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On silencing anger to silence minority voices

My favorite thing to wake up to in the morning is white straight cis men insisting they get to decide who your allies are and that you should not ever get angry, but rather calmly explain basic topics to hostile questions from every person that wanders across your path as if it were your personal duty on this earth.

Thanks for that wonderful way to start the day, JT!

If that wasn’t his intended take home message from his post on Bria Crutchfield’s “outburst” at the Great Lakes Atheist Convention, that’s the message he actually accomplished. But intent is not magic – innocently writing something out of the goodness of your heart doesn’t wash away the problematic message of that post. Which ironically started with failing to understand that intent it not magic.

The problems all started when, during the Q&A of Mandisa Thomas’s talk, a woman asked her what black people were doing to fight black on black crime.  Was the woman’s question naive?  Yes.  Very.  And the naivety resulted in her asking a question that certainly had racist undertones, even if the woman was not intentionally being racist.  Mandisa handled it well.

But then, during the Q&A of Darrel C. Smith’s talk, Bria Crutchfield stood up and proceeded to give the woman an angry tongue lashing.  This went on for about five minutes (or maybe it just seemed like that long).  While Bria did answer the woman’s question, it was very embarrassing to the woman and trailed off into a number of red herrings such as “I’m here, get over it” as if anybody was suggesting that Bria or black atheists were unwelcome at the conference or silently sneered at by…anybody.

I, and several others wound up leaving the room during Bria’s monologue.  It just seemed so unnecessary to me.  The questioner was ignorant of what would make her question offensive, and this could’ve been solved without Bria embarrassing her (and herself) by usurping another speaker’s Q&A.  The woman merely needed information, not to be screamed at, and certainly not to be screamed at through a long diatribe in the middle of a conference when the floor was not hers.

So let’s recap what has happened so far:

JT’s psychic powers allow him to know that the woman asking the question on black on black crime is naive and not racist. This is despite that particular question being one of the most common, racist, debunked talking points from the far right. Even if 99% of the time that question is thrown out precisely to be hostile as a racism “gotcha”, we’re to assume this case is different for no good reason. He has downgraded the offense of that question to simply having “racist undertones,” despite playing up Bria’s response with value-laden terms like “outburst,” “angry tongue lashing,” “unnecessary,” and “diatribe.” His psychic powers also make him certain that Bria’s intent was to humiliate and embarrass, and he dismisses that Bria or other black atheists have any good reason to feel unwelcome at the conference. Because he gets to decide if they should feel unwelcome or not?

A commenter who also attended the event had a different take on the events:

Seeing that you stated that you left the room during Bria’s “outburst” I assume you did not hear her breakdown into tears at the end. I also assume that you were not present at the beginning of Bria’s talk where she apologized and clarified a few points.

If you would have witnessed the entirety of the “event” I don’t think you would have seen it as anything other than Bria’s frustration in having to educate people in a place that she hoped was already beyond that. It is often our “allies” that we get the most frustrated with, since for better or worse, we hold them to a higher standard because we hold them in higher regard.

After all this, JT has the gall to pull Bria aside and explain how he thinks she should have handled the situation – aka, be more nice and calm, and keep your disagreements to private discussions with the individual. This is so condescending it blows my mind. It is incredibly problematic for a white man to tell a black woman to not get angry about issues of racism that affect her on a daily basis. JT might not get mad, but it’s not because he’s achieved some higher, moral zen state that gives him infinite patience to deal with ignorance and hatred – it’s because these issues don’t fucking affect him. Of course you can stay calm when you either don’t care or don’t have to care.

He claims to understand how she feels – which is self evidently false from the article he just wrote. When you’re a member of a minority group, it is infuriating to hear the same offensive, dehumanizing, and ignorant questions over and over again. It is even more infuriating for people in a position of privilege to insist that it is your duty to personally and calmly educate every person that crosses your path. Even if 99% of the people asking these questions are assholes with no inkling to ever change their mind, you’re to treat each new one as a special snowflake. THIS one is just asking questions, guys!

Newsflash: If someone is parroting racist, sexist, or transphobic talking points, calmly explaining why they’re wrong doesn’t tend to work because they’re not looking to have their minds changed. You’d think someone who frequently deals with religious apologists would understand this. If someone came into an evolution conference saying “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” would JT argue that they’re simply naive, not informed, and want an explanation? Or would he think they’re informed enough to be parroting a creationist talking point that’s, to steal the perfect phrase from Crommunist, “an ideological attack disguised as ‘just asking questions.’”

Insisting that minorities quell their anger is insisting that minorities stay silent. Asking for public ignorant statements to be responded to in private sweeps the problems under the rug. Observers hear the problematic statement but no response, which reinforces the status quo and sends a message that no one found that statement problematic. It also puts all of the burden of educating one person, who most of the time don’t actually want to be educated, on individuals who already feel drained and exhausted from having to explain the same basic 101 crap over and over again.

And this call for calmness and personal explanations is even more infuriating coming from JT. I have calmly and privately explained social justice issues to JT for years, over email, texts, phone calls, in person conversations. So has Greta. So has Crommunist, who points out the last time he did so he was ignored, so he’s not going to try again. And also feel like all of these attempts have been ignored because no progress at all has been made. So when a person I consider a friend doesn’t even listen to these calm private explanations, why is he insisting it will work on strangers? To quote Crommunist via twitter:

If the tone of voice someone uses is enough to make you discount their argument, then you didn’t care about the issue to begin with. And the repeated demand to have things ‘calmly’ explained to you simply means you’re looking for an excuse not to listen. This goes double for people who demand calm explanations, and then IGNORE those explanations when they are given. You. Just. Don’t. Care. And while it may make you feel good to SAY you care, your actions shine through the bullshit veneer of “but I want to learn!” So if you don’t care, at least be honest with yourself and with others. You don’t have to care about every issue, but don’t lie. It’s boring.

When I started college, I labeled myself as a feminist. Like, woo, equality, who wouldn’t be behind that?! I started to read feminist blogs and I disagreed with a lot, if not most, of what they were saying. It was incredibly tempting to spew forth my uneducated opinion, and that desire did not come from wanting someone to calmly explain it to me – it came from thinking I was right and they were wrong. I’m sure I did that occasionally because no one is perfect, but you know what I ultimately decided to do? I shut up and listened. I read more and more and attempted to educate myself before partaking in any discussions. And now after a lot of time and work and thought, I understand.

Do I fully understand? Of course not. It’s a never-ending process, but it begins with listening and educating yourself first. And I fully admit I am at different stages of this process for different topics. I grew up in an overwhelmingly white Midwestern suburb, so I haven’t been aware of a lot of racial issues until recently. But instead of parroting things I may have heard from older relatives, I’ve been listening intently to better myself. I also fully admit there are still some trans issues I don’t “get,” but my response to that is to keep reading and thinking about it. To subscribe to blogs that sometimes make me uncomfortable and challenge my ideas. To do some motherfucking Googling.

But this was the cherry on top from JT’s post:

Lately there’s been a lot of this attitude in the atheist movement, that every misstep out of naivety or ignorance, even if it’s insulting, makes someone a prime target for a shout down in a “public room” – as if humiliation and shame, while sometimes the proper tools, are always the proper tools.  When did we forget that people in the atheist movement are our friends and allies?

I must steal this response from Jadehawk: We didn’t forget. We realized it wasn’t true.

look-kitten-plain

Just because you label yourself as an ally doesn’t make you one. Your actions make you one.  I want to close with one last quote from an article by Crommunist that’s a must read companion to this post:

Labels are accurate right up until the moment they are not. That is, you are an ally right up until the moment you stop acting like one, at which point you’re not an ally anymore. Having once been an ally doesn’t change your oppressive behaviour into non-oppressive behaviour any more than having had an accident-free record makes you not at fault for rear-ending that bus.

Being a good ally doesn’t involve silencing the people you claim to be allies with by policing their emotions and behavior.

Comments

  1. thefemalearchetype says

    You have just written everything that was in my head today. Thank you. I’m so tired of the:”X group doesn’t know any better and therefore can’t be expected to be responsible for their words, actions, behavior,” excuse. Why shouldn’t people be held accountable when they talk exactly like people who are unabashedly racist, homophobic, sexist or in any other way bigoted? If a person is borrowing lines from Bill O’Reilly they shouldn’t be shocked when people react to them as if they are a non-ally.

  2. Walton says

    Ugh, what a clueless post from JT Eberhard. Does he not realize how frustrating it is to hear the same old racist nonsense spouted again and again and again, and to have to debunk it again and again and again? And why does he think he’s entitled to tell marginalized people how to express their feelings about their own oppression?

    I’m a privileged person myself in most respects. But even so, having been involved in immigrants’ rights issues for a while, I get frustrated and angry with having to constantly debunk the same old bigoted Daily Mail tropes that I’ve been hearing for years. And I imagine this is similar for all social justice issues. People who experience oppression and discrimination have a right to be angry, they are justified in being angry, and privileged people like JT (and like me) should not be silencing them when they express their anger.

  3. says

    Yikes, that was painful to read… Amazed by him, tone arguments are fallacious crapola at best and not anything an “atheist firebrand” should adhere to! Worst they are used to silence justified anger, as in this case. Despite all the pit crap on Twitter some of the most unpleasant things I’ve seen on Twitter is when allies dismiss marginalised peoples views because of how they express them. Too rude, too many CAPS, insulting hashtags. Avoid the bigger issues based on irrelevant tone, something atheists who don’t revere politeness, should find it easy to avoid.

  4. besomyka says

    Pretty much all of this, Jen. Yup.

    Looks like my comment on his post got deleted. Some person named ‘baal’ replied, but I have no idea what was said. I came back 4 hours later to see if the discussion had progressed, but couldn’t find my post.

    If I recall, I said that someone asking a loaded racist questions in a situation that demanded the subject of that racism respond should be publicly embarrassed. That it sends the wrong signal to other people that really do harbor more aggressive racism the cover they need to ‘just ask a question’, and that is should be made clear to everyone in the audience that the question was inappropriate.

    That telling someone responding to tone it down make racism worse, and I wished that JT wouldn’t make it worse.

    It seems like, even if he’s right about everything, there’s a bit of a ‘Schrodinger’s Racist’ issue in play, only considerably less ambigious. The questions is that much of a dog whistle that it’s more like that strange man in the elevator said “I want to f*ck you.” not “want to come to my room for coffee?”.

    Anyway, intend to, nor do I think I did say anything offensive or personally insulting. Argumentative and disapproving, sure. I wonder what happened.

    I hope JT comes around. I recall some other atheists (was is PZ?) that went through something similar in some other context. Could serve as a template on how to apologize and do better.

  5. says

    This is why I stopped reading JT. Everything he mansplained here he has rebutted when it came from religionists.

    So when a theist comes repeating old, tired tropes, it’s fair game to eviscerate them. But when a racist or a sexist comes along, you gotta give them the benefit of the doubt.

  6. says

    Given that he’s currently misrepresenting and mocking my post on facebook, I’ve lost what little hope I had left in him to come around.

  7. smhll says

    I’ve probably only read about a dozen of the other blogger’s posts, so I’m no expert.

    However, he seems to have the very strong illusion that his emotional judgments of right and wrong and decency are so finely calibrated that he is always right. The possibility that other people might be right when he thinks they are wrong does not appear to be something he can entertain.

    BTW, what power do black people have to change the crime rate in their communities?

    Being able to think out the implications in a given statement is a valuable skill. I’m not sure how to cultivate it. Literature classes?

  8. says

    What I don’t understand about JT is that he has shown exactly this kind of anger at being marginalized. He has written beautiful posts on mental illness and how the sufferers are silenced and othered. He’s reacted in anger at the same kind of dishonest JAQing off that Bria responded to here.

    He has no excuse for not understanding the anger and frustration that comes out in activists’ responses. He has a frame of reference for empathizing. He just seems to think he’s too good to use it.

  9. Anthony K says

    Given that he’s currently misrepresenting and mocking my post on facebook, I’ve lost what little hope I had left in him to come around.

    Obviously, someone needs to take JT aside and coach him on the proper way to respond to someone’s criticisms.

    Like he likes to do.

  10. seraphymcrash says

    I don’t understand how JT can think he’s not “tone-trolling”. He isn’t arguing the content of Bria’s message, he’s only arguing about it’s delivery. This is the definition of tone trolling!

    It’s also jaw dropping the amount of leeway he’s willing to give the women asking the question, while essentially giving none to Bria. If someone asked a question that clearly demonstrated ignorance and prejudice and someone who was the target of that prejudice got upset and responded passionately, well that sounds justified to me.

    Why is it so important to carefully consider whether the women with the question was acting out of malice or not, but not carefully consider Bria’s response with the crap she’s had to tolerate? This is a huge double standard!

  11. says

    If I could have a conversation with myself from 10 years ago I would have some words. And they wouldn’t be polite or civil. I can’t piece together in detail how my (of course still ongoing) transformation happened, but I promise that no one else held my hand through it.

  12. Kevin Schelley says

    When I loaded up the FTB page and I saw you had a new post I was all “Yay! New post from Jen!” but then after opening it I was all like ooooh shit… what did JT do now?

    And I think that it’s a very unfortunate trend, when we’re no longer surprised at what someone is doing, more just wincing that they did something clueless and privileged yet again. First his insistence that he’s a feminist ally without acting remotely like one, tone policing how women in the movement show their displeasure at being marginalized and talked down to over the whole Ron Lindsay self pillory. Now telling a black woman what she shouldn’t get angry about… and then posting about it, in what seems to me, in a self congratulatory manner.

  13. skepticallydenpa says

    besomyka – Your post is still there. Disqus allows for other commenters to rank your replies, so it’s not going to remain on a fixed section of the page and your comment is bellow the [load more comments] button.

  14. says

    Holy hell, if I’d been there, it would have taken all my willpower not to start shouting at the jackass who asked the question, and I’m a white dude. I can only imagine how much more pissed off and upset Bria must have been. If the asker genuinely was that naive and ignorant, then she needs a wake up call about just how naive and ignorant she’s being, and public embarrassment can be such a wake up call. If, as I count more likely, she was JAQing off, then anger is really the only appropriate response, because she was deliberately being an asshole, and ought to be called out on that.

  15. Nicole Schrand says

    … I’d be surprised, but frankly, JT’s been on my list of people who are a big ol’ bag of dicks for years now. I’m entirely unsurprised that someone who thinks it’s chill to make a long rapey “joke” about fucking women and stealing their silverware to a group of people he doesn’t know at a conference he was involved in organizing is also an awful “ally” in many other respects.

  16. Beth says

    I almost find it hard to believe that you actually read JT’s post. I took a very different message from it. Futher, he stated quite explicitely that he was NOT saying that she was wrong to be angry or to let her anger show. It is possible to communicate anger without personally attacking the questioner. It was the personal attack that he felt was unwarranted in the situation, not the anger.

    He was describing what happened during the question and answer portion of a conference session. While I agree that members of minority groups should not be expected to respond ‘nicely’ and educate rather than berate the person asking the offensive question in all cases, I think this is one situation where a calm and educated response is and should be expected. If someone is going to step up to the mike and answer a question in that scenario it behooves them to be nice about it. If they are too angry to do so, I personally think they should allow someone else to respond.

  17. skepticallydenpa says

    Newsflash: If someone is parroting racist, sexist, or transphobic talking points, calmly explaining why they’re wrong doesn’t tend to work because they’re not looking to have their minds changed.

    Quoted for fucking truth! As a former/recovering parrot, I’d like to add that making your anger visible and unmistakable is the only way a dense fucker steeped in privilege is going to recognize that you are angry and that your anger is justified.

    Reading JT’s post, I found myself yelling. FOR FUCK SAKE, JT! GIVE BRIA A HUG!

    For someone who is capable of such great empathy, JT is really struggling in the social justice department. Of course Bria was curt with him when he approached her. She let her guard down for a convention, where she thought that maybe she could get away from having to educate every white person who hasn’t bothered to try to understand the limits of their own privilege; and that trust was broken. Did he really expect that, because he’s a such nice guy, that Bria was just going to open up about how tired and frustrated she felt, and how she felt betrayed by having let her guard down only to be knocked back into reality by one person’s public display of ignorance? Add that to the fact that JT has displayed more empathy for the people who misstep than the people who are being stepped on, and it should be no surprise that Bria doesn’t trust him, (certainly not shortly after being betrayed).

    Goddammit! I love JT; but he has been really dense on this subject.

  18. says

    @Beth

    I’d take your objection more seriously if JT didn’t show a pattern of resorting to mansplaining every time people disagree with his take on a social justice issue.

    This reaction directly parallels his response to the CFI/Ron Lindsay debacle. It directly parallels his response to people who criticized his fundraiser for a man who specifically did not want a fundraiser.

    Sorry. This many strikes means he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.

  19. Gemma Mason says

    It’s remarkable how much grace we’re supposed to extend before we’re allowed to even suggest racism (or, indeed, most other kinds of prejudice), let alone be annoyed by it. This is true even in situations where outright insults would be perfectly acceptable — such as British football culture, as Jimmy Carr amusingly highlights (link is to youtube, skip to 2:50):

    ‘Obviously, nothing has been proved either way, so we can’t call [this person] a racist. “Love cheat” is fine, “lowlife” is okay, “obnoxious”, “nasty”, “unpleasant” and “pond life”, all quite acceptable, as is: “arse”, “scumbag”, “maggot”, “bum-hole”, “toss-face”, “sh*thead” and “d*ck”, but not racist. That’s not been proved, so we can’t call the prick that!” ‘

    It’s frustrating how reasonable JT thinks he’s being. He goes over and tells someone he disagreed with her, without remotely acknowledging that her connection to the issue at hand is far stronger and more personal than his — and then he gets frustrated when she doesn’t just roll over and agree with him, when she has the nerve to suggest that she doesn’t have to justify herself to him. Well, she doesn’t! JT is not the arbiter of ‘reasonableness’ in this situation. This is an excellent example of a situation where ‘reasonable’ has very little to do with reason and a lot more to do with what an unequal society has decided it will and will not allow.

  20. says

    I kinda wonder how JT would react if someone stood up and asked, after a talk on eating disorders, what bulimics were doing to fight the negative perception of eating disorders.

  21. says

    What bothered me most was when he mentioned the criticism he had taken, and how that seems to have convinced him that the critics were wrong.

    There was a brief comment near the end recognizing that it was possible he was wrong, but no indication that he gave the idea any serious thought.

  22. says

    I had a real positive impression of JT meeting him there. He seems a kind person who really wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t seem to get why this occurred. It wasn’t just this one incident (as horrible as the underlying question was), it’s a series of things that have happened. Over and over. A person can only take so much before they lose it. Everyone that knows her would tell you how friendly and ridiculously easy she is to get along with. I hope this leads somewhere better.

  23. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    JT has been this way all along and lots of us noticed it. This is no surprise to anyone paying attention to how he reacted to anyone who criticized him, especially someone in a minority position relative to him.

  24. says

    Here’s the infuriating part to me:

    When did we forget that people in the atheist movement are our friends and allies?

    JT says this kind of thing all the time… but he doesn’t really live it. He doesn’t treat people like they’re his friends unless they’re hugging him and telling him he’s wonderful. When they aren’t doing ONLY those things, he talks down to them, treats them very badly, and then eventually attacks and/or ignores them. That’s not being a friend or ally, except in a selfish one-way sense. He’s willing to accept, but he’s not particularly interested in the giving part. He insists that he has wisdom to give everyone even when they have experience that he doesn’t, but he doesn’t seem to fucking listen to anyone, ever.

  25. says

    I’ve been reading JT’s blog for years; in fact, he’s one of the first atheist bloggers I read and had a role in convincing me to become an atheist. I’ve read (as I’m sure others have as well) him being harsh in his criticism of religious believers who ask him questions—including sometimes saying that they are asking him bad faith (pardon the expression) because they are asking him, a music major, about evolution, instead of asking someone who is an expert or reading a scientific book about it.

    I obviously wan’t there at the event, so I didn’t see the interactions in person, what specific words were used, and so on. I also don’t know how relevant/irrelevant it was to the topics previously being discussed. I generally think you’re making a good point, Jen. If his point was just that a Q&A isn’t the right venue, because other people want to ask questions and there is limited time, I could understand, but I feel like JT is giving the benefit of the doubt to one person (the question asker) but not to the other (Bria), as seraphymcrash said @comment 11. (I was also previously bothered by some parts of his response to the Ron Lindsay situation at WiS2.)

    I generally believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and explaining stuff if they have a question. However, it is difficult it is difficult when the question is one that is so often used by people to make a point in favor of discrimination, to such a degree that it’s rarely asked in good faith, out of real concern. I do think a person’s previous conduct should be taken into account (e.g., if someone is generally really good about racial issues, but then they say something ignorant, one might think they will be willing to change their views if things are explained, since they are usually reasonable on the subject; but if someone has a history of saying racist things, and then pretend to be just asking a question, their sincerity should be doubted). However, in this case, if the people involved didn’t know each other, and we can’t read minds.

  26. says

    I’ve been where Bria was. No, not specifically, I’m a white dude…but I’ve had those experiences where someone says something so clueless and stupid and offensive that I’m rocked back and don’t rebut it right away, and then the rage simmers and builds and has to erupt somewhere. Usually, for me, in a blog post. Bria just erupted in a Q&A.

