Other way around


Revisiting an old grudge for a moment – you may remember that Orac jumped on me very hard for an analogy about [people complaining about oppression and thus making things worse by scaring people who are subject to the same oppression]. The analogy I used was Jews in Germany in 1936. Orac is a self-appointed cop of (apparently) any kind of Nazi analogy. He said so himself.

As you might (or might not) know, I very much detest the gratuitous use of argumentum ad Nazi-um. I even have a special category for it on my blog.

I was annoyed by the bossy tone and the timing*, but on consideration I decided he had a point, so I withdrew the analogy. There was a brief unproductive email exchange, in which he insisted on talking to me as if he were my boss and I were a janitor found asleep in his desk chair, so I abandoned it.

But then Paula Kirby called me and other women Feminazis (and other things) on Twitter and in her famous open letter. Lots of people wondered aloud when Orac would pounce on Paula Kirby as hard as he’d pounced on me.

I didn’t realize until just now that he’d specifically answered that question, and that the answer was never.

elburto

July 3, 7:03 am

OT but speaking of Hitler zombies, Paula Kirby has claimed that feminist bloggers are simultaneously Nazis and Stasi for denouncing sexism.

Baron Scarpia

July 3, 7:23 am

Actually Kirby didn’t. She called certain people Feminazis and at the same time made it very clear that she did not mean they were Nazis- she said this explicitly (She compares the term to ‘Grammar Nazis’). Given that intent is not magical, you may still think that it carries the connotation that such people are Nazis, which would indicate a failure of communication on her part. (Frankly I do not think she should have used the term at all, because I do not see how you can separate the two terms in the minds of the public)

What you can’t do is say that she called Myers, Watson, Benson et al Nazis, because she didn’t.

I won’t touch the ‘sexism’ part of the comment, there have been enough strawmen in the debate already…

Orac

July 3, 8:06 am

Please, people. I really don’t want that argument metastasizing to my comment threads. I’ve already been burned badly enough by it, and I admit my massive error for every having said anything in the first place. These days, I’d rather deal with a torrent of Thingy comments than for a comment thread on my blog to become dominated by this kerfuffle.

He’s been burned badly by it. I have the lying liars who used to hang out at ERV running around claiming that I believe there’s something called “parallel logic” when that’s their invention** pitching fits about it – and he’s been burned by it. No he hasn’t. I have, he hasn’t. And Paula Kirby actually made the real life gratuitous use of argumentum ad Nazi-um, when I didn’t – but he nailed me and left her alone.

He’s a jerk.

*Shortly before TAM and during the spreading fuss over DJ Grothe’s blame-the-women move.

**Corrected. I’d tried to find where I said anything about parallel logic and failed, but ever-attentive “Scented Nectar” rushed to point out exactly where I said it. She’s a scholar in the subject.

Comments

  1. says

    To be fair to Orac, he doesn’t have a history of being soft on sexism, and he doesn’t just call out sexism when animal-rights activists, anti-vaccinationists and quacks use it. See here for a good example. His reasoning doesn’t make any sense as you weren’t literally calling anyone a Nazi, either, but I don’t think the inconsistency comes from some antipathy to your position.

  2. Tigger_the_Wing says

    I’m so sorry you have had to put up with that, Ophelia.

    Ace of Sevens:

    I’m not inclined “to be fair to Orac” on this if, by “fair”, you mean “let him get away with blatant favouritism”. If he is going to jump that hard on Ophelia he really has no excuse not to jump as hard on Paula. He’s being immensely hypocritical about the whole thing.

    I jump just as hard on my friends as my not-friends when it comes to slurs of any kind, it’s ludicrous not to.

  3. says

    I don’t mean we shoudl let him get away with blatant favoritism. His reasoning makes no sense here and he’s being a jerk. I just mean that we shouldn’t jump to the obvious conclusion about why he’s displaying such favoritism as some people did in previous threads where this came up. Based on things he’s said in the past, it’s clear that he doesn’t think sexism is no big deal or that women should shut up about it. He’s being a jerk for other, unknown reason.

