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PTSD and Me(lody)

PTSD is a funny beast.

To suffer from it is not a form of weakness. It is your body and mind settling on a new norm.

[warning]This is about PTSD and in particular my take on it. I debated writing this. Then I was linked to the Daily Mail, Thunderfoot and A Voice for Men. And I did so to show solidarity. In addition? My comment policy is back. This is a red topic. Safe zone with topics germane to the conversation. [/warning]

How you cope with it is different too. Some revel in it and use it as a source of strength. They fight it and mock it and push themselves to not be held back by it. In many cases normalisation of routine helps PTSD sufferers by getting them up and about and back into routines. It was once considered cruel and counter-productive. In time it became the gold standard of treatment. It helps them stop avoiding the things that trigger it.

But then there are some people who avoid their triggers. That’s okay too it is a way of coping. I honestly don’t care how you live your life and cope with the beast as long as you live your life. Whether you harness the beast or you cage it it is up to you. It’s your monster, it’s your choice on how to fight it. I do know that it isn’t healthy and it wasn’t for me.

My PTSD is due to war and in other sufferers there is a range of reasons for PTSD. Some get it due to suffering wounds. Some get it due to seeing their friends die. Some due to the fear of artillery… the infamous shellshock and bomb happy. I was born and lived in Kuwait and I was a refugee from the first Gulf War. These are the traditional view of PTSD. It’s old names were shell shock or bomb happy.

 I suffer from it due to the actions of others and trauma inflicted. But I suffered it as a kid and it wasn’t fun dealing with it then. People are cruel. I often use the example of people throwing fireworks or popping balloons to trigger PTSD as an example of dickery because it was how children behaved towards me. I thought they were arseholes growing up, growing older? I think they are just children being children. They thought what they were doing is harmless. Luckily I survived.

I will also tell you that I never really celebrated birthdays. Or enjoyed Diwali or Guy Fawkes or New Year’s Day. I even had to be wary around match days where football clubs may have a fireworks display. I often still go, after having mentally prepared myself for the onslaught.

There is a greater acceptance of PTSD today but historically people suffering from it were usually treated as cowards. As draft dodgers. As those who didn’t want to do their duty.

But not everyone goes to war or is raped or is in a car accident before they get PTSD. There are some who get it over the weirdest things. A discarded and broken doll. A dead cat on the street. It’s not that incident that breaks something inside you but a slow application of stress and terror and abuse that eventually  breaks something. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. What we see is someone saying that they got PTSD because of a broken doll, when in reality what we see is the tip of the ice berg and ignore a plethora of pre-existing trauma. PTSD is often silent, the patient is unaware of changes and differences to their routine. I know a young lad who post-Iraq thought it was nothing to sleep with a knife under his pillow due to the paranoia and fear.

The dialogue about PTSD is almost exclusively military. Because here is a demography with a specific trauma trigger that we can relate to. We have enough “War is Hell” movies to show the sort of thing that creates their PTSD. We also have enough mass media to understand (to a great extent) the trauma of being hostages or rape victims. We have all been around or in car crashes or in accidents so we know the trauma of those too.

Many people get it due to work. Doctors, Nurses, Fire Fighters.

And there are those we puzzle over. People who have gotten it from a doctor’s visit or a dental visit. But remember what I said? The final straw was those things. The underlying issues and experiences have a role to play too.

It seems puzzling to us that something as harmless as a dental visit can cause PTSD but I know people who fought wars where the thing that broke them was not artillery, blood and killing but something as banal as a dead kitten or an abandoned doll. That was the point their minds rebelled. That was the point they had their first attack. The first time they realised something wrong was a disproportionate response to something banal and humdrum. Because there are underlying stresses and pressures that contribute to a slow grinding of a person’s psyche. That a past trauma can slowly destroy you until some little thing pushes you over the edge. Think of it as a house where the support beams and load bearing walls are destroyed by some other person to the point you can knock it over with a tennis ball.

It’s an iceberg of a disease.

Now here is the thing. Let us take a doctor who gets PTSD due to a traumatic work load. Being a doctor didn’t make him get PTSD, the trauma he witnessed did. Same for the soldiers, the fire fighters and the others.

Also? PTSD is not about the severity of the trauma but how you react to the trauma. No one holds down veterans and shows them people who were injured in similar incidents but who don’t have PTSD and then claim that they are weak and useless and faking it. They used to.

So what’s all this about? Melody Hensley’s PTSD. Want to know my take?

I don’t care. I really don’t. My PTSD is my issue and how I deal with it is my business. I know how much it sucks and I know that if you really wish to pretend to have PTSD then go right ahead. It is not affecting me, it is not affecting anyone else. It sucks, for fuck sake I am a grown man who flinches at the sound of balloons bursting and for whom a balloon being blown up is scary. Do you think I enjoy this? Fuck No. And I bet it’s the same for Melody. I don’t think she is enjoying this. This is not a pleasant feeling. Just as I would not want some dick weasel chasing me with balloons and fireworks, she probably doesn’t want her version of this wanker triggering her

We know cyber-bullying exists and I myself have charted examples of the stellar behaviour of people. We agree that it is traumatic or else Melody Hensley is the least of our worries. We should be out there telling GLAAD and Stonewall and It Gets Better to knock it off because gay kids aren’t traumatised by cyber-bullying and that it doesn’t exist. So we do agree that you can get twitter from the cyberbullying and harassment that comes with being a woman online. This means that we can condense this into the technically accurate statement

“Twitter Can Cause PTSD”. This is the statement of the anti-FTB and anti-Melody brigade (because there is a fair overlap). That it wasn’t their constant tweets, harassment and cyber stalking but twitter itself. There are two different strategies being used.

The first one implies that TWITTER (the microblogging platform) caused PTSD which is just so idiotic and vapid as a statement. The second one is an attempt to downplay the actual harassment.

I feel the second one is the lie you tell yourself to justify your actions. Of course you can’t be the villain, Melody is. What you are doing is not harassment, it’s criticism and suggestions. You aren’t like all those people suggesting those horrible things. Your things are  constructive.

Your Trauma Is Not Real Enough.

Is is hard to listen to someone with a Trauma you consider lesser. Imagine telling a story about how you were wounded by enemy fire and saw your friends get hit and one of them die near you and the next person tells you about a bad dental visit. Even within the army  there are those who lost limbs who are more capable of dealing with their PTSD than someone who merely witnessed trauma.

And often the feeling described is how pathetic you feel that your trauma isn’t as bad as others. Which is why PTSD is never compared. You never compare yours to others. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help others. If we start sitting around wondering whose trauma is real and whose isn’t then I am afraid we would make PTSD worse for all and reduce the number of people seeking help for it.

But we don’t know about the iceberg. Sometimes PTSD’s cause is loud and clear. Sometimes it’s a variety of things all precipitating it. And pop diagnosis on line doesn’t make things better.

I didn’t intend to write anything about PTSD and Melody, but I fear that not writing will encourage people like this. Oh, I know the anti-FTB brigade were rather interested in my PTSD claim. If they do read this, it’s simple. I was born in Kuwait. Site of the first Gulf War where I was a refugee. Due to my parent’s jobs they were captured and held because “Doctors Are Very Useful”. One day we were given a car and tried to leave. We left on the night of the 16th of January. We didn’t know what was coming.

I lived through Allied bombing and the Iraqi retaliation. The lack of information meant we drove along Highway 80. To those who lived through it, it had another name.

The Highway of Death, a shooting gallery of American long range bombardment and air strikes. After we saw one, we turned back. We drove to Saudi Arabia instead. Where we were held in a filthy room and treated like animals (I was fed a single boiled egg over a day). Until hell broke lose. A scud missile had struck a nearby building. We took the time to leave. Some kind soul unlocked the door. We assumed the war was between the Saudi and Iraqi sides. So we fled to Basra and then onwards through Iraq to the Israeli border with Jordan. At every stage we were subject to the fear that the Saudis would bomb us. It was there our luck ran out. We were not allowed into Israel. My parents say the white brits we were travelling with were separated from us. We got to go to Jordan, to a Red Cross camp set up to take in refugees near Amman. It was filled with Palestinians. And it was there we learned about the war. The bombings were by us and the Americans. After 6 months the UK found us and brought us home. A year later we went back to Kuwait.

After 6 months of living in occupied Kuwait I had been shelled and starved. Food and water was rationed and scarce. Fights and even murders occurred over it. The only reason we survived was that my parents could translate their skills as doctors into barter. And that at least one kind Iraqi lad was nice enough to protect us from something he knew was coming. I survived Kuwait from August the 2nd to January the 16th.  I had lost friends, one being shot and another having his house shelled while he was still inside it. I lived through all of this. I was bombed out both by the Allies and the Iraqis.