    That question — “what are black people doing to fight black on black crime?” — is outrageously stupid. It’s the equivalent in inanity of a creationist telling me that evolution is just a theory, or that if evolution is true, why are there monkeys? It’s the kind of question only someone totally ignorant of the subject on which she is pontificating could ask. Naive? Fuck no. Dumb as dirt and a dozen times as damaging. She needed something more significant than just information — she needed a kick in the ass.

    I’m glad Bria gave it to her.

  27. Rachel Johnson says

    Well done article. While I am not going to speak ill of JT, I will say he probably doesn’t know how it feels to be talked to like a lesser human being. Like somehow these ladies are responsible for the behavior of a race simply because they are part of it. Thank you for your post. I hope JT can see Bridgett was not trying to hurt that lady, but say how tired she is of this being the standard for how our fellow Americans are treated because of the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

  28. Al Dente says

    Someone cannot declare themselves an ally. That title is awarded by the unprivileged group for services rendered.

  29. Onamission5 says

    Well, dammit.

    I’d stopped reading JT after the last time he decided to lecture all of feminism about our supposed anger problem, but I was still quietly hoping he’d marinate in the comments from that post after he closed them down and maybe have a good long think about why he thought it was his job to appoint himself arbiter of how mad people are allowed to get about the things that happen to them.

    This is my disappointed face. It’s been getting quite a workout lately.

  30. mildlymagnificent says

    Ally is a word that can be used as a label.

    What people who plaster it on themselves don’t realise is that it has a use by date. That date is the day you show that you’re no longer a real ally – you’re just a person who has/had friends who are women/ POC/ otherwise disadvantaged in some way.

  31. says

    My name is Mark Farris, I was one of the organizers of this event. Bria, you have to put this fire out . You overreacted and you were the lowlight of the event. I know the woman who asked the question and she is a good woman with a good heart and she asked a naïve question. We either overlook each other faults or we are the problem. Bria, at the end of the event I hugged you and I kissed you. You square this away right now or when we cross paths again you act like you don’t know me and I’ll return the favor. I will seek out and hug and kiss Judy because she is a good woman trying to change the world for the better. When I fuck up you can jump on me and I will if guilty confess my sins. If you are wrong one of us will look somewhat silly temporarily and then we all have to move forward. I know who the enemy is do you? I’m concerned about rich on poor crime. Bria, no more elevatorgates in this movement. I’ll call you soon. Don’t let this happen. This thread should die on the vine. Do the right thing Bria. You, I and Judy I hope will have lunch soon. Put this fire out now. You admitted during your speech you have made mistakes, we all have and we all will continue to do so. None of us are perfect.

  32. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Just because you label yourself as an ally doesn’t make you one. Your actions make you one.

    When I first learned about the concept of ally-dom (at a queer youth conference in the late 1990s), the biggest point the presenters hammered home was that YOU DO NOT GET TO CALL YOURSELF AN ALLY. Full. Fucking. Stop. I try to be a good ally to causes I have no stake in but it isn’t my place declare myself “an ally”.

  33. says

    I’m pretty sure I’ve read JT’s stuff before. Wasn’t he one of the philosophy dudes on here? If so, I’m not surprised. Not because I personally read anything that seemed particularly damning, but… frakking philosophers, they can say just about any bull they want as long as the debate is calm and logical. I mean, yeah, I made awesome grades in my advanced philosophy class in college, but at least I recognized that it was only because I’m a natural at bullshitting.

  34. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Oh, and chalk me up as completely unsurprised that JT would fail in this way. He seems like a nice guy but I’ve seen blind privilege from him before.

  35. Kevin Schelley says

    Mark Farris, this is not Bria’s blog. This was not written by Bria. Your comment most likely will not get to her. If you were actually connected to the conference in question you would most likely have her direct contact info.

    michaelbrew, JT is not one of the philosophers, You’re thinking of Chris Halquist and Dan Finke. JT was the founder of Skepticon and worked for the SSA for a while.

  36. didgen says

    @Mark Farris, do you really think that this is an appropriate venue for a comment to Bria personally? If you had meant that to be anything other than public shaming you are naive. If you truly want to get a message to her, try contacting her, if your main purpose is to look like a clueless git, congratulations, mission accomplished.

  37. says

    Kevin, I know this is not Bria’s blog, I know this was not written by Bria, This comment will get to Bria because I know her personally. I helped organize the event, I filmed the every speaker. I know what was said and I want everyone on this site to know Bria was out of line. I will be having lunch with both parties involved soon I hope. Kevin, you were there? If you got something to add to the conversation please jump in. If you are out of touch with reality don’t respond.

  38. says

    Yes didgen I know her personally and she lives down the street from me. She and I have had lunch before and we will have lunch again maybe one time more. Yes this is an appropriate venue for a comment to Bria because the discussion is here right now. Bria has to put this fire out because she is the one who struck the match. Not only was I there I filmed the whole exchange. didgen, you got anything more to add to the conversation? Jump in or go away.

  39. Onamission5 says

    Markferris, if you don’t understand why it is that Bria was so angry, then it’s probably not talking time, it’s listening time.

    At your some point in the future lunch, do you plan to try to control the conversation and put Bria in her place by getting her to understand how she needs to be more polite? ‘Cause that would be a peculiar combination of whitesplaining and mansplaining that’s as likely to get you handed your hat as it is to get you chalked up in the “not getting it” category and quietly ignored from that point forward.

    If you know Bria then you probably have her contact info and therefore don’t need to call her out on other people’s blogs. Just saying.

  40. Kevin Schelley says

    Mark, if you know her personally, email her or message her on facebook or some other private service. Don’t post a public message on someone else’s blog. It makes it look like you’re trying to shame Bria for reacting strongly to a question with strong racist connotations.

  41. says

    Bria has to put this fire out because she is the one who struck the match.

    No. The person who struck the match was the person who asked the ill-informed question.

    Intent is not magic.

    Do you have any more condesplaining to do?

  42. says

    Sure thing Nathaniel, I was the guy running the camera, I know what exactly what was said. I have the tape in front of me. Can you clarify this for everyone on this site or are you out touch with reality?

  43. Kengi says

    Thank God there’s a privileged white male like Mark Farris around to explain the realities of racism to an uppity black woman.

    /sarcasm

  44. didgen says

    Why yes, Mark, I do have a few more things to say. If you want to actually have a conversation with HER, talk to her. If you’re just trying to take shots at her publicly, maybe you should do it on your own blog. I especially liked the part about what should happen if she doesn’t fix things to your satisfaction, just act like you don’t know me and I’ll do the same. yes, that is truly the position of someone that really wants to TALK. Since this is Jen’s blog I won’t respond further to you.

  45. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Am I missing the link to this video? I wasn’t there but “markfarris” seems pretty sure that the it makes Bria look bad. I’d like to judge for myself.

  46. didgen says

    If the atheist movement is so weak that every problem that arises is a mortal threat. If any time a situation comes up where people should look to see, can I try to understand why this person reacted this way, is instead turned into a shut up and apologize moment. Then we don’t have anything remotely like a movement.

  47. Onamission5 says

    I live down the street from a black woman, too, and sometimes our kids play together, which means we end up in roughly the same location at the same time. I had no idea this qualified me to tell her when she is and is not allowed to get angry about racism, or to instruct her on how to go about that so it suits my delicate sensibilities. Whiteness comes with so many hidden superpowers and imparts to me so much authority, what to do, what to do?

    How predictable that in a blog post about allies who try to wield their self-assumed authority over minorities who they think are “too angry,” an ally shows up to wield his patronizing authority over the angry black woman.

  48. says

    Kengi, why do you think I am a privileged white man? I suspect I have worked more days of physical labor then you have been on this planet. My family is Irish, Russian and Polish, is there something wrong with that. Do you suggest slavery and genocide are unique. Tell me why. And why do you thank god for my existence? Kengi, I helped organize the event, I ran the camera so I understand all the words spoken. I personally know Bria, when she and I speak again she and I will consider who is wrong. You will not be a part of the conversation. Do you have anything to add to this conversation?

  49. says

    mark “I ran the camera” farris, this is the point where you might want to listen instead of talk, and above all things, stop digging.

    Just sayin’.

  50. Onamission5 says

    Markferris, did you feel what she felt? Have you experienced a lifetime of what she has experienced, do you have her same background, her same history? No? Then you are not the neutral expert on What Bria Ought To Have Done that you seem to think you are. You are seeing her actions and her anger through the lens of your own privileged male whiteness, which is skewing your perspective. You are not impartial. You have a vested interest in protecting the status quo as you benefit from it. Your take on what happened, which you insist on calling reality as if your experience is the only valid one, is not as flawless as you think it is.

    Lastly, this is not all about you. Stop making it about you.

    Seconding the above motion to stop digging.

  51. Kengi says

    Wow, what a clueless asshole Mark Farris is. Yes, I have more to add to this conversation.

    Why don’t you actually learn something about racism and privilege before declaring that you understand all of the words spoken when a black woman is talking about racist remarks. You can start here (but that’s only a start):

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/07/23/the-one-way-mirror-of-racial-privilege/

    Racial and gender privilege doesn’t mean you are rich or have never done physical labor.

  52. Martha says

    Nicely done, Jen. I’m sorry your first month or so back has been full of incidents like this– and much worse– but I’m really glad to see you blogging again. Your impressive participation on one of the panels at WiS 1 was one of the reasons I’ve stuck around in spite of all this. Sorry to have missed you at WiS2, but looking forward to seeing you at WiS3.

  53. says

    This exchange reveals to me why the freethought movement is floundering. All you philosophers who speak much about nothing are in the way. The internet is part of the problem. Too many people are sitting in front of a monitor when, if you had any guts, you’d be on a street corner with a sign proclaiming your atheism. The dust hasn’t settled from the actual event which I attended and you brilliant kids who were not there have it all figured out. I will probably be leaving the Great Lakes Atheists and I have no use for bickering with highly educated individuals who I should be able to work with. I’ll gladly go back to letters to the editor in my community because at least they know why they hate me.

  54. Kengi says

    OK, Mark “I ran the camera” Farris, I’ll make one attempt to explain this to you before I give up.

    You seem to be implying that you aren’t economically privileged. If so, that’s a good place to start. Imagine you were at the event where Romney called you one of the 47% dependent upon the government just because you were now drawing social security after working (physical labor!) for 55 years.

    You object, and get angry and emotional.

    Some rich jerk, who inherited all of his money and never worked a day in his life, decides you just don’t understand. He’s going to explain why you are part of the problem. After all, if you were really industrious, you would be rich like he is!

    That jerk is exhibiting economic privilege. He really doesn’t understand the reality of your situation.

    Now, imagine a white male condescendingly explaining to a black woman how she is wrong about racism and how she should react to a racist remark. Because that white male understands so much about being a black woman in America.

    Yeah, you are that privileged white male jerk in this situation trying to explain the realities of racism to a black woman.

  55. says

    Wow, markfarris, that’s one big steaming heap of hypocrisy right there. You have a problem with well-deserved public shaming so you… publicly shame?

    No, Bria didn’t strike the match. Your so-called good friend did, when she asked a bullshit question. Perhaps you should have done a better job educating her. If you do know her so well, than this situation is more your fault than Bria’s. That question was such an ignorant bunch of bullshit that anyone that was a true friend of this ‘Judy’ would have already dissuaded her from asking such tripe. As such, your own claim that she is a friend who wants to learn is the best evidence that the question was not asked in good faith. Anyone who wanted to learn and spent about 5 seconds educating themselves would have know the question was crap.

  56. says

    —You will not be a part of the conversation. Do you have anything to add to this conversation?—

    You came here.

    You wrote a post on Jen’s blog.

    You opened the conversation up to the public.

    In doing so, you invited us to take part.

    Shut up and listen. You might learn something.

  57. says

    I hope this markfarris person is in fact a troll, and not someone really involved in organizing this event. If I have to cross any more events off my list due to dipshit actions by their management, I’m going to have to start spending my weekends doing housework.

  58. says

    What do you mean before you give up? You haven’t started. I’m not collecting social security, what are you talking about? I ran the camera means I was there and I know what was said and I know who didn’t respond when the question was asked and I know who was speaking when Bria went on her emotional expedition and I know how long she flogged the issue and I know what she didn’t say. Why do you say I got angry and emotional? I just said Bria and I and Judy will sit down over a meal, we will discuss Bria’s lengthy outburst during someone else’s lecture about a question during another person’ s Q&A. This may sound a little convoluted and I suggest you are more than confused. I think Bria will clarify this for us all, I hope. I’ve been called a whole lot of things in my life but I seriously don’t think anyone has ever called me a white jerk. Kengi, you made my day. I have a better understanding why Christianity is allowed to hang around.

  59. didgen says

    Hey, I was a migrant farm worker kid chopping and picking cotton at the age of six, graduated to picking and traying grapes for raisins when I was ten. I’m going to just guess and say that I’ve been an atheist for longer than Mark has been alive. But he’s right, he’s the only one that has done anything for the movement. All Hail Mark.

  60. Onamission5 says

    @markferris #60

    So you’re going to stop trying to educate yourself (did you ever start? that is uncertain) on subjects in which you are pretty obviously not well versed because some people called you out on your uneducated shit. That is sad and helps nothing. But hey, at least you sort of stopped digging.

    While you’re flouncing, do try to keep in mind that there are people you may want to have on your side with more pressing issues in front of them than atheism alone, and those people are battling on more than one front at a time, using their precious internal resources to try and make a better world for you as well as for them. Someone who’s more than happy to use the resources of PoC (or QUILTBAG folks, or disabled folks, or women) when it suits your pet cause but not to expend your resources to support PoC, because it makes you uncomfortable that they won’t play by your rules on their own ground? Not an ally.

    All you philosophers who speak much about nothing are in the way.

    You really showed your ass on that one. Yeah. Racism, sexism, classism, bigotry and discrimination, that’s much ado about nothing. Atheism, that’s the only important issue that exists for any atheist, anywhere. Because nothing else affects or matters to you, nothing else can possibly affect or matter to anyone else. People who care about other pressing issues too, ones that affect them, ones that contribute to making the world a shittier place than it needs to be, we’re just in the way.

    The internet is part of the problem. Too many people are sitting in front of a monitor when, if you had any guts, you’d be on a street corner with a sign proclaiming your atheism.

    Because people who write comments on the internet cannot possibly go out and, you know, do shit.

  61. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I ran the camera means I was there

    According to you. I still haven’t seen any evidence that any of these events took place at all.

    Tell me again why we’re supposed to accept your word?

  62. says

    I am proud of you, we need people like you to move this movement forward. If you have been an Atheist longer than I have been alive, you must be wearing depends by now. If we are going to move forward we should stick to the issue at hand.

  63. Arawhon says

    Apparently many skeptics don’t get analogies, markfarris is among them. Why are there so many like this? First the PZ one, then Ophelia’s, and then Kengi’s above, all being misinterpreted while the analogy is pretty straightforward.

  64. says

    Arawhon not sure what you are trying to say. I don’t think I can compete with PZ or Ophilia and don’t you ever lump me in with Kengi again. This is all now turning to comedy I think. Where is this movement going? Right, I know.

  65. says

    It’s my understanding that Bria was incredibly emotional when she addressed the person who made the rude remark/question; and later, during her talk, apologized.

    I realize that many people (like midwest people like me) really cannot handle emotion and conflict. It wigs us out. I GET that.

    I KNOW you were there; and I’m not going to question your assessment that Bria crossed a line of civility with her remarks. From the sound of it, Bria realizes that as well.

    The problem that is obvious in what YOU have told all of US that you plan to do; is that you are placing ALL blame on her (which points to you not having a good idea as to why the question was as offensive as it was) and think that this is going to turn into some bizarre Elevator Gate scenario.

    The ONLY way that’s going to happen – is if you BLAME and SHAME her – not only for what she actually DID but for how people have reacted to it; and not charitably considered the position she was in and the stress that situation obviously caused her.

    You are telling her to “put out the fire” but you are unwittingly stoking it.

    As far as the person who asked the question: sometimes very good people say terrible things.

    It happens, that doesn’t mean what they said doesn’t have consequences.

    This is true of both of them – right?

    Why would you contemplate never talking to Bria again; while not extending the same “offer” to the person who asked the question who (as far as I am aware) still doesn’t understand what she did wrong; and has made no apology (unlike Bria)?

    One suggestion made at the MN atheist convention recently, that many cons do, is to have questions written on cards, selected, and presented. If abused, that system could stifle good questions; but it also avoids the uncomfortable situation here.

    There’s some good advice I think.

    Other good advice – that MANY others have suggested – TAKE THIS OFF THE NET. The blog post and comments are mostly about concepts and ideas and how JT reacts to things; how tone is policed, etc. It’s not specifically about exactly what happened – making it into some sort of internet drama-fodder.

    If you want something to become a DRAMA blow up – completely – you let it play out on the net. You talk to people THROUGH THE NET, instead of in person. (Like you just did.)

    Don’t do that.

    Another bit of advice. You may want to see if there is a conflict resolution professional that might help facilitate the discussion between you, Bria and the person who asked the question. Essentially get a trained, neutral person, to help you out.

    I hope all goes well.

  66. says

    First his insistence that he’s a feminist ally without acting remotely like one, tone policing how women in the movement show their displeasure at being marginalized and talked down to over the whole Ron Lindsay self pillory.

    that’s actually not even the first time he pulled that kind of stunt. Back when we started talking about harassment policies, his contribution to that conversation was to handwring about how women should change their behavior to be more blatant when they don’t want attention, so that socially inept guys don’t accidentally harass them. (the only good thing that came out of that prolonged BS of once again putting the burden for ending harassment on women was the “socially inept, please speak bluntly to me” button you can buy from the skepchicks)

  67. didgen says

    Trust me Mark, depends are probably not all that far in my future, but I did say it was a guess. I do think you need to accept that you perhaps have not made the best presentation of your, argument? that you could have. If Judy is your friend and you have had lunch with Bria, perhaps you have a somewhat skewed view of who is right or wrong in this situation. Or perhaps no one is right, and a little talking and understanding may be called for. I don’t know Judy, but her question at best seems problematic, maybe you should think about why that question caused that reaction in Bria whom you have presumably known to be a reasonable, rational person.

  68. says

    My name is Mark Farris, I was one of the organizers of this event. Bria, you have to put this fire out . [...] You square this away right now or when we cross paths again you act like you don’t know me and I’ll return the favor. I will seek out and hug and kiss Judy because she is a good woman trying to change the world for the better. [...]This thread should die on the vine. Do the right thing Bria. You, I and Judy I hope will have lunch soon. Put this fire out now. You admitted during your speech you have made mistakes, we all have and we all will continue to do so. None of us are perfect.

    translation: I’m telling you here in this place that isn’t even yours that if you don’t somehow manage to stop people you have no control over from talking in this place you have no control over, I’ll start pretending I don’t know who you are; and have I mentioned I organize events? *hinthint*

    I know the woman who asked the question and she is a good woman with a good heart and she asked a naïve question. We either overlook each other faults or we are the problem.

    translation: racism is ok when it comes from people who are nice to me, a white dude. STFU about racism, or you’re the problem.

    I know who the enemy is do you? I’m concerned about rich on poor crime.

    translation: I determine what the problems we’re allowed to address are.

    Bria, no more elevatorgates in this movement.

    translation: don’t you dare standing up against bullshit, it’ll just rock the boat, and I don’t like that.

    I know what was said and I want everyone on this site to know Bria was out of line.

    translation: I’m a white dude with institutional power in this movement, therefore you should believe my version of events.

    Bria has to put this fire out because she is the one who struck the match.

    translation: don’t fucking rock the boat. Racism is ok, but angry reactions to racism are not, because the latter affects me, and the former does not.

    Kengi, why do you think I am a privileged white man? I suspect I have worked more days of physical labor then you have been on this planet. My family is Irish, Russian and Polish, is there something wrong with that.

    translation: I don’t have a fucking clue what privilege is, but I’ll be in your face about it anyway.

    This exchange reveals to me why the freethought movement is floundering. All you philosophers who speak much about nothing are in the way.

    translation: I still don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, but I’ll just blame people focusing on problems that don’t affect me for all the ills in the movement.

    The dust hasn’t settled from the actual event which I attended and you brilliant kids who were not there have it all figured out.

    translation: let me show you how much I care about classism by engaging in poverty-shaming.

    I will probably be leaving the Great Lakes Atheists and I have no use for bickering with highly educated individuals who I should be able to work with. I’ll gladly go back to letters to the editor in my community because at least they know why they hate me.

    translation: *flounce*

    I just said Bria and I and Judy will sit down over a meal, we will discuss Bria’s lengthy outburst

    translation: I and the nice lady with the racist views straight out of Fox News will sit down and tell the Angry Black Woman how to behave; why are you all so upset at this?

    I’ve been called a whole lot of things in my life but I seriously don’t think anyone has ever called me a white jerk. Kengi, you made my day. I have a better understanding why Christianity is allowed to hang around.

    translation: because I still don’t know what the fuck is going on, I’ll now also blame the dominance of Christianity on people fighting problems that don’t affect me and calling out my bias.

