With Room to Learn

There has been a lot of talk in the last few months about how “call-out culture” causes problems. Some of it is ridiculous, as when writers take to large magazines and newspapers to complain of being silenced. Some of it is not, as when those already marginalized note that dealing with fierce blowback for mistakes as they enter and acclimate to activist spaces is one more barrier than they have energy for.

I want to deal more with the latter as I get back into writing more regularly. There are things I want to say about languages of power once I’m comfortable that my views are fully fleshed out. In the meantime, however, there are a couple of posts contemporaneous with my earlier writing on the topic that I want to highlight, both from Angus Johnston on the Student Activism blog. [Read more…]

Fuck Your Civility

Well, here it is a day later, and still no one had told Steve Snyder that it his comment at JT’s was unacceptably sexist. So I did.

Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed “pisses them off”, no matter how much they’ll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man’s behavior by having sex with him.

It only gets you two things. The first is a reputation as someone who isn’t capable of making a socially acceptable argument about why treating rape seriously is bad but can’t let the issue go, and the second is secular and skeptical movements that are distinctly hostile to women.

So fuck right the hell off.

And the same goes for anyone incapable of telling Steve here the same thing.

If none of the people preaching for civility are going to stop this behavior, if none of the people telling me how to behave are going to do anything to see that I’m treated well in return, they get to deal with how I deal with it. And they get to deal with how I deal with it after a day of my mistreatment being ignored in a forum where putting the smack down on bad behavior is supposedly the order of the day.

And if they really want to know how their version of “civility” fits into this, they can ask me. Very nicely. I doubt they’ll like any answer they get today, though.

Feedback for American Atheists

So I kept reading the transcript of the chat room during yesterday’s “Brave Hero” radio show. I know. I know. But that sort of thing is hard to look away from once you’ve looked, like any traffic disaster.

I found something I wasn’t expecting.

DaveMuscato: Hey folks, I just wanted to mention that I’m here (Public Relations Director for American Atheists). I did not catch Dave on the air but I caught some of the calls at  the end. I’m happy to do what I can do listen to your feedback if you

DaveMuscato: have something you want me or Dave to know

Color me impressed.

So what did Dave and Dave get for feedback? It’s a bit hard to tell, because PZ was also in the chat room at the time having all sort of accusations thrown at him. Here are the bits I think were probably meant for American Atheists. [Read more…]

The Appeal to the Naive Observer

I get rather a remarkable number of comments like this one about a letter I sent to CFI regarding Justin Vacula’s attendance at the Women in Secularism conference this weekend.

Attempting to have him excluded from the event –which is clearly the subtext of the letter you quote here, if it wasn’t why give them a “situation” to “resolve” – will force people like me, who are new to this whole kerfluffle, to believe that you really don’t have ideas worth defending.

Now, setting aside the fact that I, at least, am aware of several ways that conference organizers can limit the disruptiveness of an attendee short of barring them from the conference, and setting aside that I thanked CFI for taking one of those options, there’s a failure of critical thinking in this comment and comments like these that boggles my mind.

[Read more…]

What “Dialogue” Does

Rebecca posted a Twitter rant from Jeff Sharlet at Skepchick yesterday. Sharlet’s topic? This idea that dialogue is always something for which we should strive. He doesn’t exactly mince his words either:

Fetish for “dialogue” assumes those you disagree w/ lack only your insight; assumes they want to “compromise.” As if they have no agency.

Student fetish for “dialogue” a form of technocratic optimism based on free market myth of “exchange” as end in itself.

Rebecca added some choice words of her own:
[Read more…]

Satire, or Some Gun Control, Please!

I’m largely away from the internet this week, and I’m running a series of guest posts to introduce you to other bloggers and give some people without a blog home some space to be heard. Ariel has only recently started commenting but has provided an interesting perspective.

From Wikipedia: satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

Flag gun with "Satire!" on the flag.Let me add: satire can be a formidable weapon, effective in achieving its aims, but also deadly.

When I was young, we were using it constantly. The communist regime in my country, although economically bankrupt, was still in power. On official TV (there was no other one, and no internet, mind you) the serious-looking party leaders threw thunderbolts against the “imperialist West”, while promising us a brilliant socialist future … after solving some temporary problems of course, “blown out of proportions by counterrevolutionary propaganda”. Apart from the Catholic Church, there were no officially recognized forces or organizations to counteract this dreadful tide. [Read more…]

When It’s Time to Quit

One of the best parts of student-run conferences is that they often put new faces in front of the audience. SkepTech was particularly good at this.

Brendan Murphy isn’t a stranger to secular students, but many of us haven’t had a chance to see him show his stuff on stage. For this talk, he chose an unusual topic that is still appropropriate to a skeptical activist conference: Are we doing the right thing when we tell people to hang in their and keep trying?

I’ve never felt much need to tell people to stick with something myself, but I’m not huge on the Puritan work ethic, even if you can’t tell from how I’m running my own life these days.

I do realize that the sound quality isn’t great for these talks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to pull the sound directly from the room’s audio system.

Moving Right Along

My disputed post has stopped being disputed and has been posted for discussion, albeit in two parts. I’m posting both parts here together. That makes relevant links so far:

For the sake of word count, I have removed points of settled agreement from this statement, though I expect we will refer to them throughout the dialog.  [Read more…]

Dialog Delayed

I had intended to bring you my latest response in the dialog yesterday. I submitted it Friday night. However, it hasn’t been posted yet. For those of you who are interested in following the dialog, I’m afraid I can’t tell you when it will be posted.

Apparently, the moderator for the other team has decided that my post is better moderated than argued with, and Mick Nugent has not ruled that out. I’m disagreeing strongly. I did not sign up to have my posts changed before they see the light of day. I haven’t asked for any changes to their posts, even where they clearly haven’t met the requirements of the dialog (i.e., Skep Sheik’s failure to indicate agreement or disagreement with the points he responded to). This was not part of the terms I agreed to.

We’ll see what happens next.