I was told this by my parents, I myself don’t remember the trauma. Partly because I was 5 and partly because I later found out that PTSD causes you to blank out incidents. By the time we were evacuated in August, a full year after the war began I had lost nearly half my body weight, was severely constipated by a lack of balanced diet and covered in sores and ulcers. I had scurvy and the beginning of Vitamin A deficiency (my parents would starve for a day every month to get a tin of sardines and force me to drink the oil). I weighed less than 12 Kg.

Now there are two responses to this story. You may go “That’s awful, I am glad you made it mate”. And then there is the other.

“You are a liar, you are a cheat, you just want to have PTSD for sympathy”. Which is fine, but I never wanted sympathy. I never got sympathy. 1990s were the time when PTSD was beginning to be diagnosed. And it certainly wasn’t for civilians to begin with. The fact is that there were thousands of refugees out there during that particular war and many other wars. I may not remember with perfect clarity all the horrors as those blend together but I remember the kindness. And what I chose to define my trauma was with that kindness.

It is why I still do all of this. To be a little piece of kindness to kids who experience the same things that I did and maybe give them the same chances I got.

And I have heard people say the same sort of things as what is being told to Melody Hensley. This isn’t real, this isn’t true, this is just fantastic. I don’t believe you have PTSD. And all I have to say “you are entitled to your opinions”.  But it hurts, it hurts when someone doesn’t accept that you are in pain. It hurts when someone refuses to accept your issues and makes light of them. Parents used to excuse their kids by saying that the balloons would “fix” me. It did, I had a choice. I got used to it. It affected me less and less to the point it causes apprehension but not crippling fear. And it forced me to fight back.

So when I hear the arguments being made about Melody’s “fake” PTSD, it throws me back to my childhood where people thought I was faking my fear of balloons. Now like her, I cannot point down the precise point of trauma that triggered mine. Maybe it was watching a kid get killed by a land mine, maybe it was that tent fire that roasted that family alive, maybe it was the building that fell on me, maybe it was the dead bodies. Maybe it was the fact my Birthday (You heard it here first!) is on August the 3rd and that Kuwait was effectively invaded a few hours earlier. It was a traumatic year.

Or maybe it was just the balloons. I just don’t know when it really started.

So what I see when Melody’s “fake” PTSD comes up is people who would say

“Don’t be Stupid Avi, you can’t get PTSD from balloons”

What I see when people try to trigger her are the kids who would would chase me with balloons because they wanted to see me run.

What I see when people defend the above as criticism, are the parents of those kids who downplayed the bullying.

What I see are people like Thunderfoot, Dean Esmay and Sara Malm (of the Daily Mail) supporting all of this and encouraging angry harassment because in their vast training as Biologist, Professional College Hater (seriously? Guy whinged about my University Education) and Journalist; they have an intimate knowledge about medical diagnosis of psychiatric conditions.

And what I see are victims of PTSD falling into the bad habit of comparisons of trauma, when they themselves should remember that it’s not the Trauma but how we respond to it. And the victims of PTSD forgetting that once their own traumas would have been treated the way they are treating Melody.

What I see are armchair psychiatrists making pop diagnosis online and then calling themselves skeptics who applaud when I make the same point about Anti-Vax and other quacks.

What I see are people who would state that I shouldn’t go to places with balloons because there may be arseholes who chase me with one..That I should not have Birthday Parties because sometimes balloons are there. That one cannot have the cake and presents without the inflated rubber bladders.

You may think of us as weak and effete. Of requiring smelling salts. But I am impressed with what Melody has done. I don’t run anything important. Hell, I barely have 2000 hits a day! She’s done things that thousands of atheists get involved with.

That’s an achievement in itself. I can’t do that. I am too ornery, angry and prone to the Jeremy Clarkson school of solving problems (Shouting and hitting things with hammers) to be of any use to such an environment.

TL;DR

I support Melody Hensley and think the people suggesting she avoid Twitter in order to deal with Twitter Harassment is forgetting that the real goal should be to avoid Harassment rather than Twitter. If you want to give money to support PTSD research. then check this link out.

Comments

  1. Steersman says

    Quite a good analysis, and a plausible defense of Melody, as well as a moving tale of the horrific consequences and human faces of war. And I can well sympathize with your criticisms of other victims of PTSD for their failure to recognize that the syndrome can be caused by quite a wide range of environmental causes with quite a wide range of effects.

    However, all of that is, I think, not the whole story with Hensley, and that other “sub-plots” and principles have a great deal of relevance and influence on the actions of the various other players in it. Relative to which, you may wish to peruse the recent post by Miri over at her blog Brute Reason where she quite reasonably argues, and develops in some detail, the idea that not “… all online criticism (or even most of it) qualifies as ‘bullying.’” And the sticky wicket is that Hensley, despite the fact many people seem to have been “gratuitously nasty” to her, seems to be rather too quick, even if with some justification, to characterize all of the negative responses to her as bullying and harassment. For instance, in that YouTube video of Thunderfoot’s, he shows [@ 1:37] a tweet from “Neptune Fallen” who asks of Hensley “How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?” Which hardly seems to qualify as any type of bullying or harassment, yet Hensley seems to think otherwise:

    Hensley: You are very insensitive to question someone who has a life altering disorder. This is harassment. You will be blocked.

    While I will readily concede that she might well have some of the symptoms of PTSD, to characterize a rather civil question as harassment rather clearly shows that she has gone off the rails. Nothing to do with me personally, but that tweet and a subsequent one where she has “just contacted someone’s commanding officer” to complain about similar tweets suggests what she is doing reflects poorly on herself, on the CFI, and on the atheist-skeptic community.

    And while I will readily cut her some slack because of that “gratuitous nastiness”, and I will readily accept that society quite justifiably provides special consideration of one form or another to those with various debilitating conditions – for instance, we provide handicap parking, and special tax breaks for those whose afflictions cost them serious money – I also think there is rightly some limit to those special considerations. For instance, that someone is entitled to a permit to use the handicapped parking places in no way justifies them using that permit as a get-out-of-jail-free card for any and all other transgressions.

    And it seems to me, and to no few others, that Hensley, in her apparent characterizing of all criticism directed her way as harassment, is attempting to do precisely that. And if that is in fact what is happening – maybe a moot point – then one might reasonably argue that her condition is at least contributing to her inability to do her job – unless you maybe think her job as a CFI Director is to take on the Pentagon for the supposed transgressions of some of its employees. All of which I think rather clearly proves that she is using, or allowing the use of, her supposed condition to circumscribe “free inquiry” – rather inconsistent with CFI’s mission statement.

    So while I sympathize with your efforts to support her claims regarding PTSD itself, I also think you’re bending over backward rather too far to the point of not noticing or over-discounting those other quite important dimensions of the situation.

  2. says

    I may not remember with perfect clarity all the horrors as those blend together but I remember the kindness. And what I chose to define my trauma was with that kindness.
    It is why I still do all of this. To be a little piece of kindness to kids who experience the same things that I did and maybe give them the same chances I got.

    You made me cry. I used to work with refugees, some of whom lived in my house. I remember their stories, told in halting English, struggling to find words not in the ESL texts. One, of a boy who had been 6 at the time of his escape from Cambodia, involves an ice cream cone his brother bought him once they were safe in Canada. It all, the horror, the fear, the loss, came down to that one moment of comfort.

  3. says

    Avi, I’m really sorry for the horrors you had to live through.
    I know you don’t want sympathy, but you deserve at least recognition for what happened to you.

    +++

    “How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?” Which hardly seems to qualify as any type of bullying or harassment, yet Hensley seems to think otherwise:

    Ahhh, Steersman again demonstrating that he deserves an award for either having the worst reading comprehension ever or just being plain dishonest.
    How does that Tweet
    -not question Melody’s PTSD (you know, “supposed” as compared to “actual”)?
    -not try to compare the severity of one thing compared to another? (Did you read what Avi wrote about that very subject?)?
    If you don’t understand how that is not trying to bully and shut up Melody (your PTSD is not real! I have it much worse!), you don’t understand shit about bullying and harassment.

  4. says

    I broke my jaw last fall and spent 6 weeks with my teeth wired together. Since then I have been obsessive about brushing my teeth (you go 6 weeks without brushing your teeth or moving them and see what the inside of your mouth is like!) and if I smell my own breath I start to freak out and have to brush and mouthwash. I’m getting better, I no longer travel with a bottle of scope in my truck. Is that PTSD? Who cares! It’s an over-learned strong emotional response that I can’t prevent.

  5. says

    For instance, that someone is entitled to a permit to use the handicapped parking places in no way justifies them using that permit as a get-out-of-jail-free card for any and all other transgressions.

