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Jul 02 2012

The Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus

The second part of problems with Why it’s totally fine to call The Sisterhood of the Oppressed Feminazis and Femistasi and totalitarian.

Remember the Women in Secularism conference the other week? How that conference was hailed by the Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus!

Wow. I don’t have much more than that.

Well wait, one thing occurs to me. Paula’s counterpart Liz Cornwell was at that conference. Liz and I were both absolutely electrified by the talk that Wafa Sultan gave, and excited about possibilities for RDF to help her get the word out. It seems odd that Paula is willing to be quite so rude about the conference. She’s angry at “the Oppressed Sisters” for dividing the movement, but that remark doesn’t seem very collegial.

But also, wow. She might as well call the “Approved Male Chorus” pussy-whipped – that’s about the level of that remark.

Far from encouraging new women to get involved, all this hysterical and unjustified insistence on how dangerous our conferences are for women, how hostile our movement is to them, the indignities and humiliations they will be exposed to should they dare to set foot over the skeptical threshold could have been calculated to scare them away.

That’s all nonsense. Nobody’s been saying that. That’s ridiculous.

DJ Grothe was, predictably, shot down in furious flames by the Sisters when he dared suggest such a thing recently, yet Ophelia Benson herself would have us believe she’s been scared away from attending a conference because of the exaggerated and over-the-top messages she got about the terrible risks she’d face if she went.

So for the second time she all but calls me a liar, and she presumes to be able to know what it’s like to get a peculiar email that could be read as an exaggerated warning or as mockery or as a threat.

It’s interesting that she calls me out by name twice. I guess she really didn’t like me when we met at QED. She certainly hid it well. I liked her a lot, despite the fact that we’d disagreed sharply over elevator issues and she’d defriended me at Facebook. I must be gullible!

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  1. 1
    Rebecca Watson

    I thought she was nice when I met her at that Dublin conference last year. I disagreed with what she said on stage and in my talk I took the time to mention how much I respected her despite that disagreement.

    That respect is now gone, obviously. I’m guessing I’m a bit gullible, too, and she never really deserved it in the first place.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    I’m beginning to grope my way toward the same conclusion.

  3. 3
    Millicent

    I have tried to read the thing and just can’t force myself through it, but the excerpts (thank you for slogging through the thing so we don’t have to, Ophelia!) are mind-boggling. I don’t get what her deal is. Does she care this much about being perceived as a Chill Girl? It’s pathetic.

  4. 4
    GMM

    Are you kidding me? This is just becoming surreal. She flat out lies about what you and other female (and male) bloggers at FTBs actually say and write. Out and out lies and willful ignorance that remind me of the tactics fanatical Christians use against atheists. It’s quite sickening, I don’t know what Paula gets from all this. Why all the nastiness? I’m genuinely baffled.

  5. 5
    Ray Moscow

    I don’t see how a letter saying that ‘I can’t be sure you won’t be shot’ could possibly be construed as threatening. People say that sort of thing to me all the time. ‘Ray, we can’t promise that you won’t be run over if you talk to the police,’ or ‘Nice house you have there. It would be a shame if something caught fire.’ It’s just over the top concern, and if anything I find their concern touching.

  6. 6
    Robert (SeraphymC)

    and their Approved Male Chorus!

    Well there’s my .2 seconds of experiencing what women experience when people assume you can’t have your own thoughts.

    Very unpleasant.

  7. 7
    melody

    She has no idea what went on at that conference. She’s speaking out of complete ignorance. This woman should inform herself before spouting off.

  8. 8
    Marta

    And for a year now, it’s just been one disappointment after another in this regard, although the least surprising thing about what Paula Kirby has written now is that Paula Kirby wrote it. She’ll regret having written it, of course, and will walk it back eventually. But you know. Who cares? Like Russell Blackford, she’d decided that this is the ant hill to which she’s willing to be staked. As ERV/Abbie Smith is forevermore associated with providing a forum for misogyny, Paula Kirby will not ever rise above her use of the terms “Feminazi/Femistasi” to describe women. What an epitaph.

    By the way, where the hell is Orac? Isn’t the use of “nazi” in his wheelhouse? Or does Kirby get a wave-off because he agrees with her?

  9. 9
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    I’m getting the feeling that people like Paula and Marty Klein haven’t actually given this much thought or concerned themselves at all with back-story, context or any of that “silly” research. They just cherry-pick what they need from limited sources in order to frame the perfect “Oh look how reasonable I am!” argument. Except it’s not even an argument, just a pedantic steam of consciousness regurgitation of all the usual biases – feminists are shrill, women who don’t roll with punches are weak and so on.

  10. 10
    Ace of Sevens

    Wasn’t one of her main concerns that you feminstasi use well-poisoning to stifle dissent?

  11. 11
    Lou Doench

    “But also, wow. She might as well call the “Approved Male Chorus” pussy-whipped – that’s about the level of that remark.”

    Meh, I’m a stay at home Dad, huge swaths of the populace assume I’m pussy-whipped. I’m also an awful singer, so I’m a bad choice for a chorus of any kind. ;)

  12. 12
    julian

    She’ll regret having written it, of course, and will walk it back eventually.

    No she won’t. There’s no indication she hasn’t always thought along these lines. And there’s every indication she’s receiving positive feedback from the people she considers “good” skeptics (Blackford, Kazez…). There’s no backlash except within the community she feels contempt towards, so why would she regret having written this?

  13. 13
    Justin Vacula

    From Rebecca:

    “I thought she was nice when I met her at that Dublin conference last year. I disagreed with what she said on stage and in my talk I took the time to mention how much I respected her despite that disagreement.

    That respect is now gone, obviously. I’m guessing I’m a bit gullible, too, and she never really deserved it in the first place.”

    Interesting comment. So, because someone writes something you don’t like or disagree with … the respect was never warranted in the first place? How does that work? Wasn’t the respect you had for Kirby before — you say you indeed had it — justified by some other reason? If you now don’t have respect for her, it doesn’t mean the respect was never deserved in the first place.

  14. 14
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    So, because someone writes something you don’t like or disagree with…

    STOP.

    Don’t say another word until you show that you understand what the disagreement is, and why Rebecca disagrees. Otherwise, you’re engaging in a dishonest rhetorical tactic where you pretend “disagreements” exist in a vacuum with no context or reason behind them.

  15. 15
    Amanda

    i had never heard of Paula Kirby before all this – which is not a snide way of dismissing her, I should have and thought I was up on all these folks.

    I’d like some data on the claim that “all this” hasn’t got new people (not just women) involved in the movement, or made people on the fringes prick up their ears in interest. It seems very much like the unsupported claim that the “New Atheist”/Dawkins etc style “doesn’t work” that theists or accomodationists come up with.

    Anyway, I’m definitely going to Women in Secularism next year now. Hurry up and tell us the dates CFI so I can book leave!

  16. 16
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Remember the Women in Secularism conference the other week? How that conference was hailed by the Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus!

    More than any other stupid (and very often hilariously hypocritical) example of mockery or opposition, this one leaves me virtually speechless. What kind of fool objects to a Women in Secularism conference?! How far gone in your contempt for [other] women do you have to be to object to such a fundamentally unobjectionable event?

    I remember when it was first announced being shocked by these embarrassing reactions and suggesting that no one would say such things if it were for black secularists, and Melody (I think) noted that they’d had a similar event the previous year which naturally didn’t face this sort of absurd pushback. Just imagine:

    Remember the African Americans for Humanism conference the other week? How that conference was hailed by the Oppressed Brothers and Sisters and their Approved White Chorus!

  17. 17
    Ophelia Benson

    Right. It’s not “don’t like or disagree with.” Play honestly or don’t play here.

  18. 18
    julian

    Chill girl was invented by a woman setting herself apart from the feminists she saw at pharyngula who she considered paranoid crazy and shrill.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    Ray, that made me laugh.

  20. 20
    Tulgey Logger

    STOP.

    Don’t say another word until you show that you understand what the disagreement is, and why Rebecca disagrees. Otherwise, you’re engaging in a dishonest rhetorical tactic where you pretend “disagreements” exist in a vacuum with no context or reason behind them.

    BRB making slight alterations and turning this into a convenient hand-held sign for future use.

    Wasn’t one of her main concerns that you feminstasi use well-poisoning to stifle dissent?

    Not sure if trolling or satire. Bolded for ironies.

    If only the Stasi were known for mere figurative well-poisoning.

  21. 21
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    … sorry. That was more than a bit bossy of me, all things considered.

  22. 22
    Tulgey Logger

    Perhaps, Improbable Joe, but well expressed and worth remembering. There’s so much fluff in “So, just because someone said something you didn’t like…” floating around so many debates that needs to be cut through.

  23. 23
    melody

    Anyway, I’m definitely going to Women in Secularism next year now. Hurry up and tell us the dates CFI so I can book leave!

    The dates will be May 17-19, 2013. I can’t wait to see everyone there!

  24. 24
    Lyanna

    DJ Grothe was, predictably, shot down in furious flames by the Sisters when he dared suggest such a thing recently

    Does Paula Kirby think anti-feminists are weaker and more delicate than feminists?

    Otherwise, why does she describe the “Sisters” as “shooting” poor DJ down in “furious flames” and engaging in “Stasi-like” “thought-control” when all they’ve done is post some harsh criticisms on their blogs?

    Would she describe herself, Blackford, Kazez, Thunderf00t, and the ERV-ites as engaging in Stasi-like thought control for harshly criticizing women who don’t agree with them? Particularly since they, unlike their opponents, have been factually inaccurate and have used sexist slurs? Or does she assume that feminists are tougher than her and can take it?

    Does she assume that what would be “furious flames” if directed at her and her allies turns into hugs and puppies when directed at feminists?

  25. 25
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    She gets bonus points for using “hysterical”.

  26. 26
    heatherdalgleish

    In fairness, Ophelia, I think she ‘calls you out’ mostly just due to your personal proximity in the whole drama – and due to the fact that her writing of that piece was triggered by you calling her out here, for some of her tweets.

