Youtube Misogyny: Glenn and Rad on “Rodger Madman or Misogynist”?

Christina Rad has an excellent rebuttal to Jaclyn Glenn’s musings and follow up on Elliot Rodger, and his motives for a mass shooting. She has some astute observations on how words like mentally ill and insane are not interchangeable.  I don’t want to ruin it for you, so go watch it. Of course, the comments are already thick with misogyny deniers, and people who think they know when people are insane or not and what motivates them.

Rad made an excellent point about how insanity is defined in a legal context. It hinges on a criminal’s ability to understand whether their action was right or wrong. She sets up a case quoted from his Manifesto, that Rodger was aware of the legality of his actions.

In the aftermath of the shootings, people often said things like we can never know what went on in the mind of a madman. As Rad points out, Rodger laboriously documented his motivations.

I was going to post that I hoped that Glenn would give Rad’s video an equal amount of effort and thought, but she has already posted to it.

JaclynGlenn

Again, since apparently everyone misses this, I said he was VERY misogynistic. I said this several times in both videos. He was also fucked up in the head. Feminists like to ignore that because it doesn’t suit their agenda, hence my video. His mental state made him capable of murder, the misogyny simply determined who the targets would become.I too have lawyers in my family. Yes, insanity was a colloquialism… I mentioned that it was a legal term because that’s the word most people seemed to offended by. Since it is legal (and slang) I pointed it out.

So again, she returns to the point she made in her videos, that feminists are ignoring that Rodger was “fucked up in the head” because it doesn’t suit their agenda. I am pretty sure that Rad didn’t ignore that he may have unusual and I believe she said strange  behaviors. More importantly, it isn’t fair for Glenn to accuse “feminists” as a group of ignoring Rodger may have had a psychological diagnosis. (Worded that more charitably) The thing Glenn is missing is it is irrelevant as a motive if he wasn’t legally insane. And too, that is a strong accusation to accuse “feminists” of callously using a mass shooting to further their “agenda”. She hasn’t provided strong enough evidence to make such a blanket accusation of feminists.

While we are on agenda, why would it be a bad thing to draw attention to misogyny culture provided you aren’t glossing over the real motive? I think Glenn must already know that she gets more hate directed toward her as a woman than men youtubers get. Whenever, I discuss feminism on youtube the hate directed towards me is fierce. There are all kinds of gleefully angry comments on my perceived appearance, rationality, and emotionality.  It is like dealing with hateful creationists only dripping with more venomous contempt. On other topics that don’t draw misogynists out people comment that my voice is cute or something of that nature.

Youtube right now is a cesspool of misogyny culture. It is denied in some cases by popular atheists, who paradoxically don’t have religious cultural reasons to deny that there is a problem. The culture is so pervasive that it feeds hateful, misogynists like Rodger a steady diet of hate. Don’t forget that Rodger is a youtuber, and posted his death threats there. He also fed himself a steady diet of Pick up Artist rhetoric that dehumanizes women there. Another important point Glenn misses, people often live in subcultures that normalize things that are delusional. That is why religious beliefs are not necessarily diagnosable in the DSM V. If people think they are praying to a god, it isn’t necessarily a psychiatric hallucination. It is normalized by religious culture.

And still, I can hear the denials that I have already heard before that you shouldn’t take internet posts like death and rape threats seriously. They’re trolls, right? Don’t be a victim Glenn urged in her videos, because she says you can’t affect the victimizers.

As someone, who has been bombarded with hateful comments, I say fine you can’t stop insults. However, youtube has to stop being a place for mass shooters to threaten people. The death and rape threats need to be against comment policy and taken down. How come youtube can defend copyrights of corporations, but not the rights of living people to not have their lives threatened? What if you want to hear Christina Rad, Ashley Paramore, or even Jaclyn Glenn, but you can’t because they have been targeted by misogynists and it has taken a toll?

Secular Pro-Life Same Old Scare Tactics

If I were to tell you that a purportedly secular anti-abortion group was engaging in the very same fear mongering and harassment of abortion providers that the largely Christian dominated pro-life groups do; would you be surprised? The True Pooka’s final report on Secular Pro-Life’s tactics is posted.

In addition to the other tactics Pooka documented, the group is promoting a campaign against abortion providers in the guise of concern for the safety of women. According to Pooka, in addition to making stuff up about the safety of abortion to women…

The site also doubles as an intimidation tool to be used against doctors. It doesn’t matter what type of doctor you are, if you’re a family health doctor and abortion consists of 1% of your medical activities, they’ll label you an ABORTION DOCTOR and list your name next to numerous other doctors who secularprolife have judged to be unsafe doctors ( judgment passed using their hard earned degrees in Looking Shit Up On-Line from Internet University).

I know there are people reading this who are not at all surprised by the sliminess. I hope that they haven’t also grown, so calloused by this group and other anti-abortion groups’ relentless assault on the right to choose whether a person gives birth, that these tactics are working.

However, I don’t think this group’s presence at atheist conferences, a group that misrepresents both science and the truth, can be totally explained by its relentless tactics wearing people down.

