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Has it already been repudiated?

Ron Lindsay has a post on divisiveness in the secular community, which is attracting a hailstorm of comments.

I don’t altogether agree with it. I agree with the normative part but not entirely with the descriptive part. For instance…

…if hate-filled comments and threats to women have not been expressly called divisive, it’s because such conduct does not threaten to divide the movement. It has already been repudiated, both implicitly and explicitly, by many, if not most, of the organizations in the movement.

But that doesn’t do it. It has not already been repudiated, even implicitly, by some prominent individuals in the movement. To put it another way, there are some prominent individuals in the movement who promote it or even engage in it themselves. Not many, I think, but some. Yes that makes a difference. Imagine if there were several prominent individuals in the movement who were promoting or even engaging in openly racist discourse. That would be divisive, pretty clearly. For most of us, it works the same way when the discourse is about women (or feminists).

…the haters are not threatening to divide the movement.  No matter how frequently the haters pollute our blogs, they are outside the movement already.  No one in a position of responsibility wants them in the movement.  Whatever differences may exist among the various movement organizations, we are united on this issue.

I wish, but no. Not all of the haters are really outside the movement.

There’s Paula Kirby for example. She’s not exactly in a position of responsibility, but she seems to be because of her connection to the RDF, so what she says has some influence. She called me and Skepchicks and “FTB” generally Feminazis and Femistasi, and she circulated that caricature. That’s hater stuff.

(A lot of people think she is the Executive Director of RDF UK. I thought so myself, and referred to her as such more than once. She’s not. Look on the RDF website or where you will, you can’t find her listed as ED or any other kind of officer. It’s not fair to blame Dawkins for things that Kirby has said.)

Ron doesn’t mention Paula, but he does mention Russell Blackford.

…the label “misogynist”  is sometimes thrown about carelessly. For example, Russell Blackford, the Australian philosopher (and Free Inquiry columnist) has been called a misogynist shitbag. Yet, as far as I know, Blackford has never made any hateful comments or threats to women; indeed, he has condemned them. He has expressed doubts about the wisdom of harassment policies adopted by some organizations and, if I recall correctly, he has taken exception to some of the criticism directed against TAM (the JREF’s annual meeting). But although Blackford’s views on these issues may be misguided, that hardly qualifies him as a misogynist.

I don’t think Russell is a misogynist. I’m not sure if I’ve called him one or not, but since I don’t think he is one, I’ll guess that I haven’t. But I disagree that he has, as Ron says, condemned them (“them” being hateful comments to women). He hasn’t. That’s the issue I’ve had with him all along, ever since the summer last year: he hasn’t. He hasn’t condemned them and he has at times joined in with them. He regularly praises Abbie Smith, who is a hater-enabler as well as a hater herself. (Remember “smelly skepchick snatch”?) For many weeks he has been ranting about “FTB” many times every day on Twitter, and he’s never that I’ve seen said a word to condemn the haters. He has been all but climbing into Paula’s lap; he retweeted her deeply unpleasant “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” article more than once; he said not a word to condemn that nasty crucifixion caricature. All that does qualify him as at least a fan of misogynists.

So…I think Ron is being a little over-generous to that faction.

…the movement is divided, but it’s not divided for any good reason. It’s divided because too many in the movement are not willing to recognize that their fellow secularists can be mistaken without thereby being bigots; that their fellow secularists can have different understandings of the implications of feminism without being misogynists or “sister-punishers”; and that their fellow secularists can have can have different perceptions of the problem of harassment without being feminazis.

Yes but. Yes but sometimes it really isn’t just different perceptions of the problem of harassment, it’s labels like “Approved Male Chorus” and “Femistasi” and “FTBullies” and “smelly skepchick snatch.”

I agree with Ron’s overall point though. And I’m not without hope that things will improve.

Comments

  1. frogmistress says

    It doesn’t even matter if it HAS been repudiated because it is still happening. Just because the big dogs have said it’s bad doesn’t mean it has stopped.

    But, that’s ok. Because Ron Lindsay has said that the people doing it just aren’t part of the movement. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  2. says

    It is interesting Ron mentions the ‘hate directed at women’ series as that was really a massive blow to the ‘other side’. I asked them why that was not a clear sign the ‘movement’ or whatever is completely against them and siding with the evil Skepchicks. None of them had an answer other than the party line Boss Hoggle intimated on Rons comments — they were somehow threatened by Amy/Skepchicks!

