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Feb 19 2013

In which I “show up” again

Well I was going to ignore it but no one else is, so I’ll say a thing or two. About Harriet Hall’s latest Address to the Feminists, which announces that she’s not our enemy by way of prelude to telling us what shits we are.

I have been falsely identified as an enemy of feminism (not in so many words, but the intent is clear). My words have been misrepresented as sexist and misinterpreted beyond recognition. I find this particularly disturbing and hard to understand, because I’m convinced that my harshest critics and I are basically arguing for exactly the same things. I wish my critics could set aside their resentments and realize that I am not the enemy.

Two weeks ago I published an article on gender differences and the recent divisions in the skeptical community.  Ophelia Benson showed up in the comments. Not unsurprisingly, she disagreed with me about the Shermer incident, but then she said “I like the rest of this article a lot. I particularly like the point about averages and individuals, which is one I make all the time.”

I took that as a hopeful sign that friendly communication might be achieved, but my bubble was quickly burst by a hostile takedown of my article on Skepchick by “Will.”

Really? Her bubble was burst by Will’s article? That’s odd. Mine was burst a lot more promptly and directly than that. It was burst on that same thread, within minutes, by hostile replies to me from David Gorski and others.

I was making an effort to achieve friendly communication. That’s why I said the thing that Hall quotes. It was an attempt to get a more friendly conversation going. It failed dismally because no one took me up on it. I thought Gorski had at first, but I misread him, as he later made clear. I gave it up and left.

This isn’t a one-way street you know. Hall has never made any such attempts in my direction. She’s done the opposite. She’s done it again in this post. She wants us to ” set aside their resentments and realize that I am not the enemy” – yet she proceeds to pick another fight. Well which is it?! And what about you setting aside your resentments, Dr Hall?!

Much later in the piece, she renews her quarrel with me, in a bizarrely off-topic, even Dadaist way.

And if you want a really surreal excursion into the thought processes of my critics, take a gander at this exchange  [the names of two participants were redacted].

Ah yes, the names of two participants were indeed redacted – while mine was not. Why? No reason. Absolutely no reason on earth except that those two participants are Friends and I’m Enemy. Yet Hall is either dense enough or malicious enough to treat that as self-evidently fair and reasonable. At this rate she’ll soon be posting on the mildew pit – which is where that exchange was first posted as a screenshot of Hall’s Facebook page, and where the names of the two Good participants were “redacted” to protect their “privacy” while mine was not.

That Facebook conversation was another one where I tried to achieve friendly communication with Hall. That attempt too was disrupted by trollers (Travis Roy and Richard Murray).

Hall discusses that unedifying Facebook tangle for awhile, then moves on to another authoritative critic of my thinking.

Another blogger has deconstructed a list Ophelia made of antifeminist tropes. He claims she sets up a series of straw men and tries to create problems where none exist. You can judge for yourself.

That’s Al Stefanelli’s post, in which he fundamentally misunderstands what I was saying, in a way that makes me embarrassed for him. Hall seems to think it’s cogent stuff. You can judge for yourself.

What can I say? She’s angry and unpleasant and she’s pretending she’s not an enemy while acting exactly like one. I don’t want to talk about her, but she won’t shut up about me.

Now, finally, one substantive point. At the end she gives a list of items we all probably agree on.

  • That there are still obstacles to women in our society. (We can congratulate ourselves that many of the “hard” obstacles such as legal restrictions have been eliminated. Unfortunately, the ones that remain are “softer”, harder to identify precisely and harder to deal with effectively),
  • That we should endeavor to identify and remove the remaining obstacles
  • That it is unreasonable to enforce a requirement that equal numbers of men and women be present in any sphere of human endeavor
  • That society has much to gain from letting everyone, male and female, develop their individual talents in a field of endeavor that they have freely chosen.

The first two, yes. The third and fourth, wait wait, slow down. It’s not that simple.

No one is talking about enforcing a requirement that equal numbers of men and women be present in any sphere of human endeavor. But, that doesn’t mean we should just look at any particular sphere of human endeavor that has a huge gender imbalance and conclude that it reflects pure choice and that’s all there is to it. That’s especially true when the sphere in question is a highly rewarded one, whether with money or status or intellectual stimulation or other such goods. (And that cuts both ways. There are vocations whose rewards are emotional and relational, where men may be scarce.) That’s especially true at this point in the timeline, because it’s just way too early. Maybe after many decades of effort to level all the playing fields, a time will come when it actually is safe to say “ok, this is how things shake out when there are no obstacles hard or soft,” but that time is not yet.

So no, nobody wants the job police to collar women who want to be poets and force them to be computer scientists. But that’s not the issue.

I’m not the enemy either.

 

163 comments

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  1. 1
    Worldtraveller

    Again, and again, we have to ask: Have these authors ever gone after the likes of David Gorski with the same attempts at discussion? If not, why? I think if they would honestly answer that question to themselves, we could possibly at least begin to get past the false equivalence arguments and move towards actual communication (friendly or otherwise).

  2. 2
    Bernard Bumner

    Hold on, she was hopeful that your positive comments were a sign of of a willingness to open constructive dialogue and something someone else wrote elsewhere burst her bubble? That doesn’t make much sense.

    I wonder why she referred to “Will”, rather than Will when she describes that strange sequence of events? (Is that meant to be significant?)

  3. 3
    Scote

    Is defending herself from the post by Will “picking another fight”?

    I like the posts by you and those by Hall. If there were no other skeptical blogs on the internet, would you two be arguing? I’m really finding the internecine wars over feminism in the “skeptical community” to be a turn off, not because I don’t think the topic is important, but because it seems to lead to emotional flame wars and mob rule rather than reasoned discussion–especially on Phyrangula and Skepchick.

    I think *both* you and Hall can be prickly. I don’t see her post as an attack on you though I can see why you might be annoyed at being referred to, to some degree, collectively.

  4. 4
    Bernard Bumner

    …it seems to lead to emotional flame wars and mob rule rather than reasoned discussion–especially on Phyrangula and Skepchick.

    You really see Pharyngula and Skepchick as epitomizing the worst behaviour of these “wars”?

    Is defending herself from the post by Will “picking another fight”?

    What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?

    I think *both* you and Hall can be prickly.

    Casting this as a clash of personalities where emotion clouds responses is something of an insult to the intelligence of both parties. There are very real grievances at the heart of this, and a clear train of events leading to this point.

  5. 5
    aleph squared

    Why on earth is Will’s name is placed in scare quotes. What, does she not believe that Will is in fact Will? I don’t understand. I realize this is not necessarily the most pressing or important aspect of her piece to object to, but I find it really quite disturbing.

  6. 6
    Aratina Cage

    That attempt too was disrupted by trollers (Travis Roy and Richard Murray).

    I had one of them in the bot. Now the other joins him.

    I don’t want to talk about her, but she won’t shut up about me.

    That’s how it always goes, doesn’t it? Their problem with you is going to be your problem, too, by gum!

  7. 7
    Scote

    “You really see Pharyngula and Skepchick as epitomizing the worst behaviour of these “wars”?”

    The worst? No, but they are both sites that I read less because of the conflict.

    “What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?

    Why are you asking a question rather than answering mine? Is defending her self from will “picking another fight”?

    “Casting this as a clash of personalities where emotion clouds responses is something of an insult to the intelligence of both parties. There are very real grievances at the heart of this, and a clear train of events leading to this point.

    Ignoring the fact that this is at least in part a clash of personalities only makes the situation worse. There are lots of prickly folks on the internet. Some I like, such as Ms. Benson, and some I don’t, Chris Mooney. Skepticism is, in my view, about putting our slow thinking at the forefront, using reason and logic. The skeptic wars over feminism tend to cut through the logic and reason and trigger emotional responses because fairness, equality are moral issues, ones that we can inform using science but that we decide based on our own personal feelings, and those of the society in which we are raised.

  8. 8
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    The worst? No, but they are both sites that I read less because of the conflict.

    Out of curiosity, what sites on the opposite end of this conflict do you read less of because of it?

    ++

    Has Hall made these same “let’s all get along” pleas to the stalkery, harrassy types, or just to the women who won’t shut up when the stalkery, harrassy types demand it?

  9. 9
    Scote

    I should add, I think Ophelia makes a number of sound points, but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.

  10. 10
    Scote

    “Out of curiosity, what sites on the opposite end of this conflict do you read less of because of it?”

    I never read them in the first place, of course. :-)

    “Has Hall made these same “let’s all get along” pleas to the stalkery, harrassy types,”

    I’m really not getting your point. You seem to be criticizing Hall for not reaching out to people you strongly disagree with… What, exactly, is your claim?

  11. 11
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.

    LOL, yep those kerrazzy chicks and their emotions. There’s definitely no proof of discrimination, sexism, misogyny or the derranged hate campaign against some vocal feminist atheists. Oh no. Benson’s making it ALL up. For funsies. Because, what’s more fun that being constantly attacked, amirite?

    /snark

    I’m really not getting your point. You seem to be criticizing Hall for not reaching out to people you strongly disagree with… What, exactly, is your claim?

    That part wasn’t directed to you. Apologies for totally failing to make that clear.

    And, I’m not criticizing, I’m asking: is she taking the same “let’s all get along” message to the people who are doing the harrassing, etc.? She’s focusing so much on Benson, et al. when Benson et al are only ever responding to attacks, lies, distortions etc. So, exactly what does she want Benson to do? Ignore it all? Or just shut up about it so we can all pretend we get along? OR, is she taking her message to them as well in an honest effort to stop all this nonsense?

    I don’t understand Hall’s goal here.

  12. 12
    Bernard Bumner

    Why are you asking a question rather than answering mine? Is defending her self from will “picking another fight”?

    You appear to be labouring under the same misapprehension as Hall; that answering “Will” has anything to do with Ophelia.

    The fight is the rest of the article, where it conflates Ophelia and other critics via juxtaposition, and where is explicitly mentions past events involving Ophelia by name.

    Now, if we’re in the business of rudely demanding answers to questions, answer mine.

    I should add, I think Ophelia makes a number of sound points, but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.

    Vulcans are science fiction. People are often offended by offensive things. Offensive things are often deliberate acts, not accidents or coincidence.

  13. 13
    Scote

    “Vulcans are science fiction. People are often offended by offensive things. Offensive things are often deliberate acts, not accidents or coincidence.”

    Nothing is inherently offensive. Offense is subjective. And surely you are not trying to falsely imply that Hall was trying to be deliberately offensive to Benson?

  14. 14
    Scote

    “LOL, yep those kerrazzy chicks and their emotions. There’s definitely no proof of discrimination, sexism, misogyny or the derranged hate campaign against some vocal feminist atheists. Oh no. Benson’s making it ALL up. For funsies. Because, what’s more fun that being constantly attacked, amirite?”

    Straw man much?

    One of the problems Hall complains about is straw man attacks. You are exemplifying that.

