Maureen Brian sets a few people straight »« There’s a difference?

Comments

  1. says

    Jesus Fucking Christ, petzl20 and Johnathan, neither of you have any fucking idea just how malicious and potentially dangerous online harassment of women is, and you obviously haven’t been following any of the debacle over the last ~month. Fuck’s sake, I don’t even think you’ve followed this thread. Yet you felt entitled to drop in here and shit out your “wisdom” for our delectation as if it were crème brûlée.

    Shut your goddamn mansplaining mouths and keep your goddamn mansplaining fingers off the keyboard.

  2. julian says

    These are just alternatives, and the choice is yours. It just sucks to see a criminal win.

    Stop trying to guilt her into dealing with this the way you want her too.

    It’s insulting, rude and likely only making the situation worse. I’m sure Ophelia is perfectly capable of handling this and, from the looks of it, has already sent what information she can to TAM (if this isn’t true someone please correct me). If you want this person dealt with talk to them and stop targeting the person they’ve been trying to bully.

  3. screechymonkey says

    Emburii, I honestly don’t know where that’s coming from. I can only vouch for what I’ve seen (or not seen) at his website, so perhaps he’s commenting on Facebook or on other blogs, but I haven’t seen any specific quotes attributed to him. It wouldn’t shock me — I believe he’s friendly with Abby and was pretty contemptuous of ElevatorGate — but I haven’t seen any evidence.

  4. julian says

    If this is in reference to my comment where I listed him alongside Blackford and Stangroom, I was referencing his handling of E-gate. Not his support for ERV and Hale but his insistence that the bullying was only one way (aimed at Hale, McGraw and Watson’s detractors) and the contempt he treated several concerns stated by feminist women.

    If he’s said anything since then I wouldn’t know.

  5. Emburii says

    Ah, thank you to screechymonkey and julian. I knew he had been friendly with Abby, but I didn’t know he’d taken more of a position on Elevatorgate or had decided to dismiss the ACTUAL bullies’ behavior. That’s pretty horrifying and sad, he’s a good scientist and I wish he could be a slightly better human being to match it.

  6. gbjames says

    Emburii @396: “First, COYNE has defended some of this bad behavior and taken a hyper-skeptical approach? I thought better of him.

    Where? Can you provide a link to this?

  7. Daniel Schealler says

    Hey Ophelia.

    Not much to add. Sucks to have gotten a threatening email.

    It’s also bad that no one’s surprised.

    I also think it’d be a good idea to send a copy to DJ just so he can see it. But then again, it’s your business, not mine.

  8. petzl20 says

    Shut your goddamn mansplaining mouths and keep your goddamn mansplaining fingers off the keyboard.

    Thanks. Now I also know what it feels like to be harassed anonymously on the internet. If Ophelia approves of this type of behavior, perhaps she shouldn’t attend the conference.

  9. Daniel Schealler says

    @Ophelia

    Sorry, missed that comment at 118 on my last scan through the comments.

    That’s disappointing but sadly not surprising.

    It’s their loss.

  10. julian says

    Now I also know what it feels like to be harassed anonymously on the internet.

    You’re not being harassed. Not unless punching someone whose about to break some kid’s arm in the nose is also bullying. You’ve been told off for being condescending and an asshole.

  11. NanceConfer says

    Olivia:

    I have sent it to DJ, I did that yesterday.

    I think he’s said and done all he’s going to, which is pretty much nothing.

    **************
    That’s too bad. That’s why I bothered to wade through all of this. To see if there had been any helpful response.

    Somebody above had some acreage they were looking at for an alternative venue. That sounds better to me.

  12. julian says

    That’s too bad. That’s why I bothered to wade through all of this. To see if there had been any helpful response.

    I’m kinda disappointed to but it’s still early. I don’t honestly believe Grothe’s just going to shrug his shoulders at this. He can’t have that much contempt for FtB, can he?

    Then again there’s no shortage of atheists and skeptic’s who already do so…

  13. says

    This is bullshit. What kind of fucking waste threatens someone for speaking?

    Its also bullshit that redd and sarah mahew can’t take a cuss word hurled their way but will nod in agreement to some truly vile shit. I guess if you say something inhuman with polite words its totally okay!

  14. says

    That much contempt for FTB? I don’t want to be all egotistical here but I don’t think this is about FTB, it’s about me. He’s stonewalling me. I’m the one who was supposed to be a speaker this year, not FTB.

    I mean sure, he’s doubtless very angry with FTB, and he did blame it for the current mess, but I’m the one he owes a little more than…nothing.

  15. says

    Meanwhile, fresh from the #bullies hashtag – the latest entry –

    Jeremy Stangroom ‏@PhilosophyExp MT @RichSandersen: Hope e/body enjoys #TAM2012. Some loud #bullies trying to say it’s a dangerous place. Not as dang. as the bullies at FTB.

    (What the hell is MT?)

  16. screechymonkey says

    MT = “modified tweet”

    It means you’re retweeting something but paraphrasing or editing it in some way, often by adding a hashtag.

  17. says

    I just got a return phone call from DJ Grothe. He returned my earlier call from his cell phone and told me that he was en route back to his office and would be happy to return my call from there. I disclosed to him that I am an unembedded freelance journalist and writer and that I was calling to inquire about the issue of harassment at TAM, the reticence to implementing harassment policies, and the retaliation against those who speak out about harassment. As of right now as I type this, he has not yet returned my call to answer my investigative questions.

  18. says

    You know, every text I’ve read on bullying notes how eager bullies are to pretend to be victims of bullying when they are called out on their behavior. Sociopaths do it too. “why did she make me hit her, she could have cooperated but she had to make my day harder than it had to be!” The perverse logic of blaming someone who has been threatened with being dangerous is very similar. Skeeves me right the fuck out.

  19. julian says

    I guess if you say something inhuman with polite words its totally okay!

    It’s beyond irritating. Ophelia just received threats because she’s been critical of some of Grothe’s recent actions. And Mayhew has to turn this whole thread into a referendum on how evil Ophelia and FtB is in general and how unjust we are towards different views.

    If that level of petty vindictiveness is not enough reason to not want to get to know someone I don’t know what is.

  20. dexitroboper says

    MT is ‘Modified Tweet’ instead of RT ‘retweet’. It took me ages to figure that out.