    If they had refused they would have been outed and had their careers destroyed etc… The ridiculousness of this is clear, despite the assertions that FtBs destroy careers and suppress free speech all they have are instances where FtBs apparently ‘tried’ to do these things. No where have they examples where they succeeded. Apart from one enterprising gent who tried to tell me you lot *had* suppressed his free speech – I pointed out he was freely speaking to me on how awful FtBs were, after this he was strangely silent. Maybe the feminazi hit squad reached his house at that point or he realised how daft he sounded…

  3. Beatrice says

    Women saying that they don’t feel welcome in the atheist movement and trying to form a niche where they are safe are being divisive, but all those making them feel that way are not divisive.

    People saying that there is sexism in the atheist movement are divisive because they “are not willing to recognize that their fellow secularists can be mistaken without thereby being bigots”, but those that call them liars even when confronted with blatant misogyny, hate and threats are not divisive.

    I don’t get people :(

  4. Beatrice says

    Seriously,

    But if hate-filled comments and threats to women have not been expressly called divisive, it’s because such conduct does not threaten to divide the movement.

    Women have been saying “I don’t feel welcome. I don’t want to be part of this movement (any more)”.
    Technically, that wasn’t dividing the movement, it was outright driving people away from it. But I guess that’s fine. Just as long as we aren’t divisive.

  5. Rodney Nelson says

    …the haters are not threatening to divide the movement. No matter how frequently the haters pollute our blogs, they are outside the movement already.

    The haters have already divided the movement. It’s become the haters, the hatees, and the people like Lindsey who wring their hands not knowing what to make of it all.

    The old “tits or GTFO” cry is still being heard. However the misogynists won’t let people GTFO. The misogynists keep following everyone else around, demanding we pay attention to them. So Mr. Lindsey is wrong, the haters are still firmly entrenched in the movement and are not letting anyone go.

  6. says

    I’m glad to see leaders in organizations taking public positions on this. I have zero interest at this point in wasting my time trying to convince someone like Lindsay otherwise, but this way I know which people and groups to trust and which organizations to support (which, at the moment, I can only do in limited ways, but that might not always be the case). It simplifies things. If Lindsay at this late date can assess the situation and come out with this nonsense, and particularly that last obnoxious, false paragraph you quote, then he is not amongst my allies and I won’t be supporting his organization. In fact, I’ll likely ignore them. (It’s a shame, because they’ve otherwise done some great things over the past year that have changed my opinion for the better and led me to see them as moving in the same direction.)

    But this dispels illusions. So thank you, Ron Lindsay, for putting your views out there.

  7. says

    But if hate-filled comments and threats to women have not been expressly called divisive, it’s because such conduct does not threaten to divide the movement.

    the only way that could be true were if the women who feel marginalized and shunned and leave are not considered to be part of the movement in the first place.
    It’s all very well for Ron Lindsay who can dispassionately look above all this. It’s not so for th rest of us.

  8. says

    Hmm. Lots more indignation at Ron than I think is warranted. I like Ron – and he’s not an enemy.

    Keep in mind that he just about certainly doesn’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of what the haters have been doing that many of us do. He has other duties!

    Look, there are possibilities here. The fact that Paula Kirby doesn’t speak for RDF is significant. Ron isn’t the right person to be furious at. (He approved the Women in Secularism conferences, for instance. If he hadn’t, they wouldn’t have happened/be going to happen.)

  9. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Ophelia:

    Keep in mind that he just about certainly doesn’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of what the haters have been doing that many of us do. He has other duties!

    Is he aware of *any* of the shit the haters have been spewing?

  10. says

    Well some of it was pointed out on his post! So yes. But anyway he also has plenty of informants, so I’m sure he knows about a lot of it. But it’s hard to grasp how much of it there is unless you pay way too much attention.

  11. Beatrice says

    *shrug*

    If he doesn’t know what’s going on, he shouldn’t have written about it.

    All I see is him taking the same stance we’ve been seeing in comment threads on FTB for weeks: we’re overreacting, it’s all just a misunderstanding, atheist/skeptic community is totally nice with some little tiny problems that are actually people from the fringe, we’re being divisive, we’ve been uncivil, talking about social justice too much is distracting us from the movement’s goals, we’ve been throwing slurs and stigmatizing people…

  12. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ophelia, people are sick and tired. Sick and tired (you know this better than anyone). They’re beyond fed up with being asked to indulge equivocation and dismissal from important people. No, what Ron wrote wasn’t all equivocation and dismissal. But lots of people are past their limits of patient indulgence. I don’t blame them being pissy about Ron’s essay.

    Yeah, it’s probably gotten to the point where everyone has a too-sensitive trigger. But the fault for that is not equally divided, and I don’t know what anyone expects.

  13. Rodney Nelson says

    Ophelia Benson #9

    Lots more indignation at Ron than I think is warranted. I like Ron – and he’s not an enemy.