How did it get past the smell detector?

The group’s members have the appearance of fresh faced kids. Ex-Christians like myself or people with well meaning anti-abortion friends may be mistaking what they are doing with the mistakes we made as Christians. In my Christian past, I have actually given diapers and my daughter’s bassinet to a Christian pregnancy counseling center in hopes of helping women, who wanted to give birth and keep the child.

Looking back on it now, I was misguided. These groups main function is to guilt women with ultrasounds of their fetuses. I remember the tour, and the center’s pride that they had received an ultrasound.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Secular Pro-Life website directs people with crisis pregnancies to Christian counseling centers? This is the picture posted on their resources page…

The group’s defines its secular mission thusly…

Secularism. SPL seeks to increase the inclusiveness of the overall pro-life movement by creating space for pro-life atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secularists.

I don’t think directing the atheists, agnostics, etc. to a Christian pregnancy center agrees with their purported mission to create a safe space for them. Particularly if they survived spiritual abuse.

This group is not simply misguided. A former member of theirs glibly showed all of us including children in the audience a video of abortions during a debate with Matt Dillahunty. She most definitely had the fresh faced, well meaning look down, even when she showed us the video without batting an eye. She also argued that abortion should be criminalized and prosecuted as murder. Matt’s recent debate with an SPL member showed the same callous lack of regard for women. The Christian debater argued that a woman shouldn’t be allowed to abort a pregnancy that would cripple her.

I don’t ever remember being that inhumane and judgmental at the height of my Christian years, and there is difference between some misguided person that you know or the pro-lifer you may have been and SPL.

As of this moment,  Pooka and I plan on seeing them at The American Atheists Convention in Salt Lake City this weekend. We hope the information we provided helps people to make informed decisions. I can’t help picturing a Reed Warbler unwittingly nurturing an imposter Cuckoo chick.

 

Secular Pro-Life (Anti-choice) Claim: Planned Parenthood Cheats Donors

Apparently, Secular Pro-Life is so irked by Planned Parenthood that they are willing to make unfounded charges about what they do with donations. True Pooka investigates

Now that you’re done reading I’m going to show you a magic trick I call; “Proper research done without confirmation bias followed by conclusions drawn based on experience and not ignorance.”

Planned Parenthood issued a number of statements following the Komen incident. The following press release here gives a more thorough explanation of what they intended to do with the money as opposed to the rather vague “wildest dreams” quote linked by our secularprolife blogger (curiously, the blogger in question didn’t link to this more detailed summary of what Planned Parenthood had in mind).

Up until now, I haven’t seen anyone except Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood give SPL the healthy amount of skepticism it really needs. Especially if they are tabling at atheist conventions. More people need to know what they actually do, and you are not going to get that in passing at their table. Why does this group get a pass where another group that attempts to pawn off pseudoscience on the community does not?

 

Secular Pro-Life “Fetus Worshippers”?

Should we defend freethinking spaces from anti-choicers like Secular Pro-Life? I wanted more information on this organization as I have seen them at conventions.  Lucky for me, I know you-tuber True Pooka, who as he will tell you, shares the same concern. He has more experience investigating anti-choice groups than I do. He has shown me things I wouldn’t have seen; even though SPL hides them in plain sight. So I asked him to help me gather information in order to share it with our community. I don’t have faith in anything, but I trust in the people I have communed with at gatherings that they are an intelligent bunch, and can make up their own minds. So here is his first post in a series on what he found when looking at Secular Pro-Life…

We report, you decide, right?

This is his rationale for investigating SPL’s claims…

This is a topic that I’ve always found rather fascinating. I was raised in a strict Judaic upbringing so I’ve always considered the pro-life position on abortion law to represent a two-fold threat; a threat to not just the rights of women but to the right of my religious group of upbringing to practice their religious beliefs when it comes to abortion.
I was also once one of those young men who were placed in the unfortunate position of having to fight his way past protesters to help take a loved one to have a needed abortion, an abortion that she would die without. So I’ve always had a multi-faceted interest in the abortion issue and over the years have done a certain amount of study on the topic. I was genuinely curious because while I’ve heard quite a few arguments against abortion that claim to be secular in nature, as of yet none of those arguments that have been presented to me have been logically consistent. In fact the presentations of the majority of alleged secular arguments against abortion are distinctly religious in nature.

He will get to the meat of what he found this week in the next post.

Lucky for you, you can get a peek of what’s going on in their rationale because Matt Dillahunty is debating one of their openly Christian members this next week on March 25. His last debate with a former SPL member was more like debating someone, who argued like a Christian.

SPL has also taken umbrage at PZ, Greta, and Avicenna’s post on their blog.