  21. dexitroboper says

    MT is ‘Modified Tweet’ instead of RT ‘retweet’. It took me ages to figure that out. It’s mostly used when someone adds a comment to another persons tweet and changes the original to fit.

  22. Robert says

    That’s sad to hear. I’ve followed this blog and the .org site off and on since about 2006 or 7 and it really helped me clear a lot of lingering bullshit from my head after I finally conceded that all religion was probably bullshit at the core rather than Good Ideas that had collected bullshit dogmas.

    I’ve been meaning to thank you for keeping all this up for some time now. so: Thank You!

    I’ll shut up now and go back to reading a post on your RSS feed from time to time.

  23. says

    grammar fail, sorry:

    The perverse logic of accusing someone who has been threatened of being dangerous is very similar

    thats what I meant.

  24. says

    Ah thanks all for MT info – that’s useful. I do modify sometimes.

    Robert – you’re welcome! Thank you for saying so. I promise I’ll get back to posting about interesting things very soon.

    Jacqueline, that will be interesting.

    Carrie did suggest that I phone them – so I did get that much response – but I don’t want to (I want a record), and that appears to be the end of that.

  25. julian says

    And looking over her tweets she’s making herself to be the victim again and high fiving John C Welch. She honestly has that little compassion and concern for others.

    Fuck Sara Mayhew.

  26. Hamilton Jacobi says

    screechymonkey:

    As far as I’ve seen, he’s stayed out of this round of the discussion (meaning, the stuff set off by DJ’s comments a few weeks ago). At least, I haven’t seen anything at WEIT on the subject.

    Since Elevatorgate it mostly takes the form of coded “dog whistle” messages, such as the one in Jerry’s most recent post:

    Don’t expect deepities or god-bashing today (you can find histrionics and controversy elsewhere on the internet), or maybe not even biology, for Professor Ceiling Cat is hellishly busy.

    To a casual reader that could mean anything, but the timing and the choice of the word “histrionics” aren’t accidents. If you keep your eyes open you’ll find similar ambiguous snark popping up every few months, always well timed.

  27. echidna says

    The thing about coded messages like Coyne’s is that they need to be decoded before they can be challenged or discussed. It means that he can be as snide as he likes, and if someone tries to call him on it, he can say “But you are reading too much into it”. It’s the tactic of a coward who knows he is wrong.

  28. says

    Urgh, that’s depressing. I haven’t looked at WEIT in ages, so I didn’t see that.

    There was one time when he did a cat post and mentioned “the two celebrity judges” of the cat contest (Russell Blackford and Miranda Hale). Actually there were three. I got quite a few emails about that – “What was that about?!”

    Histrionics yourself, Dr Coyne.

  29. says

    Furthermore – it’s not fucking histrionics.

    No doubt Coyne and Hale and Brother Blackford (and Stangroom and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all) are telling each other it is, but it fucking isn’t. I did get two very weird threatening emails – predicting I would get shot to death at TAM – and I did decide to bag it as a result. I said so here – partly because some readers here are going, and I thought they might as well know. But anyway those emails were very fucking creepy. It’s not histrionics to object to getting creepy threatening emails.

    Fuck people. Honestly.

  30. julian says

    And that’s something I hate. Mayhew, Hale, ERV, Blackford, the whole group made such a big deal out of insults being aimed at them or their friends and now that it’s someone they dislike receiving threats they’re more than willing to call it every diminishing word in the dictionary.

  31. echidna says

    I think it’s very likely that Coyne is referring to Ophelia with the “histrionics” comment. However, the nature of allusions like the one he has made is that the connections need to be made in the mind of the reader. So I have asked him explicitly what he was referring to in a comment on his blog – I will be very interested in his response, if there is one.

  32. julian says

    So it’s the close of business and not one of Grothe’s friends and defenders have said anything but try to reaffirm FtB is the bad guy in all this.

    I’d hope such a clear example of harassment would illicit some sort of response but… ah well. At least this’ll be one less stressor.

  33. julian says

    More likely he’s referring to FtB as a whole and that he’ll claim it’s over this controversy in general

  34. says

    Sskeptifem #425: I’ve noted before the tendencies of misogynists and other regressives — even religionists — to try and bully the discussion to be on terms and assumptions favorable to them, claiming that this is “balanced”.

    What did the literature say about constructing narratives about the sequence of events that justify everything the bully does?

  35. gbjames says

    So, let me get this straight…

    Hamilton Jacobi says Jerry Coyne used the word “histrionics” and this is dog-whistle messaging of sinister things.

    echidna says that it is “very likely” that this means Ophelia Benson.

    julian says “More likely he’s referring to FtB as a whole” (perhaps “he” refers to someone else, in which case, strike this line).

    If this is the sort of thing that qualifies as substantive criticism around here then we’re in pretty poor shape. ‘Cause to this observer it looks kind of similar to garden variety paranoia.

  36. julian says

    There’s no criticism. It’s speculation.

    But pedantry aside, meh. At this point it really doesn’t matter to me. We’ve got from Blackford and ERV to Kazez and Stangroom deciding FtB needs to stfu and go away so I’m past the point of caring.

  37. gbjames says

    Elf-Sheriff, that is not quote mining. It is quoting. In response to a request for something to support several references to Jerry Coyn, those three responses were all that came back. The fact that someone has sent an email premised on the assumption that there is something suspicious here is not a reasonable substitute for some substantive support for the ambiguous allegations.

  38. Hamilton Jacobi says

    John Morales: No, I’m not 100% sure. But if you put this in the context of previous similar remarks (sorry I don’t have time to dig them all out), it seems unlikely to be an accident.

    gbjames: I said “snark”, not “sinister”. There’s a big difference. I don’t think Jerry is involved in some evil conspiracy; he just likes to pop his head up over the hedgerow every now and then and say hi there, I’m still here and I haven’t changed my mind one bit. I think he has badly misjudged this issue, but I don’t think it makes him evil.

  39. canonical says

    Ophelia, I’m outraged on your behalf and I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with this shit. I’m mostly a lurker, but you can truly say the lurkers support you in the comments. :)

    As a PP said, it’s TAM’s loss and so it is. I’d looked forward to possibly attending my first TAM this year–that’s not happening because of the totally hamster-driven, platinum-plated clusterfuck that TAM and, most sadly, the JREF have become. My previous regular donations to JREF are now going to Doctors Without Borders–they don’t seem to care about checking what sort of plumbing people have before deeming them worthy of help.

