Come on. Really. Don’t do this.


Because so many romances begin just this way.

You could say this was just meant as a cute, harmless compliment. But even if you don’t call this “harassing,” it is, at very best, a deeply cheesy way to make your admiration of someone known. Why not just say, “You’re awesome on the show! Big fan!”

(It could also have been a deliberate joke, riffing on the very harassment controversies that FtB and others have recently been embroiled in. But if so, jokes like that tend to work only when both parties involved know one another personally, know each other’s boundaries and sense of humor, and know such jokes are okay within those boundaries. Kind of not a joke you’d pull on an stranger and expect them to get it.)


Addendum: Since there’s a certain contingent of people in the comments (naturally) invested in making the case that John is simply being sweet and asking a perfectly innocent question, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just overreacting with a broom handle wedged where broom handles don’t go — well, there’s been a brief follow-up exchange with Jen where he shows his hand: he’s trolling.

Comments

  1. Suido says

    What, so emails are the new elevators? There’s nowhere people can chew women’s legs any more? Prepare yourself, the hilariously original changes to your last name are coming… starts with W, almost rhymes with banker, therefore close enough and a good way to rebut your comments, right?

    Sigh.

  2. Mamba24 says

    Looks like a simple question to me…..Is there something wrong with asking someone if they’re single? Never knew it was so “cheesy” to ask someone this.

    “Why not just say, “You’re awesome on the show! Big fan!””

    -Because asking someone if they’re single(a simple question) isn’t the same thing as saying that they’re awesome on the show. One is a question, one isn’t. You’re really trying to stretch the definition of harassment here Martin. Chill.

  3. says

    Looks like a simple question to me…..Is there something wrong with asking someone if they’re single? Never knew it was so “cheesy” to ask someone this.

    Here we go, having to explain basic social standards again.

    There’s typically some discussion or talking or getting to know someone before you start blurting out that you want to go out with the person. To go from Zero to “Are you single” in 0.25 seconds is considered, in polite society, blithely crass.

    You’re really trying to stretch the definition of harassment here Martin. Chill.

    Do you consider it harassment if a man propositions her 10 times?

    How about if 10 people proposition her 1 time each?

    In this way, many women are generally harassed, even if it’s not by the same person each time – they have to deal with this BS constantly.

  4. says

    If you were in a coffeehouse, or a restaurant, or at a supermarket, or even a gathering at a friend’s house, and you walked up to a woman who was a total stranger to you, and the first question out of your mouth was “Are you single?” it would be considered weird, possibly creepy, certainly not the most appropriate of icebreakers.

    Via email, from someone you don’t know, have never met or seen, and know nothing about, it’s — well — pretty weird. It doesn’t make the guy an evil perv or anything, just someone trying to pay a compliment in the wrong way.

    You’re really trying to stretch the definition of harassment here Martin. Chill.

    I’ll leave it to the women to decide if they agree with that. You’re definitely stretching the notion of social etiquette to help men avoid having to learn any, seems to me.

  5. m6wg4bxw says

    I’m confounded by all of this. It’s a simple yes-or-no question; she is or isn’t single. Of course, the question can be ignored, or answered with, “I prefer not to answer.”

    I’d like to review a list of questions / subjects, and when they are available for discussion. Does such a resource exist?

  6. annabucci says

    If someone asked me this in an email, I wouldn’t really care. I’d be flattered though. Soemtimes guys ask me this in social places, and I don’t find it weird or creepy.

  7. Pen says

    I think it depends on what happened before that. Was it nothing at all, in which case it is creepy, or did Tracie say something that made it likely that John was expressing admiration. If it is an accolade, it is a type not more commonly aimed at men. The whole ‘I want to have his/her/your babies’ thing is usually said by women to/of men. So what do guys think about it?

  8. Suido says

    I’m confounded by all of this.

    Lucky for you, we’re here to educate you. It’s not just a yes/no question, it’s John deciding that the best way to show his admiration for her is to ask whether she is single, and it’s also a society that has led him to think that he’s had a good idea, and this is appropriate.

    As Martin points out, he could have said almost anything else – I like your wittiness, I like your clarity of expression, I like your smile, whatever. But no, John didn’t do that. John decided the best way to express his feelings was to imply that he thought she was good enough to be his partner.

  9. says

    What’s helpful about posts like this is that comment threads really do help identify the folks who could use instruction in social interaction at even the most basic level.

    There is a perfectly appropriate time to ask a woman if she’s single, and I think most folks would agree that if nothing else, you should have at least met her first, or had some kind of friendly interaction, even if it’s just long enough to establish that you’re comfortable in each other’s presence.

    I think there are ways John could have written his letter to get across a compliment about Tracie’s attractiveness in a really flattering way. Arguably, the way he chose might not have been it.

  10. says

    You people do a serious disservice to those who actually have been sexually harassed by stretching anything, no matter how minor, into a claim of sexual harassment. Then you wonder why claimants aren’t taken seriously!? It is YOU who are creating that problem.

    Too bad Dawkins isn’t here to tell you people to grow up. I’ve been hit on too, by strangers, male and female, online and in person – people who I found creepy and people who I didn’t. Yet I managed not to auto-assume that it was an assault on my dignity as a person. And I didn’t blog about it and then wage jihad against anyone who complained or disagreed (like some in the Skepchick/FtB cult who are on a year-long-plus witch-hunt for “MRAs” and “gender traitors”).

    Ever consider that this person was kidding? Or that it was meant to be taken lightly, as a compliment? Or what a smiley face means? Stop assuming that people lack “basic social standards” because their behavior doesn’t fit into the narrow and dogmatic boundaries outlined by the cult here. If this is what you’re complaining about, then perhaps it is you who is the “privileged” one.

    One wonders if the male-dominated Freethought Blogroll is simply sexually repressed and thus driven to white-knight whenever possible. If that’s the case, then the real sexism is in house.

  11. Chagrined says

    The women of GB have announced multiple times that each is in a long-term monogomus relationship. How hard is that to fathom? Of course, it’s possible that this guy does not listen to the GB podcast and only knows of Tracie from her great work on The Atheist Experience. However, I’ve heard her refer to her husband (I believe his name is “Mike”) more than once on TAE.

  12. F says

    See, since the answer is always, “None of your fucking business,” why ask? If you know someone well enough to ask, you would already know the answer. If you are negotiating interests in a social scene, you should already have a clue as to what might or might not be too forward of a topic to broach.

    If you don’t, you’re like the person who sent the email, who needs help understanding boundaries.

  13. F says

    You people do a serious disservice to those who actually have been sexually harassed by stretching anything, no matter how minor, into a claim of sexual harassment.

    Yes, suggesting that this sort of behavior is also not cool completely minimizes victims of sexual harassment and rape.

    Thank you for playing, try again soon!.

  14. Suido says

    1. Good for you. That doesn’t make it impossible for other people to be creeped out by such an approach. Given that John has no idea whether or not Tracie would be creeped out, it’s pretty presumptive of him.

    Do you think it’s better to encourage or discourage this kind of approach?

    2. At best, it’s a poorly aimed compliment. John reduced Tracie’s entire personality and life’s work into a single variable – she is good enough to be his partner. So he did her the honour of letting her know. Without any preamble regarding why or how he decided. Maybe he has many faces on a dartboard, and hers was the one that got hit this week. Maybe he’s a huge fan. Either way, he chose to express his opinion via the single measure of ‘partner material’.

    Do you think it’s better to encourage or discourage this type of thinking?

  15. says

    Jihad? Where?

    Ever consider that this person was kidding?

    I did, and even said so in the OP, which you might have seen if you weren’t in such a rush to spew your butthurt indignation here.

    And oh, look! He’s already into the whole “FtB is a cult” meme!

    One wonders if the male-dominated Freethought Blogroll is simply sexually repressed and thus driven to white-knight whenever possible. If that’s the case, then the real sexism is in house.

    Ah-ha, I see what you did there. It reminds me of the way the “pro-life” community claims that they’re the ones who are really “pro-women,” and that pro-choice liberals are the real sexists who are “reducing women to sexual beings” by always making a big scene whenever the right passes more laws intruding on reproductive rights. Quite clever, even if transparent horseshit.

    So let’s review: I post a very short, rather innocuous blog making fun of a leering email sent to Tracie, suggesting that this isn’t really polite…and predictably, along comes an overwrought, histrionic rebuttal accusing me of — oh, let me see — waging a “jihad” as well as a “witch-hunt,” and also being a “sexually repressed” “white knight,” while at the same time trading in a little pro-women posturing attacking the “male-dominated” “Skepchick/FtB cult” for its “real sexism.” (That last is really confusing, because I thought we were all taken over by the Femistasi. But now we’re male-dominated white knight cultists?)

    Anyway, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen quite so many Shithead Dog Whistle words crammed into a single comment before. It’s really something of a work of art.

  16. George From NY says

    In some contexts, business meetings and such, it would be wholly inappropriate no matter the style of delivery.

    In email to someone you have never even met, also inappropriate and yes, as Martin mentioned, hinting at Creepitude.

    Elsewise, it can be a ‘cute, harmless’ compliment if rendered accordingly. Indeed, in 9/10 times I have actually heard this or something like it said, that was exactly the case.

    And of course in circumstances like a singles bar or other known ‘hookup’ setting it’s a very standard introduction and ice-breaker. How SUCCESSFUL is another question. :)

  17. annabucci says

    “That doesn’t make it impossible for other people to be creeped out by such an approach.”

    Because you think I’m claiming my preference is supposed to apply to everyone?

  18. says

    Tracie actually receives a number of communications from men asking about her marital status, or just flat out declaring their “love” for her (to whatever degree they mean it seriously). Innocent, flattering attentions aside, she’s been abundantly clear about her dislike of them.

  19. anathema says

    Ever consider that this person was kidding? Or that it was meant to be taken lightly, as a compliment? Or what a smiley face means?

    The original post acknowledged that it could have been an attempt at a compliment or a joke. I don’t think that Martin would be able to acknowledge those possibilities unless he had considered them.

    The point is that even as a compliment or a joke, this sort of thing still isn’t cool. If the highest compliment you can give a woman is that you think that she’s good enough to be in a relationship with you, that’s extraordinarily messed up.

    If this is what you’re complaining about, then perhaps it is you who is the “privileged” one.

    You don’t actually know what privilege means, do you?

  20. Cassie says

    Yes, because the best way to compliment a woman is to assume she will be flattered by your sexual attention. That is women’s worth in society after all!

    Why people can’t see past the fact Tracie is a woman and to the fact she is a person is what is truly confounding.

    As to the nutter who said this does a disservice to people who have experienced “real” sexual harassment, don’t presume to speak for all of us, don’t presume to speak for me. What does me a disservice and lots of other women is by claiming some forms of harassment are real and some are from sexual repression or some such.

    Btw, if a guy I had never met walked up to me and asked if I was single, I would be very uncomfortable. I don’t think it would count as harassment, but it does count as poor etiquette.

    If at that same party 5 guys said that me, I would start wondering why they assumed it was ok.

    I like this song-

    Other comments that have stated this is a societal problem and women face this all the time are correct. It can really undermine a woman’s self worth rather than be flattering. Tracie is presenting herself on the show as an atheist and an intellect of sorts, overlooking that and going straight to sexual attraction is an insult.

    Now on the other hand if she was on a lonely hearts show, this may be an appropriate topic…

  21. says

    My approach might be, if I wanted to express similar feelings in a circumstance like this, to have written something like “I just wanted to say you’re a very brilliant and attractive person, and I’ve got a lot of admiration for you.”

    If we went on to a correspondence/friendship from there, the right moment for popping the “are you married?” question would arise naturally at some point.

    Not really hard to grasp.

  22. m6wg4bxw says

    Perhaps you can begin my education by explaining the harm caused by John’s question.

  23. says

    It’s not even that there was “harm.” It’s just considered basic etiquette that there’s a certain level of personal you don’t try to get with a person, until you’ve first scouted out the lay of the land.

  24. Suido says

    There’s a big difference between ‘I want to have your babies’ (obviously an OTT description of affection for someone you’ve never met), and ‘Are you single?’ (much less OTT, much more likely to be a genuine and therefore creepy sentiment hidden in a joking manner).

    Forgetting the false equivalence for a second, I would argue that the usage of the phrase, ‘I want to have your babies’ is less frequent than the incidence of men using ‘Are you single?’ as an opening line. So I dispute the idea that this sentiment is more commonly aimed at men.

    I would further argue that expressing the sentiment purely as a joke may have the same incidence for both genders, but that male entitlement probably means that far more men than women would use the sentiment seriously, mostly camouflaged as a joke.

  25. m6wg4bxw says

    Is the answer always, “None of your fucking business?”

    You said, “If you know someone well to ask, you would already know the answer.” I’d like to know to what subjects this rationale applies, and why. Who determines these boundaries you speak of. How does one learn them?

  26. Suido says

    No, but it is providing a counter-example which could be used as an indication that those behaviours are acceptable. I refer you to my two questions – do you think these kinds of behaviours should be encouraged or discouraged?

    If you think they should be discouraged, then I would suggest you should add a disclaimer to your counter-example.

  27. julian says

    I hate white-knight accusations.

    No. I am not trying to get laid. I am trying to be a decent human fucking being who doesn’t pester, harass and annoy every woman I have the means of contacting for sex/her phone number/whatever.

    Gah!

    Jerks just seem to want to make everyone out to be as whiny, annoying and obnoxious as they are.

  28. Kaj says

    I could how it could be meant as a compliment, and I see how it could be downright creepy.

    The way he phrases it (with the quotations and smiley), I’m inclined he meant it as a compliment – but it’s not something I would’ve written. Too weird in that context.

    I also imagine Tracy H. gets a lot of messages like that, so it’s long past annoying.

  29. m6wg4bxw says

    So, I am bound by what others consider to be basic etiquette? What I want to know is why people establish such etiquette, and why it should be respected. If this isn’t about harm, then what? Personal preference?

  30. julian says

    Depends on the person but in this case (married, has made it clear they DO NOT appreciate this) ‘harm’ isn’t really a factor. Don’t do it because you’ve been asked not to.

    Besides, someone shouldn’t have to justify why they need their personal boundaries respected. Especially when there are no mitigating factors involved.

  31. blondeintokyo says

    Harassment is when someone is told “stop”, and they continue. Unwanted sexual attention is being hit on or sexualised when you aren’t expecting it, at an inappropriate time or place, or simply when it’s from someone you aren’t comfortable receiving it from. That of course includes complete strangers who dont know you at all, and who can’t possibly know how you might take such a comment. 

    Even though the intent isn’t to make the recipient uncomfortable, it still feels creepy and rather presumptuous. It’s perfectly legitimate then for the receiver to let the person know that their comment wasn’t appropriate- which is exactly what was done in this case.

    When approaching someone you don’t know, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. As you don’t know whether this person will be accepting of such remarks, you should at first avoid sexualising that person, either by complimenting them or inquiring about their dating status. 

    I blame the Internet for this. We seem to think that on the Internet it’s ok to skip past the getting to know you stage and jump straight to familiarity. People say things online they wouldn’t say when first meeting people face to face.  But obviously, not everyone is going to accept such familiarity right off the bat. Thus, if you want to make a good impression, use your manners the way you would use them in real life.

  32. m6wg4bxw says

    Let us hope that John is a creepy, socially awkward loser who deserves the judgment he has (and will) receive. Because if he just learned by doing, then… well, poor bastard.

  33. julian says

    It’s about respecting a person’s boundaries/space/privacy.

    What’s the harm in me smacking every stranger in the shoulder as a form of greeting? No more than asking every woman I meet to give me her digits.