  4. Stewart says

    Don’t ignore the silver lining: he’s gone and made your point for you. When he feels like it, he can be the self-appointed overseer of these matters; when he doesn’t, his excuse is that he’s become a victim. The pretence of even-handedness has evaporated. And if you compare the manner of your withdrawal with the manner of his admission of error, he’s not doing his image any favours.

  5. says

    Moreover, anyone who read the open letter should know that despite saying “I’m not saying they’re REALLY like Nazis” she then follows it up with, “and here’s how they’re even more accurately like real Nazis.” Saying it was harmless is a fucking lie.

    Kirby lied when she claimed she meant it in a hyperbolic, reappropriated “Grammar Nazi” way which was obvious as you continued reading. And anyone claiming it was harmless is lying as well.

  6. phil zombi says

    I don’t think it is fair to assume that Orac is somehow obligated to call out all instances of the argumentum ad nazium. Having said that, I wonder why he needs hair-splitting excuses to rationalize his choices in this regard.

  7. says

    He’s being a jerk for other, unknown reason[s].

    He’s a regular at TAM; I think that’s the reason. I’m the evil Enemy of TAM-and-DJ, so my analogy must be stomped. Paula is the angelic Friend of TAM-and-DJ, so her Nazi-labels must be ignored as if they didn’t exist.

  8. says

    I’m not assuming that “Orac is somehow obligated to call out all instances of the argumentum ad nazium.” I’m saying that I think he’s obliged to call out a very conspicuous instance of the argumentum ad nazium when it’s established that he’s aware of it, and it’s notably belligerent and hostile, and it’s by someone on The Other Team – his team.

  9. says

    Based on things he’s said in the past, it’s clear that he doesn’t think sexism is no big deal or that women should shut up about it.

    I’ll give it to Orac that he doesn’t approve of sexism. Unfortunately, he seems to have as poor an opinion of feminism, if we go by his comment from July 3, 8:48 am:

    I was referring to the whole kerfuffle about TAM with misogynists calling feminists Nazis, etc. I don’t want to be drawn into that, and I don’t want my blog comments to be taken over by it.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/07/03/a-chiropractor-strikes-back/

    Classic “a pox on both your houses” response, and a refusal to engage the issue of sexual harassment within the skeptic community.

    “I’ve already been burned badly enough by it”, says Orac? Only in his ego, I’m afraid.

  10. 'Tis Himself says

    If Orac didn’t want to be drawn into a long discussion of feminism, he could have easily said: “Paula Kirby was wrong to call anyone Nazis. I do not want to discuss her letter and will delete any posts that try to discuss letter.” That would absolve Orac of his hypocrisy while denying his blog to the pitizens (and their detractors).

  11. phil zombi says

    @#9 That’s fair.

    Also I think you might have nailed it with the TAM angle. Supporters of TAM (quite a few at least) don’t seem to handle criticism well.

  12. Edward Clint says

    So, Orac criticized you for something and subsequently defended Paula Kirby for a similar action, then admitted it was a mistake and wished he had not done it. So you wrote this post because you feel he has been inadequately harmed for something he has already apologized for; so we should, what.. denounce him more? Ask for further apologies? How many apologies are sufficient?

    And settling the score, making another blogger feel sufficiently bad for what he or she has done according to your appraisal, this is what your blog is for?

    I’m not being snarky, I am asking because I do not know the answer to these questions.

  13. jenniferphillips says

    He’s a regular at TAM; I think that’s the reason. I’m the evil Enemy of TAM-and-DJ, so my analogy must be stomped. Paula is the angelic Friend of TAM-and-DJ, so her Nazi-labels must be ignored as if they didn’t exist.

    Friend of DJ, I’m sure. Friend of Paula, maybe–she’s been at enough TAMs over the years as a (formerly?) rational contributor that I’m sure they’ve crossed paths. I don’t get the impression that he’s that big of a Dawkins fan, though, and Paula is heavily associated with RDF and The Man himself, no?