    And it seems to me, and to no few others, that Hensley, in her apparent characterizing of all criticism directed her way as harassment, is attempting to do precisely that.

    Uh, yeah, I like the way you jumped from some people cheating on handicapped parking to dismissing someone else’s complaint about harassment. Why not just deal with the question of whether or not that person is being harassed and not bring all that other stuff to the table?

  6. says

    I meant to link to this on the SkepticInk PTSD post but forgot … Steers is there too, with PitchGuest, claiming she uses her mental illness to avoid valid criticism. Err, no she doesn’t. I had a blog post I meant to keep up called “Page-o-Reasonable Criticism of the FTBullies”, to counter the Slyme-meme that “FTBullies” never respond well to criticism. Melody had some *serious* criticism of her from the last WISCFI.
    http://www.hofstader.com/invisible_blind_man

    Her initial response at the time was also heavily criticised by those on her side. Reacting emotionally to the criticism and trying to deflect his valid criticism of how people had been treated. (I personally understand why she reacted the way she did given the vast pressure on her, but still not great). So did she double down and ignore the valid criticism claiming harassment? No, she didn’t …

    https://twitter.com/MelodyHensley/statuses/338002556024393729

    I guess the proof will be in the pudding in terms of her competence when WISCFI comes around again this year. But as to the claim she doesn’t handle valid criticism well, we can dismiss that as totally unfounded. This is to my knowledge the only incident of criticism in relation to her job where she is a public figure. Criticism about her personal life is… Well, personal, and she can tell whoever she likes to fuck off when they so much as inquire about it. As I would in her place.

  7. Schlumbumbi says

    At first glance, the article looks like a decent, level-headed approach to a sensitive issue.

    Many people develop disorders. None of them asked for it, and probably not even a single one of them wouldn’t wish to go back to the days when they didn’t have it – whether because they would just wish their disorder to go away, or to reverse the things that caused it in the first place. And luckily for us all, there is a growing, and genuine, understanding in society for these things. And yes, lots of kids will always be shitfucks who mistreat and bully their peers, but that’s literally because they don’t know any better. Empathy is formed through experience. And usually, those kids do learn about it when they grow up.

    However, society’s growing acceptance of the prevalence of mental disorders has a downside, and while it may not be nice to talk about it, it’s ultimately unavoidable.

    One of the problems is : Abuse.
    For every provision society holds ready to aid those whose suffering it has acknowledged, there will be people who will try to benefit from these provisions in illegitimate ways.

    We’ve all seen these people. Some of them pose as homeless beggars, then drive home to their lovely suburb house in their Mercedes Benz; others fill their bags at the soup kitchens, although they do have well paying jobs and can afford buying food, but simply don’t want to because they’re saving their money for remote luxurious expenses… you name it. We’re disgusted by these people, not only for “stealing” what was meant to be given to other people who really need it, but by dragging these other peoples’ reputation through the mud.

    Military folks know the phenomenon of “Stolen Valor” all too well. And although it’s very visible in the US, it’s probably a universal thing – there are people, ordinary civilians with no connection to the military, who’re passing themselves off as (ex-) military veterans, often with disabilities, in order to boast in front of others, to land jobs, to get special discounts at shops, to scrounge off private or government benefits, and so on.

    PTSD/TBI, alcohol/substance abuse, suicide, and the ubiquitous unwillingness of policy makers to provide resources for proper treatment, are HUGE topics for the military “community” (for a lack of a better term), so it can’t surprise anyone that these folks are pretty “sensitive” when it comes to public discourse of these matters. Rightly so.

    And then, at some point in time, Mrs. Hensley, a sheltered, wealthy, white, middle class, professional attention seeker (that IS her job after all), with her privilege oozing out of every pore, decided that it was a splendid idea to give an online PR performance on Twitter about her allegedly Twitter-induced PTSD, or to be a little more precise, her mean-people-said-things-on-Twitter-induced PTSD.

    What do YOU think, how this casually presented spectacle must’ve looked like to a community of people who see the worst effects of PTSD and its related problems all around them on a daily basis, to a group of people who is ignored and left alone by those who owe them help ? As a cynical joke ? Maybe as an outrageous mockery ? Well, some of these people told Mrs. Hensley in plain terms what they thought of her claims, so I don’t have to take any guesses.

    Her answer ? Threatening these people with destroying their livelihood, deliberately putting even more pressure on those of which she knows that they’re under severe stress already, and often enough close to suicide, even without her malevolent and vindictive assistance – that was her answer. Okay, Mrs. Hensley, you got what you wanted. It’s on the record.

    And now…. you “support” her, for all the “harrassment” she gets .. weooow. Maybe your perspective on social justice is really that morbidly narrow, but maybe you’re just a bunch of assholes, rewriting everything to fit your own agenda.

    (Here’s a real protip for those who still reside in reality: If you actually care about a topic and want to have a discussion about it, don’t put a face on it which everyone hates – that’s a show stopper.)

    BTW @ Avicenna: To claim that there’s a “fair overlap” between the “anti-FTB” and the “anti-Melody brigade” is delusional. By Mrs. Hensley’s own admission, she (=her husband) had to block 400+ people within 2 or 3 (?) days after her Tweets hit the fan. It seems military folks don’t suffer self-serving fools as gladly as your average online-opponents apparently do.

  8. says

    Except Melody has not claimed to be a veteran of anything. She isn’t asking for the discounts available to veterans. In fact? PTSD does not net you anything in society. You don’t get special parking or discounts on anything. The only real thing you get is CBT and prozac.

    You don’t gain anything by claiming you have PTSD. You still have to hold down a job, you still have to work, you still get to wake up every day and do a 9 to 5 (or a 6 to 6) 5 (or 7) days a week.

  9. Stacy says

    “How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?”

    “How is your supposed PTSD from balloons as painful as my PTSD from [horrible things I'm assuming without evidence you haven't also experienced], Avicenna? Hey, I’m not dismissing your pain–I’m just asking!”

    And then, at some point in time, Mrs. Hensley, a sheltered, wealthy, white, middle class, professional attention seeker (that IS her job after all), with her privilege oozing out of every pore

    Try reading what Avicenna wrote. And then read it again.

    Read it until you understand it (assuming understanding isn’t utterly beyond you). Especially the part about how PTSD isn’t all about the thing that triggered it. It’s an iceberg.

    Cyberbullying was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for Melody. Your dismissal of her as “sheltered” and “wealthy” is the sort of dismissal Avicenna likened to somebody claiming he got PTSD from balloons.

    You obviously know shit about Melody and her background. I don’t know how much she’s public with, but I do know she didn’t grow up sheltered–quite the opposite. She’s under no obligation to tell shitstains all about all the terrible things that have happened to her in order to justify her PTSD. And she shouldn’t have to do that in order to get you and your little balloon-wielding friends to stop harassing her.

    You are simply making assumptions in order to justify the unjustifiable. That makes you a terrible human being.

  10. Stacy says

    PTSD does not net you anything in society. You don’t get special parking or discounts on anything. The only real thing you get is CBT and prozac

    Hey, Avicenna, don’t forget the special privilege of being harassed by assholes who smell blood.

  11. says

    Stacy

    You obviously know shit about Melody and her background. I don’t know how much she’s public with, but I do know she didn’t grow up sheltered–quite the opposite.

    Well, I don’t know her personally, I only know about her what’s public and since I know a lot about her background, it must be public.
    So, yeah, calling Melody Hensley “sheltered” tells you everything you need to know about those “skeptics”.

    +++
    BTW, I’m sick and tired of the jingoistic “veterans” argument. Those people became veterans by signing up voluntarily for an army that is known for the fact that the only people they treat worse than the inhabitants of whatever country they’re occupying right now is their own soldiers.
    And those people became traumatized veterans mostly by killing innocent people around the globe. By causing trauma in innocent children like Avicenna was.
    So cry me a fucking river.

  12. says

    Gilel I actually disagree with that. Armies tend to treat soldiers “badly” so that they learn to deal with tough situations. No one wants to jog 8 miles in the rain or carry really heavy stuff in bad conditions or sleep in huge dorms.

    These people signed on to do a job and most never killed anyone. Are you kidding me? War is insanely boring. It is long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of terror.

    See there is real places we could have done good like Afghanistan. Instead we diverted resources to Iraq because that war was more… interesting. Afghanistan has real problems that we could have helped fix. The Taliban were the clear bad guys. Instead of diverting troops to Iraq we could have guaranteed a Taliban loss rather than allow them a foothold both in the country and in the nation’s politics.