  15. 15
    jose

    I’m not in favor of mandated quotas, but I am in favor of a positive effort to reach out and to get out of your way to find people you don’t think about normally. And people who don’t care much about the ethics of it should be concerned all the same for practical reasons: many times lots of talent remain invisible because organizers just don’t know of other people who may make valuable contributions or perhaps they know but since they aren’t famous, they probably aren’t that good to begin with, right? Better play safe and stick to same old same old. It’s a vicious cycle that can be broken easily.

    This happens all the time in soccer. Every team desperately sends people to schools to watch out for new talents. Happens in movies, too. We all know the Harrison Ford story. Rosario Dawson has a similar one. I guess most have!

    Specifically with women, if they’re consistently absent or scarce, we’re losing talent. So everybody loses. It’s like a soccer team who won’t look beyond the hometown for new players.

  16. 16
    loofasword

    And surely you are not trying to falsely imply that Hall was trying to be deliberately offensive to Benson?

    If Hall wasn’t deliberately trying to goad Ophelia, then she’s a horribly inept communicator, inter-subjectively speaking, of course.

  17. 17
    Bernard Bumner

    Nothing is inherently offensive. Offense is subjective.

    Any emotionally intelligent individual can design an offensive act with a good likelihood of success.

    And surely you are not trying to falsely imply that Hall was trying to be deliberately offensive to Benson?

    I’m not trying to falsely imply anything: when did you stop beating your wife?

    You still haven’t answered my question. What does Ophelia have to do with Will?

  18. 18
    Tom Foss

    Scote: Many people are taking actions that they know others will find offensive. In fact, one prominent skeptic (name redacted) went to a prominent meeting of skeptics (meeting name redacted) and wore a garment that she was told by one of the event sponsors offended her. This prominent speaker continued to wear the garment for the remainder of the meeting.

    It is possible to do things that you do not intend to be offensive, because indeed, different people are offended by different things. But when you are informed that something you’re doing is coming across as offensive, any choice you make thereafter is made with some degree of intent. Either you intend to cause offense, or you do not care that some people are offended, and do not care if those people then conclude that you are intentionally trying to cause offense. And you should be willing to accept the consequences of those actions (e.g., people thinking you’re an insensitive jerk).

    I don’t know if Hall is trying to be deliberately offensive to Ophelia or Will, but there are many actions. (especially in public or mixed company) that most realize will be perceived as offensive, and so most people avoid them outside of certain contexts, unless they are trying to be deliberately offensive. It does not take a scientist to figure out what many of these things are, nor does it take a detective to find ample examples of people taking actions that they know others will find offensive, in order to deliberately offend.

    I also don’t think certain speakers (name redacted) are above being deliberately offensive jerks.

  19. 19
    Scote

    “Scote: Many people are taking actions that they know others will find offensive. In fact, one prominent skeptic (name redacted) went to a prominent meeting of skeptics (meeting name redacted) and wore a garment that she was told by one of the event sponsors offended her. This prominent speaker continued to wear the garment for the remainder of the meeting.”

    It is interesting, and perhaps instructive, that I can glean no moral lesson from that generic description. I can’t judge at all at the “reasonableness” of taking offense. People can be offended by anything–literally anything. Some people are offended by women’s hair being uncovered. Some people are offended when women wear “male” clothing, such as trousers. So, just because someone has been informed that another person will be offended by that clothing doesn’t necessarily make it wrong to wear it. We don’t judge that moral choice by whether someone will be offended–instead, I think, we tend to judge that by whether we agree with the person who is offended. Perhaps I would be one of those people. I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the situation you allude to, but I do know that it is subjective rather than objective.

    PZ, for instance, is deliberately offensive all the time. Do you call him out on it? Do you read him the Phil Plait DBAD riot act? Or is that something you reserve only for when the person being offensive is offending someone you agree with? That is a sincere question. To my mind, true principles are the values we stick to even when it is hard to do so. Are you consistent on the issue of “deliberate offense”?

  20. 20
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Straw man much?
    One of the problems Hall complains about is straw man attacks. You are exemplifying that.

    *sighs* It’s called snark, diddums. In fact, it’s RIGHT THERE in that post. That means, I was being deliberately facetious to illustrate a point. A point that I see you didn’t grok.

    The point is: sexism is real. Harassment is real. Pretending to innocently question Benson’s motives isn’t going to fool anyone. I was mocking your statement that said (in the “nicest” way possible of course) that Benson’s just a hysterical irrational chick. Because that’s what is does say, even couched in feigned civility.

    Cute, though, throwing that bit in about how “science” doesn’t tell us what to be offended about. Because, if you can’t play the hyperskeptic game and ignores 200 years of evidence, where’s the fun?

  21. 21
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’d like you to answer those questions, Scote, if you would.

    Or is that something you reserve only for when the person being offensive is offending someone you agree with? That is a sincere question. To my mind, true principles are the values we stick to even when it is hard to do so. Are you consistent on the issue of “offense is subjective” or is offense only subjective when it’s not about you?

  22. 22
    Scote

    “Any emotionally intelligent individual can design an offensive act with a good likelihood of success.

    I’m not trying to falsely imply anything: when did you stop beating your wife?

    The better denial would be for you to have said you imply nothing, falsely or otherwise.

    Whether or not someone can likely succeed in offending someone doesn’t change the fact that offense is subjective.

  23. 23
    Bernard Bumner

    Scote, you are flirting dangerously with absurdity. Actually, you appear to be enthusiastically making love to ridiculousness.

    Being offended by a message targeting your affiliation by name is certainly not being offended by “literally anything”. Moreover, no matter how trivial one side’s perception of that slight, continuing to cause offence in the knowledge that you are doing so is the sort of thing that can be best characterised as “deliberate”. Doing so to someone who you claim to be allied to is certainly the behaviour of a “jerk”.

    I’m not familiar with the situation you allude to, but I do know that it is subjective rather than objective.

    You should be, having read Harriet Hall’s article.

    PZ, for instance…

    To be deliberately offensive to your opponents may be acceptable or not depending on the nature of the offence. PZ can answer for the offence he causes.

    You still haven’t answered my question.

  24. 24
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Crossposted from Pharyngula:
    I got an honourable mention by Harriet Hall

    Another commenter [That's me.] says

    Hall saying that men have larger brains is simply wrong. Taller people have larger brains. Men are on average larger than women, so they have, on average, larger brains.

    The same words are wrong when I say them but right when he says them?! Instead of saying I am wrong, why not simply offer a possible explanation for a fact that we both agree on? (Actually, the evidence is mixed. Some studies found that men’s brains are still larger after correction for body size; some didn’t.)

    You would think that the handy picture I use as an avatar on skepchick as well would be enough to give people a clue to my gender.
    I must also wonder why somebody as in telligent as Harriet Hall would be so stupid to think that “Men have larger brains than women” and “larger people have larger brains and men are on average larger” are one and the same. One is corelation, the other one causation.
    I guess the word I’m looking for is “dishonest”

  25. 25
    Bernard Bumner

    The better denial would be for you to have said you imply nothing, falsely or otherwise.

    I only deny trying to falsely imply anything.

    Whether or not someone can likely succeed in offending someone doesn’t change the fact that offense is subjective.

    You are being absurd.

    Are you going to answer my question?

  26. 26
    Scote

    luminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    *sighs* It’s called snark, diddums. In fact, it’s RIGHT THERE in that post. That means, I was being deliberately facetious to illustrate a point. A point that I see you didn’t grok.

    The point is: sexism is real. Harassment is real. Pretending to innocently question Benson’s motives isn’t going to fool anyone. I was mocking your statement that said (in the “nicest” way possible of course) that Benson’s just a hysterical irrational chick. Because that’s what is does say, even couched in feigned civility.

    Mockery, snark, condensation. None of these make your argument less of a straw man. And you are continuing with the straw arguments. Here is what I said:

    “The skeptic wars over feminism tend to cut through the logic and reason and trigger emotional responses because fairness, equality are moral issues, ones that we can inform using science but that we decide based on our own personal feelings, and those of the society in which we are raised.”

    You are the one introducing a sexist straw argument into the mix. I never limited my argument to women. That is **your** straw argument. Your “snark” defense doesn’t get you out of your straw argument.

  27. 27
    Scote

    ” Bernard Bumner

    “The better denial would be for you to have said you imply nothing, falsely or otherwise.”

    I only deny trying to falsely imply anything.”

    Ok, so you do claim that Harriet Hall is trying to be deliberately offensive to Ophelia Benson. That is a claim of intent and malice aforethought–a claim about what Hall was thinking when she wrote the post. What is your evidence for that claim to know her state of mind? And is it the same standard of evidence that you would deem reasonable if someone made the same accusation against you?

  28. 28
    Bernard Bumner

    Feel free to answer my question at any point, Scote.

  29. 29
    Scote

    ” Bernard Bumner

    February 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Feel free to answer my question at any point, Scote.

    Which one? I’ve sort of lost track with you not answering mine.

  30. 30
    Rob

    - That there are still obstacles to women in our society. (We can congratulate ourselves that many of the “hard” obstacles such as legal restrictions have been eliminated. Unfortunately, the ones that remain are “softer”, harder to identify precisely and harder to deal with effectively),
    - That we should endeavor to identify and remove the remaining obstacles
    - That it is unreasonable to enforce a requirement that equal numbers of men and women be present in any sphere of human endeavor
    - That society has much to gain from letting everyone, male and female, develop their individual talents in a field of endeavor that they have freely chosen.
     
    I agree with the first two points. However, I fail to see how you can accept points 3 and 4 until point 2 has been fully addressed. Until remaining obstacles have been identified you have no idea whether they influence numbers of women participating in a particular endeavour. Until those obstacles have been addressed (removed) there can be no choice and thus both point 3, and especially point 4, are empty of real meaning.

  31. 31
    rnilsson

    Bernard: No, probably not very soon.

    Scote: Now, who was it denounced others for replying with a question?

    Giliell: OH NOES, did you just call Harriet un Tall igent?

    Ophelia: Have a small cookie again — Just another brick in the Hall of Femme ;-)

  32. 32
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    rnillson
    I see what you did there

  33. 33
    Bernard Bumner

    I’ve sort of lost track with you not answering mine.

    Your memory fails you twice then, because all of your points have been answered.

    What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?

    I asked it all the way back at #4, and again at #12 after answering your rude demand. Feel free to answer.

  34. 34
    rnilsson

    Ah, it helps to refresh sometimes!

    Which one? I’ve sort of lost track with you not answering mine.

    Scote: Maybe mine for quote? Scroll back perhaps? Try reading (again)?
    Giliell: I’ll try to be here all week, job permitting ;-)

  35. 35
    Bernard Bumner

    rnilsson, are you spotting some sort of pattern here?

  36. 36
    rnilsson

    What, is that a trick question? So many of those around …

  37. 37
    Bernard Bumner

    I was wondering whether it was just a product of my sickly mind…

  38. 38
    EllenBeth Wachs

    That “UnBelieveSteve’s blog post made the rounds of twitter and the slymepit. Wasn’t he courteous to redact Travis and Richard’s names? Yet those two were the ones derailing the thread. Indeed, they both got unfriended by the OP for that very reason.