    As to the rest of what you have said, regarding her treatment of you – as I’ve already said, I experienced similar from her (being blocked on Twitter for no discernable reason, with none ever offered, after finding her amiable in person), and have found her quite passive-aggresive and inscrutable in a way that makes her seem quite two-faced.

    I don’t think she wants to seem two-faced. I don’t think she means to be duplicitous. I think she wants to be ‘a nice person’ – and that she has some real issues with conflict-avoidance, and confronting issues directly with people. She has issues with people – but she purposefully goes out of her way to be sweet with them in person, then blocks/defriends them when away from them, and just never speaks a word of it again, even if they’d like to.

    [edited]

  27. 27
    Ophelia Benson

    Um, Heather, sorry, but I edited out the last part, because it’s TMI and not really relevant to this and involves others and just generally makes me nervous.

    And to be fair I’m not sure I think just blocking people on Twitter as such is hostile or rude or anything. It’s when you block someone in order to say rude things about her that it gets dubious.

  28. 28
    heatherdalgleish

    Um, Heather, sorry, but I edited out the last part, because it’s TMI and not really relevant to this and involves others and just generally makes me nervous.

    That’s fine.

    And to be fair I’m not sure I think just blocking people on Twitter as such is hostile or rude or anything. It’s when you block someone in order to say rude things about her that it gets dubious.

    Yeah, that’s what I mean – being nice to people in person, then blocking them – and then talking about them, and talking at them, indirectly, during a disagreement. The whole pattern.

  29. 29
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah right. Got it. Especially since I have quite a few people doing it to me these days! It’s pretty annoying, especially when they’re former friends or colleagues who are now ranting and raving that FTB delenda est.

  30. 30
    heatherdalgleish

    The worst of it all is – as I’ve implied previously – I do sympathise with some of Paula’s sentiments – but also, your blog is far, far tamer than what you can read on Pharyngula, and which Paula would be a little more justified in singling out.

    And I sympathise with Paula’s stance because I personally have never experienced anything that I’d consider reporting as harassment or threatening at any kind of atheist/skeptic/science convention or meeting that I’ve ever attended – and I have hooked up with a number of likeminded attendees at the number of conventions that I’ve attended so far. I’ve found the guys at atheist cons to be generally very nice and good-humoured.

    And I say that not to try to imply that it therefore doesn’t happen, and that everyone must therefore be overreacting – but just to state that that’s the kind of benign ignorance and obliviousness that I’ve entered the discussion from. And I’m not the only one in that position. And viewed from that stance – and especially when you don’t see the comments from vile MRAs who have provoked such strong reactions – a lot of the feminist rhetoric on FtB (particularly Pharyngula) really does look unhinged. And it begins to look as though some women are repeatedly, obnoxiously crying “wolf” – like they have overactive persecution complexes. (And I’m not saying that it is that way – I’m just saying that it’s an impression that’s easy for the uninitiated to pick up.)

    And I personally have tried, on a handful of occasions, to make headway into productive discussion on Pharyngula on this issue – and I can say that I came away having learned some things, and having been moved to reconsider or change some of my opinions slightly – but it really was like battling through a swamp. I was ridiculously quotemined, strawmanned, insulted, dismissed and wailed at – and accused of being a shill of the patriarchy and apologist for rape culture, in cahoots with Abbie Smith and her ilk – before we actually managed to get anywhere productive.

    I can say that I am at least beginning to understand why some women are so passionate, and defensive, about these issues – even if I still don’t fully accept their personal opinions and sensibilities. Likewise, I do understand why Paula feels some of the sentiments she feels – even if I don’t fully agree with them myself.

  31. 31
    Ophelia Benson

    And I sympathise with Paula’s stance because I personally have never experienced anything that I’d consider reporting as harassment or threatening at any kind of atheist/skeptic/science convention or meeting that I’ve ever attended

    But I think it’s a myth that we’ve all been saying it’s rife and pervasive and wrglbrgl. I haven’t experienced that either, but then I’ve been to very few meetings (plus I’m not harassment material, obviously), so I’m not a good source of data. So I haven’t been talking about it! At least not that I remember. I certainly haven’t been saying “All meetings are like tanks full of sharks aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!”

    So I don’t sympathize with Paula’s stance toward me, at least, because she misrepresents me along with calling me feminazi and femistasi and totalitarian. If that’s because she thinks I go on and on about sharks, she ought to be more careful.

  32. 32
    BT Murtagh

    When do the AMC members get our lapel pins and blazer badges?

  33. 33
    heatherdalgleish

    So I don’t sympathize with Paula’s stance toward me, at least, because she misrepresents me along with calling me feminazi and femistasi and totalitarian. If that’s because she thinks I go on and on about sharks, she ought to be more careful.

    Yes – I think her singling you out, and implicitly dismissing you as being one of ‘them’, of some hive mind, whom she won’t listen or answer to – was really, really ham-fisted, and quite mean.

    It is a shame to see two generally nice and well-meaning people – two intelligent and well-regarded atheist women in the movement – come to blows like this – and disappointing that Paula, while expressing opinions that I agree with at least in part, is the one making the conflict difficult to resolve. Time will tell if she ever climbs down from anything said or done in the past few days.

    She’s rightly provoked discussion that needed to be provoked, and voiced some legitimate opinions – but otherwise, this really isn’t her finest hour.

  34. 34
    Amanda

    @ Melody. Thanks ;-)

  35. 35
    Lyanna

    Honestly, Heather, I have no sympathy for the “it’s never happened to me, therefore it can’t be pervasive!” argument. It’s narrow-minded, thoughtless, childish, narcissistic and unskeptical. I have utter contempt for it. How would you feel if I told you that I’ve never seen bad behavior on Pharyngula, therefore you’re unhinged and hysterical and making it up?

    And that’s leaving aside the fact that, as Ophelia pointed out, she hasn’t been saying it’s pervasive.

  36. 36
    Lyanna

    And Heather–I get that you’re not saying “it never happened to me, therefore it’s not pervasive,” at least not anymore. I’m responding to your defense of/sympathy with Paula Kirby’s position. I don’t think it deserves any such sympathy.

  37. 37
    GMM

    Using terms like Feminazi and Femistasi is not cool, no matter how much you disagree with another woman/feminist. Why not just say I simply don’t agree with ____________’s approach/opinions. Why is it necessary to sling words that misogynists have used for decades to demonize and demean feminism?

  38. 38
    Clifford Banes

    I’ve been an on-and-off lurker to this debate since EG, and I’m still waiting to see the “reasonable disagreement” from the anti-RW, anti-FTB side that is supposed to be respected. Everything I’ve read seems to rely on a completely overblown idea of what the feminists think is happening and want to happen. Asking for sound harassment policies doesn’t imply or require that you think these gatherings are “dangerous,” “hostile,” or rife with “indignities and humiliations,” any more than you would need proof of a building being on fire before you asked for a sprinkler system to be installed in it.

    There are parts of Kirby’s letter that I can understand, such as her experience that creating safe and encouraging spaces has less effect on female empowerment than women simply approaching things with a damn-the-torpedoes confidence regardless of the environment. But the average female con attendee isn’t a go-getter for whom fearlessness is the price of doing business; she’s just an ordinary person who wants to enjoy herself for a weekend. The point of a harassment policy isn’t to help her achieve some level of prestige; it’s to safeguard her enjoyment from the threat of random jerks. And honestly, this gendered talk isn’t even the whole story; harassment can occur in any direction, and policies don’t specify male or female.

    Maybe if I hadn’t paid quite as much attention to all of this, I would be more inclined to a plague-on-both-their-houses mindset. If I didn’t have a sense for the difference between when people were talking about the anti-feminist online crowd and the con-going crowd, I might misconstrue people’s anger about the former as their estimation of the latter. Certainly when the Grothe situation arose, the amount of he-said-she-said specifics being referenced in most of the posts I read made my head spin, and I didn’t have the time or inclination to sort it all out. But I knew that, and I was able to keep my opinions in check based on my knowledge level. When the arguments don’t rely on a history of ingrown personal dramas (or I’m sufficiently informed about such dramas), I’m shocked at how clear and consistent the separation is between the reasonable and the unreasonable. And I’m genuinely convinced that if this is indeed a great and unreconcilable schism forming, it’s to your benefit to lose anyone who would stake their claim on the other side. They only would’ve been a hindrance in the long run.

    I’ll second a thought I’ve seen expressed elsewhere: that these are the growing pains of a humanist movement being birthed.

  39. 39
    Clifford Banes

    “The growing pains of [...] being birthed”? Did I really just write that?

    “The labor pains of a humanist movement reaching maturity.” There, perfect!

  40. 40
    bertrandrussell

    I read Ms. Kirby’s letter and I am in agreement with her. Reading this blog post along with the comments, then reading Ms. Kirby’s letter, and then going back to review the blog and comments, it looked to me as if many of the people here are only proving what she’s saying.

    I hope this doesn’t set off a sh*t-storm of hatred as I’ve witnesses on other blogs on this network. If it will make any of you feel better, be my guest.

  41. 41
    Robert

    Ive been lurking on FTB blogs for quite some time. My position is roughly analogous to someone listening through the doors to two differing, but adjacent parties. It has become clear to me that the atmosphere and social expectations are VERY different. Without going into too much detail, if one party is PZ, Ophelia and Rebecca, and the other is Abbie, Justicar and Penn Jillette – well, you couldn’t wedge me into the second party with a crowbar.

    Think of me as someone at a Giants/Dodgers game, trying to decide which team to root for based ENTIRELY on the behavior of their respective teams. I think my chances of getting sucker-punched to the pavement are far less with Team Feminist.

  42. 42
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    bertrandrussell, Could you clarify? Paula Kirby’s letter was eleven pages long. Merely saying that you agree with her and disagree with the comments here without making any case for either seem either lazy or cowardly. Following that up with preemptive passive-aggressiveness makes it sound as if you have no idea what is going on but would like to flaunt your bias.