    The changes would involve the utilisation of Iran to help with work in Afghanistan (The Iranians dislike the Taliban) and get assistance from India and other countries in the region in maintaining order. It was in everyone’s best Interest to deal with Afghanistan and indeed Somalia. Iraq was frankly daft. That was probably because it was profitable to wage war there. I cannot think of any real reasons since it was just a bad idea throughout.

  13. says

    Avicenna

    Gilel I actually disagree with that. Armies tend to treat soldiers “badly” so that they learn to deal with tough situations. No one wants to jog 8 miles in the rain or carry really heavy stuff in bad conditions or sleep in huge dorms.

    Sorry, this is a misunderstanding. I meant “treat them badly” as in “mostly don’t give a fuck about what happens to them once they’re no longer useful to us”. As in people who suffer health consequences from doing their job not getting treatment and support.

    These people signed on to do a job and most never killed anyone. Are you kidding me? War is insanely boring. It is long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of terror.

    Sure, but the fact still stands: The US-Army especially* have killed a few hundred thousand people in Afghanistan and Iraq, maimed and traumatized a few hundred thousands more. The losses suffered by their victims are many times higher than their own risks and damages, so I’m not going to treat them as some extra special group of people who deserve some extra honour and stuff.
    I’m pretty sure that when my grandfather was wounded in WWII it really hurt. But he was not a “victim of war” but a fucking volunteer for the Waffen SS.

    If you think that my two points are contradictory:
    No, one is about people deserving treatment and support, the other is about not engaging in hero worship and militarism worship.

    *Not all by themselves, of course. Many helped in Afghanistan, in cluding the Germans, fewer did so in Iraq

  14. Steersman says

    Giliell: Ahhh, Steersman again demonstrating that he deserves an award for either having the worst reading comprehension ever or just being plain dishonest.

    Ahhh, Giliell again demonstrating that she prefers the least charitable interpretation of her interlocutor’s argument, that she still has an unfortunate tendency to a “four legs good, two legs bad” style of dogma and argumentation. Unfortunate too as I had some hope for you, particularly in light of your rather sensible comments about the utility of the word “most” in the context of the “Sex differences are real” post by PZ, ones which a great many people would do well to give some serious thought to.

    Giliell: How does that Tweet
    -not question Melody’s PTSD (you know, “supposed” as compared to “actual”)?
    -not try to compare the severity of one thing compared to another?

    So now we’re obliged to accept anything and everything that anybody says on pain of being accused of engaging in bullying and harassment? How terribly skeptical of you. Do you, perchance, accept Ken Ham’s views on cosmology and archeology? No? You bully you.

    You should have realized by now that we generally use the weight and preponderance of evidence, the degree to which elements fit together, the degree to which they are consistent with a hypothesis, to make various conclusions and judgements. And, as Oolon’s post rather persuasively argues, Melody has an unfortunate tendency, with maybe some justification, to characterize valid criticism as harassment – and to engage in some draconian and disproportionate responses that should be well outside the scope of her job description. And while “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, it is probably enough to lead most sensible and rational people to question a claim that winter is just around the corner.

    But I wonder how many times y’all have to get burned by various claims before you start to develop a more skeptical frame of mind. First there was the “bottomless wine glass” accusation against Shermer which, mirabile dictu, turned out to be more moonshine than not. And then more recently there are those from Karen Stollznow when the evidence – the court record of her tendency to “domestic violence”, and the supposed letter to Radford from Baxter detailing her serious if not pathological tendency to “confabulation” – rather strongly suggests that her other claims might be equally bogus. Maybe she still has an ace or two in the hole but if she does then she’s holding those cards pretty close to the vest; my bet – all of a nickel – is that she’s simply blowing smoke.

    Giliell: If you don’t understand how that is not trying to bully and shut up Melody (your PTSD is not real! I have it much worse!), you don’t understand shit about bullying and harassment.

    I’ll readily concede that bullying is a relatively serious problem, and that she in particular has been subjected to some gratuitous nastiness, that some people have at least been unnecessarily callous, malicious, and inconsiderate. However your conclusion, your Solomon-like judgement, that all questions directed her way constitute bullying and harassment, seems to be accompanied by a dearth of evidence – and which should therefore, by rights, be “FLOOSHED”.

    But I wonder how else do you think we might rectify the consequences of that condition except by asking questions of those supposedly suffering from it as to the nature of the symptoms they experience. Avi has given a credible description which suggests that there is a spectrum of effects from virtual catatonia to something hardly more difficult to deal with than a mild toothache. Considering that Melody has, somewhat commendably, made some effort to “Fund PTSD Research”, one would have thought she would have been more willing, in the spirit of “free inquiry”, to answer questions that one would think are central to that objective.

  15. karmacat says

    Steersman and Schlumbumbi, I hope you don’t call yourself skeptics. You have looked at very little information and concluded that Melody doesn’t have PTSD. You have also assumed she has an easy life. You take one tweet as evidence that Melody is not being harrassed. In the end, it doesn’t matter what I or you believe about Melody. You don’t have to send her words of sympathy. It costs you nothing to accept that she has PTSD.

    Her revealing that she has PTSD, has made people focus on how electronic harrassing can have a deleterious effect. Sometimes PTSD is caused by one traumatic event, sometimes it is caused by a lot of events over a period of time (that is why you get the saying, “death by a thousand cuts”)

    I do see patients with PTSD and other mental illnesses and I’m sure a certain percentage lie to me. But their lies do not affect my life, but does affect their lives in the long run.

  16. Steersman says

    Avi: Call it an educated guess. There is no reason for her to enable the questioning of antis over a private issue.

    Hardly a “private issue” when she uses that as a pretext to go after people’s employers, to circumscribe the “free inquiry” that is central to her employer’s stated objectives, when her Twitter page has the CFI logo plastered all over it that belies her assertion that her tweets are “not endorsed by CFI” and might well lead those employers to think otherwise. Rather “intellectually dishonest” at best if you ask me.

    But I wonder whether you would explicitly concede that there is a very great range of symptoms that come in under the rubric of PTSD, and whether you would analogously think that no children should have balloons at their birthday parties because you might be “triggered” by hearing one pop. As Schlumbumbi suggested some people do in fact lie about the extent of their supposed afflictions which makes it quite reasonable, if not a necessity, to ask whether any given individual is overstating their case or not. And the fact of the matter, which Hensley has apparently conceded, is that she has a tendency to do that – which makes it doubly appropriate to ask whether or not that is true in the recent case.

  17. Steersman says

    karmacat: Steersman and Schlumbumbi, I hope you don’t call yourself skeptics. You have looked at very little information and concluded that Melody doesn’t have PTSD.

    What horse manure. And evidence that your ability or willingness to read counter-arguments is very limited. I very explicitly said, “While I will readily concede that she might well have some of the symptoms of PTSD”; does that really look to you like I’m “concluding that Melody doesn’t have PTSD”?

    The issue is less whether she has that condition – which is largely between her and her doctor – and more one of a question whether she is engaging in some serious self-aggrandizement or not, whether she is using the supposed severity of her condition to limit discussion on a number of topics. And the historical evidence is that she has a tendency to do so: if it walks like a duck and all that.

  18. Peggy says

    Oh, my goodness–look at this stuff. Accusing someone of “serious self-aggrandizement” as she refuses to give further ammunition for these pain flingers to hurt her with. And then you call that “using the supposed severity of her condition to limit discussion on a number of topics.” I trust she (or anyone else who is aware) won’t fall for that sort of bait. Crude try, though.

    Honestly, why do these creeps persist? Is it really that much fun to torment and insult people? Have they no other hobbies?

  19. Steersman says

    Peggy: Accusing someone of “serious self-aggrandizement” as she refuses to give further ammunition for these pain flingers to hurt her with. And then you call that “using the supposed severity of her condition to limit discussion on a number of topics.”

    You might try learning to “put brain in gear before putting mouth in motion” as I didn’t actually accuse her of that; all I said, there in any case, was that the question is “whether she is engaging in some serious self-aggrandizement or not”. Although I’ll concede that I think there’s some evidence that that is the case, but you’re welcome to try refuting it. However, for starters, you might focus on this previous observation from Oolon (above):

    Oolon: Melody had some *serious* criticism of her from the last WISCFI.

    Her initial response at the time was also heavily criticized by those on her side. Reacting emotionally to the criticism and trying to deflect his valid criticism of how people had been treated.

    Now if she had done something similar in this PTSD case – say by conceding that the condition has a wide range of manifestations, some more debilitating and severe than others, and that hers weren’t as bad as, say, this example of veteran trauma – then I expect this tempest-in-a-teapot would have blown over pretty quickly, and everyone might have been the wiser with less grief and animosity. But she again gives every indication of “reacting emotionally and trying to deflect valid criticism”; hardly much of a recommendation for her ability to do the job that CFI has supposedly tasked her with.