    Harriet brands me a critic and insults me at the same time. I have to say. I wasn’t really a critic of her until right this moment. I wasn’t a fan of what she did with the t-shirt but didn’t have a bone to pick with her personally until now. Now she has made it personal.

  39. 39
    rnilsson

    Ah. Now, there’s a thought to ponder for me too.
    But it’s curfew in my time zone, so let me sleep on it.

  40. 40
    Scote

    “Scote: Maybe mine for quote? Scroll back perhaps? Try reading (again)?
    Giliell: I’ll try to be here all week, job permitting”

    You could try it yourself:

    “I don’t see [Hall's] post as an attack on [Benson] though I can see why [Benson] might be annoyed at being referred to, to some degree, collectively.”

    I do think that Benson can make a case that Hall’s reference to Benson was tangential and of limited relevancy, but likewise Benson’s reaction can also be seen as over-extended.

  41. 41
    Bernard Bumner

    Well, I’ve thoroughly concussed myself in an effort to force an answer from that particular brick wall.

  42. 42
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Scote, you’re being deliberately dishonest. My snark was responding to this:”but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.” Which I quoted in my snark response, not the quote from an entirely different post of your that I neither referenced nor quoted.

    Next time you want to avoid backing up your transparently sexist claims, try a little harder to not fuck it up so badly.

  43. 43
    Great American Satan

    On the scare quotes for “Will”: I went to Skepchick today, which for me is a rare occurrence. I noticed and article on gender by a person named “Will.” I thought, hm, Will is pretty passionate about that. Maybe he is a trans*man. Given another article by him wherein he mentions being called certain slurs in high school, I think no, he’s a cisgendered possibly gay fella. But maybe HH was assuming he was trans, and mocking his gender preference by implying Will was not his real name.

    Hmmmmmmm?

  44. 44
    Ophelia Benson

    Thank you R!

  45. 45
    Great American Satan

    Scot @ 25, I think more people should use condensation as a rhetorical tool. :-)

  46. 46
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote, to answer your ludicrous question @ 2 -

    Is defending herself from the post by Will “picking another fight”?

    That depends, but whatever the answer is, what does that have to do with her scattershot apropos de rien slaps at me? The whole post wasn’t devoted to Will; a lot of it was devoted to me, for no apparent reason. That is picking a fight, yes.

  47. 47
    Tom Foss

    I don’t know what it is with the last 24 hours, but I keep running into people with poor reading comprehension.

    Scote:

    It is interesting, and perhaps instructive, that I can glean no moral lesson from that generic description. I can’t judge at all at the “reasonableness” of taking offense.

    Your opinion is irrelevant. We’ve established that offense is personal, and that different people are offended by different things. Your opinion on whether or not some offense is reasonable is only relevant if you are the one being offended.

    People can be offended by anything–literally anything. Some people are offended by women’s hair being uncovered. Some people are offended when women wear “male” clothing, such as trousers. So, just because someone has been informed that another person will be offended by that clothing doesn’t necessarily make it wrong to wear it.

    Nor did I say any such thing. However, this “people can be offended by anything” trope is frequently employed in service of the excuse “well, how was I supposed to know that was offensive?” That some person may take offense at anything makes it neither impossible nor particularly difficult to determine where most things are likely to cause offense to most people. Start flinging around ethnic slurs in a crowded restaurant? Probably going to offend someone.

    We don’t judge that moral choice by whether someone will be offended–instead, I think, we tend to judge that by whether we agree with the person who is offended. Perhaps I would be one of those people. I don’t know. I’m not familiar with the situation you allude to, but I do know that it is subjective rather than objective.

    I would think we would judge the moral choice by something more relevant, like empathy. If someone tells you that they were offended by something you said or did, most people would apologize and stop. If you must run through the moral calculus, it might be “I care about this person and don’t want to hurt their feelings” or “there are things that I find offensive, and if I were bothered enough to ask someone to stop, I would really appreciate it if they did” or even “I don’t want this person and the other people around me to think I’m an asshole,” and then you apologize and stop. Whether or not the offense is “reasonable” from your perspective is irrelevant, in part because you have no idea what reasons they have for being offended. Unless they explain it to you, you have no way of judging the “reasonableness” of their offense, not that it would be relevant if you could, because whether or not the offense is supported by a syllogism, it has happened. Saying “I find your offense unreasonable is unlikely to make the offense go away, and is probably going to result in you looking like a jerk.

    Which brings us back to what I actually said, which really had nothing to do its morality. I could give a damn whether or not it’s morally permissible to be offensive. The point is that if you do things that you know people find offensive, it will have consequences on the way people perceive you and interact with you. That’s not a moral thing, it’s a pragmatic one. To whit:

    PZ, for instance, is deliberately offensive all the time.

    Boy, that’s an unsupportable bit of hyperbole if I ever saw one.

    Do you call him out on it? Do you read him the Phil Plait DBAD riot act? Or is that something you reserve only for when the person being offensive is offending someone you agree with? That is a sincere question. To my mind, true principles are the values we stick to even when it is hard to do so. Are you consistent on the issue of “deliberate offense”?

    Yes, because I know what my position on “deliberate offense” is. You would too, if you had bothered to read for comprehension. My position is that if you choose to be deliberately offensive, it’s going to affect how people perceive you; many are likely to think that you’re an insensitive jerk. Do you think it would somehow be news to PZ that some people think he’s an insensitive jerk? Do you think that’s something he hasn’t taken into account?

    If you’re going to be offensive, then you need to weigh the consequences of doing so. There are lots of reasons why someone might choose to be offensive even knowing the consequences: maybe you think the value of the message you’re conveying outweighs the offensiveness; maybe you think the people who are likely to take offense have such skewed moral compasses that you think offending them is a good thing, because what’s unoffensive to them is itself offensive to you. I don’t, in principle, have a problem with people being offensive, deliberately or otherwise.

    The people I have a problem with (beyond those that I’m personally offended by) are the ones who want it both ways. The people who say things like “I’m not a racist, I just think it’s funny to tell racist jokes” or “I’m not a homophobe, I just think homosexuality is an unnatural perversion and gays shouldn’t be allowed to get married” or “just because I say things that are anti-feminism doesn’t make me an enemy of feminism” and so forth. These are people who want to be deliberately offensive, but not face any consequences for it. If you can’t recognize and accept that when you say offensive things, some people are going to think you’re an asshole, then you’re either laboring under a serious misapprehension of how the world works, or you’re probably not mature enough to be saying those offensive things in the first place (or both).

  48. 48
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    One way to know that someone is out to shitstir–instead of responding to the article they are responding to, they respond to that article and then call out a whole bunch of other people. That’s basically what Harriet did here. There was absolutely no reason to mention Ophelia. She had nothing to do with Will’s post. Sure, she commented on the OP and I suppose, in the course of looking at other comments, Harriet could have mentioned Ophelia’s. But to single her out, and then dredge up all that history? That’s no the act of someone seeking peace. That’s the act of a shitstirrer.

    Also, the very first 2 lines of Harriet’s whine were so unhelpful. Who’s called her an enemy of feminism? Will said she was misinformed. He never said or even implied that she was malicious. Again–a lot of spin by someone who wants to burn bridges, not build them.

  49. 49
    Scote

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Scote, you’re being deliberately dishonest.

    Care to explain what this kind of unsupported accusation is supposed to do other than up the acrimony of the thread? And, no, I’m not offended. But I do think you are trolling, with your casual, straw man accusations of sexism and dishonesty. In fact, there seems to be a lot of unfounded accusations going on, including Bernard Bumner’s apparent claim that Harriet Hall was trying to be deliberately dishonest. I’m curious if you or Bumner can enlighten us to the source of your mind reading abilities? Because otherwise it looks like you are making unfounded Ad Hominem attacks.

    My snark was responding to this:”but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.” Which I quoted in my snark response, not the quote from an entirely different post of your that I neither referenced nor quoted.

    Next time you want to avoid backing up your transparently sexist claims, try a little harder to not fuck it up so badly.

    Again, straw argument. There is nothing sexist transparently or otherwise in that quote of mine.

  50. 50
    Ophelia Benson

    Cyrano – Yes. Hence my saying she’s angry and unpleasant. I have made some attempts to have a less hostile conversation but they have all fallen apart thanks to other people rushing in to throw gasoline on the fire, but also thanks to absolutely zero reciprocity from Hall.

  51. 51
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Scote @ 26 “Mockery, snark, condensation.”

    Oh, dear. That offend you? Stop being so emotional, science can’t prove that mockery, snark and condensation are real things to get offended by. They’re just your feelings, Scote.

  52. 52
    Scote

    “That depends, but whatever the answer is, what does that have to do with her scattershot apropos de rien slaps at me? The whole post wasn’t devoted to Will; a lot of it was devoted to me, for no apparent reason. That is picking a fight, yes.”

    I don’t think there is a definitive answer to this. Is addressing existing controversies picking *another* fight? I think you can argue it is picking a fight, though I think that the issues already existed. It might be more accurate to say you are both continuing it.

    As to a lot of the article being devoted to you, if you mean about 15% (via word count) then, yes, “a lot” of the article was about you.

  53. 53
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote could you stop being so condescending?

    It’s just not a big stretch – not enough of a stretch to justify bizarro announcements that science can’t tell us what’s offensive, as if anyone had said it could, or as if I’d used the word in the first place – to say that bashing someone for no obvious reason in a post ostensibly about something else is at least somewhat belligerent. I didn’t say it was “offensive”; I do think it’s belligerent, and that in the details it’s mostly warped and unfair. Does that piss me off? Yes. Is that irrational? No. Is it purely “rational” and nothing to do with what you call feelings? Of course not.

  54. 54
    Great American Satan

    Scote’s name is missing an “r”.

  55. 55
    Scote

    ” theoreticalgrrrl

    Scote @ 26 “Mockery, snark, condensation.”

    Oh, dear. That offend you? Stop being so emotional, science can’t prove that mockery, snark and condensation are real things to get offended by. They’re just your feelings, Scote.”

    There is nothing, IMO, in your post other than pure trolling. I’m not offended by it but it isn’t a valid replacement for evidence and reason.

    Quote where I said I was offended. You can’t because I didn’t. The out of context quote you provide was a note that “Iuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle” was trying to claim some sort of snark exception that allows her straw arguments to not be the logical fallacies they are. And your post doesn’t do anything to improve her claims. You, it seems, have no rebuttal and instead are going after me with nothing but personal attacks.

  56. 56
    Ophelia Benson

    Damn, my 53 was before I saw 52, not a response to 52.

  57. 57
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote, no we are not both continuing it. I don’t write about Harriet Hall apropos of nothing. She does write about me apropos of nothing. I reply when she bashes me; I don’t bash her. I hope you can see the difference.