  43. 43
    bertrandrussell

    Dog eared, I’d like to, but, as you yourself pointed out, it was 11 pages long. To clarify, I would probably need to write at least 8, and I don’t have the time.

    I should point out that it’s not laziness or cowardice, just an unabailability of time on my part. Nor was I being passive-aggressive. Unfortunately, the Internet does not do a fantastic job of conveying tone or body language to give context. I was only being honest that my intent was not to start further drama, but if someone really wanted to, they could have at it, since, come on, this is the Internet, and we all know that there are people that don’t care.

    I do have to say this though, and that’s that I believe, at least at this moment with the available evidence, you only further help prove what Ms. Kirby said in her letter. You accuse me of being “passive-aggressive,” and since I was not, I get the impression you attributed that characteristic to me because of my agreement with Ms. Kirby. It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because eh do disagree. I hope I’m incorrect. It just jumped out at me and I thought it was very interesting.

  44. 44
    bertrandrussell

    And sorry for the typos. Hope that comment was comprehensible.

  45. 45
    hoary puccoon

    bertrand russell–

    You say you are in agreement with Paula Kirby, but you don’t give even one, specific example of why. There’s nothing there anyone can respond to rationally.

    Do you think her use of terms like Feminazi and Femistasi is contributing to an atmosphere of calm discussion? If so, why? If not, why say you agree with her, without making it clear that your agreement does not extend to those terms?

    You obviously do not see yourself as passive-aggressive. Can you really not see that mildly endorsing someone who is indulging in some rather extreme name-calling is going to look like passive aggression to your readers?

  46. 46
    avh1

    Bertrand I found your comment perfectly legible.

    I’d also second both the commenter’s who asked you what parts of Paula Kirby’s letter you agreed with. If you read it enough to have an opinion surely you can remember which bits you agreed with.

  47. 47
    GMM

    “It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because eh do disagree.”

    So Paula isn’t reacting with hostility when characterizes people *she* disagrees with as Nazis and totalitarians? People often disagree and have strong opinions, but the people who express opinions that Paula disagrees with are “silencing dissent” and are hostile and oppressive. When she expresses her opinions and individual people on FTB disagree with her, she is some kind of martyr for free speech, bravely standing up to an oppressive, totalitarian regime(of people expressing their own opinions).

    Then she un-friends and blocks these awful people and continues to talk trash about them, with no dissenting opinions allowed. That isn’t treating people with hostility?

    Jesus.

  48. 48
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Bertrand Russel

    I do have to say this though, and that’s that I believe, at least at this moment with the available evidence, you only further help prove what Ms. Kirby said in her letter. You accuse me of being “passive-aggressive,” and since I was not, I get the impression you attributed that characteristic to me because of my agreement with Ms. Kirby.

    That’s one fucking primary example of being passive agressive (Yes, I know, I used the word fucking. But I have to do that in order to fullfill the contract I have with PZ and the feminist army of doom).

    -Flat out denial of crtiticism (I’m not and that has to be good enough for you)
    -Unspecified vague criticism “you prove Ms. Kirby’s point” without actually saying which point as others have noted already.
    -All done in very polite language.
    In short: All form, no substance but filled with subtle accusations (you’re behaving like the Nazis just like Paula Kirby said!)
    That’s a textbook example of passive-agressiveness. Oh, and if you bother to reply, please do so specifically and not with some vague phrases about how mean I am.

    Ophelia

    I haven’t experienced that either, but then I’ve been to very few meetings (plus I’m not harassment material, obviously)…

    That’s an interesting observation on your part, especially the “harassment material” part. I don’t know what you mean exactly by that. I would suppose that if anything makes you “not harassment material” it would be your status and reputation of writing furiously and angrily about such things (which is, of course, just like putting people into gas chambers. Since I haven’t heard Orac disagree it must be true).
    Because in my life I have experienced both: being harassed for being conventionally attractive and feminine and being harassed for lack of the former (studies show that in workplaces the later is actually more pervasive).
    Also (and I don’t think that this holds true for you) a lot of it comes down to actually noticing that you are harassed
    I think for many women it simply wears them out without them noticing that it’s actually harassment that happens to them. Because they set the bar for using that word very high. It’s a mechanism of faux self-protection: If the metric ton of unpleasant things that happens to me is not harassment then I’m safe from harassment.

  49. 49
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh, and:

    “It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because eh do disagree.”

    No shit, Sherlock!
    Here’s something: If you disagree with the opinion that it’s wrong to paint people who organized a fantastic (from what I’ve seen on videos and heard in reports)conference that tackled serious issues women face as Nazis, and that it’s wrong to call women who care about basic human rights like bodily autonomy “Oppressed Sisters”, it means you agree with those sentiments.
    And you wonder why that gets greeted with hostility?

    Yes, people here are very dogmatic. They greet dissent from the idea that women are people with hostility. You apparently think we should nicely respect those opinions.
    No thanks

  50. 50
    Chris Lawson

    This whole “FTBers silence those who disagree” line is rubbish. I have on several occasions posted comments on Ophelia’s and Jen’s blogs expressing my disagreement with things they have said. (Unless the comment is to add some information or to disagree, I don’t see much point in saying “me too” except when someone could do with a bit of vocal support). And yet I have almost never been attacked, criticised, insulted, or banned for saying them (and never by Ophelia or Jen). I posted my disagreement with Jen on this very subject of an anti-harassment policy, saying that I thought a no-sex-for-speakers agreement was unnecessarily restrictive on her blog. I told Ophelia just the other day that I didn’t think those threatening emails were intended as direct threats on her blog.

    So why wasn’t I attacked or banned? I didn’t call Jen or Ophelia epithets like “feminazi” or “Taliban”; I didn’t threaten them with physical and/or sexual violence, I didn’t berate them for saying things they didn’t say; I didn’t treat them with disrespect while demanding complete respect in return. It’s really not that hard. In fact, as a long-time reader of Ophelia’s blog from way back before the FTB move, I can confidently say that Ophelia likes having a range of different views on her blog. That doesn’t mean she is willing to host any view.

  51. 51
    Brian

    One question to satify my narcissism. Ophelia, am I in the approved chorus, or just a begrudged stage hand? I can’t sing very well (not that that’s ever stopped me from polluting others’ aural spaces), but if I could be in the Femistasi (sic?) chorus line, doing the worst ‘Flight of the Femkyries’…..oh joy, sublime joy. ;)

  52. 52
    heatherdalgleish

    Honestly, Heather, I have no sympathy for the “it’s never happened to me, therefore it can’t be pervasive!” argument.

    Well, thanks, but I never made that argument. I said quite clearly simply that it affects the stance that you walk into the discussion with – based on your past experiences, and what you know of your friends’ and relatives’ experiences.

    If someone tells you that hot-dog stalls are pervasive in downtown Paris, near the Eiffel Tower – and you’ve been there a fair number of times in the past five years, and never encountered a single hot-dog stall – well, you probably aren’t going to answer, “fuck you – you’re wrong!” – but you may be a touch, a touch skeptical at first, and ask a few more questions about where all those stalls allegedly are, and what fare they’re all allegedly selling…

  53. 53
    Brian

    If someone tells you that hot-dog stalls are pervasive in downtown Paris, near the Eiffel Tower – and you’ve been there a fair number of times in the past five years, and never encountered a single hot-dog stall – well, you probably aren’t going to answer, “fuck you – you’re wrong!” – but you may be a touch, a touch skeptical at first, and ask a few more questions about where all those stalls allegedly are, and what fare they’re all allegedly selling…
    The problem is, I, you and all visibly able folks can see these hot-dog stalls with their own eyes. Can ask others if they see them. How do you see something that happens in ways that aren’t clearly visible, if visible at all, and can be explained away as something else? I mean, it’d sound stupid if someone were to say ‘That’s not a hot-dog stand, it’s a rickshaw, there’s a lot of them lately in le champ de mars’. But a inappropriate touch, a unwanted come on; he’s just very friendly and tactile, that’s just his fun, flirtatious nature. And when it’s an act(s) not seen, then, “I think we should all be skeptical that this female has said that a man has done anything she didn’t like, and besides she’s anti-sex”, or something.

  54. 54
    heatherdalgleish

    And Heather–I get that you’re not saying “it never happened to me, therefore it’s not pervasive,” at least not anymore. I’m responding to your defense of/sympathy with Paula Kirby’s position. I don’t think it deserves any such sympathy.

    Okay, fair deuce. The thing is – I think Paula is arguing so out of ignorance on that point, that she doesn’t even realise that that’s the argument she’s making. I think it’s unconscious. She’s so utterly incredulous that genuine harassment could be occurring, that she just doesn’t even address that in her long letter. She just apparently dismisses it wholesale as some women overreacting to being politely propositioned, or obtusely but ‘non-threateningly’ propositioned.

  55. 55
    dirigible

    “It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because they do disagree.”

    Not at all. People who make good points rather than trying empty rhetorical tricks are answered reasonably.

    Those who disagree, are badly wrong, say stupid things, and then continue saying them are themselves being hostile.

    You support them.

    Why is that?

  56. 56
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The thing is – I think Paula is arguing so out of ignorance on that point, that she doesn’t even realise that that’s the argument she’s making. I think it’s unconscious. She’s so utterly incredulous that genuine harassment could be occurring, that she just doesn’t even address that in her long letter.

    So, what’s the excuse?
    What, after a whole year could be a possible explenation for this except for “I don’t want it to be true so it can’t be true”?

  57. 57
    SAWells

    The only way Paula can be incredulous of the existence of harrassment is if she believes everyone who reports it is lying. There is no excuse for this.

  58. 58
    beach

    What is a Chill Girl? In the context of a discussion on racism, rather than sexism, would the equivalent term be Chill White? Maybe I’m misreading the intent of the term, but as it is it seems to be more than just a little divisive. Is this just a soft form of gender traitor?

  59. 59
    heatherdalgleish

    The only way Paula can be incredulous of the existence of harrassment is if she believes everyone who reports it is lying. There is no excuse for this.