    Please, be well.

  40. echidna says

    gbjames,
    My criticism of Jerry Coyne is that cryptic references are going to be interpreted by the reader/listener to mean whatever they want it to mean. Cryptic references are the antithesis of clear communication, and understanding them is contingent on having shared cultural references. “Dogwhistles” are not a new right-wing invention; they are an ancient practice so that phrases aimed at “those who have ears to hear” can be understood without giving away too much to others who might be listening, even if it’s just something that can be quoted. This is often necessary for secret or subversive activities; useful shorthand in an in-group (like jargon, only without a formal definition); and quite unhelpful for a international audience of various backgrounds.

    Jerry Coyne seems to be assuming his blog is aimed at an in-group; I thought it was aimed at a varied audience. Maybe I have the wrong end of the stick (for non-Australians, that idiom refers to the possibility that I may have a faulty understanding of the situation).

    On Jerry’s site, another reader has told me that Ceiling Cat is Jerry himself, which seems to date back from about a year ago, but no reference to put “histrionics” or “controversy” into context has been forthcoming.

  41. echidna says

    The fact that someone has sent an email premised on the assumption that there is something suspicious here is not a reasonable substitute for some substantive support for the ambiguous allegations.

    No, I commented on Jerry’s site asking him what he was referring to. I never said that there was anything suspicious – it just looks like he is annoyed at something going on somewhere on the iternet. He’s clearly referring to something; it’s not unreasonable to ask what it is. It’s not even unreasonable to speculate if he’s not at all clear.

  42. Hamilton Jacobi says

    To be fair, the specific “histrionics” wording may have been borrowed from Jean Kazez, who wrote her piece before Ophelia’s announcement above.

  43. says

    gbjames #449:

    Elf-Sheriff, that is not quote mining. It is quoting.

    Not when you take the quote out of context…

    In response to a request for something to support several references to Jerry Coyn, those three responses were all that came back.

    …in order to make your argument look better:

    I think it’s very likely that Coyne is referring to Ophelia with the “histrionics” comment. However, the nature of allusions like the one he has made is that the connections need to be made in the mind of the reader. So I have asked him explicitly what he was referring to in a comment on his blog – I will be very interested in his response, if there is one.

    In bold is the part you quoted.

    In italics is the part that you ignored when you decided to write this part…

    If this is the sort of thing that qualifies as substantive criticism around here then we’re in pretty poor shape. ‘Cause to this observer it looks kind of similar to garden variety paranoia.

    …where you insinuated very overtly that we were pulling accusations out of our ass.

    (I don’t expect you to address any of this, though, as since you’ve already shown yourself willing to quote mine I see no reason why I should trust you to even read this post accurately. Have a nice day.)

  44. Josh Slocum says

    Jean Kazez is the Old Faithful of wrong.

    Is she ever. I could set my Disappointment Watch by her. And no, I haven’t read her latest. I can’t bear it.

  45. says

    @ Ophelia: Well, not surprisingly, DJ Grothe never returned my call as he promised. Instead, one of JREF’s/DJ’s spin doctors sent me this email:

    Hi Jacqueline,

    My name is Carrie and I am the Communications Director for the JREF. I understand you called our president to request an interview today. I apologize that you didn’t hear back from us sooner. Unfortunately, DJ has been tied up with urgent TAM meetings and preparations, and isn’t able to call you back today. If you have any specific questions, would you email them to us? I will make sure you get a response quickly. My email address [email protected], and DJ’s is [email protected].

    Thanks so much, Jacqueline, and sorry again for the delayed response.

    Best,
    Carrie

    So here is the email I sent her:

    1.Women are saying they’ve suffered retaliation for speaking out about sexual harassment and/or for making harassment reports to TAM staff. Is this true?
    2. Did you accuse feminists of trying to destroy JREF and/or TAM because they spoke out about harassment and retaliation and a “sweep it under the rug” approach to the handling of harassment complaints? (i.e. the accusations of ‘witch hunts’ and demanding criminal evidence as in the case of “Dr. Buzzo” (aka Monopod Man, who was stalking female TAM attendees and taking up-skirt photos and who was/is well-known by TAM staff as a harasser of women because he has been doing this for several years in a row at TAM conferences)
    3. Why would Emery Emery of the Ardent Atheist show claim that Rebecca Watson is trying to destroy TAM after she had been a solid endorser and supporter of JREF and TAM and is that YOUR position as well?
    4. What is your position on the copy of a threat/harassing email received by Ophelia Benson, the scheduled TAM 2012 speaker who has now decided to bow out, which she says she sent you on June 19th 2012 and will you answer her email to you about it?
    5. Why did you blame your falling numbers of women TAM registrants on the very same women (Skepchicks’ Rebecca Watson in particular) who praised TAM while raising funds for more women attend TAM?
    6. Did you or anyone else in JREF give Emery Emery the authority to speak for you and for JREF?TAM regarding what he said during the Great Penis Debate podcast?
    7. Did you make accusatory complaints/comments/statements — including press releases — saying that women who complain about harassment are making women afraid to come to TAM conferences?
    8. Why did you deny that a specific harassment incident occurred involving a conference attendee (Ashley Miller) after you, according to several witnesses, removed the offending jerk yourself?

    And I posted a short blog piece about this ongoing issue on my godlessfeminist blog at my WordPress site. I want honest, truthful answers. And I think the public deserves the same.

  46. MissEla says

    Jacqueline S. Homan @ 459

    (psst… The link to your blog in your name is misspelled–it’s missing an “i”–and doesn’t work. You might want to fix it!) :)

  47. MissEla says

    I seldom post, but I just wanted to add my sorrow that you’ve received threats for planning to attend/speak at TAM. It is absolutely vile, inexcusable behavior. You deserve better than this.

  48. says

    Miss Ela, I am not tech savvy and I don’t know how to go back to fix it. I see what you;re saying, but I don’t know how to fix the typo in my link to my name here.

  49. MissEla says

    (I had a comment written up for you, Jacqueline, but then I hovered over your name on your most recent post and it looks like it’s fixed now!)

