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Nov 16 2011

SIMOTI

Someone is mean on the internet. No really?!

Yes but sometimes it is worth noting. When it’s part of an extended misogynist group-rant is one time; when it’s an ostensibly rational person going off the charts for months on end is another; when it’s a matter of singling out a few women is another.

What is it this time? Some guy called Ed Clint did a snide Facebook post about feminists always thinking people are telling them to shut up when really it’s just a matter of polite disagreement, linking to a post of Jen McCreight’s. Abbie Smith made a considerably more snide comment on Ed Clint’s post.

‎*newsflash* Watsons LIFE is fucking around on the internet.  Thats all she does.  Jen is well on her way to being in the same position.  It is pointless to ask them to ‘shut up’ because bitching on the internet is *literally* all they have in their lives.  Normal, sane humans with real lives, yes, we should pick and choose our battles carefully.  Obviously.  But this isnt an issue of asking a normal person to be more tactful.  Youre talking to a loser-at-life and expecting them to react like a normal person.  Be pragmatic.  And dont fucking grow up to be a loser.

Jen did a post responding to what Abbie said. There was discussion - a lot of discussion. Ed Clint did another snide FB post, Abbie copied in a comment she’d posted on her blog. This comment is what it is this time.

Jen–
Rebecca Watson is a loser. She leeches off the skeptical movement to exist. Its disgusting.

You have (had?) potential to be more. And you are flushing it down the toilet.

You are in graduate school. That is your job. You spend way too much time going to these stupid conferences (hey, like Skepticon this weekend), that are not even tangentially related to your job (contrary to what you wrote in the small portion of your proposal I read). You are behaving in an utterly unprofessional manner, posting pics of seminars you attend making fun of them, accusing your professors and classmates of being anti-science. The portion of your proposal I read was horrible, to the point of being shockingly horrible for someone of your education and writing experience. It bears absolutely no resemblance to my NIH proposal (which was funded).

Which brings me to the worst part of your behavior, and why I know you are well on your way to becoming a professional loser– your proposal sucked, and you blamed your critique on your colleagues supposed anti-science. Youve already said your proposal isnt going to get funded ‘because youre an atheist’ or something stupid like that. And do I remember right, you didnt get into Harvard ‘because youre an atheist’ too, right? When you were properly chastised for behaving inappropriately and unprofessionally, you declared that it was because they couldnt handle you speaking out. Poor you for fighting the system! Career suicide! Bitch, please. I killed a Godfather of Retrovirology, and Ive still got a career (technically, it opened up locked doors for me). Heaven forbid your brain entertain the thought, for a moment, that you just fucked up. You are too stuck up your own ass to take responsibility for your own actions. Youre too old for this kind of immaturity.

If you went to my uni and you were in my department, you would be kicked out this coming Spring. And it would have had jack shit to do with your atheism.

But I am not your mother and you are not my problem. If you want to bitch on the internet for a living, more power to you. But you need to deal with the fact that people are going to call you a loser if that is what you choose to do with your life. Because you will be.

If you want to grow the fuck up and be a professional scientist, I would be happy to have you and happy for you.

But I just dont think its going to happen.

Jen did a post on that comment. PZ did one. There are a lot of comments. They cover the ground well.

I have little to add; mostly I just want to go on the record. I think Abbbie Smith shouldn’t say things like that publicly. I think no one should. It’s vicious, and I don’t think people should say vicious things publicly, with a few partial exceptions for hugely powerful and/or influential people like the pope and Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin.

I particularly detest all this “loser” talk. It’s so high-school-bully. It’s so conformist. It’s so low.

60 comments

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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    I’m unconcerned about the viciousness — it’s the dishonesty that hurts. Abbie hasn’t read Jen’s proposal–she’s seen a couple of paragraphs. She has no power to scuttle Jen’s career, so the abuse and threats are baseless attempts at extortion. The claim that graduate students shouldn’t spend a few weekends/year at non-professional conferences is absurd and tyrannical.

    What bugged me is that Abbie can’t honestly fling any of the insults in her diatribe. Be as mean as you want, but be accurate.

  2. 2
    julian

    Youre talking to a loser-at-life and expecting them to react like a normal person.

    *snort*

    Sure thing, Ms. Smith. Losers at life.

    You can take the bully out of high school but you can’t take the high school out of the bully.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Really, PZ? Call people ugly if it’s true that they’re ugly? Call them fat ditto? Call them smelly ditto? When they’re not Bill O’Reilly but just a person? I don’t believe you! I don’t believe you are completely unconcerned about the viciousness. We may disagree about where to draw that particular line, but I just don’t believe that you’re unperturbed by all of it. If you were your writing would resemble Abbie’s a fuck of a lot more than it does.

  4. 4
    J Lynn

    I’ve not understood why so many people are coming down so hard on Ms Watson. She’s not said or done anything to rate all the just-plain-mean shit posted about her. I’m a 53 year old trucker, new to the on-line atheist community, and I really expected better behavior. I thought that as atheists, we’re on the side of rational thought and comment…I guess all the petty shit proves that atheists are human too, and don’t that suck!