    I still believe that someone must have alerted Orac to your analogy to send him here. I have wondered if his reference to ‘getting burned’ might allude not only to your response but also to realizing that he’d been played. At any rate, he ignorantly waded in here, realized he was neck-deep in shit, and soon retreated. The fact that he retreated with parting shots at you rather than an apology really does suck. However, I still think it’s more likely that his failure to engage further is a function of him choosing not to get involved in the battle rather than one of choosing sides IN the battle, if that makes sense.

    Characterizing the “kerfuffle” as “misogynists calling feminists Nazis” rather than, e.g., “FTBullies calling my skeptic friends misogynists” is a little bit of a silver lining, at least.

    Small consolation, I realize, Ophelia, and I sincerely hope that the strength and numbers of your supporters can ease a little of the burden of enduring this seemingly endless pushback.

  14. Roger says

    If Orac ‘very much detest[s] the gratuitous use of argumentum ad Nazi-um’ but doesn’t mind the term ‘grammar Nazi’, does he mind being called a Nazi Nazi?

  15. carlie says

    I have wondered if his reference to ‘getting burned’ might allude not only to your response but also to realizing that he’d been played.

    I would hope so, but if that’s the case then he’s not expressing it very well. Something like what ‘Tis said at 11 would have been much better. Because what it looks like is just that he decided to pick on one person and not the other, for no other reason than how he feels about each. Heck, even if it had been that day he was having a really bad day or something, but that’s not what he’s said. What he said was that he picked on it because that’s just what he does, and then later said he wouldn’t pick on something even more blatant because he didn’t want to get involved, thus contradicting himself.

  16. says

    So, Orac criticized you for something and subsequently defended Paula Kirby for a similar action, then admitted it was a mistake and wished he had not done it. So you wrote this post because you feel he has been inadequately harmed for something he has already apologized for; so we should, what.. denounce him more? Ask for further apologies? How many apologies are sufficient?

    Admitting that something is an error is an apology. He expresses no contrition. He may even be implying that what he said wasn’t actually wrong, but that he just got attacked for it, especially given his followup comment re: “vitriol.”

    And settling the score, making another blogger feel sufficiently bad for what he or she has done according to your appraisal, this is what your blog is for?

    I’m not being snarky, I am asking because I do not know the answer to these questions.

    You say you aren’t being snarky, and I’ll take you word that you didn’t consciously intend to be, but jesus, could you have put this less charitably? Where is it written that responding to criticism and pointing out hypocrisy are these awful things? And if they are, how can we even talk to one another at all?

  17. Edward Clint says

    @C. Mason Taylor

    “Admitting something is an error is not an apology, that should’ve said.”

    It is, but not a personal one. Is that what you think it required? Well, truly, I was asking OB not you, but you can certainly chime in if you’d like.

    ” could you have put this less charitably? ”

    There are some questions that can’t be put as delicately as we might prefer; or perhaps I’m limited in my communication skill.

    “Where is it written that responding to criticism and pointing out hypocrisy are these awful things?”

    Nowhere. I have not implied either of those are questionable. Circumstances and details, the ones I referred to, are what are or are not questionable as the case may be.

  18. says

    It is, but not a personal one.

    It isn’t any kind of apology. If today Thorstein Heins acknowledged that it was stupid of RIM’s leadership to say in 2007 that the iPhone was “impossible,” and to acknowledge their grievous error in calling it that, he wouldn’t be apologizing to Apple. He would be acknowledging an error: a tactical misstep, not wrongdoing.

    “I wish I hadn’t done that” and “I am sorry” are different things. I wish I hadn’t put all my troops in Australia in Risk the other day; I knew Charles was probably going to do the same fucking thing and we were going to annihilate each other. I made an error. I was stubborn. But I’m not sorry. I’m not going to apologize to Charles.

    He didn’t even admit his was incorrect, let alone apologize.