  34. Pen says

    There is a difference between ‘are you single?’ used as an opening line and ‘are you single?’ used after observing someone do something admirable or clever. That’s where the context comes in. At least I think so. If any man said ‘are you single?’ to me in a situation where he had seen me do something I felt pleased about it simply wouldn’t occur to me to take his question literally.

  35. julian says

    As a socially awkward ‘loser,’ grow up and stop projecting your own mess onto the conversation. No one’s been maligned or judged. John has been told not to do this. That is all.

  36. m6wg4bxw says

    I hope the founders of social etiquette are doing a proper job. I can’t imagine what would happen if they were to put important social issues, like politics and religion and free speech, off-limits.

  37. Pen says

    I;m sorry Martin, I realise that you are trying to find something that seems acceptable in all circumstances. I just want to say that possibly for cultural reasons, your suggested accolade would make me cringe into a tight little ball, feel very uncomfortable want to slink off as soon as possible. But I would still try to go with what you wanted to convey rather than how much I enjoy hearing what you actually said, and I would try to formulate a response based on what you meant. If there are to be social interactions, it’s necessary to cut everyone a bit of slack. At the same time there has to be a line that should not be crossed but I don’t think it is here in general terms. It’s possible from what some people are saying that John was just trying to annoy Tracie because she had already expressed a dislike of this type of comment. But I don’t have enough context to know that.

  38. julian says

    There are mitigating factors and there’s a time and place for things. I don’t grab random strangers and berate them for buying into Pascal’s Wager. That would be incredibly obnoxious behavior. They would be right to complain and I would be in the wrong.

    But if we’re in a philosophy classroom or the topics been brought up it’s fair game. You’re continuing the discussion with relevant insights.

    Ditto fr politics except there are more circumstances where it would be appropriate because it’s so directly relevant to people’s lives and situation. Furthermore it’s something we all have a say in and (with issues like Planned Parenthood) a need to counter dangerous ideas.

  39. mooniekate says

    If I had a nickle for every time I’ve been asked that question first before my name is even asked, I would have enough laundry money for a year.
    I’ve even been cornered in a bathroom at a friend’s party, by a guy who asked this very same question. I was SCARED. I had never met the guy before. I didn’t know what he was capable of. Luckily my friend watched him follow me in and ran in after to pull him out. I found out later that he was shy and wanted to ask me out with nobody around, but it didn’t undo the feelings he caused in me. I could never date someone that made me feel unsafe that way. After I stopped shaking, my friend and I sat him down and explained to him why that was inappropriate. He had no idea that’s how I felt. Now he has a great girlfriend and keeps his eye out for other ladies in similar situations. They can be taught. These bad social skills can be learned out of them.

  40. m6wg4bxw says

    Nicely done. You violated my personal standard of social etiquette by telling me to grow up, and accusing me of projection. “Come on. Really. Don’t do this.” :)

  41. julian says

    *snort* Spare me. You used people like me as an excuse to ignore and dismiss the feelings of other so you can continue to pester and otherwise harass them. I am not a point for you to make and I’m not going to smile pleasantly while you insult my life experience that way.

  42. m6wg4bxw says

    I feel like I’m not gaining much by participating in the discussion, so I think I’ll withdraw now. Thanks for responding.

  43. Wowbagger, Deputy Vice-President (Silencing) says

    mooniekate wrote:

    They can be taught. These bad social skills can be learned out of them.

    If the person wants to learn. The astonishing amount of obtuseness-couched-as-skepticism regarding the harassment at cons is a good illustration that there are plenty of guys out there who have no interest in learning how not to creep women out.

  44. blondeintokyo says

    No one is saying this is harassment. Harassment is when someone has been asked to stop, and yet the behaviour continued. This can more  fairly be labeled as “unwanted sexual attention”.  Meaning, sexualising attention from an inappropriate person, or at an inappropriate time, or in an inappropriate way. In which case the recipient has every right to politely inform the giver of the inappropriateness of his/her comment. 

    How, you may ask, would one know wherever one’s comments might be unwanted or inappropriate? The best answer is of course, to err on the side of caution, and avoid sexualising someone right off the bat before getting to know them. That means saying hello, nice to meet you, and making a bit of small talk. After you’ve established that this person is comfortable talking to you and seems friendly and accepting of your attention, you can try asking them out or asking about their dating status. This is known as “flirting”. :) 

    That email is the internet equivalent of walking up a complete stranger and without any preamble,  blurting out your interest. That is, to say the least, presumptuous and rather crass. I’m sure you can understand why someone on the receiving end of such behaviour would feel both uncomfortable and annoyed. 

    I give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure he didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad. But it’s still perfectly legitimate for him to be told that it was inappropriate, particularly in the hope that he would learn from the experience and not repeat this behaviour. Anyone hoping to make friends either on the Internet or in real life ought to be using their best manners, and that includes not assuming too much familiarity, too soon. 

  45. says

    And we definitely see this in comments by the likes of Chris Willett. Seriously, why the mere suggestion that there are respectful ways to treat women, and that those ways really do tend to place you in a better light in their eyes, should provoke such a paroxysm of hysterical rage is beyond me. Perhaps the boy just hasn’t got game.

  46. KiwiInOz says

    Meanwhile you are happy to suggest that certain people put a gun in their mouth and kill themselves. WTF

  47. annabucci says

    For some reason my reply ended up elsewhere in the comments. I am apathetic as to whether there should be encouragement or discouragement.

  48. Suido says

    Context dependant, obviously.

    I read the OP as implying that there was no prior communication from John, therefore it’s an opening line with no clear indication of what precisely spurred ‘John’ to say it.

    Context enough, surely.

  49. Sophia says

    An aspect of this question that annoys me is the implied assumption that ‘single’ means ‘available to me’. If you email someone out of the blue saying, ‘I am interested in you,’ you’re at least putting yourself out there to be rejected or accepted by the person you’re contacting. ‘Are you single?’ puts the recipient of the question in a position where they may feel compelled to say ‘yes’, and then have to deal with someone who thinks this means they have a chance.

    Single=/=Interested in you

  50. julian says

    I’m not going to make excuses for my conduct on Sgt Griffith’s blog. There aren’t any to be made.

    But, and chalk it up to a character failing, I still feel nothing towards the smile crew so an apology would be forced and meaningless.

  51. KiwiInOz says

    Pinkamena Panic. In your opinion, which is worse, asking someone whether they are single or, telling someone to commit suicide because the world would be a better place without them in it?

    Which is more likely to trigger an irreversible outcome, particularly when this pearl clutcher, for example, indicated that they had considered it when medicated for depression?

    How does this fit with your model of appropriate social discourse?

  52. Sonorus says

    I think they really don’t know. I suppose it’s possible that on some level these guys want to repel women to self-fulfill some sort of feeling of inadequacy? (Perhaps it’s the male equivalent of women who only seem to be attracted to gay or otherwise unavailable/uninterested men?) Or maybe they just don’t know. The smart but socially awkward heterosexual male is so common as to be cliche. I’m not saying they aren’t in the wrong by hitting on women inappropriately, but I do know men who are very nice and good people who really do not know how to approach women. Or as Martin puts it “they have no game”. Sounds like someone needed a wing-man. ;-)

  53. annabucci says

    I don’t consider it to be analogous. Complaining that I don’t care isn’t going to help anything by the way. I don’t all of a sudden get concerned with things just because others try to shame me in to doing it.

  54. Robert says

    That is a remarkably straightforward and sensible thing to say. It’s surprising it comes from the same person who asked “I am bound by what others consider to be basic social etiquette?”

    It’s just that, yes, we are, after all we’re part of a society.

    The problems start when a post like Martin’s gets characterized as maligning the socially awkward person and not the question. That’s a sign of privilege – invoking a defense of a person that was not attacked in order to evoke strong feelings about the question and rally the privileged around.

    I’m a socially inept person, I’m not the greatest at meeting strangers and I often “cheat” by side-stepping some of the introductory stuff and going straight into conversation as if we knew each other. But I never short-cut straight into “What’s your relationship status?” and I used to see that as a sign that I was not good at picking up “chicks”. Now I feel like I understand the social etiquette a lot better and I don’t rage about not being some great pick-up artist, instead I’ve realized that those aren’t the best introductory remarks, that normal conversation are.

  55. No One says

    “Are you single?”

    “Yes I am. Would you like a quickie, friends with benefits, an LTR, or marriage with or without children?”

    Seriously. What the fuck response do you expect from that question, posted from a complete stranger?

    Tracie has a mind like a steel trap. What a waste to pose this question to her.

  56. Sonorus says

    I think this doesn’t occur to a lot of men because in the reverse situation they wouldn’t be offended in the least. They might even be flattered and would only consider it creepy if a woman didn’t back off after finding out they were already taken.

    Sometimes the do unto others rule just doesn’t work. I think this may be one of them.

  57. Happiestsadist says

    I’m pretty sure you likely know that boundaries and etiquette dictate that shitting on the living room rug and flopping your genitals into the drink of the person you’re interested in are inappropriate. Stop feigning obtuseness and perhaps take others into consideration on occasion.

  58. Happiestsadist says

    Oh look. Another tedious d00d who wants to tell all the wimminz what real harassment is, with a longing for another Dear Muslima, and an unironic use of the phrase “white-knight”. (Because all men who think sexism sucks are of course trying to manipulate women into sex. Funny how MRAs project.)

    Shoo. Sit the hell down, and stop embarrassing yourself.

  59. Happiestsadist says

    Yep. I’m not single now, but even if I were, anyone who started off with that would be crossed off the list of possibilities. As would anyone who thought the highest praise for my work was to offer a reward of their genitals.

  60. julian says

    meh

    I’ve never been able to empathize with people who go out of their way to mistreat, harass and trigger people. Which does lead me to do things comparable if not worse then them but

    meh

    Character failing.

  61. Ysanne says

    Innocent, flattering attentions aside, she’s been abundantly clear about her dislike of them.

    This is relevant context missing from the OP.

    Personally I don’t mind this kind of question. I can understand how someone else would see that differently. It’s really not that hard. I also think that the minor inconvenience of annoying people (and let’s face it, the world is full of them) is part of the human experience.
    I’m wondering though if people who start conversations like OP-John ever notice that their flirting strategy doesn’t exactly work in their favour?

  62. Ysanne says

    Don’t bee too quick estimating the odds.
    I have witnessed the opening line “You look like an underfucked squirrel. I’m willing to change that!” to a total stranger at the beach getting the guy laid that night.
    Tastes in pick-up lines vary immensely.

  63. says

    Come on, Martin – expecting the Righteous Indignancy Police to actually read *and comprehend* something before responding with every tribal cliche they can carry is like … well … expecting every lackwit creationist who calls TAE to have gained an understanding of evolution before ringing you guys up to disprove it using only a fucking thylacine.

  64. Bob says

    it seems the issue is a lot of social awareness, which is driven by a lack of empathy.

    If women were constantly emailing awkward and socially deficient men, asking them about their relationship status, to the point that they found it annoying or creepy, then perhaps they could empathize.

    Well, get to it.

  65. says

    This is relevant context missing from the OP.

    BUT, it’s known to anyone who has spent any amount of time listening to Tracie and paying attention to what she says. She hasn’t kept it secret.
    If he was a real fan, he’d already know her relationship status and her feelings about amorous comments from fanboys.

    And while we’re at it: Tracie, you’re awesome. Your rants at GB are entertaining as well as informative and your all-too rare posts here are thoughtful and interesting.
    Your output is of a consistently high level and that’s why I’m a fan. Rock on.

  66. says

    General comment: if you honestly (keyword!) don’t understand why cold-calling with romantic intentions is unwelcome behaviour (whether you call it harrassment or just being pesky/unoriginal/cheesy) for a great many people, you shouldn’t object to being told why cold-calling with romantic intentions is unwelcome behaviour for a great many people, since you obviously need to be.

    Don’t defend it as being “harmless” or “normal” or minimise it as “no big deal”, project your personal experience onto others with something like “I’d take it as a compliment” or project your own expectations onto others with “you should take it as a compliment!”

    Your experience and your expectation, while not to be dismissed, is as relevant to the person experiencing this behaviour as their experience and expectation is (obviously) irrelevant to your appraisal and opinion of their situation.

    Just please, guys and gals, don’t do that.

  67. Dorkman says

    Here was me, coming into the comments to make a joke about how the seemingly-innocuous “Don’t do this” is like a dog whistle for MRAs, who will come to accuse you of blowing an innocent comment out of proportion by blowing this post completely out of proportion.

    Then I see some fucktard has already done exactly that.

  68. nicksonz says

    I wonder what the reaction would’ve been if the email read…

    ——————————

    Question for Martin Wagner…

    “Are you single?”

    :)

    That is all.

    Thank you.
    John.

    ——————————

  69. George From NY says

    See, this is one advantage to being as ugly as I am; I simply do NOT get these kinds of questions. More time for Skyrim. :)

  70. says

    You know why these discussions are never gonna end?

    You’ve got people with different personality traits (largely genetically influenced, certainly relatively fixed by late adolescence) arguing as if the extent to which someone is willing to be socially blunt, or the extent to which someone is put off by bluntness, are mostly determined by conscious reflection.

    Very socially forward people are (for the most part) not total idiots. Most guys I know who would ask a woman if she’s single so quickly don’t for a moment expect to be dating or hooking up right away — they’re just naturally attuned to similarly extroverted women who will give them some game right back, women for whom such a question simply isn’t a big deal, because for them (as for the men) those utterances simply don’t mean what they would mean from a more introverted or deliberate personality.

    It kind of reminds me of how I often say that some food is “not spicy” (sometimes adding “…at all”) and then watch the other person flip out after taking a bite. We just have very different thresholds. Just because mine is set higher, am I supposed to always use language in a way that conforms to those with lower thresholds?

  71. says

    By the way, I’m not suggesting that what John did was smooth or smart or likely to work…particularly in that he doesn’t acknowledge her basic agency by giving *her* any reason whatsoever to be interested in *him*. My point is less about him than about the disagreement in the comments, which is really about a difference in disposition that inherently cannot be resolved this way.

  72. nicksonz says

    Very socially forward people are (for the most part) not total idiots. Most guys I know who would ask a woman if she’s single so quickly don’t for a moment expect to be dating or hooking up right away — they’re just naturally attuned to similarly extroverted women who will give them some game right back, women for whom such a question simply isn’t a big deal, because for them (as for the men) those utterances simply don’t mean what they would mean from a more introverted or deliberate personality.

    Good comment.

  73. says

    I have to ask those people who have popped on to say something to the effect of “I wouldn’t mind if it happened to me” or “What’s the problem?”…

    Why would you make such a comment?

    Do you think that your personal preferences trump everyones’ around you?

    Or do you think no one else is made uncomfortable, and anyone who says so is lying?

    Or do you just not care about the feelings of others?

    Which is it?

  74. SPACKlick says

    Just wanted to add 2c that have already been roughly stated before.

    Yes this is weird, yes this is creepy. Yes, the world would be a better place if PEOPLE stopped doing this. (I stress peole and not guys because this is kind of a two way street).

    However, can we stop sticking the harassment label on things which are just socially creepy? It belittles actual, honest-to-god harrassment.

    You will find peopl ehwo are too forward, who’s understanding of social etiqutte and norms is so different from yours or so lacking that they will ask you questions or make comments you aren’t cool with. It’s part of the world. You get it in the areas of sports, politics, relationships, sex, and pets. People are turning this into a crusade for gods sake.

  75. Gordon says

    I’m pretty sure Tracie addressed her lack of interest in offers like this on a podcast I was listening to within the last fortnight. Probably Godless Bitches.

    She was pretty clear.