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Nobody understands it. We all expected better behavior.

    This nonsense at Facebook surprised me all over again – this Ed Clint guy finding it worthwhile to do several posts throwing yet more mud at Rebecca – because there hasn’t been enough yet, and hey, it’s only been 5 months, so it’s way too soon to drop it.

    Welcome to the atheist community! (Most of it is way better than the mean shit brigade.)

  6. 6
    Felix

    PZ saying “Be as mean as you want” surprised the hell out of me. I don’t think that if you went and asked his students how he behaves in real life they would say he is mean or insulting.

    But it does resonate with something Jeremy said to me a year ago after PZ told him/someone/accomodationists in general to fuck off: “You need a good reason to tell someone to fuck off”
    (such a reason was not apparent).

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Jeremy who? Stangroom?

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Meanwhile – Abbie posted a new comment on Ed Clint’s post at Facebook. (Also: Chris Stedman is posting there, cheering on Ed Clint. Mr Nice Guy.) I just replied. That will earn me a new batch of “you ugly cunt” and all the rest of it, but it had to be done.

    Abbie: ‎*shrug* No arrogance, and I have nothing against Jen either. Im rooting for her, as a fellow scientist. I hoped she had only bought her ticket to Loser Town. Maybe she wouldnt cash it in. But it is apparent at this point she has already gotten on the train, ordered a Coke, and gotten comfy in her seat. She does not take her job seriously (grad school is not undergrad where you can skip out now and then to go to conferences, much less at the frequency she attends them). She does not take writing grant proposals seriously (it was horrible). She does not take her colleagues seriously (on what planet is it a good idea to take pics of a visiting professors presentation and put them online making fun of them? on what planet is it a good idea to bitch about your professors and classmates online?).

    And any/all criticism is ‘OMFG WHY MEEE??? WHYYYYYYYYYYY POOOOOR MEEEEEEEEE!!!! OH GAAAAAAAAAAAWD!!!!’ (eg her posts on me)

    I feel bad for her. She has no one around her to say ‘Hey, you need to refocus if this is what you want to do with your life’ (including PZ, who is enabling her self-destructive behavior) except apparently me, and I *really* dont give a fuck. Sad, but it looks like this is what she wants.

    *shrug* Whatevs. Like I said, Im not her mother, and shes not my problem.

    Me: What nonsense, Abbie. If you really had “nothing against Jen” you could have just given her all this helpful advice *in private*. You posted it on your blog *and* here, complete with repeatedly calling her a loser. That’s not “rooting for her,” it’s trying to shame her.

  9. 9
    Felix

    Sorry, yes, Jeremy Stangroom.

  10. 10
    julian

    Chris Stedman is posting there, cheering on Ed Clint. Mr Nice Guy.

    Chris Stedman isn’t Mr. Nice Guy. He’s Mr. I’m Holier Than You Guy. Not shocked to find him and Ms. Smith on the same side of this or him cheering this group on.

    They’ve got a lot in common when it comes to activism for their respective communities.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    No quite – Stedman pretends to be Mr Nice Guy but the pretense keeps falling apart because he does things like heaping praise on Karla McClaren’s vituperative anti-gnu article…and now cheering on yet another round of RW-bashing.

    Felix – right – well the point may be resonant, but Jeremy himself spends an extraordinary amount of time jeering at “the new atheists”; such an extraordinary amount that it looks much more like spite than like a considered moral stance. He may have a point but he’s the wrong person to make it.

  12. 12
    Felix

    @Ophelia,

    you may be right, and I do find Jeremy’s twitter feed to be a rather dull succession of pokes at the New Atheist ‘movement’.
    However, let’s concentrate on the message not the messenger.

    I cited the ‘fuck off’ only a a small example of PZ veering from attacking ideas and high profile idiots to everyday people. In general, I don’t believe he follows a policy of ‘mean’ in real life so why would he advocate one?

  13. 13
    Ophelia Benson

    Felix – heh – that’s a fine principle, but when it comes to Jeremy I have a hard time ignoring the messenger for the sake of the message.

    I agree with you: that’s what I was saying to PZ: I don’t believe that he really does advocate a policy of “mean.”

    Of course there are degrees here. One person’s brusque is another person’s mean. But since PZ said it in the context of my objecting to Abbie’s meanness – well really: PZ doesn’t come within shouting distance of that, either in practice or (I think) in advocacy.

  14. 14
    Felix

    I think that makes him PZ ‘the genial hypocrite’ Myers :-)
    I hope he doesn’t start practising what he preaches!

  15. 15
    BenSix

    Has this character told the posters on her 4000+ comments thread devoted to PZ Myers and Rebecca Wateverhernameis that their “LIFE is fucking around on the internet”? Even regardless of the [de]merits of its content it’s about the saddest way to spend your time since tumblr.

  16. 16
    penn

    I have to agree with Ophelia and disagree with PZ. Be blunt. Be passionate. Don’t mince words. But don’t be mean. Don’t be vicious or demeaning or belittling to another person (there are some exceptions for powerful public figures and such). Drawing the line can be difficult and it varies based on the individual situation. I certainly agree with PZ that you should at least be intellectually and actually honest in your arguments.