    Is that what you think it required?

    I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about here re: requirements. Maybe you mean, “required in order to avoid getting called out by Ophelia, at whom you directed hypocrisy.” Or “required in order for Ophelia to not call you a jerk.” If it’s either of those, you’re absolutely right that you’ll need to ask her.

    There are some questions that can’t be put as delicately as we might prefer; or perhaps I’m limited in my communication skill.

    It may have seemed as though I was referring to your tone, or asking you to “be nice” about it. I was actually indicating that your interpretation of the situation itself was incredibly uncharitable. That’s what I meant by “uncharitable.”

    Nowhere. I have not implied either of those are questionable. Circumstances and details, the ones I referred to, are what are or are not questionable as the case may be.

    You kind of did, barring further explanation. Because what Ophelia did with this post was point out hypocrisy.

  19. hotshoe says

    So, Orac criticized you for something and subsequently defended Paula Kirby for a similar action, then admitted it was a mistake and wished he had not done it. So you wrote this post because you feel he has been inadequately harmed for something he has already apologized for; so we should, what.. denounce him more?

    No. Not factual past the first four words. All the rest is your self constructed shit. Ignorance or lies or both.

    If that’s all the accuracy you can bring to this situation, what even gives you the right to post your slimy condescending blather here ?

    Now it’s you who owes Ophelia an apology. Orac still does, too, but you’re here, so you first.

  20. Edward Clint says

    It may have seemed as though I was referring to your tone, or asking you to “be nice” about it. I was actually indicating that your interpretation of the situation itself was incredibly uncharitable. That’s what I meant by “uncharitable.”

    Ah yes I did misunderstand you there. My request for clarification is predicated on the charity principle: I am trying to make sure I know what is going on before wading in any further. My immediate appraisal being negative does not make it uncharitable.

    You kind of did, barring further explanation. Because what Ophelia did with this post was point out hypocrisy.

    No, I absolutely did not. It can be true that one may be engaging in an activity which is generally positive, but that they are doing it badly. What if (this is 100% hypothetical) a person choose to dedicate a blog to “calling our hypocrisy” of public figures. Every single time they did it they authentically were calling out real hypocrisy so far as they could tell; but they limit their targets to a single racial minority. Personally, I would find that rather racist and disgusting. It being “calling out hypocrisy” would not preclude the racism.

    I’m not sure why Orac’s alleged hypocrisy is so important. She’s already dedicated many a criticism to Orac. She called him rude, aggressive,thuggish, and implied he was insensitive to criticize her at all as he is a TAM speaker (which may all be seen as a rather uncharitable view of his actions). She’s already retracted her analogy. Both parties seem to agree such analogies are problematic and best avoided(Orac said this of Kirby’s usage as well). What’s to be gained by more focus on their disagreement? No new point is raised, no issue at stake. It has the seeming of personal invective, although I am sure this is not intended.

  21. says

    I’m not sure why Orac’s alleged hypocrisy is so important.

    Because it happened to her when she was trying to do somethign she was heavily invested in. It’s easy to say it’s no big deal when it involved an issue that you aren’t close to and happened to someone else.

  22. dirigible says

    “I’m not sure why Orac’s alleged hypocrisy is so important..”

    It’s not alleged, it’s established. And unacknowledged and unaddressed on his part.

    Disagree with me and you’re calling me an asshole. Which would make you both unthinking and unpleasant. (© 2012 Orac)

  23. Svlad Cjelli says

    I wasn’t like “grammar-nazi”. She said it was, but she also explicitly named her experience with real fascists as support for the label.

    The “grammar-nazi”-thing was a lie.

  24. SAWells says

    @26: and that’s leaving aside the question of whether anyone has ever used “Grammar-Stasi”.

  25. says

    Well, I think that Orac’s reasons are very clear and simple. They’re the same ones Mallorie and Sara have for still comfortably coming here to complain about how evil the #FTBullies are:
    It’s safe to do so.
    Criticise Ophelia and she’ll write a blogpost about it. Her commentors may agree or disagree with her, but she won’t let them use slurs. They also usually don’t invade the other blog. But look what you get for criticising the other side.