    I don’t think he’s an enemy. I think he’s talking about a subject he’s ignorant about. I doubt his ignorance is willful (if I thought it was, my comments about him would be quite different) but he appears to be quite clueless about the extent of the problem. It was over a year ago that Rebecca Watson uttered the magic incantation and the outrage hasn’t subsided yet. Hasn’t Lindsay noticed this? Apparently not, because he writes:

    In a sense, Greta and PZ are right: the movement is divided, but it’s not divided for any good reason. It’s divided because too many in the movement are not willing to recognize that their fellow secularists can be mistaken without thereby being bigots; that their fellow secularists can have different understandings of the implications of feminism without being misogynists or “sister-punishers”; and that their fellow secularists can have can have different perceptions of the problem of harassment without being feminazis.

    It’s the old “both sides are equally wrong” gambit. I’m sorry, Ron, but this is not correct. Maybe that’s what it looks like from the privileged white male aspect, but speaking as another privileged white male, it looks different when the privilege glasses are removed.

    People making rape threats are not “mistaken.” They are actually, really, truly bigots. Their bigotry is not a heat of the moment thing either. It’s been loudly ongoing for over a year.

    Like SC in #7, I’m now disenchanted with CFI. I used to support them. I’m reconsidering that support. There are other organizations about whom I do not have the idea the CEO is clueless concerning a major controversy in the movement.

  14. simonsays says

    Thanks for pointing out the Paula Kirby relationship Ophelia. I too was not aware and thought she was an employee. Since Ron was discussing the US orgs I don’t think it’s relevant to post there (though Dawkins has a huge amount of influence this side of the pond and many of these discussions end up transatlantic). Here are my findings since as best I can tell she doesn’t have an official site.

    According to her Linkedin, Richard Dawkins/RDFRS UK (not sure if it’s only the latter or both) are clients of her consulting firm: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paula-kirby/9/6/242

    Her Washington Post byline also lists her as a “consultant to secular organizations” and makes no mention of RDF: http://www.washingtonpost.com/paula-kirby/2011/03/16/ABggtJg_page.html

    I think the confusion arises in part because she has an @richarddawkins.net email and is listed as the media contact on the latest press release on the RDFRS UK homepage: http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org/

  15. simonsays says

    Yes, I agree with Ophelia that Ron is a busy guy and he is doing his best given the limited time he has. He does have a national organization to run and he has been extremely supportive overall. Without his support (and of course first and foremost Melody’s persistence and inspiration) there would have been no Women in Secularism conference.

    One thing to note about the comments on his thread is that there are so far I believe seven comments that were deleted due to sockpuppetry. See comment #82 by Paul Fidalgo. So don’t believe everything you read.

  16. hypatiasdaughter says

    …he retweeted (Paula’s) deeply unpleasant “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” article more than once; he said not a word to condemn that nasty crucifixion caricature.

    I can accept that sometimes things (like the crucifixion caricature) might fall under your radar ; or that you don’t want to bring more attention to something that should be flushed and forgotten, not passed around.
    But re-tweeting stuff? Uh,uh. Why are you taking an action that spreads the crap to a wider audience? Why in a format like Twitter where a real discussion about it is impossible?
    Sounds like he has a bad case of “Yeah, of course, what the guy did was wrong/illegal/harassment, but…….”
    Does doing that have a name?

  17. says

    All that does qualify him as at least a fan of misogynists.

    A fan of racists qua racists, are necessarily also racist. “I really love that bigotry you got going on against those nasty sodomites gay people. Let me retweet it.” \

    It’s divided because too many in the movement are not willing to recognize that their fellow secularists can be mistaken without thereby being bigots

    This is just so much bullshit. Ignorance is excusable. All that requires from a person is either education or self-imposed withdrawal from discussions on the issue (i.e. listening if interested, ignoring if not). Who would care if some people in the movement were mistaken? No one. What we care about is if they are sexist and refuse to acknowledge the possibility, refuse to listen, refuse to allow change, launch online harassment campaigns, and issue rape threats and other threats of violence. That’s what’s dividing the movement/community/what have you. This “both sides” crap is, in reality, just victim blaming. Surprise.

  18. says

    Didn’t Lindsay post something supportive of you and other women who’ve been attacked by the slimers, and not all that long ago, either? If I’m remembering correctly, I wonder what sorts of pressure may have been brought to bear on him since.

    Giliell:

    the only way that could be true were if the women who feel marginalized and shunned and leave are not considered to be part of the movement in the first place.

    Right. We’re the ladies’ auxiliary or something. There to service serve teh menz, but certainly not as equal members.

    Beatrice:

    If he doesn’t know what’s going on, he shouldn’t have written about it.

    Agreed.

    Ibis3:

    This is just so much bullshit.

    Agreed as well.

    Ophelia, consider that you might be cutting Lindsay and Blackford too much slack.

  19. tekanji says

    Ophelia said:

    Hmm. Lots more indignation at Ron than I think is warranted. I like Ron – and he’s not an enemy.

