I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany


I sent Travis Roy a message on Facebook. (He’s not a friend, but you can send messages to people who aren’t friends. That’s convenient sometimes.) He’s the guy who announced on that “Great Penis Debate” that I compared TAM to Nazi Germany, which is not true. I asked him where he got that piece of misinformation.

The only place I’ve seen it via Google is on a stupid wiki set up by ERV people (and places they’ve dropped it lately, such as Ask an Atheist). I’m curious about how much success they’re having in spreading malicious falsehoods.

Maybe for my TAM talk I’ll just say “I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany” as many times as I can in the time allotted.

Comments

  1. says

    Yeah, but you just said all the words! All close-together like! That’s gotta mean you’re comparing TAM to Nazi Germany.

    It’s another manufactroversy distraction. It needs steamrolling too.

  2. says

    Yes, and isn’t it true that saying that you did not compare something to Nazi Germany is still Godwining the conversation? Right?

    Anyway, Ophelia, this must be very frustrating. A lot of people, a majority involved in this discussion, basically get what you are saying and are with you on this.

  3. Kazim says

    If you say something specifically to deny it, then people internalize the message just as much as the denial. The more you say it, the more people will think “Oh yeah, Ophelia Benson… she’s the one who thinks TAM is full of Nazis, right?” There are psychological studies that back me up.

  4. Stewart says

    For some people, nothing you say will matter, because the only headline they can perceive is “Ophelia Benson denies comparing TAM to Nazi Germany” instead of “Ophelia Benson did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany.”

  5. says

    @ Kazim and Stewart

    What you both say sounds true, and no doubt neurologists have found out the bits of the brain that light up when a false meme is repeated. It’s depressing though. The lie wins the best film Oscar and gets to make the acceptance speech, the truth doesn’t even get on the shortlist for best cinematographer.

  6. Stewart says

    @Rosie:

    Well, what do you think when you hear Bill Clinton quoted as saying “I did not have sex with that woman.” ?

    That he did not have sex with that woman?

  7. says

    But the Nazis lied! A lot! How do we know this is true? Just asking questions!

    *Turns into an angry bear and starts mauling pedestrians.*

    @Kazim :

    Those studies exist, yes, but all they prove is that people have severe cases of confirmation bias. They don’t demonstrate that no one changes their mind when corrected, and they didn’t study any long term trends of how beliefs change.

  8. says

    @ 5 – There’s the post where the analogy was made and here’s the post where it was retracted.

    The analogy wasn’t made. The comparison was not TAM to Nazi Germany. It was [blaming women who report mistreatment] to [blaming Jews who reported mistreatment in 1936 Germany].

    The units of comparison were not two places, TAM and Nazi Germany. The units of comparison were mistreated people reporting mistreatment and being blamed. TAM didn’t blame women who reported mistreatment; it was DJ who did that.

  9. says

    Greg, no, it’s not at all frustrating, because as one of those guys in the Penis Debate explained, this kind of thing is hugely beneficial to people like me (and Rebecca), because it rewards us with MUCH BIGGER FAME than we had without it. Soooooooooo worth it.

  10. says

    Anyway, Ophelia, this must be very frustrating. A lot of people, a majority involved in this discussion, basically get what you are saying and are with you on this.

    Yes, if only the people maliciously misrepresenting you for their own purposes when they don’t know or care to find out what you actually said would acknowledge this, apologize, and retract their untrue statements rather than ignoring the objections and doubling down on the Beckishness. That’s totally what Laden would do.

    Oh. Wait…

  11. Marta says

    Yeah, blog hits. That’s it.

    I’ve been reading through all these threads, and I feel beaten, and I’m nowhere near the front lines.

    Much respect and admiration for you, Ophelia.

  12. says

    @Ophelia

    Indeed I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I just wanted to let people read the posts in question. So that people who might have read else where could find the source.

  13. says

    Michael, thanks. I didn’t really think you meant to imply otherwise. It’s my own damn fault, for making a complicated analogy and then (oh nooooooes!) mentioning Them.

  14. says

    I have a new bully on Facebook now – demanding to know if DJ named me as one of the blameworthy women and saying if he didn’t, I have no reason not to go to TAM – right because he knows all about it, better than I do, and gets to pronounce on the subject. I looked him up: he just became friends with Travis Roy – the guy who said I compared TAM to Nazi Germany “but she’s a speaker so why is she going?”

  15. David says

    “It’s another manufactroversy distraction” As Jason said quite brilliantly. Why not use TAM to steamroller it, highlight other manufactroversy distractions, and speculate, from a feminist perspective, why?

  16. David says

    By the way, dont these people realise you are, already, an internationally famous Free Thought Blogger

  17. says

    Why not use TAM to steamroller it – well mostly because I’m a chickenshit, and I don’t look forward to the bullying I’m going to get. I’m already getting it, and I don’t look forward to getting more.

    I probably am going to do something like that though. Probably not about me, but about the whole ugly shitfest. That Penis Debate has pretty much pushed me over the edge.

  18. David says

    No one looks forward to bullying, that doesnt make you a chickenshit, standing up to it, as you are doing, shows you have b… (oh we just had that discussion), i mean, nads!

  19. says

    I am sooooooo fucking sick of being gaslighted though – and I’m getting only a fraction of what Rebecca’s been getting. One of the ERV shits said on the latest Ask an Atheist post trashing me that I call women cunts. I’ve never called anyone a cunt in my life.

    Prediction: tomorrow 40 loud obnoxious men will get together to do a 3 hour video about how I call women cunts. Day after tomorrow people from Denmark and Peru and Japan will be asking me why I call women cunts all the time.