    Perhaps she’s incredulous about the prevalence and nature of reported incidents? Perhaps she assumes that it’s not especially prevalent and/or that some women are making mountains out of molehills? Perhaps she hasn’t been browsing any of the relevant parts of the atheist blogosphere that would make her think twice about that assumption?

    By all means take a shot at her for her broadbrush shoddiness – but it’s just not as straightforward as “she must think they’re all lying”.

  60. 60
    embertine

    I cannot be the only one who heard the term ‘Approved Male Chorus’ and thought of the “We’re Your Friends” song from the Jungle Book.

    Come on guys, get those harmonies right. If a bunch of straggly vultures can do it, then Feminazis-By-Association™ should have no trouble.

  61. 61
    Brian

    Did thunderf00t and Greg Laden’s blogs just go down the memory hole?

  62. 62
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    beach:
    In that context, it’d be “chill black” and I totally just winced typing that. It’d be like a POC being accepted as one of the whites because they didn’t play into those stereotypes of how POC are supposed to act. They might tell jokes about watermelon and fried chicken and think blackface is totally hilarious and not derogatory at all.

    Puts it into perspective, no?

  63. 63
    SAWells

    @59: the excuse for Paul that you’re trying to deploy is that, to quote you: “She’s so utterly incredulous that genuine harassment could be occurring, that she just doesn’t even address that in her long letter.”

    Could be occurring? She knows it’s occurring, or she believes all reports of it are lies, because she knows there are reports of it. If you meant something else, write something else.

    I don’t understand your heroic efforts to read Paula’s letter with such tremendous charity… while Paula has deployed “feminazi” and “femistasi”. Let her retract her accusations of “totalitarian thought” and “fascism” before you ask anyone else to be charitable to her.

  64. 64
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    [OT]Brian: See Ed Brayton’s blog[/OT]

    OK, tried to read the whole of Paula’s letter, I couldn’t. My laptop just came back from a repair, I don’t want to smash it.

    So, after the “I didn’t actually want to say they’re Nazis” she goes on about how we’re just like the Nazis in 1930′s Germany, except that the Nazis were partly right.
    There’s this story about somebody having something on their twitter feed, somebody else criticising that and the criticised person agreeing and taking it off her feed (I’m not on Twitter and since she doesn’t give details I have no real clue about what’s the story). That’s apparently like a sustained “Kauft icht bei Juden” campaign (has anybody heard from Orac yet?)
    And it goes on: People like to hook up at conferences. If you stay in the bar long enough you can be sure to be asked for sex! That’s life, she can’t imagine that reasonable adults wouldn’t find ways to prevent that.
    Yeah thank you Paula, good of you to tell me that I have no right to have some fun in the bar if I don’t want to be asked for sex. Or have to bring my owner, eh husband along.
    And if you just thought it couldn’t get worse, Paula also has the answer why women are underrepresented: it’s our own fault, we just don’t want to participate fully and speak up.
    Stop beating yourselves, women!

  65. 65
    beach

    sophia: So the proper analogy would be that Chill Girl is the sexism equivalent of Uncle Tom? I’m still not seeing it as a particularly helpful or non-damaging term to have in the discussion.

  66. 66
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    I’m not familiar with Uncle Tom, I’m guessing that’s an American thing.
    Is anyone trying to say it’s not a damaging thing? Members of a non-privileged group disparaging other members of said group to gain favour and standing among the privileged group – oppressors, if you will – is damaging and unhelpful in the extreme.

    If you’re suggesting that the term is unhelpful, you’d be missing the point quite spectacularly.

  67. 67
    malmo

    Can I sign up for the approved male chorus before it’s too late?

  68. 68
    beach

    The behaviour as you describe it IS damaging and unhelpful, and in general, it is reprehensible, whether the context is racism, sexism, or any other oppressed group.

    “If you’re suggesting that the term is unhelpful, you’d be missing the point quite spectacularly.”

    What is the point of such a term? Is it to make it easier to make assertions as to a woman’s motivation, such as the assertion that her motivation is purely “to gain favour and standing among the privileged group”? How does that help the discussion?

  69. 69
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    It’s a label. The term ‘bigot’ is offensive to those called bigots, but it accurately describes someone who engages in bigoted behaviour.

    A ‘chill girl’ might be offended by the label, but it accurately describes that behaviour.

    Would it be a less offensive term if it were something else? There are much worse ones, many contained in the letter referenced above as hyperbole.

  70. 70
    bertrandrussell

    I glanced briefly throught a few of the comments that looked to be a response to me and noticed people kept accusing me of being passive aggressive. There’s no aggression on my end. I’m not even upset in the slightest. Please, i know this is the Internet, and it’s hard to convey tone sometimes, but we can all have more effective conversations if we leave our assumptions at the door. Of course, I disagree, but I’ve learned to disagree with people without having any sort of animosity because of it. I dont expect some of you to be swayed. Thats fine. I’m sure we’ve all experienced, as atheists, that when dealing with theists. Another thing I think I saw was someone trying to excuse their actions by saying, and this is a paraphrase, “But Paula Kirby did it too because she blocked someone so on and so forth.” I have a hard time taking that with any modicum of seriousness. It didn’t fly when I was in second grade. I see no reason as to why it should fly now. Pointing out someone is behaving hypocritically doesn’t remove any burden of responsibility from the person pointing it out. It’s not like we let murderers fly free when they inform us someone else is one too.

    I don’t expect I’ll be back. I’m not masochistic enough lol. The 4th is tomorrow so I’m heading out tonight to see my family. Everyone have a safe 4th of July.

  71. 71
    Ace of Sevens

    My point was that this is a hell of a way to open a paper that’s allegedly about well-poisoning and dishonest argumentation tactics.

  72. 72
    Ophelia Benson

    Bert Russell – the problem with your comment was that it was completely devoid of substance. You agree with Paula. That’s not a productive comment. (Saying you disagree with Paula [or me] would also not be productive.) Taking the trouble to comment but saying nothing does have a whiff of the passive-aggressive.

  73. 73
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Bertrand Russel

    I glanced briefly throught a few of the comments that looked to be a response to me

    Like those that adressed you by name?

    and noticed people kept accusing me of being passive aggressive.

    Like me, for example.
    Who actually provided an example of what I consider passive-agressive and why. I notice that you didn’t bother to reply to my actual argument. I also notice that you didn’t bother to answer those people who asked you with what in Paula Kirby’s diatribe you actually agree.

    There’s no aggression on my end. I’m not even upset in the slightest.

    I don’t think this means what you think it means.

    “But Paula Kirby did it too because she blocked someone so on and so forth.” I have a hard time taking that with any modicum of seriousness.

    Good thing nobody actually did that, isn’t it?
    In short, you’ve written a lot of words with no substance at all.

  74. 74
    Ophelia Benson

    Heh.

    That wasn’t co-ordinated, I swear.

  75. 75
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    I have to go to sleep, like all good Aussie Mums of tiny hungry babies.

    All I’ll say is that seeing a relatively innocuous label for a reprehensible behaviour and condemning the -label- is an entirely bizarre concept to me.
    Direct your contempt at the poison in the bottle rather than quibbling over what colour the label is, perhaps.

    Night all!

  76. 76
    bertrandrussell

    Ms. Benson, it might night have been a productive comment, but given all that I’ve seen throughout FtB – this is actually my first time commenting here despite being a reader for a good while – I didn’t have any inclination to. I just wanted to share that I agreed with Ms. Kirby. My comment served my purpose, so I found it productive for the ends I was seeking. Now, it might not have been productive if I wanted to have people agree with me, but, like I said, given what I’ve seen here at FtB, that wasn’t a goal of mine. You’ll have to excuse me for not wanting to enter too much into an argument that’s been going on for quite some time here.

    Gillel, I believe you should check out posts 45 and 47 for the behavior I was alluding to with my paraphrase. I did see that you provided an example for what you perceived to be passive-aggressive behavior, but implicit within the example you presented was an assumption I was upset/aggressive. Basically, you’re playing with straw-men, assuming, perhaps projecting, characteristics on to me which I do not hold.

    Ms. Benson, I believe this speaks to the sort of behavior I was alluding to above, and the reason why I had no real interest here other than sharing that I do agree with Ms. Kirby.

  77. 77
    bertrandrussell

    Sorry for the typo(s). And, despite my desire to the contrary, I checked this thing anyways, and commented. Oh well. Lessons learned the hard way are often times the lessons learned best.

  78. 78
    Ophelia Benson

    No actually I don’t have to excuse you. You’re cluttering up the place while refusing to say anything of substance. “Team Paula” doesn’t cut it.

  79. 79
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Bertrand Russell

    Gillel, I believe you should check out posts 45 and 47 for the behavior I was alluding to with my paraphrase. I did see that you provided an example for what you perceived to be passive-aggressive behavior, but implicit within the example you presented was an assumption I was upset/aggressive.

    A) G-I-L-I-E-L-L
    B) What? I admit that English is not my first language, but I somehow assumed it was yours.
    Being upset is not the same as being aggressive. You especially don’t need to be upset to be passive-aggressive.
    It seems like you’re simply unaware of the term
    Here’s the short from wikipedia:

    Passive-aggressive behavior is dealing with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations in an obstructionist or hostile manner that indicates aggression, or, in more general terms, expressing aggression in non-assertive (i.e. passive or indirect) ways. It can be seen in some cases as a personality trait or disorder marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive, usually disavowed, resistance in interpersonal or occupational situations.

  80. 80
    Pteryxx

    AFAIK, “chill girl” was coined by a commenter on Rebecca Watson’s original Elevator posts *to refer to herself*. To paraphrase, ‘there’s nothing wrong with being hit on, so oversensitive women like Rebecca should stop giving chill girls like me a bad name.’ Ever since, the term’s been used to refer to women who specifically deny that *other* women should be concerned about unsolicited or unwelcome come-ons and sexist insults or jokes.

    The provenance of ‘feminazi’ has been discussed. 9_9

  81. 81
    Ophelia Benson

    Surprise surprise, Bert got a bit less passive about the aggression. I put him in moderation just in time.