    I honestly have no idea who Ron is; he is not my enemy or my friend. All he is to me is some guy who said stuff on the internet that intersects with some of my identities (most notably, my identity as an atheist woman). I have no desire to vilify him.

    That said, the parts you quoted are really frakking alienating to me. By using those arguments he is flouting his ignorance in a way that makes him a bigot enabler (truthfully, it is more “allies” like him than the bigots who keep me out of movement atheism). All the other good stuff he has done doesn’t cancel out the harm of his words.

    The indignation/anger/criticism expressed on this thread is not about turning him into the enemy; it’s about holding him accountable for his harmful behavior. I believe that the true test of how “good” (for lack of a better word) one is is not in good works executed with little/no cost to oneself, but rather in one’s willingness to acknowledge and take responsibility when one has said/done things that perpetuate harm.

    I sincerely hope that he listens to the criticism he is receiving and uses it to become a better ally to the marginalized groups he obviously wants to be supportive of.

  20. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Blackford was, not that long ago, very chummy with the odious creep and bully Wooly Bumblebee (as well as more than a few slimepitters and associated scumbags) – and I don’t recall hearing that he’d criticised her for that vile post about Jen and her father.

  21. says

    The fact that you like and respect the fellow carries a lot of weight in my book, Ophelia, but the fact remains that he defines the misogynists as “not part of the movement” via a No True Scotsman argument so that he can claim the movement is not misogynist, then redefines them back in so that he can say feminists have been insulting other members of the movement.

    In any event, though the threats and the outright blithering insults are hard enough to take, the only thing that makes it possible for them to persist is the “Come, let us reason together” response from “moderates.” It all makes me feel like singing.

  22. says

    I’d like to encourage listening and learning. It is something the the internet doesn’t value. I don’t think anyone is striving for a division; neither will progress be made if we sit idly and say nothing.

  23. says

    @ 22 – no; on the contrary, assuming I understood a very cryptic (aka passive-aggressive) tweet of his yesterday, he thinks Wooly B’bee is the victim of a witch hunt. (The cryptic tweet said just “this is a badge of honour” with a link to an image of a broomstick and pointy hat.) Who knows, maybe he was talking about something else, but since he’s obsessed with “FTB” I doubt it.

  24. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I’m confused. CFI wants people to join, correct? And “people” included women, doesn’t it?

    Or does the unhinged hate directed at them not matter cuz [logical fallacy x, y z]

    Once again, I’m glad I never joined CFI.

  25. Martha says

    I haven’t been around as long as some of you who have posted comments above, but Lindsay’s post upset me, too. Thank you, Chris @22 for explaining so clearly what was so upsetting. I was also not thrilled that he took the time to challenge Greta (his comment made no sense to me), but essentially made no comment about the outrageous comments from The Other Side (yes, Ron, there is one), save for a plea to let the Melody Hensley tweet drop. Ron, is that really the only problem with those comments?

    That said, the Women in Secularism conference is a huge thing, so I cannot dismiss someone who had a key role in making sure that happened. The outrage started with ElevatorGate, but I think the path to Atheism + may well have started there, as women atheists got together and realized that so many of the attendees shared a frustration that social justice was seen as “mission drift” by the larger atheist community.

    So I’m willing to give Ron a pass. This once. If it turns out he wants to put the genie back in the bottle, then I’ll quickly change my mind.

  26. Martha says

    ps Of course, my opinion doesn’t matter, as I’m not part of the atheist community by Ron’s definition…

  27. Beatrice says

    ps Of course, my opinion doesn’t matter, as I’m not part of the atheist community by Ron’s definition…

    I’ve found out after reading the comments that I’m not part of it either. I’m not American and I only participate by commenting on blogs.

  28. Oh brother says

    …if hate-filled comments and threats to women have not been expressly called divisive,

    You mean like the treatment you lot dished out to Abbie Smith? Trying to get her fired and all that?

    Oh sure, she said something nasty once. That like, totally, justifies trying to get her fired and all the the vicious evil you lot cooked up. And it’s, like totally different from Watson using a public podium to attack someone in the audience with whom she’d disagreed with online. It’s, like, totally different from Physioproff smearing anyone who disagrees as a White Supremacist. It’s, like totally different from Benson saying that TAM was jes like nahtzee jermani. It’s, like, totally different from Surly Amy reducing Sara Mayhew to the stereotype of a shoe-obsessed ditz who just wants boys attention….

    You’re the ones who started all this. You’re the ones who unleashed hate and venom on anyone who disagreed with you about anything. As is neatly demonstrated by…

    I don’t think Russell is a misogynist. I’m not sure if I’ve called him one or not, but since I don’t think he is one,

    Got that? Benson doesn’t think he’s a misogynist, but is unsure whether or not she’s called him one. Could anything be plainer?