    And do stop this stupid “I am more reason than you” bullshit. No you’re not.

  58. 58
    doubtthat

    I always enjoy when folks apply their brand of sanctimonious skepticism so enthusiastically and so monomaniacally that they become functional dunces.

    Scote has applied his awesome thinking skills to the point that he his now totally incapable of identifying deliberately provocative acts. The more he thought about it, the more he typed about it, the farther he moved from the obvious into the paralyzingly incorrect. Man, what if we’re, like, all just brains in a vat…

    “Reason your way to stupidity in 4 easy posts, only $19.95 with shipping and handling!”

  59. 59
    Will

    I think the reason she’s dragged you into this is that she’s making the assumption that because I write for Skepchick that I’m part of some larger cohort of people (FtB + Skepchick + Feminists-not-of-the-second-wave) that are out to get her. It’s simply untrue (and honestly a bit conspiratorial). I’m much more interested in tearing down her misinformed understandings of sex and gender that are being posted to a popular science blog as if they are scientifically grounded.

  60. 60
    Scote

    ” Ophelia Benson

    Scote could you stop being so condescending?

    It’s just not a big stretch – not enough of a stretch to justify bizarro announcements that science can’t tell us what’s offensive, as if anyone had said it could, or as if I’d used the word in the first place – to say that bashing someone for no obvious reason in a post ostensibly about something else is at least somewhat belligerent.

    You’ve already said a lot of the post was about you. Now you are saying that the post is about something else. I don’t think your argument is entirely consistent. It is the case that she is primarily annoyed by Will’s post, but also by the broader internecine wars over feminism in the Skeptic movement, which she seems to think you are at least in part a party to. And I do think you have made some sound points, as I noted early in the discussion thread.

    And calling this statement by me “bizarro” seems, well, bizarre:

    I should add, I think Ophelia makes a number of sound points, but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.

    You seem to agree with the statement, so, no, not “bizarro”. But you call me out for it, but you haven’t called out Bernard Bumner, who not only seems to think you were offended but that Hall deliberately set out to offend you.

  61. 61
    doubtthat

    @54

    If that’s what we lose with the civility pledges, I’m not signing up. It made me laugh.

  62. 62
    Scote

    ” Ophelia Benson

    And do stop this stupid “I am more reason than you” bullshit. No you’re not.”

    That is on a post by post basis, and we don’t always know when we are or aren’t, me included. Human foibles and all. I think I can be pretty sure I’m making more rational arguments than theoreticalgrrrl’s post. If someone makes unfounded Ad Hominems, such as calling me deliberately dishonest, as “Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle” has that is a sign they are arguing outside of logic and reason. But I don’t see you calling them out. Only me.

  63. 63
    doubtthat

    @59

    It’s bizarre because 1) no one made any point suggesting otherwise and 2) it’s trivial and not particularly profound, but you seem to think it’s somehow meaningful. You used it a leaping off point to engage in your well-reasoned stupidity: how can anyone tell what offends who? It’s totally baffling because you can’t put “offended” in a test tube and warm it under a bunsen burner.

    Why did Hall include that facebook interaction? What was the point if not to attempt to make Ophelia look ridiculous (which it didn’t)? She includes that post and calls it “surreal,” then links to an amazingly dumbassed post, saying it was a deconstruction when, in fact, it was an awesome display of missing the point. Read it and try to argue otherwise, I dare you — though I am impressed by your perverse dialectic: the more you argue, the farther you move from reasonability. You’re Bizzaro-Plato.

  64. 64
    Jafafa Hots

    Scote, you’re overselling the cluelessness act.

  65. 65
    Scote

    Tom Foss writes:

    I would think we would judge the moral choice by something more relevant, like empathy. If someone tells you that they were offended by something you said or did, most people would apologize and stop. If you must run through the moral calculus, it might be “I care about this person and don’t want to hurt their feelings” or “there are things that I find offensive, and if I were bothered enough to ask someone to stop, I would really appreciate it if they did” or even “I don’t want this person and the other people around me to think I’m an asshole,” and then you apologize and stop. Whether or not the offense is “reasonable” from your perspective is irrelevant, in part because you have no idea what reasons they have for being offended. Unless they explain it to you, you have no way of judging the “reasonableness” of their offense, not that it would be relevant if you could, because whether or not the offense is supported by a syllogism, it has happened. Saying “I find your offense unreasonable is unlikely to make the offense go away, and is probably going to result in you looking like a jerk.

    That is one way to look at it. When it comes to morality, there is no single answer. There is no unified “we”. I’ve worn head coverings at Jewish weddings, I’ve bowed my head at Christian prayers to be respectful. But was that an obligation? Is it my duty to bow my head to prayers for a god I don’t believe in because I know it would cause offense not to? Why is this a one way street where what *I* find reasonable is “irrelevant” and only the person who is offended matters. That kind of thinking puts you at the mercy of the most easily offended people’s sensibilities, where most of what we are talking about in this forum, feminism, atheism, skepticism,likey offends the majority of the population in the US. To avoid giving offense is literally impossible. Some people are offended by too little clothing (nudity) some by to little (burkas), some by the wrong kind of clothing (women wearing trousers, men wearing dresses), whether men do shave or don’t shave, keep their hair long or short. Everything offends somebody.

  66. 66
    doubtthat

    To be clear, Scote, this is Hall’s argument:

    1) Ophelia’s comment on my post gave me hope that we could have a productive dialog.
    2) Then someone who isn’t Ophelia said something that bothered me, therefore
    3) Fuck that chick, here’s some random stuff that I think makes her look like an asshole.

    Now the pitters and company will use the fact that Ophelia objected to that deliberately provocative post by defending herself as evidence that the FtBers are causing the strife and generate sanctimonious petitions to “restore civility.” It’s Rope-a-Dope for the rhetorically challenged.

  67. 67
    Ophelia Benson

    Thank goodness doubtthat is here; I can stop trying. Thank you dt!

    Will, you seem to have forgotten that meeting we all had in that sekrit room, where we agreed to get HH. Good times.

  68. 68
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Personal attacks, Scote? Please be more specific, what was the personal attack against you? You seemed offended by Illumnata Genie in the Beer Bottle’s comment to you, which you claim is a strawman and condescending and snarky.

    What about your comment that “The skeptic wars over feminism tend to cut through the logic and reason and trigger emotional responses because fairness, equality are moral issues, ones that we can inform using science but that we decide based on our own personal feelings, and those of the society in which we are raised.”

    And your comment that Ophelia makes a number of sound points “but I do think that whether one takes offense is based on feelings. Science can’t tell us whether we should be offended or not.

    I’d like YOU to quote where anyone here said they were offended. You made that up all by yourself.
    Because instead of discussing this like adults, you paint anyone you disagree with as illogical and unreasonable and just taking offense. I just took your argument and applied the same reasoning to your comments, which you just twisted into a personal attack against you.

    IMO, you are not arguing in good faith at all, but trolling while trying to sound like a calm, dispassionate observer.

  69. 69
    doubtthat

    I don’t know how long I’ll be able to last under the withering pressure of the persistent, willful inability to comprehend.

  70. 70
    Scote

    ” doubtthat

    February 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    To be clear, Scote, this is Hall’s argument:

    1) Ophelia’s comment on my post gave me hope that we could have a productive dialog.
    2) Then someone who isn’t Ophelia said something that bothered me, therefore
    3) Fuck that chick, here’s some random stuff that I think makes her look like an asshole.
    .”

    Thanks,that is a clear and succinct argument.

  71. 71
    Ophelia Benson

    You can’t back out on me now, dt! I’m depending on you!

  72. 72
    Tom Foss

    Scote:

    Is it my duty to bow my head to prayers for a god I don’t believe in because I know it would cause offense not to? Why is this a one way street where what *I* find reasonable is “irrelevant” and only the person who is offended matters.

    Oh, for the love of…

    1. Learn to read, please.

    2. No, it is not your duty. You have no obligation to not be a jackass (as you are amply showing here). Sometimes, however, you make the decision to not be a jackass, or to not be perceived as a jackass, for a variety of reasons.

    3. It is not a “one-way street.” It may be that you make concessions in certain situations to avoid offending some people. In other situations, those people may also make concessions to avoid offending you. And if they don’t make those concessions, then you don’t just have basic social politesse and convention to fall back on, you can also say “hey, what you’re doing is offensive. How would you like it if I had done [something similarly offensive] at your [event where I was respectful]?” Most people would, whether or not they agreed, cut it out.

    4. You don’t seem to understand that whether or not you find someone’s offense reasonable (or vice versa) doesn’t enter into this at all. On any side of the street.

    That kind of thinking puts you at the mercy of the most easily offended people’s sensibilities, where most of what we are talking about in this forum, feminism, atheism, skepticism,likey offends the majority of the population in the US. To avoid giving offense is literally impossible. Some people are offended by too little clothing (nudity) some by to little (burkas), some by the wrong kind of clothing (women wearing trousers, men wearing dresses), whether men do shave or don’t shave, keep their hair long or short. Everything offends somebody.

    And we’re back to that pointless red herring, and this “avoid giving offense” nonsense. Let me lay it out in very short words for you:

    1. Different people find different things offensive.

    2. You cannot evaluate the reasonableness of someone else’s offense, because you do not know what the reasons are.

    3. If you choose to do or say offensive things, there will be consequences.

    4. One consequence of doing or saying offensive things is some people thinking you’re a jerk.

    This isn’t what you’re looking for, Scote, I realize. What you really seem to want is to get from “everything offends somebody” to “there’s no reason I should have to watch whether I say or do things that might offend people.” You can get there, so long as you ignore or disregard the feelings of others, and their opinion of you. Go ahead and fling those slurs in crowded restaurants, call your waitress “toots,” stand up in the middle of your friend’s synagogue and stamp on your yarmulke, pour beer in the church’s holy water basin, heckle a eulogy.

    You have no obligation to anyone else to act like a civilized human being with a basic understanding of social mores, decorum, empathy, and mutual respect. But there are consequences to breaking those social contracts, and you should be prepared to face those consequences.

  73. 73
    theoreticalgrrrl

    I found nothing about Will’s post to be hostile toward Hall. Will disagreed strongly with her views on gender differences, but that’s not a personal attack, it’s debating ideas. And I’m not sure why Hall decided one post that disagreed with her was so terrible that she’s now given up completely on acheiving friendly communication.

    And likewise, Scote interprets people here who disagree with him as hostile and making personal attacks, when we are just disagreeing with him and his characterization that any disputes people have about feminism are based on feelings and offense and not logic.

    Saying things like women aren’t intellectually active or that Ophelia and other female bloggers are stupid cunts and she-beasts or that throwing acid in Ophelia’s face would do her some good or that it may not be immoral to rape the women at Skepchick is in no way comparable to people being offended by women not covering their hair or whether men shave or not.

    Just give it up Scote. No one is buying it.