  20. Travis Roy says

    I was not the only person that thought your analogy was a direct comparison, or at the very least a mistake to make. Orac for example mentioned it in the comments of your original post, and there has been various other commentary. I guess I’m just the lucky one to get mentioned in a blog post about it.

    I was also unaware of the retraction piece until today.

    I do think it’s odd for somebody that clearly has a problem with TAM, DJ, and the JREF, for you to speak at their event.

  21. David says

    I know what you mean, someone is probly quate mining an extrat from above as i speak. I think you should demand that some of these so called skeptics, stop beleiving everything they read.

    On a cheerier note, im from Manchester, and im doing my very best, mainly because of your arguments, (being from england isnt an excuse) to stop using the c word, although, and somewhat ironically, a few months ago it would have been the preferred term used to refer to most of the subjects of you blogs.
    What you do is working.
    its 1.15 am
    night night

  22. says

    Travis Roy – Various other commentary where? The only commentary I’ve been able to find comes from people who spend a surprising amount of their time calling me a cunt and talking about kicking me in the cunt. If you take their word for things, you’re not a very impressive skeptic.

    As for thinking it’s odd for me to speak at TAM – to repeat the explanation I’ve given before: I was invited in February. DJ made his comments about women talking about harassment a couple of weeks ago, at the end of May. Do you see now why it’s not odd that I accepted the invitation to speak at TAM?

    Are you saying it’s odd that I haven’t backed out now? I’ve certainly thought about it, and I’m still thinking about it. Being bullied by people like you makes backing out very appealing. There are however reasons not to, including confidence that people like you would bully me for backing out.

    And in conclusion, you’re a nasty piece of work, sneering in that confident way at someone you don’t know when you have a very incomplete understanding of the facts. If TAM is mostly people like you this will be the last time I go anywhere near it.

  23. David says

    no i wasnt, unfortunately, too poor, but if i had thought you were going to be bullied , i would have gate crashed it. ive always had a bit of a thing for bullys

  24. says

    Oh well fortunately I wasn’t the least bit bullied there! Far from it. The organizers are wonderful people, and they were super-nice, and so was everyone else. Plus I met some of my favorite people of all time there, including the Jesus and Mo cartoonist.

  25. David says

    Ophelia,re the c word one day at a time
    Im happy that it cheered you up
    its 1.30am
    night night

  26. says

    Ok, believe this as sincere or not, but I am genuinely just asking.

    Based on the clarification

    The analogy wasn’t made. The comparison was not TAM to Nazi Germany. It was [blaming women who report mistreatment] to [blaming Jews who reported mistreatment in 1936 Germany].

    The units of comparison were not two places, TAM and Nazi Germany. The units of comparison were mistreated people reporting mistreatment and being blamed. TAM didn’t blame women who reported mistreatment; it was DJ who did that.

    I am reading (and I can easily accept that there is some sarcastic snark in here and you are not wholly serious) that your *intent* was to compare DJ to a (Neo)Nazi or a holocaust denier?

    I can accept that I have misread, if I have and that was not your intent, can you further clarify?

    Again I am not trying to be snarky, I want to get this right.

  27. Willow says

    ummm, please don’t. I’ve paid a lot of money to attend, and I would hope you would really give a talk worthy of your mind, my mind, and the expense.

    I’d much rather hear you speak about some really important stuff, though if you want to wear a brownshirt to “fit in”, go ahead. Otherwise, content over scoring points please!

  28. cyranothe2nd says

    Oh FFS, this is getting downright ridiculous. Reading comprehension–look in to it! (Ophelia, you might want to link to the original comment and retraction in the comments here…)

    Ophelia, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Much love to you and keep on fighting the good fight.

  29. cyranothe2nd says

    Mallorie–why don’t you read the original comment here. Or better yet, why don’t I just quote it for you?

    As Jews in Germany circa 1936 might have created “a climate where Jews — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe.” As the Southern Poverty Law Center creates a climate where people who are the object of systematic vocal hatred end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe. That’s not to compare TAM with Nazi Germany or racist pockets of the US, of course, but then Rebecca didn’t name TAM in the item DJ quoted, either; she (or rather USA Today, indirectly quoting her) said “the freethought community.”

    Ophelia is obviously not likening TAM to Nazi Germany, or DJ to a Nazi or whatever other stupid thing is being said. She was pointing out the absurdity of telling victims of harassment to shut up about it by pointing out that victim-blaming is never okay. And then SHE IMMEDIATELY SAID that she wasn’t comparing TAM/Nazis.

    Goddamn, I am getting sick of this shit.

  30. says

    #31 Mallorie Nasrallah said:

    I am reading (and I can easily accept that there is some sarcastic snark in here and you are not wholly serious) that your *intent* was to compare DJ to a (Neo)Nazi or a holocaust denier?

    You think those are the only two possibilities?

    I’ve known people whose grandparents grew up in countries occupied by the Nazis during WW2 who have said some very odd things about Jews making their oppression worse by complaining about being oppressed (ghettoisation etc). None of those grandparents were Neo-Nazis, none of theme were denying that the holocaust happened, but they were very definitely blaming the Jews in the ghettos for making other people angry at them.

  31. says

    Clarification: the people I’m talking about were reporting on what their grandparents had told them, as examples of awful things said by previous generations that sometimes made family gatherings fraught with tension. The people I knew were not blaming the Jews, far from it.