  76. MarkB says

    No you aren’t. You’ve posted here, so that shows some level of interest. And you’ve also stated that you don’t mind when this happens to you elsewherein these comments, which means you’re engaged enough to offer an opinion. You have also failed to modify your opinion to admit that other people are different and do not value the the same behaviors towards them as you do…which implies that you are dismissive of these concerns. See how apathetic you aren’t?

  77. says

    No, that’s not religious. Care to cite a definition?

    Secondly, it’s not making something from nothing – he’s pointed out the “something” right in the email. There’s also several people who’ve expressed discomfort at potentially receiving something from this.

    So, from my earlier post, you’re either falling into the “They’re lying” category, or the “I don’t care about their feelings” category.

    Because you seem quite happy in telling others that their feelings are irrelevant.

  78. MarkB says

    My above post was in response to annabucci, but for some reason it did not nest…

  79. says

    And before you say it, I know you didn’t explicitly state that, but that’s the irrevocable implication of your thoughts here.

    The problem with the email is “nothing”, so therefore, anyone who would be uncomfortable with such a crass approach is somehow invalid in feeling that way.

  80. nicksonz says

    Man… that’s reading into things way too much. My mindset isn’t anywhere near what you just wrote so I can’t reply to it.

  81. says

    I’ll try to make this easy for you.

    Many women get disproportionately propositioned compared to men, and they don’t like it and are made uncomfortable by it.

    Do you:

    1) Think they should just get over it?

    2) Think they are lying and these people don’t exist?

    3) Don’t care about their feelings?

    4) [Other]

  82. says

    This email is just the latest socially inept sexual advance towards Tracie, but you’d merely labeled it “making something out of nothing”, which means you are dismissing Tracie’s position out of hand.

    … unless you think this was just a random rhetorical question that has zero implications by some random guy on the interwebs,

  83. says

    This is “guys, don’t do this” part MCMXXI. The mere fact that some morbidly obtuse people (yes, I mean you, m6wg4bxw) still don’t seem to get it means we’re probably going to have to have a part MCMXXII, MCMXXIII, etc, etc, etc.

  84. says

    Very socially forward people are (for the most part) not total idiots…

    Great. In that case, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that other people might have different standards and the response might very well be “Fuck off, creep.”

  85. b9 says

    rofl

    yes, the email is silly. but making a post about it is even sillier.

    oh, and you guys would hate me as a teenager…. i was one of those rommantics with silly fantasies, and stuff like this email would probably not be far from something i would do.

  86. Nathan Godwin says

    This was an email to a Public Access personality via a public email account. An account to which all viewers are encouraged to hit with questions, comments, etc. This was homie’s (admittedly idiotic) question, and it is as easily ignored as the “wouldn’t you like to have bigger privates?” emails I regularly receive at my private email address, and it is no more or less “creepy”.

    There’s one of those know-it-when-you-see-it lines here, and once John, the Viagra Hut dude, or the artist formerly known as Nigerian Prince cross that line, it becomes a matter for the authorities. Until then, it’s just a trashcan icon click away from being forgotten.

    It really is that simple, in this particular case (again, few things are black-and-white). Change a few variables and it gets more complicated, but as-is, yeah… that simple.

  87. mas528 says

    Well, I don’t know this Tracie woman or the man involved, but if she made her feelings known, as I gather that she had, yes it was completely inappropriate.

    Some of the comments are a bit over the top and weak sauced too:.

    The over-privileged pinkamena, thinking it is OK to insult someone by calling them ‘basement dweller’.
    But then, real nerds aren’t real people; they’re just pieces of shit, like untouchables, right?
    Remember! You can’t insult a nerd too much by using an insulting term for them to insult someone else.
    Besides, nerds deserve it, amirite?

    It is sad that mooniekate has such a fear of painfully shy guys and their behaviors but its nothing at all like being afraid of gays, and their behaviors right?.
    So if a gay man talks to me at the urinal, I am justified in being scared and shaking from fear.

    Got it.

  88. says

    You could say this was just meant as a cute, harmless compliment.

    Indeed

    But even if you don’t call this “harassing,”

    You can’t call this harassing and be correct, since harassment has to be a pattern of unwanted behaviour. This is just a single question. You can either respond or not. You can like it or not. But not being comfortable with it does not mean that the other person has harassed you.

    it is, at very best, a deeply cheesy way to make your admiration of someone known. Why not just say, “You’re awesome on the show! Big fan!”

    Because he wanted to know if Tracie was single. Cheesy or not, that was his question.

    (It could also have been a deliberate joke, riffing on the very harassment controversies that FtB and others have recently been embroiled in. But if so, jokes like that tend to work only when both parties involved know one another personally, know each other’s boundaries and sense of humor, and know such jokes are okay within those boundaries. Kind of not a joke you’d pull on an stranger and expect them to get it.)

    So it’s either cheesy or misjudged humour. But cheesiness and humour are quite subjective ideas so I’m not sure that I see a big problem here unless there is actually harassment occurring.

    You’ll be surprised what people respond well to at times. There are no absolute rules with this kind of thing. For example once, just a few years ago, my very first words to a complete stranger within seconds of laying eyes on her were “It’s looks like I’ll be sleeping with you tonight”.

    She was sat on the bottom bunk of my bed in a hostel dorm. Hence my line had a double meaning, both of which were obvious to her. After that we spent much of the evening together and both meanings of my ‘prediction’ came true that night.

    Did I harass her? Was I wrong to say it? Was I too cheesy, rude or creepy? I had very little to go off before I delivered my sentence. The simple fact is that everyone is different, and barring obvious exceptions like directly insulting someone, nobody knows how anyone else will react to any one question or proposal. And if you are in receipt of such a question or proposal, if you don’t like it you can always dismiss it in a dignified way.

  89. sharkjack says

    It’s just part of being a celebrity – happens to them all the time.

    Sigh, how badly can you fail here? I mean this is so obviously a naturalistic fallacy that it makes my head hurt. people should knock it off when it concerns other celebrities too. The fact that they haven’t is no excuse to send these emails to Tracie or anyone else. Sheesh how hard is it to understand this.

    This question can be interpreted in many ways, ranging from the innocent but ignorant ‘hey I like what you do on the show you’re so awesome I’d love to have you as a girlfriend’
    to the more creepy ‘are you single because if you are I pretend you are mine better’ (which is basically why young celebrities and sometimes even fictional characters are forced to keep up the idea that they’re single)

    I hope the founders of social etiquette are doing a proper job. I can’t imagine what would happen if they were to put important social issues, like politics and religion and free speech, off-limits.

    Well there aren’t actually founders of social etiquetee but I’m sure you already knew that and no we haven’t done a proper job as the idea that women speaking on equal terms to men is still considered rude in many parts of the world.

    So if social etiquette isn’t this set of amazing absolute rules for codes of conduct, what are they? A tool. Thats right, it’s a tool for getting along with others. The problem with etiquette is that it is also often used to exclude others from the in group, clouding up the issue. My rule of thumb for this is asking myself if the rule in question has anything to do with ethics. If applied to this case, we can easily see the problem with the email. Tracie has no way to know the intention behind the email. It might be a fan who has an awkward way to show admiration, or a sign that someone is developing an obsession. Knowing that I could just as easily write something like Hey Tracie you’re awesome/ you make such eloquent points is a far les ambivalent way to state my enthousiasm.

    Now this is just for the basic set of etiquette that I hold myself and others too because I think it’s right. However lots of social interactions are initiated because of specific goals to accomplish. You might want to be on someone’s good side if they have power over your future and as such hold yourself to stricter standards when dealing with such an individual.

    Slightly more abstract, at social gatherings I want to have a good time and let everyone else have a good time too. People tend to have a better time when their personal boundaries are respected, so I respect them. Observing how people act and determining the proper responses based on that along with erring on the side of caution makes sure everyone is having a good time. Of course you can also not care about any of this, but then don’t be surprised if the people who do call you out on it.

    This also applies to blog posts. On several of the freethoughtblogs it’s ‘feel free to say whatever you want but do it with the knowledge that you’re going to be flayed alive if you say something stupid’ (AE is just so quotable), while others like Natalie Reed have made clear that they don’t want triggering stuff in there. So guess what, I make sure not to post anything potentially triggering in that blog, while here or on pharyngula I might post something without this filter, with the knowledge that if I said something stupid I will get ripped to shreds and shown my insides in horrific detail.

    So yeah, not really that difficult.

  90. Kevin says

    …because the question implies that the questioner views her as a sexual object first, and as a person second…

    Clear enough?

  91. says

    This whole thing I think could be effectively illustrated by the practice of shitting.

    We all shit. Every single one of us does it. That is a fact. One way or the other, we need to expunge impurities from our digestive tract or else we will die.

    Shitting is a very private, personal thing for most people. Our bathrooms are sequestered from the rest of the house. When we go in public, there are usually dividers between toilets and doors in front of the stalls so we’re not exposed to everyone. Thus, the subject of shitting is one where we have very specific social rules regarding the appropriateness of the subject.

    If someone were to stand up on the dinner table, drop their pants, and take a dump in the middle of the table, most of us would consider that highly inappropriate, to say the least. Most of us might even have a very adverse reaction to something like that. If someone else were to react to our reaction as if we were trying to restrict that person’s right to take a dump at all, that person would rightly be considered ridiculous. This isn’t about taking a dump, this is about where and when the dump is taking place.

    Some people don’t mind public shitting. Some people actually get off sexually on it. While I personally find it disgusting, I don’t judge people adversely based on it. If that’s what gets you off, fine. Go find someone else that’s into it as well and have yourselves a great time. But don’t for one second assume that just because I don’t think you’re a horrible person for being a coprophiliac that smearing a lump of shit on me in public without my consent is going to be okay. That’s fine if that’s what you’re into but I’m not, and it’s not cool to assume any random stranger you meet is into it as well.

    In short, it’s totally cool to shit. But it’s not cool to force other people to look at it.

  92. says

    It is sad that mooniekate has such a fear of painfully shy guys…

    You need to read that again. As I read it, she’s not fearful of shy guys, she is fearful of complete strangers who deliberately try to organize a situation where she’s isolated.

    The fact that it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish these two situations only reinforces the fact that we need to think about what we’re doing and what impression we’re giving to other people, who, presumably, can’t read our fucking minds.

    Your intentions are irrelevant. People don’t know your intentions. They only know your actions. If your actions make you seem like a creepy, possibly dangerous, dude, then they’ll react accordingly.

    You need to take that into account and make sure that you don’t come off that way. Other people do not owe you the benefit of the doubt.

    Seriously. You need to read that post again. You completely and utterly missed the point.

  93. vethtiche says

    As much as I can see where you’re coming from (and you do raise an interesting point), you really cannot expect any less a response as LykeX has succinctly put it.

    Unfortunately, the problem does not stop there. These ‘men’ you talk about, I suspect they won’t even care if they get a “fuck off creep” response. They will just move on to the next target, and the next – until they get the response they want. In the process, they may well have creeped out quite a few women.

    Your chili analogy is good but doesn’t work in that chili affects only self, while the inappropriate behaviour affects OTHER women.

    I can also see those ‘men’ insisting on their right to do what they do so long as ‘no harm is done’.

    While I wouldn’t exactly deny them their rights, they better not whine and complain when they get castigated by society for their behaviour, because it is certainly everyone else’s right to criticise them.

  94. chaos-engineer says

    So if a gay man talks to me at the urinal, I am justified in being scared and shaking from fear.

    Talking to a stranger who is trying to use a urinal is pretty darned rude. The next time it happens, you have my permission to call that person a lout and a philistine and then glare at him until he slithers away in disgrace.

    If being talked to at a urinal is triggering behavior, and it causes you to be scared and shake, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. It’s not your fault; it’s the fault of the mannerless jerk who triggered you.

    On the other hand, if he doesn’t talk to you until you’re washing your hands at the sink, and you still get triggered, then that’s just an awkward situation. You’re entitled to your feelings, but, on the other hand, there’s no rule of etiquette that says he can’t try to engage a stranger in small talk at the sink. Obviously all of this depends on context; I’m just giving the most general rules.

    (None of the other stuff you wrote has any connection to reality, so I’m ignoring it.)

  95. Evolbob says

    In my case I’d say single, or make no reply. I’d take it as a compliment, I wouldn’t worry on being raped. The last thing I’d do is let it be posted to a public site where all could give their opinion on if I was offended!
    The only rudeness or concern is when ‘John’ responds with: Oh come on, a quickie in the back of me car and you’ll be mine forever..”, when it is made clear not to make any further personal contact.
    You can’t change peoples behaviour this way, beautiful woman (and men) are frequently asked this question, it doesn’t mean he/she is going to stalk you. In fact it doesn’t mean anything.
    One could be asking to be polite for an invite, that should include your partner.
    Try not to take offense when none is clearly intended, that is good manners.

  96. Matrim says

    I think this doesn’t occur to a lot of men because in the reverse situation they wouldn’t be offended in the least. They might even be flattered and would only consider it creepy if a woman didn’t back off after finding out they were already taken.

    Speak for yourself. While I wouldn’t be offended, I’d definitely be uncomfortable with some woman I didn’t know coming up to me and asking if I was single. I might not be open about it, but it would make me very ill at easy. If, like Tracie, had made it clear to the general public on more than one occasion that I wasn’t interested in that sort of attention, I may well be offended.

    Sometimes the do unto others rule just doesn’t work. I think this may be one of them.

    I’m sorry, but not all men are longing to have their ego stroked to the point that any attention is, at least initially, wanted. Again, as most people have pointed out, this is situational. I would be more open to it in certain settings, but just someone out of the blue would not be welcome. Would I chastise them for it, probably not, but I wouldn’t be pleased. And, besides, I think you’re being too literal in your “do unto others” interpretation. It doesn’t mean you do one specific act to other people because you’re cool with it, it can be broken down to “don’t do things to people that they don’t like, because you wouldn’t enjoy having people do things you don’t like to you.” It’s just that “do unto others…” is a bit more brief and a lot more palatable.

  97. Happiestsadist says

    It’s like you knew the Mercenary was my personal hero! (I have a mad crush on the “Doctor” from that series, though.)

  98. says

    This has to be the one of the worst analogies I’ve ever seen. Are you seriously comparing taking a crap and exposing other people to seeing you take a crap with asking someone if they are single? Is this a measure of how disproportionally some of you are treating this subject?

  99. Rory says

    Unfortuntely, you shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, all Rebecca Watson said was “Guys, don’t do that,” and pretty much the entire internet exploded with man-rage.

  100. Matrim says

    …yeah…I think you have a faulty grasp on what romance is. “Are you single” is about as far from romance as you can get. Plus, you’re missing the over-arcing point. Even if you did something romantic, it would be unwanted and probably creepy (at least in this situation).

  101. says

    “I blame the internet for this.”

    I think you are not far off, but I would generalize that to mass media. And I think what is going on is a function of viewers becoming familiar with the hosts while those same viewers are perceived as complete strangers by the hosts. I imagine there is a psychological term to describe that, but I don’t know it.

    I will risk including a personal anecdote to illustrate my point. I listen to a talk radio station while I work. Over the last decade I have become very familiar with all of the guys on the station. I attended an event where all these radio hosts were in attendance. When I first walked into the building and caught my first glimpse of one of them, I had this impulse to wave and say Hi, like I would to any of my actual friends. The impulse surprised me because I knew I didn’t know them personally. I managed to stop myself from waving and calling out across the room, and I took a few moments to analyze how weird this is to meet someone in person and feel like you know him, but who actually is a complete stranger.

    It seems so basic that you shouldn’t have to point it out, but maybe the point to make to John is, “Hey, Tracie doesn’t know you.” Perhaps that has not occurred to him, and with that knowledge his communications would be more appropriate for someone who is a complete stranger.

    Of course the application of my hypothesis to John’s email breaks down when I consider that he doesn’t already know Tracie’s marital status. About those guys on the radio, I know if they are married, how many kids they have, their hobbies, religious views, and much more.

