The unapproved chorus

Jadehawk does a great fisking of Paula Kirby’s recent declaration of war. I’ve been half-wanting to address the substance but half not wanting to, because there is such a thing as boredom and too much of one subject and let’s move on already. But now Jadehawk has done a thorough one, so that’s that off my mind.

(What I would have said, if I’d said it, is that the whole idea that the answer to systemic injustice is to redouble one’s own efforts is just fatuous, and also strikingly illiberal. Why should anyone have to redouble her efforts in order to overcome systemic injustice? What the hell is wrong with trying to get rid of the systemic injustice? Why should people just put up with it and accept that they have to work four times as hard as luckier people just to get to the same place? Or as Jadehawk put it, “Where in the goddamn universe has being silent about systemic oppression and telling people to instead fix themselves ever worked?”)

One thing Paula said I will comment on now though.

So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.

Hey you know what? I’m not seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, and I’m not staying quiet and submissive, either. Isn’t that why Paula is so furious at me? Because I didn’t stay quiet and submissive? Because I said DJ shouldn’t have blamed women who talk about harassment for the decline in women registering for TAM? The quiet and submissive thing to do would have been to say nothing, and decide to do my TAM talk on…I never could figure out what, frankly. That was one reason the whole thing was such a clusterfuck – what exactly did DJ want me to talk about? I had no clue. Clearly nothing related to women in secularism – and he was on record as not wanting atheism to be on the menu – so what, then? Why did he invite me in the first place? Again: no clue.

But anyway: quiet and submissive would have been to say nothing, but instead I said something. Rebecca hasn’t been very quiet and submissive either, and again, isn’t that why Paula is so furious with her? I’m already assertive. I assert all over the place every day. I don’t need practice. I don’t “seize on excuses” – I talk about sexist epithets and harassment and bullying because I think they’re bad harmful things, not because I’m looking for “excuses.”

Comments

  1. says

    To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do.

    Right. That way, when a guy tells you to make him a sammich, you can do so with confidence. /snark

  2. Brian says

    I’m trying to follow the logic:
    Women, don’t be silent, stand up and be proud.
    Ophelia, you’re not being silent, shut the fuck up!

    Internally inconsistent? I think so.

  3. melody says

    I tried to avoid reading Paula Kirby’s hate letter. Now that I’ve seen a bit of it, it’s worse than I thought. I’m sick to my stomach.

  4. says

    Melody – yes. As I’ve said ad nauseam, it’s so bad it’s astonishing. The wild enthusiasm of Russell Blackford is also astonishing. (I mean, apart from anything else, CFI has been very kind to him. It’s odd that he’s not even a little bashful about endorsing such a rude attack on a CFI conference.)

  5. Tigger_the_Wing says

    Yes sir, Mr 12 sir! Right away! And would you like a cup of tea with that?

  6. karmakin says

    Yeah, you gotta assert yourself unless it’s a situation where I don’t want you to assert yourself.

    I agree with the general premise that this really is a Libertarian/Progressive DEEP RIFT. The letter is pretty clear on that. (I read the first few pages then shut it down originally).

    It’s simple. They’re fighting this pointless stupid, ridiculous war here so they don’t have to fight it over there on their home turf.

  7. Brian says

    I agree with the general premise that this really is a Libertarian/Progressive DEEP RIFT.
    I’ve been reading the book ‘Reactionary mind…’ that SC linked to on Richard Carrier’s blog. Very interesting, in that conservatives (which comprehend libertarians) are against the enfranchisement of those without power, and all that. Freedom’s good for me, but not you. Or more colloquially, piss of Jack, I’m alright…

  8. Stacy says

    Nice job, Jadehawk! Ophelia, thanks for sharing that.

    I am totally stealing this turn of phrase:

    incoherent puddles of self-pity

    –for use against MRAs, “reverse racism” concern trolls, and privileged whiners everywhere.