    Abbie’s whole rant about Jen wasn’t honest, but if it was, it’d still be reprehensible. Abbie wasn’t making an argument, she was just trying to belittle and demean Jen. Her purpose was just to hurt, and that’s not cool.

  17. 17
    Ophelia Benson

    Abbie’s apparently now blocked me at Facebook; I can’t see her comments any more. I’m told she is also calling me fucking nuts there…after blocking me so that I can’t see or respond. How brave.

  18. 18
    hotshoe

    I’m a 53 year old trucker, new to the on-line atheist community, and I really expected better behavior. I thought that as atheists, we’re on the side of rational thought and comment…I guess all the petty shit proves that atheists are human too, and don’t that suck!

    Hi, J Lynne ! Welcome to the roller coaster. I sometimes catch myself thinking “why is that person behaving so badly. She’s an atheist. Behaving badly is supposed to be what the religious hypocrites do.” Such a downer.

    When you say it sucks, I kinda agree with you, but also point out it’s people like Ophelia who are in the forefront of not making it suck. Not so much by insisting on “rational thought” but by insisting on “don’t be mean”.

    At least, don’t be mean to each other. Save that for the Dominionists, etc.

  19. 19
    Grace

    J Lynne
    I’m newish to online atheism and I’m taken aback by this behavior, too. Sorry, I know obviously it’s not a problem with atheists but with individuals, but I feel like there was some false advertising. I was mislead into thinking atheists were against misogyny when I read people like Dawkins and Hitchens denouncing the religious variety. But the way Rebecca is being raked over the coals for such a tame statement is mind-blowing. Having escaped Christian misogyny I thought I was over dealing with (most of) that crap. I don’t know if I had the right to expect better, we’re all human like you said, but I actually did. I’m silly like that.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    Well, lots of atheists are against misogyny. Lots and lots and lots. Don’t be confused about that. It’s just that the others aren’t as few as we would like, and by god some of them are…dedicated.

  21. 21
    Aratina Cage

    Ophelia, I just happened across another comment by Ed Clint where he attempts to downplay the Civil Rights Movement’s role in turning the tides on racism in the USA:

    http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/11/rebecca-watsons-trolls-why-skepchick.html?showComment=1321204724324#c7524864159195627905

    Why does he do this? The reason is transparent to me: Rebecca Watson should have shut it and not said anything about that creepy comedian’s misogynistic rant.

    (Note, too, the creepy, faux-sad anonymous comment than UNIFI posts for all to see just a couple of comments after Ed’s. *shaking my head*)


    On what PZ said, from my experience reading and commenting on his blog, what he says is true. We have one highly abusive commenter named “truth machine” who even won a monthly Order of Molly; truth machine is often right, but there is no way I would let him say the unproductive and abusive things he says if it were my blog. PZ, though, has mostly tolerated him for exceedingly long periods of time while truth machine goes on vicious truth hunts where everyone is his prey.

    While it isn’t something I find agreeable (I agree with Ophelia on there being a line that can be crossed), it does seem to be working for him to allow viciousness on Pharyngula since the bigoted (meaning, unfounded and dishonest and irrational and attacking people’s identities) vicious things tend to be jumped on thoroughly by other commenters. I suppose the reason for that has much to do with PZ’s championing liberal causes in addition to the godless ones and the scientific ones as well as his insight and exceptional humor and writing style.

    I remember, too, that PZ said he gets tons of troll email likening him to a gay man as if that is a bad thing. Being a straight male and gay friendly, there isn’t much they can attack about him in that area, quite unlike how it might be for your average woman blogger or gay blogger. And of course, atheists always get the last laugh when theists try to make fun of our atheism. I’m thinking that those factors might help PZ stay aloof from the viciousness and be able to tolerate it more.

  22. 22
    Fin

    What strikes me as weird is the one-sidedness of this. Not in the sense of bias, but in the sense that there appears to be an organised faction on one side, with a horde of angry supporters, and then on the other, a really loose conglomeration of people who only respond whenever the other side fires off a shot.

    I’ve read a lot of the anti-Rebecca Watson stuff, and the one thing I’ve noticed is that there is no room for disagreement, you either think she is the worst thing ever to happen on the face of the earth, or you get the fuck off. Which is a bizarre disproportionate response.

    It is a stark comparison to what’s going on over here, where you get disagreements like PZ and Ophelia’s up there. I personally am not a fan of Watson’s stuff – not in the sense that I dislike it, or I think she’s Wrong About Everything or I think she should stop doing it, just in the sense that it’s not for me – but I am relatively sure that stating that won’t get me savaged by people around here.

    That’s largely what bothers me (aside from, you know, unjustifiably attacking someone on the interwebs for months on end).

    Maybe this side of things should launch obsessive blogs where every post is defending Watson? (And Ophelia, and PZ, and now, I guess, Jen, too)

  23. 23
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Felix:

    PZ saying “Be as mean as you want” surprised the hell out of me.