    That’s why I said before, back into the A+ corner, and leave Dawkins alone. Have the courage of your mendacity.

  29. Timon for Tea says

    “For many weeks he has been ranting about “FTB” many times every day on Twitter”

    I follow Russell Blackford on Twitter and I hadn’t noticed this behaviour so I did a quick check and, as far as I can tell in the last eight days he has only mention FTB once in passing and it couldn’t be described as a ‘rant’. I don’t want to read back much further than that but I think it is enough to refute the claim.

    Don’t you think we should be more careful in this discussion/argument not to demonise and/or misrepresent our opponents? If you make wild claims like this that can’t be backed up it is likely to make non-partisan readers suspicious of other claims.

  30. bjartefoshaug says

    Oh brother, there’s a simple rebuttal to your entire post, and it’s this:

    We can read.

    That pretty much debunks every word coming from your “side” since the dawn of time.

  31. yahweh says

    Your saying, Ophelia, that “It [hate-filled comments and threats to women] has not already been repudiated, even implicitly, by some prominent individuals in the movement.” puts me in mind of an aspect of political debate which I roundly despise.

    Political debate is often about scoring points. Getting the other side to accept one’s own form of words is often part of that.

    Some years ago in the UK, ‘rationing’ was the bogey word in debates about the NHS. At issue was the question of whether public healthcare rationed? The implication being that it would be scandalous if it were.

    Of course public healthcare is always rationed. The best allocation of finite resources to such important ends is an an extraordinarily difficult question both technically and ethically for public health authorities and even, to a lesser extent, health insurance companies.

    But for a minister of state to acknowledge the word rationing at that time would have spelled the immediate end of their career.

    There followed weeks of interviews with politicians being challenged to ‘admit’ something which everyone knew and which no-one actually disagreed with, but being compelled to wriggle out of it as only politicians do.

    And so now, you want certain people to repudiate certain behaviour in words of whose adequacy you will be the judge. And they, despite clearly agreeing – as everyone does (IMO) – have failed to comply.

    Tell me honestly that all this isn’t about who’s boss?

  32. says

    Oh brother says:

    You mean like the treatment you lot dished out to … [droning recital of the the slimepit mythos] … Have the courage of your mendacity.

    Boy oh boy, they’ve got this simpleton trained up good.

  33. says

    Hmm. Lots more indignation at Ron than I think is warranted. I like Ron – and he’s not an enemy.

    Do I think he’s an enemy? No.
    Do I think the indignation is warranted? Yes

    Keep in mind that he just about certainly doesn’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of what the haters have been doing that many of us do. He has other duties!

    Wenn man keine Ahnung hat, einfach mal die Klappe halten.
    If you don’t know what you’re talking about, just shut up once in a while.
    It’s completely OK that he has other things to do. Contrary to public legend, we don’t tar and feather people who don’t drop whatever they’re doing to do what we are doing.
    But if he thinks it good and necessary for him to write a post about this, he should get his information right.
    He could have asked you or Stephanie why people are mad at Russell Blackford instead of just assuming stuff.
    In short, I think his post is really a prime example of privileged dude writing: Not malicious, not out to hurt people, not wanting to support the haters but still doing so because he thought that his very limited perspective on this is sufficient to engage in a discourse with the involuntary experts on this.

  34. Rodney Nelson says

    I have just published the following on the CFI blog as a comment to Lindsay’s post:

    Ron Lindsay is annoyed that some secular people are misogynists. He’s so annoyed that he’s cast them out of the secular movement, cursed to wander the outer darkness. Problem all fixed, now he can go back to promoting separation of church and state.

    But against all expectations, these misogynists haven’t shut up. They’re still screeching their rape threats and “bitches ain’t shit” and other sexist remarks. Haven’t they got the word? Ron has expelled them from the secular movement! That should have properly dealt with them. Perhaps they’re not paying attention.

    Some of the misogynists’ targets have decided to establish their own organization, one called Atheism+. Oh noes! That’s not only divisive, it might take money and participation away from the properly constituted Secular Organizations™. What will Ron do? He’ll publish a manifesto that he supports women’s rights. Remember Ron removed all misogynists from the secular movement. So there’s no need for Atheism+. Ron will defend women’s rights by doing…well…not a lot, but he’ll be doing it. After all, he did discharge all misogynists from secularism. Isn’t that enough?

    Besides, that’s not what secularism is all about. Women’s rights, GLBT rights, POC rights are all good things and Ron is in favor of them, but they’re not secularism. So until the church and state separation thing is dealt with, all that social justice stuff will have to wait until Ron can turn his attention to it. Besides, Ron tossed out all misogynists from the secular movement. What more could he do?