    Where is this movement going? Right, I know.

    translation: WHY WON’T PEOPLE STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO PROBLEMS THAT DON’T AFFECT ME AND GO BACK TO TOLERATING THEM AND FOCUSING ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO MEEEEEEEEEE!?

  69. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    But instead of parroting things I may have heard from older relatives, I’ve been listening intently to better myself. I also fully admit there are still some trans issues I don’t “get,” but my response to that is to keep reading and thinking about it. To subscribe to blogs that sometimes make me uncomfortable and challenge my ideas. To do some motherfucking Googling.

    Excellent, 1st tier resources to aid you in this endeavor are to be found here: http://pastebin.com/Ge8sAT2i (excerpt below)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A3C4ZJ7HyuE
    taken from this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOY3QH_jOtE&feature=youtu.be&t=1h23m52s

    AMA and APA statements on transpeople and medically necessary surgeries (hard statistics referenced):
    http://www.cristanwilliams.com/b/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/12-36-apa-position-statements-on-transgender-1.pdf
    http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Medpro-Assets/AMA122.pdf (<—-I fixed this link)

    Hard empirical statistics pdf, some of which are referenced in the above two pdf's:
    http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

    http://gallae.com/cathy/essay12.html (explains differences very well, but I do not condone TS separatist while I am TS myself)

    http://www.transadvocate.com/extreme-pressures-faced-by-trans-people.htm
    http://aebrain.blogspot.com/p/transsexual-and-intersex-gender-identity.html (peer review articles, many of them)

    ————————————————————————————————————-

    ^.^

    Thanks for striving to learn more and care about transgender people, thank you. I hope maybe someday not so much extreme isolation, transphobia, and better world for us. Is decades away though I think mhmm

    Happy song ^.^ I feel really spaced out.

  70. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    Arawhon not sure what you are trying to say. I don’t think I can compete with PZ or Ophilia and don’t you ever lump me in with Kengi again. This is all now turning to comedy I think. Where is this movement going? Right, I know.

    It sure is Mark: you’re a joke, and an even bigger joke than the usual Eiffel tower fucking joke height. You need to uncork your head from somewhere up inside your lower GI tract and quit sniffin’ the juices, talking about how amazing they smell and omg if people could just understand! You and that idiot racist delicatelittlepetal *swoons* that you’re brownnosing. Jesus wtf you privileged shitstain. Toss that salad motherfucker.

  71. says

    Apparently you should reread this exchange. I did not say I lay all blame on Bria. What I said in essence was Bria overreacted. I will go back and look at the film, I do not remember an apology by anybody. I got about 12 hrs. of film to look at and believe me that segment is my breakfast. Bria made some lengthy emotional arguments during someone else’s lecture in response to a question during someone else’s talk. So, why would I not want to talk to Bria again? Well, because Bria was mentally preparing herself for her speech and she jumped the gun. What I am saying is Bria got carried away emotionally. She let loose early and Bria was the lowlight of the convention. These are of course cruel words but don’t act like I’m the problem. Don’t tell me I don’t understand racism. My Russian roots will tell you that Stalin killed more Russian people than Hitler. My Irish roots will tell you that you don’t have to have dark skin to be hated. My Polish roots will tell you that the Nazi’s butchered and raped the Polish people in conquest and the Russians then butchered and raped the Polish during their defeat of the Nazi’s. You want to talk about racism, sure , let’s do so but cry on someone else’s shoulder. This movements dirty underwear is obvious to the Christians and they have more bleach. Bria and I will talk and hopefully Judy will be there. I will soon wash my hands of this feeble attempt at change. I have nothing to gain by bickering with people I should be able to work with. I’ll go back to bickering with Christians. You all can move forward to victory on whatever path you choose.

  72. Great American Satan says

    In related news, I happened by part of Malcolm X on cable today while I was cooking some mac & cheese, and that shit almost made me cry. Specifically, the scene where some guys are happy about Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough, and the preacher guy reminds them they deserve far better – their ancestors once had a far better life than is now afforded them by the white man’s world. Those actors really sold me on the feeling. I’m getting a little choked up typing this. It was brutal.

  73. didgen says

    wow first we lost BelieverSkeptic and now the “movement” stands to lose Mark. How will it survive, it amazes me the value people put on themselves. None of us are irreplaceable, there will always be someone to take your place.

  74. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    In related news, I happened by part of Malcolm X on cable today while I was cooking some mac & cheese, and that shit almost made me cry. Specifically, the scene where some guys are happy about Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough, and the preacher guy reminds them they deserve far better – their ancestors once had a far better life than is now afforded them by the white man’s world. Those actors really sold me on the feeling. I’m getting a little choked up typing this. It was brutal.

    The Coup – 5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQthFDpYCys

    :~)

    /me twirls around the dance floor doing mini break dances from time to time to the music until she gets tired.

    /keeps dancing for hours on the floor, not even breaking a sweat.

    /me goes back to reality where she walks into the dance floor, sees the lights and people, and sits in the corner with a crippling anxiety attack, barely able to catch her breathe, eventually seeing stars, and having to leave the room.

    Once the name Malcom X came up, I thought that would be like a toooootally awesome song to link to, for sure =)

  75. Great American Satan says

    Also, and Jen, please delete this comment if it’s against your sense of propriety for the place, but based on his first comment alone, I feel it’s necessary to point out that Mark Farris is a giant piece of shit. I’m not sure if anyone needs that explicated, but if someone playing along at home didn’t do the math right for some reason, indeed, by the evidence presented here, one should conclude… MFiaGPoS. Thank you.

  76. didgen says

    You do know that you took a thread that was mainly about a blog entry made on another site and the problems with how the blog entry was written and the attitudes displayed by the other blogger and made it all about you right?

  77. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    What a perfect specimen of unexamined white, male privilege, sort of like a rare bird that we see and marvel at because of its rarit… wait, no. It’s like a common fucking pigeon, ubiquitous and shitting all over everything but so usual and impossible to stop so we all just put up with it and clean up the mess after once it begins to gum stuff up and stink too badly.

    Of course, the pigeons in this case are privileged humans, all claiming to be beautiful rare snowflake-speckled swans. Maybe it’s in their heritage, maybe their ancestors were hunted to extinction by different birds that are now rare and preyed upon. Now, however, they’re a fucking common, poop-dispensing pigeon.
    You’re not a beautiful precious swan. You’re a pigeon. Deal with it.

  78. didgen says

    It’s lovely to have you back Jen, I’ve missed your writing. Great news about your mom.

  79. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    wow first we lost BelieverSkeptic and now the “movement” stands to lose Mark. How will it survive, it amazes me the value people put on themselves. None of us are irreplaceable, there will always be someone to take your place.

    Oh no, whatever shall we do! Who will save my precious delicate little self from the big bad angry black lady cuz I AM A DELICATE LITTLE FLOWER ASKING A TOTALLY INNOCENT RACIST QUESTION OMG!

    /waits for prince charming to come save her from the tower, letting her ankle length daddy issues hair waft in the wind from the window, crying help me!!! I can’t ask a question and have an interaction without becoming an infant needing a white dude savior!! Save me from my tower of distress as the angry black women gather like rabid badgers in the waters of the mote to devour me lest I fall from my window, oh noble and stoic conservative democrat indispensable ally who sets up conferences!! /tosses her white handkerchief out the window and waits for manly manz to come to her defense from the evil angry black women.

    *SWOONS* DELICATE LITTLE PORCELAIN ASKING TOTALLY INNOCENT QUESTION with no racist implications ever!! Save me Mario!!!

  80. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Jadehawk – But what about eh poor white people, their ancestors didn’t have a totally easy time!

    Name ONE cultural background that hasn’t experienced some kind of horrible hardship. One. Using that as a justification for current racism – and from a hugely privileged positions? FUCK OFF.

  81. says

    My Russian roots will tell you that Stalin killed more Russian people than Hitler.

    I’m still marveling at that sentence. What’s in the water in the Great Lakes?

  82. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    81- Hellz the eff yeaaaaaaaaaah :D

    My mom has strong Spanish background so I got clocked as PoC growing up, constantly. Eventually I just had to deal with the oppression of it, even though most of my background was pretty Caucasian stuff otherwise. The best solution to racists is minority inspired music. So thanks for bringing up Malcom X, as it’s now shown me the occasion to post more amazing music related to minorities in order to bring home the point that racist people need to hang glide into the side of a cliff like wile coyote!

    More amazing minority inspired anti-racist music:

    Rage Against The Machine: Killing In The Name
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNzIKoAy2pk

    :+)

  83. Great American Satan says

    Rorschach- That’s where Electric Six and The White Stripes are from, so I guess electric disco sex and white boy blues sauce. Those are very weird bodies of water. Positively Erie.

  84. Great American Satan says

    @91 – Killing in the Name Of is awesome 4eva, but the live Audioslave version on Youtube is about as cool as Mark Farris. Maybe I’d at least find him amusing if I imagined him doing Chris Cornell’s frog voice from that.

  85. chrislawson says

    Funny how in WW2 we just plain forgot that Italy was our ally in WW1. If only we’d remembered, we could have overlooked that inconsequential little pact Mussolini made with Hitler and avoided unnecessary conflict!

  86. chrislawson says

    (The above comment is not meant to be a Godwin, just pointing out the idiocy of assuming that an ally will always be an ally in all times and circumstances.)

  87. says

    I seriously think that the mainstream “skeptical” movement’s problems boil down to the following failures:

    1) Acting like the rules we apply for recognizing science denialists magically don’t apply to oppression denialists

    2) Acting like the rules we apply for recognizing sexism denialists magically don’t apply to any other form of oppression

    #1 is bad on its own, but #2 makes #1 even harder to deal with than it already is. And It’s already staggeringly hard to deal with.

    People…
    …especially well-off people…
    …especially especially well-off neurotypical people…
    …especially especially especially well-off neurotypical cis people…
    …especially especially especially especially well-off neurotypical cis people who are mentally healthy
    …especially especially especially especially well-off physically able neurotypical cis people who are mentally healthy…
    …especially especially especially especially especially well-off physically able neurotypical hetero cis people who are mentally healthy…
    …especially especially especially especially especially especially white well-off able neurotypical hetero cis people who are mentally healthy…
    …and especially especially especially especially especially especially especially white well-off able neurotypical hetero cis mentally healthy GUYS:

    These concepts are fucking portable. You can switch out the argument’s specifics for another topic entirely without making the argument any more sound or valid. This little rule is a really, really, damn fucking easy way to make sure your foot isn’t on a collision course with your mouth, and I have no idea why it isn’t being used more. If you can’t at least make your argument refer to evolution without being searchable on TalkOrigins, or refer to sexism without being refuted by Feminism 101, you should look for better arguments. Two plus two does not equal five, and you do not get to debate this in chem class any more than you get to debate it in math class.

  88. says

    I’m kind of sick of this particular trope. “before they became officially white, my ancestors were oppressed too, which means I totally know how be part of a group that never has been accepted as fully human, and you’re doing it wrong.” blerggh.

  89. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    @91 – Killing in the Name Of is awesome 4eva, but the live Audioslave version on Youtube is about as cool as Mark Farris. Maybe I’d at least find him amusing if I imagined him doing Chris Cornell’s frog voice from that

    I think that was cd track I linked to, /confused, hehe. ^.^

    More anti-racist songs for Comrades, especially songs which resist oppressive privileged jerks who demand everyone stay calm!

    Rage Against The Machine – Calm Like A Bomb
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbGJeXShopk

    I’m calm like a bomb!

  90. Great American Satan says

    chrislawson@94, Setar, Jadehawk, and Music Fan- Y’all bring the awesome.

    Music Fan- You posted the right track. The mention of the song just reminded me of the sad experience of watching the AS video. *shudder* My fave RAtM is New Millenium Homes. :-)

  91. 18273kq4937xg431q says

    Music Fan- You posted the right track. The mention of the song just reminded me of the sad experience of watching the AS video. *shudder* My fave RAtM is New Millenium Homes. :-)

    Ahh yesh, hmm. That sounds horrible hahah ^.^

    More music produced by minorities (lead singer is a minority) for our incredibly enlightened obviously anti-racist indispensable red shirt star trek classic totally honorable magical anti-racist yet actual racist amazing white dude, Mark Ferris:

    The Prodigy – Diesel Power HD 720p

  92. Great American Satan says

    I think Farris Bueller stuck the flounce, as should I, with my comment pollution. Thanks for the entertainment, Music Fan & Others. XD And thanks for the lucid and righteous post of fury, Jen. Well done.

  93. says

    I think Farris Bueller stuck the flounce, as should I, with my comment pollution. Thanks for the entertainment, Music Fan & Others. XD And thanks for the lucid and righteous post of fury, Jen. Well done.

    You’re welcome ^.^, my Spooky business is done here, racism has been turned into a wax puddle, amazing music with anti-racist themes made by minorities was posted.

    NOW ALL THAT REMAINS IS TO STRAP THE TOTALLY INNOCENT WHITE DUDE IN A CHAIR WITH ANKLE, WRIST, AND WAIST CLAMPS, AND PLAY A HUGE BLACK AND WHITE SWIRLY ON THE THEATRE SCREEN FLASHING SUBLIMINAL ANTI-RACIST MESSAGES WHILE HE TRANCES OUT (j/k).

    Moar good music made by PoC minorities:

    Cypress Hill – Rock Superstar
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3ZcflP8KPY

    The antidote to racist assholes is amazing music made by minorities and with anti-racist messaging!

  94. francesc says

    @markfarris
    On the comment 60 you said: “if you had any guts, you’d be on a street corner with a sign proclaiming your atheism”
    Last time I tried to do so, the church minister on the other corner on the street, who happens to be a nice guy and identifies himself as an ally, explained to me that I was showing too much anger and that I should get back to home and shut up. Of course, being an ally and all that I aknowledged his good sense so I never show publicly that I’m an atheist.
    Look, it’s pretty simple, if you are an ally of a movement you just don’t tone down their protests. Non-ally comments: those atheist’s signs are silly. Gay parade is ridiculous. Women shouldn’t protest showing their breasts. And black people shouldn’t get angry at racists comments when there is an infinitesimal possibility that they are well-intended.
    Of course, if you are part of the movement you can -and should- show your dissaproval when you don’t agree with your partners.

  95. B-Lar says

    OK, I’m in.

    I just went over and read JT’s post on the matter, and some things he wrote jumped out at me.

    I have seen this elsewhere, where a disproportionate response takes place and someone defends it by saying they were justifiably angry, as if every action taken on account of justifiable anger is therefore justified.

    Does justified anger justify any behaviour? If not, and social justice culture says that we should call out behaviour that we perceive is out of line (the standard you walk past is the standard you accept), then how should we call out bad behaviour from minority groups?

    There are some other bits of JTs report which are interesting. I will do some snipping:

    … Bria then told me she was offended to justify her earlier explosion. I said I didn’t blame her for being offended. The question was offensive. But surely, I asked, you don’t think that the offense was intended? Bria did not answer, which suggested to me she thought it was intended…

    Bria then told me that “the only people who concern her were the people who agreed with her.” (She reiterated this later on her facebook page by saying “At the end of the day, ALL that matters in MY life are those who are in MY corner”).

    I told Bria I understood that the woman’s question had racist undertones, to which Bria responded “I didn’t say I had a problem with that, I had a problem that she embarrassed Mandisa.”… snip …I pointed out that Bria then embarrassed the woman who asked the question, the only difference being that Bria had the full intention of doing so. I asked Bria if she felt that engaging in the same behavior she found distasteful was the best way to advocate for her cause. Bria responded that she doesn’t care what people think of her. … snip … What I got next was a series of statements like “That’s how I roll” and “I chew the meat and spit out the bones”, as if those things even remotely addressed the issue of Bria being out of line.

    After going down all these routes and making no progress, I asked Bria if she thought that was the best way to change a person’s mind. Bria said she didn’t care if the woman’s mind was changed. I then asked Bria, if her intent was not to change the woman’s mind, what she had hoped to accomplish. Bria responded that she didn’t have to tell me that. I agreed, but told her that it might help me to understand her position better. Bria reiterated that she didn’t have to tell me what she had hoped to accomplish.

    Straight up, I have always had a problem with assuming the worst intentions about someone because they happen to ask a question which is so common for ignorant people to make that it is also used as malicious rhetoric.

    I think the bits in the above blockquote are problematic. If Bria is only interested in hearing from people who affirm that what she did was justified, if she is prepared to immediately assume malice, if she is not interested in changing minds then I will come down on the side of JT. It doesn’t sound unreasonable to call her out. In his telling, its not even about the racist undertones and is instead about embarrassing another!

    Yeah, I’m sorry everyone, but I think there is a cognitive bias inherent in knowing what you are talking about. Perhaps its because you superimpose your own lack of ignorance onto the questioner, leaving malice as the only remaining explanation for saying such a horrific thing. I don’t know.

    Furthermore, criticism is not silencing. Bria clearly has no interest in listening to JT’s criticism, and she can completely disregard it… after all, that’s how she rolls.

    I haven’t seen the video yet (hopefully markfarris will provide us with a link!) so I reserve the right to change my mind after I have seen it. Maybe what people have reported as screaming was actually forceful argument and JT’s post is inaccurate.

    Have at me. I will do my best to keep up.

  96. says

    then how should we call out bad behaviour from minority groups?

    back up, there’s some hidden assumptions there: why do you think you have the qualifications to say what is or isn’t “bad” behavior when it’s about an axis of oppression you’re not negatively affected by? why do you think it is your job to be telling people who are affected by a particular oppression how they should be reacting to it?

    I have always had a problem with assuming the worst intentions

    don’t give a fuck about intentions, effects are what matter.

    if she is prepared to immediately assume malice

    [citation needed]

    Perhaps its because you superimpose your own lack of ignorance onto the questioner, leaving malice as the only remaining explanation for saying such a horrific thing.

    darling, racism is not about malice. because intent is not the fucking point. you can do something racist and not have any malicious intent whatsoever.
    OTOH, it’s not actually ignorance that makes one parrot right-wing tropes. Ignorance implies a lack of information, not misinformation.

    Furthermore, criticism is not silencing.

    telling someone to be quiet is not criticism though.

  97. says

    Wow, this Mark Farris guy is proving himself to be even more of a clueless racist asshat than the woman who asked the original ignorant question…

    Kengi, why do you think I am a privileged white man? I suspect I have worked more days of physical labor then you have been on this planet.

    What, you think you’re the only one here who ever did any work? You think Bria is a Welfare Queen? Is that what you’re trying to imply?

    My family is Irish, Russian and Polish, is there something wrong with that. Do you suggest slavery and genocide are unique. Tell me why. And why do you thank god for my existence?

    No one suggested any such thing, and you know it. What the hell are you even talking about? I’m of Irish ancestry too, and my ex is of Polich and Czech background. Care to explain how any of this is relevant here?

    Kengi, I helped organize the event, I ran the camera so I understand all the words spoken.

    Um, dude, that’s a non-sequitur: taking pictures has nothing to do with understanding words.

    I personally know Bria, when she and I speak again she and I will consider who is wrong.

    I love how you PUBLICLY announce what you plan to say in your PRIVATE conversations. (BTW, are you having a private conversation with the person who asked the stupid JAQ-off question that started this whole dustup?)

    You will not be a part of the conversation. Do you have anything to add to this conversation?

    If you don’t want someone to be part of a conversation, then don’t have any part of the conversation in front of him/her. I guess we can all remember your total lack of manners next time you try to organize an event.

    I did not say I lay all blame on Bria.

    Now you’re just plain lying, probably because you’ve suddenly realized you’re not as tough as you try to sound, and can’t even stand by your own words — which were “Bria has to put this fire out because she is the one who struck the match.” Do you remember saying that, Mark? That’s you saying you lay all blame on Bria.

    I’m finding it hard to believe this guy organized the event. Do event organizers normally double as full-time cameramen and recorders? This guy sounds more like a creepy angry stalker bragging about how he can see everything a woman is doing, and loudly promising to take her aside and put her in her place.

  98. says

    Does justified anger justify any behaviour?

    It doesn’t justify violence, of course — but there was none of that at this event, so I”m not sure what your concern is here.

    I have always had a problem with assuming the worst intentions about someone because they happen to ask a question which is so common for ignorant people to make that it is also used as malicious rhetoric.

    You have a problem with people thinking a question is malicious, just because it’s malicious all the other times it’s been asked? Tell me, when someone says “fuck you,” do you really stop and ask yourself whther those words really mean the same thing they’ve meant every other time you heard them?

    Furthermore, criticism is not silencing.

    Telling someone when she is or is not allowed to show her feelings IS silencing.

    Yeah, I’m sorry everyone, but I think there is a cognitive bias inherent in knowing what you are talking about.

    Um…what?

  99. says

    Hello Everyone!
    I’m Bria, she who is currently on JT’s shit list ;) First, I’d like to give a warm hug and a big thank you to Jen for this AMAZING post. You didn’t have to write about this ‘incident’ so I’m even more grateful.

    Secondly, THANKS to those of you who administered support. You don’t know me but at least you gave me the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been portrayed as a wild, emotional banshee and I assure you-it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Thirdly, in light of Mark Farris’ (my now former friend) words and comment #105 from B-Lar, I’m left with no other recourse BUT to offer CLARITY to what ACTUALLY transpired. I’m issuing a formal statement soon and after my statement, I’m moving on with my life. I’m against infighting as we have bigger and better fights on our hands. I’m simply going to add the rest of the pieces to this askewed puzzle and you will see what was written about me were baseless, unfounded and distorted.

