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Oct 31 2013

The First Rule of TAM

Carrie Poppy came out with some new information about Michael Shermer and D.J. Grothe yesterday, as well as a recommendation. The results were very “skeptic”. The full Storify is here if the embed doesn’t work for you.

38 comments

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  1. 1
    John-Henry Beck

    Remarkably disappointing all this. I guess some of it stems from not considering ‘mere’ groping and the like to be sexual assault, and so ‘adults’ should just deal with it? And if someone isn’t in jail at the time there’s no reason to do something so ghastly as not invite them to be speakers?

    So, yes, I sure don’t feel like recommending TAM. It would seem for such an event that they’re perfectly capable of choosing speakers without so much risk to attendees and other speakers.

    Also, yet another example of why Rebecca Watson called Mayhew the dumbest person on Twitter.

  2. 2
    Forbidden Snowflake

    At least Mayhew had enough self-awareness not to add “Don’t like having your boobs groped? Don’t go to TAM!”…

  3. 3
    Forbidden Snowflake

    TAM may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    Oh, I’m sorry, the header said “rule”, not “law”. Never mind, then.

  4. 4
    Tom Foss

    Carrie argues like a creationist, not like skeptics. Real skeptics like Sara Mayhew always dismiss people’s claims based on assumptions of their suspect motives. It’s like that classic skeptic argument that religious people are only believers because an atheist was mean to them when they were children, or because they want to avoid the consequences of real-world actions by imagining that they’ll have a reward in the afterlife.

    Carrie treats women like helpless children. True feminists like Sara Mayhew know that if women want to be protected, they should turn to big strong security personnel, or just get used to the base level of assault that exists in our society. Suggesting that women talk to each other and take proactive steps for their own safety, or clamor themselves for a users to face consequences, is coddling.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced.

  5. 5
    Pteryxx

    At least Mayhew had enough self-awareness not to add “Don’t like having your boobs groped? Don’t go to TAM!”…

    Um… have you read further into the Storify? Because she pretty much did.

  6. 6
    Stacy

    When it comes right down to it, I’m not sure how that statement terribly different from what Poppy had to say. So why is her talking about the subject something to be met with such hostility?

    I realize that’s a rhetorical question, but–we’re dealing here with people who can’t admit when they’re wrong. Notice the goalpost moving: first it was, “Sez you, Carrie Poppy! Why should we believe you, you PETA-and-Skepchick loving feminist!?” By the end it was, “So Shermer groped a boob attached to a woman who didn’t invite or enjoy it. Big deal. They were probably drinking. It’s Vegas! Lighten up!”

    Hey, Sara and the rest of you TAM and Shermer defenders: There is ample evidence that Shermer is a serial sexual harasser (leaving aside evidence of even worse behavior.)

    DJ by his own admission has seen Shermer sexually harass someone at least once. This single incident is one among many that have been alleged about Shermer. This particular one was testified to under oath by Grothe himself.

    DJ continued to invite Shermer to speak at TAM.

    Is everybody who goes to TAM going to get groped? No. Carrie’s point was that TAM does not care enough about women to drop a serial sexual harasser from its invite list.

    I don’t expect poor Mayhew to be able to follow the reasoning here, but some of the smarter jackoffs should be bright enough to realize they’re rationalizing this behavior out of pride and animus, and nothing more.

  7. 7
    Stacy

    Speaking of goalpost moving: remember the claims that nobody was ever, no never, sexually harassed at TAM?

    Those were the days.

    P.S. I hate the attempts to present the complaints against “Monopod Man” as evidence of some sort of hysteria. No, they weren’t. No, we don’t know, and never will know, whether or not he was taking upskirt photos. We do know his behavior was creepy, and he didn’t stop when asked to. We also know the individual in question, like Michael Shermer, has a reputation. A reputation that I’m pretty sure the two people who objected to his behavior didn’t know about at the time.