  32. says

    cyranothe2nd,
    With all due respect, I am asking Ophelia, in her own words. I frankly don’t care what you think she was saying anymore than you care what I think she was saying.
    I am trying to be fair and clear, so why don’t you go reply on behalf of someone else.

    I am getting sick of everyone putting words in everyone else’s mouths, and this indirect bullshit.

  33. cyranothe2nd says

    She answered your question at length in that post. And then again here. Why don’t you do your own legwork?

  34. says

    Orac for example mentioned it in the comments of your original post,

    Again to Orac, I hope you’re proud of your interventions in this.

    ***

    One of the ERV shits said on the latest Ask an Atheist post trashing me that I call women cunts. I’ve never called anyone a cunt in my life.

    Prediction: tomorrow 40 loud obnoxious men will get together to do a 3 hour video about how I call women cunts. Day after tomorrow people from Denmark and Peru and Japan will be asking me why I call women cunts all the time.

    Good thing skeptics are about truth.

    ***

    I am getting sick of everyone putting words in everyone else’s mouths,

    Well, at least I was able to find some humor in it.

  35. says

    Maybe for my TAM talk I’ll just say “I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany” as many times as I can in the time allotted.

    Technically, that’s true, but it doesn’t excuse you. What you did was to compare women at TAM to Jews in Germany circa 1936. Or was it comparing women complaining about sexism at TAM to Jews complaining about their persecution by Nazis in 1936? I’m not entirely sure. Your analogy was that clumsy. Either way, it Godwinized the thread, even accepting your most recent explanation.

    Whatever you meant, your explanation was:

    That point was just that targets of hatred and vilification should not be blamed or rebuked for saying they are targets of hatred and vilification. That does, certainly, apply to Jews in Germany circa 1936, but that’s not the best example to choose because it’s colored by what happened to Jews in Germany in 1942. I meant to avoid that by saying 1936, but I should have just chosen a different example, instead. It’s not as if I think all this verbal misogynist bile is going to result in a genocide against women. I don’t think that. I think it sucks and has bad consequences, but I don’t think it’s pre-genocidal or anything like that.

    That explanation doesn’t quite get you off the hook, I’m afraid. The main difference between Jews in 1936 and Jews in 1942 in Nazi Germany is that Jews in Nazi Germany in 1936 weren’t (yet) being systematically slaughtered en masse. They were, however, being terrorized, arrested, and thrown into concentration camps. They were also having their rights systematically stripped from them through the passage of a series of laws that included the infamous Nuremberg laws (passed in 1935), which excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with Aryans. After a temporization of the Jewish persecution for the 1936 Olympics, the pace of persecution picked up again, with laws being passed requiring Jews to register their property as a prelude to the “Aryanizing” of Jewish businesses; i.e., their being taken over by non-Jews with the assistance of the government at bargain-basement prices fixed by the government.

    Seriously, Ophelia. I thought that, even though it was fairly clear that you and some of your commenters think I’m an asshole, you admirably had been able to get past that an understand why your original remark was offensive. That’s why I let the issue drop. Now, even using your own rationale above, your comparison was still, in my not-so-humble opinion, way over-the-top, a borderline if not full-fledged Godwin.

  36. says

    <blockquote<Again to Orac, I hope you’re proud of your interventions in this.

    I already apologized for what I thought I needed to apologize for. That most definitely does not include the substance of my original criticism of Ophelia’s invocation of 1936 Germany, which is a legitimate criticism and requires no apology.

  37. says

    Here’s a concise summary of what happened to Jews in the 1930s in Germany:

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Jews_Nazi_Germany.htm

    A couple of key paragraphs:

    After January 1933, the Jews became the “Untermenschen” – the sub-humans. Nazi thugs stopped Germans from shopping in Jewish shops. By 1934, all Jewish shops were marked with the yellow Star of David or had the word “Juden” written on the window. SA men stood outside the shops to deter anyone from entering. This was not necessarily a violent approach to the Jews – that was to come later – but it was an attempt to economically bankrupt them and destroy what they had spent years building up.

    On buses, trains and park benches, Jews had to sit on seats marked for them. Children at schools were taught specifically anti-Semitic ideas. Jewish school children were openly ridiculed by teachers and the bullying of Jews in the playground by other pupils went unpunished. If the Jewish children responded by not wanting to go to school, then that served a purpose in itself and it also gave the Nazi propagandists a reason to peddle the lie that Jewish children were inherently lazy and could not be bothered to go to school.

    In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were passed. The Jews lost their right to be German citizens and marriage between Jews and non-Jews was forbidden. It was after this law that the violence against the Jew really openly started. Those that could pay a fine were allowed to leave the country. Many could not and many shops refused to sell food to those who remained. Medicines were also difficult to get hold of as chemists would not sell to Jews.

  38. says

    That explanation doesn’t quite get you off the hook, I’m afraid. The main difference between Jews in 1936 and Jews in 1942 in Nazi Germany is that Jews in Nazi Germany in 1936 weren’t (yet) being systematically slaughtered en masse.

    Orac, I’ve already covered that.

    I already apologized for what I thought I needed to apologize for. That most definitely does not include the substance of my original criticism of Ophelia’s invocation of 1936 Germany, which is a legitimate criticism and requires no apology.

    My comment might have been a bit confusing. Yes, you did apologize for that. You have not, however, apologized for bringing this over to Hallquist’s thread despite the climate that was building there or for your other remarks there. You decided to make this about Ophelia’s problematic analogy, which would have been acceptable – though taking it to that environment in the way you did was certainly questionable – but you then did comment, there, on the original matter and made a mess of that, with negative effects.