    Great post and questions, btw, Jacqueline! I hope you get more of a response than the huffing-and-puffing evasions that have been spewed elsewhere. :)

  50. satan augustine says

    I’m very sorry that you received threats so violent that you felt the need to drop out of TAM. I’ll probably never attend TAM, for multiple reasons.

    On a different topic, the very liberal interpretations of what Jerry Coyne is referring to seem to be ridiculously off-target. Hamilton and echidna offer up no evidence that Jerry’s comment refers to you, Ophelia. It may refer to the general discussion about DJ and TAM, which continues to take place on multiple blogs, not just this one, and not just FTB. But even there, I’m guessing. However, if he is indeed referring to something we know about (because he may be referring to something we know nothing of), it seems far more likely that he’d be referring to the general TAM discussions rather than this specific post from you, Ophelia. He could even be including the Penisgate discussion in his comment.

  51. says

    @ MissEla and Ophelia and everyone: I just got this reply email from Carrie Poppy (JREF’s spin doctor department):

    Thank you for your questions, Jacqueline.

    Could you provide your deadline and outlet? Thanks so much.

    Best,

    Carrie Poppy
    Director of Communications, James Randi Educational Foundation

    To which I replied:

    My deadline is three business days. And as to “outlet”, I believe I made it perfectly clear to DJ Grothe that I am unembedded, therefore you may submit your responses to me in the same fashion in which I asked the questions: by email.

    I am going Erin Brockovich, full out.

  52. says

    satan augustine #465: Oh, look, we’ve got another one.

    Hamilton and echidna offer up no evidence that Jerry’s comment refers to you, Ophelia

    Because neither of them explicitly claimed that it was. Which you’d know, if you’d have read all of echidna’s post at #442:

    I think it’s very likely that Coyne is referring to Ophelia with the “histrionics” comment. However, the nature of allusions like the one he has made is that the connections need to be made in the mind of the reader. So I have asked him explicitly what he was referring to in a comment on his blog – I will be very interested in his response, if there is one.

    Italicized is the part you missed, which also happens to render your complaint moot. And given the lack of line breaks between the part you addressed and the part you ignored, I have a very hard time believing that this was an honest mistake…

  53. julian says

    And no, I haven’t read her latest.

    Skip it.

    She actually tries to insinuate Miller changed her story because of the argument she’s having with Grothe and out right states no one wants to talk about the totally awesome survey Grothe passed out. It’s anonymous so you can trust way more than anything any of the people now complaining are saying.

  54. dirigible says

    “‘Cause to this observer it looks kind of similar to garden variety paranoia.”

    Bless.

  55. Zengaze says

    @ Jacqueline

    And I don’t think she meant for you to reply to that email.

    She interpreted “unembedded freelance journalist” as sophistry for “nobody with a blogger account”.

  56. petzl20 says

    OK. Got it. I didn’t realize this was a vaginas-only thread/blog. I guess since you people don’t play nice, you shouldn’t be anywhere near an adult conference. Aloha.

  57. says

    @petzl20:

    OK. Got it. I didn’t realize this was a vaginas-only thread/blog.

    Wow. Holy misogyny, Batman! Oh, and you’re wrong too. There are plenty of non-vagina people here.

    I guess since you people don’t play nice, you shouldn’t be anywhere near an adult conference. Aloha.

    If you want us to be nice to you, you’re going to have to earn it.

  58. Emburii says

    Jacqueline Homan, by going ‘Erin Brockovich’ I hope you don’t mean you’re going to do the case, then drastically overbill the people you were supposedly campaigning for?

  59. NanceConfer says

    Good luck, Jacqueline.

    It will be interesting to see how the new lucky duck Communications Director, Carrie Poppy, answers.

    Answer or non-answer, it may give some help to folks trying to decide whether to attend TAM and/or what to do as an alternative. In addition to Ophelia’s personal experience, that seems to be the news in all this, to me.

  60. Marshall Applewhite says

    So when are y’all going to get around to the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide routine?

  61. says

    petzl20:

    OK. Got it. I didn’t realize this was a vaginas-only thread/blog. I guess since you people don’t play nice, you shouldn’t be anywhere near an adult conference. Aloha.

    Do you realize that you were near a “vagina only” space when YOUR MOTHER sacrificed HER body and risked HER life squeezing YOUR ass out of hers? Every last one of us is here today on the pain, trauma, blood, suffering and bodily sacrifice of a woman — you know, us “vaginas” that don’t matter in your bigoted worldview. Maybe it is YOU that doesn’t belong outside of your playpen until you can learn how to behave properly.

    PS. I hope you like your hand.

  62. says

    Emburii: Jacqueline Homan, by going ‘Erin Brockovich’ I hope you don’t mean you’re going to do the case, then drastically overbill the people you were supposedly campaigning for?

    Nope. By going “Erin Brockovich” I meant bare-knuckle that won’t back down.

  63. gbjames says

    Elf-Sheriff:

    (I don’t expect you to address any of this, though, as since you’ve already shown yourself willing to quote mine I see no reason why I should trust you to even read this post accurately. Have a nice day.)

    I have a very hard time believing that this was an honest mistake…

    echidna said that xe asked Coyne explicitly what he was referring to, please do not quote mine if you wish to be taken seriously.

    Comments like these are what gives blog commenters a bad name. In response to honest probing for support re the Coyne comments, echidna and Hamilton Jacobi have made honest and clarifying responses. At least that is how I read their comments.

    You, on the other hand, seem much more interested in demonstrating to everyone how tough a victim you are. Your style seems tuned to undermine other commenters by attacking their motives, as they are imagined by you. It isn’t really impressive and suggests you mostly want to shut conversation.

  64. says

    Zengase:
    And I don’t think she meant for you to reply to that email.She interpreted “unembedded freelance journalist” as sophistry for “nobody with a blogger account”.

    She can interpret however she likes. I really don’t care. I refuse to back down on this. And I’ll tell you why. I was in the middle of writing a legal ethics piece to shoot out to some human rights lawyers in Arizona about escalating our struggle to the inter-American Human Rights Tribunal when several of my fellow feminist Facebook fans/readers contacted me and asked me why I had not spoken out on or written about the misogyny problems in the atheist community since I identified on my profile page as an atheist.