  26. Matt Penfold says

    I’m not sure why Orac’s alleged hypocrisy is so important..

    Because when you set yourself up as a moral arbiter on the use of Nazi analogies, you had better 1) be accurate in identifying instances of the use of such analogies and 2) be consistent in your condemnation of such analogies.

    Orac is also pretty socially conservative. He actually claimed during the last US Presidential election that Obama was too left-wing for his taste, showing he has little conception of what left-wing means. He also failed to understand why he was criticised for saying that.

  27. Matt Penfold says

    I would also point out that Kirby’s analogy to grammarnazis fails, because Kirby says she refers to herself as a grammernazi. For the comparison to feminazi to work, Ophelia et al would have to refer to themselves as feminazis. They don’t, and so the analogy fails. Kirby is not stupid, so she must have realised that.

  28. julian says

    Orac has always been a jerk. He does this snippy side line crap all the time (especially during gnu/accomo arguments) so this isn’t really surprising. It’s just infuriating. He’s another of FtB’s supposed victims now so of course there’s nothing we can criticize him for.

    Argh!

    So sick of this shit. If you have a god damn standard apply it equally. If I’m wrong for being intentionally abbrassive, dismissive and condescending criticize that in the other person. Stop making your moral pronouncements on whether this person is or isn’t a friend. That shouldn’t matter.

    Fuck. Don’t think I’ll be able to read Respectful Insolence for a while.

  29. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Orac clearly doesn’t care, but he’s made a perfectly terrible first impression. Now, all he is to me is the hypocritical asshole who attacks feminists for doing minimally what straight up bigots do “maximumly”, and then cowers from taking responsibility for his actions.

    So, you know, congrats to him on such a smashing failure.

  30. Erista (aka Eris) says

    To those who say that Orac apologized:

    Where is his apology? I would like to read it.

    Also, as others have pointed out, merely pointing out that one is wrong is not an apology. A person can admit that they were wrong while they firmly believe that there was nothing inherently bad about being wrong. Apologizing means admitting (at the very least) that my actions negatively impacted others. For example, if I am planning to go to the grocery store but find that I am wrong about were my keys are (i.e. I lost them) and am late getting to the store, I will admit I am firmly in the wrong, but I would not apologize. Furthermore, if someone asked me to apologize, I would think they were daft, because the only one inconvenienced by my wrongness is me. There is no NEED for me to be sorry. However, if I was planning to go to work but lost my keys and was late to work, I would not only admit that I was wrong about my keys, but I would apologize because my actions did not only impact me.

    Also, when an apology takes place, one generally takes on responsibility for being wrong, whereas merely admitting to being wrong does not. For example, let’s say that a coworker is looking for some important papers. I put the papers on my desk earlier, so I tell the coworker that they are on my desk. The coworker goes over and the papers are NOT on my desk. If I am the one who moved the papers and forgot that I did so, I would apologize because I was responsible for my being wrong. However, if the coworker had they themselves moved the papers from my desk and forgotten that they had done so, I would not apologize because I would not be responsible for the moving of the papers. In fact, if I did apologize (“I’m sorry I didn’t know you had moved the papers from my desk after I put them there”), I would likely be considered to be rude.

    Being wrong and being sorry are not the same thing.

  31. says

    So, Orac criticized you for something and subsequently defended Paula Kirby for a similar action, then admitted it was a mistake and wished he had not done it. So you wrote this post because you feel he has been inadequately harmed for something he has already apologized for; so we should, what.. denounce him more? Ask for further apologies? How many apologies are sufficient?

    No, that’s all wrong.

    1. Orac didn’t “criticize” me; he scolded me, in a very bossy presumptuous “how dare you” way. In doing so he gave new ammunition to the snarling pack of shits who’ve been cyberstalking me for the past year.