  39. says

    What you did was to compare women at TAM to Jews in Germany circa 1936. Or was it comparing women complaining about sexism at TAM to Jews complaining about their persecution by Nazis in 1936? I’m not entirely sure. Your analogy was that clumsy.

    Ophelia has said (and it was quite clear from her original post):

    The analogy wasn’t made. The comparison was not TAM to Nazi Germany. It was [blaming women who report mistreatment] to [blaming Jews who reported mistreatment in 1936 Germany].

    The units of comparison were not two places, TAM and Nazi Germany. The units of comparison were mistreated people reporting mistreatment and being blamed. TAM didn’t blame women who reported mistreatment; it was DJ who did that.

    You quote [OK, this isn’t about reports of harassment but responses to it, but it’s similar enough]:

    Jewish school children were openly ridiculed by teachers and the bullying of Jews in the playground by other pupils went unpunished. If the Jewish children responded by not wanting to go to school, then that served a purpose in itself and it also gave the Nazi propagandists a reason to peddle the lie that Jewish children were inherently lazy and could not be bothered to go to school.

    The analogy has been retracted. Do you understand what she was getting at? Do you undersand that the social processes of discrimination and marginalization show patterns over time? That discussing these processes via analogies doesn’t necessarily equate all examples in terms of their extent and harm or suggest that they’re analogous in every respect?

  40. cyranothe2nd says

    That explanation doesn’t quite get you off the hook, I’m afraid. The main difference between Jews in 1936 and Jews in 1942 in Nazi Germany is that Jews in Nazi Germany in 1936 weren’t (yet) being systematically slaughtered en masse. They were, however, being terrorized, arrested, and thrown into concentration camps. They were also having their rights systematically stripped from them through the passage of a series of laws that included the infamous Nuremberg laws (passed in 1935), which excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with Aryans. After a temporization of the Jewish persecution for the 1936 Olympics, the pace of persecution picked up again, with laws being passed requiring Jews to register their property as a prelude to the “Aryanizing” of Jewish businesses; i.e., their being taken over by non-Jews with the assistance of the government at bargain-basement prices fixed by the government.

    Hmmm….having my rights systematically stripped? Why does that sound familiar? Could it be because my rights are up for fucking debate and vote in key states just about every election cycle?

    Also, something could be said about the terrorism that is the stat of 1/6 women in the US being raped in her lifetime and that only ~8% of the accused rapists ever go to prison.

    ***THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT WOMEN IN THE US SUFFERED ANYTHING NEAR THE HORROR OF THE HOLOCAUST*** It is to say that the analogy is more apt than you appear to understand, likely due to the fact that you don’t live with the emotional and physical threat that I, as a woman, face on a daily basis (and don’t even get me started on being queer…)

  41. Stacy says

    Technically, that’s true

    Not just technically.

    That point was just that targets of hatred and vilification should not be blamed or rebuked for saying they are targets of hatred and vilification

    What part of the above do you not understand, Orac?

    Seriously, berate Benson some more for an analogy she’s already disavowed. That’ll help. And it won’t at all prove the fucking point Ophelia was making–no, not that “women at TAM are like Jews in Germany c 1936″ but that targets of hatred and vilification should not be blamed or rebuked for saying they are targets of hatred and vilification.

  42. Stacy says

    Damn, I messed that up good. Should have said “…won’t at all illustrate the problem Ophelia was talking about….”

    …which is, people being blamed or rebuked for saying they are targets of hatred and vilification.

  43. Godwin is good says

    Step A) Your analogy is misunderstood by the audience.
    Step B) Blame the audience for not understanding.
    Step C) Deny you ever said what you said.

  44. says

    @52 :

    The analogy was never misunderstood by anyone with a smidgen of good will and decent reading comprehension. It is and was obvious that the purpose was the compare one systematically oppressed group with another.

    This dishonest, smearing bullshit campaign has got to stop. Does anyone seriously think that if a black man had compared historic treatment of blacks to the Jews that he’d be getting these kind of attacks now? Or a Native American man?

    An analogy is an analogy because it’s imperfect and incomplete. That’s how the whole concept works. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the underlying point after its been explained half a dozen times already is showing themselves to be fundamentally dishonest.

    [cyranothe2nd]: Hmmm….having my rights systematically stripped? Why does that sound familiar? Could it be because my rights are up for fucking debate and vote in key states just about every election cycle?

    Don’t be silly, cyrano. No amount of oppression could ever possibly be the moral equivalent of the Holocaust! Even millenia worth of systematic tyranny. There are no similarities here whatsoever, let’s all move along, move along.

    None of that counts, because you see, women. It’s a natural law, doncha know? You might as well fight gravity. Or the tides. Tides go in, tides go out. Can’t help that!

    My head is ready to burst from the stupidity being continuously thrown at women over all this. They almost literally cannot say a damn thing without having every sentence scrutinized to oblivion.

  45. GMM says

    Didn’t Richard Dawkins say people who reject the theory of evolution should be placed on a level with Holocaust deniers?

    Did anyone in this community get offended by his trivialization of the Holocaust? Orac? Was it ever even mentioned as problematic?

    “They almost literally cannot say a damn thing without having every sentence scrutinized to oblivion.”

    Yes.

  46. Albert Bakker says

    Speaking in a more general sense.

    When every time someone alludes to certain aspects of this pitch black chapter in European history as being the universally recognized archetype of evil with the objective to use the analogy to illustrate with maximal clarity some or other evil in this limited way, then if the requirement for it to be allowable and to be free of accusations of Holocaust denial, revisionism or trivialization in an overt or covert manner (like demonstratively lecturing on history) – and to which even the act of defending oneself against itself appears self-incriminating – is that the evil has to be on at least a comparable to equal moral footing or a precise historical parallelism we have no choice but henceforth be absolutely silent on this history outside of academia and museums: the first act of forgetting.