    Again, to those of you have shown your support my heart is overwhelmed with love for you all and believe me this has been an emotional rollercoaster. I’d like to say, I was NOT the lowlight of the conference…I’ve received support from MANY attendees-young and old. I’ve made great friends who I will continue to hold near and dear to my heart.

    Thank you Jen for offering a space so that I may get these few words out. I’m amazed at the support overall I’ve received.

    Until next time-thank you and I love you <3

  100. embertine says

    Hi Bria, thanks so much for posting this here and I will look forward to your statement. I’m sorry you’ve lost a friend over this – I guess he showed his true colours.

    I am a white woman and I cannot imagine having the sheer brass neck to tell a black woman that she is not allowed to get upset about issues that affect her and not me. Your life experiences are not fodder for me, or anyone else, to perform an exercise in mental masturbation.

    You deserve to be commended for your passionate and personal response. Thank you.

  101. Tabitha Black says

    How many times are we going to have to suffer these discussions? Seriously, this blog explicitly states the bottom line: no one is looking to have their minds changed. No one is going to have their minds changed. So why can’t atheists accept that they have exactly one thing in common, the lack of belief in a deity. All this other crap about allies and commonality, it’s bogus. And everyone continues to shout at each other and shame each other and get angry, which is fine by me but I don’t know why you’re expending the energy. People are assholes. All people. Atheists too.

  102. says

    @111. Tabitha — if that’s the way you feel, the internet is full of places with pictures of cute kittens doing adorable things. I suggest you go there and let the adults talk.

  103. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    So… what you’re saying is that the people actually affected by this should… shut up?

    …Really?

  104. tonyinbatavia says

    Tabitha @111, I understand your sentiment, but I don’t share it. You are both right and wrong about the allies and commonality; the only thing atheists universally share is our lack of belief, correct, but there truly are allies to be found within that larger on other, related matters. We are expending the energy precisely because we are trying to identify those allies. Since it is so tough to get the hell out of religion, it is useful to have a soft landing pad for those who are leaving. Those expending the energy recognized that the movement wasn’t very inviting, didn’t look like much of a community, to anyone who didn’t fit a very narrow demographic. So, yeah, energy is spent, but it is spent trying to locate those allies who would like to band together to create a more welcoming place for non-white, non-males.

    As rough and tiring as they are, I don’t believe the discussions are bogus. They are the necessary byproduct of a still-fledgling movement trying to figure out what it would like to become. There will be subgroups within the movement, all with different priorities appealing to different people, but I believe that just broadens the tent and makes it more inviting to all sorts of people looking to escape religion.

    If you are really interested in finding out why all of this matters, check out Greta’s recent post “If You’re Getting Discouraged…” and read all the comments. I think you will have a different appreciation when you are done there.

  105. Kengi says

    @B-Lar,

    You (and JT) are over-analyzing the logic of statements made by someone who just was trying to get JT to stop badgering her. Eventually, when a clueless, privileged asshole keeps picking and picking and poking at you, you just want them to go away and will say anything to have that happen.

    As I’ve said before, if it had been me, I would have just told JT to fuck off as he continued the badgering, but Bria seems to have been much more kind in the face of such ignorance.

  106. gussnarp says

    Mark Farris:

    why do you think I am a privileged white man? I suspect I have worked more days of physical labor then you have been on this planet. My family is Irish, Russian and Polish, is there something wrong with that.

    What. The. Ever. Loving. Fuck?!

    Are you white?
    Are you cisgendered male?

    Then you are a privileged white man, just like me. And you have entirely missed the point and have no clue what privilege is. Please go out to Google and educate yourself. It has nothing to do with how much physical labor you’ve done or whether your family was of an immigrant group that has suffered some amount of discrimination (when others could tell). That’s the story of most of America, and it is very different from the experience of black Americans, who have suffered ongoing discrimination right to the present. Get your head out of your ass and look around.

    Oh, and “no more Elevatorgates”? Seriously, you’ve just told me which side you’re on. I imagine you somehow think Elevatorgate was Rebecca Watson’s fault, rather than that of the privileged men who responded with anger, threats, and harassment to the simple suggestion that hitting on a young woman alone in an elevator late at night is not appreciated. That’s the indication you’ve given here, where once again you siding against the person in the minority.

    Seriously, change your tune, or fuck right off. If you represent any movement with the arguments you’ve made here, then it’s a movement I want no part of, and one that should fail.

  107. culuriel says

    Sorry to post twice, but this blog post reminds me why studying gender/ethnic courses is so important, and also why conservatives avoid them like the plague. It seems like everyday, I’m having a “…And that is White Privilege!” moment. White people (myself included) really shouldn’t be telling the Black community what their most important issues are. An entire chorus of Black voices shouts “Stop Stop-n-Frisk!”, and White pundits shout back “Don’t you know – you should be as scared as young Black men as we are!”

  108. Kengi says

    Mark Farris, being a white jerk in a white privileged society is not a laughing matter. From one white privileged jerk to another, stop laughing. Our position of privilege is not something to giggle about over the water cooler. Asshole.

  109. gussnarp says

    It’s becoming quite clear that there’s a divide in the atheist community that simply cannot be overcome. One would think it could be, but it does not appear that way from the evidence. I don’t know JT’s politics, and I assume they’re not strictly conservative, but it does seem that the real divide is a political one. Look at what he’s defending here, and what those defending him are saying. Yes, white males dominate conservatism, and conservatism generally tends to intellectually harbor their privilege. And yes, they’re we’re (I really can’t use this as an excuse to let myself off the hook when I unthinkingly lean on my own privilege) still the majority, and still to used to accepting our own position at the top of the heap as somehow natural. But the fundamental division really does seem to me to be political. I’ve read elsewhere on the divide where people argue that the Bush years were a sort of golden age, where political divisions were smoothed over by the absurd anti-science, pro-religion stance of that administration.

    But really, how do we, long term, get along with conservative atheists who make common cause with theocrats and racists in their politics? Is it worth it? Let’s face it, on some level we’ve made it clear: we’re not willing to let social justice and equality slide in order to fight religion next to racists, bigots, homophobes, or sexists (not all of these necessarily apply to any particular individual involved in this particular post, though I have my doubts about Mark Farris). They’re not willing to set aside bigotry to fight religion alongside us. But they are willing to side with religionists for political expedience (see the support of people like Ron Paul). Yes, there’s a split between the liberal/left wing of atheism and the conservative/libertarian wing of atheism. And I can work with someone who’s a conservative atheist, but not when they’ve made it clear that their devotion to conservatism, even (especially) the brand of conservatism that makes excuses for racism and sexism, is more important to them than their opposition to religion.

    And yes, I’m more than willing to say that social justice is more important to me than fighting religion. Of course, you’ll find the religious people that I find common cause with to be far less likely to oppose the teaching of evolution, or to try to insert their religion in the classroom than the religious people they find common cause with politically.

    So yeah, if that’s the divide, then so be it. I’ll not be part of a conservative/libertarian/privilege friendly atheism. This split seems inevitable, and necessary. I no longer lament it, I just want to know who’s on which side.

  110. Parse says

    Bria, I’m sorry you had to deal with this.
    To summarize my thoughts, from reading the comments here and at JT’s post:
    Taking JT at face value, it sounds like he tried to call Bria out on 1) talking about this during a different speaker’s (unrelated) Q&A, and 2) for her anger and emotions, and how what happened wasn’t a big deal. He may have a point with the first point (I don’t know how long it was between the two speakers, if it was still a relevant topic, if Bria would have a chance to respond later, etc.) – but from what he describes, at most it deserved a ‘Hey, that really sucked, but maybe you shouldn’t’ve brought it up in a different Q&A’. A single sentence, nothing more. However, the second point is pure, unadulterated, privileged bullshit.
    What makes JT’s actions worse, is that what people try to call him out on the second point, he treats it like they’re attacking him for the first point, or for talking to her at all about this.
    Hell, the more I think about it, the more I doubt JT was right to talk to Bria about the first point. If this were some unrelated rant, then he may have a point – but it wasn’t. If it had been responding to some minor, trivial quibble, then he may have a point – but it wasn’t. When would have been the right time for Bria to say something?
    He also doesn’t see how he’s telling her not to be angry. This, right here, is him telling Bria not to be angry:

    I explained that the woman in the audience didn’t mean offense

    ‘You *shouldn’t* be angry, she’s just ignorant!’ ‘You *shouldn’t* be as angry as you are!’ ‘Your anger is just making things worse!’
    Well, I’d assume JT would want more sympathy if somebody stomped hard on one of his emotional triggers than he’s showing here.

    skepticallydenpa @ 21

    For someone who is capable of such great empathy, JT is really struggling in the social justice department. Of course Bria was curt with him when he approached her. She let her guard down for a convention, where she thought that maybe she could get away from having to educate every white person who hasn’t bothered to try to understand the limits of their own privilege; and that trust was broken. Did he really expect that, because he’s a such nice guy, that Bria was just going to open up about how tired and frustrated she felt, and how she felt betrayed by having let her guard down only to be knocked back into reality by one person’s public display of ignorance? Add that to the fact that JT has displayed more empathy for the people who misstep than the people who are being stepped on, and it should be no surprise that Bria doesn’t trust him, (certainly not shortly after being betrayed).

    Quoted for truth. When JT posts his response to Jen’s post, may I quote this there? I was trying to think of a way to put this into words, but you’ve done it better than I could have.

  111. says

    @B-Lar (comment #105):
    Just wanted to reply to this part.

    Does justified anger justify any behaviour? If not, and social justice culture says that we should call out behaviour that we perceive is out of line (the standard you walk past is the standard you accept), then how should we call out bad behaviour from minority groups?

    Of course, everyone is capable of doing bad things, no matter what group they are in. And, yes, I agree that such behavior should be criticized, even if that person is in a minority group. (I’ve been in that position myself, of criticizing something that people in a minority group are doing. My family’s part of a minority race and religion in the United States, and I disagree with the religion and various parts of their cultural beliefs as well.) As with most things in life, though, it matters how it’s done and the context and so on. What I found the most frustrating, as I said above, is the automatic benefit of the doubt being given to one person and not to the other. I generally believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, but there is this issue in society that someone saying something questionable (whether through malice or ignorance) about race (or gender, or LGBT people, etc.) gets the benefit of the doubt, while someone who is angry about it doesn’t receive the same benefit of the doubt.

    @Bria (comment #109): Thanks very much for posting here. I hope further conversation will shed light on what actually happened, because we (those who weren’t there) don’t have all the information and so we kind of have to rely on second-hand anecdotes.

  112. says

    markfarris @ 69:

    If you have been an Atheist longer than I have been alive, you must be wearing depends by now.

    Mark Farris scores the privilege hat trick – racist, sexist, AND ageist!

  113. says

    Ok, I’m coming a little late to this particular discussion but “Hi”…

    I’m the first “commenter” that Jen quotes in this post. So, while I was not “running the camera” I was there.

    After discussing this indecent way too much I would like to clarify a few things.

    1) Bria’s “lengthy outburst” was five minutes long. This length is not out of line for many Q&A sessions that I have been to.

    2) Bria was emotional but her content was relevant to the topic the presentation. She did not resort to personal attacks, yes she called out a question that another person asked, but she focus on what was wrong with the question, not the person. She was constructive and informative. It was not a rant or a roast, she was trying to educate. Again this is much better than many commenters in other Q&A session that I have been to.

    So, why did some people find this so disturbing and “out of line”. Some I’m sure where off-put just by the fact she was emotional, many of us are uncomfortable around strong emotion. And I think some were uncomfortable about the message. Nobody like being told that “you are part of the problem” no matter how valid the observation is.

    The more I try to objectively examine her response the less “out of line” I find it. Plenty of other speakers have done exactly the same sort of response. The only difference I can see is which “issue” was addressed and which “audience” was chastised.

  114. B-Lar says

    Bria,

    I’m moby-dicking a bit here because this is tied into something that has become a pet peeve for me. I am really interested to read your side of this, and I reiterate that I reserve the right to change my mind if JT has misrepresented what happened

    Jadehawk:

    why do you think it is your job to be telling people who are affected by a particular oppression how they should be reacting to it?

    “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept” is the newest golden rule that I have learned, and its really good. One of my favourites, in fact. It explicitly calls for each of us to feel responsibility for the world around us which I think is one of the most laudable goals available.

    Bad behaviour is subjective, but what else would you call a screaming rant singling out an individual? I can affirm Bria’s justified anger without condoning her screaming abdabs thankyouverymuch. The axis of oppression makes understanding the root of her anger easier for me, but it does not excuse her behaviour. I also understand that because I am white and male, the content of my message would be lost. It would be better if the criticism came from someone black and female, but does my criticism have less merit because it comes from me or is it just that it has less impact?

    don’t give a fuck about intentions, effects are what matter.

    They both matter. Don’t aggressively berate someone because of what they did or said without bothering to consider why they said or did it. Understanding motive makes your response more appropriate for the given context.

    Intents are not magic, but that does not make them irrelevant.

    if she is prepared to immediately assume malice

    [citation needed]

    I only have JTs assessment to go on here, (from JT – “Bria did not answer, which suggested to me she thought it was intended.”) but if she is not immediately assuming malice, then what is she assuming? I really look forward to her clarifying her position..

    darling, racism is not about malice. because intent is not the fucking point. you can do something racist and not have any malicious intent whatsoever.
    OTOH, it’s not actually ignorance that makes one parrot right-wing tropes. Ignorance implies a lack of information, not misinformation.

    I use “ignorance” to cover both ignorance and misinformation, (Although, if the individual is knowingly propagating misinformation… that’s different.) because misinformation is ignorance masquerading as truth.

    If our (the royal) response to an ignorant person is to fly off the handle at them because they don’t know better, then we are kicking the ladder (that we already climbed) out from under them. I don’t doubt that some people respond to aggression by going home and quietly changing their minds, but leaping to intimidation doesn’t sit right with me at all, unless you have good cause to assume malice.

    telling someone to be quiet is not criticism though.

    Did you read JT’s post? There are several criticisms and *quick check* I cant see any place where he tells her to shut up/be quiet (although I am happy to be corrected, and I am not silly enough to assume that it happened but that JT did not report it). He questions her approach from several different angles and the criticism seems fair to me.

  115. says

    I only have JTs assessment to go on here…

    You now have Steve Schlosnagle’s comment right above yours — which seems to flatly disprove a lot of what you say about (as you called it) Bria’s “screaming rant.”

    (And if all you had when you wrote that ignorant comment was JT’s word, then maybe you should have shut up and waited for more information — you could have come off sounding a lot less stupid than you just did.)

  116. says

    but what else would you call a screaming rant singling out an individual?

    now it’s a “screaming rant”? I’m sorry I ever took you seriously enough to respond. If I knew you were just gonna make shit up…

  117. says

    Oh for heavens sake.

    @ 126,

    and I reiterate that I reserve the right to change my mind if JT has misrepresented what happened

    Translation: I am unable to form my own opinion, and will change my allegiance should it become clear that my currently chosen side is losing the public vote.

    Bad behaviour is subjective, but what else would you call a screaming rant singling out an individual?

    Translation: How dare that hysterical Black woman have an emotional response to a dumb racist question thrown at her?

    Intents are not magic, but that does not make them irrelevant.

    Translation: I have not understood the statement “Intent is not magic”.

    I use “ignorance” to cover both ignorance and misinformation, (Although, if the individual is knowingly propagating misinformation… that’s different.) because misinformation is ignorance masquerading as truth.

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    *eyeroll*

  118. elly says

    I have a son about JT’s age. Suffice it to say, if he’d posted anything as arrogant, pompous and condescending as JT did yesterday, we’d be having a pretty heated discussion right now.

    Here’s a thought experiment: what if Bria had said nothing at all? Does anyone here think that JT would have taken the questioner aside and attempted to “educate” her about the ignorant and offensive nature of her question? Does anyone here think he would have penned a lengthy blog post about it?

    I don’t. Bria was dead on when she responded: “Before you do, please take time to consider why answer was more upsetting than question.”

    From his reaction to this, it’s obvious that Bria’s request went right over his head. In his eyes, being called out on racist behavior was more “embarrassing” and “cruel” than the actual racist behavior! Ugh.

  119. J.M.P. Alves says

    Well, I think I partly agree with both texts, JT’s and Jen’s. But I guess I tend (or try) to lean more on the “control yourself” side. Here’s why.

    Newsflash: If someone is parroting racist, sexist, or transphobic talking points, calmly explaining why they’re wrong doesn’t tend to work because they’re not looking to have their minds changed.

    Ah, how was that thing about being a psychic again? How can you or I know what all those people really want? And even if they really don’t want their minds changed (which we don’t either when we talk to someone, right?), why can’t we plant a seed of doubt there? Anyway, I think I get what you mean, because…

    You’d think someone who frequently deals with religious apologists would understand this. If someone came into an evolution conference saying “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” would JT argue that they’re simply naive, not informed, and want an explanation? Or would he think they’re informed enough to be parroting a creationist talking point that’s, to steal the perfect phrase from Crommunist, “an ideological attack disguised as ‘just asking questions.’”

    Well, it so happens that I work on evolutionary biology. And yes, I have lost count of how many times I have heard that question — and many other typical ones, many with a much more sophisticated veneer than this one. And yes, I get a bit angry inside at the fact that people are still asking these things that have been answered repeatedly for over a century.

    So, can I assume that all the people asking the question are malicious, in that they do not want to have their minds changed? Or are they actually curious to see how a professional will answer that question that their pastor or apologist friend who’s always posting stuff from “Answers in Genesis” gave them, and seemed so reasonable? If I do assume the former, I just yell at them to humiliate and be done with it, right? Why waste my time? I sure don’t want to (but here I am anyway, eh?).

    The problem is, as much as I can feel frustrated, I have no way of knowing, a priori, if the person asking the question is just ignorant or if they don’t really want to learn. I have to give them the benefit of the doubt and have at least a few exchanges before I realize which is the case. And admittedly, I end up finding that most people seem to be interested in learning, so I give up on them at that point (by saying so as politely as my anger will allow and their own tone will merit, and ignoring any further inquiries). But then again, there are plenty of “Dan Barkers” out there (read his “Godless” book if you haven’t). Will we be turning them away by always assuming they are all just horrible people out to get us? That’s too conservative a position for me, personally.

    Every time someone complains about evolution being taught in schools and creationism not, I think to myself how nice it would be if evolution was actually being taught properly anywhere. The situation is dire even in college — don’t trust someone’s knowledge on the subject just because they have a biology degree, for example. You can say people could “google” it (and hope they will trust the “right” results) and learn before asking or commenting. Well, some will, but most won’t. Not everyone is as nice, considerate, and diligent as you. People have busy lives, and some issues are too complicated for most people to grasp even when explained to them in person, let alone reading on their own. And that is just science! Social issues will be even more complicated, with all the personal histories/feelings involved.

  120. says

    Let me clarify a bit. I don’t mean to say that Bria was “kind” with the questioner. She was emotional, loud and intense. My point that I have seen other commenters, in other Q&A sessions that went beyond what Bria did and they did get a 3000 word post of how out line they were.

    Do I think Bria “could have handled it better”? Maybe, but personally speaking, she handled her frustration better than I would have.

    And I have stated this on JT’s post and I will so again here. On balance I felt it was a positive exchange. Change and growth often do not come “gracefully”. I am happy to have people with the bravery and passion that Bria has in a movement that I’m a part of.

  121. says

    I’m surprised nobody has commented yet on the Benevolent Arms and Lips of Mark Farris. It’s not just patronizing but downright weird how he talked about how he “hugged and kissed” one woman but because he’s not happy with her, next time he will hug and kiss another woman.

    As for non-Mark Harris idiotic comments, is Bria Crutchfield having a “screaming rant” the next Rebecca Watson “crying rape in an elevator” of painting atheist women as hysterical?

  122. says

    Opps, getting used to this editor.

    The sentence of: “My point that I have seen other commenters, in other Q&A sessions that went beyond what Bria did and they did get a 3000 word post of how out line they were.”

    Should read: “…and they did not get a 3000 word post of how out line they were.”

  123. A Hermit says

    Wasn’t there, don;t know the individuals involved, probably shouldn’t say anything. But I do know that as a well-intentioned, privileged white male that it has sometimes taken someone completely losing their shit with me when I thought I was being reasonable to wake me up to how oblivious I can be.

    However much it may have hurt my feelings at the time (hey! I’m a NICE GUY!) in hindsight what seemed like an unfair, angry, disproportionate smackdown was actually exactly what I needed to open my eyes.
    Just sayin….

  124. B-Lar says

    Ani J. Sharmin

    I generally believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, but there is this issue in society that someone saying something questionable (whether through malice or ignorance) about race (or gender, or LGBT people, etc.) gets the benefit of the doubt, while someone who is angry about it doesn’t receive the same benefit of the doubt.