  82. 82
    Winterwind

    @SaltyCurrent #16

    I remember when it was first announced being shocked by these embarrassing reactions and suggesting that no one would say such things if it were for black secularists, and Melody (I think) noted that they’d had a similar event the previous year which naturally didn’t face this sort of absurd pushback. Just imagine:

    Remember the African Americans for Humanism conference the other week? How that conference was hailed by the Oppressed Brothers and Sisters and their Approved White Chorus!

    Actually, people say exactly the same things about black secularists. When the African Americans for Humanism billboards were posted on the RDF website, the most vocal commenters there predictably described the billboards as unnecessary or even racist.

    It was clear the commenters had no idea why some people who belong to a minority racial group might feel the need to form an organisation that specifically addressed issues they were interested in. The fact that the commenters had spent little time thinking about the issue of race or investigating the experiences of minority racial groups didn’t prevent them from having strong opinions, of course. The last comment is very interesting – it specifically compares the “black atheism movement” to “Rebecca Watson’s feminist atheism movement”.

    “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many. People for Humanism.”

    There, fixed it.

    It’s good to see more and more “black” people involved in atheism (I use the quotation marks to denote that race is, in fact, bogus). It’s a crying shame, however, that in the 21st C people still need their own special group in order to do so. I can think of few other things that ought to be completely free of arcane notions such as race than the non-belief in, one of many, imaginary sky-daddys.

    I’m inclined to agree with – and would add that this incessant need to be associated as “black” or “African American” or any sort of “race” is to me disgusting, counter-productive backwards thinking and does in no way help to eradicate racism.

    Why not: “Redheaded Nonbelievers Speak Out!”??
    What a load of anachronistic bullshit.

    Doubts about the relevance of skin colour, you’re one of many. Humans for humanism.

    Is this campaign exclusive to brown Africans? (I know more pink African Americans, actually born in Africa, than brown African Americans born there. In my circle, that is)

    Constantly referring to people who happen to be black as “black” or “African Americans” (if they’re black and live in America) is counter-productive and doesn’t resolve the issue of “race… However, the effort to call it “African Americans for Humanism” does little to quell the idea that “black people” and “the rest of us” are different and seperated. We’re not, and more to the point we shouldn’t be. You’re probably not going to get many people who aren’t black to call in to something called “African Americans for Humanism.”

    A lot of people are going to support it, obviously, but if you happen to live in that neighbourhood and you see that plaque, and you’re “white,” would you give them a call? Not because it features a black person on it, but because it says “African Americans for Humanism.” Why not just call it “Americans for Humanism” and cut out the middle man?

    Maybe it’s an effort to bolster the atheists/humanists who live in black communities — I don’t live there and I don’t know the situation — but it’s bewildering why they would choose to alienate themselves to the rest of the community. If they’re already being discriminated against, isn’t this merely an acknowledgement? It doesn’t make any sense. In fact, I’m reminded of Rebecca Watson and her feminist atheist movement and how she claimed females in atheist communities are being “sexualised.” If this banner had said “Females for Humanism” or “Feminists” or something similar, I would have the same exact reaction. Or Gingers.

    As for Paula Kirby’s letter, there is much to criticise. It unfairly and condescendingly characterises the “Oppressed Sisters” as whiny, hysterical and irrational. Yes, there are some stupid people amongst “our lot” – there are bad apples in every bunch. Why not address the best arguments Ophelia and co. have to offer? Who could dispute that harassment, like theft, is a problem whenever large groups of people get together, and policies should be in place to manage it?

    When I criticised the racist comments I encountered on the RDF website, I was told that I was being slanderous because it’s unfair to judge an entire organisation by the people who leave comments on their site, which is a reasonable observation. However, when someone like Paula Kirby, who has worked closely with RDF as an organiser and host, dismisses women’s concerns like this (I imagine her response to my experiences of racism within the atheist community would be, “Calling people racist is kind of like being part of a totalitarian regime. Stop telling everyone our movement is evil and racist because you’re an emotional hysterical oversensitive delicate black person. REAL black people are better than you. They support REAL secularism, not your divisionary tactics.”), and Richard Dawkins makes stupid remarks about Muslimas, then how can we escape the conclusion that these sorts of attitudes are found among many prominent people both within and working alongside with the organisation?

    I have disagreed with Ophelia several times on her blog, mostly when I feel she is not sufficiently acknowledging racism against, say, recent immigrants, for example Muslims who practice sexist traditions. I have also disagreed with Maryam Namazie over whether the hijab is always a symbol of oppression and never a free choice. I have been disagreed with, sometimes vehemently, by bloggers and commenters here, but I have never been censored or banned…

    There are some issues we can debate and have legitimate disagreements about. However, the worth and dignity of all human beings within the atheist movement, including women and people of colour, people with disabilities, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, LBGTQIA people, non-neurotypical people, etc. should not be debatable.

    Ms Benson, you might be interested in reading this article Paula Kirby wrote on Friday, 17 September 2010: Calling All Pope Protestors. Here are some excerpts of interest:

    I have been thinking about those extraordinary remarks suggesting that atheism was the key factor in Nazism. It was no random insult, nor was it simply a sign of rambling insanity. The pope is an intellectual, a politician, a man who knows exactly what he is doing with the words he uses.

    My conclusion is that the Nazi remarks were a deliberate attempt to deflect the anticipated protests about the scandal of the child sex abuse cover-ups in the RCC.

    We know from comments made before the visit that both the Vatican and the UK govt were deeply concerned that the visit might be overshadowed by the sex abuse issue; so what could be more natural than that they would have put their heads together to try to find a way to prevent that happening? And what better method could they possibly find than to launch an attack on the likely protestors – an attack of such grotesque obscenity that we would be immediately deflected into protesting about that rather than the real issue?

    It is inconceivable to me that the UK government didn’t know exactly what was going to be in the pope’s speech at Holyroodhouse this morning. Not only that, but had that Nazi comparison been made about ANY other group in British society, government officials would have been falling over one another in their rush to distance themselves from it. The fact this hasn’t happened suggests very strongly to me that this was a put-up job, an indicator of their determination to prevent the visit turning into an embarrassment to the pope (and therefore the government), as well as of the depth of their fear that it might.

    According to Ms Kirby, when Pope Benedict links Nazism to atheism, it is “no random insult, nor [is] it simply a sign of rambling insanity.” It is a shrewdly calculated “attack of such grotesque obscenity that we would be immediately deflected into protesting about that rather than the real issue[.]” And “had that Nazi comparison been made about ANY other group in British society, government officials would have been falling over one another in their rush to distance themselves from it.”

    However, when she calls Ms Benson, Ms Watson and other bloggers Feminazis and Feminstasis, it is justified because they act just like Nazi thought police, except the people of Nazi Germany actually had a reason to feel victimised, so we should really feel a tiny bit more sympathy for Nazi Germany than for the Feminazis.

    There is so much to criticise in her letter that I really should write a longer response to it. Maybe in a week or two when my life isn’t so stressed out.

  83. 83
    John Horstman

    Wow, Paula Kirby is pretty awful, huh?

    @Giliell: I think you might be one of my favorite people here. Keep on being awesome.

  84. 84
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @Bertrand Russell

    You obviously don’t understand what passive-aggressiveness actually is – your posts drip with it. Passive aggression is NOT the same as aggression – if it was, they would not need a different term to refer to it.

    Passive aggressive denials of passive aggressiveness don’t warrant you respect. Stating that you agree with a person who is essentially calling us Nazis, and then wondering (in a passive aggressive manner) why the people you just called Nazis aren’t being ‘nice’ to you does not warrant you respect.

    All I can gather from your comments is that you dropped by to insult everyone here, and are somehow surprised that you received a negative reaction.

  85. 85
    Ace of Sevens

    Apparently, this whole thing goes to show how FTB is a den of radical feminism. Funny how I can never get a definition of radical feminism from people who have this complaint.

  86. 86
    Ace of Sevens

    http://insecular.com/2012/07/03/paula-kirby-and-the-sisterhood/

    My comment was supposed to have a link.

  87. 87
    daniellavine

    Since little Bertie is probably fumin’ and ragin’ reading these comments right now I’ll deconstruct his first post to explain to him what passive aggression means and why he is the poster child.

    From wikipedia:

    “Passive-aggressive behavior is dealing with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations in an obstructionist or hostile manner that indicates aggression, or, in more general terms, expressing aggression in non-assertive (i.e. passive or indirect) ways.”

    I read Ms. Kirby’s letter and I am in agreement with her. Reading this blog post along with the comments, then reading Ms. Kirby’s letter, and then going back to review the blog and comments, it looked to me as if many of the people here are only proving what she’s saying.

    “I agree with who you disagree with and I disagree with you but I refuse to be specific about what I disagree with or why.” Non-assertive because you won’t talk specifics, but expressing aggression in that you disagree.

    The only possible reason someone could have for posting something like this is to derail a conversation or start a flame war. Otherwise there’s nothing worth discussing here. You disagree. Great. If you told us why we could have a discussion — clearly not what Bertie came here for.

    I hope this doesn’t set off a sh*t-storm of hatred as I’ve witnesses on other blogs on this network. If it will make any of you feel better, be my guest.

    “If you disagree with my disagreement you are hateful and evil and wrong. Even though you don’t even know why I disagree.”

    Non-assertive: you’re trying to block your interlocutor’s chances to rebut you (i.e. point out that your post is completely insubstantial) by insisting that if they do so they automatically lose the argument. Another time-worn trolling tactic that is utterly worthless to stimulate real discussion.

    So based on this first post it seems like you want to tell everyone off about how wrong they are without having to answer for the opinions and value judgments that lead you to that conclusion. There is no better demonstration of passive aggressive behavior.

    Second post:

    Dog eared, I’d like to, but, as you yourself pointed out, it was 11 pages long. To clarify, I would probably need to write at least 8, and I don’t have the time.

    But you have time to come hear and make an entirely substance-free comment.

    Nor was I being passive-aggressive.