  74. 74
    Feline

    Look, Scote, you superfluous sub-literate. Maybe you should learn how to read before you try to tell people how to do it. (No offence intended)
    But did you ever answer the question:

    What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?

    I don’t think you did, you disingenuous dullard. (No offence intended)

  75. 75
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Actually, I’m not gonna lie… I’m tired of it all.

    I’m tired of the constant unsolicited attacked from Harriett Hall and the Slymepit. I’m sick of these so-called “impassioned observers” who come to FtB to tell us to “calm down” when we know quite well they don’t take that bullshit to the Slymepit and Harriet Hall and Paula Kirby and Michael Shermer and them.

    I’m sick of the tone-trolling, “be rational” claptrap they keep dredging up.

    Why can’t they just let it die? Why do they constantly have to re-light the flames? What the fuck is wrong with them?

  76. 76
    edithkeeler

    @NateHevens

    New slymepit thread going up as we speak “FTBully Admits Lying1!!111!”

  77. 77
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    There is nothing sexist transparently or otherwise in that quote of mine.

    That’s right, diddums. Just keep on lying. It will magically make reality change for you. Really.

    I’ve tried twice now to get you to explain yourself further and your only response has been a repeated desperate dodging in the hopes of muddy the waters so you could get out of having to defend your asinine sexist initial comment. And you ignored direct questions to you.

    But, magically, I’M the troll. You know, cuz, uh . . . . [insert misused logical fallacy here].

    From reading the comments of others, you’ll notice exactly how convinced everyone is.

  78. 78
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    @edithkeeler

    The sad part is, that could legitimately happen…

  79. 79
    tonyhouston

    Ophelia, my hat is off to you for wading into these murky waters. You also “show up” in my blog… in a good way. Cheers. http://multiversalist.blogspot.com/2013/02/avenging-hypatia.html

  80. 80
    Scote

    “Feline

    Look, Scote, you superfluous sub-literate. Maybe you should learn how to read before you try to tell people how to do it. “

    ” Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    That’s right, diddums. Just keep on lying.”

    Interesting. It’s like I’ve wandered into Phyrangula, where Ad Hominems and unfounded slander are all too common, where all too often personal attacks substitute for reasoned argument, where some people conflate disagreement with lying.

  81. 81
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Scote:Interesting. It’s like I’ve wandered into Phyrangula, where Ad Hominems and unfounded slander are all too common, where all too often personal attacks substitute for reasoned argument, where some people conflate disagreement with lying.

    Please explain why you think you, as an obvious troll, deserve any better treatment than the treatment you are receiving.

    Or else, answer the question you have been asked six times now. To wit: “What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?”

    You had your chance for ‘reasoned argument’. You refused it, over and over and over. Why should you be surprised that no one wants to talk reason with you anymore, when you’ve been so consistently unreasonable?

  82. 82
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I’m going to repeat the question to Scote. It’s a very simple question, after all…

    “What does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?”

  83. 83
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    And… why am I in moderation? :(

  84. 84
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    BTW, it should be noted that Harriet Hall deliberately lies about what Ophelia said in the FB exchange hile fucking linking to the source:
    Harriet Hall:

    She says “I didn’t accuse her of lying; I just said she didn’t tell the truth.” (!?) She had questioned a woman’s perception of what happened at a secular women’s meeting because it didn’t match the “truth” of her own experience.

    Original exchange, underlined in black:
    Ophelia Benson:

    I did not say I thought she was lying. I said I did not believe her. There’s a difference.

    Harriet Hall has either language skills that belong in primary school, considering this example and the one where she claims that my sentence about men, brains and size and hers about men and brains mean the same and this one, where she turns “don’t believe her” into “did not tell the truth”, which I don’t believe, or she’s plain dishonest. I also have superior language skills because I can write such a horrible run-on sentencse as the above.

    great1american1satan
    AFAIK Will is a gay cis man. I see the scarequotes as another attempt to dehumanize her “opponents” and to put them back into their place which is very much beneath Harriet Hall. Who’s that “Will” person to criticise her.

    +++
    I’m still debating myself whether it’s worth registering at SBM just to tell her that she knows so much about sex and gender that she calls a woman who’s using her own picture a “he”….
    Damn, I would’t have thought it bothered me that much…

  85. 85
    'dirigible

    “Interesting. It’s like I’ve wandered into Phyrangula, where Ad Hominems[...]”

    Go back to the original comment. Hall’s actions clearly demonstrate bad faith. Despite this, OB is agreeing with most of what Hall actually argues, and clearly and substantively explains where she differs.

    Yet your first response was to accuse everyone of “emotional flame wars”.

    Srsly?

  86. 86
    Bernard Bumner

    In fact, there seems to be a lot of unfounded accusations going on, including Bernard Bumner’s apparent claim that Harriet Hall was trying to be deliberately dishonest. I’m curious if you or Bumner can enlighten us to the source of your mind reading abilities? Because otherwise it looks like you are making unfounded Ad Hominem attacks.

    I’m making a direct accusation: Harriet Hall has deliberately constructed a a hatchet job attacking the integrity of a number of people, including Will, Ophelia, and Amy.

    She openly accuses them of dishonesty – she specifically accuses Will of distortion, Ophelia of using silencing tactics and evasion, and implies that Amy reacted irrationally and/or manufactured offence. That is not mind reading, that simply reading.

    If Will, or “Will” as she affectionately knows him, has distorted Harriet’s meaning, then that could have been well addressed without ever mentioning Ophelia. And you still haven’t explained something which is critical to understanding this situation and for which I cannot find a charitable explanation; what does Will’s post have to do with Ophelia?

  87. 87
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    In fact, there seems to be a lot of unfounded accusations going on, including Bernard Bumner’s apparent claim that Harriet Hall was trying to be deliberately dishonest.

    How else do you explain the serious misquoting of Ophelia I demonstrated in #82?

  88. 88
    EllenBeth Wachs

    I think the reason she’s dragged you into this is that she’s making the assumption that because I write for Skepchick that I’m part of some larger cohort of people (FtB + Skepchick + Feminists-not-of-the-second-wave) that are out to get her. It’s simply untrue (and honestly a bit conspiratorial). I’m much more interested in tearing down her misinformed understandings of sex and gender that are being posted to a popular science blog as if they are scientifically grounded.

    Yes! This happens constantly to me, most recently on Ben Radford’s post on the CFI blog where I was “accused” of being a member of Butterflies and Wheels, Almost Diamonds, Pharyngula and Skepchik. This came after I pointed out that the slymepit acted as a cybermob, gathering at their hub and then swarming targets to overwhelm him/her with ridicule, insults and propaganda.

  89. 89
    B-Lar

    …What you really seem to want is to get from “everything offends somebody” to “there’s no reason I should have to watch whether I say or do things that might offend people.”

    Thank you Tom Foss! This was slowly dawning, but you crystallised it.

    And thank you too Scote! Sometimes its good to have trolls around to demonstrate critical thinking failiures. Its easier to see flaws in others than it is to see them in yourself, and you have been my mirror for today. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to not be like you.

  90. 90
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    It is amazing how people say “offense” and think that there isn’t “offense” and “offense”
    If somebody is offended by people criticising religion, or not thinking that the Pope (doesn’t even matter which one) is a great person who has anything valuable to contribute to the discussion or by, heaven forbid, being gay in public, yes, they have to suck it up. None of these things is harmful or discriminatory and any damage imagined from seeing guys kissing is exclusively caused by those people themselves.
    Calling people slurs, “discussing” abortion-restriction, claiming that atheists aren’t fully human, conflating male homosexuality with pedophilia and yes, stereotyping women is offensive because it demonstrably hurts those people and we have ample evidence to show this.
    It’s not about “not causing offense”, “not using bad wordz”, it’s about actual real harm to actual real people.

  91. 91
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    where some people conflate disagreement with lying.

    Oh look! More lies!

    No, diddums, this is not about you disagreeing, this is about you lying to avoid addresses questions and points directed to you.

    And P.S. For fuck’s sake please stop pretending you understand logical fallacies.

  92. 92
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Regarding Scote’s reductio ad absurdum:

    What you really seem to want is to get from “everything offends somebody” to “there’s no reason I should have to watch whether I say or do things that might offend people.”

    Is this not, in a nutshell, the whole anti- anti-harassment argument in miniature?

    It is possible to accept the proposition that everything offends somebody, while at the same time committing to restrict one’s offensive behaviour. We all do this. He should try it too.

  93. 93
    Laurence

    I’m really irritated and tired of the whole idea that if science can’t give us an answer to a question, then we have to throw our hands up and say that there’s no answer one way or the other. That’s just silly and lazy.

  94. 94
    Bruce Gorton

    Two weeks ago I published an article on gender differences and the recent divisions in the skeptical community. Ophelia Benson showed up in the comments. Not unsurprisingly, she disagreed with me about the Shermer incident, but then she said “I like the rest of this article a lot. I particularly like the point about averages and individuals, which is one I make all the time.”
    I took that as a hopeful sign that friendly communication might be achieved, but my bubble was quickly burst by a hostile takedown of my article on Skepchick by “Will.”

    Isn’t this kind of a non-sequitar? I mean, Ophelia isn’t “Will”.

  95. 95
    Bernard Bumner

    It is possible to accept the proposition that everything offends somebody, while at the same time committing to restrict one’s offensive behaviour. We all do this. He should try it too.

    It is, as Giliell points out, possible to distinguish between different forms and levels of offence.

    Certainly, if one inadvertently causes offence, it seems not only polite but necessary to address that offence. One might decide to make amends or else not to disclaim or even to stand by the offensive act. In all cases, there is a deliberate element once someone draws attention to the offence.

  96. 96
    Martha

    @Giliell # 82 I think being called “he” when one happens to be a woman is offensive because of the underlying assumption that if one is in doubt, it’s much worse for a man to be called “she” than for a woman to be called “he.” Or at least that being male is normative. It’s an offensive assumption, but most of us fall prey to it from time to time. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t piss me off royally!

  97. 97
    robscentury

    Recently (in the last year), she was added to the board of an organization of which I was a member. I wrote to them asking them to remove my name from their mailing lists, citing her unprofessional behavior at TAM. (The t-shirt incident….)

    The “reasonable” response I got back was basically: I’m friends with Surly Amy, we talk all the time and I thought we’d put this “mess behind us.” And basically trying to down play my complaint as being an emotional, not rational response.

    I responded that while it’s nice that he personally is friends with SA and HH, it really comes down to me questioning the professionalism of a board member. Calling someone, anyone out when you are giving a talk is, to me, an egregious violation of professional conduct. (One so egregious that I didn’t believe the stories until I heard it confirmed by several others. ) I ended by saying that professionalism generally means that when someone registers a complaint, you don’t try to down play it and say they are just being emotional.

    Never got a further response other than asking to confirm my email and physical address.

  98. 98
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Martha
    It also plays into the assumption that everybody who somehow is visible is male. You know, there are no women on the internet

  99. 99
    carlie

    Wait a minute – do you think that Hall might think that Ophelia was posting under the pseudonym of Will? That would explain the quotes around his name and why she went straight from what he wrote to complaining about Ophelia.