    2. He hasn’t been “harmed” at all that I know of. I, however, have.

    3. He has in no sense apologized. On the contrary, the last email he sent me included the bossy phrase “you brought this on yourself.” He has said nothing to me since.

    So your whole comment is simply nonsense, because it’s so full of wrong.

  32. says

    I’m struggling with a sexist trope here…the one that goes “what is it with men and apologies? They don’t know how to make one themselves and they can’t recognize the absence of one in others. They think saying ‘that didn’t go well for me’ is an apology!!” But I know perfectly well that plenty of men do know how to apologize and would never in a million years think that saying “that didn’t go well for me” is an apology.

  33. Utakata says

    @Ophelia Benson, 33:

    “3. He has in no sense apologized. On the contrary, the last email he sent me included the bossy phrase “you brought this on yourself.” He has said nothing to me since.”

    From my observation, this suggests Orac is scum. Well…scum that finger wags.

  34. Deepak Shetty says

    @Roger
    does he mind being called a Nazi Nazi?
    ha ha – that was a good one. Someone should ask him.

  35. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Ooooh, after further thought, it occurs to me that perhaps some people are asserting that

    Please, people. I really don’t want that argument metastasizing to my comment threads. I’ve already been burned badly enough by it, and I admit my massive error for every having said anything in the first place. These days, I’d rather deal with a torrent of Thingy comments than for a comment thread on my blog to become dominated by this kerfuffle.

    is an apology.

    Let me say quite firmly that it is not. It isn’t even a “What I said was wrong” statement. All it is is the assertion that he wishes he hadn’t brought the whole issue up because he doesn’t actually want to talk about it. This happens to me sometimes (I make a post and then realize I don’t care enough to argue), but that doesn’t mean I think that what I said was wrong or that I should apologize.

    Second, I think that

    What you can’t do is say that she called Myers, Watson, Benson et al Nazis, because she didn’t.

    is disingenuous. One might be able to claim this if Paula Kirby hadn’t actually gone on to expound how FTB was like actual Nazis, but she did. You can’t try to explain how people are like actual Nazis and then say you aren’t equating them to Nazis. You are.

    However, I do agree with

    (Frankly I do not think she should have used the term at all, because I do not see how you can separate the two terms in the minds of the public)
    What Nazis are known for, what people consider to be their defining characteristic, is the fact that the Nazis jailed and actually murdered millions of people. There are many examples of groups of people who have been unduly censorious, and if Paula Kirby (or anyone) didn’t want to invoke the specter of mass murder and genocide, then she should have picked one of those. This is why I am glad that Ophelia Benson withdrew the analogy, and hope that Paula Kirby will as well.

  36. jose says

    I think the difference of grammar nazi and feminazi is that grammar nazi is always a humorous way of speaking because putting together something inconsequential like the grammar of a forum post and something so huge as nazism is funny. People use exaggeration all the time to be funny. I like this example by Woody Allen:

    Members of one fairly tony New York health club dove for cover this summer as the rumbling sound that usually precedes a fault separation reverberated through their morning workout. Fears of an earthquake were soon allayed, however, as it was discovered that the only separation was a shoulder of mine, which I had mangled trying to tickle pink the almond-eye fox who did push-ups on the adjoining mat.

    However feminazi has always been used to refer to feminists not in a humorous but in a hateful way. It has been very seriously argued that feminism really seeks to establish a totalitarian regime. In fact, Kirby herself accuses her targets of being totalitarian! It’s pretty clear she is using the word in the same way Rush Limbaugh and other hateful people use it. Nothing to do with the humorous use of the term “grammar nazi”.

  37. says

    What Nazis are known for, what people consider to be their defining characteristic, is the fact that the Nazis jailed and actually murdered millions of people. There are many examples of groups of people who have been unduly censorious, and if Paula Kirby (or anyone) didn’t want to invoke the specter of mass murder and genocide, then she should have picked one of those. This is why I am glad that Ophelia Benson withdrew the analogy, and hope that Paula Kirby will as well.