    Well we already know that’s not true. Maybe you didn’t know what “passive-aggressive” meant but that doesn’t mean you weren’t being it.

    Unfortunately, the Internet does not do a fantastic job of conveying tone or body language to give context. I was only being honest that my intent was not to start further drama, but if someone really wanted to, they could have at it, since, come on, this is the Internet, and we all know that there are people that don’t care.

    Just more bullshit. Your comment was obviously intended to start further drama. You a) disagreed, b) without stating a reason, and c) claimed that anyone disagreeing with you would be “starting a hateful shit-storm”. That is trolling, dude. Picture perfect.

    Let me put it another way. Let me say I read your first post and try to determine your intention in writing it. It can’t be to stimulate discussion because there’s nothing in it to discuss. “I disagree; I refuse to say way.” That’s not a discussion, it’s baiting. Trolling.

    I do have to say this though, and that’s that I believe, at least at this moment with the available evidence, you only further help prove what Ms. Kirby said in her letter.

    More trolling, more passive-aggressive behavior. “Everything you say proves me right and you wrong! Nananana!” You’re like a child.

    You accuse me of being “passive-aggressive,” and since I was not, I get the impression you attributed that characteristic to me because of my agreement with Ms. Kirby.

    The sentence immediately preceding this paragraph is the best example of passive-aggressive behavior displayed by you yet, rendering this assertion delightfully ironic.

    It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because eh do disagree. I hope I’m incorrect. It just jumped out at me and I thought it was very interesting.

    You engendered this hostility and it seems as though you did it purposefully. If you wanted to politely disagree you should have politely disagreed with the reasons for your disagreement. Without those no discussion can be had and it’s hard to see any intention behind your posting here besides trolling.

  88. 88
    daniellavine

    Clifford@38:

    I’ve been an on-and-off lurker to this debate since EG, and I’m still waiting to see the “reasonable disagreement” from the anti-RW, anti-FTB side that is supposed to be respected.

    Right on. If there has been any bit of reasonable criticism it’s been completely lost in the blizzard of accusations of “feminazi” etc.

    I’m kinda sick of atheists all of a sudden. But I’m happier than ever to consider myself a feminist.

  89. 89
    jaimedelgado

    So, I found this, after a bit of Googling, through John Loftus’ blog, Debunking Christianity. Can someone explain to me what’s going on exactly? I haven’t really been following the issue at all. I read the blogs on here, mostly Pharyngula, and I’ve gotten snippets, and didn’t give it much attention, but when I read some stuff over at Debunking Christianity, I got the impression it’s a bigger than I originally thought. So now I’m just confused.

  90. 90
    Ace of Sevens

    Short explanation: Natalie posted something he disagreed with. He picked a fight where he disparaged her for being less educated on biblical criticism than he was was and called he an affirmative action hire. Several other bloggers jumped in about why you don’t say that and about how there’s more than one kind of expertise and she wasn’t disparaging his expertise anyway. He decided that no appreciated his credentials or his whole field and took hsi ball and went home.

  91. 91
    Ace of Sevens

    Then, the Thunderf00t thing came up and he saw it as a good example of how the FTBullies gang up on anyone who disagrees with them, just like they did to him.

  92. 92
    Ophelia Benson

    Wow, Ace @ 85 and 86 –

    That’s some stupid post. It’s just a bunch of labels picked up from trollish types who don’t know what they’re talking about, like “radfem” as a label for very bland non-radical mainstream ideas. Thick thick thick. Also it treats the hashtag #FTBullies as probative of something or other – as, now, is Paula, which is embarrassing. It’s the brain fart of a complete shit-stirrer troll who does *nothing but* cyberstalk a few Freethought bloggers. That’s not a sign of a wise and sensible contrarian, it’s a sign of a complete loon.

  93. 93
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 89 – you found what? What’s the “it” in “I got the impression it’s a bigger than I originally thought”? I’m not sure what you’re asking about.

  94. 94
    Ace of Sevens

    I’m the Democratus Reno that posted there, BTW.

  95. 95
    jaimedelgado

    Ace of Sevens:

    Thanks. But wait…noob question…who’s Natalie? And, this was started all by John Loftus being a dick? It snowballed into Paula Kirby writing a letter?

    I think I’m more confused about the whole thing now. lol

  96. 96
    mattee

    Winterwind @82
    Nicely done!

  97. 97
    jaimedelgado

    Ophelia Benson:

    I found this blog-post while Googling Paula Kirby’s letter. I found the letter over at Debunking Christianity, so I wanted to find more stuff about.

    And, as for what “it” is, I guess it’s this issue of sexism (or maybe I’m not even getting that right). That’s sort of what I’ve been able to grab from Paula Kirby’s letter, John Loftus’ blog, yours, and the comments from both.

    I guess I just want to know what the hell is going on and why it looks to be such a big deal since people are getting very rude. Can someone start from the beginning? I think there’s tons I’m missing.

  98. 98
    Deepak Shetty

    and their Approved Male Chorus!
    Even my parents can’t stand my singing so Ill take being part of any chorus as a compliment.
    Gone are the RDF days when you could read Paula and nod appreciatively I guess.

  99. 99
    karmakin

    One of the big problems with this whole mess is that there’s a whole lot of people who want to dump old feminist baggage (some valid, some not valid at all) on modern feminists and feminism. Which is really bad because modern feminism is really good for the most part in unpacking that stuff.

    Which is why you hear talk about “radical feminism”, without understanding that by and large the actual things that people are worried about have already been pushed to the fringes of feminist thought. That work, it has been done.

  100. 100
    Pteryxx

    jaimedelgado: This started late in May with several bloggers discussing the need for conferences to have policies against sexual harassment. A dozen or so conferences now have such policies. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ongoing backlash against the basic concepts of harassment and codes of conduct, and against the women bloggers who were most instrumental in the discussion.

    Timeline of events:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/15/harassment-policies-campaign-timeline-of-major-events

    Richard Carrier’s summary: if you only read one post, it should be this one.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1567

  101. 101
    Ophelia Benson

    Jaime

    Ah. From the beginning. Yikes – that would take a lot of typing!

    From not the beginning, but a few weeks ago – there was a conference on Women in Secularism (I was there). There was some unfriendly commentary on it afterwards. There were reactions to the unfriendly commentary. Paula Kirby added some new unfriendly commentary. I reacted to what Paula said.

    Does that help? It’s radically simplified, but it’s an outline.

  102. 102
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah. Pteryxx took care of it for me. That.

  103. 103
    Ace of Sevens

    @95: I thought you meant Loftus’s grudge against FTB. The issue of harassment at conferences was a separate issue that he apparently jumped on as another chance to accuse FTB of groupthink.

  104. 104
    jaimedelgado

    Pteryxx:

    You’ve got to be kidding me. There are people that are actually upset about a code of conduct? Why? I’m having a hard time believing that. But, then again, there are religious people. Is there anything else that is contributing to this? Because from everything I’ve read, I didn’t think the cause would be something so trivial.

  105. 105
    Ace of Sevens

    And Natalie is Natalie Reed, who also blogs here.

  106. 106
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @jaimedelgado If you’re looking for some background on the larger controversy (beyond Loftus’ part) Jason has an excellent timeline post you should read.

  107. 107
    karmakin

    @Jamie: Quick story: Rebecca Watson comes out, says “Don’t do that” to people trying to hit on women in elevators. Other people read that as don’t try and interact with women anywhere. Excrement hits fan.

    About a year later, in passing people mention about how some speakers have a reputation for being sleazy. The conversation turns to adopting formal anti-harassment policies and procedures, and how best to do this. The same people as above (mostly) read that as don’t try and interact with women anywhere. Excrement hits fan AGAIN, with DJ Grothe of JREF personally flinging it into the blades to start if off.

    In short, the people who are all up in arms about anti-harassment policies are acting entirely out of line with what we’re actually talking about.

    There’s a timeline at http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/15/harassment-policies-campaign-timeline-of-major-events/ for more detail, but that’s a quick and dirty rundown.

    (Maybe I’m wrong for linking Elevatorgate into it all, but I do think that for the most part this is all the same thing)

  108. 108
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    I guess I should have refreshed.

  109. 109
    karmakin

    To be fair I think we ALL should have refreshed :p

  110. 110
    Pteryxx

    heh, I should have trusted that a critical mass of other folks have ready access to the same resources nowadays.

  111. 111
    Pteryxx

    jaimedelgado:

    You’ve got to be kidding me. There are people that are actually upset about a code of conduct? Why?

    Heck if I know. The reactions are shocking a lot of folks who thought these people would be reasonable about it. For example, Thunderf00t’s short-lived blog is gone now, but he spent all his time here objecting to harassment policies. Greta dissected it in a five-part series, with extensive quoting:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/25/so-much-wrong-part-1-thunderf00t-and-sexual-harassment/

  112. 112
    jaimedelgado

    Thanks, I think I get the gist of the issue now. What’s wrong with Paula Kirby’s letter though? It looked reasonable to me at first glance, which is basically all I did to it – glance.

  113. 113
    Deepak Shetty

    @jaimedelgado
    some of the roots of this disagreement go back to elevator gate – Some prejudices and biases got carried over from there (though obviously I would think our “side” is the more reasonable one :) )

  114. 114
    jaimedelgado

    What’s this “elevator gate” thing? I guess this is what happens when you don’t read blogs all that often. :/

  115. 115
    Ophelia Benson

    Why the reaction?

    WE DON’T KNOW.

    Really. It’s that stupid. There’s shit hitting the fan all over the place, and no we don’t know why.

  116. 116
    jaimedelgado

    OH, wait, I remember. I just went over the comments and saw something that made the light-bulb go off. Derp.

  117. 117
    karmakin

    It’s basically calling people here “nazis” and totalitarians. In a nutshell.

    Actually, I think at least what bothers me the most is that it’s aggressively going after people who use moralistic and aggressive tones in their arguments….in a moralistic and aggressive tone.

    Doctor heal thyself!

    For what it’s worth, aggressive tones are not something that appeal to me personally, and they often make me uncomfortable, however sometimes they are justified.