  102. says

    To be honest, the question is, all things considered, pretty tame. It’s not like he wrote in describing things he might want to do to Tracie, he asked a simple question with nothing attached. Just because you want to attach other meanings or implications to it, those come from you, not from John.

    If someone wrote the exact same e-mail to Matt, you wouldn’t see this nonsense going on. He’d say no, if he responded at all, and that would be the end of it.

    It’s not an inappropriate question, it’s an oversensitive reaction.

  103. says

    Obviously, there’s more than one point of view on this discussion and I think the amount of anger in this thread is indicative of a broader social issue within the atheist and skeptic communities at large; namely, how we deal with extreme viewpoints. I think we deal with them pretty well compared to theists, but we can make the same mistakes they do.

    Firstly, how do you define an extreme viewpoint? I could easily toss out social and moral relativism axioms, and wax on endlessly about the differences between descriptive, meta-ethical, and normative approaches to this topic. Once we’d wrangled the back-and-forth over how we “define” the ethics and morality of privilege and predatory sexual practices, we will have accomplish little more than generating Google search content for people who were ignorant to these topics, so they could find the position that best fits with their confirmation bias.

    So how could we accomplish more? First we could actually attempt to understand (concisely) what the differing viewpoints were on this topic:

    View 1) Unwanted advances aren’t casual, innocent, or acceptable in modern society.

    View 2) The “Aggressive Defense” approach to social interaction is a slippery slope to thought policing.

    Secondly, we could look to the motivations of why people would feel these ways about the original post. Understanding why they’re so passionate about their position gives us a deeper understanding of that position.

    Motive 1) You’re all taking this too seriously.

    Motive 2) You’re all not taking this seriously enough.

    For the most part, people in our community are fully capable of putting themselves in the shoes of individuals they disagree with. This is a natural consequence of critical thinking and having experience with applying reason to even slight cognitive dissonance.

    However, when subgroups within our larger group seem to branch off with new, challenging, or (perceived) dangerous ideas, we’re not immune to some of the same mistakes all social cliques make. Additionally, we’re just as blind to the fact that we make these mistakes as well. Remember, we’re such a disjointed collective of people with wide intellectual and philosophical backgrounds, and we typically desire operating inclusively. If you think about it, we’re pretty good at trying not to be obtuse and exclusionary.

    This is a good thing, but we’re also a bit of a cult of personality. Since we’re typically people who find social equality and freedom to be important things, we’re naturally familiar with the trends in cultural and social progressivism. We feel it’s important to always be looking inwardly to make sure we don’t have our heads up our asses. We consider it to be a badge of pride when we can honestly change our viewpoints, because someone has presented a reasonable, logical, and ethical argument.

    Since so many of us consider reason to be a virtue, and we know we’re forward-thinking on social issues, it’s easy for us to forget that there are consequences for thinking you’re “right” on any topic. I believe this is one of those examples.

    ——————–TLDR, yea yea. Read up, smartypants. ——————

    Sure, male privilege is a real thing. So is white privilege and so is wealthy privilege. Rich white males kind of owned this planet for a while, ya know? This is a reasonable and sound concept.

    So is the idea that demanding all social interaction be devoid of any perceived sexual advances, as defined by the individual receiving the interaction.

    Both of these positions are extremes of the arguments being presented here, but they get right to the point of the matter. We’re not that uniform in opinions. There is a large trend with social progressives within the Atheist community who think that John’s actions were inappropriate, rude, and dangerous. We’ll call them group A. There is another group who are indifferent to his actions. We’ll call them group I. Further still, there is a group who thinks the first group isn’t being socially progressive at all, but rather presenting an absurd and equally dangerous idea. We’ll call them group B.

    Group I, finds this argument to be blown out of proportion, but could very well be indifferent because of their bias. We’ll ignore them for now.

    Group A, find John’s actions to be inappropriate, because they believe that male privilege is the only reason anyone could be supportive or indifferent to an unwanted advance.

    Group C, thinks that group A is suggesting something anti-men, as opposed to pro-women. The difference being subtle, but significant enough to warrant opposition.

    You know what’s great though? We’re talking about this. Theists ignore their fringe elements. They turn a blind eye to the extreme points of view in their own organizations, to a dgree that you get arsenic drinking snake handlers and honor-slaying suicide bombers.

    So everyone, get some goddamn perspective.

    John’s statement can be PERCEIVED as inappropriate in situations outside of the limited social environment of a simple email.

    John’s statement can be PERCEIVED as innocuous and complementary in the limited social environment of the simple email.

    John’s statement can be PERCEIVED as a natural consequence of John living in a society where male privilege predominates the gender roles of our people, even in the limited social environment of the simple email.

    John’s statement can be PERCEIVED as totally acceptable if the gender roles were reversed, even by those decrying his actions as inappropriate in the original scenario. This is because of a cognitive “distinction” bias.

    We live in a society where male privilege’s predominance through history has created a post-feminism viewpoint about social interaction. This viewpoint infrequently present a solution based on equality of the sexes, but rather, justaposes an approach to interaction that is equally as unfair.

    This entire thread is the presentation of the ideas that men should know better than to behave that way, and the backlash from people reacting to this idea by strengthening their beliefs.

    In other words, both views are skewed, biased, and you can see it from a lot of different angles. Look at your own motivation, and make sure you’re not talking out of your ass.

  104. says

    So you’re saying that in verbal communication, there are no such things as implications (the speaker implies), only inferences (the listener infers). When people say things, they only ever mean exactly what they say on the most superficial of levels, and any additional, possible meanings attached to the statement are always the fault of the listener being oversensitive.

    Well, as blanket excuses for poor social skills and never seeing any need to improve them go, I’d give that a 6.

  105. Kol says

    My teenage daughter got a pm from a stranger asking if she was dating anyone.

    She brought down the Block Hammer as if a tarantula had just jumped on her face.

    Who doesn’t get that it not okay to jump on people like that?

    It’s the, “only the internet”, multitude who think that interaction with their screen and keyboard are equivalent to personal social interactions.

    Swat the bug, stomp on it and clean up the mess.

    Unfortunately, this metaphor seems to extend to jumping cockroaches.

  106. says

    So you’re saying that in verbal communication, there are no such things as implications (the speaker implies), only inferences (the listener infers).

    When people say things, they only ever mean exactly what they say on the most superficial of levels, and any additional, possible meanings attached to the statement are always the fault of the listener being oversensitive.

    Well, as blanket excuses for poor social skills and never seeing any need to improve them go, I’d give that a 6.

    I’ve just read the entirety of his post Martin. He didn’t say anything of the sort.

  107. Happiestsadist says

    Cram your whiny fucking nerd-rage sideways. Poor basement-dwellers! So oppressed! (Except on all the many, many axes where they’re not, and there are certainly no girl nerds.)

    Tell you what, Chuckles, if you actually had something to fear from gay men, you’d have a point. s it is, you’re just defending your “right” to be a fucking creep.

  108. says

    But does he imply it? Or is it only when total strangers ask other strangers about their marital status that there are no deeper layers of meaning to the question, only a perfectly neutral request for information?

  109. says

    I don’t understand why we keep having to do this over and over again. Is it really so controversial that we might want to try to get along and not piss other people off or make them uncomfortable?
    Let’s break this down simply with a few questions:

    1) Do you care how your words and actions affect other people?

    If no, then you’re an asshole. Fuck off and die.
    If yes, proceed to step 2

    2) Do you think it’s reasonable to expect you to try to predict how another person might react to your words and actions so as to adjust your behavior accordingly and minimize the risk of making others uncomfortable?

    If no, then you’re an asshole. Fuck off and die.
    If yes, proceed to step 3

    3) If you, despite your best efforts, find that you have made another person uncomfortable, would you apologize and try to modify your behavior in the future, so as to avoid a repeat incident?

    If no, then you’re an asshole. Fuck off and die
    If yes, then what the hell is the problem?

  110. says

    But does he imply it?

    No. Or at least if he does then he failed to convey that implication.

    Or is it only when total strangers ask other strangers about their marital status that there are no deeper layers of meaning to the question

    He doesn’t say that either

    only a perfectly neutral request for information?

    Whatever the specifics or generalities of his motivations, whatever further thoughts were in the man’s head are (as far as I am aware) known to nobody on this forum. The most likely explanation is that he was merely interested in asking Tracie out if she had said yes. This is not exactly worthy of any concern.

  111. jacobfromlost says

    In the statement, “Just because you want to attach other meanings or implications to it, those come from you, not from John,” the phrase, “those come from you,” is not an implication but a flat assertion, unsupported.

    So Martin was right, and the claim that Cephus said “nothing of the sort” is wrong, as he not only implied that John’s email could have no implications, but that Cephus flat SAID “those come from you”, which is not implied or inferred as there is no other way to take that independent clause.

  112. George From NY says

    This is really getting out of hand. Martin might have to call in… reinforcements.

  113. says

    You’re the one who said that just asking the question proved that he had ulterior motives, yet now we know that’s just not the case. It might have been a crude question, it might have been an insensitive question, it might have been a stupid question, but there was nothing intended beyond the question itself, and he didn’t even particularly care about the answer to the question.

    Yet you assumed this huge conspiracy behind the question and there just wasn’t one. In fact, this entire thread came about because you assumed something that just wasn’t true.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  114. Kol says

    My child instinctively knows when she is creeped out.

    Explaining it to adults seems to be horrendously complicated.

  115. jacobfromlost says

    Cephus: You’re the one who said that just asking the question proved that he had ulterior motives, yet now we know that’s just not the case. It might have been a crude question, it might have been an insensitive question, it might have been a stupid question, but there was nothing intended beyond the question itself, and he didn’t even particularly care about the answer to the question.

    Me: Huh? The “joke” was to imply an intention that was crude, insensitive, and stupid.

    Cephus: Yet you assumed this huge conspiracy behind the question and there just wasn’t one. In fact, this entire thread came about because you assumed something that just wasn’t true.

    Me: No.

    Cephus: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Me: And this isn’t one of those times, as the emailer thought his implication was a funny joke. His implication could not be a funny joke IF THERE WAS NO IMPLICATION.

  116. Kol says

    Bunnies!

    Nope. Still doesn’t address the fact that people are having less ability to interact on the internet as they would in person.

  117. says

    So Martin was right, and the claim that Cephus said “nothing of the sort” is wrong

    But he didn’t say anything of the sort. Martin claimed that Cephus was saying that there was no such thing as implications in verbal communication. Cephus never said this.

  118. says

    Do you think it’s reasonable to expect you to try to predict how another person might react to your words and actions so as to adjust your behavior accordingly and minimize the risk of making others uncomfortable?

    Forgetting the fact that your entire post overflows with rude arrogance, I thought I’d take you on on this point in particular.

    For your argument to be valid you are assuming that the person should have any reasonable expectations that Tracie could likely be uncomfortable rather than apathetic, lightly amused, touched or any other non negative emotional based thought that you can name. He wouldn’t. And it now looks like he was just being playful. He didn’t expect to cause offence, nor should there be any reason for him to expect any taken.

    It is possible (though I stand to be corrected) that there is some cultural divide thing going on here since I cannot for the life me imagine anyone in my life reacting negatively to a question like this. It seemed more than likely that the guy either wanted to show his admiration or to gauge his chances for romance, neither of which are taboo subjects for myself or anyone I know. Does anyone know if there is a clear UK/US divide on this recent circus in the skeptical community?

  119. says

    What????

    Where are you getting this from? How the hell does asking if someone is single assume that the questioner “views her as a sexual object first, and as a person second”.

    That is a complete non sequitur.

  120. says

    Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the questioner, while he does see the other person as a person, sees their primary value as a person to be their sexual desirability, over other factors.

  121. Jen Peeples says

    Since some people seem so concerned that we’re being horribly unfair to John, let me pour a little gas on the flames.

    1. I have, literally, years of archived emails to the TV list. I checked – this was the first time John had ever contacted us. There is no other context – this guy asked, out of the blue, if Tracie is married. That’s weird.

    2. I don’t consider this to be harassment. I do, however, think that anyone more than 2 years past puberty should know better than to lead with a question like this. I gave John a warning shot across the bow by asking him why he asked that question. He doubled down on the stupid and did it again. John is an idiot, and I dismissed him as such.

    3. If you’re more than 2 years past puberty, and you’re defending this approach, it’s time someone informed you that you’re doing it wrong. I’m not accusing John of being deliberately creepy or of having any ill intent. I can very well believe that he’s just clueless. If you’re clueless too, please make an effort to learn from John’s example.

    4. Whatever John’s motives were for asking that question, they’re irrelevant. He’s not entitled to that information. I realize that Tracie has put that information out there, but that doesn’t obligate her to reiterate that for every idiot who emails the TV list. In fact, that she’s been so open about her relationship status makes John’s question that much stranger.

    5. If someone had emailed the TV list asking the same question about Martin (or anyone else on the show), I’d have responded exactly the same way. It’s a weird, socially inept way of initiating contact with someone you don’t know.

    Now, I’ll sit back and wait for someone to wail about how I just don’t understand what it’s like to approach women…

  122. tracieh says

    Since “harassment” to some means asking someone to stop being inconsiderate and annoying, after they’ve already, obviously done so, I’ll take the initiative at this time to say in the most clear terms I can: “Don’t do this to me, because I assess it as extremely juvenile, and your letter will go directly and immediately to trash.”

    I should not have to explain this, but, if you don’t have something related to the work at TAE to talk about, don’t clog the program’s already overflowing e-mail with this sort of juvenile inanity. The TAE e-mail contact link is not doubling as my personal e-Harmony messaging service. It’s an ever-growing embarrassment to me that I somehow seem to inspire this level of idiocy, and if I knew what I was doing to spawn it, I’d stop immediately; but short of wearing a bag over my head when I present, I’m at a loss as to how to make it stop. Perhaps posting this reply will help?

    For the terminally confused: I am not volunteering with ACA to invite intimate, personal contact or assessments about my appearance with Internet strangers. And if anyone honestly has come to the conclusion that’s my reason for volunteering with ACA–they thoroughly do not understand the reason for the program, and couldn’t be more delusional about who Tracie Harris actually is and what she does/does not appreciate.

  123. nicksonz says

    Play the world’s smallest violin.

    It was just John’s way of proclaiming his love for Tracie as a fan – that’s all. It was a statement in the form of a question. It didn’t require an answer nor did he expect one. It was just a fun way of saying “Tracie’s awesome!” It wasn’t personal by any means and it’s sad that it was taken that way…

    Questioning his motives is crazy! He’s a fan, he loves the shows and he loves Tracie. That’s all it is. It’s harsh to come down on him like that asking “Why did you ask? Why did you ask?” and then calling him an idiot. If I were him I’d unsubscribe from the shows immediately.

    What should’ve happened is a reply from Tracie simply with “Haha thanks John, glad you enjoy the shows”. Done and dusted.

    Some of the ACA crew simply aren’t used to fame.

  124. tracieh says

    If he thinks the show’s contact link is for contacting me with an unrelated question, then he might as well unsubscribe. If he appreciates what I do at TAE, he surely did not make that clear. He provided a statement that is known to be attached to “I find you physically attractive.” (And it has to be physical, because he doesn’t know me. His only model of me is totally delusional, in fact, if he thought this letter was something I’d appreciate.) I’m not on TAE to get compliments about my appearance. I’m truly sorry if I’ve somehow given that impression to viewers. It was completely unintentional. But any person who thinks I would appreciate that sort of contact, really wouldn’t like me if they really got to know me. They like a delusional version of me they’ve concocted in their active imagination, not the real me. They could not be more mistaken about who I am or what I find distasteful.