  100. 100
    thetalkingstove

    Not unsurprisingly, she disagreed with me about the Shermer incident

    Doesn’t “not unsurprisingly” suggest that the person was actually surprised? I’ve seen this phrase used a few times. What’s wrong with just ‘unsurprisingly’?

    Ok, I’ll stop being a pedant.

  101. 101
    thetalkingstove

    Oh, and I think “Will” is simply a way of not-so-subtly indicating that HH doesn’t know who this person is, and therefore why should she really care? Just a minimising, dismissing tactic.

    Don’t think its anything more sinister than that. But who knows.

  102. 102
    Ophelia Benson

    Giliell @ 84 – Yikes. I hadn’t noticed that. That’s…really scuzzy.

    Nate @ 83 – just a glitch!

  103. 103
    Ophelia Benson

    Speaking of “Not unsurprisingly, she disagreed with me about the Shermer incident”…I meant to say but forgot –

    What “incident”? There was no “incident.” It’s not an “incident” to quote something a guy said and say it’s a sexist stereotype.

    What is it with these people who act as if they were somehow Too Important to be criticized by us peasants?

  104. 104
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Carlie

    Wait a minute – do you think that Hall might think that Ophelia was posting under the pseudonym of Will? That would explain the quotes around his name and why she went straight from what he wrote to complaining about Ophelia.

    That’s a level of paranoia that, although worrying, might actually explain many things.

  105. 105
    doubtthat

    @80 Our friend, Scote

    Interesting. It’s like I’ve wandered into Phyrangula, where Ad Hominems and unfounded slander are all too common, where all too often personal attacks substitute for reasoned argument, where some people conflate disagreement with lying.

    First of all, that’s a pet peeve of mine. An “ad hominem” involves dismissing an argument by insulting. As in:

    A: Smoking is bad for you.
    B: You’re an asshole, therefore smoking isn’t bad for you.

    That’s a logical fallacy. What you’re complaining about is not, in fact, an ad hominem.

    Insulting to dismiss = ad hominem
    Dismissing then insulting = not ad hominem.

    In other words, you’re not wrong because you’re an asshole, you’re an asshole because you’re wrong in such a way that warrants pejorative description:

    A: There are no harmful effects caused by smoking.
    B: Damnit, we’ve had this conversation 500 times. I’ve shown the medical studies, the published work of researchers, you’re completely wrong and your continued insistence on ignoring leads me to conclude that you’re an idiot.

    Second, you’ve received quite a bit of reasoned argument, but you’ve ignored it all and continue to generate spurious babble. There really isn’t anything you’ve said that requires much of a response. What is your argument? Just that the Laws of Thermodynamics don’t give us much to work with when considering the nature of causing offense? Consider my jaw dropped.

    The slander aimed your way is completely founded. You may have cause to complain that folks are being less than courteous and you could join the civility-troll chorus, but you are being insulted because you’re making very silly arguments in an amazingly pompous manner.

  106. 106
    doubtthat

    @101 thetalkingstove

    The most charitable understanding is just that she was singling out the name as an internet pseudonym. It makes more sense when people are clearly anonymous, “doubtthat” said…, so it’s weird to think that Will is actually some guy named Steve, but he chose another traditional first name to blog under…and also, if you go the Skepchick site, there’s a “who’s who” section that gives a decent amount of information, so it’s clear that he isn’t an anonymous blogger.

    That being said, most charitable is that she was lazy, then as you say, that it was minimizing, then the more ornate theories. Given her generally disagreeable writing, I think your explanation is likely the best.

  107. 107
    Bernard Bumner

    It seem absurd to me that Harriet Hall thought “Will” was actually Ophelia, and yet it offers a more coherent explanation of the piece as a whole.

    I think that you’re right that the quotation marks are somehow meant to signify the illegitimacy of Will’s identity and therefore of his thoughts and opinions. Ophelia is simply lumped in as fellow member of the feminist conspiracy to besmirch the good name of Harriet Hall, a convenient target in the absence of motivation to find an apposite example.

    Otherwise, am I at a loss to explain that punctuation as anything other than a very confusing idiosyncrasy. It certainly doesn’t aid comprehension.

  108. 108
    Tom Foss

    It might be that Hall started the post thinking it was all Ophelia, only discovering later that it was Will. Noting that, she did a hasty pre-publication edit to the beginning rather than change the whole post. Not that that’s necessarily the case, but there’s a lot of that kind of thing going around lately.

  109. 109
    ChasCPeterson

    Hall is oblivious, but folks would do better to criticize her words than to spin stories about her punctuation.
    The charitable interpretation is simply that she’s old and uncomfortable with the whole use-of-nyms-and-nicks thing.
    If the Skepchick polemic had been bylined ‘Will Surname’ instead, I’ll bet she would not have used the quotemarks. Likewise, she would put anything seemingly pseudonymous in quotes.

  110. 110
    Stephanie Zvan

    Tom, I doubt it has anything to do with an edit on the post, but you’re right about that kind of thinking. I find it utterly bizarre that Ophelia and EllenBeth would get pulled into a post that generally attempts to address Will’s criticisms. Correction does not equal attack does not equal personal argument does not equal discussion about appropriate social behavior. That these things are all getting folded together by people who stand up to represent skepticism is disturbing. That’s exactly the opposite of how good information is spread and good intellectual practices are modeled.

  111. 111
    Ophelia Benson

    I don’t think Hall can possibly have thought I was Will. That would simply be completely random – plus it wouldn’t make any sense anyway, since I’m my own self in so many places already. Why would anyone think I was also Will on Skepchick? Hall might as well think I’m Obama.

    No, she just dragged me into that post, along with EllenBeth, because as I said she’s angry and unpleasant. She’s angry with me, I suppose, because I posted about her in the T shirt last summer. Yes I did. The T shirt was a nasty, childish, unpleasant way to behave. I said so. Result: now she flings shit at me even when it involves her in a complete non sequitur.

  112. 112
    Raging Bee

    The skeptic wars over feminism tend to cut through the logic and reason and trigger emotional responses because fairness, equality are moral issues, ones that we can inform using science but that we decide based on our own personal feelings, and those of the society in which we are raised.

    Scote, if you ever decide to grow up and stop pretending you’re the only “rational” person in the room, you’ll soon find that “we” are deciding certain things based on our EXPERIENCES of the CONSEQUENCES of certain actions and policies — not merely “our own personal feelings.”

    Just because we have feelings about something, doesn’t mean there’s no objective facts behind the feelings. So stop pretending your “detachment” makes you either smarter or more rational than anyone else — it just makes you more clueless.

  113. 113
    Raging Bee

    Why is this a one way street where what *I* find reasonable is “irrelevant” and only the person who is offended matters.

    Oh, I get it — Scote is here from the “What about MEEEEEE??!!!” branch of juvenile skepticism. That explains a lot.

  114. 114
    PZ Myers

    I love how Scote considers me the exemplar of internet offensiveness, the horrible guy whose blog is the standard against which all abusiveness should be measured.

    Yes, I’m rude. But compare me to, say, Reap Paden, or the Slymepit, or any of a dozen people who have maintained a regular campaign of focused hatred for a year or two now. How come you don’t bring them up as bad examples who have hurt your widdle feewings?

    Also, I am not the nail that you get to use to put Ophelia up on the cross. I am to answer for what I say, not anyone else.

  115. 115
    Deepak Shetty

    @doubtthat
    The most charitable understanding is just that she was singling out the name as an internet pseudonym.
    Thats the impression I had when i read her post too. Your summary at @66 is the best one!

  116. 116
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    How come you don’t bring them up as bad examples who have hurt your widdle feewings?

    I asked him something very similar upthread. He claims he’s never read any of those, so he’s never gone there to tone troll, misuse logical fallacies and cower away from answering questions. That joy is saved for us.

  117. 117
    Raging Bee

    I love how Scote considers me the exemplar of internet offensiveness…

    Every time a clueless fake skeptic clutches his pearls, an atheist blogger gets his wings. Or horns, as the case may be…

  118. 118
    Scote

    ” PZ Myers

    February 20, 2013 at 10:16 am (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    I love how Scote considers me the exemplar of internet offensiveness, the horrible guy whose blog is the standard against which all abusiveness should be measured.

    What I’m looking for is for people to be consistent in their arguments. If they are against people being deliberately offensive then they should, if their principles are consistent, be against you. I cited you because your posts are offensive to many of your opponents. And I think you have a right to be and that it can be effective. But I think the person who was sooo against the “offensive” “I am not a Skepchick” shirt is fine withe “offensive” posts by you. I think they are showing that they have double standards.

    I do not, in fact, think you are a horrible guy nor do I think Phil Plait was right. You, and others in this thread, seem over eager to fit me into a convenient, pre-written narrative. I do think, though, that your comment threads often times devolve into mob rule, where people are shouted down with insults rather than sound argument. And I think we can see that leaking over into BW where people have falsely called me deliberately dishonest and a liar several times. I don’t think baseless slander is a good substitute for evidence and reasoned argument.

    Yes, I’m rude. But compare me to, say, Reap Paden, or the Slymepit, or any of a dozen people who have maintained a regular campaign of focused hatred for a year or two now. How come you don’t bring them up as bad examples who have hurt your widdle feewings?

    I don’t bring them up because I’ve never heard of them. And, there you go again, trying to fit me into your straw man narrative. My feelings are not hurt, yet you keep making that false claim.

    Also, I am not the nail that you get to use to put Ophelia up on the cross. I am to answer for what I say, not anyone else.”

    And yet you are at least in part responsible for the rambunctious comment culture engendered at FtB. That isn’t on Ophelia, but it does affect her threads. You are responsible for more that just what you say, but also, to a certain degree, what behavior you condone and encourage in the comment threads.

  119. 119
    Scote

    ” Raging Bee

    February 20, 2013 at 10:31 am (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    “I love how Scote considers me the exemplar of internet offensiveness…”

    Every time a clueless fake skeptic clutches his pearls, an atheist blogger gets his wings. Or horns, as the case may be…

    Ah, more straw man narrative stuffing.

    I’m a liberal atheist skeptic who believes in freedom of and from religion and in the legal freedom to offend. Whereas it seems that inconsistent folks in this thread think that offense is ok when PZ does it but not when Hariet Hall wears a “I’m not a Skepchick” shirt. These kind of straw attacks are the kind I normally expect from theists who have cognitive dissonance over their own inconsistencies. I think some skeptics are showing their own inconsistencies.

    But rather than address my arguments some folks just make false accusations, falsely calling me a fake skeptic. What, exactly, other than not joining the mob, do you claim is fake? Quotes please.

  120. 120
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote, before you type another word, you need to answer my question @ 46. You don’t get to derail the thread any more until you do.

  121. 121
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Scote… look at every comment you’ve written on this thread. You’ve outright admitted that you’ve never posted on the “other side”‘s boards because you’ve “never heard of them”.