    That is a good point. I think that in the malice/ignorance dichotomy its more likely that ignorance is the best explanation generally (hanlans razor). I think people give that benefit of the doubt more readily, because they recognise either ignorance in themselves (they would make that same mistake) or that they recognise that they once held ignorant views (I made those mistakes but I learned from them).

    Being angry is often seen (IMO) as having lost control, or a sign of instability. Its not always a negative thing, but it is commonly considered a precursor to violence, and it is also a natural ego-reaction to being revealed as not having a defensible point in an argument, so is often seen as a negative thing.

    I definitely agree that benefit of the doubt shouldn’t be automatically apportioned. Pattern recognition is useful, but not infallible.

  125. didgen says

    Good luck Bria, Maybe I’ll get a chance to hear you speak sometime, I think I would enjoy it. We need people to confront divisive and hurtful comments and ideas, otherwise we will never grow. But more than that, we just need a more inclusive and varied base to build a healthy community. We need your voice too.

  126. Onamission5 says

    @Bria #109

    Massive Jedi hugs to you. I, too, am looking forward to reading your statement.

  127. didgen says

    Also Bria, sorry about the loss of a friend, that hurts, and this must be a particularly difficult way for it to happen.

  128. tonyinbatavia says

    Steve @132 said: “Change and growth often do not come ‘gracefully’. I am happy to have people with the bravery and passion that Bria has in a movement that I’m a part of.”

    QFFT!

  129. says

    But I guess I tend (or try) to lean more on the “control yourself” side.

    The thing is, Bria’s experiences, and the positions in which she faces stupid questions like these, are probably very different from yours; so you can’t necessarily use your responses as the measure of hers. Answering ignorant and insulting questions about your line of work, is NOT the same thing as answering ignorant and insulting questions about your race or ethnic group and its entire culture.

    Ah, how was that thing about being a psychic again?

    This isn’t about “being a phychic,” it’s about making predictions based on past experience of similar behavior.

  130. carlie says

    If our (the royal) response to an ignorant person is to fly off the handle at them because they don’t know better, then we are kicking the ladder (that we already climbed) out from under them.

    No, it’s slamming your hand on the ladder and saying “THERE IS A LADDER RIGHT HERE NEXT TO YOU. STOP ASKING ME TO CARRY YOU UP THE LADDER. CLIMB IT YOURSELF IF YOU WANT TO GET TO THE TOP.”

  131. carlie says

    And if someone isn’t willing to do any work to climb the ladder, then they only have themselves to blame for it. It’s not like knowledge is secret or hard to come by these days.

  132. says

    @ Jadehawk #97 –

    I’m kind of sick of this particular trope. “before they became officially white, my ancestors were oppressed too, which means I totally know how be part of a group that never has been accepted as fully human, and you’re doing it wrong.” blerggh.

    So much this. Despite the French name, I too am of Irish descent. I also was an undersized nerd boy during a time when it was extremely unsafe to be one. And an atheist. The first point gives me a family historical perspective on oppression, the last two are more immediate and personal. And none of these things, singly or together, make me an expert on how someone should or should not feel about oppression of their own or how they should speak out about it. What they do give me, and should give everyone else with similar stories, is context for empathy. They put me in a position to be able to see someone else going through something bad and have some idea what it must feel like. I don’t have to be different from the norm in the same way they are in order to realize how hard it can be to not be the norm. And it appalls me to no end that so many other people don’t get that, including and especially those whose backgrounds should make such contextualized empathy not merely possible, but inevitable.

  133. says

    Another trope we need to kick to the curb is the false dichotomy between “angry” and “helpful” responses to stupid statements or questions. Anger isn’t always unhelpful — sometimes it’s necessary to remind people that something significant is wrong. Sometimes a person needs to hear a factual answer to a question, and sometimes they need to hear exactly how angry others might get when they hear the question, so at least they might get a hint that the anger has a cause and they should learn more about it.

    Shielding people from expresions of anger can be just as harmful as shielding them from scary ideas — either way, you could be hiding an important truth from someone who needs to know it. I’m all in favor of rationality, but hiding and stifling anger isn’t rational, it’s cowardly.

  134. R Johnston says

    Raging Bee @145:

    I’m all in favor of rationality, but hiding and stifling anger isn’t rational, it’s cowardly.

    And insisting that others hide and stifle their anger is anti-rational, authoritarian, and almost always an outright admission that the substance of an argument has been lost.

  135. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    …and especially especially especially especially especially especially especially white well-off able neurotypical hetero cis mentally healthy GUYS

    Dang, I hit all the categories.

    …worked more days of physical labor then you…

    …you’d be on a street corner with a sign proclaiming your atheism.

    I do physical labour every damn day, and when I proclaimed my atheism, I lost my whole family. You know what? That doesn’t change the fact that I have a whole mountain of privilege. Which is why I usually just shut the hell up and listen, that’s how I learn. And frankly, if I do pipe up with a dumbass question, I would expect to be shouted at. A cluebat to the skull to show me where I fucked up.

    Having watched the rape apologists over at PZ’s “just asking questions” for a while now, I can get seriously pissed at them, and I’m not who they are aiming at. I can’t imagine how Bria would feel being the target of JAQ-offs, and I sure as hell wouldn’t tell her how to respond. Although I will say, it sounds to me like she did exactly the right thing.

    Bria, internet hugs, if you want ‘em.

  136. Jacob Schmidt says

    Don’t aggressively berate someone because of what they did or said without bothering to consider why they said or did it.

    In extreme cases, it’s easy to see why this fails: “I thought smacking her in the face would help.”

    Minorities face all kinds of little agressions all throughout their lives. Constant smacks to the face that become more and more painful, and for some become nearly unbearable. I expect people to know why racism is hurtful. I expect them to avoid racism. And when people are so clueless they ask questions or make assertions that smack at the emotional wounds racism has caused, I see no problem with berating them for causing pain, any more than I see a problem with berationg someone for smacking me in the face (yet again) with the best of intentions.

    Racism isn’t as simple as physical pain, and as such it can be harder to know whether or not what you say is hurtful. With that in mind, I can accept being a little more careful about reacting harshly innocent mistakes. But to criticize someone who reacted harshly to racism (and that’s what it was; racism due to ignorance is still racism, just the same as “let’s make math pink!” is still sexist) on the basis that you somehow know that the reaction was disproportionate is arrogant and prioritizes those being racist over those being hurt by racism.

  137. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oh, and all that is still under the assumption that the person being racist is trying to help; I see no reason to make that assumption, other than prioritizing the feelings of someone being racist over the feelings of someone being hurt by racism.

  138. says

    Thank you, Jen, for writing this. It’s important to know when these kinds of things happen. Call out culture requires people to be called out. Expecting Bria and other people of color to do all the calling out and then to come back later and complain that they are being too angry when calling out is not right in the least.

    JT lost my interest long ago. He has not improved in the least. His taking the ally mantle despite being told he’s no ally is just another sign of privilege.

    Bria, thank you for what you did at that conference. I’m sorry people have treated you like a criminal for setting that woman straight. I”m also sorry that you’ve lost friends over this. But if they are choosing to side against you then they’re terrible friends and they don’t deserve you. I look forward to your write up of the events.

    To the man who apparently videoed this all, you need to take some time away from editing your video and read about privilege, racism, sexism and all the other isms out there. You are woefully lacking.

  139. says

    Thank you Jen for offering a space so that I may get these few words out. I’m amazed at the support overall I’ve received.

    Until next time-thank you and I love you <3

    You’re welcome Bria, ((soft)) spooky ghost ((hug)) for you. I am joy I could help in this endeavor. Thanks to Jen as well! /poofs

  140. smhll says

    I want to play with fire metaphors.

    To my mind, Bria is the match. (All people are like a kitchen match, potentially flammable.) The confrontational, almost accusatory, question is the rough surface. Rubbing the rough surface over the match is what sparks the flame.

  141. says

    Is it wrong of me to just expect this kinda stuff from well-meaning heterosexual, white liberals? Nearly every time the topics of race relations or sexuality are brought up to me, I usually get some condescending bullshit implying that I’m inadvertently a self-hating homosexual or not respectful of my “people’s” history. It’s not really worth trying to explain your position to them because the minute you challenge them, they assume that you’re trying to imply that they’re racist and the start to quote essays about privilege that PROVE that they’re right about my experience.

    It’s to the point where I just leave the room when certain topics are brought up around these people. It feels like they only want minorities to speak their mind when it confirms how not racist they are.

  142. Great American Satan says

    Music Fan @152-
    That was fun and emotional last night, but the best part was seeing that it helped Bria feel better today. Woo!
    I don’t have the strength to deal with the continuing parade of jerks today, but I’m glad some others do. Thanks, Steve & the rest!
    (/poofs)

  143. Kevin Schelley says

    So it seems JT will have a response to this post tomorrow, or at least that’s what he’s saying in comments on his blog.

  144. didgen says

    I want to say that eons ago when I was a child my family situation changed drastically when my mother left my father. This caused her to go on welfare and begin working as a migrant farm worker with me and my three older siblings. We are total mutts but mostly native american. However we are all fair complected, blue eyed, hair colors from light blonde to very dark brown (mine), but we were always treated better than the mexicans, and or black people working next to us. Even to a six year old it was evident and appalling. I think I have a slightly more personal view of how classism and racism hurt, not even bringing into the picture that my daughter is bi-racial.
    From personal experience, I can say that if it weren’t for the people we were working and sweating next to us, we would have had days where we ate almost nothing. But I want to emphasize that we were always treated obviously better than the other people in the exact situation, I’d have a hard time thinking that it was due to anything other than casual, everyday racism. I can’t come even close to thinking that I know what a lifetime of that day after day, year after year would be like.
    I have been told by my daughter, that I don’t understand how things are even now, I don’t ever try to tell her that she should reassess her reaction to things, because that’s not my place. This is from a young woman that most people assume that she is some type of pacific islander. My grandsons are more easily identified as african-american I worry constantly about how they will be treated and how this is going to affect them. I long ago gave up the idea that racism was going to die with the generation before me, they’re long gone, and racism lives on.

  145. Rachel Johnson says

    A few things here:

    1. There should be video of everything, including Q&A time, not sure if she was filmed during her response, but it should at least be audio.
    2. Try being sensitive, her intent was never to start some fire, or drama. She said educating things. She let us know her feelings, and she was done.
    3. Unless you were there you probably wouldn’t get the feel for how it went.
    4. It goes to show how our community can free think, but not empathize very well.

    This is just damn frustrating.

  146. skepticallydenpa says

    Parse @123 – Quote away. I want to do what I can to help JT get past his privilege… I just don’t have the time or the energy to put up with his bullshit right now. I appreciate those of you who continue to argue against him, even as he continually misses the point.

  147. llewelly says

    markfarris:

    ” My name is Mark Farris, I was one of the organizers of this event. ”

    Thank you for your efforts.

    ” I know the woman who asked the question and she is a good woman with a good heart and she asked a naïve question. ”

    There is a very important reason proponents of racist propaganda seek to keep their audience ignorant; they work by taking advantage of well-intented people who ask naïve questions.
    That woman was turned into a mouthpiece by a racist culture.

    That does not change the fact that is a question which has racist effects. But it makes it easier for people to invalidate the wholly justified resulting anger.

    How can someone accurately convey how horrible that is without being angry, as Bria was?

    But here you are, playing into the hands of those who made a mouthpiece of the woman you claim to defined, by downplaying the awfulness of the assumptions underlying the question.

    ” We either overlook each other faults or we are the problem. ”

    No. Faults, whatever their source, need to be corrected. When you overlook the faults, you are preventing the broken stair from being fixed. You are supporting the standard by walking past it.

    ” Bria, at the end of the event I hugged you and I kissed you. ”

    But now you are using that to guilt trip her? Do you really expect people to see this as anything other than manipulative?

    ” You square this away right now or when we cross paths again you act like you don’t know me and I’ll return the favor. ”

    It’s hard to read that as anything other than an ill-considered threat.

    ” I will seek out and hug and kiss Judy because she is a good woman trying to change the world for the better. ”

    I’m glad to hear you have your good points, but I’m disturbed by the other aspects of your comment.

    ” When I fuck up you can jump on me and I will if guilty confess my sins. ”

    Please re-consider what you have done here.

    ” If you are wrong one of us will look somewhat silly temporarily and then we all have to move forward. ”

    And now it’s your turn. It hurts but it’s something we all go through now and then.

    ” I know who the enemy is do you? I’m concerned about rich on poor crime. Bria, no more elevatorgates in this movement. ”

    Given the severity of the sexual harassment problems with in the atheist and skeptic communities, and the ongoing rape denialism, it is difficult to read this as anything other than “Please don’t bring up any more of the serious problems caused by the systemic cultural prejudices of old white men”.

    ” I’ll call you soon. Don’t let this happen. This thread should die on the vine. ”

    But you are deep in denial, and you’re throwing gasoline on the fire.

    It’s all so similar to the men who got so uptight and angry when Rebecca said “Guys, don’t do that.”

    ” Do the right thing Bria. You, I and Judy I hope will have lunch soon. Put this fire out now. You admitted during your speech you have made mistakes, we all have and we all will continue to do so. None of us are perfect. ”

    But you came here to blame her for the whole episode? And you use an honorable admission of error against her, here, on a blog she doesn’t run, critiquing a smug, shallow, and error-filled post from another blog she doesn’t run?

  148. jenniferphillips says

    Here’s a comment from ’1nomo’ who can only be one Mark Farris, posted on JT’s “no blogging today”:

    I am so impressed by all the skeptics who have this situation figured out although they have little information. That other blog is maybe the most rude and childish group on line today. For Jen to allow that thread to boil reveals her character further. I have a much better understanding what is wrong with freethought in America today. All her brilliant fans who have painted me a racist white motherfucker are amusing. All racism is unadulterated nationalism. Herman Goering explained this quite well at the Nuremburg trials. To control the populace you only need to prop up an enemy. If racism is reduced down to a simple black and white issue myopia is achieved. The current enemy is Arabic people and it appears the Persian people are next in line. America is the current empire in decline as it overextends globally militarily as infrastructure collapses here. Yet educated sheep continue to believe infinite economic growth is possible on a finite planet. You’ll have to excuse me for dragging you to my back yard for that last supper of swill but that’s where I wanted to digest the
    weekend. I hope as Bria writes her side of the story, she will remember what she said to me after a woman jumped on me at Bria’s meetup. Here is Judy’s egregious quote and I’ll post Mandisa’s response to her tomorrow. I’ll post the videos when they’re done with no editing.
    “I don’t know if this is off the subject or not but I was wondering what your group might be doing with the black on black crime? The church has not been able to do anything and it’s just terrible, especially in Chicago. I mean I understand there are something like 20, 30 murders, you know a month. Uh, I mean that’s like 1 a day. Toledo may be a little better but certainly we have our problems so, what are you and your community ——- are you addressing this in any way, how?”

    So…um…that happened.
    *shakes head*
    Goering?
    *shakes head some more*

  149. ischemgeek says

    Hey, fellow white people who don’t get why Bria was pissed: The person asked the racism equivalent of (pick your analogy!):

    … “Why can’t we just teach both sides?” (creationism)
    … “What’s the harm?” (alternative medicine)
    … “Why don’t women work harder to overcome the wage gap?” (sexism)
    … “Why can you just try harder?” (learning disability ableism)
    … “Why can’t you just think happy thoughts?” (mental illness ableism)
    … “Why do I have to pay for your special treatment?” (physical disability ableism)
    … etc.

    That question is every bit as charged as the above questions, and every bit as dishonest. Speaking as a white person here, I have never seen that question asked by someone who didn’t have a racist axe to grind in the conversation, even if the person in question didn’t realize that the axe they were trying to grind was in fact racist.

  150. see_the_galaxy says

    I think JT deserves some benefit of the doubt. As usual for the brilliant atheist activists these days, the rhetoric is too harsh, too overheated, too extreme, too willing to assume the worst about each other. The movement is no fun. That Patheos and FtB are business competitors running each other down is not lost on some of us. I will say that there are a lot of places on the web where important issues of race and gender are discussed, but not very many places to hear about unbelief. That this movement online anyway seems to be melting down into a typical Berkeley coffeehouse screaming match is kind of sad. Don’t you all have any concern for each other, any mutual respect for the good you have each done?

  151. jenniferphillips says

    @ see_the_galaxy:

    The movement is no fun.

    No, you’re damn straight about that one. It isn’t fun at all when efforts that might otherwise have gone to atheist and freethought activism are instead being allocated to social justice issues. But it is important to do it nonetheless, in the hope that the movement might *someday* be fun for women, POCs, trans* people and other underrepresented folks who currently won’t come near it because of all this shitty behavior.

    I will say that there are a lot of places on the web where important issues of race and gender are discussed, but not very many places to hear about unbelief.

    Well, guess what? Many FTB bloggers discuss BOTH, at the same time. Many of the bloggers and readers here feel strongly that ‘unbelief’ in and of itself, is an insufficient categorization on which to build a community that we really want to be a part of. If it’s all so very boring and off topic to you, by all means, stop reading it!

    Don’t you all have any concern for each other, any mutual respect for the good you have each done?

    Certainly. But not to the extent that egregious examples of people showing their ass, or their privilege, will be given a pass. Isn’t that how skepticism is supposed to work? And as to giving JT the benefit of the doubt? He’s had it. He’s squandered it.

  152. Kevin Schelley says

    see_the_galaxy, this is just the latest in a series of tone-policing, patronizing posts JT has written. He’s really good at atheist activism and seems pretty solid on gay rights, but on any other axis of social justice he seems to think the oppressed just need to be nicer to the majority. I have a hard time respecting someone who is a firebrand when it comes to atheism but an accomodationist to sexists and racists. He’s done things again and again like this, and many of his friends in the movement are flat out sick of it, as you can see if you peruse the main FTB page.

  153. Great American Satan says

    Galaxy- Nope. I have no concern for those who aren’t willing to try to do the most basic courtesies of trying to understand minorities or other oppressed groups. That’s a divide I’m willing to deepen. From what I’ve seen, JT isn’t half as bad as Justin Vacula, but the same argument you’re making for one could apply to the other. Shouldn’t we embrace JV because he’s done real world activism for atheism? Don’t we have any respect?

    Fuck that respect. For the hundredth time, intent isn’t magic. The benefit of a doubt you’re asking for is basically to spare him for his good intentions. You know, if I fucked up about something like this, I would want people to tell me. And once it was explained as lucidly as Jen and others have done, I hope I would understand and be good enough to apologize, REGARDLESS of what the fuck my intent was.

    As for Patheos vs. FtB, as a reader, I have no incentive to be in favor of one or the other, except my own taste. All I know is I prefer atheists to faitheists, and the atheists at Patheos seem to lean the second direction. I have more fun and see less problematic horseshit over here.

  154. Great American Satan says

    &Didgen@157 and above, thanks for sharing that personal story.
    Your posts have all been insightful, calm, and smart. :-) More than I can say for myself, haha.

  155. see_the_galaxy says

    But there is a difference between a Justin Vacula and a JT Eberhard. We have got to be able to disagree with friendly people without demonizing them.

  156. Great American Satan says

    I know there’s a difference between JV and JT, I said what the difference was. I see you didn’t even bother with the main point of my or other comments. What is this benefit of a doubt you are seeking? We have a notion, and we don’t agree that he’s earned it.

  157. Kevin Schelley says

    see_the_galaxy, we’re not demonizing JT, we’re recognizing a pattern of behavior and calling him out on it. I’m also finding it a bit ironic that you seem to be focusing on the tone of what we’re saying and exaggerating our anger level, much like JT did.

  158. says

    Bria
    Thank you. Apparently you rock. I was taught that “if you’re angry you’re wrong” to the point that I completely shut up. That’s just wrog

    Marc Ferris
    Way to go talking down a black woman in a way I wouldn’t dare to address my kids because I actually respect them as people!

    Oh, and I have the ultimate authority on these matters, my family members were killed by Hitler AND Stalin*

    JT Eberhard
    Again and again and again

    +++
    *that was sarcasm

  159. says

    It feels like they only want minorities to speak their mind when it confirms how not racist they are.

    It does seem that there’s a circuit which looks like:
    A: “I was good, right, can I have a cookie?”
    B: “well, I wish you had done that differently…”
    A: “does that mean no cookie?”
    B: “I’d like you to think about this…”
    A: “You’re too damn strident. I WANT MY COOKIE!”

  160. carlie says

    But there is a difference between a Justin Vacula and a JT Eberhard. We have got to be able to disagree with friendly people without demonizing them.

    The difference is that nobody bothers to try to talk to Vacula about his behavior because by now everyone knows it won’t do any good and he’s not worth it. Notice that what people are doing with JT is holding him to a higher standard because they know he has good in him and they expect him to live up to it. That’s a different thing entirely.
    There’s a difference between pointing at someone and saying “God, what an asshole”, and going up to the person and saying “Stop being an asshole, you know better than to act like this.”

  161. David Marjanović says

    Here’s a comment from ’1nomo’ who can only be one Mark Farris, posted on JT’s “no blogging today”:

    I am so impressed by all the skeptics who have this situation figured out although they have little information. That other blog is maybe the most rude and childish group on line today. For Jen to allow that thread to boil reveals her character further.