  9. geocatherder says

    I’ve been out of the workforce studenting for awhile, but I do recall as a female working in a mostly-male engineering profession that it took a LOT of courage the first few times when I had to stand up for myself professionally. By the end of my second decade in the business I could calmly tackle the most unpleasant of discussions on things like schedule, let alone the technical issues that might have sent me to the ladies’ room, crying, feeling like a failure a decade and a half earlier. I mentored quite a few young women engineers during that time, and to a person they suffered from the same sense of incompetence that I did. Some of them rose to the situation and learned confidence; alas, some of them, including one of the best, never did.

    As for myself, I’m now one opinionated bitch. (I still defer to logic and reality, however.)

    We need to nurture our sisters, ladies, and encourage them, as well as speak out for ourselves. Ignore the naysayers. They will be overridden by the tide of history.

  10. hypatiasdaughter says

    #10 geocatherder THUMBS UP!
    But as someone who also describes herself as a “bitch” because I know my own mind and won’t let myself be silenced if I think I’m right, I have to ask…..

    Why are we considered “bitches” for having the same respect for our intelligence, competence and our own opinions as any normal, mentally healthy, self-respecting man does?

  11. says

    And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success.

    What she means is that she’ll take credit for her success (ignoring all the luck and privilege that got her there), and you’re on your own. Why should she have to do anything? Why should she risk her position by rocking the boat that has served her so well, especially when she sees what happens to women who do so. So better for her that she pretend that there’s no problem and instead of eating a lot of shit for being a woman she eats a little and dumps the rest of it on other women.

  12. says

    So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge the poor and middle-class to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we deal with job loss, foreclosure or medical problems. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can adapt appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever the successful can do. To stop seizing on excuses for losing that job or house or family member, stop blaming it on corporations or predatory lending practices or lobbying or, silliest of all, “income growth disparity”, and start simply practising working harder.

    I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

  13. says

    karmakin #7:

    I agree with the general premise that this really is a Libertarian/Progressive DEEP RIFT.

    There are atheists who will proudly identify as right-wing and look down upon the Paulbots and libertarians as uneducated anti-intellectual bullies the same way most of the Beltway media does.

    I can only confidently say that I’ve met one, which just goes to show the kind of reality that the Beltway media lives in. But suffice to say that if the one conservative atheist I ran into pops in here you’ll probably hear it about how not all right-wing atheists are libertarians/Paulbots and you really shouldn’t make assumptions about conservatives based on what you observe about conservatives.

    That is, of course, if they don’t get beaten to the punch by the libertarians who say that not all libertarians are regressives and you really shouldn’t make assumptions about libertarians based on what you observe about libertarians.

    Isn’t regressive “logic” fun?

  14. jose says

    I think she’s asking more than being mature and capable adults. I know plenty of adults who are mature and capable but they’re also timid, lacking in confidence, solitary, lazy, etc. In order to overcome social issues like harassment, you have to be sort of a hero, or at least be courageous and face risks. That’s more than being just adult and capable.

    As an analogy, I can do my job fine, but I’m not going to go to the boss and try to get rid of some of the absurd, unjust work conditions we have. Instead I sign up in the unions, I go to the meetings, I vote, and a few people elected by all members do the talking and the organizing as part of a collective, because there is power in numbers. In a union, each individual is sheltered by the collective. For many members it boils down to “they can’t fire us all, can they?”. This is how you can be a regular person (or worse. You’re allowed to be cowardly and weak-minded too! That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve rights!) and still maintain your rights and sometimes conquer new ones.

    However if I understood well she’s asking women to face issues that are, frankly, bigger than individuals (non-heroic individuals, at least). That’s quite a burden to bear if you don’t have a collective backing you up. No doubt the stronger ones may make it. Good for them. Too bad about the rest, though…

    It reminds me of when you complain that you got mugged and you’re told something like “duh, you should have done self-defense or carried a weapon, if you can’t take care of yourself what do you expect”. That’s great in the wild wild west, but hey, can we pressure the town hall to make the streets safer instead? Can we collect signatures or something? That way everybody will benefit, not only the ones with enough time, will and money to face the issue on their own…

  15. says

    Well said, Jadehawk.

    I’ve been reading the book ‘Reactionary mind…’ that SC linked to on Richard Carrier’s blog.

    :)

    ***

    So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge the poor and middle-class to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we deal with job loss, foreclosure or medical problems [!!!]. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success….