    You elided the full statement, it being “Be as mean as you want, but be accurate.”; quote-mining, that is.

    Tsk.

    PS I remind you of Orac’s (Respectful Insolence) dictum.

  24. 24
    julian

    PS I remind you of Orac’s (Respectful Insolence) dictum.

    A statement of fact cannot be insolent?

    What’s that got to do with anything? A statement of fact is a cold removed thing that’s entirely neutral even though anyone hearing it may interpret it differently.

  25. 25
    John Morales

    Julian, allow me to put emphasis on PZ’s original statement: “Be as mean as you want, but be accurate.”

    (The meanness to which PZ refers relates to what facts are stated, not to fabrications or misrepresentations)

    As an aside, do you not agree that removing the caveat of that conjoined statement constitutes quote-mining?

  26. 26
    Aquaria

    On what PZ said, from my experience reading and commenting on his blog, what he says is true. We have one highly abusive commenter named “truth machine” who even won a monthly Order of Molly; truth machine is often right, but there is no way I would let him say the unproductive and abusive things he says if it were my blog. PZ, though, has mostly tolerated him for exceedingly long periods of time while truth machine goes on vicious truth hunts where everyone is his prey.

    I’ve been on at least two of the same blogs as Truth Machine for nearly a decade now, and I’ve never had a problem with him, really. Things might get testy here and there, but I find that simply acknowledging when he’s right and you’re wrong goes a long way toward him letting things go. It can be frustrating, because he usually is right, damn him (love ya TM–you know that). Arguing with him when he’s right seems to be blood in the water for him. He is not going to let up. We’ve seen that he’ll respond to 300 posts if that’s what it takes to get an idiot to change his mind–or shut up.

    His tenacity is stunning to behold.

    That being said, the one important way I think Truth Machine is different from ERV is that he may dish out some testicle-withering perjoratives about someone’s lack of intelligence regarding a particular topic, but he doesn’t go into judging people’s private lives, or speculating stupidly and hatefully about them, usually. He’s opinionated. Brutally honest. But he doesn’t go where ERV has now.

    She’s making it personal, and then some.

  27. 27
    dirigible

    I feel bad for her. [..] I *really* dont give a fuck.

    Word salad.

    With a dead cockroach in it.

  28. 28
    Ophelia Benson

    Aratina – right, that all makes sense. I was focusing on what PZ would (I think) say himself, as opposed to what he allows others to say. (The complicating factor there is that Pharyngula has for years been way too big to monitor at all strictly.)

  29. 29
    Grace

    “Well, lots of atheists are against misogyny. Lots and lots and lots. Don’t be confused about that. It’s just that the others aren’t as few as we would like, and by god some of them are…dedicated.”

    I hope I didn’t sound dismissive of the ones that are against it, I do appreciate you, Ophelia and people like Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight and the many others here that do fight it. And the men who post here and on other blogs who ‘get it’ are very heartening to hear from.

    I would like to think (hope) the misogyinist are a minority who just make a lot more noise than anyone else and come off as more of a force to be reckoned with than they really are. It’s just that when you hear a person you genuinely admire join in it really seems hopeless. Sam Harris is the reason I became an atheist, or at least he helped push me over the edge. When I read him gloat about Larry Summmers being reinstated and then link to a very anti-feminist article it felt like a punch in the gut. And when Dawkins acted like every atheist-misogynist jerk I’ve had to deal with on the internet, it was just depressing beyond belief.

    As far as the ‘be as mean as you want’ comment, I don’t think it was quote mining, I think Ophelia was just pointing out the problematic part of the quote. I don’t believe in being mean personally, even if what you say is accurate. Maybe it’s a matter of defining what it means to be mean…I don’t think attacking ideas is a mean thing to do, but attacking people is.

  30. 30
    Ophelia Benson

    Grace, oh no, I didn’t think you were being dismissive. I just didn’t want to get you down! I find the rampant misogyny hugely exasperating, but it doesn’t fundamentally depress me because there’s more of the other thing (which is also better quality).

    Or maybe it’s just because that’s my nature. I always choose exasperation over despair. I try to pass that on to other people.

    :- D

  31. 31
    John Morales

    Grace:

    I don’t think attacking ideas is a mean thing to do, but attacking people is.

    The problem here is not with the perception of the attacker of ideas, but with the perception of those whose ideas are attacked.

    (If someone considered your attack of their ideas as a personal attack, would you then resile from such, purely on that basis?)

    As far as the ‘be as mean as you want’ comment, I don’t think it was quote mining, I think Ophelia was just pointing out the problematic part of the quote.

    If you refer to my claims @23 & @25, be aware I was addressing Felix, not Ophelia; also note that I don’t find meanness problematic in the way you claim to do so.

    (More to the point, you haven’t shown reason as to why quoting the first part but not the caveat doesn’t represent a quote-mine. Naked assertions are hardly convincing)

  32. 32
    Grace

    @John Morales

    Ophelia and Felix both expressed the same idea. All you have to do is scroll up to see the original quote, so it’s not hard to figure out the orginal context of PZ’s quote.