    But WWII and the rise to power of Hitler and Nationalsozialismus is still a living history in the sense that it speaks to us directly. It speaks to our moral faculties and in a way serves as the extreme point of calibration. That it is a living history and part of our cultural heritage is why it is being used and also why it is being misused. Constructively or destructively, to demonize persons or to make a point, either with good or with ill intent.

  47. says

    Travis Roy

    I was not the only person that thought your analogy was a direct comparison, or at the very least a mistake to make

    Well, those are two completely different things.
    The analogy was a mistake to make. Yep, which is what Ophelia has said ever since it was pointed out to her. She has been criticised, weighed the criticism, agreed with it (and I’m only talking about the “it wasn’t a good analogy to make”, not the whole other bullshit) and apologized for making a bad analogy.
    The other thing is your abysmal reading skills for which Ophelia is surely not to blame.
    But you’re the quote-guy. Better said the quote-mining guy. You made a substantial claim about another person in your wonderful penis debate and you didn’t back it up with any quotes.
    How come?
    If Ophelia had actually said that or worded herself so clumsily that it was a reasonable interpretation a quote would have demonstrated that brilliantly.
    And talking about quotes, how come you quoted about everything Rebecca wrote in her “why I won’t be at TAM this year” post except the large part where she heaps praise on TAM for the good work they had done in previous years?

    Orac
    This is getting stupid. I certainly agree that it was a bad analogy to make. I whince whenever people use the “like Nazi Germany” lightly because I know too well from my family what Nazi Germany was like. But that was absolutely not the point Ophelia was making, her point was that opressed and discriminated against people get blamed for creating a hstile environment every time they dare to speak out.

  48. says

    Jeezis, Orac –

    Does it not occur to you that it’s not appropriate for you to choose this moment of all moments to turn up out of nowhere on my blog to misread what I’ve written and pitch a fit about it? When we are both speakers at TAM and there is obviously a climate brewing that is extremely hostile to women who write about these issues? Does it not occur to you that you never comment here, and that right now is a very bad moment to start? Does it not occur to you that by doing so you at least give the appearance of joining a pile-on against me and other women who write about these issues – but especially me, since we are both speakers at TAM? Does it not occur to you that by coming back here to chastise me as if I were a naughty child, all over again, you are making a huge deposit in The Bank of Hostility at TAM? Does that not occur to you even after the rather pointed pair of questions I emailed you last week? Apparently you bother to read this blog sometimes – at least, enough to get some ammunition for more bullying – so have you not seen that I am getting ever more worried about going to TAM now that DJ has seen fit to blame women like me for other women not going to TAM? You saw this post, so you must have seen the other posts, some of which talk about that. I also mentioned all this the last time you came here to chastise me as if I were a child. Does it really not cross your mind that you’re making a big huge conspicuous point of bullying me as if you were actually deliberately trying to make me stay away from TAM? Do you really think this repeated intervention is appropriate? Especially after I withdrew the analogy and replaced it with a better one?

  49. says

    Orac, you fucking arrogant shit. Pardon my French. Ophelia is not on any kind of “hook.” She spoke her mind, decided (based on her own evaluation and critique by others) to change the way she said something. She did so. This is all in the larger context of a question about perpetrators and victims. Meanwhile a sympathizer to and in fact organizer of some of the perpetrators has been telling the victims to shut up.

    Did you notice that this conversation is in part about Conferences in general and TAM and JREF in particular, and JREF’s president DJ Grothe and his abysmal handling of the current situation? Did you notice that this is in part about the behavior of famous male speakers at TAM? Did you notice that you are a famous male speaker at TAM? Did you notice that as a famous male speaker at TAM you are harping on the efforts of a woman (who is also a famous speaker at TAM) to resolve the problem of documented sexual harassment at TAM and essentially telling her to shut up, or at least, systematically distracting everyone in the conversation from the very valid and important topic at hand to your favorite pet peeve?

    Orac, you might think this whole “insolence” thing is cute. But it is not. You are an arrogant prick who has just shown yourself to be far more part of the problem than part of the solution.

    You have not even come close to apologizing for what you need to apologize for, and to whom you need to apologize to.

    I’ll say something here that you will not understand but that everyone else probably already knows but if not needs to: There is not a single person in the “feminist camp” (most of the Free Thought Bloggers, many others, many comenters on this thread) who does not have an educated, thoughtful, sophisticated view of the horrors of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the plight of the Jews during this period, before, and after. No one. Do you understand that? There is not a single person on this side of this discussion who does not recognize the level of horror and inhumanity associated with these events. The fact that you have decided that everyone needs to be schooled on this is offensive, idiotic, and also, obnoxious. You are using the implication that Ophelia does not understand the Holocaust in a strategic way. THAT is deeply offensive. That is horrible. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    You know, Orac, your writing about anti-vax, other denialsm, even Holocaust denialism when you are doing it right is wonderful and important. But your over the top arrogance and self centered insolence is too much. I’m beginning to think that you are not worth it.

    Prove me wrong.

  50. says

    Orac, tell us. Did you or did you not come back here at the behest of DJ Grothe (or others linked to him) with the intention of harassing Ophelia further, in order to make her feel more uncomfortable about speaking at TAM this year, with the ultimate goal of causing her to decide to not attend TAM, thus making sure that no one at TAM hears what she might have to say about this larger situation? Because that is what it looks like.