  20. Steersman says

    Peggy: Accusing someone of “serious self-aggrandizement” as she refuses to give further ammunition for these pain flingers to hurt her with. And then you call that “using the supposed severity of her condition to limit discussion on a number of topics.”

    You might try learning to “put brain in gear before putting mouth in motion” as I didn’t actually accuse her of that; all I said, there in any case, was that the question is “whether she is engaging in some serious self-aggrandizement or not”. Although I’ll concede that I think there’s some evidence that that is the case, but you’re welcome to try refuting it. However, for starters, you might focus on this previous observation from Oolon (above):

    Oolon: Melody had some *serious* criticism (1) of her from the last WISCFI.

    Her initial response at the time was also heavily criticized by those on her side. Reacting emotionally to the criticism and trying to deflect his valid criticism of how people had been treated.

    Now if she had done something similar in this PTSD case – say by conceding that the condition has a wide range of manifestations, some more debilitating and severe than others, and that hers weren’t as bad as, say, this example (2) of veteran trauma – then I expect this tempest-in-a-teapot would have blown over pretty quickly, and everyone might have been the wiser with less grief and animosity. But she again gives every indication of “reacting emotionally and trying to deflect valid criticism”; hardly much of a recommendation for her ability to do the job that CFI has supposedly tasked her with.


    1) “_http://www.hofstader.com/invisible_blind_man”;
    2) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3wStCw7ThE”;

  21. karmacat says

    Steersman,
    You are speculating that Melody is using PTSD for self-aggrandizement? That is the stupidest argument so far. Then you speculate that she is using PTSD to limit conversation. If you don’t like that then don’t engage her in a debate. Life is short. Go find another debate and be happy.

  22. says

    Steersman – May I urge you to pay attention to the fact that this topic is a “Red” zoned topic indicating a safe space. None of your stuff is actually germane to that.

    Steersman Ecoute BIen.

    PTSD is not a comparison game. You would know it if you read anything I have written. Every single one of the things you bring up has been dealt with by “me”.

    Your criticism is not valid. Your criticism has ranged from “What if she is faking it! Would not the glory that is PTSD be sullied!” and “WHY DOES SHE NOT DO WHAT I WANT”?

    You have been warned way way back. You have to be pretty spectacularly bad to trip my ban hammer. And you are getting very very close to it. I suggest you leave this topic. Go tell your slymepit buddies that I am “teh bad” and silencing your free speech. You know that you were given more freedom here than your charming Slymepit afforded me with their pre-emptive ban.

    And no, I know for a fact that none of the anti-FTB/Melody lot would have responded with anything else. Melody is in the right here.

    1. You know nothing about her case or her PTSD, everything you push is based on boundless assumption
    2. You have no idea about PTSD itself or it’s treatment
    3. You are making grandiose speculations about her.
    4. Your friends have already started sending me some rather choice hate mail.

    My patience is thin. The rule was you had to play to my rules and you broke this one.

    Remember way back when I said I run different comment policies on topics that are difficult?

    This is one where you don’t get to post idiotic pseudoskeptical things.

  23. karmacat says

    Also, Melody doesn’t have to say her PTSD is better or worse than other people’s PTSD. It is not a competition. It is not like there are only a certain number of PTSD diagnoses. I work with veterans and no one has complained about other people’s PTSD. They are focused on themselves and feeling better and being able to sleep

  24. Steersman says

    Avi: PTSD is not a comparison game. You would know it if you read anything I have written. Every single one of the things you bring up has been dealt with by “me”.

    Ipse dixit? Avi has spoken from within the Papal Cloak of Infallibility so therefore cannot be wrong?

    You’re supposedly “the pro from Dover”, but I hardly expect you to know everything there is to know about PTSD despite suffering from one manifestation of it. You might note this observation from Caleb Lack over on SkepticInk (1) who is “a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders, and [has] published extensively on them, including several papers and a book”:

    Lack: PTSD symptoms, much like almost all other things we study in psychology, exist on a continuum. They are dimensional in nature (e.g., how much of a particular type of symptom do you have?) rather than categorical (e.g., you have it or you don’t). That’s quite well established.

    You may wish to disabuse him of that perspective with your superior knowledge and experience.

    Avi: You know that you were given more freedom here than your charming Slymepit afforded me with their pre-emptive ban.

    I rather doubt that you’ve been banned – what evidence do you have that that is the case?

    —-
    1) “_http://www.skepticink.com/gps/2014/04/18/can-one-get-ptsd-via-twitter/”;

  25. Steersman says

    karmacat: Then you speculate that she is using PTSD to limit conversation. If you don’t like that then don’t engage her in a debate. Life is short. Go find another debate and be happy.

    You might try that argument with PZ or Avi; here, let me make a suggestion, or two: “Avi, if you don’t like the anti-vaxers then don’t engage them in a debate. Life is short. Go find another debate and be happy”; “PZ, if you don’t like the godbots then don’t engage them in a debate …..”

    A great many problematic aspects or features of “modern” society, and I rather doubt things will be improved much by putting our heads in the sand …..

  26. Stacy says

    Lord.

    PTSD symptoms, much like almost all other things we study in psychology, exist on a continuum. They are dimensional in nature (e.g., how much of a particular type of symptom do you have?) rather than categorical (e.g., you have it or you don’t).,</

    So.Fucking.What. When one has a certain number of symptoms, one is said to "have" the condition.

    Steersman is so deeply intellectually dishonest, so morally bankrupt, so dedicated to winning the argument and rationalizing assholism, he's mistaken a quibble over semantics with a cogent point.

  27. Stacy says

    Blockquote fail. Do-over:

    Lord.

    PTSD symptoms, much like almost all other things we study in psychology, exist on a continuum. They are dimensional in nature (e.g., how much of a particular type of symptom do you have?) rather than categorical (e.g., you have it or you don’t).,

    So.Fucking.What. When one has a certain number of symptoms, one is said to “have” the condition.

    Steersman is so deeply intellectually dishonest, so morally bankrupt, so dedicated to winning the argument and rationalizing assholism, he’s mistaken a quibble over semantics with a cogent point.

  28. says

    Except, Steersman, that Melody is not lying and not hurting people. Unlike anti-vaxxers and godbots.

    You’re pathetic.

    Is it REALLY that much fun to try to make other people miserable?

  29. Steersman says

    Stacy: So.Fucking.What. When one has a certain number of symptoms, one is said to “have” the condition.

    And one could say that someone “has the condition” of being in pain whether they have a hangnail or they have had their leg blown off. You going to accept then that the first person has as much claim to consideration or sympathy as the second one?

    Stacy: Steersman … [has] mistaken a quibble over semantics with a cogent point.

    Considering that Avi has staked out his position that, in effect, the person with the hangnail has as much right to claim consideration and sympathy as the one with the leg blown off, and that that seems contradicted by the clinical psychologist Caleb Lack, I would certainly say that is more than a “quibble”. You might actually try reading that post of Lack’s, particularly as he gives some justification for accepting that Hensley’s claim is possibly true even if he is professional enough not to state that that is the case, or to make comments on the possibly severity of it.

  30. brive1987 says

    “You know that you were given more freedom here than your charming Slymepit afforded me with their pre-emptive ban.”

    The ‘pit moderator has only banned 1 person (an underage girl who posted inappropriate and possibly illegal content) and temporarily confined one person to their own thread for a short period – for which the mod received significant backlash from the ‘pit community.

    The spam filters occasionally blacklists IP ranges, you can email the mod your IP if this occurs.

    No need to create a silly straw-man. Want freedom to post? It’s always been yours for the taking.

  31. Steersman says

    Sally Strange: Except, Steersman, that Melody is not lying and not hurting people. Unlike anti-vaxxers and godbots.

    You might have a bit of a point there, although one might ask how you know that Melody isn’t lying; maybe you would care to tell me which mind-reading course you took, particularly since you weren’t much impressed with the one I had supposedly taken some years ago.

    As for “not hurting people”, one might suggest that that is precisely what she has tried to do in contacting the employers of, presumably, several of the military people who were supposedly harassing her. And that’s even apart from what might consider an egregious effort to curtail “free inquiry”, to go off the rails into “shut-up and listen” territory.

    Sally Strange: You’re pathetic. Is it REALLY that much fun to try to make other people miserable?

    Not particularly, but I, and no few others apparently, think there is a principle or two at stake here that outweighs some highly questionable “feelings”. You might read or re-read Miri’s post over at Brute Reason (1) where she argues:

    Miri: I was a little bit horrified and dismayed to see how much power my words had, despite the fact that I had not been cruel or hateful at all. Criticism hurts, even when it’s justified and necessary, and even when the target of the criticism is ultimately glad to have received it. Offline we learn all sorts of techniques for criticizing someone effectively and fairly, like sandwiching the critique between two compliments. Online it’s easy to forget why we’re given that advice. It’s also easy to forget, especially when you’re not exactly internet famous, that the person you’re calling out might actually read it.