  33. 33
    John Morales

    Grace, nope.

    Felix claimed to be surprised, Ophelia claimed to disbelieve him; those are different ideas, hence your claim that they are the same idea is wrong.

    (I would be bemused by your apprehension that I failed to “figure out the orginal context of PZ’s quote”, given it was the first published comment to the OP, but I realise this is the internet)

    I note that you still haven’t shown reason as to why quoting the first part but not the caveat doesn’t represent a quote-mine, though you have had opportunity to do so.

    (Is it mean of me to ask you to attempt to sustain your silly claim?)

  34. 34
    Grace

    @John Morales

    Yeah, disbelieving and being suprised, very, very different.

    I think if someone was saying “PZ Meyers thinks being as mean as you want is a-OK ” on a site without the OP in plain sight – without the “but be acccurate” part – would definitely be quote mining. But do you really think either Felix or Ophelia were actually trying to deliberately misrepresent Mr. Myers?

    Yes, I TOTALLY think you’re a big fat meanie for asking. You do seem to be taking this a little too seriously, or want to provoke me for some reason.

    “Be as mean as you want, but be accurate.” I disagree. Being accurate doesn’t justify being mean.
    There, happy? :P

  35. 35
    John Greg

    PZ Myers said:

    “She [Abbie] has no power to scuttle Jen’s career, so the abuse and threats are baseless attempts at extortion.

    Please quote and link to the attempt to scuttle Jen’s career.

    Please quote and link to the threats.

    Thanks you.

  36. 36
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Grace, I do appreciate that you response, though I’m not sure whether you’re being sarcastic or literal, and thus not happy about it.

  37. 37
    John Morales

    John Greg:

    Please quote and link to the attempt to scuttle Jen’s career.

    “She [Abbie] has no power to scuttle Jen’s career” is not a claim that an attempt to do so was made.

    Please quote and link to the threats.

    “If you went to my uni and you were in my department, you would be kicked out this coming Spring.” is an implicit threat: it’s effectively saying ‘had I the power to do so, I’d kick you out’.

  38. 38
    julian

    Please quote and link to the attempt to scuttle Jen’s career.

    Not an accusation Prof. Myers made.

    (Although Ms. Smith trying to dictate what Ms. McCreight should be allowed to do as a graduate student and her insistence that Ms. McCreight should abandon any extracurricular activity that does not directly tie into her field comes pretty close. Especially considering how much community work and speaking engagements she has.)

    Please quote and link to the threats.

    They were of the high school in crowd variety. Sorta the ‘stop being one of them or I won’t let you hang out with me variety.’

    The whole ‘if you were at my uni… you’d get kicked out’ thing comes pretty close too although I wouldn’t call it a threat.

    Have you got anything worthwhile to say, John Greg, or are you here to make sure no one ever criticizes the woman who called Rebecca Watson a worthless cunt.

  39. 39
    julian

    Damn it.

    Ninja’d by John Morales.

  40. 40
    John Morales

    [meta]

    You did it better, Julian.

  41. 41
    John Greg

    “She [Abbie] has no power to scuttle Jen’s career, so the abuse and threats are baseless attempts at extortion.”

    Julian and Morales, your attempts at creative interpretation are noted, but your conclusions are false, for, among others, two critical reasons.

    1. In including the word “so” Myers specifically ties the first clause to the second clause wherein the second clause is cause to the first. Myers specifically implies that Abbie has attempted to scuttle Jen’s career via abuse and threats. You cannot separate the first part of the clause, “She [Abbie] has no power to scuttle Jen’s career” from the second part of the clause, “so the abuse and threats are baseless attempts at extortion” because of the word “so”.

    2. Myers uses the plural “threats”, which specifies not only more than one threat, but specifies more than one specifc, not implied, threat.

    You fellas can play creative interpretations all you want, but that is irrelevant. I still would like Myers to back up his claims with quotes and links to Abbie’s specific and provable attempt to scuttle Jen’s carrer, and the plural abuse and threats that she used to do so.

    I imagine you two English majors will now cry that I am being too pedantic, and am somehow therefore irrelevant. But in this instance pedantry is to the point. And don’t try to imply that Myers’s use of the word “so” in this instance is accidental. His use of creative English to cover himself with plausible denial and to obsfuscate his true intent is far, far superior to yours or mine, and should he want to he could talk rings around most of us.

  42. 42
    John Morales

    [OT]

    John Greg:

    I imagine you two English majors will now cry that I am being too pedantic, and am somehow therefore irrelevant. But in this instance pedantry is to the point. And don’t try to imply that Myers’s use of the word “so” in this instance is accidental.

    Heh. You’re not pedantic — that would involve a display of erudition (but your attempt to build yourself up is amusing).

    PZ was clearly stating that Abbie apparently wishes that she had the power to to scuttle Jen’s career but she doesn’t, so the sound and fury were impotent and only revealed her spitefulness.