    Yes or no.

  51. Anonymous says

    Now we have conspiracy theories about DJ having operatives go out and undermine speakers?

    Really? I thought we were skeptics.

  52. julian says

    Ophelia has admitted the analogy she did make was a poor one, that she doesn’t think TAM is like Nazi Germany and that she agrees it’s in bad taste to co-opt suffering on that scale. What else does she have to say for Orac?

  53. says

    Orac, tell us. Did you or did you not come back here at the behest of DJ Grothe (or others linked to him) with the intention of harassing Ophelia further, in order to make her feel more uncomfortable about speaking at TAM this year, with the ultimate goal of causing her to decide to not attend TAM, thus making sure that no one at TAM hears what she might have to say about this larger situation? Because that is what it looks like.

    Yes or no.

    The other question is, does he spend the same time and energy on those people who called harassment policies “Taliban-like” and who call every woman who has spoken out on the a feminazi thereby implying that we are just as bad as those people who killed millions?
    Because the outrage ober “misbehaviour” always only goes into one direction: towards the women and the feminists.
    IOKIYAM (It’s OK if you are a misogynist)

  54. says

    Now we have conspiracy theories about DJ having operatives go out and undermine speakers?

    Really? I thought we were skeptics.

    I did not present a theory. I asked a question. This is known as a hypothesis. I’ve made observations and the intentionality I’m suggesting explains my observations, though it is certainly not the only possible explanation. I’ll take David’s word for it if he says no.

    You on the other hand are playing the game. You saw something you didn’t agree with so you called it “unskeptical.” That is incorrect. You are not a skeptic. You must now take a correspondence course in critical thinking, or carry out some other program to improve yourself. Let us know how that goes.

  55. says

    Giliell, I’m not sure if I get your point, but the reason that this hypothesis seemed possible to me is that David does not engage in discussions of sexism or feminism on other people’s blogs on a regular basis, as far as I know. I simply wonder what brought him to this discussion to begin with.

  56. says

    Another small bit of housecleaning – @ 45 (another anonymous) –

    Ophelia, you are telling fibs again – which is no big surprise. “The only place I’ve seen it via Google is on a stupid wiki set up by ERV people” is just complete codswallop. You have admitted it yourself –

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/degodwinization/

    You spin so much nonsense, even you can’t keep track of it all yourself. You need to re-read that wiki entry before your nose falls off.

    No. What I googled was the specific invention that Travis Roy offered, that I said “TAM is like Nazi Germany” – I never said that and I never “admitted” saying that.

    And I can’t re-read the wiki, because I haven’t read it in the first place. I simply saw the link and headline on Google.

  57. says

    Greg @ 65 – so do I, very much. I emailed him last week to ask exactly that – he simply said he does read me occasionally and didn’t remember why he saw that one.

  58. says

    So what I’ve learned is when Rebecca Watson said “the freethought community is not a [safe space]”, that meant “TAM is a [not safe] space.” And when Ophelia said “women reporting harassment are being blamed just like jews were being blamed for their further oppression in 1936 Germany” that means “all women at TAM are walking into Nazi Germany”.

    Have you noticed the conflations going on here? If you say anything about any problem the freethought community has, you’re saying it exclusively about TAM. Because TAM is the entirety and the totality of the freethought community apparently.

    And “women reporting harassment” suddenly becomes “all women”.

    And “safe space”, which means better than the background levels of bigotry, becomes “safe”, e.g. you’re walking into a den of bigots.

    And you bullies are supposed to be the good skeptics! Orac, of all people, you should fucking well see that you’ve been manipulated by whomever pointed out this supposed Godwinization.

  59. says

    Not to mention #61 is writing as nobody@nowhere and hasn’t commented here before. Other than that, a completely credible witness.

    Oh dear god, THE RETURN OF TOM JOHNSON????

    Kidding (I think) — though I did just throw up a little in my mouth.

  60. says

    Greg

    Giliell, I’m not sure if I get your point, but the reason that this hypothesis seemed possible to me is that David does not engage in discussions of sexism or feminism on other people’s blogs on a regular basis, as far as I know. I simply wonder what brought him to this discussion to begin with.

    I’m not sharing your suspicion.
    I think the answer is much easier: How dare these uppity women open their pie-holes instead of making sandwiches.
    No, Orac doesn’t get involved in the debates about feminism, but until now he also didn’t get involved in calling people out for bad (and ridiculous) analogies and gratitious godwining.
    No, he only does so the moment a feminist woman makes a mistake. Obviously, she has to be perfect. If she isn’t, for the rest of her life nothing she ever says has to be taken serious or judged on its value. No, apparently the only thing Ophelia is is The Woman who Said Something Stupid Once. No need to listen to what she actually says. Doesn’t matter how often she explains this one episode. No matter what people actually do to her. No, all Orac does is to chew on this one mistake because since Ophelia isn’t perfect everything else is irrelevant.
    While he doesn’t apparently spend a second on people calling women feminazis.

  61. julian says

    That was a loaded question, Laden and you probably could have communicated the point (that Orac is adding to an already huge wave of gtfo Ophelia Benson sentiment coming from Grothe’s defenders and some of the TAM crowd) without it.

  62. says

    Greg @ 65 – so do I, very much. I emailed him last week to ask exactly that – he simply said he does read me occasionally and didn’t remember why he saw that one.

    OK, fine then.

  63. says

    That was a loaded question, Laden and you probably could have communicated the point (that Orac is adding to an already huge wave of gtfo Ophelia Benson sentiment coming from Grothe’s defenders and some of the TAM crowd) without it.