  35. says

    And they, despite clearly agreeing – as everyone does (IMO) – have failed to comply.

    No. they. don’t. No. everyone. doesn’t.

    That’s one of the things this whole mess has so clearly shown – you can’t just assume that “everyone agrees” – because everyone doesn’t agree. Also because just assuming it lets the opposites assume that everyone agrees with them.

    Don’t you dare tell me “everyone agrees” that it’s not cute or funny to rant about kicking me in the cunt. Don’t tell me everyone agrees that it’s not cool to pass around insulting caricatures of people.

    No, everyone does not agree.

  36. says

    Yeah.

    I’ve caught up on the comments on Ron’s post now. Yesterday I was optimistic; that’s over. The thugs&liars have swamped it. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  37. simonsays says

    Don’t forget the several obvious sockpuppets that Paul Fidalgo deleted. It’s like a honey pot of crazy.

  38. Lyanna says

    Like Martha, I don’t want to write off Ron Lindsay largely because of Women in Secularism, but not writing him off doesn’t mean I’m excusing this post.

    Like Gilliel and Ms. Daisy Cutter say: hateful comments against women don’t threaten to divide the movement? Really? REALLY?

    The only way you could believe that for even a SECOND is if you don’t think women are part and parcel of the movement. If you think they’re off to the side somewhere, or in a corner–a special interest group, a niche, rather than half of the human population.

    Also, if some kind person has the time and inclination, can someone explain to me what this Oh Brother fool is talking about with regard to Abbie Smith’s job? Obviously he’s misrepresenting when he says that Abbie Smith said something nasty “once,” and pretending that Rebecca disagreeing with Stef McGraw in any forum is in any way equivalent to the flood of sexist slurs she’s received. But I don’t know about this job incident, though I have dimly heard that it has something to do with Greg Laden.

  39. Lyanna says

    And yahweh, get over yourself. Maybe for you, words like “bitch” and “cunt” are mere abstractions that you can play point-scoring games over. Not for us. For us they are insulting reminders that people think we’re something less than human.

    It’s not about who’s boss. It’s about who’s the punching bag. They want us to be it; we don’t want anyone to be it.

  40. hotshoe says

    Lynna –

    Also, if some kind person has the time and inclination, can someone explain to me what this Oh Brother fool is talking about with regard to Abbie Smith’s job? Obviously he’s misrepresenting when he says that Abbie Smith said something nasty “once,” and pretending that Rebecca disagreeing with Stef McGraw in any forum is in any way equivalent to the flood of sexist slurs she’s received. But I don’t know about this job incident, though I have dimly heard that it has something to do with Greg Laden.

    Yeah, it did have something to do with Greg Laden. I’m not making any effort to dig up relevant threads, just going by my memory … but what I recollect is GL saying that he was so concerned about Abbie’s hosting the slimepit that he tried to contact her supervisor (at her university lab) to tell them to give Abbie some friendly advice about cooling it before it cost her a future career when potential future employers googled her and found out how she behaved in her slimepit. According to GL, therefore, it had nothing to do with trying to cost Abbie her job, exactly the opposite. Since Abbie, by that moment, had already made it clear she wouldn’t hear any advice from those who had once been her friends from FtB, it might have been a workable strategy. Or, of course, it could have been what the slimers say it was, a despicable attempt to get Abbie fired from her lab by informing her supervisors that one of their grad students was hosting a blog that could make their university look bad, and they should at least clamp down on Abbie’s free speech or even fire her preemptively.
    Who knows?

  41. says

    Oh brother:

    Oh sure, [Abbie] said something nasty once.

    Stopped reading there. Try harder, would you?

    Timon:

    Don’t you think we should be more careful in this discussion/argument not to demonise and/or misrepresent our opponents?

    Don’t you think everybody can see through your tone-trolling by now?

    Yahweh:

    Tell me honestly that all this isn’t about who’s boss?

    This speaks volumes about how you see human relationships, it really does. Your handle is well-chosen.

  42. says

    Neglected homework.

    Timon @ 32 – it’s not just a matter of saying the magic letters FTB – it’s code phrases, and meaningful retweets, and highminded mini-lectures on morality, and talk of “slavering dogs,” and obsessive comparisons between “large platforms” and “small platforms,” and much more.

    It’s also the dog that did not bark in the night time. No highminded lecture about nasty caricatures, no highminded lecture about jeering at Jen McCreight’s father, no highminded lecture about jeering at Rhys Morgan when he failed his exams.

  43. birdterrifier says

    @Ophelia
    Though I know that Blackford has decried the bullying atmosphere by commenters on Free Thought Blogs, I think he is more concerned with the leaders in the atheist movement. That may be why he has commented so much about the atmosphere, either created or allowed, by certain bloggers and their insulting words but not commented on the vile acts committed by anonymous jerks.