    Myers uses the plural “threats”, which specifies not only more than one threat, but specifies more than one specifc, not implied, threat.

    Implicit threats are no less real than overt ones, and that I only referred to one doesn’t entail that there were no others (e.g. “But you need to deal with the fact that people are going to call you a loser if that is what you choose to do with your life.”).

    (You really think a Mafioso telling the shopkeeper that he’d hate it if she doesn’t contribute to the “community fund” and her shop burnt down is not a threat?)

    BTW, don’t you think but a single threat is bad enough?

    I still would like Myers to back up his claims with quotes and links to Abbie’s specific and provable attempt to scuttle Jen’s carrer, and the plural abuse and threats that she used to do so.

    And I would like for you not to be such an obtuse git, but there you go.

    His claims were opinions, and that he holds them is evinced by the fact that he posted them. Duh.

    His use of creative English to cover himself with plausible denial and to obsfuscate his true intent is far, far superior to yours or mine, and should he want to he could talk rings around most of us.

    PZ used perfectly clear language, your linguistic and cognitive pareidolia notwithstanding, and I suspect it’s your jaundiced perception of him that predisposed you to it.

  43. 43
    John Greg

    julian, I’ve a question for you (and anyone else who cares to reply to it). Why do you defend Watson’s “calling out” of Stef McGraw at that conference a while back, which was not exactly a level playing field nor ethically particularily fair, yet condemn Abbie’s “calling out” of Jen in what is clearly a direct and level playing field, equal to equal?

    I mean Watson implied all sorts of nasty crap about McGraw, associating her with anti-feminists, MRAs, rape-aplogists, and whatnot, and in an environment where McGraw clearly could not mount a timely and meaningful defense, yet all Abbie has done is using colourful language label Jen a wanker, and the FTB crowd goes bananas over it. Yes, I don’t get it.

    And Ophelia, please don’t kick me out. I’ve called no one any names; I’ve not used any bad language; I am being wholly reasonable, polite, and friendly, and am simply participating in the discussion. Because I disagree with the generally held opinion here does not, in my opinion, warrant expulsion.

  44. 44
    Josh Slocum

    Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch, Miz Ophelia!

    Grow the fuck up John Greg.

  45. 45
    Ophelia Benson

    John Greg, indeed, disagreeing with the generally held opinion here of course does not warrant expulsion.

  46. 46
    Aratina Cage

    I mean Watson implied all sorts of nasty crap about McGraw, associating her with anti-feminists, MRAs, rape-aplogists, and whatnot, and in an environment where McGraw clearly could not mount a timely and meaningful defense, yet all Abbie has done is using colourful language label Jen a wanker

    That’s not true at all! As evidenced by the video of Watson’s keynote speech, Watson did not say any nasty crap about McGraw. The things Watson said of McGraw may have been hard for McGraw to hear, causing anger or feelings of humiliation or offense, and some of what Watson said may have been wrong–that’s all arguable–but the things Watson said weren’t nasty at all.

    As for “colorful language”, McGraw herself doesn’t approve of the nasty crap Abbie and the rest of y’all have been calling Watson.

  47. 47
    John Greg

    Morales, we will have to agree to disagree. Obviously our perceptions of Myers’ words differ.

    Josh said:

    “Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch, Miz Ophelia!

    Grow the fuck up John Greg.”

    Well, you see Josh, Ophelia did indeed throw me in the briar patch once several months ago because I called Myers a name she didn’t like. She also asked me a few weeks ago to not post here. So, it was a legitimate request actually — especially given the editorial behaviour of several of the FTB bloggers who arbitrarily censor, edit, delete, and ban posters often without notice. Now, why you feel the need to belittle a legitimate request is beyond my ken, but perhaps you are unaware of the history?

    Aratina, your grasp on reality is slim at best, and McGraw’s approval is not only a non sequitor, it is irrelevant.

  48. 48
    julian

    Why do you defend Watson’s “calling out” of Stef McGraw at that conference a while back,

    I’m sorta in the air about it but I’m leaning towards she (Rebecca Watson) was right to and that it wasn’t an inappropriate venue for it.

    which was not exactly a level playing field…

    Neither is a book, essay or article.

    … nor ethically particularily fair

    They were, in my opinion anyway, perfectly legitimate criticisms to make. Besides, there wasn’t anything vicious or inappropriate said and the little rebukes Ms. Watson did make were entirely proportional to the accusations Ms. McGraw had made.

    Watson implied all sorts of nasty crap about McGraw,

    Really? Where? Quotes, Mr. Greg, please, since you are so fond of them.

    yet all Abbie has done is using colourful language label Jen a wanker

    Yes. She did so in a petty, elitist (and for me to make that accusation takes a lot), high school clique bully sort of way.

  49. 49
    Aratina Cage

    Aratina, your grasp on reality is slim at best, and McGraw’s approval is not only a non sequitor, it is irrelevant.

    LOL! Good thing I have the evidence in hand. You lose this one, John!

    And no, McGraw’s approval is not a nonsequitur. She doesn’t like the nasty crap that you tried to pass off as “colorful language” any more than the rest of us at FTB do.