    As Oolon noted above, Melody had received some “serious criticism” following the “last WISCFI” and, after a bit of a wrong turn into some “emotional reactions” and attempts to “deflect … valid criticism”, learned from the experience. I hardly think she’s incapable of repeating the process.

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2014/04/20/online-bullying-and-trauma-whats-at-stake/”;

  32. Pitchguest says

    Are you actually such a disingenuous shite, Avi, that you bring up the alleged pre-emptive ban again?

    What the fuck is your problem?

    PTSD is not a comparison game. You would know it if you read anything I have written. Every single one of the things you bring up has been dealt with by “me”.

    Oh, really? You’re a psychologist, then? You’re an expert on PTSD?

    Your criticism is not valid. Your criticism has ranged from “What if she is faking it! Would not the glory that is PTSD be sullied!” and “WHY DOES SHE NOT DO WHAT I WANT”?

    Oh, he bloody well has not. This is such a pathetic strawman, even from you.

    You have been warned way way back. You have to be pretty spectacularly bad to trip my ban hammer. And you are getting very very close to it. I suggest you leave this topic. Go tell your slymepit buddies that I am “teh bad” and silencing your free speech. You know that you were given more freedom here than your charming Slymepit afforded me with their pre-emptive ban.

    This is so fucking stupid, it’s unreal.

    And no, I know for a fact that none of the anti-FTB/Melody lot would have responded with anything else.

    Anything else what, you incoherent blob?

    Melody is in the right here.

    No, Melody can do no wrong. She’s pure and innocent. Always. Even when she told a survivor of rape and sexual abuse to make herself scarpers, before she called her an harasser and blocked her.

    1. You know nothing about her case or her PTSD, everything you push is based on boundless assumption
    2. You have no idea about PTSD itself or it’s treatment
    3. You are making grandiose speculations about her.
    4. Your friends have already started sending me some rather choice hate mail.

    1. Nor do you, genius.
    2. Because only those who personally experience PTSD knows about it.
    3. Look who’s talking.
    4. Of course they have. Because there’s nothing to doubt when you say you receive hate mail. Except for that one time when you copy-pasted a comment about you on the Slymepit and labelled it hate mail in your post. That doesn’t put a cloud on your honesty at all. In fact, just yesterday, I received a sleugh of hate mail from your buddies. Telling me to die by immolation, and forcibly shove sharp utensils up where the sun doesn’t shine. Are you calling me a liar?

  33. Pitchguest says

    Except, Steersman, that Melody is not lying and not hurting people. Unlike anti-vaxxers and godbots.

    You’re pathetic.

    Is it REALLY that much fun to try to make other people miserable?

    You must’ve attended the Avicenna school of divination. Summa bull caca.

    Making other people miserable? Should I quote the various times when Melody herself has tried to make other people miserable? Didn’t think so.

  34. Pitchguest says

    karmacat:

    Then you speculate that she is using PTSD to limit conversation.

    She’s not? Ever since the shit hit the fan, she’s been using it as an excuse to shut down conversation. Her Twitter feed is full of it. Even though she obviously has a less severe form of PTSD, she makes every effort after receiving criticism to turn it back onto her and *her* victimhood and *her* problems. Even though not all of it are threats and namecalling (not even in the majority), that is what she claims and when you have people willing to take her word for it, suddenly she’s been bullied, harassed and cyberstalked. She’s absolutely used it as self-aggrandisement. There is no denying that.

    The fact that she not only turned away, but blocked a survivor of rape and sexual abuse and deemed her an harasser just for a simple question is evidence for how the narrative has been spun in her favour. People like Sally Strange, Giliell and Avicenna, simultaneously drinking the koolaid, providing damage control and attempting to part blame. Melody Hensley, wrong? Sacrilege!

  35. Steersman says

    Pitchguest: Making other people miserable? Should I quote the various times when Melody herself has tried to make other people miserable? Didn’t think so.

    Indeed. Seem to recollect that Melody showed up on the Pit’s radar – ever vigilant, aren’t we? ;-) – about the time that she made a snarky comment or two about Sarah Mayhew’s taste in shoes. And that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg if I’m not mistaken.

  36. says

    I am aware of Caleb Lack’s piece and I am sure Caleb Lack would agree with me on the notion that the comparison of the trauma and triggers is a futile and actively harmful practice if you do suffer from PTSD.

    He may be incredibly qualified to speak about it compared to me but I know that he will say that “while PTSD triggers can vary in their severity, the response to the trigger is more important than the trigger itself”. So while one person may be a quadruple amputee, he may have milder PTSD than another who saw his friend die. Hence comparison of causative trauma is a poor indicator for validity.”

    PTSD’s severity is not linked to the trigger.

    And I am sure Caleb would agree with me on these things. I assume you want me to go yell at Caleb but frankly? Caleb’s not said anything different from what I have.

    I don’t care that Melody Hensley got PTSD from a different situation. What I care about is that we don’t start laddering the validity of PTSD or pushing the policing of who can and cannot get PTSD because it was a historical issue with the disease.

    In addition? EVEN if Melody is faking it? What benefit are you going to achieve by harassing her until she admits it? Are you going to harass every person with PTSD until they have a break down to prove it? Imagine if they did the same to Veterans? Every person claiming to be a Vet should be put through a barrage of pointless tests to prove they were in a campaign. I can just imagine people sidling up to a Vet and going “So, Camp Doha? Remember the Roller Coaster? Shame there was no Log Flume” before shouting “AHA! I just said that to see if you knew! Camp Doha is not only shut down but also was in close proximity to a log flume! Fake!”

    Do you have any Idea how idiotic this is? And no the above conversation is perfectly logical. Camp Doha used to be near Entertainment City in Kuwait. A Theme Park with a Roller Coaster and Log Flume.

    Steersman may be distasteful. But Pitchguest crossed the line. He was warned once, the rules are clear. Pitchguest is banned.

  37. says

    Steersman

    So now we’re obliged to accept anything and everything that anybody says on pain of being accused of engaging in bullying and harassment? How terribly skeptical of you. Do you, perchance, accept Ken Ham’s views on cosmology and archeology? No? You bully you.

    Non sequitur much?
    Because claims about the nature of the universe and claims about personal pain are two very, very different things.
    Yes, if somebody tells me they have physical condition X or pain Y, I generally do believe them, especially if my belief is free. I’m not an insurance company who has to evaluate somebody’s claim on needing a re-modelling of the house because they cannot walk the stairs anymore.

    You should have realized by now that we generally use the weight and preponderance of evidence, the degree to which elements fit together, the degree to which they are consistent with a hypothesis, to make various conclusions and judgements.

    Yadda yadda.
    So, let’s look at the Tweet you so valiantly defend as legitimate criticism:

    How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?

    1. The writer apparently disbelieves Melody’s claim. As written above.
    2. The writer themself make two claims:
    A) They have PTSD
    B) they have been raped, abused and molested.
    3. The writer expects us to accept their claims without any further evidence, just because they say so.
    4. That standard of “because I say so” is not applied to Melody
    5. The writer demands evidence that cannot be provided. There is no objective scale of “painful”. How is Melody supposed to provide evidence that her pain is smaller/equal/greater. If that’s possible, please provide me with conclusive evidence that you find chocolate cake as delicious as I do.
    6. What on earth is the “criticism” you insist is valid in that tweet? What is being criticised, how, what arguments are made in favour of it?

    Considering that Melody has, somewhat commendably, made some effort to “Fund PTSD Research”, one would have thought she would have been more willing, in the spirit of “free inquiry”, to answer questions that one would think are central to that objective.

    Why on earth should she answer questions about her personal mental health and medical history to random assholes without any qualification on the internet?
    Personal medical data is not something that is subject to “free inquiry”. It#s protected information for pretty good reasons.

    Hardly a “private issue” when she uses that as a pretext to go after people’s employers

    I guess you mean “reports people’s behaviour to their employers”. You know, if their behaviour is totes OK, the only result would be that she makes herself look bad. I once lived in a flat above a guy who was a complete asshole and who called the landlord every other day to complain about us being too loud, including the horrible crime of flushing the toilet at 3 am. Guess what happened…

    But I wonder whether you would explicitly concede that there is a very great range of symptoms that come in under the rubric of PTSD, and whether you would analogously think that no children should have balloons at their birthday parties because you might be “triggered” by hearing one pop.