    I want to point out though (with due apologies for nitpicking) that I didn’t actually make the analogy. I said “Jews in 1936 Germany” – I didn’t use the word “Nazis.” I was actually thinking Germany rather than Nazis. Not all Germans were Nazis, to say the least, but at the same time not all non-Nazis were free of anti-Semitism, also to say the least. See what I mean? By “1936 Germany” I meant the whole thing, the social world, the climate, the discourse – everything. It was bad before Hitler took power, and by 1936 it was horrendous – but it was going to get a lot worse.

    In that sense Orac was just wrong to think I meant Nazis and only Nazis.

  38. Lyanna says

    Yeah, seriously, Orac is being ludicrous here. Ophelia never applied the term “Nazi” to anyone. Kirby literally did. Putting a “femi” in front of it doesn’t change the fact that “Nazi” is literally, explicitly, in there.

    Orac can make excuses for her about how Kirby didn’t mean they were actual Nazis, but then he has no business scolding Ophelia for it. He’s very mild about Kirby’s actual use of the term Nazi, but very harsh on Ophelia comparing women who speak out against sexual harassment to Jews who spoke out against anti-Semitism in 1930s Germany.

    TIt’s hard not to say that his behavior because of hostility to feminism and hostility to women who speak out against harassment.

    It’s hard not to say that his whole pose of saying you shouldn’t frivolously make Nazi comparisons is just a rhetorical club to beat people he doesn’t like.

  39. Edward Clint says

    Thank you for responding, Ophelia.

    1. Orac didn’t “criticize” me; he scolded me, in a very bossy presumptuous “how dare you” way. In doing so he gave new ammunition to the snarling pack of shits who’ve been cyberstalking me for the past year.

    I read Orac’s comment in the “Rebecca explains..” post. I find his admonishment a bit harsh, but not personal or overly spiteful. He seems to find godwins terribly bad form, and he is correct to. Greg Laden even agreed with him a comment or so later, and made no comment on his demeanor. I find it strange a SkepchikCON panelist on the bully/troll panel would fail to notice. If you refer to Orac’s remarks elsewhere other than what is posted here, I could not comment on that, I do not follow his blog (or know much of him).

    I don’t think he can be faulted for how others will respond to your use of a Nazi comparison to make a point. I agree it is sad if it had that effect. The internet can be a nasty place.

    2. He hasn’t been “harmed” at all that I know of. I, however, have.

    Then you agree with me, and I do not have it all wrong, because zero harm is clearly inadequate in your view, which is precisely what I said. That is assuming zero harm. The principle of charity prescribes that (as a rule of thumb) we give people the benefit of the doubt when they say they have been harmed. This is doubly important when it is someone we may not otherwise like. Do you disagree?

    3. He has in no sense apologized. On the contrary, the last email he sent me included the bossy phrase “you brought this on yourself.” He has said nothing to me since.

    I have no serious disagreement with you here. By “apologized” I merely meant that he expressed that he erred (as opposed to asserting no wrong-doing took place). He has most definitely not apologized to you, but I am not convinced yet that one is necessary. I am open to any new evidence that I am not yet aware of.

    So your whole comment is simply nonsense, because it’s so full of wrong.

    I find this remark odd, since your reply confirmed much of what I asked after. I asked if the purpose of this blog involved retribution, “settling the score” of someone who wronged you. You’ve expressed clearly that Orac victimized you, he scolded you harshly and fed ammunition to your “cyberstalkers” so you wrote a post to get back at him. I asked what you were after, perhaps an apology? and though you have not answered affirmatively your language suggests you would like one. I did require clarification on some of the points, and you’ve provided it. It would have been nice if you could have done so without dismissive, insulting language, but I nonetheless appreciate the clarifications. Thank you.

  40. says

    @ Edward Clint:

    I read Orac’s comment in the “Rebecca explains..” post. I find his admonishment a bit harsh, but not personal or overly spiteful.