    LOL. “You didn’t censor to the point of micromanaging the entire thread so it’d reflect your opinions and your opinions only, so you’re evil!” Anyone willing to bet he’d be all about frozen beaches if the thread hadn’t boiled?

  162. gussnarp says

    I’m glad to see someone at Great Lakes Atheists calling Mark Ferris out for his comments and trying to make clear that he doesn’t represent them.

    I’m rather sad to see from the above comment, if it is indeed his, that he’s chosen not to listen to what people are telling him and instead to stick to his calcified notion of what racism is based on one specific kind of institutionalized, politically motivated racism. Sad, but not surprised. Mark, if you’re still reading, I don’t know if you consider yourself a skeptic as well as an atheist, but real skepticism and critical thinking begins with being willing to reconsider ideas we already hold. Especially bad ones like that rant about Nazis, if you’re indeed responsible for that.

  163. tonyinbatavia says

    Kevin Schelley @156: Once JT does respond today, I predict the phrase “stop digging already” will be a wholly appropriate response.

  164. says

    Greetings,

    Mandisa Thomas here – the person to whom the Black on Black crime question was directed.

    My talk on the day in question was about how the Freethought community can learn from the Hospitality Industry – which was well received by the audience. I touched on my organization briefly, and I did not speak on the problems in the Black community that particular day. So for this woman to come out of left field and ask a question that wasn’t related to the subject at hand was not only rude, but it also implied that just because we are an orgainzation that focuses on Blacks that we are supposed to take on such a gigantic problem on our own. It also seemed to imply that I should ONLY be speaking on issues relating to the Black community. She may not have been meaning to come across as insidious or oblivious, but I also don’t think she was paying attention to my presentation, or even cared much about the issue at hand. She certainly did not speak with me afterwards to either clarify, or even offer assistance on such efforts. I certainly did not go off on her, but she receives no sympathy from me either.

    Bria has my full support with this matter. I also think there should have been a better effort to involve the primary organizer of the convention if JT, Mark, and this woman were truly concerned. This obviously didn’t happen, and it is disappointing.

  165. says

    I’m glad to see someone at Great Lakes Atheists calling Mark Ferris out for his comments and trying to make clear that he doesn’t represent them.

    Me too. And it makes Mark’s chest-pounding public promise to have a private chat with Bria all the more sleazy and stalkeresque. I really hope Bria isn’t getting any harassment over this. With lying assholes like Mark making public threats based on false claims of authority, we all have to be on our toes.

  166. freemage says

    Mandisa and Bria: Thank you for your posts; it definitely helps put things into perspective, as does JT’s–and from that perspective, I’ve definitively concluded that JT is a patronizing, condescending ass. Most of that does not come from Mandisa’s and Bria’s comments, but rather from his own blog post:

    … Bria then told me she was offended to justify her earlier explosion. I said I didn’t blame her for being offended. The question was offensive. But surely, I asked, you don’t think that the offense was intended? Bria did not answer, which suggested to me she thought it was intended…

    The notion that she was staring at him in silence because she found his question utterly irrelevant and insipid doesn’t even occur to him, that she doesn’t care whether the woman’s ‘intent’ was to offend, but rather, that she found it offensive regardless of whether the woman was speaking out of active racism or out of ignorance–he just assumes the motive that best fits his pre-established opinion and moves on.

  167. says

    Thank you for your posts; it definitely helps put things into perspective, as does JT’s–and from that perspective, I’ve definitively concluded that JT is a patronizing, condescending ass.

    I’ve noticed that too: one can read ONLY what JT had to say, without even bothering to hear from anyone else, and STILL come out thinking he was being an ass and his words aren’t that credible.

  168. leftwingfox says

    Thank you Mandisa. The lack of context is for the question is an excellent point, and makes the blindness over Bria’s response all the more frustrating.

  169. says

    JT’s got a new post up, where he accuses all of his critics of being dishonest and/or incapable of reading English, while completely avoiding accepting any blame or considering that he could be wrong in any way.

    After all, white guys have a MANDATE to talk down to women of color that supercedes all other concerns. After all, on issues of social justice there’s no greater expert than a semi-pro singer with a music degree.

  170. dezn_98 says

    As a person of color who has to constantly deal with this type of rhetoric from well meaning white liberal allies… I am always shocked, even though I know it is terribly predictable, by the amount of ignorance coming from privileged people who seek to “instruct” minorities on proper ways to behave. It really is disturbing, this sht is not even about JT.. it is about white privilege in general. His response is sooooooooooo cliche to every fcking person of color, in that it functions in a racist way. His response is not unique, it is the same racist rhetoric we are constantly barraged with everyday. In fact, he ain’t even the only one.. if you follow crommunist on twitter, you can see how even Matt Dillihunty felt obligated to share his “enlightened” opinion on how to proceed. The conversation that I saw was not only condescending, passive aggressive, and stupid, but also reveal that yes, even people on FTB like matt dillihunty should STFU once in a while and understand that if your ignorant about a subject – do not argue your fcking case like you understand it. Fck Matt, Fck JT, and fck any white privileged dck who want to come and tell me or anyone how to act. (I recall that other arse from “cammels with hammers”
    doing something similar – oh and his ignorant arse is now at patheos too… good riddance. He had nothing of substance to say when he tone policed either.. jerk)

    Man, I live through this sht… and I will tell any white person right up front any time we begin a conversation about race, that they can never say anything, anything that I have not heard before . Therefore their advice is not only unwarranted but useless. Not only that, I then have to explain to ignorant white folk how an amalgamation of these “bits of casual advice” over a lifetime of dealing with racism… is actually just a racist microagression. So when I reject that advice based on their ignorance, most then write entire treatise trying to defend themselves… and as “white allies” they somehow think I am obligated to go over ignorant BS everyday to “teach the white man how to be not racist.” When they are too lazy to pick up a fcking book and read for themselves about racism – which in about 5 fcking minutes would demolish any god damn “argument” they put up. What a waste of fcking space. Ignorant white folk, always stuck in racism 101…

    Probably the only reason I stick around on FTB is because I found a few white folk here… who actually fcking get it – well not all of it, but get it to a degree where I do not feel the need to have to educate anyone on any racism 101 BS.

    I just want to say this is just a trend to a larger problem, and it is tiring… How many hours do I have to spend educating some white privileged buffoon, only to have another one come in 5 minutes later and almost demand I educate him as well on the same exact sht? I mean, the responses are always the same cliche BS… and even if by some luck I manage to get someone to turn around… that don’t mean sht to a lot of white folk. All they seem to care about is making themselves be less racist… not actually concerned about ending racism by actually doing something about it. Most white folk only enter the issue when tone policing… then they leave, no matter if they were finally convinced that they are wrong, or ignorantly insisted they are right till the end… they always leave and then never actually do anything about it. So crommunist was right… man don’t give me that BS that you care.. cause a lot of you don’t and that shows through actions.

    Let me explain this one, cause this is a stumbling block for a lot of white folk. Most white folk “care” as much about racism as I, and most of us “care about starving children in Africa.” This is a normal everyday human flaw. We care about things that effect us, and hit home with us, more than we care about things that do not effect us and are far away.

    I “care” about starving children in Africa as in… if told about the issue I say it is wrong, then I go spend absurd amounts of money on food and throw half of it out. I just go about my day, making no effort whatsoever to help starving children. I feel sorry for them, I think it is a shame, I think they deserve help… and I do nothing about it. Even when I am part of a system that works to oppress people like that.

    Most people are exactly like this, otherwise there would be more Aid going to solve the world hunger problem. So when anyone says they “care” about world hunger…. it is this shallow from of caring. A caring that is only committed to words, and not actions – a caring that absolutely does nothing for people who are starving but makes us feel like we are “oh so good people cause we care.”

    Note* Before someone comes with with the silly point of “that means we can’t talk about any issue then?” No, it does not mean that. It means that, as you will read below, because of the nature of things this kind of apathy is, terribly normal – and no one can truly care about all causes… which is why you have to pick the ones you care most about. This would suggest that, if you want to talk about an issue you are not effected by directly, and are not involved in, in some way shape of form… then you probably got no business “giving instructions or advice” the ones who actually care. You should instead ask questions and attempt to educate yourself, rather than argue any point of give advice.

    Basically…. lots of white privileged people pay lip-service to being anti-racist but when asked to commit any action.. most of them not only decline, but out of ignorance, like JT and Matt, usually function in a racist manner. The only ones who are actually qualified to say they care about racism are the ones effected by it, and the ones working in some fashion to end it. All the rest… “care” in a sense that is not practical to solving the problem.

    Now, this is not a crime… and, even though it is fairly normal, that is not to say it is not an issue either. Apathy like this is an issue, it is an issue the people in the movement have to fight against. They have to make people care more than they do, care enough to commit to some action, no matter how small. People are also “too busy to care” and that is not a crime either, but it is an issue that needs attention. This stuff is relatively OK, I am ok with a white person fighting for a social issue that hits close to home… good for that person.. what I do not care for is people insisting they care, when really…. they don’t care all that much. Then what really pisses me off is how “offended” they get at a minority who rejects their shallow opinions… and how they try to victimize themselves by saying “I was your ally!” and such nonsense. That is crap.

    The degree in which you are measured to care about an issue, the degree in which you gain credibility as an ally, is not through fiat or announcement.. it is seen through what you do. Those who spend no time educating themselves about an issue before they speak about it and hurt people; those who commit to no action ending a social issue, those who frequently land on the side of “telling a minority how to act” in unsolicited advice…. those people who say they “care”…. well that, that is BS. Take that sht out of here. I tire of it. When you start railroading people who are doing something about it, when you are constantly in the way of minorities speaking out… then, no you don’t fcking care. Whatever your intentions are, whatever warm fuzzy feeling you might want to pull out a conversation, or whatever intellectual point you want to raise out of curiosity about issues that actually hurt people…. that does not count as caring, so fck off.

    With that… Lets look at JT’s and Matt’s “actions”…

    1) JT and Matt almost never talks about racism, and are, to my knowledge, not involved in any anti-racist movement in any meaningful way. (This shows how much they care about it) This means neither of them has credibility if any of them claim they “care about racism.” No one is inclined to believe that sht, and no the benefit of the doubt is not a given.

    2) The one time I see JT and Matt talk about racism… they are either trying to tell a minority “you are doing it wrong” (JT) or trying to argue some stupid insipid intellectual point (MD). Aint that funny… they never talk about racism, and when they finally do, instead of talking about how bad and racist that question was, instead of educating people why this question is racist, instead of using the minorities anger to show how deeply racism effects us emotionally… they argue that minorities need to behave in this “balanced” way when confronting racism. JT insisting he knows better if someone is acting racist with intent, and Matt insisting that he does not berate people in the same fashion… what fcking laughable points.

    That speaks… and it speaks of them not as allies, but as fools. White privileged fools who need to STFU. Now, the exchange with crommunist and matt was not that long, so I am done with Matt… let me dig in deeper with JT.

    3) JT said he walked out because he did not like the tone of what that POC was saying in her defense against racism. WOW. So you never talk about racism, and when you get the opportunity to learn something from someone who suffers from it you “walk out” in protest of the tone? Then you berate the person for not having a more sympathetic reaction to white racism? You go off the walls, writing pages and pages of intellectual racist garbage practically defending the “right” of white people to say whatever racist garbage they want, while telling minorities that they are only allowed to use their anger about racism in a specific way (a way you get to define as “productive”, and a way where that productivity centers the conversations primary objective on making the white person less racist (why should that be?).. instead of just… talking about how bad racism is and how it effects minorities). FFS…

    This guy by fcking definition of anti-racist ally… just functioned in a way that would categorize him not as one, but also probably acting like a racist himself. He “exited the room in protest?” Are you fcking serious? Someone should tell him that there is this racism against strong black women, and that type of racist bias.. tends to make lots of white men not only not listen to strong black women, but also try to make them out of “irrational” or “berating”.. and guess what this mther fcker just did? If that is not a racist microagression, and no one better fcking tell me any different, then I don’t know what is.

    I have like loads more to say…. but… whatever, I got more sht to do in meatspace rather than specifically outline how lots of white liberals betray minorities at every turn. I am willing to give matt more benefit of the doubt.. though.. JT I am done with, his actions speak loud and clear to me. Matt… he was not that terrible, but his conversation with crommunist on twitter set my “holy sht ignorant white person should STFU” vibe… And since this vibe is usually correct, well.. I can hope, but I have lots of doubts on this one.

  171. says

    Sorry about that KevinKat… I forgot that black people don’t show up on Greatest Ally Ever’s radar, unless he’s forced to walk out on them speaking and then scold them like children afterwards.

    I have to say this BTW: if I had just confronted someone on racism and a white guy pulled me aside to “set me straight” he’d be LUCKY if I only shouted in his face to fuck off with his bullshit. Who the fuck does JT think he is?

  172. Kengi says

    @dezn_98,

    Thanks for making these points. All great arguments. As a privileged white jerk who fell into your first category of actions (at the least), I see JT making all the same mistakes I did when I was more foolish (more of an asshole). I still make similar mistakes. Thanks for pointing them out so clearly.

  173. carlie says

    My talk on the day in question was about how the Freethought community can learn from the Hospitality Industry

    And it was after that that she asked about…crime? Wow. That makes it even more clear-cut. Thanks for the information.

  174. says

    I was giving the woman some benefit of the doubt, hoping that maybe she just used some bad phrasing and the question she wanted to ask could have been perfectly reasonable. This wouldn’t make Bria’s response out of line, of course(I’d have to see the whole exchange before I could even approach saying that),but I’d have a higher opinion of the questioner if she just stumbled on her words, and I prefer liking people.

    But a question with that phrasing and being that wildly out of context? Yeah, benefit of the doubt revoked. I really need to stop giving it so readily, I’m constantly disappointed.

    And JT not thinking it might matter that the question was this irrelevant?

  175. Dana Hunter says

    @dezn_98 – would it be all right if I republish your comment as a blog post? I think what you said is something a lot of white people need to hear. This white person certainly did.

  176. CJO says

    I’m struck by not just the condescension of policing the behavior, but by the massive presumption it takes to do so while repeatedly and stridently claiming to sympathize with the anger that motivated it. So a black person’s anger at textbook dog-whistle racism is fine as long as it’s coupled with sputtering impotence or masked behind a clenched-teeth smile. Got it. As if it’s remotely helpful (allies help) to pretend to graciously offer a person permission to feel a certain way –but only as long as their behavior stays in line.

  177. dezn_98 says

    @193

    Use it if you want…. but understand you might catch a lot of heat for it. My kind of rhetoric is usually not taken kindly by anyone who is not educated a little about race issues already.. the ignorant ones (most people) are so taken a back by it that… well, if you post it on your blog, you may be in for a bit of an angry struggle. Especially any JT or Matt Dillihunty fans….

    I usually just post to express myself, not to convince anyone – keep that in mind.

  178. says

    “how lots of white liberals betray minorities at every turn”

    Like I say, they only want you around so you can be a token of how not racist they are. Or so they can lecture you about privilege. Even here on FtB.

  179. Kevin Schelley says

    @tonybatavia

    It seems like he found another hole under the hole he was in.

    @dezn_98

    Thank you for your post. I most assuredly fall into the category of white people who have no fucking clue about the struggles of people who are not like me. I’m trying to learn, and posts like yours help my education along, bit by bit. I know I have some unconscious racism that I need to get over, and only by being around and listening to people who have had to deal with racial oppression will I get better.

  180. jenniferphillips says

    @dezn_98–
    count me as one more who is listening to you and learning a lot. Thanks for being so expansive and so candid here and at Greta’s.

  181. cubist says

    Is there any possibility that the “Mark Ferris” who posted to this thread is not the actual person, but, rather, some other person running a false-flag operation? I don’t ask because I find it improbable that a white dude could be toxically clueless about racism, but, rather, because there are a few ‘critics’ out there who have been known to impersonate-with-malice their targets. Just wondering which flavor of asshat to file this ‘Mark Ferris’ under…

  182. says

    ” find it improbable that a white dude could be toxically clueless about racism”

    You… you’re joking, right? You must not live in America, because that kind of stuff is pretty common. Jeez. White liberals think that because they voted Obama into the White House, they solved racism. No wonder the dialog has stagnated. People find racism improbable.

    Unbelievable.

  183. dezn_98 says

    @200… you fcking right Joel.

    Man, I am tired of white people finding racism “improbable” such that some white person online either has to be a troll or at least given the benefit of the doubt and not called a disgusting fcking racist arse hat. I too fin dit completely believable and easily believable… because… like you said.. this sht is sooo fcking common that it is distressing.

    I mean people are shocked that a white person could ask such a racist question and not know it (the original quesion). Well I got a surprise for white folk… I am really not shocked at all.. especially after being bombarded with fox news racism right after the zimmerman verdict… why would it surprise me that other white people would fall for racist rhetoric… this is what white people do all the time! What fcking world do these people live in where racism of this sort is unprecedented? Look in your backyard fools!!! Racism is there.

    Fck this “black on black crime” is part of the racism that got Trayvon killed…. Think about that. Then tell me that any minority does not have the right to get fcking upset. God damn this pisses me off!

  184. says

    Before we all pounce on cubist, let’s reread what he/she actually said:

    I don’t ask because I find it improbable that a white dude could be toxically clueless about racism, but, rather, because…

    Note that he/she is NOT saying he/she really does “find it improbable that a white dude could be toxically clueless about racism.” He/she is merely saying his/her question is NOT motivated by such a stupid notion.

    Right. Carry on then…

  185. embertine says

    dezn, you have basically summed up concisely why it’s so freaking exhausting having to explain privilege to someone who is more privileged than you. They don’t want to listen, they act like it’s their right to be educated by you, there will be another one just as dumb along any minute, etc…. Thank you, this white girl was nodding and yessing all the way through that and I’ve never even experienced it from a race perspective.

    This shit is no different from men calling women “hysterical” if they dare to get upset about being treated like furniture, which I have experienced. Getting upset is a reasonable reaction to being discriminated against. Fuck these pompous tone trolls, and the ugly ass steeds of the freethought apocalyse they rode in on.

  186. says

    Your privilege is showing in this piece, embarrassingly so. You are doing exactly what this guy you are criticizing is doing, explaining minority perspectives from a privileged position. White woman’s burden, I guess.

  187. dezn_98 says

    @ 202 Raging Bee

    I know how to fcking read. I had a god damn penny for how many racist apologists implied that I do not know how to read by quoting the person and saying “this is what he literally said”….. I would be fcking rich. I KNOW HOW TO FCKING READ. Don’t you ever suggest different.

    Let me say this clearly. I know.. how.. to read. I do.. not need a lesson.

    This trope needs to die.

    I had to say that, cause I am tired of hearing it. My comment was targeted at a general trend of white people when exhibiting white privilege. It was not targeted at cubist.. cause.. let me say this again. I know how to fcking read. Despite his qualification, obviously I and another person of color decided to call out a trend we usually see. I am pretty sure we can both fcking read, and I am pretty sure we both wanted to call out this trend in general anyway. TYVM.

    @204 Jason M. Wester

    You are right about that.. and you know why, in this instance I don’t really care? Because she happens to be 100% right about what JT’s real meaning is behind that post. You also know why I don’t really care?… because people of color can make the same points greta made.. and they will be ignored, in fact JT and a bunch of people on FTB have a history of ignoring the points made by POC’s. It is called white supremacy…. see yall don’t fcking listen if I say it, or if cromm say it.. but yall will fcking listen when a white woman says it. At least, the right message is being heard and I am thankful for that, and many other POC’s are as well.

    I think Greta and other POC’s are well aware that her comments will get more play because of white supremacy. I am pretty sure all people of color recognize this pattern, and this is just the sad state of affairs we live in. We have to compromise certain things… yes white peoples views on racism get more play than views like my own… however, if the white people espousing those views are listening to people like me and a relaying the massage properly… I may get pissed that I can say the same thing and be ignored, but I am also thankful that at least the message is out there but someone who actually does NOT claim to be a anti-racist ally, but in reality is showing me that she probably deserved the title of “anti-racist” ally if there was one (PS white people… there is no title). If greta did say something that I felt needed to be called out one as a POC.. oh trust me, I would get that message out – but in this case, and looking at other POC’s opinions.. Greta is right on. RIGHT ON.

  188. dezn_98 says

    EDIT for my comment in 205

    I meant to say greta and Jen McCreigh…. I guess I am biased for greta…. but yes. Both of these white people are getting it right. Privileged or not.

  189. embertine says

    dezn, you’re damn right that some of us are aware that our voices are listened to more and treated as more rational because we’re white. I hate that it is so, as it is exactly the wrong way round as far as I can see – my voice should be LESS valuable when we’re talking about racism.

    But if some oblivious douchecanoe gets pulled up short because I, a white woman, is telling him that that is some racist bullshit he’s spewing, then maybe I can do some good with what is a very f*cked up situation. I don’t know, and maybe I never will understand really. But maybe.

  190. freemage says

    Jason M. Wester @204: Thanks for playing, but, while I’m sure you’re actually already aware of this and just trying to troll, I’ll point out that there’s a huge, huge difference between a privileged ally explaining to other privileged individuals where the problems are, and that same ally turning around and telling the oppressed groups what the problems are. Those groups already know what the problems are–they live them–but it’s painfully obvious that some of the privileged, self-declared allies have no clue.