  50. 50
    julian

    Aratina, your grasp on reality is slim at best

    You know, Mr. Greg, instead of being an irritating little gnat, you could try actually arguing your case.

    Aratina Cage has referenced the video of the talk. You could, and please hear me out on this, go back to the talk and explain where and at what times Rebecca Watson crossed the line.

  51. 51
    Ophelia Benson

    John Greg, don’t be silly. I’m sure you understand perfectly well why I don’t want you or any of the Gang From ERV commenting here. Most of the gang calls people sexist names day in and day out, and all of the gang approves and relishes that approach. You call me stupid names there. I don’t consider you a reasonable or trustworthy interlocutor. I don’t consider you someone who has a genuine, reasoned, proportionate disagreement. Therefore, I don’t want you commenting here. I’ve let you so far, but don’t take that as an implied promise to go on doing so.

  52. 52
    Grace

    @John Morales

    I was being sarcastic.

    My understanding of “quote mining” is a deliberate attempt at distorting the original meaning what someone said. I just think it was implied that everyone read the original comment and disagreed that as long as you are accurate, being as mean as you want is OK.

  53. 53
    John Greg

    julian said:

    “You could, and please hear me out on this, go back to the talk and explain where and at what times Rebecca Watson crossed the line.”

    julian, Id be glad to. I haven’t actually seen the video in a dog’s age. Here’s a link, in case you’ve lost it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqzE16UsNW4 .

    The talk needs to be seen in context to get the clear point of Watson’s method of associating one, or one set of issues with other tangential issues.

    You cannot just clip out the McGraw-specific two or three sentences and say “See, she doesn’t say anything particularily bad here”, because that misses all of the context, the critically important context, wherein Watson spends the first 12 minutes of her opening remarks presenting several examples of the worst kind of hostile emails she receives, explicitly highlighting and stating how many people clearly don’t get feminism, and then directly and explicitly associates McGraw with that entire litany of hostility by stating that she wishes to use those examples and the EG story as exemplary of McGraw’s not getting it, to wit (at approximately the 12 minute mark):

    “… and I wanted to use it as an example, not to embarrass this person, but to point out that we have a serious problem when young women are this ignorant about feminism…. [T]here are many things wrong with this paragraph [referring to a statement by McGraw that Watson has just quoted] ….”

    Watson then goes on with the EG rationalization (with which many people disagree), which she specifically used to declare McGraw persona non-grata, anti-feminist, and ignorant of feminism, allowing for not an iota of disagreement. i.e., Watson claims that it is not that McGraw disagrees with Watson, or feminism, it is that McGraw is simply wrong. Full stop: Wrong.

    Another piece of crap is where Watson discusses EG’s opening comment, i.e., “Don’t take this the wrong way…” as being blatantly disingenuous, and then goes on to present precisely the same kind of supposedly false disclaimer by saying “I wanted to use it as an example, not to embarras this person….”

    For the record, here is part of McGraw’s reaction (http://www.unifreethought.com/2011/06/fursdays-wif-stef-33.html):

    “Then, a day later at the conference, Watson delivered a keynote speech on the religious right’s war against women. Before she got to her main content, though, she decided to address sexism in the secular movement, which she views as a rampant problem. I shared her disgust as she showed screenshots of people online calling her demeaning names, making comments about her appearance, and, worst of all, making rape comments.

    “Then, switching gears, Watson made a remark to the extent that there are people in our own community who would not stand up for her in these sorts of situations; my name, organization, and a few sentences from my blog post then flashed on the screen before my eyes. She went on to explain how I didn’t understand what objectification meant and was espousing anti-woman sentiment.”

  54. 54
    Ophelia Benson

    That’s all very familiar. I don’t even disagree that it was a bad move. It’s still nothing like as vicious as what Abbie said about Jen. (Here’s a hint: Abbie called Jen “Bitch” and [repeatedly] a loser.)

    Here’s what McGraw actually said about sexist name-calling, just 3 days ago:

    Johnny,
    I object to your use of the derogatory term “twat.” It doesn’t matter if you disagree with Rebecca–she doesn’t deserve to be called sexist names under any circumstances. It is that sort of behavior which gives a bad name to those who disagree for intellectually defensible reasons. I sincerely hope this was a mere oversight on your part rather than something you would say having given the subject more thought.

    She’s absolutely right, you know – the sexist names got in the way of disagreeing for intellectually defensible reasons. You delight in sexist name-calling, and that’s why I don’t want you here. It’s why I dislike you and the people you hang out with.

    I have to leave soon and I’ll probably put you in moderation before I do, because I don’t trust you not to make a mess.

  55. 55
    julian

    Jesus…

    And Aratina Cage is supposedly the one with a tenous hold on reality.

    Ok, where to start?

    You cannot just clip out the McGraw-specific two or three sentences and say “See, she doesn’t say anything particularily bad here”,

    Yes, you can because that was the only part where she discusses Ms. McGraw’s argument, what it meant to her and what what she feels it says about Ms. McGraw. That’s the only part of the talk relevant.