    If you had paid attention to what Ophelia wrote, you would have noticed that she didn’t complain that the comment was personal or spiteful, but that it was, in her words, bossy and presumptuous.

    And yes, in the first place, he has no business “admonishing” Ophelia as if he was her boss, or the Internet police!

    And, as a second point, he exhibited inconsistency and (probably) favoritism in not scolding Paula Kirby for a Nazi analogy that was way more glaring.

    Finally, what business do you have to lecture Ophelia about how to feel about what Orac said to her? You must not be familiar with the term “mansplaining”, I guess!

    @ Ophelia:

    I’m struggling with a sexist trope here…the one that goes “what is it with men and apologies?”

    Well, it’s true of arrogant, egotist and/or privilege-blind men…

  41. says

    By “apologized” I merely meant that he expressed that he erred

    Yeah….saying “I thought Fresno was the capital of California but in fact it’s Sacramento” is not apologizing. It’s not like apologizing.

    And I have not “expressed clearly” that I wrote a post to get back at Orac. Don’t put words in my mouth.

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

    This is why I am glad that Ophelia Benson withdrew the analogy, and hope that Paula Kirby will as well

    Good luck getting an apology from Paula Kirby. She still can’t even bring herself to admit that her ‘salvo’ was poorly thought out rubbish (even with her one module of sociology) and has been taken apart by two separate bloggers and keeps on retweeting the link to it.

    Some people just can’t admit they were wrong.

  43. Erista (aka Eris) says

    I have no serious disagreement with you here. By “apologized” I merely meant that he expressed that he erred (as opposed to asserting no wrong-doing took place). He has most definitely not apologized to you, but I am not convinced yet that one is necessary. I am open to any new evidence that I am not yet aware of.

    Unless Orac has said something else that is not in this post, I’m going to reiterate my assertion that he has not that his words were in error. From this post, the only thing he considers a mistake was discussing this topic at all, as he didn’t want his blog to be overrun by it.

    If that isn’t clear, I’ll try to illustrate.

    What Orac did NOT say is, “My words were wrong/incorrect/etc.*”

    What he DID say is, “I made a mistake by speaking about the topic.*”

    It’s rather like if someone had asserted quite fiercely that the world was 6000 years old. If they said, “My words were in error; the world is not 6000 years old,” that would be an admission of having erred in their claims about the age of the world**. If they said, “I shouldn’t have brought the subject up,” then the person is making an entirely different statement, as this statement this in no way indicates that the speaker has come to realize that the world is not in fact 6000 years old, only that the speaker does not wish to discuss it. Orac has engaged in the second kind of statement.

    *Paraphrased, and not Orac’s exact words.
    **as Ophelia Benson said, this would not count as an apology of any kind, merely an admission of having been incorrect.

  44. BDR says

    I believe that there is a misconception here about what Orac actually said. Some of the commenters are saying that Orac defended or made excuses for Paula Kirby, which he did not (at least not in the post Ophelia links to). There are three comments Ophelia quotes from Orac’s blog which were made by three different people: elburto, Baron Scarpia, and Orac. Based on the formatting of the quoted text, it appears that the second comment (the one defending Kirby) was made by Orac (or at least that’s how it first appeared to me). On Orac’s blog, though, it can be clearly seen that that comment was actually Baron Scarpia’s. I think that the OP should make clear who is saying what or remove Baron’s comment (as it is not relevant to Orac’s actual response).

    As far as I can tell, the only reason Orac gives for not addressing Kirby’s claims is that he doesn’t want to get involved again after the backlash from commenting on Ophelia’s analogy (which he reiterates multiple times in the comments in the linked post).

  45. carlie says

    the only reason Orac gives for not addressing Kirby’s claims is that he doesn’t want to get involved again after the backlash from commenting on Ophelia’s analogy

    Right, so he really really cares about anti-semitism and the creep of language that makes the holocaust seem trivial right up to the point where people challenge whether he’s applying his standards correctly. Then it becomes too much trouble for him to bother with.

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