    I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

    No. No, it doesn’t. This issue really has exposed the moronic underbelly of this movement, hasn’t it?

  16. A. Noyd says

    That “quote” is Setár’s reimagining of one of the bits of Kirby’s idiotic document (quoted by Jadehawk). Here it is with the common words unaltered, Kirby’s struck out, and Setár’s in italics.

    So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women the poor and middle-class to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement deal with job loss, foreclosure or medical problems. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men the successful can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive losing that job or house or family member, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny corporations or predatory lending practices or lobbying or, silliest of all, “privilege” “income growth disparity”, and start simply practising being more assertive working harder.

  17. says

    SC #!6:

    No. No, it doesn’t. This issue really has exposed the moronic underbelly of this movement, hasn’t it?

    Right down to how their arguments and tactics are exactly the same.

    But don’t say that in public. Want to see what happened when I did that? I can go back and link if you’re interested (when Maddow is done that is, today has been quite good so far).

    karmakin #18:

    @SC: Where is that quote from? (Yes, it’s quite repugnant.)

    My comment #13.

  18. says

    My comment #13.

    Oh, FFS. You altered the quote and didn’t indicate that clearly? Don’t do that.

    Yes, I see that you were making an equivalence. It’s misleading and not helpful if you’re not absolutely clear about it.

  19. anthrosciguy says

    Remember the book Who moved my cheese?, about, as outlined at Amazon, “The point of the story is that we have to be alert to changes in the cheese, and be prepared to go running off in search of new sources of cheese when the cheese we have runs out.”

    And remember that the background to that book was the constant stealing of employee’s pension funds by businesses’ execs — that was the “cheese” that had been “moved” — and the idea that people had to just get over that and look for some more instead of going after the crooks who stole their pension funds.

    That’s the same brand of libertarianism that is underlying Kirby’s rants, and that I pointed out a while back is rampant among many of the higher-ups surrounding the JREF (and, of course, TAM).

  20. says

    Remember the book Who moved my cheese?,

    Barbara Ehrenreich has a great section about it in Bright-Sided.

    ***

    I thought about that, SC. Now if you excuse me, I need to go beat the part of my brain that wants to say something about giving me credit for intelligence (we’ll just say that my family treated me like I was about five years old until I graduated high school and leave it at that).

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. I think your point was perfectly good. The execution fell short, though, and I was annoyed because I was led to think those were her words.

  21. says

    anthrosciguy #23:

    And remember that the background to that book was the constant stealing of employee’s pension funds by businesses’ execs — that was the “cheese” that had been “moved” — and the idea that people had to just get over that and look for some more instead of going after the crooks who stole their pension funds.

    Which the executives will then steal; or, in the case of Kirby, which she will not give any credit for.

    It’s almost the promotion of abuse, really. We’re being told that we need to do more and trust them to reward us for it when they have a track record stretching back forever that shows we can’t trust them. And when you start hauling out that track record, they unleash a bunch of “centrist” “independent” “on the fence” attack dogs to bury you in Sophisticated Theology Equality.

  22. M Groesbeck says

    And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.

    This shit, right here? This is the secular version of “prosperity gospel”. “Take responsibility” in this case means “whatever you get, by definition you deserve” — it’s the common thread between Libertarian Party capitalist-authoritarians and “prosperity gospel” authoritarian theocrats. It’s the insistence that any recognition of a systematic problem is by definition at the expense of any individual effort; after all, we [members of oppressed group] all have the capacity for free will, which means that we totally have the ability to overturn all of the effects of [system of privilege] in our own lives! Ayn Rand and Benny Hinn both say so!

  23. Svlad Cjelli says

    “Orderliness expresses self-righteous abstract beauty”
    //Chopra-generator

  24. Dubliner says

    Thank you for bringing Paula Kirbys article to my attention. One of the best I’ve come across in many a day from the sceptic movement. I had despaired of finding other women with whom I could have anything in common with amidst all the freethought fishwives and their arselickers. From today on I’ll watch for Paulas articles as she at least has a point of view that is not some ‘identikit’ manufactured outrage. The so called feminists of the freethought bloggery (who frankly I can’t tell one from the other) seem to have succumbed to that tendency one sadly regularly sees among some who perceive themselves to have been abused – treat others the way they’ve been treated and worse.