    Then there’s this, quite unconnected to other allegations against MM: several years ago, MM spent some time on the JREF forum discussing in great depth the legality of photographing underage cheerleaders at high school games. Obviously that does not mean that he took upskirt photos at TAM9. We have no way of knowing whether or not he did that. We also have no reason to suppose that the people who were unnerved by his behavior were overreacting.

  8. 8
    John-Henry Beck

    Stacy, technically it sounds like this is about something that happened somewhere other than at TAM. Just one TAM speaker harassing another and DJ witnessing it. Only somewhere else. Which wouldn’t apply, technically, to that claim about TAM (though there were those other cases, of course).

    I do agree that the monopod man thing is a poor example to drag out for ‘hysteria’. Unless, I suppose, anything short of a conviction is enough to call it ‘hysteria’…

  9. 9
    SallyStrange

    At least Mayhew had enough self-awareness not to add “Don’t like having your boobs groped? Don’t go to TAM!”…

    Well…

    Same old song and dance. Can you believe ppl drink and grope at a casino in Vegas? Wow…

    Technically she’s saying that if you don’t want to get groped, don’t go to Vegas. Since TAM is always in Vegas, I think it counts, though.

  10. 10
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    TAM was awesome when I went in 2010, but I recognize that doesn’t mean there weren’t things going on I was unaware of. I also was with a fiancé and didn’t go to any parties. Mayhew does seem to think its ok for a host to view a guest assaulting another guest, not do or say anything and continue to invite that guest. Survival of the fittest, I suppose. TAM and some people’s dismissive attitudes remind me of this old gag- http://youtu.be/7gzDC-2ZO8I

  11. 11
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    To correct myself, supposedly DJ viewed the incident at another con. Still, it’s not cool to basically not give a rat’s ass and give the offender access to guests at your own event.

  12. 12
    Rowan

    So:
    telling women “dont wear clothes that show any amount of skin or you’ll be raped” = good
    telling women “dont ever drink, because then if you get raped its really kinda your fault” = good
    telling women “if you flirt with men, or talk to them in ‘misleading’ ways, of course hes gonna rape you” = good
    telling women “well of course if you go out after dark you’re gonna get raped, so stay indoors” = good
    telling women “float like a mountain lion, sting like a wasp, or you gon get raped and its your fault” = good
    telling women “you really should take responsibility for your rape, because you put yourself in a situation where you could potentially be raped” = good
    telling women “id recommend not going to this event where sexual assaulters don’t have much to fear” = bad/misandry/FTBullies.

    I think I got it now.

  13. 13
    screechymonkey

    “Michael Shermer groped a woman at a convention”
    ZOMG! That is outrageous! Hearsay! Gossip! Innuendo! Slander! Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!
    “Well, D. J. Grothe confirmed that he witnessed it.”
    *yawn* So someone’s boob got groped at a convention? Total non-event. BOOOORRRRING manufactroversy.

    “I have the following concerns about TAM:….”
    LOL feminists are such bad skeptics. True skeptics provide evidence and avoid fallacies. By the way, did you know she’s a member of PETA and therefore nothing she says is true?

    I may have to start believing in a God who gave comedy the gift of Sara Mayhew.

  14. 14
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    I wonder how many more times Sara’s going to have to embarrass herself before even the TAM people starting asking her to not mention she’s one of their fellows.

  15. 15
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Sorry, that should be TED not TAM. Too much #navalgassing on my part…

  16. 16
    Forbidden Snowflake

    OK, Pteryxx and Sally, I guess she did say that. I did read the Storify through the first time, just didn’t translate the implications of that tweet.
    That said, can I just mention how horrifyingly creepy the word combination “drink and grope” is? The second verb just doesn’t belong in a pairing with the first, and the “and” really has no business of being there either, and the whole phrase looks a brass knucks covered with glitter paint*. It’s like “hiking and battery” or “shopping and pillaging”.