What really matters…The So-Called Secular Arguments Against Choice

It is often difficult and awkward to move disagreements forward to where they become productive in the insular, organized atheist community. Especially for a family that is as actively involved as the Ra family, because a lot of times we know and like and often respect the people involved on a personal level. And to make matters more awkward so do our other atheists friends. So basically, we all collectively cringed about Dave Silverman’s comment to conservatives about abortion rights, because we really like him and we respect his professional accomplishments in the secular realm. Of course, many of us were also chagrined because we are part of the super-progressive reproductive rights community. This is the comment for reference although you mostly likely already know what he said…

“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

There have already been many criticisms from the fiercely, liberal secular types including PZ Myers, Sarah Moglia, Steve AhlquistOphelia Benson, and Jason Thibeault. And too, there has been support for Silverman from no less liberal sources such as JT Eberhard and my personal friend, who I can testify is actually a ray of Secular Sunshine Shanon Nebo.  Silverman clarified his comment on her blog.

Sure Shannon.
I was talking to a lot of press this week – I mean a LOT of press, and most of it hostile. When I was talking to Raw Story I gave them the same pitch I’d given so many times before: Conservatism is basically divided into two parts, fiscal conservatism, which is real conservatism, and Social conservatism, which is Christian theocracy masquerading as conservatism, with the latter holding down the former. Is the fiscals dropped the Christian social bullshit, I said, real conservatism would benefit from the influx of conservative atheists who avoid the movement due to the theocratic aspects.

I said that all of the social conservative agenda was religious in nature, to which the reporter eagerly countered that there was a secular argument for abortion. He clearly knew he was right, and so did I – there is a secular argument (one with which I firmly disagree) whose existence I cannot deny.

Rather than take the road to discussing abortion, I acquiesced to his correct counterpoint, returned to my point, and said that school prayer, LGBT equality, and Death with dignity were better examples of purely Christian positions (“it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage”), and we went on with the discussion on why American Atheists was there.

There’s my scandal. The rest of what you may have read is reckless “positing” by people who didn’t do what you did – ask me. Thank you for being responsible.

So there it is, Silverman says that even though he disagrees with secular anti-choice arguments, he couldn’t deny that they exist. As many of you already know there are secular arguments against gay marriage and euthanasia that are just as bad as the ones against a woman’s right to choose. You really don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of all of these supposedly secular arguments to smell the stink of repressive Christian culture.

In fact, I just did a presentation in February for the Secular Humanists of Southern California on how thinly veiled secular anti-choice arguments are. I don’t want to belabor the point but here is a photo from Secular Pro-life‘s website to just show you how they basically just spin religious arguments into secular ones.

That poster could just as easily be posted because the Bible tells me so...

That poster could just as easily be captioned because the Bible tells me so…

I have seen this group tabling at atheist conventions. If the Discovery Institute were to table at an atheist convention with their supposedly secular arguments like aliens seeded life on this planet; it would be a sideshow. Yet secular arguments against a woman’s right to choose are not self evident to some of us that they don’t have some sort of merit. We scoff at canards like “Teach both sides of the controversy” and try to be more than fair to religious based arguments like the one in that poster.

I first became aware of Secular Pro-Life through the work of Godless Bitches Beth Presswood and her husband Matt Dillahunty. Matt debated one of their members at a Texas Freethought Convention.

In the debate, she had the audience sit through a graphic video of abortions.. Nobody in our community puts reproductive rights on the secular agenda more than Matt and Beth do.

And even though Silverman didn’t intend to be dismissive to all of us, who are fighting the Religious Right’s relentless efforts to deny access of a safe and legal abortion. Groups like Secular Pro-Life, that openly cooperate with and have members from the Religious Right, can rightly claim that he said there is a secular argument for their cause. One already has. (As Jason Thibeault predicted, so it has come to pass) I appreciate his clarification that they are bad arguments, but secular pro-choicers can’t catch a break especially here in the South. We need help and are just as under fire as science advocates are from creationists down here.

This is what really matters. It is now virtually impossible for rural Texans to get a safe and legal abortion here, because religious crackpots like Rick Perry run the government and have passed unnecessarily draconian restrictions on abortion clinics that only 6 clinics in Texas are currently up to speed on. Two more clinics have shut down just last week.  How is passing more restrictions on clinics and on women’s reproductive choices fiscally conservative? Legislating the hell out of women’s uteruses and fighting tooth and nail regulations on guns and other businesses doesn’t make sense.

Most importantly, where are rural Texas women going to go when they have a crisis pregnancy when the nearest clinic is 6 hours way. And there will be more of those because Planned Parenthood clinics that provide access to contraception have been shut down by the Texas government too.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church where Planned Parenthood was stigmatized. As a young woman, who didn’t yet have the resource to raise a child, I avoided the Planned Parenthood clinic that was in walking distance from my apartment. I didn’t even own a car and walked or took the city bus everywhere. I still had more privileges than millions of rural women have right now.

I wound up raising a child as a single parent because poor women often have relationships with poor men and the economic stresses that go along with that. Most of the girls in my youth group had unplanned pregnancies due to the stigma of seeking contraception and impractical Christian advice about staying a virgin until you are married. In every state that advocates abstinence only sex education even though it is in a secular manner, the teen pregnancy rate is the highest. The funny thing is that advice is do as I say not as I do because 85 percent of evangelicals have sex before they are married. Our culture still has Christian hang ups about sex, and they are largely unnecessary due to low cost contraception, which would reduce the number of abortions.