  125. says

    Asking someone if they’re married isn’t personal? On what planet? And how does asking someone if they’re married translate to “You’re awesome”?

    It seems John isn’t the only idiot in play here.

  126. tracieh says

    >For your argument to be valid you are assuming that the person should have any reasonable expectations that Tracie could likely be uncomfortable rather than apathetic, lightly amused, touched or any other non negative emotional based thought that you can name. He wouldn’t.

    Sure. I mean, after all, I did agree to go public as an atheist and talk about atheist issues and debate theists live, to help work to erode the social problems caused by religion and irrational beliefs. So, of course I’d expect that to include total strangers contacting me at my volunteer work address to ask me if I’m available for dating. That’s not weird at all. Why wouldn’t they think I’d find it cute and funny–rather than a completely unexpected and uninvited non sequitur to be asked out at a work address by someone I don’t know.

    I can honestly say it never occurred to me to expect this type of contact when ACA asked me to help out with separation of church and state and other related atheist social causes. The fact people assume I’m in the market for this just because I volunteer with an atheist association, is bizarre. The fact people defend it as not bizarre, is even more bizarre. The question is not why would he think I’d find it freakish? It’s why would anyone NOT see how freakish it is?

  127. says

    For your argument to be valid you are assuming that the person should have any reasonable expectations that Tracie could likely be uncomfortable

    No, I’m not. Read point 3 again. Even if he had no idea whatsoever and the response here comes as a complete surprise, my point is still valid. If nobody lets him know that he’s caused offense, then how will he know to modify his behavior?

    He didn’t expect to cause offence,

    Irrelevant

    nor should there be any reason for him to expect any taken.

    Actually, as has been mentioned before, Tracie has in the past repeatedly made her position on this issue clear, in multiple different forums. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to pay attention to her stated wishes concerning fan interactions.

    Regardless, the earlier point still stands. If he truly doesn’t know, then the only way for him to correct his behavior is if people let him know.

  128. nicksonz says

    It’s more than likely that he’s a fan of your work and not targeting your appearance. Regardless of what John is really a fan of, even if it were your appearance, the right thing to do is give him the benefit of the doubt and take the high road with a professional reply to his email “Thank you John, we’re doing our best at ACA for church-state separation and are glad we’re reaching out to so many viewers” or something like that.

    Jen, it doesn’t matter if it was personal or not (I don’t believe it was, but it doesn’t matter), you should act as though it wasn’t. You don’t call your viewers idiots even if they deserve it. That’s insane.

    I’m starting to think this is a ploy to get everyone revved up and commenting on the blog. I just can’t see how two grown women who are representatives of a show would take an email like this in this way. Was there really an email? Is there really a John?

  129. tracieh says

    >It’s just part of being a celebrity – happens to them all the time.

    I loved the reply above to this point. I am disgusted by the weak excuse that since I volunteer to help people, and that assistance is, by the nature of the work, public, that I somehow forfeit any and all rights to personal boundaries. The idea that people would use a work address I’m tied to, as a tool to reach me personally, with a note totally unrelated to TAE’s mission, is a *boundary violation*.

    I’m with TAE to help with ACA’s mission. Using their e-mail address to reach me personally because you know that’s where I work, is disrespectful in the same way it would be disrespectful to see a post office worker you think is attractive, and later call the location, ask for her, and tell her you want to go out with her…and she doesn’t know who you are.

    Saying I’m on Youtube does NOT change that dynamic. It’s a lame excuse to try and subvert good sense and manners to approach me in a way you’d never approach someone in a private setting. If you wouldn’t do that to *her*, then don’t think it’s OK to do it to *me*. What have I done, in my work with TAE, to give anyone the impression I want them to write to me to ask if I’m available? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. And when they do write these things, it only demonstrates to me the extreme level of their delusion, because I absolutely have zero tolerance for boundary violations. Doesn’t have to be dangerous or scary. Even mild violations are just weasel-like. Example:

    I once was trying to sell an item. A guy told me he was interested in buying it. I gave him my number to set up a time so he could come by and see it. When he called, he had zero interest in the equipment, and only wanted to ask me out. He violated a boundary. If he wanted a date, then using the fact I wanted to sell something to obtain my number, to then call and ask me out, was the totally WRONG way to go about it. In fact, doing it subversively demonstrated his lack of confidence in a direct and honest approach. If you already don’t think I’ll say “yes” to an invitation, what makes you think I’ll be more receptive after you outright lie to me?

    The TAE contact link is for TAE work. Don’t abuse it to make personal contact with the hosts. It’s not fair to the program, and it’s really rude to the hosts to disrespect their boundaries in that way.

  130. tracieh says

    >It’s more than likely that he’s a fan of your work and not targeting your appearance.

    Odd then, that he made no mention of my work, no?

  131. tracieh says

    Oh, and for the record, I do take the high road–I put this garbage in the trash where it belongs. I don’t respond, because that would be like rewarding this sort of juvenile behavior, which should not be encouraged if I wish it to cease. Replying invites the person to further contact me, which would be the opposite of what I would want.

  132. tracieh says

    >I’m starting to think this is a ploy to get everyone revved up and commenting on the blog. I just can’t see how two grown women who are representatives of a show would take an email like this in this way. Was there really an email? Is there really a John?

    And now I see this was just more garbage I should have read in its entirety and trashed before responding to.

    Trolls will be trolls.

  133. says

    I’m starting to think this is a ploy to get everyone revved up and commenting on the blog

    I’m starting to think you’re a disgusting pile of shit.

  134. nicksonz says

    You don’t know if it belongs in the garbage. You don’t know if it would invite him to contact you again. He may have just been a fan. More than likely he was. If you’re worried about rewarding what may have been juvenile behaviour, then not responding is fine, but Martin has done you a disservice by responding in one of the most rewarding ways possible – he started a blog post about it.

  135. tracieh says

    Who said anything about stalking and rape? I think Jen’s “idiot” served perfectly well.

    Using my work address to contact me with a personal request is a boundary breach. It’s not what the TAE list is for, and it’s not appropriate to use it for personal questions to me. It’s not why I volunteer at TAE. Just to be clear, because it seems many people are confused about why I’m on TAE:

    I don’t volunteer with ACA on TAE to get people to write to give me their personal assessments of my looks (positive or negative) or ask me if I’m open for dating. Feedback and assessments about me as a person–positive or negative–in no way have been solicited by me simply by volunteering with a local 501(c)3. Please let me know, however, if you think I have asked for this sort of attention by working with ACA on church state separation and other social issues of concern to the atheist community. Honestly–if I am doing something to inspire men act like 12-year-olds towards me, I will consider adjusting that speech or behavior.

    That’s how I come off to you on the program? As a shallow woman fishing for men to write in with their adolescent versions of flattery to pump her ego? If so, then I should be replaced–and the sooner, the better!

    It seems a lot of people on this list think that’s why I’m on TAE though–which is what I assume when they say this writer couldn’t possibly have known what kind of correspondence would be appropriate to send me:

    1. Juvenile flattery or
    2. something of concern to the atheist community or
    2. a problem with religion he needs help with?

    Hmmmm. Which would Tracie prefer in her TAE in-box? That’s tough, I know. What is she trying to convey in her role on TAE…OK, I’m going with #1. Right?

    It’s actually enlightening to see how many viewers see me as the type of shallow woman who would be flattered by the slightest male attention–even when it’s submitted to me in the most dismissive way.

  136. nicksonz says

    Lame, dude.

    Seriously, lame.

    I’ll check again in a couple hours and see if you’ve come up with anything even remotely better.

  137. says

    Why would I bother? This isn’t a pissing contest and your opinion of me really isn’t on my list of priorities. The only thing I’m trying to do here is to express that you’re coming across as a complete asshole.

    You might not care. It’s entirely possible that you’re simply trolling. Even so, I think it’s relevant to state my opinion, for the sake of the lurkers and other posters here.

  138. says

    No, I’m not. Read point 3 again. Even if he had no idea whatsoever and the response here comes as a complete surprise, my point is still valid. If nobody lets him know that he’s caused offense, then how will he know to modify his behavior?

    Oh don’t worry. I’m sure he’s got the message by now about how horrified certain people at the AE take such a question. The trouble is that some people on here are acting as if this is a respectable reaction and that he should always expect such playfulness to be vilified wherever he goes.

    Actually, as has been mentioned before, Tracie has in the past repeatedly made her position on this issue clear, in multiple different forums. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to pay attention to her stated wishes concerning fan interactions.

    Well I’ve been both a follower and an admirer of the Atheist Experience and Tracie Harris for many years and I am truly shocked at the reaction that this is inducing. Why should you expect him to be any less surprised?

    Regardless, the earlier point still stands. If he truly doesn’t know, then the only way for him to correct his behavior is if people let him know.

    I think he’s got the message, don’t worry.

  139. says

    The question is not why would he think I’d find it freakish? It’s why would anyone NOT see how freakish it is?

    I see this a little bit like “is the glass half full, or is it half empty”. It just seems to me, that of the two options, you are choosing the path of most resistance.

    That’s probably a mixed metaphor, but you get my point.

  140. says

    That sounds about the same to me Martin. I really want to know how you can tell what John actually values most in Tracie. All I can see is that he admires her. Just because someone hints at or even expressly states a sexual desire does not mean he primarily values that person’s sexuality above anything else.

  141. says

    Just because someone hints at or even expressly states a sexual desire does not mean he primarily values that person’s sexuality above anything else.

    But when it’s the first and only thing he says, do you understand that it might give that impression? It’s not as if he mentioned it as part of a conversation about something else.

    If a person brings up subject X on the very first attempt at communication, with no other subjects even hinted at, is it really so unreasonable to suggest that subject X might be the top priority for this person?

    I don’t know what was going through his mind, but I suspect it might have something to do with the social convention that it’s appropriate to express appreciation or admiration for a woman by complementing her looks, rather than complementing her words or actions.
    This convention is in itself highly problematic, since it belittles the intellectual accomplishments of women, in favor of their physical appearance.

    If you think a woman is smart and funny, say that. Don’t tell her she has a nice rack. If you say she has a nice rack, chances are she’ll assume that that’s what you meant. That’s not a failure on her part, but on yours.

    We can’t read the minds of other people. We have to go by what they say. As such, what he intended is entirely irrelevant. What matters is what he said and what he said had a strong sexual implication.
    If he didn’t intend to send a primarily sexual message then he’s a shitty communicator.

  142. tracieh says

    Thank you for your input.

    I don’t doubt you have a point. I just have two things to add:

    >1. It seems so basic that you shouldn’t have to point it out, but maybe the point to make to John is, “Hey, Tracie doesn’t know you.” Perhaps that has not occurred to him…

    Yeah, I agree, so basic I shouldn’t need to point it out.

    Next, your illustration is not a bad one. And you even note a key difference, which I would as well: On TAE, I don’t provide very much personal data whatsoever about my life. If I asked the average viewer “Are my parents living or dead?,” “Am I a adopted?,” “How many siblings, if any, do I have?,” “What is my favorite pass-time?,” What are my top 3 pet peeves?,” “In what locations have I lived for more than 6 months, during my life?,” “What is most important to me in life?,” they’d come up empty on all counts.

    Talk show radio hosts *often* give a lot of detail about themselves personally. And I still agree, it’s weird to approach them as though *they* know *you*. You were right to refrain from calling out and waving. I’m not a celebrity, like a local radio host would be, even in local Austin, and so I don’t get people coming up to me in public recognizing me from the program; that would be rare. So rare, that it’s only happened once to me. But that one time, *ever*, someone saw me out in public and came up to me and said, “Tracie Harris?” He was smiling with a look of recognition, and all I could do was run down in my head all the places I might meet someone in Austin. Was he someone’s spouse? Was he someone I met at someone’s party? Was he an ex-co-worker? I just could not place him. When he said “I’ve seen you on the TV show,” (I assume as a response to my hopelessly puzzled look of “I have no idea where I know you from, and feel foolish, since I am sure I should know you, but I must have forgotten you…?”) I was quite grateful for the clue-in, because I was at a very large disadvantage.

    Again, only time this ever happened–and it was a few years back now. But highly confusing and awkward.

  143. tracieh says

    >But when it’s the first and only thing he says

    Amen.

    1. Dear Matt. I really enjoyed your debate with Matt Slick on TAG. But I had a few questions about a point you raised…

    2. Dear Martin. Your humor and capacity to drive a point home are really useful on the program. Your response to the caller from Indiana this week really hit home, the way you expressed it when you said…

    3. Jeff Dee: I take issue with your attitude any time someone brings up the topic of hell…

    4. Jen: Thanks so much for the links on recovering from religion. I feel like I can speak to my family now that I’ve gotten some support from the secular community…

    5. Dear Tracie: You are so pretty.

    Really–this is an attempted compliment? Someone takes the time to get the contact data for the program and reach out to an association public service list, targeting me specifically for a comment to a volunteer-work e-mail address, and THIS is what everyone else gets, versus what *I* get in my in-box? Do you know how many of these types of “clog TAE’s already overloaded e-mail list, waste of time notes,” I get compared to the other hosts? Enough to make me understand that some people don’t get–and I mean SERIOUSLY don’t get–why I bother to work with TAE. Clue: It’s not, and never was, to hear stranger’s personal assessments of what I look like or be contacted about their dating preferences. The show is not a joke. I am not up there to “amuse” people (as John notes he sent it to amuse himself).

    Don’t anyone kid themselves these people lay their affections on me for my sake–because I don’t ask people to love me on TAE. I don’t ask people to think I’m pretty. I don’t ask them to write in with their assessments. They unload like this because they want to–because they feel they can on a total stranger–because hey, I’m on Youtube, so clearly this is what I’m looking for.

  144. tracieh says

    Thanks. And you’re right I make no secret of my attitude about these types of contacts. I’ve expressed it not only on GB, but also to a few thousand people, repeatedly on my personal Facebook account, every time one of these notes comes in, and also on other programs I’ve been invited on, where this topic has come up as relevant. In fact, I did a post recently about how I don’t understand why anyone would wish to emulate Howard Wolowitz…and yet, here I am again, right?

  145. tracieh says

    I have mentioned I have a husband, I don’t think I’ve given out his name. If I did, it was a slip, because he is extremely private, and I try to respect that. But thanks for your comment.

  146. tracieh says

    Thank you for noting the quality of the question is just juvenile in the context of what I am doing with TAE. It is a waste of our resources to have spent the few seconds it took to even open this thing. And the only benefit I can see now is what Martin has done–use the blog to note that this denigrates the program and me to some fan-boy fun-time list.

  147. tracieh says

    If this guy has any “game” to speak of, why open with something so 12-year-old, fanboy lame? Why not hit me up with something actually clever and interesting based on what he knows about me? Why the generic stupid?

  148. tracieh says

    >Well I’ve been both a follower and an admirer of the Atheist Experience and Tracie Harris for many years…

    How could you have been an admirer of “Tracie Harris,” and know next to nothing about who Tracie Harris actually is? You may admire the show, I don’t doubt. And you clearly admire *something*, it seems, that you think is “Tracie Harris,” but it doesn’t even come close to accurately representing me–so you might want to consider a new label for whatever you are calling “Tracie Harris.” It might be true “I admire Tracie Harris’ arguments/points on TAE.” But you *don’t* admire *me*, because you are demonstrating that you don’t know me at any meaningful level that I could related to as “me.”

  149. says

    It is a simple, though nosy, question. The correct answer is, “None of your business,” or, for emphasis, “None of your damn business.”

    It was a stupid and juvenile thing to say, and doesn’t deserve any more detailed answer.

  150. leMysogynist? says

    Meh, over hype.

    I think there’s a failure to realise that there are a tonne of us rational-wannabe guys who’d love to find females who AREN’T Jesus freaks.