    The treatment of those who have truly benefited the sceptic and atheist movement like the iconic DJ Groethe has been a disgrace to both the sceptic and the feminist communities and I am glad to find there are other women like Paula not prepared to be cowed into ignoring such abuse. When men referred to me as a feminazi in the past little did I ever think that there would come a time when that word would just as easily come to my mind on witnessing the abusive behaviour of other feminists.

  25. Ruth says

    The problem Paula has is that she is insufficiently skeptical. Skepticism is about asking questions, and although Paula asked questions about the invisibility of women in public life, she stopped asking questions too soon.

    The part of her essay that deals with the Nazi/Stasi comments is, indeed, laughable, but there is a whole chumk in the middle where she is repeating something that she wrote some time ago that is actually good, as far as it goes, it just doesn’t go far enough.

    She talks about her own personal experiences, which are as valid as anyone elses, in trying, as an organiser, to get women to speak at conferences and the like. She reports that she found women reluctant to speak, even when invited, and suggests that this reluctance, and not just a lack of invitations, is behind the gender imbalance on the platform.

    The problem is, she stops there. She concludes that women ‘just are’ reluctant to speak or put themselves forward. She doesn’t ask the obvious – to a good skeptic that is – next question. WHY are they so reluctant to speak?

    Plenty of people are answering that question for her, pointing to the unpleasantness that women are getting when they DO speak up *cough Sarkeesian cough*, but because she hasn’t asked that question, she’s ignoring everone’s answers to it as ‘off topic’.

  26. roland72 says

    I think she doesn’t ask the question “why are women reluctant to speak?” because she might not like her own answer. The unspoken thought in her essay is “because women are too pathetic and weak”, and she dances round that conclusion without ever properly stating it. I think it might do her good to actually come out and say it, as it might make her realise that her position is not tenable.

  27. Ray Moscow says

    karmarkin @ 7:

    I agree with the general premise that this really is a Libertarian/Progressive DEEP RIFT.

    That’s a good insight. All of my adult life, I’ve been puzzled by the ‘I did OK, so what’s your problem?’ attitude toward social problems and injustice.

    Yes, I’ve done OK for a person from a fairly poor background, but I also had a lot of help along the way (decent public education, financial assistance after my father died, scholarships, etc.) as well as the privilege of being a white male American. To use my success as an excuse to deny help or justice to others just seems shitty to me.

  28. says

    treat others the way they’ve been treated and worse

    You don’t know the slightest thing about this situation do you? Can you point to a single example of these dreaded FTB feminists doing something worse than taunting rape victims or taking upskirt photos of women at conferences?

  29. says

    Dubliner
    Poe’S fucking law.
    Good-bye and thank you for the fish.

    ++++
    Fucking Libertarians, how do they work?
    Paula Kirby:

    -Denies the well-established fact of systematic oppression of women. The fact that women don’t only have to go out and do, but have to do twice as much as men-

    -Hails the “Strong Woman Fallacy”. It’s like pointing to Marie Curie telling women that if she succeeded than they can, too and if they don’t, it’s their fault.

    -Is a hilarious pile of self-contradiction because she’s actually furious at women who do open their mouths

    Short for: The problem with “what doesn’t kill you makes you harder” is that quite often it just kills you and leaves you broken at other times. But then, you’re probably not mature adult enough…

  30. says

    @ Setár #24, 26:

    Family nastiness flashbacks, yikes! Don’t beat yourself up. Your reworking of Kirby’s prose was spot on. And as it was riffing on a quote that was in the OP, after all. If it helps, well, I had no problem getting it, and obviously neither did A. Noyd.

    @ M Groesbeck:

    Oh, yes, “prosperity gospel”! Exactly. And similar assorted scams.

    @ Dubliner:

    If you used to be called “feminazi” by the MRAs but since turned around and embraced feminism-bashing, I have bad news for you: you haven’t seen the light, you’re suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

    @ roland72:

    Great analysis. It looks like a common failure for people like her, who start with. good intentions but are not willing to follow their logic to the end… especially if it challenges some deeply held views, like the illusion of a just world. Which is only too convenient for conservatives and libertarians.

