Annals of horror »« Mehdi Hasan challenges the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world

Being a target

I was out all afternoon and now I can’t get caught up.

This morning, on the page o’ nonstop bullshit, I added this:

April 28 part deux because I missed it before –

brave3

Justin Vacula tweets

@caias@OpheliaBenson@karla_porter Too bad Ophelia won’t come on #BraveHero but we appreciate early promo. Maybe she will chat at #wiscfi ?

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

As you know, ignoring such instructions is grounds for removal. If you don’t stay away from me I will make an official complaint.

____________

I also sent Vacula a direct message on Facebook –

Justin Vacula – 

I saw the tweet in which you said maybe I will chat [with you] at WiS2. I want to be very clear about this. Do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me. As you know, refusal is grounds for being expelled. If you do approach me I will make an official complaint, immediately.

OB

He didn’t reply. Instead he tweeted about it, and did a blog post about it, quoting the message (without permission, of course). The blog post is packed to the rafters with utter (and typical) bullshit.

In the meantime PZ had done a post, quite soon after mine, saying the same thing –

I’m going to be at Women in Secularism in a few weeks, which I expect to be great. However, certain nuisances are talking about approaching the people they’ve been harassing online for years, and trying to harass them in real life, getting them to be grist for their podcast mill. Ophelia has made a clear declaration:

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

That goes for me, too. If you’ve been nattering away on twitter & podcasts & blogs about how evil I am, how useless feminism is, and how much you hate freethoughtblogs in general, we have no grounds for any conversation, so stay the hell away from me. I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me.

I won’t be exchanging a single word with Vacula, or any of his fellow travelers.

Vacula’s post also complained about PZ’s.

Ok, why? Why complain? We both want him to leave us alone. That’s all. Why complain about that? Why try to force people to “engage with” you? (The very thing he advised people not to do if they don’t want to be harassed – don’t “engage with” your “critics.”) It’s not as if we’re friends, or former friends; it’s not as if he likes us; it’s not as if he has any reason to expect us to like him. He certainly has no reason to expect me to like him, since he’s done nothing to/about/in the direction of me except lie and harass and sneer; why the fuck would I like him or want to talk to him?

As so often, the childishness is astonishing. “I didn’t touch you! That was my shoe! You touched me first! I can touch you if I want to!”

He had the astonishing brass to tell me on Facebook that all I had to do was say “no thanks.” What?! I’ve said “no thanks” to Vacula repeatedly over the past almost-a-year; it did not work! Just telling Justin Vacula, “no thanks, I don’t want you harassing me,” does not cause him to stop harassing me.

 liar

Harass harass harass, all the livelong day.

Comments

  1. atheist says

    GAWDDAMN Vacula & co are still at this shit?!

    I really hope those idiots harass the wrong person at some point and get a response that even they can understand.

  2. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    He was going to lie his ass off about misrepresent things either way, whatever you did; at least now you can be fairly sure he won’t approach you, because he’s made it clear he understands you want nothing to do with him and you’ve got evidence of him saying so.

    I’d call that a win, as much as you can win with him being there.

  3. says

    But he understands I want nothing to do with him therefore he will try to force me to have something to do with him – that seems to be what he’s saying. And then of course he’s always known I want nothing to do with him, and that has never prompted him to leave me alone before. On the contrary, as I said, it motivates him to keep complaining about my wicked, stubborn, cowardly refusal to go on his podcasts.

  4. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    On the contrary, as I said, it motivates him to keep complaining about my wicked, stubborn, cowardly refusal to go on his podcasts.

    Sorry, I was assuming that was preferential to having him talk to you in person.

  5. atheist says

    It’s disturbing watching this group of haters make an entire career out of harassment.

  6. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    It’s disturbing watching this group of haters make an entire career out of harassment.

    Literally, in the case of Mayhew and Blackford; one doubts they’d have gotten anywhere near TAM if they weren’t cheerleaders for the pro-harassment crowd.

  7. Rob says

    Can anyone tell me what is either brave or heroic about that radio show (or the presenters)? All I’ve observed so far is a bunch of self-important puffed up whiners with no sense of perspective and the rationality/skeptic reasoning ability of a drugged gerbil. Sorry about the shit you put up with Ophelia, but I’m glad someone draws the line.

  8. Ulysses says

    He had the astonishing brass to tell me on Facebook that all I had to do was say “no thanks.”

    That’s basically what you did tell him only at somewhat greater length and without thanking him. So he’s complaining that you didn’t use the exact formula that he wanted.

  9. says

    Wait…

    He had the astonishing brass to tell me on Facebook that all I had to do was say “no thanks.”