    But then again I still don’t think the question was warranted, the guy should just go on a dating site in search of ladies, and find other ways of “complementing” the female hosts other than asking questions which would lead to the ultimate question of doom: “Will you spend the rest of your life with a boring dude that you’ve never met?”.

  151. Toby says

    I don’t think it needs to be said that this is getting a little ridiculous.

    Tracie is well within her rights to object to these kinds of questions from a work address. That some people won’t understand this and do it anyway does not make it any less objectionable or aggravating.

    Its also perfectly possible to feel harassed when no harassment has technically occurred. Consider that as she stated, she gets this kind of thing frequently. Sure, John only asked her once; but on her end, this is not an isolated incident. And although the names may be different, the collective effect is about the same as if it all came from one person. I’d argue its easier for the recipient to perceive it that way given the anonymous nature of the internet.

    A little thoughtfulness is all it would take to realize that that sort of question wouldn’t be funny, cute or endearing.

  152. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    here, let me try to help the dudes who are just so *CONFUSED* about this issue:

    SHE HAS STATED SHE DOES NOT WANT THESE KINDS OF E-MAILS.

    HE DID IT ANYWAY.

    He disregarded what she said, and felt entitled to do what he wanted. Red Flag.

    He ignored what she said about receiving such e-mails and thought it would be funny to ignore that. Red flag.

    Instead of saying a single word about her work, he sent a question about her sexual availability, neatly reminding her of what he considers her true value. Red flag.

    It doesn’t matter what he INTENDED with this idiotic e-mail. he doesn’t respect her as evidenced by: his complete disregard of her stated opinion of such e-mails, by his reducing her to her marital status, by his thinking it was funny to reduce and dismiss her.

    Get it through your heads, boys. Ignoring what a woman says and thinking that’s cute and funny, is part of why we roll our eyes and give out fake numbers.

  153. says

    How could you have been an admirer of “Tracie Harris,” and know next to nothing about who Tracie Harris actually is? You may admire the show, I don’t doubt. And you clearly admire *something*, it seems, that you think is “Tracie Harris,” but it doesn’t even come close to accurately representing me–so you might want to consider a new label for whatever you are calling “Tracie Harris.” It might be true “I admire Tracie Harris’ arguments/points on TAE.” But you *don’t* admire *me*, because you are demonstrating that you don’t know me at any meaningful level that I could related to as “me.””

    Yes Tracie, I get what you are saying. But I wasn’t claiming to know you entirely, and I still don’t. I just admired whatever I heard from you on the show or read on the AE blogs, in much the same way as the other hosts. That wasn’t my point. I was only illustrating (to the other poster) how easy it would to be to have had much exposure to your thoughts and opinions, agreed with them, and yet to have no accurate perception as to your what your sensitivity level would be be on this kind of thing. It was a response to an argument many are still making against the guy (John) which I regard to be incredibly unfair (as I am about to press the submit button someone else has posted it again).

    If I had made a guess a week ago as to how you would have reacted to the email which sparked this blog post, I would have been incorrect. I don’t understand why this kind of thing bothers you at all. It seems completely at odds with how I look at life. That’s fine. I don’t claim to know you on a meaningful level, nor will I ever. There won’t be many people on the planet that agree with one another on everything, and if there were then life would be a little less interesting.

  154. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I don’t understand why this kind of thing bothers you at all. It seems completely at odds with how I look at life

    Are you trying to come off as amazingly and cluelessly privileged?

  155. Toby says

    …how easy it would to be to have had much exposure to your thoughts and opinions, agreed with them, and yet to have no accurate perception as to your what your sensitivity level would be be on this kind of thing.

    I think part of the point here, is when you don’t know what someone’s sensibilities are like, when you only know a few superficial facts about a person — and more importantly, when the person you’re communicating with knows absolutely nothing at all about you — you try to avoid potential offense by being more direct in making your point; that is, if what you mean is “I like the show and I like your opinions”, then you actually just say “I like the show and I like your opinions.”

  156. says

    All countries have problems. Just look at us in the UK, where currently any racist word or sentiment you express in the heat of the moment(or tweet) can see you in court and/or with jail time.

  157. nicksonz says

    Nice analogy. Would you classify this as public shitting? The actual act is out of public view, but the result is very much in it. Regardless, I’m on the fence about it.

  158. says

    Some people like to be more positive than that. Instead of worrying about the slim chance that the other person might be offended (by whatever they actually said, or in many cases didn’t say) and therefore censoring themselves, they put it out there in the expectation that the worst response that they are likely to get is a neutral one. I think that is a fair expectation for this particular scenario.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people should never be careful not to offend, however I don’t see this as one of those scenarios were there is a reasonable expectation of causing offence.

    Not everyone on this blog forum agrees though. Which is odd, since being part of a local skeptical community myself amidst all the circus recently revolving around “elevatorgate” and the Thunderfoot vs PZ stuff, I have yet to speak to or overhear anyone who disagrees with my viewpoints on any of it. I’d love to beable to put my finger on why this there should be such a difference in mentalities.

  159. says

    Obviously not. How could it be? You haven’t made any attempt to make any sense. What does it mean to be “amazingly and cluelessly privileged” and why should I try to come across as this?

  160. Toby says

    Some people like to be more positive than that.

    It isn’t so much about being negative, its about how to deal with uncertainties if you want to avoid the usually negative experience of putting someone off. I’m not suggesting that people be reduced to second-guessing every last thing that is said; I’m just saying that a little baseline caution is warranted.

    I don’t see this as one of those scenarios were there is a reasonable expectation of causing offence.

    Not everyone on this blog forum agrees though.

    Its difficult to get context from “Are you single?” when you cannot see body language or tone of voice. Joke? Serious? Tongue-tied and making a ham-fisted compliment, but well-meaning? Without that context, comments like that can get extremely frustrating. And it really isn’t up to the message recipient to bend over backwards to unilaterally assume a plausible context so as not to be offended or irritated, when it’s so ridiculously easy for the sender to just not make a comment like that. It displays a certain level of thoughtlessness on the part of the sender.

    Not to mention — and I think it’s been said more than once now — if you’re trying to pay someone a compliment for what a person does, expressing it in that way is more than a little obscure and easily misinterpreted. And there’s so many other ways that a compliment can be made that is still perhaps witty, or upbeat.

    The choice isn’t “risk offence” or “be boring, negative and bland”. There is a middle ground.

  161. says

    I agree that there should always be a baseline caution. However my baseline is obviously set at a different level from yourself, based on my own particular life experience.

    It is simply that I don’t agree with the way you guys are looking at this. I see no bending over backwards necessary in order not to take this email seriously enough that it would affect you emotionally at all, even if you do think that it is a bit weird. And briefly and playfully communicating sexual interest whilst neglecting to mention any respect for other traits that the person may have does not say anything about his preferences. You simply don’t have enough information to make that judgement.

  162. nicksonz says

    andybowers, you’ve been right about everything you’ve said (except the shit analogy, I thought that was awesome :P).

    Seriously, the biggest overreaction has most definitely been about John seeing Tracie as a sex object. It’s a good question: how do you get from “are you single?” to sex? blondeintokyo was the first to bring up sex – she opened that unnecessary can of worms.

    Both of John’s emails tell absolutely nothing about his intentions being untoward. His follow-up to Jen confirmed my suspicion that his question was a) not serious b) that he’s a fan of the show and Tracie, and c) that he never expected expected a response. This was obvious to me in the first email but I had no evidence until Martin posted the follow-up (thanks Martin), which he saw as some sort of “I told you so!” which is complete crap.

    John finding Tracie “appealing” is also ambiguous at best with no sexual connotation whatsoever – it could’ve been, and most likely was, said with the most positive of intentions.

    Ok, so he tacked on the question to Jen at the last second for shits and giggles. This I’d give troll status, but at that point, why wouldn’t you be a troll? Her response amused him so he thought he’d take the amusement a tad further, amusement that was handed to him in the first place. By no means (in my opinion) was his original question of the same tone.

  163. says

    how do you get from “are you single?” to sex?

    Oh give me a motherfucking, gold-plated break.

    I simply don’t for a moment believe that that comment could be made in good faith. You’re either the most oblivious human being on the planet or you’re simply a dishonest shit.

  164. Mamba24 says

    “Since there’s a certain contingent of people in the comments (naturally) invested in making the case that John is simply being sweet and asking a perfectly innocent question, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just overreacting with a broom handle wedged where broom handles don’t go…”

    -Wow. I’m not sure if there is other people who thought it was a “sweet and perfectly innocent question”(I’m not reading through all the comments), but I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s Martin’s comment. It’s really not that difficult, the guy asked a simple question….Was he being serious before the follow up by Martin? It’s hard to tell since he said the response “amused” him. So it could have been a simple question out of general curiosity, or maybe he was just being a troll because he was wondering what kind of response he would get. So I don’t know if it was a perfectly innocent and “sweet” question. But I’m not going to assume he’s a sexist pig and start posting every email I come across that I suspect of being sexist or inappropriate. Especially such a petty one as this.

  165. Mamba24 says

    “If you were in a coffeehouse, or a restaurant, or at a supermarket, or even a gathering at a friend’s house,….”

    -Not the same thing. This guy may not know Tracie personally, but he does watch the show and is familiar with the hosts. Yes marching into a store, picking some random women out, and then marching up to her and immediately asking her if she single is quite weird, I agree Martin. Too bad it’s not the same thing as an email(written from someone almost halfway around the world) directed towards someone fairly well known throughout the atheist community.

    “and you walked up to a woman who was a total stranger to you, and the first question out of your mouth was “Are you single?””

    -Ever been to a bar? Ever gone with some of your friends and spotted a group of good looking girls, and you guys decide to go over and talk to them, strike a conversation, get to know them a little bit? It’s really not that uncommon to ask them if they’re single or not around the beginning of the conversation.

    “it would be considered weird, possibly creepy, certainly not the most appropriate of icebreakers.”

    -Yes the way you chose to describe your hypothetical situation, I would have to agree with you.

    “Via email, from someone you don’t know, have never met or seen, and know nothing about, it’s — well — pretty weird.”

    -……Sorry I don’t find it all that weird. As she is known throughout the atheist community……from around the world apparently. I’ve seen much stranger things Martin, this one doesn’t rank that high up on my scale.

    “It doesn’t make the guy an evil perv or anything, just someone trying to pay a compliment in the wrong way.”

    -And who are you to say what is the wrong way Martin? There are women out in the world who would respond to it in different ways. If you’re a women who is a famous singer(Obviously Tracie isn’t this famous but just using an example), you might choose to ignore an email like this, respond to it with a simple yes or no, or respond and play along for a little self amusement. Different women respond differently to similar situations Martin.

    “I’ll leave it to the women to decide if they agree with that.”

    -Alright, then do it. Let Tracie post a thread about it and proclaim that every women would feel the same way in her position as she does. Why are you posting this thread? Do you really have nothing better to do than complain about some petty email that has nothing to do with you, but you feel like an expert on social etiquette issues so you better make your opinion known?

    “You’re definitely stretching the notion of social etiquette to help men avoid having to learn any, seems to me.”

    -I’m the one stretching the notion of social etiquette huh? Since I’m the one who posted a thread about an email coming from a guy in England, who asked if Tracie was single. Then I go on to proclaim that it’s absolutely inappropriate and no guy should ever ask this question to a women that they don’t personally know. Why? Because I said so and I have perfect social etiquette and know everything. My opinion is the correct one on this petty email……….wow. Then you throw out the straw-man statement claiming that I don’t want men to learn any social etiquette.” If you disagree with me then you just don’t want men to learn anything”. (That part actually made me laugh) No Martin, I actually do want men to treat women appropriately, don’t harass them, etc. I just don’t hold the same opinion as you do about what qualifies as inappropriate, sexist, or whatever term you want to use to describe this email. I think it’s pretty immature for you to judge me based off like 4 sentences I wrote, basically implying that I’m a sexist, misogynistic moron. But apparently you think you know everything, including how all women would feel to an email like this. Martin Wagner, definitely my favorite host on the atheist experience….

  166. says

    Hi, have heard about all the commotion surrounding a seemingly harmless minor chat up line & thought I’d have a brief read for myself. Having done so, here is my thought …

    Chill out, the minor question posed by John to Tracie barely even constitutes a chat up line to the vast majority of females out there. Any person in my opinion, speaking from the position of a young rational female, who constitutes John’s email as
    either harrassment, cheesy or harmful, seems to come across as someone who has perhaps never been around the male gender before. Perhaps they were home schooled the entirety of their childhood, followed by a girls-only boarding school, followed
    by their early adulthood in a Catholic monestry. So yeah, if that was their upbringing, then I can maybe understand why any female would get nervous flutters of butterflies in their tummy in the belief that they were being seriously & most definitely chatted up in the most vulgerest & forcible of manners. But I’m guessing that most women haven’t spent the majority of their
    lives starved of human interaction with the opposite sex, in which case chill out, just seriously chill.

    Question to Martain Wagner & all, would John’s question have been recieved which such a razor sharp response had it have been posed by a young lesbian female?? Think not. Therefore please stop being such men hating reactionists because it only paints a comical taint to the genuine & important authentic work which reasonable moderate gender equalatists strive to achieve.

    Finally, yes John at most is chatting up Tracie, yes, ok, so what??? Even when his question is taken literally, isn’t he doing the noble thing by establishing whether she is single or betrothed to another? Can he not be attracted to her based on a combination of him admiring her work, him being pleased
    by the way she comes across on the screen, her mannerisms & his appreciation of her physical beauty?? Blimey, take a compliment with grace & just chill. Peace.

  167. julian says

    Question to Martain Wagner & all, would John’s question have been recieved which such a razor sharp response had it have been posed by a young lesbian female?? Think not.

    Because you’re an idiot.

    One of the big reasons he’s saying knock it off is because his colleague has said multiple times she is married and sick of getting these sorts of requests. That doesn’t stop applying when it’s a lesbian.

    Finally, yes John at most is chatting up Tracie, yes, ok, so what?

    She’s said to stop doing it. She doesn’t appreciate it, isn’t interested and finds it annoying.

  168. says

    Because you’re an idiot.

    Classy. Why are there so many people on here who love to prop up (or even replace) their arguments with blockheaded name calling?

  169. sharkjack says

    Because you’re an idiot.

    Classy. Why are there so many people on here who love to prop up (or even replace) their arguments with blockheaded name

    And now we’ve got the most obvious example of a tone troll too. I don’t like accusing people of tone trolling but when an entire response boils down to ignoring the content of the post in favor of whining about name calling, that’s when I think it’s fair to call it what it is.

    There is a perfectly good argument that was made one line below the one you quoted:

    One of the big reasons he’s saying knock it off is because his colleague has said multiple times she is married and sick of getting these sorts of requests. That doesn’t stop applying when it’s a lesbian.

    Yet you didn’t respond to it at all. If you post here without awarenes of the ‘if you post something stupid you’ll be flayed alive’ attitude that means you’re ignorant of what this blog and the people who maintain it stand for. If you say something stupid people will call you out on it and call you an idiot for it. This email was used as an example of what the hosts prefer you do not do when sending them an email. It wasn’t something that villified John, there was no hate directed towards him in the OP. The idea that he was just a fan expressing his admiration was considered, though it turned out that wasn’t the case.

    Also blockquote fail, try using preview next time you post and you might not end up looking like an idiot, even if you still sound like one.

  170. says

    I had nothing to say about the rest of your post, you weren’t even talking to me. I will that to the lady you so classily called an idiot.

    I wanted to pass comment on people like you who think directing mindless insults at people is helpful to civilized conversation. I’m not talking about tone, I am talking about your pathetic attitude. Most people are not here for a mudslinging match, but for civilized discussion. I suggest you stick to youtube if acting like you do is what give you kicks.