  31. says

    Dubliner, a chorus of voices in unison does not mean there is no freethought behind it. Nor does it mean the outrage is manufactured. Nor does it result in bullying. It means there are many people that agree that there is a genuine problem, that things should change and are working (successfully, I might add) to effect change.

    What is your problem with the notion that there should be anti-harassment guidelines at conferences? Is this really such a bad thing? Or is it your view that harassment is a fixed feature of the landscape and that if a woman cannot bootstrap her way past harassers then she is a nobody whom no-one should have the least bit sympathy for? Which, frankly, is how I read Kirby.

  32. Brian says

    I must protest the chorus of voices who agree that given the definitions of numbers and arithmetic operators, that 2 + 2 = 4. For shame, where is your skepticism?
    I also must protest the chorus of voices who agree with the overwhelming chorus of biologicial scientists and physical evidence (evidence is not skeptical of itself I tells ya!) that life evolved over the last 3.5 billion odd years.
    I again most strongly protest against the chorus of voices who believe that babies don’t come delivered in nice resuable nappies (diapers for the nice imperialist northerners), but yet are forced painfully from the womb via the vagina out of the vulva. Where’s your skeptiscism people? Storks exist, ergo, they painlessly deliver loved ones capriciously.
    Freethought blogs is not skeptical enougth. Agreeing with the scientific concensus, or the consencus of experts means your not skeptical enough. And I want my freedom to do what I want as I want, and if you stop me, even if I’m shitting down your throat, you’re anti-free speech and part of a hive mind. QE fucking D!

  33. carlie says

    jose – Paula’s answer to you, based on her writing, would be that you should NOT join a union and try to be an activist that way. No, you should just hold your head high and rise above the fray your own self, and then of course you will succeed. Anything other than doing it by yourself is weak and telling women that they’re bad. Or something like that.

  34. daenyx says

    Kirby is a talking-head caricature of the female misogyny apologist. That letter is… wow. She actually used the word ‘hysterical.’

    So, we should all be assertive and confident, except when people are stomping on us, and then we need to just keep a stiff upper lip and pretend it didn’t happen, because that’s what adults do. Right. I’ll get right on that.

  35. Brian says

    Hysterical etymologically derives from hysterion. That’s Greek for uterus. Excepting trans-gender ladies, you know you have one. Therefore, all non trans-gender ladies are uterical! OK, trans ladies are honararily uterical.

    It’s giving me vapours, the humours are rising. Someone perform a blood-letting upon me before the demon possesses me!

    Such is my understanding of gender, sex, health, and politics in the modern age.

  36. avh1 says

    Ok Dubliner owes me a new lung to replace the one I just perforated laughing at the idea that DJ Grothe is an icon of ‘the sceptical movement’.

  37. Kalliope says

    I am in awe of the number of areas of study she managed to completely get wrong.

    We’ve got:

    1) Linguistics
    2) History (recent, history, even)
    3) Sociology
    4) Political science
    5) Economics
    6) Philosophy

    Does she get some kind of an “around the world” award?

    And then basic language skills. “Totalitarianism” is not an analogy. It is a very specific definition.

    Her ignorance is overshadowed only by her arrogance.

  38. says

    anthrosciguy @ 23 –

    That’s the same brand of libertarianism that is underlying Kirby’s rants, and that I pointed out a while back is rampant among many of the higher-ups surrounding the JREF (and, of course, TAM).

    Ohhh. I didn’t know that. That would indeed explain a lot.

  39. smrnda says

    What would this woman’s advice be for me on the right way to handle the situation of not being able to walk in public without some guy screaming “I wanna fuck you bitch!” or something like that? I mean, is she telling me to ignore it or to take responsibility for confronting every guy who harasses me in public? Doesn’t she think it’s worth asking why some men feel motivated to do that in the first place?

  40. Kalliope says

    @M Groesbeck –

    It’s part of that Calvinist vein that runs through American culture.