    So I came over here to do some feministing in support of the women in this community that are being subjected to an onslaught if indefensible misogynistic bullshit from the MRA/PUA bowel movement. After everything that has transpired just since my diving into this contentious hotbed within the past couple days, I saw that there was a real serious problem and I could not, and would not, walk away from it. I am in the trenches fighting for women’s human rights against the religious powerhouses. To have knuckleheads in the atheist/skeptics community shoot the whole movement in the foot when there is a golden opportunity to strike a victory blow for freedom from religious tyranny, I knew I could not back-bench this issue.

    I also know, from the cross-class alliances formed among women in the face of the War on Women, that my middle to upper-middle class “sisters” are often too polite when dealing with abusive assholes, and sometimes being impolite is required when dealing with said assholes. I am not afraid to be impolite when the situation calls for it, and this might be such a situation because the bullying and abuse that Ophelia, Rebecca, Greta, Stephanie, etc., have been getting sure as hell was not polite.

    As to being a “nobody”: When I wrote (and self-published since the literary agent told me my manuscript was “too controversial” for her to take to any of the trade name publishers) the first edition of my first book, Classism for Dimwits, to expose the truth about poverty and the very real barriers to escaping it, even for those who do “all the right things” in order to become a “somebody”, the word “classism” was not part of the lexicon. Well guess what, it is now.

    Much of the changes by the way of social justice that occurred throughout history were the result of the tenacity of “nobodies” who fought the hardest because they had the least left to lose and their backs were up against the wall. And they came out swinging, south paw, for all 12 rounds. And some hit a Hank Aaron, out of the ballpark — as in the case of what happened with me when the organizers for the Unite Against the War on Women contacted me less than 2 weeks before the April 28th rallies across the nation, asking me if I could put together something really solid as ammo to use against the Religious Wrong.

    This “nobody” was apparently a little bit of a “somebody.” Here is that ‘Hank Aaron, hit it out of the ballpark’ piece I’m referring to just to give you an idea: http://godlessfeminist.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/why-personhood-and-equal-rights-for-women-is-a-life-and-death-matter-and-a-human-rights-issue/

  65. Hamilton Jacobi says

    This whole Coyne subthread is getting a little overblown. The “histrionics” business was a direct response to screechymonkey’s statement that

    As far as I’ve seen, he’s stayed out of this round of the discussion (meaning, the stuff set off by DJ’s comments a few weeks ago). At least, I haven’t seen anything at WEIT on the subject.

    My posting of Coyne’s recent bit of snark was entirely by way of saying that, no, he hasn’t really stayed completely “out of this round of the discussion (meaning, the stuff set off by DJ’s comments a few weeks ago).” I’m not trying to get a grand jury to indict him for anything, and I have no idea whether the word “histrionics” refers to Ophelia. (At the time I posted this, the thought really hadn’t entered my mind.) But I think it is a bit farfetched to suppose that it had nothing to do with “the stuff set off by DJ’s comments a few weeks ago” and is instead just some general comment on the state of the internet today.

  66. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Marshall Applewhite – you first. We’ll be riiiiiight behind, we promise.

  67. says

    I don’t promise! I’m not going all Heaven’s Gate unless I get ALS or something.

    Good old Heaven’s Gate. That was one of the items that got me interested in…bullshit.

  68. ChasCPeterson says

    Dr. Coyne was clearly using the wpithet “Professor Ceiling Cat” to refer to himself in that remark, although sometimes he uses ‘Ceiling Cat’ instead to substitue for ‘God’ in cliched phrases that usually invoke ‘God’.

  69. Lyanna says

    @petzl20: it’s not a vaginas-only thread/blog. It’s a brains-only thread/blog. Disqualifies you all the same, I’m afraid.

    I just clicked the link above to Jean Kazez.

    I don’t understand Kazez, Coyne, Blackford, et al.

    Okay, so it’s “histrionics” to get mad or scared at creepy threatening emails. It’s “histrionics” to say DJ Grothe was blaming the victim. It’s ever so mean of Rebecca Watson to be sharp with Stef McGraw (as far as I know, that’s all she was–sharp).

    But it’s not histrionics for DJ Grothe to say women who complain about harassment are doing “irresponsible messaging” because they want blog hits? That’s not mean? All the bitch-whore-cunt-“too ugly to be raped” stuff isn’t mean?

    Psychologist Penelope Russianoff had a name for a psychological bad habit: “The Mathematics of Guaranteed Unhappiness”. This referred to people weighing every bad thing that happened to them much more than they weighed the good things.

    It seems like Kazez et all are using the “Mathematics of Guaranteed Anti-Feminism.”

    Like, every time a feminist says “don’t invite me to your hotel room for coffee at 4 am in an elevator” that gets 10 Mean Points. Every time a feminist says “don’t blame women who speak out on harassment for your poor convention attendance,” that gets 30 Mean Points. Every time a feminist says “fuck off” to someone calling her hysterical, that gets 100 Mean Points.

    But every time a feminist gets called a cunt, that gets maybe one-half of a Mean Point.

  70. says

    Every last one of us is here today on the pain, trauma, blood, suffering and bodily sacrifice of a woman

    I don’t know if this is a fair way to characterize birth. there are a variety of experiences to be had in labor.

  71. says

    But every time a feminist gets called a cunt, that gets maybe one-half of a Mean Point.

    Well no, to be strictly accurate, it doesn’t get any Mean Points at all. There are so many of those that even if they got half a point, they would still be the huge spike on the graph. They’re not counted at all. (By Coyne or Blackford. Kazez does give them a hefty score. On that particular point they differ radically.)

  72. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I don’t promise! I’m not going all Heaven’s Gate unless I get ALS or something.

    SSSSHHHHHHH!!!!!!

  73. julian says

    But it’s not histrionics for DJ Grothe to say women who complain about harassment are doing “irresponsible messaging” because they want blog hits?

    Of course not. As President of JREF it’s his responsibility to look after his organisations image. Unfortunately that’s where his responsibilities end for some reason.

  74. Emburii says

    Jacqueline Homan: Ah, well. Carry on, then, and thank you for refusing to back down. :)

  75. --bill says

    ophelia @484:

    yeah, that was just a terrible movie, wasn’t it?

    and add one more voice supporting your decision and your work.