    *Not googling that; I’m sure it’s for sale somewhere

  17. 17
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I’ve come to a point where I can’t even read Sarah’s tweets on these Spotifies anymore. They’re just so fucking bad.

    I though I was bad at skepticism because I’ve fallen for thing that, in hindsight, are obviously not true (the hype around Darwinius massilae as the missing link, arsenic-based lifeforms, etc)… but then I was introduced to Sarah Mayhew and… woah…

    I don’t feel so bad about having to work at being a skeptic anymore…

  18. 18
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Sara Mayhew needs a life. And some sense of self-evaluation.
    Seriously, somebody who snipes about “grade school sparkle work” shouldn’t use the word “maturity”, not even when talking about wine.

    And yeah, if you are assaulted, call security. Who we all know will totally handle things in a satisfactory manner. Don’t ever suggest that anything should be done before the assault happens, preferrably by not inviting somebody you know to be apparently unable to behave himself.
    I mean, it’s like saying that the best thing about caries isn’t brushing your teeth but having the dentist drill it out.

  19. 19
    carlie

    Sara Mayhew is just the worst.
    At least I can use “who Sara Mayhew tries to bully” as a guide for who would be awesome to follow on twitter.

  20. 20
    hyperdeath

    Stacy:

    Speaking of goalpost moving: remember the claims that nobody was ever, no never, sexually harassed at TAM?

    The next line of defence will be that old favourite of Catholics and Scientologists:

    “Yes there were problems. Now stop dredging up past events”.

  21. 21
    A Hermit

    Rowan@12

    That about sums it up…

    Also ‘“float like a mountain lion, sting like a wasp” made me LOL

  22. 22
    PZ Myers

    Don’t forget the other two highly popular contradictions:

    “FtB just does drama for all the hits!”

    and

    “FtB is dying!”

  23. 23
    Scr... Archivist

    If the JREF is still looking for a new communications director, maybe Ms. Mayhew would be a good choice.

  24. 24
    Brony

    This is why I hate Twitter. I don’t know if I could emotionally survive in an environment where there is simply not enough space to concisely demonstrate what is wrong with what the other persons are saying. Or maybe it’s not so bad when you get used to it, but the thought of descending into what looks like school-yard gossip for adults is really distasteful.

  25. 25
    doubtthat

    1) As if we needed more evidence against those folks, they’re now trying the Republican Shitty Jedi Mind Trick: “Liberals are the real racists, and MLK obviously would have been a Romney/Ryan supporter. Now: the real misogynists are the ones who think that women are too weak to take care of themselves. DERP!

    If there was a male speaker randomly walking around, sticking his hand down men’s pants and fondling their junk, how quick would it take for that fellow to be banned from everything in perpetuity? I’m a man, I can take care of myself, I don’t want to go places where my junk can be fondled without consent at any time and no one will do anything about it. And that will literally never happen, This stuff is more or less constant for women, obviously.

    Note–I specifically chose the example of a gay man, because if you say, “how would you feel if a woman was groping you against your consent,” you invite a barrage of idiotic, “Yo, bro, that would be, like, rad…” Unfortunately, there’s no other way to get these fools to empathize with the extreme violation of such behavior.

    2) As a thought experiment, pretend that Shermer never groped that woman. You’re still left with Grothe saying it happened and then inviting Shermer to a conference that he has some control over (at least I haven’t heard anyone present the option that Shermer is appearing against the strong protest of Grothe). That’s a really, really big problem, and much more odd than if Grothe did see it happen. As Stephanie pointed out, if it’s a lie, it’s a bold lie against his own self-interest.

    Again, if Grothe said, “I saw Speaker X groping people’s balls. Let’s give a warm welcome to Speaker X at TAM!!!” I think there would be little trouble in understanding why folks may not want to spend money to mingle in that crowd.

    They just have a reflexive, reactionary position against anything presented by the folks they’ve already decided are villains.