  41. Lyanna says

    Okay, so Paula Kirby wants you to stand up for yourself. But only in the sense of telling the individual harasser, then and there, to shove it, if and when he harasses you.

    She doesn’t want you to stand up for yourself by talking about harassment before or after any specific incident of harassment. She doesn’t want you to stand up for yourself by telling the community about it so everyone knows it’s a problem. She doesn’t want you to stand up for yourself by talking to others who’ve experienced it, and banding together with them to demand better treatment. She doesn’t want you to stand up for yourself by making a public argument about why this behavior is toxic.

    In other words, she wants you to stand up for yourself, but not by any method that’s likely to actually be effective.

    Got it.

  42. says

    The treatment of those who have truly benefited the sceptic and atheist movement like the iconic DJ Groethe has been a disgrace to both the sceptic and the feminist communities

    Dubliner, others have documented this better than I, but the view here is that DJ Groethe made a fundamental error when he accused several prominent bloggers, with scant evidence and some fairly rocky reasoning, of turning women away from TAM. (Particularly as the thin examples he offered up didn’t mention TAM at all.) He then appeared to deny that there had been any problems at the previous year’s TAM, a claim that did not hold up under closer scrutiny.

    He had ample time to calm things down or walk things back but chose not to. And his increasingly dismissive attitude towards people who were asking for answers to questions helped escalate events.

    I cannot help but view much of what transpired as being of DJ’s manufacture.

    However, please give us your view on this. Do you feel that his accusations aimed at Rebecca (for her USA Today interview) and Jen (for her wrestling with the ethics of a backchannel about serial harassers) were essentially correct? And why? Do you feel that his was a proportionate response to the situation?

    Because I tell you plainly that I don’t think he was fair, accurate or proprtionate, and that he made a drama out of something that he should not have.

  43. Rieux says

    Off-(this very important)-topic: at 8:17 this morning, it’s a boy. (Or at least AMAB, if that’s better stated.)

    6 pounds 14 ounces, 19.25 inches, 22 hours of back labor by a mom who demonstrated unbelievable guts and stamina in 3 hours of grueling pushing. Then he wrecked the Apgar curve.

    Now bedtime. Explaining how rape culture is nasty bullshit that all us XYs have a responsibility to resist will come soon enough.

    (Not snark.)

  44. karmakin says

    @Kalliope: Pretty much.

    Years ago, there was talk about an impending split in the Religious Right, where they would keep their stance on the social issues but change their stance on economic issues because of..well..Jesus and all that.

    But it never happened. And it’s not even talked about anymore.

    Calvinism (or Neo-Calvinism, as I put it) is something that I’ve been watching for about a decade and a half now. Geeez. It has been 15 years since 1997 or so. I feel old :p. Anyway, this idea, that an interventionist deity would change the order of the world if he wanted it, as such, things are the way they’re supposed to be (except for the bad stuff they don’t like) has been winning out in religious circles. You’re even seeing it in Catholicism (where it’s more or less blasphemy really).

    The Tea Party in reality is a coming-out party of sorts of Neo-Calvinism becoming a strong political force.

  45. says

    @Lyanna:

    In other words, she wants you to stand up for yourself, but not by any method that’s likely to actually be effective.

    More specifically, she wants you to stand up for yourself, while making sure you are alone when you do so.

  46. Dunc says

    Remember the book Who moved my cheese?

    I always prefer to refer to is as Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

  47. Kalliope says

    @karmakin –

    Apparently there is a big rift in the Southern Baptist Conference about whether to lean toward or away from Calvinism. I didn’t realize that it was initially founded by Calvinists.

    It’s pretty fascinating, I think.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/juneweb-only/baptists-calvinism-heresy.html

    http://www.economist.com/node/17204934

    Maybe all of these rifts (here, there, everywhere) are based in a pretty simple divide: when you hear about something happening, do you imagine you’re the one doing it, or the one it’s being done to?

  48. anthrosciguy says

    Ohhh. I didn’t know that. That would indeed explain a lot.