  76. Otrame says

    Ophelia, I am a day late, but I want to say I am sorry you’ve had to deal with this. It gets depressing, I know, but I do believe this–and for that matter, all the other anti-woman crap out there– is just the frantic scrabbling of those who are seeing their privileges fading away. In that sense it is a good thing. But it is hell on anyone willing to stand up and say something about it.

    You have my admiration for being one of the ones who do. Hang in there.

  77. CT says

    Have I mentioned that I hate Grothe’s defenders?

    they do seem to have a bad case of victim blaming -itis.

  78. Jessie says

    I can understand why you are removing the personal abuse which is being posted on your blog, Ophelia. It’s a shame there are no consequences for their abusive behaviour.

    I’d love to see them justify their comments to their partner, mother, grandmother, sister or daughter. Do you keep their details, just in case future legislation makes it possible to expose them?

  79. Amphigorey says

    They justify calling people cunts and bitches by saying “oh noez, feminists have such problems with naughty words!” It’s juvenile and asinine.

  80. chris says

    Ophelia Benson:

    I did get two very weird threatening emails – predicting I would get shot to death at TAM – and I did decide to bag it as a result.

    That is an FBI level threat, very similar to the death threat Dr. Paul Offit received on his office phone. He has since been stalked (see video here), and that person is no longer allowed to come to any of his talks.

    The bare minimum response from JREF was to find out who sent those emails and make sure they do not attend TAM, plus are denied access to any part of the South Point Casino property. But, then again, they should have refused to allow the man who used a camera on a stick to look up skirts (and he had been banned from the forum).

    Over thirty years ago when I was getting my engineering degree it seemed that some men in the department thought it was fun to try to disgust me with inappropriate sexual remarks. I became immune, but it does not mean it is okay at any time.

    What really disappointed me was when I started work that an older woman engineer thought that joining in with dirty jokes was a way to “be one of the guys.” Fortunately the joke was so bad that I was able to stop it in its tracks by saying “Commercial aircraft do not have separate men and women restrooms, you work for Boeing, you should know that.”

    I hope I have raised my sons to be respectful of women (my oldest is disabled, and my younger is a much nicer person than I am). And that my daughter does not have to deal with it, but unfortunately even after years of saying that women are not objects I have seen the vulgar comments she has received online, and only her artwork is publicly visible (she has an ironclad security lock on all of her social networking accounts, one has to know her personally).

  81. screechymonkey says

    They justify calling people cunts and bitches by saying “oh noez, feminists have such problems with naughty words!”

    When they’re not crying “Bullies!”

  82. Emptyell says

    petzl20 @471

    OK. Got it. I didn’t realize this was a vaginas-only thread/blog. I guess since you people don’t play nice, you shouldn’t be anywhere near an adult conference. Aloha.

    As far as I can tell penises are welcome. (Just checked. It’s still there.) Just not dickheads.

    “Nice” is way overrated. I’ll take direct, vehement honesty (even with naughty words) over nice, self righteous, disingenuous bullshit anyway.

    Have fun playing with your “adults”.

  83. Daniel Schealler says

    @petzl20 #471

    *raises hand*

    Another non-vagina owner over here.

    Just sayin’.

  84. Radi says

    Ophelia, even if I’ve never met you in person, I am proud to be your neighbor, in a sense (I live on the Eastside).

    I’m beyond livid at the misogyny and sexism in what I’d naively thought of as a “safer” space than the rest of the world, online and off. I didn’t even realize that Rebecca was still getting threats from a throwaway comment made a full year ago, ffs!

    That DJ Grothe and the JREF have done absolutely nothing to even acknowledge, much less counter the terrible threats you received and reported to them is just appalling. I hope you are and continue doing well regardless, and look forward to meeting you at one or other of the safer conferences.

    I think the commenter @499 chris is right that this is an FBI-level threat.

    Ophelia Benson:

    I did get two very weird threatening emails – predicting I would get shot to death at TAM – and I did decide to bag it as a result.

    That is an FBI level threat, very similar to the death threat Dr. Paul Offit received on his office phone.

  85. says

    Risk/reward for trolls:

    1. Their troll blog comments usually get responded to instead of deleted and banned. Sometimes even quoted in major blogs.
    2. They don’t get reported to FBI when they make threats to assassinate public figures
    3. They succeed in intimidating and silencing people.

    goddamn it. Rule #1 of dealing with bullies is to not react or acknowledge them. I was oppressed to an absurd degree until I learned that. It was night and day. Seeing the victim react to the bullying is the bully’s reward — it’s operant conditioning.

  86. says

    skeptifem:

    I don’t know if this is a fair way to characterize birth. there are a variety of experiences to be had in labor.

    I think it’s fair because all too often, the women who HAVE suffered any kind of permanent damage (of varying degrees) or side effects have been silenced with dismissive remarks of “oh don’t be so selfish, be glad you got a healthy baby because that’s all that matters” as if any nasty surprises suffered by the woman is “nothing” and whatever happens to mom doesn’t matter because she doesn’t count, it’s all about “the baby” and NOTHING about HER once she’s fulfilled her procreative purpose and often times women deciding to become mothers are not making that choice with fully informed consent, which is highly unethical IMHO.

    And since pregnancy IS a risk that only women (not the MRA’s/PUA’s trying to “score”) on the receiving end of some man’s orgasm are exposed to in a climate where skeptic conferences seem to be a MRA/PUA free-for-all; I think that these risks, side effects, trauma, and whatnot of pregnancy (whether wanted or unwanted) need to be discussed more openly rather than swept under the rug because it is dishonest to pretend as if they don’t inflict any trauma on the women, or that they only happen to women whose “bodies failed them” by Not Doing It Right. Pregnancy and childbirth is one of the hugest ways in which women are subjected to body policing in this society. It’s cruel.

    Besides, if I am going to go to a conference, be it to speak OR to simply attend, I am going for the subject matter at hand — not to be some randy male’s next bed victim that could end up pregnant out of the deal after coerced or forced into giving him sex as if he has some sort of “divine right” to my vagina. I’m not down with that, I’m sorry. These guys that are blaming women for speaking out about harassment and threats don’t deserve to be rewarded with ANYTHING as far as I’m concerned.