    If I were to take Does God Hate Women? and argue that Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom were trying to slander Karen Armstrong by mentioning her name in the same breadth they discuss the stoning of a 14 year old rape victim, I would be full of shit.

    That’s obviously not what’s being done or even attempted.

    The individual currently under discussion is being criticized for their own (perceived) failings. At no point is their behavior being equated with the misogyny already mentioned.

    which she specifically used to declare McGraw persona non-grata

    She kicked Ms.McGraw out of skepticism and forbade her from ever entering into any new discussion? Where?

    anti-feminist, and ignorant of feminism

    Both of which Ms.McGraw did when discussing Ms.Watson’s video. Ms. Watson was ‘acting against the principles of feminism’ and ‘demonizing men’ and she had to stop if we were ever to have equity between the sexes.

    then goes on to present precisely the same kind of supposedly false disclaimer by saying “I wanted to use it as an example, not to embarras this person….”

    Context.

    I agree that both come across as somewhat disingenous, which is why I don’t use them, but the two situations are not equivalent.

    Ms. Watson was discussing a student’s remarks that were directly relevant to her talk and the audience she was presenting to. This audience was largely composed (from what I understand) of students (although they are all within Ms. Waston’s age group) and precautions taken by people discussing students aren’t uncommon (including, not to put you on the spot or anything) to assure them they are still in a friendly enviornment.

    EG was using a commonly understood request for sex without actually asking for sex. ‘Don’t take this the wrong way’ in that situation does nothing to mitigate the already implied proposition for sex. After all, it’s already ‘wink,wink say no more.’

  56. 56
    John Morales

    [meta + OT]

    Thanks again, Grace. I’m much happier now. :)

    (I still think that omitting the three additional words and the full stop in “Be as mean as you want, but be accurate.” as compared to “Be as mean as you want” entirely change the sense of the statement, and wonder why Felix did not include them, but that’s by-the-bye)

  57. 57
    John Greg

    Ophelia said:

    “You delight in sexist name-calling….”

    Except that I don’t. I once, about three months ago, called Watson a bitch (Ooh! The horror; the horror; fetch me my fainting couch). So far as I can recall, that is the only time I used what you define as sexist name-calling. And I challenge you to prove otherwise.

    Mind you, it must be said, that it is getting increasingly difficult to avoid so-called sexist name-calling, as defined by you, because you keep adding to the pool of what can be defined as sexist name-calling. Soon you’ll have it that any kind of insult directed at a woman is sexist simply because it’s directed at a woman. C’mon Ophelia, don’t be a richard.

    “I have to leave soon and I’ll probably put you in moderation before I do, because I don’t trust you not to make a mess.”

    Except, I don’t make messes Ophelia. My comments are pretty much always calm, lucid, reasonably polite, and usually fairly well worded. Just because you and others do not agree with my point of view does not a mess make.

    Clearly, julian, we are going to have to disagree. Your interpretation of events is not mine, and never will be, and is in my opinion ideological, skewed, and largely indefensible.

    julian said:

    “EG was using a commonly understood request for sex without actually asking for sex.”

    As has been endlessly pointed out, it is also a commonly understood request for a shared coffee without sex.

    Yes, it can be code for sex; it can also be code for coffee. The error you and other defenders of “sex code” make is in allowing for no other possible interpretation. You make EG’s statement into an absolute. And that is indefensible. You were not there; Watson’s anecdote is not wholly reliable; you just don’t know. At least the “slimepit people” allow for a variety of interpretations and do not adhere to one single absolute unknown.

  58. 58
    Ophelia Benson

    John Greg, no, by “delight in” I didn’t mean “delight in making” – as far as I know I haven’t seen you make them. But you do cheer on the people who do make them – a lot – on Abbie Smith’s blog.

    It’s bullshit about adding. “Twatson, Rebitchka, cunt, twat, bitch”; those will do to go on with, and they’re all over those threads at ERV. Don’t be disingenuous; don’t pretend not to understand. You can’t seriously expect me to consider someone who comments regularly on that thread a reasonable interlocutor.

    I’ve never called Abbie any of those things. I’ve never called anyone any of those things. I think that’s a minimum for reasonable discussion. You don’t. Therefore I don’t want you around. It’s simple.

    Consider it totally personal, if it makes you feel better. Put it in high school terms. You’re buddies with people who call me a cunt, therefore I don’t like you, and I don’t want you to sit at my lunch table. Mk?

  59. 59
    Aratina Cage

    @John Greg (and by John I don’t mean toilet)

    My comments are pretty much always calm, lucid, reasonably polite, and usually fairly well worded.

    What a laugh coming from someone who said on this very thread that I have a slim grasp on reality even though the evidence shows I am right. That’s not reasonably polite or lucid or calm or well-worded!

  60. 60
    John Greg

    Mk.

  1. 61
    Rudely introduced » Butterflies and Wheels

    […] of Smith’s bile is copied here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2011/11/simoti/ Her characterization of Rebecca as a “leech” and “loser” demonstrate that her animus is […]

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