  118. 118
    daniellavine

    Thanks, I think I get the gist of the issue now. What’s wrong with Paula Kirby’s letter though? It looked reasonable to me at first glance, which is basically all I did to it – glance.

    Did you see how she compared to the people she disagreed with to Nazis and the Stasi?

    Pretty wrong — and I’m someone who often objects to invocation of “Godwin’s law” on the grounds that sometimes the Nazi comparison is actually apt. In this case it’s not, and Kirby’s disqualified herself from reasonable discourse on the issue by starting out her 11-page broadside on it.

    Not just that. Kirby mentions in her anti-feminist manifesto that she’s pretty much stayed out of the sexism issue for the entire year it’s been roiling but NOW SHE IS HERE TO LAY DOWN THE LAW. It’s incredibly condescending and would seem to me to betray a lack of self-awareness. (I mean, simultaneously accusing opponents of being “unreasonable” and calling them “Nazis” betrays a pretty incredible lack of self-awareness in itself, but to jump into an issue after ignoring it for a year and to think that you actually possess the context required to talk about it cogently…)

  119. 119
    jaimedelgado

    Karmakin & Daniellavine:

    I think I specifically remember Paula Kirby categorically rejecting calling anyone Nazis or Stasi, just that there are apparently some people over here (I think she was referring to FtB) who share an undesirable quality with them. I know I do that a lot to friends and family, calling them retarded or idiots for example. It’s not that I think they’re mentally retarded, it’s just that they said or did something you wouldn’t reasonably expect from someone who isn’t. That’s what I took from Paula Kirby’s letter. Or would that be splitting hairs?

  120. 120
    daniellavine

    I think I specifically remember Paula Kirby categorically rejecting calling anyone Nazis or Stasi, just that there are apparently some people over here (I think she was referring to FtB) who share an undesirable quality with them.

    You can’t categorically reject doing something right after you have done that thing and not be a huge flaming hypocrite.

    If she wanted to make a point about “totalitarian attitudes” she could have done that without invoking the Nazis or the Stasi. If she wanted to make a point at all she wouldn’t have invoked the Nazis or the Stasi. Because that is not how people make valid, worthwhile points.

    She’s not being reasonable, she’s not engaging with critics. I don’t see how you can possibly make the case that she’s making a reasonable criticism here. And it’s not incumbent on me to prove that the person flinging around the word “Nazi” and refusing to engage with critics has nothing reasonable to add. It’s incumbent on you to prove that she does.

  121. 121
    jaimedelgado

    Daniellavine:

    I don’t even know what’s going on here. I’m trying to understand. I admitted I’m practically entirely ignorant to the situation. That’s why I’m asking questions. I would appreciate it if you tone down what came across as hostility.

  122. 122
    Pteryxx

    jaimedelgado: Go back to here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/thats-not-a-godwin-thats-a-wollstonecraft/

    Paula Kirby actually called certain FTB bloggers “feminazis” and “femistasi” unironically.

  123. 123
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes fair enough Jaime but don’t just go by your memory and then contradict us, ok? You said yourself you skimmed Paula’s letter. Well don’t skim it and then try to set us straight about what she said.

  124. 124
    Ophelia Benson

    Paula’s been cranking out the most ridiculous tweets – my favorite being

    More RTs coming up. If you are sick of the #FTBullies, it is safe to speak up – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And if you don’t speak up, who will?

    I just had a good time making fun of that on Twitter.

    And she accuses us of dramatizing etc etc etc!!

  125. 125
    GMM

    bertrandrussell – “I believe you should check out posts 45 and 47 for the behavior I was alluding to with my paraphrase.”

    Since I was post #47, I’d like to say that you completely managed to ignored the majority of what I was trying to say and and just latched on to that last part about how Kirby blocks people who have dissenting views on facebook and twitter.

    The post I made at #47 is:
    bertrandrussell -“It appears to speak to how those who disagree here are treated with a sort of hostility just because eh do disagree.”

    Me – “So Paula isn’t reacting with hostility when characterizes people *she* disagrees with as Nazis and totalitarians? People often disagree and have strong opinions, but the people who express opinions that Paula disagrees with are “silencing dissent” and are hostile and oppressive. When she expresses her opinions and individual people on FTB disagree with her, she is some kind of martyr for free speech, bravely standing up to an oppressive, totalitarian regime(of people expressing their own opinions).

    Then she un-friends and blocks these awful people and continues to talk trash about them, with no dissenting opinions allowed. That isn’t treating people with hostility?

    Jesus.”

    Can you address anything I said in the first paragraph and not the blocking/unfriending on twitter part? The first paragraph is my main point.

    Thanks.

  126. 126
    daniellavine

    I don’t even know what’s going on here. I’m trying to understand.

    Really simple. Kirby accused people of being “feminazis” and “femistasi.” As you note, she claims:

    “I am categorically NOT suggesting that the people I have applied these terms to are, in fact, Nazis or Stasi members, or would ever have sympathized with either of them.”

    If she’s not suggesting that then why use the terms?

    “It might be considered distasteful that the suffix -nazi has come to be used simply to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, but nevertheless, it has come to be so used, and The Sisterhood of the Oppressed cannot legitimately chalk it up as yet another example of their alleged victimization.”

    It is considered distasteful by pretty much anyone who is not a 4-channer or hypocritical right-wing blowhard. When so used “Godwin’s law” protesting such invocations is usually mentioned. Because most reasonable people understand that these terms do not advance reasonable discourse.

    Has Kirby established a justification for using the terms? Her case has two parts:
    1) “it has come to be so used”. By whom? How many of them? To what end? Kirby doesn’t bother with this. She just assumes that it’s perfectly normal discussion to accuse people with whom you disagree to be Nazis or Stasi officers.
    2) “In both “feminazi” and “femistasi” the allusion is to certain totalitarian attitudes and the intolerance and suppression of dissent.” Does THIS justify the use of the terms? I don’t think so. You certainly don’t NEED to mention either the Nazis or the Stasi in connection with suppression of dissent. Actually, calling it “suppression of dissent” is kind of begging the question isn’t it? Shouldn’t Kirby have to establish that this is, in fact, what’s happening before calling it such?

    And even if she DID establish that, would the terms “Nazi” and “Stasi” be applicable?

    No, Kirby’s being a hypocrite. She’s being unreasonable. There’s really no reason to validate her opinion on this issue.

  127. 127
    jaimedelgado

    Pteryxx:

    Thank you for the link. That’s the kind of information I was digging for.

    Ophelia Benson:

    I’m not trying to set anyone straight. Like I told Daniellavine, I’ve admitted I’m practically entirely ignorant here. I’m only engaging in dialogue to find out more information. If I didn’t, Pteryxx wouldn’t have provided me the link s/he did. I think I’ve been entirely respectful here. I don’t appreciate getting talked down to like this.

    Thanks to everyone that helped me out though and gave me all the links, including those who treated me less respectfully than I believe I deserved to be. I feel better informed now. I appreciate all of the help. Goodbye.

  128. 128
    daniellavine

    I don’t appreciate getting talked down to like this.

    Thanks to everyone that helped me out though and gave me all the links, including those who treated me less respectfully than I believe I deserved to be

    @jaime:

    Here is what I consider the most condescending post on the thread so far:

    I think I specifically remember Paula Kirby categorically rejecting calling anyone Nazis or Stasi, just that there are apparently some people over here (I think she was referring to FtB) who share an undesirable quality with them. I know I do that a lot to friends and family, calling them retarded or idiots for example. It’s not that I think they’re mentally retarded, it’s just that they said or did something you wouldn’t reasonably expect from someone who isn’t. That’s what I took from Paula Kirby’s letter. Or would that be splitting hairs?

    I don’t think anything since has qualified as “talking down to you,” certainly not to this extent. “I know I just said I don’t know anything about this but I’m pretty sure you’re interpreting everything all wrong.” You really can’t win. There is nothing you can say to disagree with someone that won’t be interpreted as unreasonable, condescending, or something similar.

  129. 129
    Deepak Shetty

    @jamie delgado
    What’s this “elevator gate” thing?
    In this case , you might be better of taking the blue pill.

    Anyway you can Google for the term if you are really interested – I don’t think anyone put up a timeline of events similar to this time nor can I easily summarise this

  130. 130
    daniellavine

    I would appreciate it if you tone down what came across as hostility.

    I am curious what came across as hostility. I see no part of the post that this responds to that is hostile to anything but Kirby’s “debate” tactics.

  131. 131
    jaimedelgado

    Daniellavine:

    “I know I just said I don’t know anything about this but I’m pretty sure you’re interpreting everything all wrong.”

    I never said anyone was “interpreting everything all wrong.” I just said that with everything I knew, that’s how I took Paula Kirby’s statement. When Pteryxx provided me with the link, I of course had to update my outlook, but that’s all I was doing. I honestly have a hard time seeing how that was condescending. It’s not like I drew some sort of line in the sand. It’s not as if I said “this is what Paula Kirby meant.”

    Deepak Shetty:

    Please check out post 116. I had a brain fart. lol

    Honestly, this is all a bit difficult to process. I’m not even trying to win anything. I’m only asking for information.

  132. 132
    Pteryxx

    jaimedelgado: a trolling tactic called “JAQ’ing off” (where JAQ is short for Just Asking Questions) has been used extensively around FTB to interfere with any discussion about feminism or sexism. I answered neutrally with links because that’s my personal preferred tactic; but I also estimated about a 50-50 chance that you were in fact trolling. It’s a risk I take; and very often my presumption of good faith turns out to be wasted.

  133. 133
    jaimedelgado

    Daniellavine:

    “I don’t see how you can possibly make the case that she’s making a reasonable criticism here. And it’s not incumbent on me to prove that the person flinging around the word “Nazi” and refusing to engage with critics has nothing reasonable to add. It’s incumbent on you to prove that she does.”