Maybe reproductive rights is not a battle that American Atheists has the resources to fight like school prayer and the cross at the Ground Zero museum. However, religious-based regressive social policies including anti-choice are hurting millions of families nonetheless. And I think it has already been shown that if you advocate for women that more women will join your community. That is more volunteers and donors to help fight religious policies that restrict the freedom of women to choose what is best for their families not the government. Most certainly not pro-life groups of any stripe that don’t have to live with the consequences of another woman’s unplanned pregnancy. My hope is that Silverman will use the opportunity this has created to show strong support for reproductive rights and to denounce religious regressive policies.

[notice] If anyone reading this would like to help maintain access to a safe and legal abortion, especially for low income women please support The Lilith Fund and Planned Parenthood. I also will be talking about secular arguments for abortion to do my part on making pro-choice a more self evident secular position on The Magic Sandwich Show on March 23. I may see if I can enlist a fire breathing pro-choice friend too.[/notice]

 

 

Breaking Love and Reproductive Rights Out of the Christian Frame

I have been pleasantly surprised that the youtube comments on my speech on The Heart of Humanism at The Southern California Secular Humanism Conference are mainly addressing the topic.

We joked that now James Croft could add it to his CV that he spoke at an event with me.

We joked that now James Croft could add it to his CV that he spoke at an event with me.

Especially because I addressed how secularists need to examine where their beliefs about love in particular may be influenced by Christian culture such as ideas about purity. I used a rather pointed example by looking at the Secular Pro-Life Movement. Their stance is not categorically different from Cathy Ruse of The Family Research Council’s advice on making secular anti-choice arguments. Ruse’s Christian influence is clearly seen in her advocacy for state’s rights on marriage equality as discussed in my speech and her advocacy against buying Girl Scout cookies on the basis of their support of Planned Parenthood. Cuz unplanned parenthood is so much better, right?

One commenter though accepted the challenge to produce a secular anti-choice argument.

My concern isn’t from a Christian purity standpoint, it’s an issue of the meaning of human rights. We used to believe that people of different skin colors didn’t deserve legal protection because the ‘rights’ of rich white people were more important. I worry that abortion is not dissimilar.
It is a bit incoherent.  I also asked the humanists there what they thought of the anti-feminist canard
“I am not a feminist; I am a humanist.” We were short on time, but a few people afterwards said that the word feminist is like identifying as an atheist; it has taken on very negative associations over time.  I wish I had thought to record some responses afterwards.
Anyways, I hoped in this speech to help people see that sometimes the culture we are raised in can still affect how we see the world and prevent us from being better humanists. Just like I would like to help re-appropriate the word atheist from atheist bashers; I would like to help re-appropriate the word feminism from feminist bashers.
More important than the words themselves are the ideas that left unquestioned get in the way of progressing to a better society than the overtly Christian one we now live in today.

 

 

 

 

Reaching the choir

Much discussion has focused on bringing women and minority groups into the secular fold.  Considering the gender gap in secular communities (these numbers are from America) this is a laudable goal.  Conversely, in religious communities there is an inverse relationship in the ratios of women and ethnic minorities. From Protestant communities where there are 8 percent more women than men to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Historically Black Churches where there are 20 percent more women than men. There is a real disparity in the secular community between gender and ethnic minorities and white males. In fact atheists equal the Mormon Church, a racially segregated community until the 1970s, in disproportionate ratios of whites to ethnic minorities with 86 percent white adherents to 14 percent ethnic minority adherents.

Why is there a gap between women and ethnic minority participation in the secular community? That’s the million dollar question.

Some charts with data collected by the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey…

table-gender-by-tradition

table-ethnicity-by-tradition

Unfortunately often when these sorts of questions are asked; there are superficial answers that affirm the status quo rather than brainstorm solutions to the problem. To paraphrase some have speculated that women are less likely to be secular because they aren’t “intellectually active” enough. On the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities; I’ve sat in presentations where whites have asked black speakers why blacks are Christian because of slavery in the Bible. There is a bit of lazy thinking that comes with stereotyping and overgeneralizing going on. Especially by secularists who aren’t members of these groups, and lack the personal experiences or they haven’t taken the time and thought required to educate themselves to understand a different point of view.

One often neglected piece of data on the topic of secular diversity is income.

table-income-by-tradition

Christians still hold an eroding majority at 78 percent of the US population. About 30 percent of Protestants and Catholics, the largest sects of Christianity, live under the poverty line. In comparison atheists and agnostics are about 4 percent of the population, and about 20 percent of them live under the poverty line. If you look at the numbers for historically black churches the number jumps to 47 percent. Another church with a high level of minority participation are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Half of the JWs are black and latino and 42 percent of their members live beneath the poverty line.

It’s true that at about 40 percent college graduates atheists and agnostics are better educated than the average Protestant and far exceed churches with majority minority populations. Education is definitely a factor in religiosity. However the list of most educated adherents also reads like which groups have better access to education in this country by culture or income. Not just for women and minorities, but for everyone affected by poverty including whites. So you still can’t tease income out of the equation.