    It’s what was behind Randi’s brief excursion into global warming denialism a couple years back. Some of his buds in the biz (Penn and Teller for example) are died-in-the-wool libertarians, which has sometimes led them into really idiotic anti-science stuff (Penn and Teller used John Lott as an expert on gun laws, and were GW denialists and secondhand smoke denialists, along with fudging numbers to support some of their other libertarian views — see RationalWiki for examples).

    The extent to which they succumb — despite being incredibly effective skeptics in some ways — is, I think, best illustrated that one of the items Randi used to back his denialism was the Oregon Petition, which has been well known to be bullshit for well over a decade at the time Randi used it as support.

    To Randi’s credit he backtracked after readers pointed out his massive errors, but if he had done even the slightest study — literally a minute’s worth — of the subject and the Oregon Petition, he wouldn’t have come out with the BS at all. And really, I’d expect any reasonably well read skeptic to have run across the facts about global warming over the past decade, at least to the extent that they’d have the phrase “Oregon Petition” pop upo some sort of vaguely remembered red flag. If even a well-trained skeptic can fall for it, it shows just how toxic libertarianism can be when it comes to maintaining a worldview in the face of massive contrary evidence.

  49. anthrosciguy says

    @Lyanna:

    In other words, she wants you to stand up for yourself, but not by any method that’s likely to actually be effective.

    @Deen:
    More specifically, she wants you to stand up for yourself, while making sure you are alone when you do so.

    Not to mention doing so by shutting up!

  50. scrutationaryarchivist says

    One question I have is, why is all this blowing up now?

    The political issue in skepticism and atheism has clearly been around for some time. I first noticed the propertarian presence in skepticism fifteen years ago. It was in an article by Barry Fagin in Skeptical Inquirer, and one of the reasons I did not renew my subscription. This faction came as a shock since I had identified atheism and skepticism with the more egalitarian humanists. Carl Sagan seemed pretty liberal, and Annie Laurie Gaylor was interviewed on Progressive Radio (more than once). I could identify with them.

    More recently, in 2007, Daniel Loxton wrote about the importance of avoiding ideological entanglements. What do people think of his “Where Do We Go From Here?” after five years, especially in light of the tension about being welcoming to people who don’t look like the old guard? Is non-ideological skepticism more effective than one that isn’t?

    Anyway, I suspect that these fights are coming to the fore because atheism is seen as a growing prize to be won. (But I could be wrong, which is why I’m asking.) The last five years we’ve seen the rise of the YouTube atheists, big events like the Reason Rally, and more people identifying as or at least publicly expressing tolerance of atheists. Even Republican operatives are getting in on the act.

    Is all of this conflict between egalitarian atheists and hierarchical atheists a fight for the “soul” of a soul-free movement? Or is it merely the extension of an ancient fight into a new battlefield?

  51. A 'Nym Too says

    Rieux – yay, FTBabby!

    Congratulations to you both, and welcome to the world, little’un.

  52. Ray Moscow says

    @58:

    One question I have is, why is all this blowing up now?

    My take is that the right not to be sexually harassed happened to be the first social justice issue to be pushed forward, and the ‘libertarians’ (I’ll just lump all the naysayers together for simplicity) just don’t see the need for any rules against it or systems to minimise it.

    Why can’t we liberals understand that if we just get rules/law/government out of the way, we’ll all be free and as prosperous as nature allows? /snark

  53. F says

    Lyanna @ 48

    That sounds like the libertarian angle again. No, you shouldn’t attempt to change society for the better, nor create rules or laws, or have civil servants who enforce these things. You should make yourself well-off enough to buy protection, or shoot individual trespassers yourself.

  54. karmakin says

    My experience is that skepticism has ALWAYS been a Libertarian-esque movement. We’re really the interlopers here.

    (Note. I use big L to refer to right-wing Libertarians and little-l to refer to generalized libertarians, some of whom are anarchistic.)

    This is why I refer to myself as a political atheist or a humanist and not a skeptic. Skepticism has always implied a bias towards the status quo and existing hierarchies, while political atheism, at least theoretically leans towards diminishing existing hierarchies (considering how religion is one of the major hierarchies in our society).

    The two sides can’t stay together forever.