    In fact, that’s the best thing privileged allies can do, after the “Shut Up and Listen” phase–take the message they’ve heard (while listening), and convey it to other people whom they share that privilege with. And the reason this is so vital is that one aspect of privilege is that it makes you prone to filtering out messages from people who don’t share that privilege.

    FREX: Imagine if, after the session, JT had simply approached the question-asker and said, “Hey, I know you well enough to know you didn’t mean to come across as some sort of FOX drone. But I also see why Bria took it that way. Do you want to talk it through?” Assuming the woman was as upset and embarrassed as JT suggests, she was probably pretty open to that sort of approach; it would’ve been an awesome chance for JT to actually do ‘ally duty’. But instead, he opted for the White Man’s Burden approach of telling Bria how to better fight the fight that he’s got no skin in (pun very much intended).

  191. freemage says

    And… I got ninjaed and bested simultaneously by dezn, who is the one everyone reading this thread should be listening to.

  192. ischemgeek says

    @cubist: The fact that JT doubled down with an >8000 word diatribe and in the combined >11000 words of both his posts on the subject, he spent less than two paragraphs on the question at hand and >9500 words on Bria disproves your point.

    Yes, white people that toxically clueless exist. JT is one of them. They’re actually far more common than you think.

  193. Jessica Lundbom says

    I don’t believe for a second that “Judy” is not a racist piece of shit. Or that markfarris can run a camera. That requires opposable thumbs.

  194. dezn_98 says

    @ 202 Raging Bee

    so.. i read the comment from joel again, and from cubist.

    Slight correction (only slight)

    1) Joel, seems to have been attributing the idea that “no one can be that racist” to cubist reasoning. Seems I read cubists comment but skimmed joels… (does not matter as I will show)

    2) I am not attributing that idea to cubist reasoning. I instead wanted to concentrate on a trend I see from whites, and I wanted to get that out there before I saw a pile of white denialist out there saying mark or people liek him can not possibly exist. I assure you, that real of fake persona, marks ideas are common.

    3) White denalism is so incredibly common that I don’t even give a sht if joel made a mistake. It is a minor issue, and can be defended. Let me defend it by saying… whatever cubist was thinking when he wrote that, despite his insistance that he was not a denialist, white denialism is the larger issue.. AND… he still came off as a white denalist – despite his also reading his qualification.

    4) I read his comment with suspicion.. I just said nothing at the time. To me it sounded like he was implying that a “false flag” to smear someone is just as likley as “white racism”… which I found insulting and suspect. White racism is so common… that I find the likleyhood of a false flag unrealistic and insulting to come up as a possible excuse for white racism.

    So there, slight correction.. whatever I said about white people trying to teach me how to read… still stands firm though. IT is so incredibly annoying.. you would be surprised how much that sht comes up and how much the ones saying it turn out to be racist themselves.

  195. cubist says

    It may be worth noting that there has, for some time now, been a sustained campaign of intimidation/derision against FtB, and that persons responsible for conducting said campaign have been known to engage in such fun pastimes as creating bogus Twitter accounts that ostensibly put bullshit sentiments in the mouths of FtBloggers. Given that background information, it is not entirely unreasonable to wonder whether a particular instance of bullshit, asshat behavior in a FtB comment section might be a hostile impersonator. While it’s true that white racism is, in general, so common that it might be considered the null hypothesis for any example of bigotry from a person presenting themselves as white in a blog, at the same time it’s also true that there has been and is a sustained anti-FtB campaign which can muddy the waters. And since Jen is an FtBlogger…

    We hear a lot about intersectionality of social justice, efforts to improve matters which are exerted along more than one axis of oppression. Might there also be something similar/analogous for social injustice, i.e. efforts to maintain the flawed status quo which are exerted along more than one axis?

  196. says

    You make some good points Jen. I am left wondering, though, how you would have responded to the same post if it had come from someone whose gender, race, sexual orientation, etc., you did not know. I’ve been in situations, one in particular, where a woman in the atheist movement told me that because I am a man, not only should I listen to her perspective, but I should also turn off my own mind and accept her positions on all things gender-related without thinking it out for myself or ever disagreeing with her. I know you haven’t gone nearly that far, but you do seem to frame this as being about JT being a white straight cis man, rather than about JT’s ideas being wrong, and I worry about where that leads.

  197. dezn_98 says

    @cube dude

    I am well aware of the campaigns to smear FTB – infact every single movement for equality is met with similar smear campaigns from society. I am well aware that on the internet especially, I grew up on it, trolls of an such an insidious nature, in which you describe, indeed do exist to harass minorities out of the the internet they want to crown as “for white middle class only.” I am well aware that we need to be on guard for such tactics because I have been subject to such harassment my entire internet life… so I am no stranger to it.

    In fact, I too look at Marks post with some suspicion.. however that suspicion did not come from the white supremacist rhetoric is is throwing at us. That suspicion came from him announcing himself as an authoritative figure of the convention, and then him coming off as anti-FTB with very convenient timing. Suspicions being conformed by one organizer person saying they distance themselves from his thoughts. However, I want to stress this, this is the only valid reason to consider him with suspicion. It is not a valid reason to consider him with suspicion because of his racist rhetoric.. not, actually as a point to not consider him a troll and take him very seriously.

    The point is that troll or no…. his sincerity means dck to me. His ideas are actually a reflection of a larger trend of white denialism… and as such, much as with intent don’t matter when you are acting racist… if someone is a troll or not does not matter when their rhetoric mimics a larger trend of white privilege. Such rhetoric, troll or no.. needs to be talked about. No you can do that talking while saying, I think this guy is a troll… which many of you have done.. thankfully.. What I am concerned about is someone saying that because “no one this racist can exist” we can take our suspicions of him trolling as reason enough to not defend against his ideas – because troll or no, those ideas hurt, and the white wall of silence that sometimes accompanies those ideas, or the denial that this type of racism is real.. yeah that can hurt too.

    So, while I share your suspicions… whether he is genuine or not matter not.. because

    1) His ideas are worth discrediting because they reflect a white privileged culture.
    2) Despite the fact that trolls of such insidious nature do exist, and they are a serious issue, their prevalence of their existence is far outweighed by the actual racism that exists inside the mind many whites – trust me on this one. I encounter more white racism like this than the handful of encounters of trolls like this. Meaning, it is much more likely that these ideas stem from some form of actual white oppression, than it is of the form of an anti-FTB person willing to dump POC’s under the bus just to hurt FTB.
    3) If we could verify this person is in fact “just a troll” saying racist garbage for some silly reason. STILL DOES NOT MATTER – see reason 1.
    4) I stand by the point I made before, and I already explained, about saying trolls of such nature have just as much likelihood as a white racist person… as being insulting. It is evident in the fact that another person of color had a highly visceral reaction to your post, and I kept my similar visceral reaction silent because I did not want to press the issue. However, I spoke up when I saw someone else call it out because I agreed with it.

    Yet, you pressed an explanation.. here is my polite response.

    I understand where you come from. Now, hopefully you can understand where I am coming from. Keep in mind that I, and other people of color, have built up a lifetime of experience with “white allies” that gives us a very different point of view on issues like these. I offer this polite explanation because I am damn sure there are many people here that may have your take on it.. and while that take is not wrong, and it is pretty reasonable, it is still missing a part of the picture I am taking the time to illustrate here.

  198. Portia, Cap'n of the Good Ship Ilk says

    but I should also turn off my own mind and accept her positions on all things gender-related without thinking it out for myself or ever disagreeing with her.

    This definitely sounds like something a real person really said in real life.

  199. says

    “I’m kind of sick of this particular trope. “before they became officially white, my ancestors were oppressed too, which means I totally know how be part of a group that never has been accepted as fully human, and you’re doing it wrong.” blerggh.”

    yeah me too…also of Irish descent…. I don’t let this stand until I make the person making the claim that though the Irish started in a bad position here…it was almost immediately fixed by many jumping on to the racist bandwagon, and then pulling up the ladder and beating others with it…. (of course this is not a global assessment…) But the price of whiteness in this country is becoming racist.

  200. R Johnston says

    @215:

    What JT did was clearly wrong regardless of his race or gender identity. A rightfully angry person publicly taking a bigot to task with honest words is a good thing, the kind of wake up call we need to see a lot more of. If JT wanted to help he could have congratulated Bria on her smart confrontation of a bigot and offered to buy her an ice cream. That’s not what he did.

    What JT did was, however, made worse by his being a white male and offering his “advice” from a position of total ignorance about what its like to live day-to-day with the micro and macro aggressions of racism constantly beating you down.

  201. cubist says

    dezn_98: You’re right that when a racist/asshat comment shows up on a blog comment thread, the appropriate response, in an immediate sense, is pretty much the same regardless of whether the racism/asshattery is sincerely held or a trollish pose. Either way, it’s still contributing to a toxic social environment, so yeah. Where you and I may differ, assuming we do differ, is that I think it can be helpful to distinguish between racists/asshats of the Troll kind and of the Sincere kind anyway.

    As best I can tell, the whole fighting-for-social-justice deal is very much a battle for hearts and minds. In a larger, big-picture sense, the endgame is that we want racists/asshats to stop being racists/asshats, right? Nothing wrong with getting those guys to STFU about their racism/asshattery, but if that’s all that happens—if they’re still carrying racist/asshattish prejudices in their heads—the war is only half-won at best. Ultimately, when all is said and done, we want those guys to change their opinions, abandon their prejudices. To do this, it helps a whole lot to know where the racist/asshat in question is coming from; a sincere racist/asshat will stop doing that shit after they’re persuaded that The Other isn’t as bad as they originally thought, but since a trollish racist/asshat is just doing it For The Lulz, a different approach is needed in order to yield the desired result.

    As to the question of who shall bell the cat how to go about changing the minds of racists/asshats, and trolls… don’t ask me, because I suck when it comes to persuading people to change their minds.

  202. dezn_98 says

    Cubist… The end game is not to stop racist people from being racist by persuading them through a dialogue. There exists these racist people because of actual systematic discrimination of people of color based on a history of white supremacy and colonialism.

    The end game is to topple the system of racial oppression, and then peoples minds will change – because they are no longer bombarded by white supremacist and colonist ideology that exists in this culture and dominates the minds of everyone in it. Even if every fcking white person can be convinced they are acting racist through such a dialogue – and such is not a viable view – there still would exist racism.. because the social structures would still be there.

    Talking to racist people either to silence or convert them with social force, or with a well reasoned argument, is a part of the process that keeps a social movement towards equality from tipping over the edge. It is not the end game, not just the bargaining, it is just part of the process towards dismantling a social system of white/colonial power.

    And no.. racist people do not stop doing stuff just cause you can convince them “the other” is not so bad.. it ain’t that simple. I do not think there is any utility in making this distinction.. other than saying the distinction is present, it serves no purpose to try and use any “detective” skills to weed out which one is which. More energy can be and should concentrated at the idea.

  203. says

    I love love love it when dudes try to explain internet culture to me… as I’ve been here since before the ones ‘splaining – were born in a large chunk of cases… where ‘splaining is occurring.

  204. says

    “As best I can tell, the whole fighting-for-social-justice deal is very much a battle for hearts and minds. In a larger, big-picture sense, the endgame is that we want racists/asshats to stop being racists/asshats, right? ”

    I actually think it’s less about convincing assholes to stop being assholes/racists/MRAs etc and more MUCH more about taking our rightful place, taking up space and having resources directed to our priorities along with everyone else….There is no “REAL” movement that just contains straight white men. That’s a social club.

    When I am arguing with someone about gender for instance…if they are a toxic MRA – I don’t give a crap about converting them. I care about the younger women who are living online too. I want them to know they do not have to be passive in the face of bullshit. And I do it for my heart and mind. Letting that crap fester is not good for me.

  205. see_the_galaxy says

    Is this a fair cartoon (not quotations of course) of the event:
    Mandisa Thomas: We should learn from the hospitality industry.
    White audience member: Ms. Black Person, what are you doing about black people’s crime?
    Mandisa Thomas: Here are some thoughtful remarks.
    [later]
    Bria Crutchfield: I have angry remarks about this racism!
    JT Eberhard: Your comments, Bria Crutchfield, are bad.

  206. says

    Re: Eberhard
    Christ, what a motherfucking asshole. An unsurprising asshole, though. If you have to tell me you’re on my side, you’re probably not doing a great job.

    I’m kind of sick of this particular trope. “before they became officially white, my ancestors were oppressed too, which means I totally know how be part of a group that never has been accepted as fully human, and you’re doing it wrong.” blerggh.

    The really asinine thing about that is that it *is* the definition of a zero sum game. The bulk of that came from finding more different groups to hate. Slavic and Irish peoples were displaced by black people, f’rex, at least in the USA.

    Your privilege is showing in this piece, embarrassingly so. You are doing exactly what this guy you are criticizing is doing, explaining minority perspectives from a privileged position. White woman’s burden, I guess.

    You learned to ape our words, but not understand them, it seems.

  207. Portia, Cap'n of the Good Ship Ilk says

    What gets me (well, among the things that get me) is that he seems to think she owed him a single fucking thing when he “pulled her aside.” She rightly didn’t engage on his terms when he tried to scold her, and he was just nonplussed that she wasn’t properly chastised. Fucking fuckhead.

  208. see_the_galaxy says

    Unfortunately, JT’s comment section closed before I could go over there and ask the same question. I still think the rhetoric is overheated on all sides, including from JT. I have to say that if the cartoon version is basically right, there is no question that the criticism of JT is justified. It is more interesting that JT seems to have referenced Greta Christina. I think he had to have known this would generate criticism from her. So this actually looks more like trolling (unintentional perhaps) on the part of JT, to some extent. And it comes not long after an attempt by another Patheos blogger to goad Greta C. into an angry outburst, after the Zimmermann verdict. You at FtB are being systematically trolled in the true sense: your business competitors (fellow activists, my arse) at Patheos are goading you.
    I still think the rhetoric and the disfellowshipping and losing all respect and whatnot is excessive all round. You all need to have each others’ backs.

  209. Onamission5 says

    I still think the rhetoric and the disfellowshipping and losing all respect and whatnot is excessive all round. You all need to have each others’ backs

    Why?

    I can have the backs of people who fuck up, recognize they have fucked up and show with their actions that they’re willing to do better, but it’s too costly to keep pouring energy into people who refuse to recognize that they are capable of being wrong when their being wrong hurts other people. The bloggers and commenters here have the backs of the people who are being hurt by this, and those who are taking a stand on the side of right, why do I or anyone need to have the backs of those who are doing the hurting? How does it help anything to maintain alliances with people who can’t admit their wrongs and apologize after they’ve used their privilege to crap on another person? What benefit do you see in doing so that outweighs having PoC be welcome, considered, appreciated, understood, and not constantly forced into the position of being representatives of all PoC everywhere in every time and place, even when they’d like to talk about something else, or being lectured on how to talk about the racism they experience when they want or need to talk about that?

    People who are close to JT have been trying like hell to explain to him how he fucked up and why. That is having his back. If he’d shown any willingness to understand how he screwed up, I am fairly sure that most would have his back still. He, however, does not seem to have theirs, as he stated outright that he’s chosing to ignore people like Jen, Crommunist, and Greta who have reached out to him, and he totally ignored Fredrick Sparks’ endorsement of Jen’s post. He doesn’t have the backs of PoC who were hurt and angered by his stubborn insistence that anyone who’s harmed by his actions is just oversensitive. He doesn’t have Bria’s back or Mandisa’s, that is pretty obvious, and you’d like us to ignore those facts in favor of, what, some illusion of skeptical harmony? No thank you.

  210. see_the_galaxy says

    He doesn’t have Bria’s back or Mandisa’s

    This is quite important, and actually a very big problem. I do think you have to be able to work together on common interests–that’s a basic and important fact. And I do see a lot of fatigue and burnout coming from intra-atheist fights. Fights being enjoyed, and I suspect partially instigated, by far worse enemies than each other, even at our worst.

  211. says

    “that’s always been a philosophy of mine, it’s just taking a look at what I may be doing, and just because I may have been born a certain way doesn’t mean I have to stay that way. We must be open to always learning new ideas and how to communicate and how to be nicer. I don’t think any of us in here is above that. It doesn’t matter what your background is, what your educational level is, none of us should ever be above tweaking and revising and looking at our personality and how we come across to each other.”

    Those are some of Mandisa’s words from the convention in Toledo. In fact, those words are from her response to Judy, the woman who asked the offending question. Mandisa’s talk was a breath of fresh air, I’m certain all of us enjoyed her presentation. It was a glimpse at how we all can connect with people who fear us because we question the foundation of their reality. I am disappointed Mandisa joined in circling the wagons to denigrate that cracker Judy. Before we go any further, my name is Mark Farris and I am not a spokesperson for Great Lakes Atheists. I am not a troll. I do not really know Judy. I do not have her phone number, I do not have her e-mail address. I have met her a couple times and have not talked to her since the convention. I thought I would try to set up a lunch between myself, Bria and Judy. Now, why bother. Let’s go.

    I will talk more on Judy’s egregious question tomorrow. Judy was speaking from compassion and she received hatred in return. Eventually, you all will hear the hatred in Bria’s voice and you’ll have a better understanding. I am going to embarrass all of you educated skeptics so run your mouths all you like on second hand information. I’ll be brief here. There will be more from me maybe tomorrow and then I am done at this site. I’ll not toss pennies at your feet Jen, or JT‘s. All you bloggers are part of the problem. Sit in front of screens confusing people as the world changes around us. You’ll have to excuse me for not being in any hurry but I have to enjoyed this barrage of lunacy from the supposed freethought movement.

    I have to run my mouth a little here to clarify the circumstances. You’ll have a better understanding why you are all fools and I intend to embarrass you all. Bria could have stepped forward up front to squelch this. I asked her to do so and you jumped on me like a pack of rats on a dead dog in the ditch. I am disappointed this went viral but obviously the internet is the beast. It really is no wonder there is rampant depression via the internet. You all desire instant dissatisfaction and I’m going to give it to you. You pigs want to call me a racist ? Sure, you swallow deception and shit confusion. Some Ftb mouths spread division like mental manure.

    I have enough sense to side step a pile of dog shit on the sidewalk, and I know when I should step out of a movement. I dropped out of the Great Lakes Atheists today but do hope they carry on. I hope they do another convention next year because a solid foundation for a much bigger event has been laid. The almost complete success last weekend in Toledo meant this group had no where to go but up. The director Barb Williams put most of the work into making it happen, she put most of the money into the event. Only a hand full of us helped and kicked in some money. I told Barb up front I would split the losses with her and will follow through on that. If the group pulls off another convention next year, I have to imagine the attendance will at the very least triple. I however will not be there and I doubt Judy will show up either. That’s her call to make. I left the group because no one in GLA has stepped forward to back me up here. I am done with Toledo, I am done with the freethought movement. This movement is floundering and I’ll gladly bicker about that with anybody. My book, “The Wrest of Forever and the Failure of Atheism” will be out in time for Christmas. All you phonies have tossed another chapter in my lap and it was totally unexpected. I hate you all almost as much as I dislike the Christians. Everyone abandoned me except my pal Peggy. She made sure you all knew I am not a spokesperson for the Great Lakes Atheists. Peggy and I have had a brittle relationship from day one and it is I who always tried to soften it up. Every time I think she and I are on the front lines together she thrusts her sword in my face. Maybe Peggy can toss in her two cents here. Peggy, what say ye? Tell everyone why I should shut up. Explain yourself, give some details. Tell em all why they should hate me like you do.

    So, Mandisa’s talk was on, “ How the Freethought Community can learn from the Hospitality Industry.” Yes good, and, we were at an Atheist convention so a question on how a black Atheist organization can fill the void the church has never filled was appropriate. Even if it was about black on black crime. I think if anybody would have asked Judy she may have clarified that we all better start working in our communities to deal with the rich on poor crime which backs us all into a corner. Maybe we all better start figuring out how we can work together to address the issue of our government bringing crack and heroin into our communities. Maybe we all together can demand that US corporations stop shipping jobs from Detroit overseas to avoid paying taxes here. This country’s industrial base has been shipped overseas in order to pay slave wages to brown skinned people elsewhere who are probably dependant on a puppet dictator propped up with our tax dollars. Maybe we all better consider why the military industrial complex has been allowed to bankrupt this country. Black on black crime? Yeah, how can the black community redirect their anger and realize who the enemy is. It is not Judy, it is not me. Bria was wrong, she burnt the bridge in front of her. Barb Williams just put together a solid year and a half of in your face Atheist activity culminating in a great convention that all enjoyed. Bria has done nothing for a couple years. Say it ain’t so Bria. Clarify this situation unless you want people to continue trashing my character. Tell everybody Bria, were you wrong, or am a racist pig? All of you here are unaware of an incident I had at one of Bria’s meetups over a year and a half ago. A woman Bria and I both knew, verbally jumped on me and Bria was displeased with that taking place at her meeting. She and I both laughed about it later.