    I challenge you to go read the Slymepit. I’d link it here, but I don’t want to sully Ophelia’s comment thread. Google for it, and then read through the posts. Read the deliberate bullying, target-attacking, ad-hominems, and so on… real, [i]legitimate[/i] bullying (bad enough that spending five minutes there triggered my 12 years of social ostracism and depression resulting from it; although it did give me my current nym tagline, since they apparently think I consider myself more intelligent than Einstein, more witty than Oscar Wilde, and better written than Christopher Hitchens… I don’t even know what that means), then come back here and try to tell us how we’re the bad guys here.

    We’re pissed at you and are responding to you in this way because you’re tone-trolling, and, apparently, regardless of the reason, reserving it especially for us.

    So seriously… take up my challenge. Read through the Slyempit. Search, on their forums, for Ophelia, for Rebecca Watson (also look for “Rebeccunt Twatson”, a phrase they are quite fond of), Freethought Blog, Jennifer McCreight… also look for nyms you see here. Look at how we’re treated.

    And then try to explain why our anger and defensiveness is somehow “too much”.

    Please.

  122. 122
    SallyStrange
    Yes, I’m rude. But compare me to, say, Reap Paden, or the Slymepit, or any of a dozen people who have maintained a regular campaign of focused hatred for a year or two now. How come you don’t bring them up as bad examples who have hurt your widdle feewings?

    I don’t bring them up because I’ve never heard of them.

    So, party A is rude in response to party B being deliberately offensive in the extreme, and you have no idea what’s going on, so you just popped in to lecture party A about being rude, despite having no fucking idea about what triggered the rudeness.

    YOU are rude, Scote. What you did here? Was a rude thing to do. Own it.

  123. 123
    Scote

    Ophelia, AFIK, you had nothing directly to do with Will’s post.

  124. 124
    Tom Foss

    Whereas it seems that inconsistent folks in this thread think that offense is ok when PZ does it but not when Hariet Hall wears a “I’m not a Skepchick” shirt.

    Time for a reading exam, Scote: who has said anything of the sort in this thread? Make sure to include quoted citations in your answer.

  125. 125
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote, that’s a shitty answer, for at least two reasons. One, it’s incomplete, and two, it implies that I had something to do with Will’s post indirectly.

  126. 126
    SallyStrange

    What does “AFIK” stand for? I assumed “as far as I know,” but then I realized it was missing an A.

  127. 127
    Deepak Shetty

    Also, I am not the nail that you get to use to put Ophelia up on the cross. I am to answer for what I say, not anyone else.
    No no no no – FTB is the Borg – we are all assimilated.

  128. 128
    Scote

    ” Ophelia Benson

    February 20, 2013 at 11:51 am (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Scote, that’s a shitty answer, for at least two reasons. One, it’s incomplete, and two, it implies that I had something to do with Will’s post indirectly.”

    It is a conservative statement. I don’t know for certain that there is no god. So I don’t say “There is no god”. Likewise I don’t say “you had no involvement.” But I’m happy to give your involvement the same statement I’d give of proof of god, “I have no reason to believe you were involved and I don’t think you were.” Indirectly, however, is a broad nexus. The whole skeptically community could be said to have indirect involvement, so I wouldn’t make a categorical denial on that basis since I don’t know all the facts.

    I’m curious, though. You put me on comment moderation, as is your right as the host. Do the people who falsely called me a deliberate liar also go on comment moderation? The difference between honest disagreement–you and I IMO–and people using slander in place of sound argument seems fairly stark. Should the latter be rewarded?

  129. 129
    Ophelia Benson

    Well that’s true, Scote, you appear to know almost nothing about all of this, by your own admission.

    Yet for all your epistemic modesty when I ask you a question, you feel quite confident about making all kinds of claims based on this almost-zero-knowledge.

    I put you in mod pending your answering the question. You didn’t really answer, but you did at least stop ignoring it; hence, out of mod.

  130. 130
    Scote

    ” Ophelia Benson

    February 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Well that’s true, Scote, you appear to know almost nothing about all of this, by your own admission.

    Yet for all your epistemic modesty when I ask you a question, you feel quite confident about making all kinds of claims based on this almost-zero-knowledge.

    I put you in mod pending your answering the question. You didn’t really answer, but you did at least stop ignoring it; hence, out of mod.

    I note you don’t answer whether you put people on mod for slander, calling people deliberate liars without any proof. Where as not answering a question to your satisfaction does result in modding.

    I do like your term Epistemic Modesty. Perhaps there is a head covering for that? I hope it looks good on me :-)

    However, yes, my arguments are not perfect. When you are trying to pin me down to the mat under pain of moderation of course I’m going to give a conservative answer. Who wouldn’t?

  131. 131
    rnilsson

    AFIK – All Fings I Kovet. Scote is a little heard of reeding, as we have seen here. But it’s probably a clumsy endearment. And that is my favourable interpretation.

    Scote deliberately asked me a (silly) question right after I had excused myself from discussion, declaring I was going to sleep [#39]. That is Exhibit 4711 or similar fragrance. Waking up, I was driving on icy roads all day. Thus non-posting. Fact of life.

    And let me just add, this late in the game, since so many others have put forward flashes of varying insight, that perhaps the root explanation to erratic and untypical behaviour might lie in medical problem such as advancing age, earlier exposure to harmful environmental agents or simply hereditary neurological disease. Even I have seen cases where people have started to behave in ways utterly alien to their former selves.

    Caveat: I am not a medical doctor and it is certainly not my intention to try and diagnose anybody via Internet utterings. When those utterings and witness-reported behaviour are all the input I have, this is what I must use to try and make sense of the seemingly inexplicable.

    So, think for yourselves, OK?

    Ah shucks, the runaway Dressin pedals on like a nukular Everedybattering rabbit. Well, it keeps “him” occupied I guess. (Snarky quotes due to my non-perfect gender inferencing vocab meat-brain filter.) (No, why should I owe “him” any courtesy when “he” offers precious little honestly to others?)

    Apologies if this was over the line, Ophelia; delete at will (obviously)

  132. 132
    loofasword

    I think they are showing that they have double standards.

    Ooooor, they are showing that the two examples you cite aren’t equivalent. For a whole pile of inter-subjective reasons.

  133. 133
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Scote

    What I’m looking for is for people to be consistent in their arguments. If they are against people being deliberately offensive then they should, if their principles are consistent, be against you.

    See, we’re runing into a little problem here and that is that yu don’t understand the argument.
    If you did (and I even explained it upthread), you would understand that it isn’t about black and white, offense or no offense. This isn’t kindergarten with a nice set of handy rules, it’s an adult conversation with lots of nuance. So I suggest you grow up or let the grown-ups talk.

  134. 134
    rnilsson

    Double standards, yes. Like when someone (let’s not name names here) repudiates people who respond to queries with a question, responds to queries with a question while not actually answering? Like when someone demands that others assign an enormous amount of time and effort, or at least attention, to explaining and demonstrating what they could have easily (if queasily) have looked up for themselves? Like when someone vociferously hoards a large number of slots in a debate without even bothering to look into the background topic?

    I see it so clearly now.

  135. 135
    Pieter B, FCD

    Odd—in #19, “Scote” claims

    I’m not familiar with the situation [the T-shirt incident] you allude to

    Yet in #118 “Scote” writes most blithely

    I think the person who was sooo against the “offensive” “I am not a Skepchick” shirt

    Yet nowehere between the two did “Scote” mention having either recalled or learned what the incident entailed. I find this unsurprising, but revealing.

  136. 136
    SallyStrange

    Are we to conclude, then, that scote finds the claim “Benson had nothing to do with Will’s post” to be about as supported and believable as the claim, “god exists”?

    That’s also pretty fucking rude.

  137. 137
    rnilsson

    Pieter, yes I think I subliminally registered that inconsistency too. Perhaps it proves that Scote has some capability for learning after all?

    Or maybe just for insincerity. Oh, how to tell? Morals be haard.

    Getting drowsy … must sleee … … … zzzz

  138. 138
    Scote

    ” Pieter B, FCD

    February 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Odd—in #19, “Scote” claims

    “I’m not familiar with the situation [the T-shirt incident] you allude to”

    Yet in #118 “Scote” writes most blithely

    “I think the person who was sooo against the “offensive” “I am not a Skepchick” shirt”

    Yet nowehere between the two did “Scote” mention having either recalled or learned what the incident entailed. I find this unsurprising, but revealing.”

    Really?

    “9
    Scote

    February 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm (UTC -8)”

    “119
    Scote

    February 20, 2013 at 11:17 am (UTC -8)”

    Someone posted a redacted anecdote they thought was important and you are suspicious that I learned more about it a day later? What is wrong with you people??? And by “you people” I mean the people in this thread who can’t imagine honest disagreement and instead feels a need to use ad hominem slander to accuse people of lying

  139. 139
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Twit says:

    it seems that inconsistent folks in this thread think that offense is ok when PZ does it but not when Hariet Hall wears a “I’m not a Skepchick” shirt.

    No. Offense is offense. You need context. If I say “you are like a stream of bat piss”, then I am intending to give you offense and I own that intent. If you call me on it, and I back track and say “I really meant that you are like a shaft of gold shining in the dark”, then I am weaselling out and being dishonest, and probably winking and laughing with my friends behind your back.

    Deliberately offending while also pretending that you don’t mean to, it’s just a joke, and that the object of your offense has no right to feel offended: that’s disgustingly dishonest. And that’s what Hall did to Surly Amy. And what the mildew mob do all the time.

  140. 140
    Scote


    Twit says:
    ” it seems that inconsistent folks in this thread think that offense is ok when PZ does it but not when Hariet Hall wears a “I’m not a Skepchick” shirt.”

    No. Offense is offense.

    That doesn’t’ make sense. If “offense is offense” then you must agree with me that it is inconsistent to approve of one and not the other.

    “You need context. If I say “you are like a stream of bat piss”, then I am intending to give you offense and I own that intent. If you call me on it, and I back track and say “I really meant that you are like a shaft of gold shining in the dark”, then I am weaselling out and being dishonest, and probably winking and laughing with my friends behind your back.

    And calling me a “twit” would figure where, exactly, in this context?

    Deliberately offending while also pretending that you don’t mean to, it’s just a joke, and that the object of your offense has no right to feel offended: that’s disgustingly dishonest. And that’s what Hall did to Surly Amy. And what the mildew mob do all the time.

    What if Hall is offended by name “Skepchick”? Should the Skepchick website change its name?

    I don’t think it would be good to misrepresent one’s self or one’s intentions. Likewise I think it would be bad to make unfounded claims of fact about someones intentions–as, for instance, with all the people falsely accusing me of lying. However, I think misrepresentation is a different area than “offense” per se, though I can see some overlap.

    So, do you own up to trying to deliberately offend me by calling me a twit? Will you own that? Or deny it? And if you own it, what is the justification for it? Was their a valid point to it?