    He probably should comment more on how Abbie Smith has allowed hateful speech to occur (though not as much as everyone seems to think). Abbie values free speech but a blogger’s commentariat is still a reflection of the blogger no matter how much the blogger may protest.

  44. Aratina Cage says

    Abbie Smith has allowed hateful speech to occur (though not as much as everyone seems to think).

    Not just allowed, she has spewed it with the worst of them!

  45. birdterrifier says

    Yes she has spewed it. I was honestly disgusted when she coined the term “Twatson” and I believe this type of attack did nothing but force everyone in to corners so that we could lob attacks at each other from a safe distance. It’s sad because I thought it was bad form for Watson to show up McGraff so publicly but that action didn’t deserve anything more than “don’t do that to your fellow skeptics” (which is all that Watson was asking in her video too) and yet Abbie decided to really let her have it. It’s old news and I shouldn’t be bringing it up but it does seem to pop up and I know it’s because it hasn’t been resolved.

    Since that is old news, back to Blackford. I think that he should look at what is generally considered “his side” and try to talk that side out of being vicious towards FTB/Skepchicks (and if he has then I apologize). And we need to think about what kind of conduct is allowed in threads. Maybe Fincke is right (I’m definitely partial to his view). We shouldn’t have completely free speech in the comments and try to moderate in a way that keeps the threads from being too acrimonious.

  46. Aratina Cage says

    @birdterrifier

    I thought it was bad form for Watson to show up McGraff so publicly but that action didn’t deserve anything more than “don’t do that to your fellow skeptics” (which is all that Watson was asking in her video too)

    Uh-huh. Quick note: It’s McGraw, not McGraff. Anyway, it turned out that there was much more to that part of story than what was apparent when it all blew up. It appears most likely that McGraw and another woman were being led on or at least encouraged by a man behind the scenes to write and say what they did about Watson, and other people as well. Watson, too, was up against a wall when she spoke up about it and addressed the two most visible of her critics. And then after the keynote address, we had people like Russell Blackford getting all worked up over the hearsay and condemning Watson’s speech when he hadn’t even heard it. (How skeptical of him!) After the video of it was released, you could see that it was not at all what the haters had made it out to be. They were not being honest. I know because I transcribed the damn thing myself and then had a few of the haters from Smith’s slimepit tell me I was in denial about what really happened despite having printed and video evidence from Watson and McGraw right in front of me the whole time!

    So, bad form or whatever you want to call it, I don’t care. It doesn’t have anything to do with the misogynistic slurs Abbie Smith took out on Rebecca Watson and then others. These two things are independent of one another. We are talking about the slurs and the irrational hatred.

    I was honestly disgusted when she coined the term “Twatson”

    Abbie Smith did not coin that term! Justicar did. She picked it up from him.

  47. birdterrifier says

    Well that makes a lot of sense as Justicar is very fond of making up names for Free Thought Bloggers. I didn’t even know that Justicar had been ranting for that long. Just came across him recently.

    And sorry for getting McGraw’s name wrong. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

    That is indeed quite a bit of background information (and yet not much because there are no names nor any citations to read) that I had not considered up until now. I guess it doesn’t really matter though. We’re talking about the nasty shit going on now and not the past.

  48. Aratina Cage says

    @birdterrifier #50

    I know it is getting really off topic, but since you seem genuinely interested:

    That is indeed quite a bit of background information (and yet not much because there are no names nor any citations to read)

    You will have to research it yourself by going back and reading the things McGraw originally wrote on the official UNIFI blog and watching the YouTube video that follows the same line of thinking by stclairose (who was also somehow associated with people at UNIFI) and by reading the original response to all of it by Watson at Skepchick (“On Naming Names at the CFI Student Leadership Conference”), but the man’s name is Trevor Boeckmann of UNIFI. Everything preceding Watson’s calling out of McGraw and stclairose in the keynote speech points back to him. He is a real piece of work as you will see when you get to the stuff he himself wrote to Watson on the official UNIFI blog, so be forewarned!

  49. birdterrifier says

    @Aratina
    Thanks for the info!

    @Ophelia
    “We” as in that’s the main topic “we’re” all talking about right now. Didn’t want you to be able to accuse me of derailing the topic. I can see why you would be concerned though as you seem particularly worried about defining sides.

  50. hjhornbeck says

    I’m doing what I can over on Lindsay’s article. It’s a shame Jen is down for the count now, I’d love to have something like a “Talk.Origins for Atheism+;” there seems to be a finite number of complaints out there, so in theory we could bundle them all up and just link back to that bundle.