  55. Rieux says

    During SkepchickCon last weekend, I was trying out the (I thought rather daring) hypothesis that the current blog wars were two parts liberal-vs.-libertarian struggle mixed in with the obvious, say, eight or nine parts savage misogyny. Suddenly, on this thread, I see everyone on that same page. So much for my uniquely piercing insight. I blame Kirby.

    (Thanks for the congrats, O and AN2. Have now managed to get both wife and son asleep at the same time. Similarly non-daring tactic: make fake “nipple” out of pinky finger, quieting newborn and enabling log-sawing from wife, plus one-fingered iPad FTB surfing for me. 5.5 hours in, I am one kickass dad. Surely nothing can go wrong.)

  56. fastlane says

    I assert all over the place every day.

    Cleanup on aisle 4….

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. Grats to Rieux!

    And I’ll get my coat….

  57. says

    Rieux, Jason and I agreed on Twitter (after I prodded him) that we need a nym for the mama so that we don’t have to call her Rieux’s wife! :- )

    And well done making a space for her to sleep.

  58. Rieux says

    There’s always “Madame Rieux,” though that suffers from the problem that that character in The Plague spends the whole book offstage at a sanatorium until (SPOILER ALERT) she kicks the bucket (still offstage) near the end.

    Er… We both liked Kaufman/Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” plus she grew up in citrus country; how about “Clementine”?

  59. karmakin says

    @Rieux Congrats!

    And it’s kind of hard to ignore, to be honest, when we’re basically being bombarded with Libertarian ideological points left right and center. Truth be told, virtually every troll that’s popped up has used some form of Libertarian philosophy as part of the argument. (There’s probably a few exceptions, but that’s what we’ve seen for the most part)

    I’m actually at the point where it’s 33/33/33 at this point. (33% Libertarian/Progressive conflict, 33% misogyny/anti-feminism, and 33% social privilege, that is, people who like the frat house culture and want it to continue.

  60. karmakin says

    Although I should say, that on all fronts we’re basically breaking it down to the exact same argument.

    It’s between people who think that power differentials exist and are something that we should protect/defend against to try and balance them out and people who think that power differentials either don’t exist or are “rewards” that are well deserved by the people who are advantaged by them.

  61. Godless Heathen says

    The fact that women don’t only have to go out and do, but have to do twice as much as men.

    And do it twice as well.

  62. says

    from PK – tSotO diatribe

    …take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately.

    This is a precious example of the insidious force against feminism; the shame into silence strategy(tm).

    Also, I concur with the theory that Libertarianism is at the core of the current femiqual discord. Possibly because, in the old days, liberty was a wedge into religious dogma; it was a way to herd the atheists. But as any movement grows, the common ground needs to broaden and generalize. Additionally, libertarians by their nature, are not the best community organizers!

  63. Brian says

    Congrats Rieux! My second son was born on the 18th of June. So, not a great deal of sleep at my place these days…

  64. says

    You know, this is the first time I’ve seen a thread full of people coming together and agreeing that there is distinct overlap between the loud misogynists and loud libertarians/right-wingers without one of the latter coming in to pooh-pooh us all about how we shouldn’t assume things about libertarians or right-wingers, and that we just don’t understand Sophisticated Kyriarchy.

  65. dirigible says

    “My experience is that skepticism has ALWAYS been a Libertarian-esque movement.”

    I hadn’t considered that.

    Oh.

  66. jose says

    carlie, thanks for responding. The problem is there is an imbalance in power. I can’t fight on equal grounds against the guy who signs my paycheck, because I depend on him but he doesn’t depend on me, since somebody else can do my job. This is especially true for people with low paying jobs, so they are the most vulnerable group. However, the boss depends on all the workers as a collective. That’s why I talked about “heroes” in the comment, meaning people who overcome that imbalance by themselves. It’s admirable when someone manages to do it, but it shouldn’t be a requirement for everybody.

    We know cases of individual heroes because those are inspiring and rare, but in the day to day of social fights it’s almost always multiple collectives the ones which get companies, schools and sometimes governments to adopt and actually enforce provisions against harassment, employment discrimination, etc. It just works better if you look at results. A big enough number of people united simply can’t be shrugged off. Divided however we’re easy prey.

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