    Bria’s outburst in Toledo came well over an hour after the question was asked of Mandisa. I just think she prematurely unleashed all the emotion she was building for her talk. Mandisa gave an eloquent calm answer to the question and there was no anger in her voice. Then Darrell Smith spoke and I wish you all were there to hear it. I’m sure we’ll all be hearing his name again. (Seek out his book,” The Black None’s” ) We all have to move forward together, not backwards. In the Q&A that followed Mr. Smith‘s presentation, Bria gave her 4 minute harangue and then it was I who introduced Bria. I said she is a passionate young woman working to make things happen in her community and there is nothing wrong with being passionate. What I didn’t say is, there is a time and a place to be passionate and that moment was not it. I was lying, Bria has done next to nothing in her community. Bria is the great pretender.

    This will all get sorted out, there will be bigger issues for us to bicker about down the road and I‘ll be a part of it. I wish Bria could have admitted she overreacted, she could have put this fire out. This is irreversible now, it is viral and I’m now a racist pig. How bout that. You want to denigrate my character? Good, we will find out who is confused.

    I suggest we bump it up a notch. I ask, how infinite economic growth on a finite planet is possible? Too many Atheists reject Christianity yet desperately cling to the expansionist socio-economic structure fabricated by Christianity. Too many people think racism is the disease, but it’s not. Too many people think sexism is the disease and it too is not. Sexism, racism, war, murder, rape and robbery are all symptoms of the disease called free market economics. Free market economics does not exist, it never did and it never will. Corporate welfare is free market economics because some corporations are free to not pay taxes. Expand your horizons fools. Ayn Rand never considered corporate welfare. The libertarians in the movement are part of the confusion. We will all bicker bout this down the road, but not here. I’ll have a small post tomorrow and I’ll never be back to FTB again. You want to denigrate me on confused information good. I hate you all more than I dislike the Christians. We will see who the idiots are.

    Patriarchy insures the transmission of property to the mans bloodline and yes, it is all about control. The history of civilized humanity is an unending history of genocide. Capitalism is perfecting tribal warfare and all the powers that be only need an enemy to manipulate the populace consciousness. We lived through this with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is now in the sights as is Syria. War is good business and morality is for sale. Humanity has been butchering itself for millennia as each new empire leapfrogs the last and this won’t be ending anytime soon. Skin color is irrelevant. Race is irrelevant. You consider me a racist? Good for you , I consider you all educated idiots. Racism is not the disease, it is one of the symptoms.

    Bickering with ourselves is apparently more important than addressing the bigger picture. I am going to embarrass you all. I’ll put the tapes together. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You don’t know the way because you are in the way. I hate you pigs. I am your enemy. We will kick it around and I will expose you all.

  212. Dana Hunter says

    Oh, fantastic. Captain Mark here fancies himself a supervillain. What a hateful, petty little asshole you are, and so full of yourself.

    I assume we’ll soon see whether you attended Breitbart’s School ‘ Creative Editing, then. My, how exciting. I’ll supply the popcorn if someone can spring for drinks.

    In the meantime, Mr. Farris, I do hope you’re practicing your flounce, because I’m sure all present would be delighted to see you stick it.

  213. says

    Wow, that was one impressive temper tantrum, complete with “I hate you”.
    All because some people did not kneel to his superb judgement and bowed to his superiority.
    Spoiled brat, Mark Farris, spoiled brat.
    Though good for GLA for not supporting him.

  214. says

    Before we go any further, my name is Mark Farris and I am not a spokesperson for Great Lakes Atheists.

    In other words, you knew damn well you were lying earlier, when you pretended to be an organizer of GLA, and loudly promised to wave that phony suthority in Bria’s face and give her a good talking-to as such. And now you’re STILL spouting already-refuted bullshit like we’re supposed to take your word as some kind of “authority.”

    Take your obnoxious mansplaining and your bogus claims of authority and shove them back where they came from.

    Bickering with ourselves is apparently more important than addressing the bigger picture…

    Funny how NONE of the people who say this ever have anything to say about any “bigger picture.” Every FTB thread that mentions problems within the atheist community gets gummed up with people who demand we talk about other subjects — but who never show up in any blog thread about any other subject.

  215. embertine says

    Um. Am I the only person who thinks that Mark’s rant has moved him from “spiteful little tosser” into Dennis Markuze territory?

    DISCLAIMER! I AM NOT DIAGNOSING MENTAL ILLNESS OVER THE INTERWEBS!

    However, there are a few bits of his post that are… a little odd. A little red flaggy.

  216. Onamission5 says

    I am.. unsurprised that markferris has returned to gallop across this comment thread in a stampede of teal deer, imparting to us his lifetime of wisdom on race relations and social decorum for the little wimminz, which we should all definitely follow because see how well it works for him and doesn’t he sound smug and superior? Of course he’s the expert here, this rant being no less patronizing than the last, no point made to him having yet been addressed and showing no signs of understanding, this flounce I expect will stick just about as well as every other flounce in the history of flouncing. /sarcasm

    Let me repeat since you don’t seem to have heard anyone last time. Mark. This is not all about you, stop making it all about you. If you don’t understand the issues at hand (you don’t) then it’s listening time, not talking time.

  217. dezn_98 says

    Note* This wore me out.. so.. I did not spell check it. Endure the bad spelling. I am tired.

    @235Mark

    Wow.

    So.. let me respond in kind.

    “that’s always been a philosophy of mine, it’s just taking a look at what I may be doing, and just because I may have been born a certain way doesn’t mean I have to stay that way. We must be open to always learning new ideas and how to communicate and how to be nicer. I don’t think any of us in here is above that. It doesn’t matter what your background is, what your educational level is, none of us should ever be above tweaking and revising and looking at our personality and how we come across to each other.”

    Those are some of Mandisa’s words from the convention in Toledo. In fact, those words are from her response to Judy, the woman who asked the offending question. Mandisa’s talk was a breath of fresh air, I’m certain all of us enjoyed her presentation. It was a glimpse at how we all can connect with people who fear us because we question the foundation of their reality.

    Looking at that quote, if this is indeed all she said, and that is a big IF… Then I feel for Bria even more. I too would have had to talk about how that answer to that racist question would have not been good enough for me. To me, when speaking to a mostly white audience, I like to be really really clear about what I mean.. because any sort of vagueness is going to be interpreted in a lilly white way… and since I ain’t lilly fckign white, they probably ganna get sht wrong. I am betting this is not all she said, and if this was all she said…. then maybe she just wanted to avoid the racism all together because its fcking annoying. I do this sht too sometimes, I give the soft answer, the ones whitey wants to hear just so that they can go away and I don’t have to be sucked into every racist thought they ever had.

    Going off this… you can not apply those words so easily to minorities when speaking up about social injustice. “Niceness” is a cultural value, it is defined by culture. If your culture is racist…. then the values you have, probably ganna have racism within them. For example, it is considered “polite” to give a firm handshake in an interview – why? Who cares? Nothing inherently nice about that, but its a cultural thing. What about if I want to go give some dap? You bet your arse, I would never get the job.. and it was not because I was not polite or nice, it is because this culture defines giving dap as crude and barbaric. I use the racially charged word barbaric because american culture looks at that form of communication in a racially charged way. The fetishism white people had when Obama gave a “first bump” was disgusting.. and it was a reflection of how racist this country is. So let me make this clear… what is considered nice or polite in this society is heavily skewed towards white privilege… so maybe I don’t want to be so fcking “nice.” Maybe I just want to be me, and whitey here is ganna treat me like an equal whether he likes it or not… not because I am nice, but because I demand to be treated like a human, and you are ganna fcking do that.

    There are many ways to get equality. Being nice IS one of them, but it is one of many. I ain’t so fcking nice to whitey’s racism… just not in me. I do not want to be nice to get a connection to the whitey that fears me because I shake the very foundation of the fantasy land he thinks he lives in. If you white atheists think believers can be hilariously silly when defending the sky daddy….. of fck… look at yourselves and how “hilariously” cruel and racist you can be when defended the fantasy land of your views on race. So no, I don’t have to be nice. I do not have to conform to a racist culture that defines “niceness” in a way that it seeks to take away my culture and pretend its values are superior to mine.

    I am disappointed Mandisa joined in circling the wagons to denigrate that cracker Judy.

    You ain’t nobodies daddy hommie. Who gives a sht how “disappointed” you were? You know what is funny? How whites people always go for this line where they try to imply “cracker” is so offensive… man STFU. Even if someone actually called judy a cracker…. no one would actually give a sht. Except for white people pretending they have the upper hand now… as if the word cracker comes anywhere close to the unacceptableness and harm any other racial slur can have. Do not give me this garbage.

    I thought I would try to set up a lunch between myself, Bria and Judy. Now, why bother. Let’s go.

    I like how white hommies think they have the ability to moderate disagreements down racial lines. It is real surprising that mofos like yourself love placing yourself in position of authority to solve racial tensions… White people, you are not supposed to have any sort of authority on this issue – remember that. As soon as you try, just remember that trying to grab power, is a white power move.. and all POC’s are ganna sense that.

    Oh an now you “go”.. oh man.. let me see how you get down son!

    Judy was speaking from compassion and she received hatred in return.

    OMG… jsut stop. You can’t white knight this like this… This is embarrassing. Yes MR.. protect your white empress from all these “nasty” black and brown folk! Oh wait.. you don’t even know this woman? You don’t even have her number? What are you defending so furiously if you don’t even know her? Oh yeah… the notion of the innocent white female.. that makes more sense… Mr. Knight.

    Eventually, you all will hear the hatred in Bria’s voice and you’ll have a better understanding.

    LOL… Hatred.. it could never be that this is an emotional response to decades of racis.. right?… right.. You know better, Mr. Moderator.

    I am going to embarrass all of you educated skeptics so run your mouths all you like on second hand information. I’ll be brief here.

    Hommie… You only embarrassing yourself. Oh.. and you ganna be brief? I read that.. scrolled down to the rest of your post.. and I laughed. Write you treatise.. teach me respect white man!

    Sit in front of screens confusing people as the world changes around us. You’ll have to excuse me for not being in any hurry but I have to enjoyed this barrage of lunacy from the supposed freethought movement.

    Confusing people by fighting discrimination and privilege. Yeah… ok.

    I have to run my mouth a little here to clarify the circumstances.

    You certainly ran your mouth….

    Bria could have stepped forward up front to squelch this. I asked her to do so and you jumped on me like a pack of rats on a dead dog in the ditch. ….You pigs want to call me a racist ? Sure, you swallow deception and shit confusion.

    You know what is odd to me? How you are calling on Bria to step up and stop the sht storm.. and no calling on Judy. It never crossed your mind that Judy could of come out and said “That was racist og me yall.. I am sorry. I do not support JT”.. and it would have been done?| No.. none of that crosses your mind cuase you gatta white knite this sht.

    I have enough sense to side step a pile of dog shit on the sidewalk, and I know when I should step out of a movement.

    Minority views = dog sht. Yeah, got it.

    I hate you all almost as much as I dislike the Christians. Everyone abandoned me except my pal Peggy. She made sure you all knew I am not a spokesperson for the Great Lakes Atheists. Peggy and I have had a brittle relationship from day one and it is I who always tried to soften it up. Every time I think she and I are on the front lines together she thrusts her sword in my face. Maybe Peggy can toss in her two cents here. Peggy, what say ye? Tell everyone why I should shut up. Explain yourself, give some details. Tell em all why they should hate me like you do.

    Cry me a fckign river. Notice how you “hate” us but merely dislike Christians. You writing a book too? I am sure this is ganna help your sales. The self-victimization in your voice is dense. I like how you make this all about you, all about your life story. Oh how the athiest convention left you in the dark!, Oh how another white lady kind of does not like you.. oh how you tried… White dude.. Did it ever occur to you that you come off as a creep? You sound real creepy right now.. maybe something is wrong with you, not the people around you.

    Maybe we all better start figuring out how we can work together to address the issue of our government bringing crack and heroin into our communities. Maybe we all together can demand that US corporations stop shipping jobs from Detroit overseas to avoid paying taxes here. This country’s industrial base has been shipped overseas in order to pay slave wages to brown skinned people elsewhere who are probably dependant on a puppet dictator propped up with our tax dollars. Maybe we all better consider why the military industrial complex has been allowed to bankrupt this country.

    For once, white man, we agree. All those things are huge concerns and issues. However, I want to tell you something…. there is no maybe we should start doing something about this… People are already doing things about this. There are massive activist campaigns against this sort of stuff, and some of us are a part of them.. and not just saying “people should do something about that”.. but actually doing it. So do not pretend that because POC’s get angry at your racist slights that someone has lost sight of the bigger picture.

    Black on black crime? Yeah, how can the black community redirect their anger and realize who the enemy is. It is not Judy, it is not me.

    Listen white dude. While it does get me angry that you are such a privileged fool, and I probably would not chill with you cause you really acting a racist fool. That don’t mean you are my enemy. It mean I don’t like it when you do this.. so stop doing that, and we will be fine. Yet, if you continue to do it despite me telling you to stop and telling you that this sht is bad.. the one who made yourself the enemy was not me, you did that to yourself.

    Personally, I don’t get over racist aggression. I never really trust a white person after they become racist. However, if that white person manages to smarted up and stop being stupid, I would be willing to work with them on OTHER things. If you wanted to form a group that worked against corporation shipping jobs overseas… you would have my support. Now, if you acted racist…. I just would give you support from… really really far away. I would want no contact with you, but that don’t mean I would want you to stop fighting against a good cause. That also don’t mean that I am going to remain silent when you do racist sht just because I support your cause. I am not ganna throw my needs under the bus though, and if you say racist sht or support racism.. man go away. Take your stuff and keep away from me. And for someone who is so aware of all these problems.. do not use that to undermine the problems of racism. The same argument can be applied to the skeptics movement… why bother with that when all these other things are on the table? huh? It is a stupid argument, a zero sum game.. stop using it.

    Bria has done nothing for a couple years. Say it ain’t so Bria. Clarify this situation unless you want people to continue trashing my character. Tell everybody Bria, were you wrong, or am a racist pig? All of you here are unaware of an incident I had at one of Bria’s meetups over a year and a half ago. A woman Bria and I both knew, verbally jumped on me and Bria was displeased with that taking place at her meeting. She and I both laughed about it later.

    Man, this is pathetic. Would you stop making this sht about you already? Why is it that every time some privileged white guy gets called out for a racist micro-aggression… they start making it about them? How black people betrayed them cause of one bad indecent.. how they hold a grudge to certain people of color because they had the gaul to call you guys out on your sht? How.. OMG.. how terrible it feels to be called a racist! C’mon man.. just stop this stuff. What you want me to console you? You really want to flip this and turn this racist event into a personal intervention for you where all people of color come and tell you its ok? God.. white privilege makes me sick.

    Also.. what makes you think that you have to have done anything in order to have a say on a subject that personally adds to your oppression? Let me tell you something.. I would rather listen to any person of color, no matter their social standing, no matter if they are involved in a movement, than I would to any activist that is not effected by the oppression. What kind of elitist BS is that? People of color have nothing to prove to you… they are the ones who experience it, and as such, by default they have a fkcing say.

    harangueMandisa gave an eloquent calm answer to the question and there was no anger in her voice. Then Darrell Smith spoke and I wish you all were there to hear it. I’m sure we’ll all be hearing his name again. (Seek out his book,” The Black None’s” ) We all have to move forward together, not backwards.

    Tranlsation: POC’s that talk this way are worth listening to… POC’s that talk away I do no approve of… are not. Not only that, by your attacks on them… not only are they not worth listening to, they are apparently worth abusing. You are trying to force conformity on someone when you do not even know the origins the values you put forth. Damn.. And this.. yeah.. this cements it.

    I said she is a passionate young woman working to make things happen in her community and there is nothing wrong with being passionate. What I didn’t say is, there is a time and a place to be passionate and that moment was not it. I was lying, Bria has done next to nothing in her community. Bria is the great pretender.

    WOW.. who would have suspected a white person riddle with racist micro-aggressions…. lied about how they felt! Conveniently hiding the fact that they distaste certain people of color for irrational reasons! Color me surprised.

    This is irreversible now, it is viral and I’m now a racist pig. How bout that. You want to denigrate my character? Good, we will find out who is confused.

    Dude. You… like JT did this to yourself. We are not telling you, that you are acting a fool because you disagree. We are telling you that you are acting a fool because your language is coded with racist tropes. Instead of considering that we are right… you and JT… basically tell us we are “irrationally oversensative” proceed to provide a tutorial and treatise on how “colored people should act”… all the whie victimizing yourself. Practically making yourself a martyr, because people of color are calling you out on racist stuff that you write.

    You know what is funny? This sht happens all the damn time. You wonder why POC’s are hesitant to talk to white people about racism… because of reactions like this. Ignorant ones, trying to pretend they are sage like.. when all they spew is ignorant trope after ignorant trope. Pick up a book and educate yourself because you go on about subject in which you do not experience and know little about.

    I suggest we bump it up a notch. …. Corporate welfare is free market economics because some corporations are free to not pay taxes. Expand your horizons fools. Ayn Rand never considered corporate welfare. We will all bicker bout this down the road, but not here. I’ll have a small post tomorrow and I’ll never be back to FTB again. You want to denigrate me on confused information good. I hate you all more than I dislike the Christians. We will see who the idiots are.

    I see you want to remind us of how much you hate us… ok. You want to come back!!! Please do not.. for your own sake. I sense you are getting highly emotionally perturbed and you need a break… before you get so angry that a racial slut pops out your mouth. Can not count how many times that happened either.

    And BTW.. why the fck are you assuming people do not know about the horrible effects globalization? Dude, again, you are no sage.. you literally have said nothing that I have not already known about. Yes, there are huge problem like that.. but that does not undercut the fact that… hommie… I am asking you to stop being racist. That is it. Your response to “stop being racist” is…”OMG do you know nothing about these corperations.. look at that!”…. Yes, I know about globalization, I know about corporate well fare… I read Noam Chomskey, Karl Marx, Joseph Stiglitz, Terry eagleton… .. I even read Howard Zinn, Edward Said, C.L.R. James, Frantz Fannon, Malcolm X…ETC. Do not assume that you know way more about stuff than anybody here. Do not lecture anyone or even switch the subject bro.

    Hommie.. just stop being racist. Open your eyes to what I am talking about… cause I already know about what you are talking about… yet you apparently made no effort to think about racism.. which is a world wide phenomenon that intersects with EVERYTHING you just wrote.

    Patriarchy insures the transmission of property to the mans bloodline and yes, it is all about control. The history of civilized humanity is an unending history of genocide. Capitalism is perfecting tribal warfare and all the powers that be only need an enemy to manipulate the populace consciousness. We lived through this with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is now in the sights as is Syria. War is good business and morality is for sale. Humanity has been butchering itself for millennia as each new empire leapfrogs the last and this won’t be ending anytime soon. Skin color is irrelevant. Race is irrelevant.

    This is nothing but an elongated defense of “it’s not racism.. its classicism!” White dude… just stop. Racism is an ideology that is used to dominate other countries and was used by colonial powers that covered the globe as propaganda to their manifest destiny type ideas. Racism intersects with this ideologies, in fact it helps propagate them. You clearly are not that well read on these things.. because if you were, you would know of such intersectionality. You would know that Orientalism was used to justify the invasions in the middle east…. You would know that racism is used all the time to justify the things you speak of.. and you would know that the ones most impacted by the things you speak of are the ones at the bottom of the social ladder. Meaning.. the poor, the dark skinned, women… ETC. So you don’t seem to be as educated as you think.

    Bickering with ourselves is apparently more important than addressing the bigger picture. I am going to embarrass you all. I’ll put the tapes together. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You don’t know the way because you are in the way. I hate you pigs. I am your enemy. We will kick it around and I will expose you all.

    No.. No it is not more important. It is just something that is being done because it needs to be done. People like you need to be educated… So no, do not come back… just pick up a book. Start with Edward Said, or Frantz Fonan. Then come back and tell me how racism don’t matter…. In fact, don’t come back at all. Just do some internal self reflection, and go away.

  218. dezn_98 says

    @240…

    Yeah.. I kind of agree. I have had one or two instances that after a huge “internet brawl” I find out someone had a mental illness, and that could have been the reason for the escalation. However, having a mental illness is not a sign someone is irrational, nor can it be used to dismiss them

    I kind of wanted to end it here.. because clearly this guy has become emotionally unstable. But I hate it when others end it when I become emotional.. So I extended him the pleasantry of a proper reply, despite the inanity of his post.

  219. smhll says

    I am disappointed Mandisa joined in circling the wagons to denigrate that cracker Judy…

    I’m not going to read the rest of your word. I love (that is I hate) how you used several fake sentences of sweetness and “tolerance” before descending into complete assholishness.

    [Yes! I have a hair-trigger on my detection system.]

  220. scimaths says

    I am going to embarrass you all.

    You certainly know how to embarrass yourself. Absolute spoilt brat dummy-spitting tantrum, no effort to even engage with the huge effort others have put in here and elsewhere to help you out of your ignorance. Pathetic.

  221. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    I am going to embarrass you all.

    I highly doubt you’re capable, ya whiny sack of privilege and hate. Let those true colors shine on through. Nice ageist and ablist doubling down with the “depends” comment. Thanks for that. If you hadn’t well and truly showed your ass, some poor sod might not have figured out what a raging bigot you are. You really made sure to leave no shadow of a doubt.

    I am your enemy.

    Oh, I know and that reminds me of Voltaire’s Prayer.

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