    A common one is that A+ carries on the “poisonous” atmosphere of FreeThoughtBlogs. Here’s my comment on the matter, re-posted:

    Oh really? Then let’s take a tour of the support for Atheism+ on FtB:

    Labels as A+, member of atheismplus.com = Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson.

    Labels as A+, but isn’t a member of atheismplus.com = PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, Dan Fincke, Jason Thibeault, Dana Hunter, Richard Carrier, Ashley Miller.

    Supportive, but hasn’t labelled = PhysioProffe, Deacon Duncan, Maryam Namazie.

    Sympathetic, but won’t label = Matt Dillahunty,
    Aron Ra, Hank Fox, Al Stefanelli, Crommunist.

    On the fence = Zinnia Jones, Cuttlefish, Kylie Sturgess.

    No Comment = Natalie Reed.

    Opposed to A+ = Edwin Kagin.

    No public opinion that I can find = Ed Brayton, Chris Rodda, Steven Andrew, Assassin Actual, Justin Griffith, Mano Singham, Chris Hallquist, Brianne Bilyeu, Taslima Nasreen, Cristina Rad.

    Hmmm… so out of 35 bloggers on FtB, 11 are playing a role in Atheism+, and only three are quite active. In contrast, 15 are skeptical or deliberately steering clear of the fray.

    So how, exactly, can A+ “barely exist independently” of FreeThoughtBlogs, when so few FtB bloggers are active within it?

  51. says

    birdterrifier
    It should also be noted that in that speech, Rebecca did exactly what we’re being told countless times, what Daniel Finke tells us we have to do in order not to hurt important fee-fees:
    She criticised a position. She crititcised a person for holding that position and she didn’t use any bäd wordz.
    See how well that went.
    As Aratina says, from what you hear about it you would think that Rebecca Watson jumped off the stage, drew a knife and slit Steph McGraw’s throat.

  52. bjartefoshaug says

    In the context of everything that’s been going on since Rebecca Watson’s ridiculously reasonable request to “don’t do that”, whom you chose to criticize says as much about your values as the actual contents of the criticism itself. I have said so before, and I’ll say it again. If you personally prefer not to get involved in the fight for equality, fine! Time and energy are limites resources, and if everybody tried to dedicate themselves equally to every worthy cause, nobody would acheive much of anything. However, if you don’t want anybody else to get involved either and actively oppose those who do, if you are firmly dedicated to pulling as hard as you can in the opposite direction, if there is no limit to the amount of time and energy you are prepared to spend on opposing, attacking, criticizing, or contradicting anyone who speaks out against misogyny and sexism in the atheist/humanist/skeptical movements, while at the same time ignoring, trivializing, denying, or explaining away more than a year’s worth of the worst misogyny imaginable that doesn’t involve actual, physical violence, then I have no time for you, and don’t expect any shred of sympathy if you are lumped in with the haters.

  53. hjhornbeck says

    Correction! On Lindsay’s post, Benson pointed out that while she is a member of atheismplus.com, she doesn’t label as “Atheism+”. Please mentally adjust my list, as appropriate!

  54. says

    I think I also pointed out that I don’t really think of having registered at the forum as being a member of anything. I just registered so that I could say a couple of things. I didn’t think of it as joining a party or even a faction.

  55. Aratina Cage says

    Same here. I registered to leave a link to a clear example of a threat of violence against women that was defended by the president of JREF no less (all three of us being gay men, the threat maker, the president, and me), and instead of it being a safe space like I mistakenly imagined it would be, it turned out to that one of these defenders of sexism was sitting there on the Atheism+ forum waiting to pounce and argue with me on what could not have been a clearer example of some man threatening violence against women atheists! I was told that a moderator was finally called in, but I’m not really sure I want to go back. That is the last place where we should have to fend off the anti-feminist goons.

  56. julian says

    Give it another chance, Aratina Cage. Mods are still working at keeping everything sorted in the right sections so things like are going to be less and less and frequent.

    I’m told the subreddit atheism+ is much better at keeping those sorts out so you may wanna check that out.

  57. Aratina Cage says

    @julian
    I get that they are still working on things over there, but the Atheism+ forum is still a strange land to me. I don’t really like the look and feel of forums in the first place, and I’ve noticed that forums tend to enforce politeness over everything else and that is easily taken advantage of by people with awful, harmful, and not-well-thought-out ideas and ways. And I don’t grok reddit at all (it looks like a frozen, inactive Twitter feed most of the time–with threading which is just horrendous after any refresh of the page–and quite pointless when blogging and tweeting are already at our disposal).

  58. blamer says

    Stricter blog-commenting rules seems worth the extra effort.

    Criticizing objectionable quotes looks like a good way to proceed.

    Insisting the quoted individual belongs to a proverbial “them” sounds eerily familiar… herded cats are NOT loyal to feline moralizers.

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