    Not loaded. Loaded is “when did you stop beating your wife.” What I asked was “I have this idea, is it right or wrong?” That’s a fair question.

  64. says

    Have you noticed the conflations going on here? If you say anything about any problem the freethought community has, you’re saying it exclusively about TAM. Because TAM is the entirety and the totality of the freethought community apparently.

    I certainly have. DJ started the conflation, by talking about discussion of sexism in the freethought community as if it were discussion of sexism at TAM. I’ve thought that was very bizarre all along. Delusions of reference kind of thing. “Y u mad bro? We didn’t say TAM.”

  65. says

    Okay, since I crossed Ophelia @68, I retract the “you’ve been manipulated”, and replace it with “you should see all the people who’ve latched onto this ridiculous conflation, and feel ashamed that you’re actively participating in bullying a fellow speaker for something she did not say but also amended just to appease you.”

  66. says

    Oh anyway:
    So, Orac simply happened to come across that post by Ophelia and thought “hey, wait, this is out of line, I better tell Ophelia about it”, that’s neither an explenation nor an excuse for coming here at this point in time when Ophelia has to defend herself against obviously false accusations and pulling that same shit as if nothing had happened in the meantime.

  67. says

    Yes I should clarify – I didn’t mean @ 68 to indicate that I found his answer convincing. I don’t. B&W nearly ten years old; Gorski never comments at B&W; suddenly one day in the middle of a shitstorm about TAM and uppity women and DJ Grothe – he writes a blustery scoldy bullying comment at B&W, for no reason in particular. He writes an equally blustery scoldy comment about me on Chris Hallquist’s post defending DJ Grothe’s blaming of uppity women, for no reason in particular. It’s all just random. No, I don’t find that convincing.

  68. Dana Hunter says

    Orac, your little crusade looks less like offence at an analogy you find distasteful and more like an effort to derail and intimidate. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve read and loved Respectful Insolence for years. But two things don’t allow me to give your comments a charitable reading:

    1. Ophelia’s analogy was difficult to misconstrue unless you have the reading comprehension of a two year old, weren’t paying attention to what she actually wrote, or have an axe to grind.

    2. She apologized and retracted her analogy.

    Now some fuckwads are using a deliberate distortion of what she said to smear her, and you, after having seemingly accepted her apology, choose this time to excoriate her again. Meanwhile, you studiously ignore all other instances of people taking the Holocaust in vain. An (not clumsy but construed that way) analogy that she retracted and apologized for is worth beating her down for, but those tossing “feminazi” around with abandon are exempt from your ire? It begins to look less like genuine concern and more like an attempt to silence a voice speaking for women who are bloody well tired of being treated like shit.

    You, like DJ, have decided to make this all about you, when it never was. You don’t even have the piss-poor excuse of trying to shore up attendance at a major conference. You simply look, smell, and feel like a bully.

    I’d dearly love to know why. Care to explain yourself? Why, in a target-rich environment, you would choose to attack the person who already corrected what you saw as an egregious error, and who is now being attacked for something she never actually said?

  69. says

    Orac retains exclusive control over the keys to the Godwin. One could say he is the father of the Godwin.

    (Let me know if I’m being too obscure here.)

    Dana, nicely put.

  70. Rob says

    A couple observations:

    1. Whatever they might say, it’s obvious by their actions that JREF wants women at TAM primarily for their entertainment value to the male participants. Women with opinions about things, especially men’s behavior, are clearly unwelcome.

    2. Whether Orac is commenting here on behalf of DJ of not makes no difference to me; he’s wrong, end of story.

    Not that I expect it to make any difference to the above, but I’ll have nothing further with any of them for the foreseeable future.

    Ophelia, I’m sorry you have to put up with this shit, it’s appalling.

  71. Stewart says

    Greg now has me imagining that Orac has a teenage son who wants to borrow the keys so he can take the Godwin out for a spin…

  72. Dana Hunter says

    Giliell, nice catch. Right. So either Orac has some peculiar ideas as to what it means to abuse the Holocaust, or he’s a raging hypocrite. Any other options I’m missing, folks?

  73. says

    [Giliell]: No, Orac doesn’t get involved in the debates about feminism, but until now he also didn’t get involved in calling people out for bad (and ridiculous) analogies and gratitious godwining.

    No, he only does so the moment a feminist woman makes a mistake.

    [Dana Hunter]: Meanwhile, you studiously ignore all other instances of people taking the Holocaust in vain.

    One small factual correction: Orac does actually have a long history of posting pages-long smackdown-esque rants about various people’s bad holocaust analogies.

    That doesn’t really change much of anything, because the vast majority of those cases are/were egregiously stupid. In particular:

    (1) comparing non-oppressed groups or individuals to oppressed ones,
    (2) leaving no room for ambiguity or interpretation,
    (3) failing to isolate the distinctions between the cases,
    (4) by a speaker with a known record of abusing history and/or fundamental facts for partisan gain or propaganda.

    None of those four elements applied to Ophelia’s use.

    It is important to note that Orac shows no such tone or analogy trolling over feminazi and the like. I haven’t seen him say a single sympathetic thing about the heapings of abuse women are getting here (and elsewhere).

  74. says

    It is not Orac’s analogy, but that of a vaccine-denialist musician. Orac clearly found it outrageous, consistent with his views here.

    Didn’t stop him from wearing an actual badge with that phrase. It might even have been last year’s TAM, I don’t remember. I remember that when he posted pictures on his blog and I said “Um, people, I find that rather in bad taste” I got torn into.