    Who said so?
    To stay in that example, the argument is not about no child ever having any balloons, the argument is about some people’s insistence to have balloons at the party of the person with PTSD who can be triggered by them, their insistence to be invited even though they only want to go there to eart cake and make loud popping noises, their right to send “ballon popping videos”. Or alternatively insisting that somebody has to go to a balloon-rich birthday party because it’s the right of the child to have balloon and by saying that they can either have balloons or your company you’re being an aweful bully.

    But she again gives every indication of “reacting emotionally and trying to deflect valid criticism”

    “I have it worse than you” only counts as “valid criticism” up until the age of 7. Afterwards we expect people to understand enough about life to know that pain and grief are individual things.

    You might try that argument with PZ or Avi; here, let me make a suggestion, or two: “Avi, if you don’t like the anti-vaxers then don’t engage them in a debate. Life is short. Go find another debate and be happy”; “PZ, if you don’t like the godbots then don’t engage them in a debate …..”

    Non-sequitur again.
    There are many creationists and anti-vaxxers people do not engage. There are people whose positions and arguments are being discussed. Yep, people also get called liars, usually with evidence to support the claim. That is different from insisting that Melody Hensley behaves in a certain way, allows people to engage her on Twitter, bombard her with demands of her medical history etc.
    Yes, as soon as you interact with people they get to decide on whether they want to or not. Melody is perfectly right to decide that she does not want anything to do with people who berate her for having PTSD or who insist that she has to discuss it with them.

    You going to accept then that the first person has as much claim to consideration or sympathy as the second one?

    I don’t know, is consideration and sympathy in short supply where you live?
    What’s your objective scale for meassuring “consideration and sympathy worthyness”? Does having two legs blown off double it? And most importantly, is it OK to intentionally step onto the foot of the person with the hangnail because there are people whose legs got blown off? Can I kick the person with one remaining leg in the shin because another person lost two legs?

    As for “not hurting people”, one might suggest that that is precisely what she has tried to do in contacting the employers of, presumably, several of the military people who were supposedly harassing her.

    Again:
    1)This doesn’t happen out of the blue, like Melody randomnly contacting employers of people she never heard of before.
    2) Hey, since they apparently didn’t harass her, what’s the problem?

  38. says

    If this is the hill you want to die on, Steersman, that a perfect stranger has to release her private medical records in the name of “free inquiry”, then all I can do is feel sorry for you.

  39. Holms says

    Avicenna posts a rejection of harassment, slymepitters arrive to defend their beloved tactic. The cycle repeats.

    @1
    And the sticky wicket is that Hensley, despite the fact many people seem to have been “gratuitously nasty” to her, seems to be rather too quick, even if with some justification, to characterize all of the negative responses to her as bullying and harassment. For instance, in that YouTube video of Thunderfoot’s, he shows [@ 1:37] a tweet from “Neptune Fallen” who asks of Hensley…

    So you acknowledge that people have been ‘gratuitously nasty’ to her, and that she justified in characterising her treatment as being harassment. Oh oops, no, only some justification, whatever that means. Anyway, you’ve managed to fine one tweet via Thunderfoot in which she seems to be insufficiently gracious in her response to a question, so let’s see what the question is:

    “How is [your supposed PTSD] as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?”

    So, directly questioning her PTSD by comparing the apparent severity of their respective triggers. This Neptune Fallen has as good as called her a liar outright – by buying into the idea that the triggers are in any way indicative of the severity of PTSD. So, yet another arsehole telling her that she is either faking it or is just a plain old wimp, and you’re surprised that Hensley was pissed off? Oh speaking of which, let’s see how she responds:

    Hensley: “You are very insensitive to question someone who has a life altering disorder. This is harassment. You will be blocked.”

    That’s it? This is the basis for your claim that she is going ‘off the rails’? Three measured sentences, of which only one is really germane: “This is harassment”. That one sentence is the entire basis of your argument against her, which amounts to something like “Melody Hensley is too quick to denounce genuine crticism as harassment” despite a) conceding that that one comment is just one amongst many that were ‘gratuitously nasty’ i.e. harassment and b) completely rests on the question of whether Neptune Falling’s comment constitutes harassment. Which it is.

    Steersman, you are already renowned across multiple blogs for your habit of obfuscating a weak point by buring it amongst near endless paragraphs of irrelevance and semantics, but you have outdone yourself here. A single ambiguously disingenuous question tweeted at Hensley becomes the sole basis of your defense of harassment against her, based on whether it could be characterised as part of the campaign of harassment against her which you concede does indeed exist. Your entire line of reasoning could be summarised as follows: “I’m not defending the online harassment directed at Melody Hensley, but… [defends the online harassment against Melody Hensley.”

    And you wonder why you slymepitters have a reputation of intellectual dishonesty!

  40. Holms says

    Oy, those errors.

    “So you acknowledge that people have been ‘gratuitously nasty’ to her, and that she is justified in characterising her treatment as being harassment. Oh oops, no, only some justification, whatever that means. Anyway, you’ve managed to find one tweet via Thunderfoot in which she seems to be insufficiently gracious in her response to a question, so let’s see what the question is:”

    And later:

    “Steersman, you are already renowned across multiple blogs for your habit of obfuscating a weak point by burying it amongst near endless paragraphs of irrelevance and semantics…”
    “Your entire line of reasoning could be summarised as follows: “I’m not defending the online harassment directed at Melody Hensley, but… [defends the online harassment against Melody Hensley].””

  41. Steersman says

    Avicenna: And I am sure Caleb would agree with me on these things. I assume you want me to go yell at Caleb but frankly?

    That’s a moot point as I think he rather clearly stated, in several places, the utility of quantifying the severity of the symptoms. But you assume wrong – the point was to suggest an alternative viewpoint that had some credibility and carried some weight, one that contradicted a number of your assertions.

    Avicenna: In addition? EVEN if Melody is faking it? What benefit are you going to achieve by harassing her until she admits it? Are you going to harass every person with PTSD until they have a break down to prove it?

    What was the point of the “harassment” “by those on her side”, as Oolon put it above, in the “blind man” case last year? She acknowledged her mistake and said that she would change convention policies to reflect that improved perspective. You may wish to peruse the Wikipedia article on feedback which has a great deal of relevance across a broad spectrum of different environments, from biology to electronic engineering to social sciences.

    And to repeat for about the umpteenth time, I’m not arguing that she’s faking it – I have conceded several times that she probably has some degree of PTSD; I’m arguing that she’s unclear on the concept, and that her ignorance on the point is leading her into gross and problematic errors of judgement, ones that look rather self-serving. Which should have some relevance to her ability to do her job, one which affects a great many people – your “harass every person” is therefore an egregious red herring and a moving of the goalposts.

    Avicenna: Steersman may be distasteful. But Pitchguest crossed the line. He was warned once, the rules are clear. Pitchguest is banned.

    Your call of course – he does have a tendency to “put words into people’s mouths”, although that might be partly due, if I’m not mistaken, to English being a second or third language for him. But he also can make some reasonable points too – notably the one on the supposed “pre-emptive ban” which I notice you haven’t acknowledged – even if he could learn to temper his language somewhat.

    In any case, while I think your “red/yellow/green” classification is somewhat silly, I think you’re still to be commended for a substantially more open and reasonable moderation policy – and apparently despite calls from the “nattering nabobs of negativism” and Miss Grundies who would turn your blog, as they have done on many other sites in the FTB network, into Internet Silos and echo chambers.

  42. says

    It’s quite simple. I know that there is some weird Slymepit malarkey occuring about logins from India. And that this is some sort of crude protection. However in terms of what it actually means?

    I can’t see the Slymepit without dancing through hoops to dodge your security. You can see my blog. I have a more accessible platform and one that encourages a greater amount of free speech.

    No… sitting there shaking your fist at the FTBullies and shouting cunt randomly is not free speech.

    Pitchguest was warned before. He got the same warnings as others have. Only he refused to read the damn rules and figured it doesn’t apply to him.

    There are some places that require a safer space. This is one of them. You may think it is silly to have a comment policy that allows for three simple sets of decent rules but here is the thing. I could run the one size fits all policy. The thing is the policy exists because I cannot police all the threads equally. Just a few where moderation is desperately needed get this sort of attention.

    He couldn’t respect it. The personal attacks also really don’t make me all that bent out of shape with regards to his loss.

  43. johngreg says

    Avi, all you have to do is contact Lsuoma, with your IP data, and he will fix it. You know that; I know that; he knows that. The specific details of how you get caught up in the security traps are perectly clear, prefectly logical, and yet you continue to weave webs about them. Your statements regarding hoops, and so on, is disingenuous at best.