  87. NateHevens says

    Skepgineer at #511

    goddamn it. Rule #1 of dealing with bullies is to not react or acknowledge them.

    No. No it is not. Take it from someone who spent nearly 10 years of my fucking life being the punching bag for bullies, and often getting into more trouble than them just for defending myself (once getting suspended simply for trying to run away).

    Ignoring it does not make it go away. The reason is because bullies do want that reaction, and they will do everything in their power, short of killing you, to get that reaction. Ignoring it does not put them off; it just makes them more determined.

    More often then not, when I ignored the teasing, it became pushing. When I tried to walk away, it became grabbing and pulling. When I tried to defend myself, guess who ended up in detention?

    Little old me, because “it doesn’t matter who started it. I saw you. Not him.”

    To EVERYONE. Please stop this lie. Please. I’m begging you. It nearly destroyed me as a kid, and it will continue to do irreparable damage until it is squarely and definitively declared to be the lie that it is.

    Ignor(ance) DOES NOT WORK. It’s as simple as that.

  88. ischemgeek says

    goddamn it. Rule #1 of dealing with bullies is to not react or acknowledge them. I was oppressed to an absurd degree until I learned that. It was night and day. Seeing the victim react to the bullying is the bully’s reward — it’s operant conditioning.

    I’m gonna throw in with Nate here. It depends on the bully. Some will move to someone else. Others will escalate. Oh, you don’t get upset and cry anymore? Fine, I’ll shove you. You ignore that? I’ll grab you. You ignore that? I’ll hit you. You ignore that? I’ll beat the crap out of you. Etc.

  89. Andrew Morrow says

    It is tragic that TAM 2012 will occur without your contributions to the event. I think you were wise to keep your message brief and to the point. Be safe first of all but do not forget the words of Seneca:

    “He who is brave is free.”

  90. says

    jacqueline@512

    you get in the habit of arguing against things that were never said by the poster you are responding to. I saw you get called out on it other places and you only note what you were *really * responding to later. I don’t appreciate that shit at all, if you are talking to lurkers then say so, if you are quoting someone then it looks like you are talking directly to them.

    I’m not sure what you expect me to say when you argue against things that aren’t even my position, things I never even implied. I get sick and tired of one kind of birth and pregnancy being shown on television, its simply a lie to characterize birth as being inherently terrible, and saying so does not mean that hard pregnancy and labor do not happen or are anyones fault. yeesh.

  91. says

    No. No it is not. Take it from someone who spent nearly 10 years of my fucking life being the punching bag for bullies, and often getting into more trouble than them just for defending myself (once getting suspended simply for trying to run away).

    Ignoring it does not make it go away. The reason is because bullies do want that reaction, and they will do everything in their power, short of killing you, to get that reaction. Ignoring it does not put them off; it just makes them more determined.

    More often then not, when I ignored the teasing, it became pushing. When I tried to walk away, it became grabbing and pulling. When I tried to defend myself, guess who ended up in detention?

    Little old me, because “it doesn’t matter who started it. I saw you. Not him.”

    To EVERYONE. Please stop this lie. Please. I’m begging you. It nearly destroyed me as a kid, and it will continue to do irreparable damage until it is squarely and definitively declared to be the lie that it is.

    Ignor(ance) DOES NOT WORK. It’s as simple as that.

    I didn’t say do nothing. Report their infractions to authorities behind their back when the conditions are favorable, but don’t react/acknowledge them in any way that the bully can see and enjoy. Any retaliation should be that which is strong enough to act as a deterrent, not the kind of petty retaliation that bullies enjoy for shits and giggles. Generally, yelling at a psychopath bully or feebly attempting to hit him is in the latter category.

  92. NateHevens says

    I didn’t say do nothing. Report their infractions to authorities behind their back when the conditions are favorable, but don’t react/acknowledge them in any way that the bully can see and enjoy. Any retaliation should be that which is strong enough to act as a deterrent, not the kind of petty retaliation that bullies enjoy for shits and giggles. Generally, yelling at a psychopath bully or feebly attempting to hit him is in the latter category.

    That method tends to be a failure as well when the authority figures are lazy and don’t want to deal with it.

    Whenever I reported it, they generally got a slap on the wrist while I got sent to counseling to have the “sticks and stones” lie beaten into my brain.

    I rarely, if ever, “yelled at” the bullies, and I only “feebly attempted to hit” them when they gave me no choice but to fight back.

    I’m telling you that “ignoring it” and “reporting it” was a major failure for me; in the extreme. I do not believe in ignoring it, because it simply does not work. And reporting it only works when the authority figures actually give a shit, which many don’t (or at least didn’t, in my experience). “Boys will be boys” is yet another mantra they love, even in fucking high school.

  93. Josh Slocum says

    Nate is right, and you really need to stop giving advice to bullied people. You may mean well but you do not know what you’re talking about and you’re wrong. I had the same experience as Nate. When I reported gangs of skinhead boys waiting outside school property to beat me with a bat for being gay the Vice Principal told me, “That’s the price you pay for being different and talking so much about it.”

    Get this through your head: “ignore the bullies” DOES NOT WORK. Stop saying it. Stop assuming adults in charge take an ethically correct side. They often don’t. They punish the victim. This is standard operating practice, not just a few exceptional cases.

  94. says

    @ Josh Slocum: Your story reminds me of an incident where I got suspended in high school for beating the shit out of the ring leader of a gang of bullies that repeatedly stalked, harassed and beat up my best friend Frankie because he was gay. He was my best friend. After I opened that can of whoop-ass, Frankie wasn’t followed home from school and beat up anymore. Bullies, like sociopaths, never stop on their own volition. They have to BE stopped. It’s been my experience that this holds true no matter who the bully is (pro-forced birthers, anti-gay haters, you name it). You and Nate are right.

