason” yet have provided none so far. Stop using opinions like “Magic Spells” and actually demonstrate something.

    But there has to be some reason behind it, right? These people aren’t just going to randomly pop up. So I give some advice for people. [image of a tweet from EllenBeth Wachs]

    Why is this advice relevant to Stephanie and her harassment claims? I see nothing so far and Twitter is nothing but inadequate if you really want to respond on this issue.

    And I really think that if you’re going to be on the internet, you’re going to be talking a big game, you’re going to be saying really nasty things about people–calling people “sexist”, calling people “misogynsist”–instead of approaching the situation in a different manner and being charitable and saying, “Well, maybe what you have to say there could have been reframed differently.” Instead of engaging in a call-out culture in which you’re going to talk about how your ideological opponents or whomever said this nasty thing–this alleged nasty thing–you can use the moment as an instructional tool [image of Vacula's advice] and say something like, “Well, here’s how I would have said it. Here’s the message I think that’s being conveyed by this piece.” Not making it nasty; not saying nasty things about the people.

    1. You are calling people out in this video, hypocrite.
    2. Is it sexism or misogyny? If it really is the person being called sexist or misogynistic will not be happy no matter what you do. Reality matters to skeptics.

    But Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina, PZ Myers—they don’t do that. They’re very often very uncharitable, and they reach the worst conclusions possible. And I believe (and this is just my hypothesis) that the reason they receive the negative pushback is because of the way they present themselves on the internet. Again, there are many people who would identify as feminists. There are many people who are women. There are many males who identify as feminist. There are so many people on the internet, right, who are similar ideologically to Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, etc. on gender issues–as some call gender ideologues…whatever you’d like to call them…feminists…whatever.

    Were the conclusions wrong? That is all I care about. How to I use your advice to deal with a genuine misogynist or sexist? They will lash out and be hateful no matter what you do. And again, WHAT SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS? Waving vaguely and making assertions is lazy. What kind of thinker are you?

    There are people writing about feminism who don’t get the pushback, so why is it that Stephanie Zvan gets the pushback, and other people writing about feminism don’t get the pushback?
    It’s a good question, I’d like Stephanie Zvan to answer that question. I haven’t really seen an answer to this just yet. I’m all ears. I’m all ears.

    Given your inability to actually refer to anything of relevance by anyone else I highly doubt that. Your ears are likely primed with a predetermined conclusion at this point and anything said to you will be selectively attended to.

    When people like Stephanie Zvan complain about the treatment they receive and they engage in the same tactics of this call out-culture of imputing malice, thinking people have these horrible intentions behind the words they type, when that might not be the case. They look at the worst situation possible instead of being charitable, again.

    Which specific situation that Stephanie called harassment? Which specific items that Stephanie referred to? Specifically why are they not harassment? Call-Out Culture is a moral neutral because there are things that deserve to be called out. The only thing that matters is the justification for calling out.

    Well, why is it that she receives the criticism? I pose some tips here to reduce the criticism, and I’m fully aware that some of Stephanie Zvan’s critics are not going to go away. There are just nasty people out there who are not voicing reasonable opinions and being charitable, and some of these people, I must say, have tried in the past, but the efforts at diplomacy have failed so they’ve just resorted to ridicule and satire. But either way, I think that if Stephanie Zvan and company want the alleged bullies to go away…if they presented themselves differently on the internet, that they would go away, that people would stop talking about it.

    Specifically how are your suggestions going to make the people that you finally barely refer to go away? How will all that extra work make nasty people leave someone alone? Can you back it up with examples of that kind of thing working in other places.

    But week after there’s a new Witch of the Week, a new person who’s horrible sexist, misogynist, women hater! when it really isn’t the case. And instead of using instances as an educational opportunity and just talking about the issues (not being nasty, not accusing people), they participate in the call-out culture. And that’s I think why they get this criticism, because of the way they present themselves.