    You have, in the past, stated that you weren’t going to bother contacting Lsuoma because you didn’t feel the need to read the Pit strongly enough to do so — though clearly you read the Pit frequently enough that you feel confident in making blanket assumptions and statements about it. Anyway, that’s fine; if you do not want to read the Pit anymore, that’s perfectly within your rights. But to post false statements about the case really does not make you look good.

    And to claim that your “platform” encourages a greater amount of free speech is truly laughable. I am amazed you feel comfortable making such a patently false claim.

    Most of us do not sit here/there shaking our fists at the FTBullies and shouting cunt randomly while claiming that doing so is free speech. That completely misrepresents the Pit’s activities. The primary Pit argument is that allowing disparate opinions, disagreement, and dissent, represents free speech. Such things, for the most part, are neither encouraged nor allowed on most FTB blogs. Yes, there is some allowance for a smallish group of FTB favoured nation states (commenters) to post the occasional superficial disagreement, but outright dissent or fundamental disagreement only ends up in censure (not censor) in one form or another. And that does not reflect free speech, nor, for that matter, free thought.

  44. Steersman says

    Giliell: Non sequitur much? Because claims about the nature of the universe and claims about personal pain are two very, very different things.

    Christ in a sidecar – you really, really should read and pay close attention to the Wikipedia article on analogies, particularly the selected section. Of course they’re “two very, very different things”, but they’re analogous. The same way that Ophelia Benson asserted, quite reasonably and correctly IMO, that TAM and Nazi Germany were analogous. In each case there are some elements that are the same even though there are other elements that are very different – the same way that a 3-4-5 triangle is analogous to a 30-40-50 one: same angles and ratios, but very different magnitudes for the sides themselves.

    Giliell: So, let’s look at the Tweet you so valiantly defend as legitimate criticism: …
    3. The writer expects us to accept their claims without any further evidence, just because they say so.
    ….
    5. The writer demands evidence that cannot be provided. There is no objective scale of “painful”. How is Melody supposed to provide evidence that her pain is smaller/equal/greater. ….

    It was a question – hard to see how any question might qualify as an “illegitimate criticism”, particularly for anyone with an honest commitment to skepticism. And why wouldn’t you or Melody accept that claim, at least provisionally? Particularly given the predilection of FTB and fellow travelers for the “believe the victim” trope. Besides which, it is hardly necessary for anyone to actually believe that the person had been raped to address the question on the number and severity of the symptoms associated with PTSD. Instead of getting all butt-hurt and “emotionally reactive” as Oolon put it above, she could have, and should have, used that as a “teaching moment” and opportunity to learn something new.

    But I hardly think a question reasonably qualifies as a “demand”. And as for “objective scale of painful”, that looks rather ridiculous “on its face”; you may wish to also peruse the Wikipedia article on burns which rather clearly indicates increasing levels of tissue damage that one might reasonably infer correlates with some “objective scale of painful”. In addition, one might also suggest that the supposed efficacy of torture is predicated on that scale – otherwise we could get the same “benefits” by speaking “harsh words” at people – maybe show Muslims cartoons of Mohammad. Although while I will concede that quantifying pain or pleasure is probably rather difficult, I would think that techniques such as fMRI are at least potentially capable of providing ball-park measures that are applicable to “most” people.

    Steersman: As for “not hurting people”, one might suggest that that is precisely what she has tried to do in contacting the employers ….

    Giliell: Again:
    1)This doesn’t happen out of the blue ….
    2) Hey, since they apparently didn’t harass her, what’s the problem?

    Despite quite commendably acknowledging the utility of the word “most”, you do still seem to have more than a minor difficulty in quantifying or qualifying events, situations, and phenomena. I will readily agree that more than a few people were dickheads, at best, in being gratuitously nasty with her, and which probably qualifies as harassment, but my point or argument is that she is – again – misjudging or mischaracterizing all criticism as that. Did you even look at that article by Miri?

    And if you – and Myers, and Zvan, and Laden – think that “contacting employers” is an acceptable “rule of war or engagement” then why shouldn’t others contact CFI to raise a question or two about her actions? Two-edged sword methinks, one that cuts both ways. But if she can’t reasonably, reliably, and more or less consistently differentiate between friend and foe, for whatever reason, then one might reasonably argue that she probably shouldn’t be on the battlefield in the first place, that she is more of a liability than an asset.

  45. Steersman says

    Sally Strange: If this is the hill you want to die on, Steersman, that a perfect stranger has to release her private medical records in the name of “free inquiry”, then all I can do is feel sorry for you.

    Where do you get the idea that I’m insisting or even suggesting that she had “to release her private medical records”? You might try quoting what you’re referring to, even if for the purposes of clarity if not for courtesy.

    Seems to me that all she had to do, all that she should have done, in response to that question about the difference between that other person’s rape and her PTSD was to acknowledge that there was a spectrum of symptoms, and to state or allude to the general nature of hers. And she could have even acknowledged that her symptoms were generally less severe than those of many individuals, notably those of many veterans. I wonder whether you ever took a look at that video I posted a link to earlier, whether you think that the shakes so bad one could barely walk is on the same footing as bed-rest that still allowed her to do her job, even to be out-and-about if not partying it up.

    But all of that might have led to a productive and informative discussion, presumably one of the salient objectives of her employer on whose nickel she is apparently talking.

  46. Schlumbumbi says

    @8 Avicenna

    You don’t gain anything by claiming you have PTSD. You still have to hold down a job, you still have to work, you still get to wake up every day and do a 9 to 5 (or a 6 to 6) 5 (or 7) days a week.

    If “attention” is the currency you’re dealing in, that’s exactly what you’ll get from claiming to have PTSD. Again, seeking attention is her job (if you want to call it that). And it works reliably, because the greater public now associates PTSD with severe trauma, for which the military peoples’ struggle for recognition has set the precedence.

    @9 Stacey

    Read it until you understand it (assuming understanding isn’t utterly beyond you). Especially the part about how PTSD isn’t all about the thing that triggered it. It’s an iceberg.

    I’m trying to state this as clearly as I can (English is after all, my 3rd language):

    - You seem to be under the misapprehension that Mrs. Hensley’s critics believe that “online harrassment” is the cause of her PTSD. This is wrong. That is not what they think.

    - You & Avicenna argue that “online harrassment” was for Mrs. Hensley the “straw that broke the came’s back”, the “tip of the iceberg”, in other words, a rather minor incident which then culminated in her developing PTSD, with all the “real” causes, which have accumulated over time, hitting her with full force.

    That sounds reasonable, but there’s a big problem: Mrs. Hensley explicitely says otherwise.
    Not only has she denied that her former experiences (sexual harrassment,rape) has caused her PTSD, but she -explicitely- said that “online harrassment” is the actual cause of her PTSD.

    Not my opinion – her words.
    People thought that’s an outrageously stupid claim. That’s why she received a shitstorm on Twitter.

    Everyone would’ve understood her and empathised with her if she had claimed that her former experiences were the cause of PTSD, and that “online harrassment” was just the piece-on-top which triggered it. But again: That’s not what happened.

    @11 Giliel

    Those people became veterans by signing up voluntarily for an army that is known for the fact that the only people they treat worse than the inhabitants of whatever country they’re occupying right now is their own soldiers.

    That exact element of “betrayal” is the reason why PTSD (and it’s devastating consequences) in military folks is seen as such a sensitive topic. Insult @ Injury.

    @18 Karmakat

    You have looked at very little information and concluded that Melody doesn’t have PTSD. You have also assumed she has an easy life. You take one tweet as evidence that Melody is not being harrassed

    Not just wrong, the complete opposite of right.

    If I were to judge her behaviour, I would say it’s a safe assumption she has severe mental problems. If she also has PTSD, I don’t know. What I do confidently state though, is that the actual claims she made, are bogus. Exactly because she claims to have PTSD from mean Tweets and PMs, I can dismiss her utterings as idiotic drivel. And that’s also exactly what people meant, when they replied to her and said “You don’t have PTSD”. They don’t actually claim to know whether an unknown person on the internet has PTSD or not, they just found her claims to be offensively absurd.

    1 little add-on:
    I have no sympathy for anyone who threatens other people online, or for anyone who just slanders and insults other people just for the fuck of it. And I have absolutely no doubt that Mrs. Hensley received a lot of that. It is, objectively, to be expected if you seek public attention on the web.

    However, getting that sort of unwanted attention doesn’t give you any protection from criticism – she has been criticised, rightly so, by many people. And that criticism is not only valid, it’s neccessary.

  47. says

    Sure, Steersman. You said something and I interpreted it at face value but it turns out you meant something completely different! I guess you’re just too smart for the rest of us with your fancy fancy words.

    As per usual.

    Ta.

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