    So you told him to leave you alone, and his response was to argue with you?

    That’s not a good sign. It’s one of the hallmarks of the jerks I end up banning on my blog. I usually give a warning: I say “do not post any more on this thread” or “take a day away and cool off before resuming posting”, and then I often say, “don’t argue with me, don’t put up a comment even acknowledging this, just leave the thread.”

    The ones who just quietly back off stand a chance.

    It’s the ones who insist on ignoring a simple order and who whine or throw a tantrum who then find themselves banned.

    Vacula sounds like one of the indignant trolls who refuse to believe you don’t want to hear their defense.

  10. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    PZ wrote:

    No, both Mayhew and Blackford presented at TAM before they joined the freakish “I HATE FTB” clique.

    Really? Fair enough. Either way I’m unlikely to ever even consider going to one.

  11. Francisco Bacopa says

    Wanna email me where Vacula lives? But seriously, lawyer up. The post above this has 222 comments and I am sure the majority are horrible. I know I said some stupid things here that we need to harass them back harder. I learned my lesson. I was stalked around FtB by a few slymepitters, and was confronted a couple of other places I comment. So, official position of Bacopa: No escalating counter-harassment.

    But I think you have reason to to resort to the ultimate recourse, lawyers and judicial injunctions. Bleg for it if you need to. I will contribute if you do. I helped Greta buy new shoes, but damned if I was gonna help Darksyde pay off his extortionists.

  12. atheist says

    Seconded on the lawyering-up. Vacula & his haters have already gone way beyond the acceptable bounds.

  13. says

    For what microscopically little it’s worth, Justin did say that he now intends to stay away from PZ and Ophelia at the conference (in the midst of a bunch of whining about how mean and oppressive and unfair it is for them to make their personal boundaries clear):

    After these announcements, I don’t have intentions to approach them…but they shouldn’t be able to dictate what other conference attendees do and wield conference polcies fitting their personal agendas with aims to expel people they don’t like.

    As I said, they may ask me not to speak with them or avoid me. Whatever. …but they’re doing much more than that. The intimidation is quite apparent.

    So even though he might not be willing to admit it to Ophelia’s face, her statement appears to have had some effect on his plans. So that’s one small bright spot in the midst of all the slime, at least.

  14. Martha says

    Send him to me. I’ll lecture him on organic chemistry. That makes most people run away screaming!

  15. Bjarte Foshaug says

    I wouldn’t hold it above him to deliberately try to get himself expelled from the conference just so he could whine about it afterwards.

  16. doubtthat says

    “What are you so afraid of…”

    I have trouble tolerating these folks on normal days, but that sort of smarmy nonsense is just incredible.

    It really is school yard taunting and nothing else.

  17. says

    @Doubtthat – EXACTLY my reaction. I am not afraid of Justin. I just do not wish to speak with him. Am I afraid of onions? No. I’d rather not eat them. They give me gas.

    If he approaches me I will kindly let him know exactly that. I have plenty of things I’d rather be focused on at WiS, such as having a really good time with positive conversation.

  18. left0ver1under says

    Is it possible that Justin Vacuous can be arrested on the spot for setting foot in the place, never mind interacting with anyone?

    Undoubtedly he has only two intentions in going there, to intimate (to make false assertions) and to intimidate (to threaten and harass). He’s certainly not going to be enlightened.

  19. says

    Is it possible that Justin Vacuous can be arrested on the spot for setting foot in the place

    You know, that’s the antithesis of what we want.

    I’m not in the slightest bit interested in having Vacula arrested, or kicked out, or deported, or executed, or whatever horrible fate the ‘pit mentality is now imagining.

    All I care about is that he not disrupt the conference I’m paying to attend, and that he not intrude when I’m trying to listen to decent human beings.

  20. says

    PZ @ 11 – oh yes – I told him to leave me alone and his response was very much to argue with me.

    Blackford presented at TAM pre-harassment? I don’t think so – I think this will be his first time. He was openly begging to be invited on Twitter last summer.

    Anne @ 15 – look more closely – that’s actually not Vacula saying he intends to stay away from PZ and me. It’s weasel-wording. “After these announcements, I don’t have intentions to approach them” – see? It’s weaker than “I intend not to” which is itself weaker than “I won’t.” It leaves plenty of room for him to change his “intentions” or to say afterwards that his intentions changed. I did see it yesterday but I do not in the least take it as promising to leave me alone.