    A skeptic who depends on what he “thinks” about culture? Not one that depends on what he “knows”? I am seeing the problem here. Also Call-outs are still morally neutral and you are still lazy.

    When you’re on the internet and you going to say nasty things about people, you’re going to get a nasty pushback. It’s not to say the nasty pushback is morally justified, but it’s just a state of fact; it’s just to state how the internet “is.” It’s not to justify the behavior.

    This is not acceptable. I don’t care if this is “just how the internet is” there are patterns of human interaction that prevent a fair exchange of ideas and they are worth opposing. Especially in the face of “advice” that shows no sign of being at all useful with nasty individuals whose goal is to make someone shut up. You would know this if you actually took the time to understand what people were really complaining about. This is thing far more necessary in a conversation than mere manners. Even if you oppose something, knowing nothing about it because you chose to ignore it puts you at a strategic disadvantage.

    So the million dollar question once again is this: “Why is it that some feminists experience negative feedback on the internet while others do not?”
    It’s a wonderful question to explore. And I can’t wait for the comments in the article and hopefully a response from Stephanie Zvan and Ophelia Benson who also commented on what Stephanie had to say.
    So, we await the response.

    You have shown me nothing but your ability to be a hypocrite, avoid the arguments of others, distract with irrelevancies, and generally make the conversations of others worse. Unless I am missing something important (and I hope that it gets pointed out to me if I am) I don’t see your engagement with responses being at all useful.

  75. 75
    hoary puccoon

    Stephanie, Ophelia, et. al.–

    Vacula has definitely proved that the best way to end all the conflict in the skeptic community is to tell the other side how to act. So when are you going to recognize his awesome greatness and follow his lead? Where’s the list of really easy changes that Vacula and his gang can make?

    Some suggestions for starters:
    Do not refer to a woman’s appearance– either negatively or positively– when the topic under discussion has nothing to do with personal appearance.

    Do not switch the topic to other people’s supposed emotions. Stick to the topic at hand.

    When discussing an incident, do not elide all the salient points.

    Since Vacula has held out such a magnificent olive branch, doesn’t it behoove you to respond in kind?

    (No snark here, of course.)

  76. 76
    Kim Rippere (President of Secular Woman)

    I stand in solidarity with those that are working to give the voice of women and feminists a voice and place in our community.

    Thank you for all that you do.

  77. 77
    Raging Bee

    While I totally appreciate people like you listening to scum like Vaculous so people like me don’t have to, at some point one needs to ask why a certain loudmouthed idiot is worth any such attention. What, specifically, did Vaculous do to make him worth more attention than some other ignorant crank with a webcam? Are we really accomplishing anything by fisking this idiot? Or is there some other idiot who has a greater potential to do real harm, and thus needs more attention, than Vaculous?

    If this guy is a famous author or activist, whose bloviations get lots of public attention — and possibly action — then it makes perfect sense to watch his actions and pounce on him when appropriate. But if he’s just one more self-important crank with a Youtube channel, then we may be doing more harm than good by giving him more attention than he’d otherwise get.

  78. 78
    Raging Bee

    OT PS: is anyone else getting those silly “FEMA Coffins Revealed” ads here?

  79. 79
    Anthony K

    All the ads I get are for vaporisers.

  80. 80
    Stephanie Zvan

    Raging Bee, if you have some way to keep people from thinking that victim blaming is cool because Steven Novella decided to say that Vacula had good ideas on this–and that idea requires no work from me–please feel free to let me know. I will happily spend time on something other than the assholes once other people stop supporting them.

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    Why We Get Harassed » Almost Diamonds

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    Michael Nugent visits the slime pit » Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] Vacula has published a video (here with transcript) titled “Feminists’ million dollar question” in which he elaborates on his advice “for [...]

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    Magical Harassment Fairies aka Dead Nazis | EllenBeth Wachs

    [...] all roads of the current atheist/feminist controversy lead back to Justin Vacula. He recorded a youtube video in which he made the statement [...]

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