    One small factual correction: Orac does actually have a long history of posting pages-long smackdown-esque rants about various people’s bad holocaust analogies.

    Yes, i know and he has written some very well posts about “scientific” Holocaust denial. Yet he fails to show up in all those other instances and goes great lengths after Ophelia long after she retracted the original analogy.

  75. julian says

    Orac does actually have a long history of posting pages-long smackdown-esque rants about various people’s bad holocaust analogies.

    Aye, they’re usually a fun read. He tends to hit on a lot of key important points. But ultimately they betray his refusal to acknowledge the important lessons we can learn from horrors like Nazi Germany.

    Anyway that’s another topic since Ophelia was never saying “Women are being treated like the Jews in Nazi Germany.” It was much closer to “Would it have been right to blame Jews complaining about unjust treatment? So why would it be alright to blame women?”

    I still don’t think it ok as it was mostly rhetorical and way to extreme. But it’s very different. So different it would be an entirely different line of counter argument. Instead of “TAM is nothing like Nazis!” it should be “The immediacy of the situation in Germany trumped other considerations. Women at TAM can afford more considered or measured responses” or some other gibberish.

    Honestly, Orac adding to this fire isn’t surprising but that doesn’t make it easier to swallow.

  76. says

    I will confess to being gobsmacked that none of the people who call themselves skeptics slamming Ophelia over this seem to understand the concept of a reductio ad absurdum argument, which is what Ophelia was making.

    Raising a parallel between blaming feminists for fear of harassment and blaming hypothetical Jewish ghetto activists for inflaming Anti-semitism relies for its effectiveness on the shared understanding that the latter situation was orders of magnitude worse and more evil. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a reductio argument.

    Ophelia’s implication was “logically, if you think this thing here, you should agree with these evil people saying this absurd and evil thing, which we both agree no one in their right mind would.”

    You gotta wonder how many of these imbeciles went around saying “my mom says dying my hair blue is exactly the same as jumping off the Empire State Building” after being asked that thing about “If all your friends jumped…”

    As for godwinizing, I do think the metaphor is inflammatory and often riles people unconstructively. Interesting, though, that people like Orac don’t maintain a file of examples of people comparing bloggers to Stalin, or calling them Maoist, or “Mau-Mauing” opponents (I’ve seen updated references to the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi in similar contexts). Or of metaphoric references to Indian Wars. It’s almost as though murdered Europeans count for more than murdered Asians, Africans, or American natives in Orac’s mind.

  77. Albert Bakker says

    I think we agree in principle but your description does not fit what I understand a reductio ad absurdum to be and I cannot make it fit. It has not much to do with analogies at all. The gist of a reduction ad absurdum is making an argument by following through the implications of a proposition to a logical extreme, which is then understood to be absurd or self-evidently false and then that would then be a disproof of that proposition.

    Instead this was an example of reasoning by analogy, to show with maximal clarity by using analogies the absurdity of victim-blaming tactics with respect to the “climate” they would be to blame for.

    It weren’t the Jews who were to blame for the hostile environment for Jews, it were the Nazi’s.
    It weren’t the victims of hate groups nor the SPLC who was to blame for the hostile environment for victims of hate groups, it were the hate groups.
    It aren’t the women skeptics who are to blame for the hostile environment for women skeptics, it’s the people who create the hostile environment.

    The point of an historical analogy is the transfer of information, that is to say of the similarities in the relation between the particulars, not the transfer of the particulars themselves. So that there hasn’t been said that the SPLC are Jews and it hasn’t been said the people who create hostile environments for women skeptics are white supremacist hate groups from Alabama. But it has been said that the hostile climate each time wasn’t created by the people who suffered under it.

  78. GMM says

    @Giliell
    I can’t count how many times I or women I know been called ‘femi-Nazis’ for saying outrageous, Nazi-like things such as violence/sexual assault/abuse is wrong and not a “natural” thing, or that women have the right not to be discriminated against and a right to bodily integrity. You know, just like Hitler. (“Kinder, Küche, Kirche” – totally feminist!)

    A lot of those times, for me, have been on atheist forums and no one ever batted an eyelash.

  79. dirigible says

    OB – I hope it was a *very* stiffly worded email. Orac’s precocious useful idiocy in this matter is tiresome.

    kagerato – “It is important to note that Orac shows no such tone or analogy trolling over feminazi and the like.”

    Yeah that is strange.

    Well, I say “strange”…

  80. Jay says

    I’ve gone here through quite a looking glass of posts.

    I would like to say that the form I am filling out says: “Mail (will not be published) (required)” and yet Ms. Benson has apparently no problem with publishing those email addresses that she has apparently agreed with wordpress will not be published.

  81. Stewart says

    You’re quite right, Jay; Ophelia has blasted nobody@nowhere’s anonymity to smithereens. We’re going to have to think of a good punishment for her and come up with a new safe cover for the commenter whose real identity has suddenly become public knowledge.

  82. Stewart says

    Well, we can’t do anything about the fear, but since Nobody’s whereabouts are now common knowledge, we can all chip in to solve the other problem with a care package full of clothes.

    This was a truly low blow, Ophelia. You’ll deserve whatever you get if your real identity is ever revealed.

  83. says

    Oh you mean nowhere is nobody’s real address as well as email address? Oh gosh if I’d known that maybe I wouldn’t have mentioned it after all. Poooooooooooooooor nobody.

  84. Stewart says

    Well, I’m glad that’s settled then… unless Jay decides not to accept your apology.