  141. 141
    Scote

    Errata:
    The correct posts:

    “19
    Scote

    February 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm (UTC -8)”

    “118
    Scote

    February 20, 2013 at 11:07 am”

    Same time frame.

  142. 142
    Pieter B, FCD

    “Scote”, given what and how you’ve written, I find it hard to believe that you would have read about the T-shirt incident, or “situation” as you put it, and not made any reference to it at all before mentioning it as casually as if you’d known about it all along.

    You’re very sensitive to the tone of others’ remarks; please don’t act surprised if others draw inferences based on your tone.

  143. 143
    Scote

    “142
    Pieter B, FCD

    February 20, 2013 at 4:04 pm (UTC -8)

    “Scote”, given what and how you’ve written, I find it hard to believe that you would have read about the T-shirt incident, or “situation” as you put it, and not made any reference to it at all before mentioning it as casually as if you’d known about it all along. “

    More straw man narrative stuffing. You just can’t accept that people could honestly disagree with you so you have to cast your opponents as liars. :p

    News flash, Peter, I don’t tweet “Eureka!!” every time I learn something. Nobody does. And it is manifestly unreasonable to make an accusation of lying on the assumption that I should.

  144. 144
    Tom Foss

    Scote:

    I’m curious, though. You put me on comment moderation, as is your right as the host. Do the people who falsely called me a deliberate liar also go on comment moderation?

    Add “reputation” to the list of things you don’t understand. See, one of those consequences of behavior I keep talking about (and you keep ignoring, except when trying to fit it into your stock “you’re inconsistent because PZ” strawman argument…wait, where have I heard that complaint before?) is that you build up a reputation in other people’s minds based on the actions you take. That reputation then figures in to how other people interpret your actions and treat you. Some of the people commenting here have done so for years, and have built up a clear reputation for being worthwhile commenters who bring valuable points and insights to the threads.

    You, on the other hand, have been here for a few days, so far as I can tell. You have spoken out (using fairly common tropes in these sorts of discussions) from a position of admitted ignorance, and seem only to have educated yourself about any of these issues halfway through the conversation. Your very first comment began as argumentative and continued into dismissive condescension, as though this “war” over feminism were some trivial matter, that we all ought to just avoid these emotionally charged topics because they inhibit some arbitrary standard of reasoned discussion (much better to talk about things that affect no one and inflame no passions, certainly), and that it was a “turn off,” as though the topics that should be most important are the ones that turn you on, regardless of any other concerns. You called the host “prickly,” made unnecessary swipes at essentially uninvolved parties (Skepchick and Pharyngula)–a tactic which, you may note, was the source of much of the consternation in the OP–and eventually went on to misunderstand what an ad hominem is, accuse people of strawmanning your arguments without backing up the point, misrepresenting other arguments (like mine, for instance) to fit your stock strawman response, and accusing a long-established commenter here of trolling.

    In short, you have not developed a reputation for adding to the conversation. From my perspective, you have developed a reputation for spouting off on subjects you’re not actually informed on, expecting your uninformed opinion and oft-debunked/rebutted tropes to be treated the same as actual, supported rational arguments, failing to read for comprehension (displaying a stunning lack of respect for someone who demands so much of it from others) and generally making everything about you.

    Hence, the site owner may choose to use her prerogative to be harsher on your commenting privileges than on those who have proven themselves to have something worthwhile to say.

  145. 145
    Ophelia Benson

    In other words, signal to noise. Other commenters have a much better ratio than you do, Scote. Therefore they have a lot more leeway.

  146. 146
    Scote


    Tom Foss

    February 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Scote:

    ” I’m curious, though. You put me on comment moderation, as is your right as the host. Do the people who falsely called me a deliberate liar also go on comment moderation?”

    Add “reputation” to the list of things you don’t understand.”

    Right…because its ok to presume someone is lying because you disagree with them or don’t like them… :-p The defense of slander based on “we don’t like you so it is ok to falsely call you a liar”.

    And, actually, Tom, I’ve been commenting on BW since before it moved to FtB.

  147. 147
    Pieter B, FCD

    “Scote”:

    More straw man narrative stuffing. You just can’t accept that people could honestly disagree with you so you have to cast your opponents as liars. :p

    News flash, Peter, I don’t tweet “Eureka!!” every time I learn something. Nobody does. And it is manifestly unreasonable to make an accusation of lying on the assumption that I should.

    I didn’t call you a liar or accuse you of being one. I said I found a statement of yours hard to believe. Don’t go getting all offended, now.

  148. 148
    Scote


    145
    Ophelia Benson

    February 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm (UTC -8)

    In other words, signal to noise. Other commenters have a much better ratio than you do, Scote. Therefore they have a lot more leeway.”

    Seems to me that in effect it is more more like “These people agree with me so its ok when they slander people.”

    How many people have called me a liar without sound reason and evidence in this thread? (I’ve lost count.) And how many have I called a liar? (None, that I know of.)

    At some point I’d say it becomes more than “leeway” and more of a de facto encouragement to slander people who disagree with the hoard.

  149. 149
    Scote

    ” Pieter B, FCD

    February 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    “Scote”:

    More straw man narrative stuffing. You just can’t accept that people could honestly disagree with you so you have to cast your opponents as liars. :p

    News flash, Peter, I don’t tweet “Eureka!!” every time I learn something. Nobody does. And it is manifestly unreasonable to make an accusation of lying on the assumption that I should.

    I didn’t call you a liar or accuse you of being one. I said I found a statement of yours hard to believe. Don’t go getting all offended, now.

    Not to worry, Pieter, I did notice that you were more careful in your accusation than the others who made explicit claims. You merely made unfounded insinuations. Much better… (Forgive me for not tweeting you when I noticed…)

  150. 150
    Ophelia Benson

    Scote, I don’t care what it “seems” to you. I’m tired of this. You’re being fucking rude, under the guise of pretending to be a civility cop or a double standards cop or a how to talk to trolls cop. You’ve derailed the whole damn thread and cluttered it up with replies that are invariably confused at best and belligerent at worst. Enough.

  151. 151
    Tom Foss

    Scote:

    Right…because its ok to presume someone is lying because you disagree with them or don’t like them… :-p The defense of slander based on “we don’t like you so it is ok to falsely call you a liar”.

    For someone so upset by strawman arguments, you sure do love making them.

    And, actually, Tom, I’ve been commenting on BW since before it moved to FtB.

    Funny. Haven’t seen you around lately. But you’re right, I did a quick search for your handle on the site, and found various examples of you condescendingly telling people to stop being so emotional and accusing people of being indignant and mob-like and strawmanning.

    At least you’re consistent.

  152. 152
    tonyinbatavia

    Scote, I love how your response to Tom Foss summary of your behaviors on this thread @144 wasn’t a response at all to the summary of your behaviors. Why did you ignore the substance? (Hint: It begins in Tom’s second paragraph, after the first sentence.) And in lieu of answering my question “Why did you ignore the substance?” just go ahead and address the substance of Tom’s message. It will surely be more interesting.

    But I see Ophelia’s just called “Enough” @150. With that deft and very welcome move on her part, I have again contributed more money to Ophelia’s coffers, this time in Scote’s name. You derail, Ophelia profits. Cha-ching!

  153. 153
    Ophelia Benson

    :D

    Thanks Tony!

  154. 154
    tonyinbatavia

    You’re welcome, Ophelia. (Gosh, I was about to type “my pleasure,” but that would be like saying “my pleasure” while rubber-necking a car accident; it would be much more pleasant to read a comment section free of tone trolling derailers like Scote.)

  155. 155
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    And calling me a “twit” would figure where, exactly, in this context?

    I am deliberately offering you offense. As was rather heavily signalled by the rest of the post. Duh.

    The whole POINT of the post is that context matters. Nobody is claiming that offense is always wrong in all contexts ever. That’s your strawman. If you deliberately offend someone, OK, that’s your choice. You have your FREEZE PEACH! Use it, by all means. But also, OWN it. You don’t get to be free of the consequences.

    AFAIK, the consequences of me insulting you are that a) you will feel insulted and b) you won’t like me. I’m good with that. Offending bigots is fun. Also Ophelia might get sick of it and ask me to stop. Then I will have to decide whether to annoy Ophelia by continuing, or not. Decisions, decisions… all part of the grown-up repertoire.

  156. 156
    Marcus Ranum

    It’d be interesting to get noel plum and scote locked together on a blog-thread and watch them bore eachother to death. The very idea excites me so much, I’m going to shut my laptop off and take a nap.

  157. 157
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    scote
    I wrote you something about “offense” and “offense” back up at #90
    You can now either:
    A) ask questions about it
    B) discuss the validity of the distinction I made
    C) go on flogging the poor dead strawhorse of “either offense is ok or not you gotta decide”

  158. 158
    Raging Bee

    If they are against people being deliberately offensive then they should, if their principles are consistent, be against you.

    Only if PZ is showing the SAME sort of offensive behavior as the other guys you pretend you’ve never heard of. Just because Scrote or some stupid tone-troll labels two things “offensive,” doesn’t magically make them the same.

    And of course, since you’ve just admitted you’ve “never heard of” the places to which you equate PZ, that pretty much means you don’t know what you’re talking about, and your “inconsistency” argument is total crap.

  159. 159
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes. This whole “double standards” “hypocrisy” “if you condemn this you have to condemn that” spiel is one particular frame; it’s far from being the only possible frame, or the best frame.

    I, for instance, think it’s a worthless frame. I don’t think “that’s an asshole thing to say” has anything meaningful in common with “you should be fine with acid in your face because it’s already running in your veins you ugly old cunt.” Nothing. Minus nothing, in the sense that discussions that treat them as meaningfully similar just sow confusion and misdirection.

  160. 160
    Worldtraveller

    I realize I’m late to the party again (someone save me a beer!) but:

    scote@118:

    And yet you are at least in part responsible for the rambunctious comment culture engendered at FtB. That isn’t on Ophelia, but it does affect her threads. You are responsible for more that just what you say, but also, to a certain degree, what behavior you condone and encourage in the comment threads.

    Finally, a little tiny glimmer that a nueron is firing and understanding might take place.

    Now, answer this: Have you taken this nugget of enlightenment to HH, the slimepit, or any of the other MRA sites that are much more culpable in this regard?

    If not, get to it. If you don’t, then you can fuck right off.

  161. 161
    Pieter B, FCD

    Hear, hear!

  162. 162
    smhll

    And I think you have a right to be and that it can be effective. But I think the person who was sooo against the “offensive” “I am not a Skepchick” shirt is fine withe “offensive” posts by you. I think they are showing that they have double standards.

    I have a small point. A shirt, worn by a person, tends to walk around and put itself in people’s line of vision, will they or nil they, in a way that PZ’s blog does not.

  163. 163
    Raging Bee

    Scrote: you say “rambunctious comment culture” like it’s a BAD thing. (Do you not know the difference between “rambunctious” and “hateful?” It’s not the former we’re complaining about.)

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