  95. GBJames says

    On the subject of standing up to bullies, specifically those of the anti-choice harassment type: Voice of Choice provides an outlet for those of us wanting to push back at the thugs.

    http://vochoice.org/

  96. says

    @ GBJames: I personally took a page from Peggy Loonan’s book and made up one or two signs showing gruesome (but quite common) childbirth injuries to mothers, Gerry Santorro’s picture, etc. and began a one-woman guerrilla feminist counter-attack against the local Catholic Church. Fuck being polite. I’m through. As a result of that, more and more girls and women that had been suffering in silence about childbirth injuries who had lied to themselves and everyone else about how they don’t regret childbearing (because that is what our pro-natalist society indoctrinates them to do)finally came forward and started to talk about how they were not really wanting to become mothers when they did, how they were manipulated into going through their unplanned pregnancies, and how their concerns about their injuries and side effects were scoffed at as if they were freaks that somehow didn’t do their pregnancies right (yes, this crap is even peddled from our male-dominated medical community) because “most women” don’t have such a horrible time being pregnant or giving birth. The media doesn’t help either with its Laura Shanley and Rikki Lake bullshit about “orgasmic births.” Rikki Lake was damn lucky. She could have very easily and rather quickly hemorrhaged to death while giving birth in her bathtub in front of the movie cameras before anyone would have had time to dial 9-1-1. This society treats ANY woman who wants to opt out of motherhood altogether as evil freaks. I am sick and tired of it.

  97. Emptyell says

    Skepgineer @518

    I didn’t say do nothing. Report their infractions to authorities behind their back when the conditions are favorable, but don’t react/acknowledge them in any way that the bully can see and enjoy. Any retaliation should be that which is strong enough to act as a deterrent, not the kind of petty retaliation that bullies enjoy for shits and giggles. Generally, yelling at a psychopath bully or feebly attempting to hit him is in the latter category.

    Making broad generalizations about how to deal with a complex problem like bullying is not helpful. Your recommendations may be appropriate in some cases but not in all.

    For one, not all bullies are psychopaths. In my experience many (perhaps most) of them are normal people who are starved for attention and one reliable way to get it is through bullying. I had an experience in high school where I looked the bully in the eye and just said calmly “I don’t want to fight with you.” It was startling how he transformed from belligerent to friendly in a blink. I can’t be sure but it seemed like just responding to him as an equal human being made the bullying unnecessary. I should note that I was about the same size as he. Obviously I don’t recommend this approach in all cases.

    In the case of comment trolls what seems to work best is some combination of tit for tat and good cop/bad cop. Ignoring them (ie “don’t feed the trolls”) may be appropriate in some cases, but from what I’ve seen around here is that attacking their vacuous logic and exposing their disingenuous tactics can be a very useful endevour. At least I have learned a lot reading through the various derailments, JAQing off and so on, and become a real aficionado of the Fuckskrieg(tm) when properly combined with withering critical insight, but I digress.

    I guess my main point is that bullying occurs on a sliding scale and that we’re all capable of it to some degree. I strongly disagree with the “othering” of all bullies as psychopaths who should be fearfully avoided and reported to appropriate authorities in all cases. Perhaps I’m reading too much into your words but I sense a degree of privilege blindness in your viewpoint. Of course this could also be projection on my part.

  98. Lyanna says

    Sorry, skeptifem, but the pain of vaginal childbirth is inherently terrible. Severe pain always is. So is the trauma of serious abdominal surgery, for those women who don’t have vaginal childbirth.

    Skepgineer, listen to Josh Slocum and Emptyell. Some bullies LIKE watching the victims’ pitiful attempts to “ignore” being called a slut, dyke, fag, chink, etc. They will cheerfully escalate to physical assault to watch the victim try to ignore THAT, too. Because they know damn well the victim is having some emotional reaction, and it’s sadistically fun to watch a hurt person pretend not to be hurt or humiliated.

  99. says

    If more people stood up against bullies when they saw others being bullied, that would also help too. The onus is not only on the victim. It’s on all of us, really.

  100. says

    Nate is right, and you really need to stop giving advice to bullied people. You may mean well but you do not know what you’re talking about and you’re wrong. I had the same experience as Nate. When I reported gangs of skinhead boys waiting outside school property to beat me with a bat for being gay the Vice Principal told me, “That’s the price you pay for being different and talking so much about it.”

    Just because you had different experiences doesn’t invalidate my experiences or the facts of psychology.

    I do know what I was talking about because I was there. And I experienced a lot of getting punished for retaliating to bullies while the bullies got off with a slap on the wrist. Most adults were dismissive. It felt like the whole world hated me and I hated the whole world. I hated every bystanding motherfucker who laughed while the bullies abused me. But all it takes is one teacher who cares and puts their foot down, at least in elementary school when you’re with the same teacher all day. If not for her I probably would have killed myself.

    Retaliating undermines credibility. It transforms the situation from one of one-sided persecution to just two kids fighting with each other, in the eyes of those with only a cursory knowledge of the situation. It is easier to get sympathy from adults when you avoid stooping to the level of the bullies. Though they need some kind of crisis to rise above the background noise of kids being terrible to each other. In my case acting out in some other way (punching a hole in the wall at school) was helpful both to get the adults’ attention and to deter bullies. I don’t think they realized how flimsy the drywall was.

    If the only weapon in your arsenal is retaliation, then the situation is likely to become a cycle of violence and revenge and you’re even less likely to get any help from adults.

  101. Emptyell says

    Skepgineer @527

    Just because you had different experiences doesn’t invalidate my experiences or the facts of psychology.

    I would never presume to invalidate your experience. It sounds like you’ve had some serious trouble with bullies. I expect that you dealt with it as best you could within the limited options available.

    Though your experience was that either retaliation or withdrawal and reporting were the only options it is my experience that this is not always the case. As I indicated before I’ve had some good experiences getting through to the bullies and defusing situations but I’m not suggesting that this would have worked in your situation or that it’s applicable in all cases. It seems to me that the psychology of bullying is quite complex and calls for a range of responses depending on the circumstances.

    I am no expert in the field. If I had some spare time it would be interesting to look up some of the literature. I’m sure there must be quite a few studies of the subject.

  102. petzl20 says

    @Deen, @Jacqueline Homan, @Lyanna, @Emptyell, @Daniel Schealler:
    Shut your goddamn feminist mouths and keep your goddamn fingers off the keyboard.

  103. Emptyell says

    peztl20 @529

    @Deen, @Jacqueline Homan, @Lyanna, @Emptyell, @Daniel Schealler:
    Shut your goddamn feminist mouths and keep your goddamn fingers off the keyboard.

    Not a big fan of feminism I gather. I’ll give your your thoughtful remark the consideration it deserves.

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