Religious institutions have traditions in place that support the poor. However, the support can often come with ideological beliefs that trap their adherents in the cycle of poverty. The Catholic Church’s stance forbidding birth control is a good example of this.

My experiences growing up in both the Catholic and the Southern Baptist Church doctrines limited my choices as a woman. I was told early and often that my role in life was to be subservient to a man. These doctrines condition women to accept patriarchal authority without question. Looking back on it now deciding who’s in charge of important decisions by genitals rather than critical thinking was not a good idea. Studies have shown that educated, empowered women make better life choices that fight the cycle of poverty.

Some organizations in the secular community are working to close the income gap by offering childcare and low cost and free admissions. Skepticon every year is supported by donations. It is an example of an organization that saw a need and stepped up to fill it. Low cost regional conferences like FreeOK help to alleviate problems caused by the cost of travel. Internet conferences like  FTBCon and internet resources like podcasts, blogs, and youtube help to close the income gap too.

One of the most interesting findings of the Pew Forum’s study is that the “Religiously Unaffiliated” is the fastest growing population of them all. The Catholic Church is losing the most to attrition, but they are staying even by immigration. Although Protestants still have the most adherents in the US especially in the South, it too is in decline. The young are where churches are losing the most adherents to us. If the trend continues most people will be unchurched. Secular organizations will hopefully rise to the occasion and welcome the newcomers.

One group that interests me that could use more focus is evangelicals. They are most often from the South. I live in the South, and was raised in a Southern Baptist Church. So I have had a front row seat to the havoc they wreak on public policy in education, reproductive rights, poverty and so on. Can they be reached? The answer sometimes is surprisingly yes. Matt Dillahunty and Beth Presswood of the Atheist Experience and Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist are examples of evangelicals gone rogue. Their media outreach has helped other evangelicals to see the light of reason.

It is one area where me and Aron Ra are different. He doesn’t understand why believers believe because he never really had strong religious beliefs. There is a disconnect between unchurched and lifelong disbelievers and former believers that gives rise to generalizations just like with any group that is prone to being misunderstood. The secular community can always find new ways to welcome former believers, and that can only be improved with greater understanding.

Towards that goal, I have asked Tasa Proberts, former believer and musician for the GUTS megachurch In Oklahoma to chat with me and Shanon Nebo on The Nones about her deconversion from evangelical Christian to atheist. Part of what helped her deconvert is the outreach of The Atheist Experience. We’ll be joined by the Atheist Experience’s Russell Glasser and Jen Peeples. We will also have Recovering from Religion Tulsa facilitator Rhonda Dorle on. It should be interesting if you want insight into former believers to have a greater understanding of them, or if you are a former believer too and want to help, or if you are an evangelical looking for a way out.

[important]The show will be on Thursday December 19th on our youtube channel. I will also post a link to watch it here on the day of the show. Visit our facebook for updates.  You can also PM us there with story ideas or questions.[/important]

[notice] This is the link to watch the show directly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IExEG9dKzdg[/notice]

Why do atheists have to be so mean? Podcast Today 5/5 with Actress Hayley Myers, Tom Melchiore, and NAP’s Flash Kellish and Sheila Blackadder

Specifically why doesn’t anyone want to ally with us, even other secularists sometimes?  We’re like red headed stepchildren; we can’t do anything right for a lot of people. We will also be discussing atheist vitriol to each other on The Nones . It is approaching toxic levels on the topic of feminism. Hayley wants to be a more vocal atheist, and she will be sharing her experiences growing up as an atheist in the Midwest.  She ‘s an actress who appeared in The Ides of March. Shayrah, Aron, and myself are hardened atheists from living in atheist Hell here in the South. Flash and Sheila have the East Coast covered, but somehow they don’t sound as if they have the street cred in comparison.  But they do!  They are out there trying to organize atheists politically.  Politics are the other fighting words with a lot of atheists. Flash is on the Executive Board of the National Atheist Party; soon to be the American Secular Party.  Sheila blogs for NAP on Daily Kos also has the Feminatheist discussion group on Facebook. A lot of people know Tom Melchiorre, writer and editor of Secular Nation the voice of Atheist Alliance International. They brought us that lovely Atheist Census.  Over 200,000 atheists have been counted; have you?  Numbers Matter.

Atheist Secular

Anyways, I also wanted to thank everyone that supported the first 2 podcasts even though Shayrah and I are trying to figure out the technology thing.  A lot of great atheists are supporting us by coming on the show.  They are going to start messing with our mean image. Plus added on us pressure to not let them down.

The show will stream live to our youtube channel, and you can join via the google hangout page. We are also looking at uploading an audio version to www.blogtalkradio.com/thenones

*Update link to the video of the show…

Finding courage to keep the darkness of ignorance at bay Part I

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

While there may be places on Earth that equal the darkness of Mordor of Middle Earth in terms of the very real evil of ignorance more than Texas this year; that won’t be from a lack of effort on the part of the Texas Legislature. Secularists here are already beleaguered trying to stamp out the encroachments on the separation of church and state and the religious-based war on women and science.