    As far as the blockquotes goes, thankyou for so respectfully pointing that out to me. I don’t know what I’d have done if you weren’t there to tell me the obvious.

  171. Cassie says

    “Any person in my opinion, speaking from the position of a young rational female, who constitutes John’s email as
    either harrassment, cheesy or harmful, seems to come across as someone who has perhaps never been around the male gender before. Perhaps they were home schooled the entirety of their childhood, followed by a girls-only boarding school, followed
    by their early adulthood in a Catholic monestry. So yeah, if that was their upbringing, then I can maybe understand why any female would get nervous flutters of butterflies in their tummy in the belief that they were being seriously & most definitely chatted up in the most vulgerest & forcible of manners.”

    Adhominem, adhominem, adhominem. Got anything else? Seriously it is easy to cast dispersions on people by speculating about the past to minimise the points they are making, however you did suggest you were rational, so I am still waiting for you to make a rational point void of fallacies.

  172. Kazim says

    Aisha: You are an idiot to make the assumption that Tracie would react differently to being hit on by a lesbian. Why the hell would you think that made a difference? As it happens, Tracie was once actually stalked by a lesbian for months.

  173. says

    It might have been ad hominem if Aisha was actually saying that this was anyone’s upbringing. However she was only making the point that the only excuse she can understand would be if they had had this upbringing. Where’s the ad hominem there?

  174. says

    Now I can see why others think that it is ok to throw around insults in this manner. How exactly is this helpful Russell?

    There is a huge difference between saying “what you said about x is idiotic” and “you said x and therefore you are an idiot”.

  175. Kazim says

    Hey, how about that folks? All of a sudden, Andy’s primary concern is driven by a deep respect for observing social graces.

  176. says

    I’ve just spotted this.

    Suido wrote (all the way up at thread #6):

    Which I consider to be analogous to being apathetic about casual, unthinking acts of racism/ableism/support for evil dictatorships/etc.

    I assume you’re happy that your SEP filter is working.

    Wow! Just Wow!!!! Talk about lacking perspective.

    Are you for real??

  177. says

    I have social graces Russell. They are just very differently tuned to yours it seems. I have made it clear (as have many others) that there is are no commonly shared social graces that have stepped on by this John person. Most people simply wouldn’t care if they received such a tame email.

    By contrast you appear to be making it clear that throwing unsubstantiated pejoratives around is exactly how you want discussions here to commence. I think this is unconstructive and unnecessary, unless of course your goal is to have a mudslinging match instead of a discussion.

    Me: Asking someone if they are single is no big deal
    You: Calling a person an idiot based on an argument they have made is no big deal.

  178. Chagrined says

    Tracie,
    It’s entirely possible I’m mistaken about the name disclosure and whether it occurred on GB or TAE. FWIW, I come out of the depths of Christian fundamentalism and continue to learn a lot from listening to you comment on GB and TAE.

  179. Mel says

    II am having trouble understanding who on earth would think asking a question like that is ok and why so many people just do not appear to care less how they make others feel. I mean asking in a email if someone is single, how can you think that is not sexual? Seriously?

  180. nicksonz says

    Oh give me a motherfucking, gold-plated break.

    I simply don’t for a moment believe that that comment could be made in good faith. You’re either the most oblivious human being on the planet or you’re simply a dishonest shit.

    We have a professional hyperbolist here.

    Granted that I’m the most oblivious human being in the universe, so correct me. How do you get from single to sex in the context of John’s email? There are some users here with strong, personal views on sexual harassment/misconduct so think carefully about your words.

  181. Mel says

    Why would someone ask someone else over an email if they are single, especially a stranger. It makes no sense. And why are people defending it?

  182. says

    Calling a person an idiot based on an argument they have made is no big deal.

    Exactly. Calling a person an idiot based on an argument they have made is no big deal. It’s not unsubstantiated, unfair or unreasonable.

  183. nicksonz says

    Bit lame to tell someone you’ve been approaching to fuck off. I didn’t come to you. You’ve been coming to me, a number of times. You’ve been taking the initiative to communicate, I’ve just been reacting to it. If you feel my arguing isn’t “in good faith”, that problem is yours and yours only, STOP REPLYING.

  184. mas528 says

    Just to make sure that Likex ( the ‘y’ is so very cute)doesn’t think I am agreeing with it:

    You said:

    Exactly. Calling a person an idiot based on an argument they have made is no big deal. It’s not unsubstantiated, unfair or unreasonable.

    When you do that, you are *by definition& committing the ad hominem fallacy, It is unsubstantiated and you are being unreasoning and unreasonable.

  185. qdbp says

    Right.

    It is just the definition of ad hominem.

    Wrong. Ad hominem is attacking somebody’s character, and then claiming that the argument is wrong because of it. What Russel did is say that there argument was wrong, and then viewed that as a reflection of their character.

  186. says

    @mas528

    You’re wrong. An ad hominem fallacy is when you reject an argument based on the character of the person making it. What we’re talking about here is evaluating the character of a person based on the argument they’re making.

    In fact, tone trolling is itself a related kind of fallacy. It’s rejecting the content of an argument because of its style. That’s unreasonable.

  187. says

    I’ve been giving this some more thought, and the term I was looking for is “parasocial”, a one-sided relationship in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the other does not. I imagine you might find some value in looking into this phenomenon further in order to minimize its effect, if you haven’t already.

    I’m just taking a stab in the dark here, but after reading very little about a parasocial interaction, perhaps it could be helpful to avoid singular pronouns and address comments toward the audience as plural pronouns to reinforce the reality that this is not a one on one relationship. Admittedly, this would be very difficult considering that usually you really are talking to a single person on the phone and simultaneously talking into the camera as if talking to that person specifically. But I think any person who has tendency to react parasocially to singular pronouns is not going to notice that you are addressing someone else and mistakenly interpret your conversation as a personal interaction.

    A brief introduction to parasocial interaction: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasocial_interaction

  188. NoApologetics says

    Welcome to the wonderful world of celebrity. The same rules do not apply to you anymore for the time being when you lose that status things will return to what you refer as normal, it is what it is.

  189. NoApologetics says

    And false equivalency

    being in a real time situation and messaging on the internet are not the same things. There’s a difference making eye to eye contact in a physical public place like a coffee house and typing on the internet. If it where a written letter would you same the same thing? Possibly and you’d still be wrong for the same reasons.

    Shouldn’t Traci being the one responding to this?

    P.S.
    Celebrity is another level of privilege.

  190. Jessie says

    Sadly, the only thing you are ‘doing wrong’ is being a woman, particularly one who is outspoken. It seems a lot of men in the atheist community have problems seeing women as anything other than potential sexual encounters. That makes this community every bit as bad for misogyny as religious communities, (which makes it difficult to argue that religion is a cause of misogyny).

    Love your work, by the way.

  191. tracieh says

    >I have social graces Russell. They are just very differently tuned to yours it seems.

    Is this like saying “Ted Bundy is moral, he just has his own morality that you don’t share—that has nothing to do with empathy, compassion or fairness” (you know—all those metrics used to gauge moral behaviors?)

    And regarding the Ad Hominem. Is there anything funnier than someone attempting to “school” someone else, and getting the lesson completely wrong? Lol. People who can’t understand fallacies are destined to commit them.

  192. tracieh says

    >She’s said to stop doing it. She doesn’t appreciate it, isn’t interested and finds it annoying.

    Thanks Julian. I would only add: Why would anybody send me a note at a work address to do this—that’s appropriate? And what led them to think I wanted this from them? *They* approached *me*, no? So, doesn’t what I like/don’t like matter? Or are they so self-centered that only what they want matters? Rhetorical question, btw, as the answer is clear. When you approach me with an attitude that what I want/don’t want you to do to me is irrelevant, and only what you want matters—do not be shocked when I call you an ass. I think that’s quite reasonable. I did not volunteer at ACA to do public outreach to be free entertainment for trolls who target me directly—rather than the show.

  193. tracieh says

    >Perhaps they were home schooled…

    This is really an excellent demo of part of the problem: People who get this electron of data about someone and then think they “know” them. This person’s assessment of me couldn’t be more incorrect–just using basic social metrics about female sexuality compared to my own stats. I’m hardly sheltered.

    That being said, I recently posted a joke about Creationism on my social network page. It was a puzzle of the Mona Lisa where one piece was missing. The caption said “A piece is missing, therefore this isn’t the Mona Lisa.”

    These people (and they’re rare, but represent a pattern, nonetheless), see one piece of a 100,000 piece puzzle and then say “OH, I know exactly what that is!?”

    The only difference is, in this case, the puzzle is self-aware and can speak. And it’s saying “No, really, your guess couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not that–at all. And you are speaking from extreme ignorance because you have never even seen this puzzle in person. You’ve only seen a photo of small piece that has some brown and some gray. Really, I’m not kidding–you can’t tell what the puzzle represents from just that piece.”

    There is a huge difference between evaluating something someone says or does–one event–vs. thinking you know all about someone from next to nothing. But the people who contact me with these notes–they think they know me. They think they know I’d “appreciate” their bullshit, and they’re wrong. They are wrong because they failed to take the time to consider “Oh wait. I don’t actually KNOW this person–and they don’t have a clue who I am, and I don’t really have any idea what they like or don’t like–so maybe this isn’t the most brilliant idea to send a communication that is rife with sexually innuendo, just to say I appreciate their role in the atheist community. Maybe the BEST way to express that without risk and with respect would be to just write “I really appreciate your role in the atheist community and what you’re doing.

    For some reason, I just don’t think that should be considered so difficult that an adult can’t figure it out. Is it really expecting too much from people to be able to figure out how to say “thanks”? I don’t know if that’s sad or funny. But I admit I’m laughing at it–so maybe funny. Also, my friends enjoy the subsequent mocking of the letters on my social network wall, so that’s sort of funny too. Why not make lemonade, I guess?

  194. tracieh says

    So, your position is that the following is appropriate: “why wouldn’t John assume a woman wants him to hit on her?” not, “I should really be respectful enough to find out if an advance is wanted here before I start hitting”? Unwanted advances are not something people look for—ergo the “unwanted” part. John either presumed to know what I wanted despite zero clues to egg him on in this, or he didn’t give a fuck if I wanted it or not. He gave zero consideration to the feelings or attitudes of the person he approached. He approach me simply because he wanted to do so, showing utter disregard for the reality I did nothing to encourage that direction. Additionally, how is this appropriate to submit to me at a work address? If we met out at a happy hour, and were hitting it off, and I was laughing, asking him questions and taking interest, then “are you single” is surely commonplace. E-mailing strangers where they do work, with that is just bizarre. How many times has someone you don’t know contacted you at your work address to ask for your marital status? Does this happen to you often? Because I see it as really fucking strange.

    Please clarify for me on which episode of TAE I did something to make you or John or any person think I want them to contact me at a work address to ask about my marital status, because I don’t recall the episode where I asked anyone to do that? And if I didn’t ask for it, then what makes them think that’s what it means when I volunteer to help out the atheist community? Can I do my work without receiving weirdo notes from unknown people targeted directly at me, and not ACA or TAE? How did they get my work with TAE confused with “I want strangers to ask me out”? Does what I want even matter? Or is it just “bull in a China shop, full steam ahead, no matter what the chick wants. I mean I don’t know of anything she’s done to cue me to proceed in this mode—but I don’t really care. I’m going for it. If she doesn’t like it—she can just stop me.” Yeah, totally considerate and respectful attitude, right?

  195. tracieh says

    >And it really isn’t up to the message recipient to bend over backwards to unilaterally assume a plausible context so as not to be offended or irritated, when it’s so ridiculously easy for the sender to just not make a comment like that. It displays a certain level of thoughtlessness on the part of the sender.

    >Not to mention — and I think it’s been said more than once now — if you’re trying to pay someone a compliment for what a person does, expressing it in that way is more than a little obscure and easily misinterpreted. And there’s so many other ways that a compliment can be made that is still perhaps witty, or upbeat.

    >The choice isn’t “risk offence” or “be boring, negative and bland”. There is a middle ground.

    Beautifully expressed. Is it so hard to say “thank you”–or to be truly clever? John’s note was not funny, interesting, clever, intelligent, complimentary or even relevant to anything about TAE. So, why send it to TAE and address it to me? Was he writing to the show? If so, this has no meaning whatsoever. Was he just abusing the show address to target one of the people working there with a personal note that shouldn’t have even been sent using that venue? If so, boundary impaired.

  196. tracieh says

    > Yes Tracie, I get what you are saying. But I wasn’t claiming to know you entirely, and I still don’t.

    You don’t know me “entirely”? No, you don’t know me *at all*. And neither does John. That’s my point, so I’m not sure you are getting it. Being delusional—thinking you know people and know what they want, when you don’t, isn’t healthy. Alternately, if you realize you don’t know them, and approach them without care for what they may or may not be comfortable with—that’s being an asshole. Take your pick when it comes to what John did.

    > I was only illustrating (to the other poster) how easy it would to be to have had much exposure to your thoughts and opinions, agreed with them, and yet to have no accurate perception as to your what your sensitivity level would be be on this kind of thing.

    I agree. And if you realize that, and say it’s simple, then why is it so hard for John to grasp? If it is an easy concept to understand that reading a few blog posts and seeing someone acting in the capacity of an association volunteer does NOT make you informed about what they like or don’t—then how is that a defense of John? If anything, it’s like asking how he could have been so clueless over something you say is simply to understand.

    > If I had made a guess a week ago as to how you would have reacted to the email which sparked this blog post, I would have been incorrect.

    And this surprises *me* not at all, because I don’t expect people who don’t know me to be able to make accurate predictions about what I like or don’t or how I might react to weird inputs.

    > I don’t understand why this kind of thing bothers you at all.

    You don’t understand why it bothers me because you don’t know me. See how that works?

    >It seems completely at odds with how I look at life.

    Another teaching opportunity presents: Not everyone is you. So, saying “It’s not what I would do—so I don’t get why you’re doing it,” is called “the universe is me.” This brilliantly demonstrates the *lack* of consideration this type of situation shows from the person who contacted me. He may not have stopped to think that I’m not him, either. That’s called inconsideration—not “considering” someone else’s position may not be your position, and actually caring that it might not be.

    > I don’t claim to know you on a meaningful level, nor will I ever.

    You don’t know me on even the most cursory level. And I’m not sure what it would take to make you understand that. But I know about myself, and I know what information is available to you—and it’s like next to nothing about my life or who I am as a person. You see shows I do, acting as an association operator for one hour every month and a half, at best. And read some really sporadic blog posts. Nearly all centered around counter apologetics—arguments I didn’t even invent. Where am *I* in any of that? Would you even be able to sift the “Tracie” parts from the general info sections? I don’t think so.

    > There won’t be many people on the planet that agree with one another on everything, and if there were then life would be a little less interesting.

    To me the important thing is that the defenders of inconsideration have made it clear that I have but to express that I don’t want these contacts, to justify shitting on people who make them. I have now done so—publicly. Would you like to bet I still get them? That’s how honestly well-meaning and complimentary these notes are intended. Even if I say don’t send them, people do. And even after this—they’ll still come in—and people will still be willing to find some way to defend them—just like slavery in the Bible.

  197. tracieh says

    I actually love this response.

    For the record, I didn’t even know Martin had posted this until there were over 100 comments. I don’t really post these letters, even though I get them. I just file them in “problems” in case they become a problem (only a few have), and don’t respond, because it’s not good to encourage people who behave oddly toward you. While I get the lion’s share of these, they’re not “common.” They’re very abnormal for letters to TAE.