    When I read that, the tone came across as rude. I don’t even know how anyone can say it’s incumbent upon me to prove she’s making a reasonable criticism when I’ve admitted that I have no idea what is going on. When I shared what I got from her paper regarding that bit, I was only trying to see if it was valid, since, given how much I didn’t know, I knew the likelihood of me being accurate was slim. I even asked a question at the end to make it obvious I wasn’t claiming any sort of definitive proof.

    The other instance was when Ophelia Benson said I was trying to set anyone straight. I got the impression I was being talked at like a child because of an assumption.

  134. 134
    jaimedelgado

    Pteryxx:

    I did admit I don’t visit FtB often, and when I do visit, it’s usually Pharyngula, so I’m pretty unfamiliar with whatever trolling tactics are used. I’m not trying to troll anyone. I’d repeat that I’m just asking questions, but I’m afraid that I’d just be poisoning my own well seeing as I now know such a thing exists.

  135. 135
    daniellavine

    @jaimedelgado:

    Care to share what struck you as “hostile” from the post you described as such? I’m still not seeing it.

    I never said anyone was “interpreting everything all wrong.”

    This is turning into a very stupid argument. You didn’t say this explicitly but it’s the only reasonable interpretation of your comment: that kamarkin and I seemed to be interpreting Kirby incorrectly. Is that not how I should have interpreted it?

    Also, I wasn’t particularly worried about the fact that “Even though I don’t know what you’re talking about I’m pretty sure you’re wrong” is kind condescending. It didn’t bother me until you accused others of “talking down to you.” I don’t really see that happening either.

  136. 136
    jaimedelgado

    Pteryxx:

    Well, now I’m just trying to set the record straight since apparently some think I’m behaving condescendingly. By the way, whoever coined that term, “JAQ’ing off,” is a genius. lol

  137. 137
    daniellavine

    When I read that, the tone came across as rude. I don’t even know how anyone can say it’s incumbent upon me to prove she’s making a reasonable criticism when I’ve admitted that I have no idea what is going on.

    It’s incumbent to you to prove she’s making a reasonable criticism when you make an assertion to that effect. Which you did. If you had no idea what was going wrong then you probably shouldn’t have made such an assertion.

    When I shared what I got from her paper regarding that bit, I was only trying to see if it was valid, since, given how much I didn’t know, I knew the likelihood of me being accurate was slim. I even asked a question at the end to make it obvious I wasn’t claiming any sort of definitive proof.

    That’s not really how it came across. Adding “am I splitting hairs” to the end of a post doesn’t turn the whole thing into a question.

  138. 138
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    Well, as far as I know, you might have been interpreting it incorrectly. I don’t know. That’s why I wanted to talk about it. I’m playing my own devil’s advocate here. I just want to make sure I understand everything correctly.

    Also, I readily admit that I could have read details into your statements that weren’t there, but that’s how they came across to me. And seeing Ophelia Benson’s comment in response to my own where she said “Fair enough,” I thought she agreed that there was some hostility from you.

  139. 139
    Pteryxx

    For what it’s worth, I tend to read literally, so I’m not the best judge of condescension levels unless something is really blatant. That’s why I’m not making a judgement call on the tone of your posts, jaimedelgado; based on the mere fact that you asked for background information to be provided, I figured a 50-50 chance that you were either trolling and would eventually turn nasty, OR that you merely didn’t think to scroll back in Ophelia’s posts to find the initial mention of Paula Kirby’s comments. (It did take a bit of back-clicking and there’s no direct hyperlink from A to B.) As of this comment I still can’t tell either way; nothing personal intended from me, jaimedelgado. Providing info is just my own preferred default.

  140. 140
    daniellavine

    @jaimedelgado:

    Try not to read my mind any more, OK? You’re bad at it.

    Well, as far as I know, you might have been interpreting it incorrectly. I don’t know.

    But to demonstrate that I was interpreting it incorrectly you would have to make some kind of argument to that effect. Which you weren’t prepared to do. So?

    That’s why I wanted to talk about it. I’m playing my own devil’s advocate here.

    It is often difficult to distinguish devil’s advocates from trolls.

    Also, I readily admit that I could have read details into your statements that weren’t there, but that’s how they came across to me.

    I still don’t see anything rude about it and I suspect you’re not better at reading Ophelia’s mind than my own. You seemed to be arguing that Kirby’s remarks should be interpreted with a remarkable amount of charity. I simply suggested that if you think so then you need to make a case as to why.

  141. 141
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    I wasn’t making an assertion, as in “what I’m saying is accurate.” I was sharing my understanding that I thought, given the entire context of everything I’ve said here, was not meant to be taken as authoritative. I don’t see what the big deal is.

    Also, when I said “Am I splitting hairs,” I was only presenting one possibility that immediately popped into my mind about how I could have been wrong.

  142. 142
    Worldtraveller

    Let me see if I can re-work this to make sense to our micro-cerebrally challenged friend:

    I read bertrandrussel’s post and I am in total disagreement with xir. Reading this blog post along with the comments, then reading bertrandrussel’s post, and then going back to review the blog and comments, it looked to me as if bertrandrussel’s is only proving what what the OP is saying.

    I hope this doesn’t set off a sh*t-storm of hatred as I’ve witnesses on other blogs on this network. If it will make any of you feel better, be my guest.

    There. Better.

    Oh, and I want to play sax in the chorus…cuz I can’t sing for shit! (But there’s nothing like good sax!)

  143. 143
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    I’m afraid you are equally bad at reading my own mind as I was to yours, since you keep making these twists and turns to find some way I am being condescending. I apologize for interpreting you incorrectly. I sincerely hope you would do the same.

  144. 144
    Ophelia Benson

    Oy. Enough.

  145. 145
    jaimedelgado

    Pteryxx:

    It’s the final option. I don’t remember where I originally found Paula Kirby’s letter and gave up. But, thanks for giving me the info. That’s really all I was looking for and I wasn’t trying to troll. I’m just genuinely curious. I didn’t know the troll problem was so bad here that I would be considered one for just asking questions (or “JAQ’ing” lol).

  146. 146
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Surprise surprise, Bert got a bit less passive about the aggression. I put him in moderation just in time.

    Oh no, Ophelia, you’re so oppressing him! That makes you just like those guys with the black coats and cars who’s ring at your door and take you away forever!

    John Horstman
    Thank you. I blushed, honestly.

  147. 147
    daniellavine

    I wasn’t making an assertion, as in “what I’m saying is accurate.” I was sharing my understanding that I thought, given the entire context of everything I’ve said here, was not meant to be taken as authoritative. I don’t see what the big deal is.

    Also, when I said “Am I splitting hairs,” I was only presenting one possibility that immediately popped into my mind about how I could have been wrong.

    I’m no better at reading your mind than you are at mine, and frankly if you expect such a charitable reading of your posts then I’m a little confused as to why you’d interpret my response so uncharitably. When you put “am I splitting hairs” it’s not at all obvious that you’re only presenting it as a possibility. It looks very much like you’re presenting as the only possibility.

    When you phrase something as an assertion:

    I think I specifically remember Paula Kirby categorically rejecting calling anyone Nazis or Stasi, just that there are apparently some people over here (I think she was referring to FtB) who share an undesirable quality with them.

    I will tend to take it as an assertion. This seems to be an assertion that Kirby has “categorically rejected calling anyone Nazis”. To which my — entirely reasonable — response was: “well then why did she do exactly that?”

    I know I do that a lot to friends and family, calling them retarded or idiots for example.

    This looks like making excuses for someone. It doesn’t look like an argument that I’ve misinterpreted Kirby. It looks like an assumption that I’ve misinterpreted Kirby. Actually, it looks like you’re trying to read Kirby’s mind too.

    The comment you said looked “hostile” wasn’t written with any hostility towards you but I’m starting to feel some now after being dragged into this pissing match. I’ve said nothing “hostile” and haven’t “talked down to you” and I resent having to rebut accusations that I have.

  148. 148
    daniellavine

    Sorry Ophelia. My last word on this thread.

    I should apologize for what? Being falsely accused of being “hostile” and “talking down to you”?

    Fat chance. You’re not being nearly as “civil” as you seem to think you are.

  149. 149
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    Oh, I see. Yea, I can see how you took everything the way you did. Sorry for not being clear. I thought my several admissions of ignorance would have sufficed but I’m sorry for assuming it was.

  150. 150
    Pteryxx

    since you keep making these twists and turns to find some way I am being condescending.

    Even I could tell THAT was condescending. I’m still reserving judgement, depending on where the conversation goes from here.

    In any case, jaimedelgado: You’re welcome.

  151. 151
    Pteryxx

    Cross-posted. *nods*

  152. 152
    daniellavine

    Even I could tell THAT was condescending. I’m still reserving judgement, depending on where the conversation goes from here.

    I am no longer reserving judgment. I am done after that little stinker.

  153. 153
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    I’ve apologized. I wish you would do the same. It’s not like you’re innocent in this misunderstanding. In all seriousness, it looked like you were just trying to find a way to twist everything I said into making me a bad guy.

  154. 154
    daniellavine

    General note to no one in particular. Usually a sincere apology is not coupled with an accusation of dishonesty.

  155. 155
    jaimedelgado

    daniellavine:

    I actually first apologized a few posts up with no accusation of dishonesty on your behalf.

  156. 156
    Ophelia Benson

    jaime – I said ENOUGH.

  157. 157
    Ophelia Benson

    Giliell – I know! I’m [whispers] worse than the Nazis. Somebody on Twitter said so.

  158. 158
    daniellavine

    @OB:

    Sorry to have continued after you said “enough.”

  159. 159
    Ophelia Benson

    Is ok Daniel.

  1. 160
    Paula Kirby wrote stupid shit « Jadehawk's Blog

    [...] much crap in this, a single essay doesn’t do it justice: atheist logic, Ophelia Benson pt. 1, pt. 2, and SUIRAUQA (there’s probably more, but those are the ones I know about) First, since I [...]

  2. 161
    #47 Identify the Fringe « More Women in Skepticism

    [...] thought as to maybe you’re the one looking for confirmation in an echo chamber instead of the Oppressed Sisters and Their Approved Male Chorus? Any thought at [...]

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