The amount of ignorance that sees the light of day all over the country’s state legislatures is a bit daunting. The real trolls are becoming quite bold. They have been sighted organizing even in overwhelmingly progressive states like Oregon.

New MexicoHouse Bill 206 was introduced by Republican lawmaker Cathrynn Brown.  The bill would make rape victims and the doctors, who help them obtain an abortion, felons for tampering with evidence.

Arizona: Rebecca Watson notes that Arizona Representatives Bob Thorpe, Sonny Borrelli, Carl Seel, T.J. Shope, Jeff Dial, David Livingston, Chester Crandell, and Steve Smith were each a bit hasty in including the phrase “So help me God” in a mandatory oath recited by graduating high school students. I disagree a bit with Watson over whether the bill as is can be characterized as simply stupid.  As a teacher, I have seen these types of pledges turn into litmus tests to ferret out non-christians  Rep Thorpe will be giving it a second look for revisions perhaps at the suggestion of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

The last bit of news from Arizona is a bit encouraging that shining the light of reason on figurative trolls like the Arizona Tea Party reps will stop them dead in their tracks.

"Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!"

“Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!”

 

On that note, I have a bit of encouragement for those of you who posted your opposition to the “Merry Christmas” bill on Texas Senator Dwayne Bohac Facebook page. The bill would allow religious symbols such as mangers scenes and menorahs to be displayed in public schools by religious minded school authorities.  Before some of you posted on his wall in defense of the minority religious views that would be crowded out by the Christian majority in this state; Bohac was getting unopposed comments like these…

Thank you for standing up for our freedom and our children’s rights to talk about Jesus publicly. If more politicians would stand for what is right the way you have, our country would not be in a mess the way that it is right now. Thank you for your heart for God and for this country

Now that excellent comments like this one are also posted…

Fiona Albini Jallings I feel sorry for my relatives and friends in Texas. We’re not Christians, and it sounds like you’ll be forcing them to participate in religious events that aren’t part of their own tradition or religion. It doesn’t matter if you have the majority, you’ll still be trampling on others’ right to free expression of religion by forcing them to express yours. Please rethink this bill.

This bill all of a sudden may not sound as much like a great idea as previously thought by this representative. In fact, it may not make it out of committee to see daylight on the house floor. However, in a more sobering bit of news there are two initiatives founded in religious ignorance that have stronger support that have already been taking a grievous toll on public education and women’s health and reproductive rights.

In order to do these two important pieces of legislation justice, I have decided to put them in a second post.  Also, if you have been wondering about my metaphorical references to The Hobbit, if you indulge me a bit further I will wrap that up in the conclusion of Part II.

In the meantime I appreciate your comments on Part I, and if you are so inclined you can follow me on Twitter.  Perhaps, it will improve my writing’s succinctness to work within a word limit.

 

The Foundational Oft-Repeated Fallacies of Sexism Deniers

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

9/11 Truthers, Moon Landing Deniers,  Holocaust Deniers, Evolution Deniers, Creationism… It seems controversial ideas are polarizing and can generate extreme views.  Some ideas like the fact that the Earth is spheroid can even generate full-blown conspiracy theories. In fact, there once was a history teacher at my high school that was a flat-earther. This happened during the late 1980’s well after the moon landings. Any picture of the Earth in science and history textbooks pictured it as spheroid. In opposition to stubborn facts, this teacher resolutely decided to spout the same canards to every nail in the coffin that the Earth was flat.  For example he would say that maps were flat, and that proved the Earth was flat.  What about globes you ask?  Government conspiracy!

discworld

[important]

There will at any given moment in time be at least one discussion ongoing about some aspect of the Discworld considered as a physical object. What does it look like? Where did it come from? Does it rotate? What do constellations look like for the people living on it? Where are the continents located? Is there a map of Ankh-Morpork [There is now] ? What are the names of the Elephants [Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon and Jerakeen, just in case anyone'd forgotten] ? Is Great A’Tuin male or female? That sort of thing.

Summarising these discussions is useless: nobody ever agrees on anything, anyway, and besides: half the fun is in the discussion itself — who cares if these issues ever get properly ‘resolved’. From The Annotated Pratchett

If only we could discuss our differences with that little animosity. Granted this is a more important difference of opinion, but still. [/important]

Freethinkers are more often than not skeptical thinkers.  Skepticism is a point of pride to the point that we have robust skeptical organizations like the James Randi Educational Foundation.  Who can ever forget when James Randi owned faith healer, televangelist Peter Popoff on national TV?  It was one of the most awesome pieces of pwnage of religious charlatanism most skeptics have ever seen.  Randi managed to record Popoff receiving personal information in an earpiece about the poor ,sick people who were his marks.  He used that info to defraud them that god had revealed to him things he couldn’t possibly know.

[notice]Peter Popoff debunked by James Randi Video[/notice]

 Despite a very public unmasking of this charlatan, who preyed on sick people for money; he still broadcasts to millions of people today. That fact sickens skeptics…

about the villainy of Peter Popoff

But we know from debating creationists and their ilk just how strong cognitive bias is.

Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism

A decent skeptic will take no personal pride that he/she knows better than credulous people in the grip of cognitive bias.  The very best skeptics frequently examine their own thinking for cognitive biases and attempt to disabuse others of harmful biases.

None of this is news to skeptics.  Which is why the quality of the discussion of harassment within the skeptical community is all the more disheartening.  Before Rebecca Watson ever stepped into that fateful elevator, harassment of women at conferences was already a topic of concern.  Yet any discussion of harassment policies to address these concerns gets bogged down in “Elevatorgate” even though Watson herself never characterized what happened as harassment, which is the First Oft-repeated Fallacy of Sexism Deniers

I have collected a number of comments from Thunderf00t’s recent YouTube video “Why “Feminism”(sic) is poisoning atheism”.  The discussion has some pretty good,freshly minted examples of the canards that most people familiar with this discussion have already heard many times. But this first comment is in response to a Slate article Rebecca Watson wrote…

FOFSD #1 -Feminists -especially Rebecca Watson need to get over Elevatorgate

ou812

How does a polite invitation to coffee equate to the “objectification of women as sex objects”? Even assuming he was interested in sex, Elevator Guy did exactly what feminists have been asking for: he took no for an answer. Get over it, Rebecca.

and…

yutt

It is amazing that no matter how many times she tells the elevator story, she never comes across as the victim she thinks she is. A male was interested in her and wanted to have sex. How horrible!

I guess some people can’t emotionally escape Puritanism no matter how far they think they’ve run intellectually.

From Slate “It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too” by Rebecca Watson.

But again, I don’t need to. There’s enough evidence floating around the internet. For instance, “Some guy HIT ON ME! He asked me to come back to his room. WHAT A SEXIST!!” <–That’s not total bullshit? I don’t even need to bring up half of it. The vid does a good job of it and I’m shocked that you, who’s “sooo intelligent” didn’t catch what I was implying. Also, I didn’t expect special treatment. You’re an idiot. I love how your description of it is senseless.

And lol, you’re pretty angry. “XD”

Above comment from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 1 by Thunderf00t

Ironically the widespread fallacy that Watson misunderstood this incident as harassment is a misunderstanding. She simply felt uncomfortable about being asked to someone’s hotel room for coffee by a stranger in an elevator.  To make matters worse this one incident is used as an example to make the spectrum of harassment at conferences look inconsequential. Discussion of harassment in the skeptical community is often derailed to recount this incident in laborious detail.

FOFSD #2 -Rebecca Watson/Skepchick is a silly, misandric(sic), “feminist” who owes allegiance to a Hitler-like Supremacist!

Too bad. The Skepchick lady isn’t a feminist, she’s a misandric professional victim. Feminism was about equality, never about “women’s supremacy”.

and this one got 29 thumbs up votes…

Just want to put it out there…

Before all this nonsense? I was a feminist. I really was – I was a 110% feminist and all for women’s rights.

Thanks to Skepchick and her drama, I am no longer feminist, and I’m actually a little embarrassed that I ever was.

Above comments from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 1 by Thunderf00t

These are spot light fallacies.  Even if Watson’s personal ideology was to put men in concentration camps, (which it isn’t) she isn’t an archetypal feminist.  You’d be hard pressed to pick one person that embodied everything that feminism is in the flesh.  Ideas like feminism should be judged on merit not on whether you dislike the person espousing them.

FOFSD #3(managed to combine more than one FOFSD in one comment) this has nothing to do with atheism. Everyone needs to grow up, and the semi-related and equally dismissive accusations that the discussion is attention-whoring and DRAMA!

What has ANY of this got to do with Atheism? Just because people of the opposite sex come into contact with each other, one or two might have sexist tendencies (regardless of your genitalia) and that automatically means it’s their common interests fault?

Fuck me I hate people… Grow the FUCK up people, build a bridge, get the fuck over it and stop generalising, stop making massive leaps to make your own ridiculous conclusions to push some stupid PC agenda! You are wasting AIR….

EonRifft                21 hours ago             

Oh, wait, they think the internet is unimportant and youtube comments have no worth but they censor them and even refuse to let things be rated? Now I am no vulcan grandmaster, but this does not sound especially logical to me.

Conferences need to dump these placating standards they call anti-harassment rules as it just damages the atheist community in order to protect people from non-existent things.

These people need to be ignored as they are just attention whores bent on hijacking atheism.

Above comments from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 1 by Thunderf00t

These are a combination of fallacies that dismiss the discussion of harassment policies at the outset as being unworthy, and unrelated to the atheist community. As if there is a true atheist, that only discusses dictionary atheism.  The irony is missed here by the commenters because they are in effect restricting what is discussed by the atheist community. There is also the implication that people that discuss harassment are immature, and merely looking for attention and don’t have a substantive case.

FOFSD #4 -There is no Patriarchy.

No, Patriarchy theory says that society is built and run by men expressly FOR the needs, wants and desires of men, expressly at the COST of the needs, wants and desires of women. Even though evidence that contradicts that is very often censored, and it flies in the face of male and female psychology. Patriarchy theory most definitely suggests a deep misogyny permeating society at it’s core, and that is just complete bollocks.

in response to this comment that was actually down voted…

You’re thinking of misogyny, not patriarchy. Perhaps if you bothered to learn what these terms actually mean, you wouldn’t be making confused arguments.