    It’s like an assembly line where you put out 1000 widgets a day. Out of every 1,000, let’s say 2 have a missing spoke. So, you toss them in the defect/scrap bin. That’s normally all I do with these. I don’t freak out. But if people want to ask me, “What do you think of these?” I think it’s tres weird to contact a total stranger at their volunteer job and ask them their marital status.

    That’s more something I’d expect at happy hour in a nonsexual context–just small talk. Or in a sexual context if I was really hitting it off with someone and having good banter.

    But our TAE list isn’t a community chit-chat list. When someone writes to just shoot the shit, I sent them forum links to atheist communities where they can chit-chat all day with other atheists. I am happy to provide them a resource, but I can’t BE their personal atheist Chat-bot. I don’t have enough hours in the day.

    They’re just odd notes, and I don’t give them attention or reply to them. I only commented here in the abstract because it came up. Seriously–I’ve been doing the show for how many years? And how many times have I shared one of these letters? But I *know*–not think–they’re abnormal, because I have access to the e-mail list, and know what the normal letters are like. These aren’t at all aligned with the normal variety of mail we get. And it’s interesting to see people defend the notes as though they are OK, when they don’t see what comes across our cyber desks. It’s the people presuming to know how normal these letters are–without seeing our other volume of mail. That’s even more bizarre and interesting than the letters themselves, to me.

  198. tracieh says

    There is a difference between doing work that is public and being a celebrity. The White House Press Secretary is a very public position, but the person filling that role would hardly be commonly thought of as a “celebrity.” It is a job, although high profile. The same can be said of a mail carrier. They are very publicly visible, but not “celebrity.” Nothing I do is at all what should be confused with “celebrity.” I work as a public outreach capacity for atheist concerns for a nonprofit. Specifically I help answer phones. They stream it because it helps disseminate the info. But what I do is not self-promotional in anyway, and I don’t see how it should be confused by a person who puts an ounce of thought into it as “celebrity” or “fame.” It’s a stretch to try and categorize it as such.

    That being said, I agree with the above that if this were a question posed at happy hour for ACA, “Are you married? Do you have kids? What do you like to do for fun?” It would be entirely in context. But posing it to me in a working capacity at a work-specific e-mail address is, frankly, just bizarre.

    I’ve worked professionally since before companies even *had* e-mail addresses. And I have definitely experienced being contacted at work by people I don’t know–total strangers. That contact consists generally of a person identifying him/herself, and then explaining the reason for the contact. Like so:

    Hello, Tracie. My name is X.Smith. I work in this other dept. I need XYZ from you for the ABC project. I heard you were a good person to contact for this, can you help?

    This is EXACTLY the type of letters we SHOULD get at TAE/ACA. For example:

    Hello, ACA/TAE. My name is John/Mary. I am a very isolated atheist living in a small community that is very religious. I found your program and hope you can help me. I need community resources–people to talk to–who are like minded. Can you help?

    Per-fucking-fection.

    In all my years of working professionally, at my office, I have never once received a letter from someone I don’t know asking me simply “are you single?” And if I did receive such a note–I would not answer it. I would send it directly to H.R. with an explanation that I don’t know who this is, but I just got this weird e-mail in my in-box.

    TAE is a volunteer job I do for ACA. The fact I am not paid, and do it because I give a fuck–doesn’t change that one bit. The e-mail address for TAE is not a personal chat line to the hosts. It’s there to facilitate the work and mission of TAE/ACA.

    Boundaries people–learn to recognize them.

    And thanks to the person above for the wiki link. I will look into that.

  199. tracieh says

    I can answer this with part of another reply I just posted above:

    I’ve worked professionally since before companies even *had* e-mail addresses. And I have definitely experienced being contacted at work by people I don’t know–total strangers. That contact consists generally of a person identifying him/herself, and then explaining the reason for the contact. Like so:

    Hello, Tracie. My name is X.Smith. I work in this other dept. I need XYZ from you for the ABC project. I heard you were a good person to contact for this, can you help?

    This is EXACTLY the type of letters we SHOULD get at TAE/ACA. For example:

    Hello, ACA/TAE. My name is John/Mary. I am a very isolated atheist living in a small community that is very religious. I found your program and hope you can help me. I need community resources–people to talk to–who are like minded. Can you help?

    Per-fucking-fection.

    In all my years of working professionally, at my office, I have never once received a letter from someone I don’t know asking me simply “are you single?” And if I did receive such a note–I would not answer it. I would send it directly to H.R. with an explanation that I don’t know who this is, but I just got this weird e-mail in my in-box.

    TAE is a volunteer job I do for ACA. The fact I am not paid, and do it because I give a fuck–doesn’t change that one bit. The e-mail address for TAE is not a personal chat line to the hosts. It’s there to facilitate the work and mission of TAE/ACA.

    Boundaries people–learn to recognize them.

  200. tracieh says

    Does context matter?

    I’ve worked professionally since before companies even *had* e-mail addresses. And I have definitely experienced being contacted at work by people I don’t know–total strangers. That contact consists generally of a person identifying him/herself, and then explaining the reason for the contact. Like so:

    Hello, Tracie. My name is X.Smith. I work in this other dept. I need XYZ from you for the ABC project. I heard you were a good person to contact for this, can you help?

    This is EXACTLY the type of letters we SHOULD get at TAE/ACA. For example:

    Hello, ACA/TAE. My name is John/Mary. I am a very isolated atheist living in a small community that is very religious. I found your program and hope you can help me. I need community resources–people to talk to–who are like minded. Can you help?

    Per-fucking-fection.

    In all my years of working professionally, at my office, I have never once received a letter from someone I don’t know asking me simply “are you single?” And if I did receive such a note–I would not answer it. I would send it directly to H.R. with an explanation that I don’t know who this is, but I just got this weird e-mail in my in-box.

    TAE is a volunteer job I do for ACA. The fact I am not paid, and do it because I give a fuck–doesn’t change that one bit. The e-mail address for TAE is not a personal chat line to the hosts. It’s there to facilitate the work and mission of TAE/ACA.

  201. tracieh says

    And while I think it’s redundant to be reposting this repeatedly, the fact that so many people are missing the contextual reality of this is a major problem in the replies. It wasn’t asked to me in a social/casual context. It was put to me where I work by a stranger, and had nothing whatsoever to do with my function at TAE. That is not at all normal or something I should expect at work.

  202. tracieh says

    Yes, and some people like to eat dirt. But I don’t serve it at dinner parties at my home in case one of those people might be a guest. Just because we can find people who respond well to odd inputs is not an argument to suggest the odd inputs are socially acceptable, should be considered normal/effective generally, or will be met with anything less than negative feedback from the receiver.

  203. tracieh says

    If a person receives a note from a stranger at their work, with no explanation, and just a statement “are you single?,” and red flags aren’t waving everywhere–I don’t even know how to respond to that person.

  204. tracieh says

    The even wierder aspect in my case, though, is this: As many times as you’ve been asked this, have you ever received a note from a stranger in your work in-box (someone you’ve never met) asking you this?

    I get mail all day from people I don’t know at my office, and at TAE. But outside of TAE, I don’t get any mail from people I don’t know asking if I’m single. And at TAE, it’s rare, but still sufficient enough to represent a pattern. It’s really, freakin’ odd.

  205. tracieh says

    Correct. “Are you single” is a piss poor statement to find out is someone is available for dating. It seems to assume that the recipient’s “availability” is determined by whether or not they are “taken” by some other partner, not whether or not they’re interested in the person asking.

    In other words “I am single” in no way should be taken to mean “I would go out with you.” People do not date anyone who asks simply because they’re not currently dating someone else. The determining factor in availability is “Am I interested in going out with YOU?”

    It’s almost like shifting the burden of proof. Rather than beginning with the assumption the person needs a *reason* to date me, the asker is assuming the person is available *to them* in a context of “you need a reason to NOT want to date me.”

    The person asking “are you single” in a context where nothing else is offered seems to be fuckwitted enough that they don’t even consider that maybe the person they’re asking needs to know WHY they should consider going out with the asker. I need a reason TO date a person, not a reason NOT to. And this is why “are you single” or “would you like to go out sometime” or whatever approach you use, should be PRECEEDED (not FOLLOWED BY), some banter to help the person you’re interested in see what you’ve got and if they find it interesting enough to pursue.

  206. tracieh says

    There is a difference between doing work that is public and being a celebrity. The White House Press Secretary is a very public position, but the person filling that role would hardly be commonly thought of as a “celebrity.” It is a job, although high profile. The same can be said of a mail carrier. They are very publicly visible, but not “celebrity.” Nothing I do is at all what should be confused with “celebrity.” I work as a public outreach capacity for atheist concerns for a nonprofit. Specifically I help answer phones. They stream it because it helps disseminate the info. But what I do is not self-promotional in anyway, and I don’t see how it should be confused by a person who puts an ounce of thought into it as “celebrity” or “fame.” It’s a stretch to try and categorize it as such.

  207. tracieh says

    >It’s religious when you make something from nothing.

    Like a person making up a fantasy of me in their head and then imagining that fantasy might want to date them, and then confronting me with that delusion–not even introducing themselves or supplying any reasons I should be interested? Honestly, I can’t even imagine what this person has made up in their head by the time they finally get so bizarre they’ve convinced themselves contacting me personally through a volunteer work address to express dating interest is “normal”…?

  208. tracieh says

    In addition to Martin’s comments:

    >oh, and you guys would hate me as a teenager

    Actually, I posted later that it’s actually expected behavior from an adolescent. It’s just sad when an adult decides it’s appropriate to behave toward others like a clueless kid. And not all teens are clueless, but I also was the fan-girl groupie type at 12 or so. But then I grew the fuck up. I don’t have teen idols now, as an adult.

  209. tracieh says

    They are encouraged to write in with questions or comments relevant to the show. It’s not a public chat line to socialize with the hosts.

  210. tracieh says

    Well, the post at this strand isn’t about a shy guy. The last I checked it wasn’t an indication of “shy” to approach strangers and ask them questions about themselves. That’s pretty darned extroverted, in my view.

  211. tracieh says

    If I found out the name of my mail carrier (who doesn’t know me) and e-mailed the local post office with subject line “Jane the Mail Carrier,” and put only “are you single?” would that be not harassment unless Jane had told me *not* to send her such a note again, and I did so? As a mail carrier Jane is publicly available to people. And if I had a problem or compliment about her delivery–it would be totally appropriate, even as a stranger, to contact the post office/her at the post office, about that–even though Jane doesn’t know me. But I really do think it would be unnerving to Jane to get what is basically an anonymous note (without knowing how I am–what use is “John” and an e-mail address?) from someone at her work that has no explanation about how it relates to do her work.

  212. tracieh says

    Martin has not done *me* a disservice. Again, someone else who doesn’t understand TAE and how it works. The TAE e-mail goes to TAE–not Tracie. So, Martin was a recipient. It’s as much his mail as mine. If he wants to say it’s shit–that’s him responding to his mail. Part of the problem here is people confusing the hosts, as humans, with TAE the show. I am not TAE. Martin is not Tracie. The letter went to TAE. The writer may have intended it for me directly, but then that was his misunderstanding about what he was doing when he wrote to a TAE contact address. He wrote to the show in a delusional capacity thinking it serves as a direct line to me personally. And that’s a boundary confusion point of his, not Martin’s.

  213. Ryan says

    So every time you go to make a move a woman you first ask her if it is appropriate to do so? Don’t be ridiculous. If you make an advance on a woman and she says no you stop. If you make an advance on a woman and she’s obviously interested you don’t stop an inch short of her lips to ask her if it is OK. Women are well tuned to our advances and can spot them almost as soon as we decide to implement them. If you do actually conduct yourself like this, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were constantly hearing “no” (which ironically would probably only reinforce your idea that it is necessary to ask first) as it is probably the most diffident, unspontaneous and downright awkward question you could ask anyone. It is thinking like this that kills the idea and saliency of non-verbal communication and body language.

  214. Mel says

    I am beyond shocked that some people honestly are saying that unless a woman says no then she has consented to you trying to pick her up or talk to her or touch her. That is stuffed. Yes you absolutely have to ask for permission, I don’t get why people do not think they have to ask for permission.

  215. Adam says

    I will explain if it is unclear.

    1. The skeptics/atheist are one of the most inclusive groups of people around.

    2. The current womens rights within the atheist/skeptics movement is wildly misplaced. One can argue (if you don’t live in a backwards place like Texas) that the womens rights movement has largely one in the western world.

    3. There are a billion women in the world who have to deal with significant womens rights issues, I have yet seen any of these ‘activist’ raise a finger to help these women. Instead, they choose to raise dissension in their own ranks among their allies.

  216. says

    No, Adam, let me explain, since this is obviously unclear to you.

    1. Denial that a problem exists is not a virtue. This issue will not go away because you call us names and have tantrums.

    2. I happen to live in Texas, but I do get news from all over. Do you? If so, how did you miss the current attacks on women’s reproductive rights? If we’ve “won,” then how is it that we’re struggling over issues we thought were settled 40+ years ago? And how is it that I still have to deal with males “explaining” to me why there’s no problem, when several women have clearly explained why there is a problem?

    3. How do you think you even know about that billion women in the world who have “significant women’s rights issues?” (And it’s more than a billion, but nice try.) I’ll give you a hint – it’s because of the women’s movement. If not for the women’s movement, you wouldn’t be aware of the struggles of women in other parts of the world, because it wouldn’t even be considered newsworthy. If you didn’t know that – and you clearly didn’t – then STFU about what the “women’s movement” is or isn’t doing for women in other parts of the world.

    Finally, if you’re willing to play the “other women have it so much worse” card, you are not my ally. If your position is that we have no right to call a guy out for behaving in a way that we’ve clearly said we don’t like, you’re not my ally. If you’re willing to dismiss my concerns, and that of other women in the atheist/skeptic movement, because you think we have enough rights already, you’re not my ally. Stop pretending you’re on my side. You’re not.

  217. J says

    I’m kind of sickened by the fact that you consider this harassment. Socially awkward, perhaps, but this is far from pushy, demeaning or sexual.

  218. Mike says

    I think your last response may have inadvertantly hit the nail on the head, Tracie: “For some reason, I just don’t think that should be considered so difficult that AN ADULT can’t figure it out.”

    However, the show and what you’re doing? Thanks!!

  219. Mel says

    I am disgusted that Tracie has to defend herself on this. Seriously. Why on earth anyone would think this is appropriate is beyond me. Also harassment does not have to be ongoing, it can be a single event that makes someone feel uncomfortable.

  220. gleach0001 says

    This is my first post. I have watched the show for a few years, but this is my first visit to the blog. I’ve read the post and the comments. Although Martin’s characterization of it as “harrassment” was an exaggeration, John misused the email address; that is a fact. But does this harmless, relatively minor infraction really merit 300+ comments escalating into further exaggerations, bitter insults, and death-wishes? I have noticed on nearly every internet social media site I have visited a pattern of increasing inability to resolve even minor conflicts and disagreements. I invite the reader to notice the commonality this shares with what takes place on the show between the callers and the hosts. It seems to me there is a deeper problem at hand in society which leads to this inability to resolve conflicts, religious or otherwise, in a more graceful manner, and I sincerely think that this is worth reflection.

  221. gleach0001 says

    Regarding the content of the email:
    To ask if a person is single shows respect not only to that person but to the institution of marriage itself. It is a courteous question, but it was delivered at an awkward time and through a channel what’s purpose is not for fraternizing. While in all likelihood, John’s intentions and meaning were correctly understood, it is wise to acknowledge there is some mind-reading at play. Perhaps John is gay. or consider if the question was from a woman. And no, you don’t need to ask permission to talk to someone. If you are asking them permission for anything, then you are already talking to them. But you might do well to ask permission to interrupt, to ask about something specific or personal, or to converse for some amount of time.

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