If you hadn’t heard, Richard Carrier is suing FreeThought Blogs, Skepticon, The Orbit, and several individuals for two million dollars. To learn more, I recommend an episode on the Atheistically Speaking Podcast [eta: correction] about it. If you are interested in helping the defendants, you may contribute to the defense fund here. (Note that I am not personally liable since FreeThought Blogs is incorporated as an LLC.)
The primary subject of the lawsuit is defamation. Since I do not want to repeat any remarks that would risk me getting sued (and apparently merely referring to accusations against Carrier is sufficient), I will simply quote Richard Carrier himself.
In June of 2016, Amy Frank accused me of sexual assault and sexual harassment at a house party the morning after I spoke for her campus organization in Arizona last year.
Skepticon Inc. published an announcement that I was dangerous because of multiple claims against me and that I was therefore banned from their conference.
Stephanie Zvan of The Orbit and PZ Myers of Freethought Blogs both claim they have spoken to “two other women” who have made claims against me. They released no details about those claims, just conclusory statements whose truth cannot be assessed.
(Source: “The Details of my Defamation Case” by Richard Carrier. I won’t link.)
Contrary to what Carrier says, it is not clear to me that Amy Frank or anyone else accused him of sexual assault. Carrier’s lawsuit makes the tenuous argument that Amy Frank implied sexual assault by using the hashtag #sexualassault. Note that sexual harassment and sexual assault are offenses of very different orders of magnitude. In the US, sexual harassment is illegal only when it is frequent or severe. Small isolated incidents of sexual harassment are not illegal.
To be honest, the incident that disgusted me most about Richard Carrier was not in any of the accusations, and not in the lawsuit. I was disgusted by what Richard Carrier himself admitted in the process of defending himself.
I merely sent [redacted] one letter expressing my interest in them. […]
[redacted] was bothered by my query because it occurred soon after they had joined the same blog network I was then part of, and because they had past grievances against me, which [redacted] listed (none pertaining to [redacted], nor harassment, nor anything I’d heard from them before).
(Source: “The Details of my Defamation Case” by Richard Carrier. Emphasis mine, and redactions made to obscure identity.)
Here, Carrier admits expressing interest to a newly accepted member of FreeThought Blogs. You know, it was less than a year ago that I was a newly accepted member of FreeThought Blogs. I also have reason to believe that Carrier was part of the reason I was admitted onto the network. Imagine that you just got a job, and then someone on the hiring committee asked you on a date. That’s how I feel about this.
Richard Carrier is of course very sorry for the incident, as well as several other incidents he has admitted, but apparently not sorry enough to call off his lawyer. Asshole.
Richard Carrier used to live in Northern California, near where I live. I’ve met him before. I saw him give a talk related to his book Hitler Homer Bible Christ. I found the talk very entertaining and enlightening. I even recommended him to my local atheist student group as a potential speaker.
Over the years, I have heard many grievances against Richard Carrier, most of which I dismiss. Carrier argued extensively that Jesus did not exist; I am not inclined to agree with Jesus mythicism, but I definitely think it is a worthwhile scholarly project. I’ve been told that Carrier had some misguided ideas about physics; I have seen his ideas and agree they are terribly misguided, but I don’t believe that being wrong about physics makes someone a terrible human being. I know that Carrier has asked, on his blog, whether anyone is interested in a date; I find this strange but not wrong.
Nonetheless, because of the recent accusations against Carrier, and Carrier’s responses to those accusations, I am disgusted with him. I don’t believe he is really sorry for what he did if he continues to sue critics.