Above comments from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 1 by Thunderf00t

It is the ubiquitous Straw Man fallacy. The commenter ignores the actual argument and substitutes with a position that is distorted, misrepresented caricature that is easier to defeat. Yes the “Patriarchy theory” that this commenter describes doesn’t exist to the extent the person describes it to.  Patriarchy is an idea that is hotly contested by sexism deniers.  It really isn’t that controversial.  We live in a male dominated society led by males for the most part. Men and women are commonly socialized differently according to traditional and often religious beliefs.

FOFSD #5 -“Feminazis” are angry, crazy “cunts”,who can’t get “fucked” and need to GTFO because FREE SPEECH!

symnzXx                1 day ago             

HOLD THE FUCK ON.. 7:33 your freedom of speech “ends the second that someone who hears that speech is affected”?? what the fuck are you talking about you crazy cunt? the reason we even have something in writing saying essentially “NOBODY SHOULD BE ABLE TO STOP YOU FROM SAYING THINGS” is almost specifically to protect things that are unpopular or may offend people. these bitches are out of line in the worst fucking way.. shit has to stop  (21 Thumbs ups!)

Pluto Nash                1 day ago             

The only reason feminists are so angry is because they are all hideous and no one wants to fuck them.

Jshect                1 day ago             

Oh my gosh, pause the video at 4:27 and read the whole harrassment policy. If you showed that to someone and didn’t tell them what event it was for they would think it was a meeting of sex crazed, delinquint, ex-convicts not a free thought rally. I don’t think the words free thought conference and sexualized environmnet quite belong in the same paragraph. This isn’t a XXX porn convention. This is a meeting of mostly highly educated civilized people. Femanazi go away!!

Above comments from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 1 by Thunderf00t

These comments address the people who bring up harassment policies or feminism with ridicule rather than a counter argument. The commenters haven’t done their homework on harassment issues, and dismiss the person making the argument instead.

The fallacies I have listed are in no way a complete list of all of the fallacious reasoning that is used to deny that sexism or harassment occurs in the skeptical community or the discussion of harassment policies.  I am sure other veterans of this argument can come up with other easily identifiable fallacies that prevent the actual topic from being discussed meaningfully in a lot of our community’s forums. To the credit of most of our community’s organizers, they have adopted reasonable harassment policies and codes of conduct.  A few of the points in these have sparked disagreement, because most skeptics thrive on questioning things.  Disagreement is not the problem in and of itself except if there is fallacious reasoning or tactics at the heart of it.

The same fallacies have been parroted in this argument so many times that parodies or Poes are starting to enter the discussions. Trigger warnings for offensive language apply…

Bardlettt                5 hours ago             

LOL whatever, mangina. You’re just trying to limit my free speech against these whores like Rebecca Watson because you’re pussy whipped! Get out of our atheism, bitch!

and…

Bardlettt                6 hours ago             

Yeah, I agree TF! All these nigger and kike whores trying to turn our conferences into their liberal bullshit orgies. WE NEED TO SPEAK OUT AND STOP THEM! Fake jewelry? Is that really in an official conference harassment policy? We must demonstrate before these fucking stupid, non secular sluts take over our atheism! GO TF!

Above comments from YouTube “Why “Feminism” is poisoning the skeptical community”. Part 2 by Thunderf00t

Even though these comments are anonymous YouTube users for the most part, these sentiments have been echoed by others in other forums.  I have left out fallacious comments from known skeptics and atheists on purpose, so as to not get bogged down in personal bickering.  So that no one assumes that these are not representative of the discussion of Thunderf00t’s video, many of the comments chosen have been thumbed up at least 20 times.  Also, this is the top comment the very hour that I am posting this…

John E 5 hours ago

The only females (or males) who can’t cope with the grab-ass and flirty games that go on amongst men and women, and deal with it in a sensible proportionate manner, are children. Seriously, why is this shit a massive issue in America? In my home country, and my current country of residence, nobody gives a fuck, because there’s nothing to give a fuck about. From an outside view it just looks pathetic, and I understand TF’s frustration.

Can you spot several easily identifiable logical fallacies?
For anyone reading this, who disagrees that sexism is still an issue for some in our communities or even that simply harassment policies are wrong, I want to leave you with a challenge.  I recently challenged a friend who is a prominent atheist in the discussion with this as well.  Do you really want to be arguing for the status quo of boys will be boys or people should be thicker skinned to sexist comments, or any other of the dodges we have been taught to ignore sexism? As atheism grows we are becoming more diverse, and these conflicts will arise where traditionally held ideas come in to contact with progressive ideas.My position on harassment policies has evolved over time through discussion. Even though I have personally never been harassed at a conference, why should I be laissez faire or dismiss other people’s genuine feeling of discomfort or genuine abuse? Why should you? And one final thought just like progress in science is most often not achieved by defending the status quo, why be a roadblock to progress?