  26. 26
    freemage

    Scr… Archivist: Truly, a match made in heaven.

    doubtthat: Given that DJ’s totes okay with making rape jokes directed at other men, I’m almost willing to suspect he wouldn’t give a shit about your hypotheticals. Of course, that just underlines how depraved an attitude he really has towards this crap.

  27. 27
    doubtthat

    freemage: You’re probably right about Grothe, but I was thinking more along the lines of the public outcry that would ensue and force his hand. Grothe, sadly, has a ton of support for his dismissal of women’s concerns, but I bet he wouldn’t find a crowd to aid and abet his defense of the hypothetical male-directed assailant.

    I just don’t think there’d be so much doubt about the story…it would just be, yeah, of course we don’t want our balls groped without consent. Make that guy go away.

    You sure as hell wouldn’t have people asking the victim how many beers they drank or how tight their jeans were.

  28. 28
    Ben Zvan

    In case anyone is wondering about the beardo thing, Sara Mayhew seems to have some sort of phobia or obsession about men with beards (or goatees, I’m not sure and neither is she) who wear cargo shorts.

    Since I happen to know many anime fans who have beards and wear cargo shorts, I have to wonder what a Sara Mayhew signing (if such a thing is possible) would look like. I imagine her signing something, then tweeting “I just signed a sketch for yet another beardo who probably reads #FTBullies! I win the internet with my #bravehero courage!”

  29. 29
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Now I want to show up briefly in some sort of Mayhew venue in cargo shorts.

  30. 30
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Well, after reading the entire Storify, I have discovered for myself one more use for Twitter: You know when you were a small child and thought of that oh-so-snappy comeback ten minutes after a confrontation had ended? Yeah, now you can Twit* those endlessly at will. Thanks for pointing this out, Sara.

    *As opposed to meaningfully Tweeting something.

  31. 31
    Heather

    I went to TAM and never felt unsafe*. I did, however, feel like I’d wasted $500 paying for a con where the likes of Sara Mayhew were speakers. It was a waste of my time and money.

    *not at all a meant to contradict that other people have felt unsafe, have been harassed, have been assaulted there, just my experience

  32. 32
    Martin Wagner

    Well, Sara appears to have clarified for me that groping isn’t really so much of a problem so long as you ensure you get groped in the right locations.

    Who is this girl anyway, and how does she have a career as a public speaker?

  33. 33
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    how does she have a career as a public speaker?

    Because she’s willing to unquestioningly kiss the behind of people like D.J. Grothe, who then book her for public speechifyin’.

  34. 34
    Stephanie Zvan

    For all her behavior, Wikipedia says she’s almost 30, so not a girl. She doesn’t really have a career as a public speaker either. Probably less than I do, and I don’t particularly, aside from the radio work.

    At one time, she looked to have a promising future doing art that promoted skepticism. It wasn’t just the manga, though that’s the bit that everyone knows. She did some other interesting, if rough, stuff too. And then…not much happened. It’s possible that something else she tweeted yesterday shines a light on why. Or maybe she just ran out of steam. Hard to say.

  35. 35
    MrFancyPants

    Well, that certainly escalated quickly after Carrie’s initial tweet; having gotten busy at work, I had no idea it turned into such a crazy twitterthread.

    Sara Mayhew is starting to remind me of Lee J. Cobb’s character in the classic “12 Angry Men”–ranting, clinging to emotional ideology, reactionary and above all else, angry. Such an over-the-top response to a simple opinion.

  36. 36
    Flewellyn

    I am left, once again, to ponder a simple question:

    Why is Sara Mayhew? Why is she?

  37. 37
    Fishes

    Sara Mayhew’s twitter account seems to have been suspended now… anyone know why?

  38. 38
    Stephanie Zvan

    I think Twitter is generally pretty opaque about why they do suspensions. However, her abusive behavior had been ramping up in the last few weeks. It was like she was making up for having been a little nicer while promoting her Kickstarter. She was tagging a lot of people in her tweet rants who have her blocked, me included. If I had to guess, I’d point to that.

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