  21. doubtthat says

    Let’s observe this event from a perspective of multiple worlds:

    Hypothetical Realm 1: Vacula attends this conference. He sits in the lectures and events and studiously takes notes, trying his best to understand the arguments made. He has respectful conversations with people in attendance, and maybe, after showing a legitimate effort to understand the points at issue, asks challenging questions. Rather than cataloguing obscure personal grudges, he returns and posts about the issues raised, what surprised him, what he learned, the points on which he isn’t convinced…

    Hypothetical Realm 2: Vacula takes advantage of the slymepit-funded trip to attempt O’Relly/O’Keefe styled ambush journalism. He shoves cameras in people’s faces and asks ridiculous, irrelevant questions hoping to get some sort of soundbite. He asks rambling, confrontational questions at all of the lectures, often cutting off the response and essentially forcing security or the crowd to shut him down. He returns, puts edited clips up on YouTube, and writes REALLY REALLY LONG blogposts about how this conference confirmed all of his prior beliefs.

    Those set the extremes, but here’s what I think will actually happen: Hypothetical Realm 3: Vacula confronts no one, hides in the corner, is largely silent, interviews a few random attendees with slumped shoulders and doe eyes to impress on the world how completely harmless he is, then he returns and writes REALLY REALLY LONG blogposts about how this conference confirmed all of his prior beliefs.

  22. says

    #27: Oh, yeah. You’re not at enough conferences I attend — you should get invited to more.

    #28: I’m kind of betting on Hypothetical Realm #3. I don’t think he has #1 in him, but unfortunately, seeing his affronted idjit attack on #ftbullies on twitter this morning, I’m beginning to suspect #2 is all too possible.

  23. says

    From the beginning, this has ALL been about people like Vacula asserting their “right” to violate other people’s boundaries without restriction or repercussion. At every step, the slymepitters assert their entitlement to everyone else’s Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and even in-person space and time. Why can’t they understand that decent people leave other people alone when asked?

    When you ignore requests to be left alone, that IS ABSOLUTELY harassment! You don’t get to redefine harassment to exclude the things you want to get away with doing, and then claim that YOU’RE the victim when you violate (or threaten to violate) someone’s boundaries and get called out it.

  24. Pieter B, FCD says

    According to Ron Lindsay, Blackford announced last year that he would not speak at any conference at which Rebecca Watson or PZ Myers would be speaking. One wonders what he is afraid of.

  25. doubtthat says

    @29

    He’d have to get pretty ginned up to go the overt jackass route. So much of his identity is built on him being the reasonable one, that I’d be surprised if he’s all that aggressive (plus, when he gets there and sees all these smart people having a lot of fun and engaging in interesting conversations, I bet he just shrinks away).

    These are my predictions:

    1) There will be no listening from Vacula and at least one blog post about SOMETHING OUTRAGEOUS AN OMG FEMINIST SAID that will require endless “no, that wasn’t what was said,” “no, that is the wrong interpretation” responses.

    2) He will attempt some sort of suicide by conference staff. It will probably be something passive, like a tee shirt, or setting up some booth, or some similar stunt. He’s essentially going to flop and hope the refs (which he thinks are the members of the slymepit) give him some free throws or a penalty kick.

    For this analogy ONLY (no portion of Paul’s general excellence should be seen as bleeding into a description of our vapid little friend), Vacula=Chris Paul, feminism=DeMarcus Cousins (keep that analogy tight, also):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Qj9v62-BU

    He WILL come out of this as a victim in his own mind, I would bet on that.

  26. says

    “So much of his identity is built on him being the reasonable one” – is it, though? So much of his behavior is not reasonable at all that that’s hard to credit.

  27. doubtthat says

    Oh, he obviously isn’t reasonable, and on re-read I didn’t make it clear enough that it’s all in his head — it’s one of their foundational myths. That’s how they’ve convinced themselves that you’re the irrational one for refusing to have a polite exchange of ideas on his radio show.

    I don’t mean to imply that he’s actually reasonable in any way, but I think there’s a big difference in self-perception between a guy like Vacula and the O’Reilly/O’Keefe/Brietbart sorts who are gleeful antagonists. I may be wrong on that and Vacula could jump into that category depending on how he behaves, but he’s so slimy and passive-aggressive that I’d be surprised if he is incredibly confrontational in person.

    I should say that this is all guesses based on his prior behavior and what I’ve seen of his work. i have no special knowledge on this.

  28. says

    Understood. I just mean I have a hard time seeing how people can sustain a self-image as “the reasonable one” while doing blatantly childish shit like calling people by sneery nicknames, doing “dramatic readings,” constantly urging the very people you’re calling sneery nicknames and otherwise mocking to “have a discussion” with you, etc etc etc. It’s the same with Paula Kirby – I was and still am astounded by things like “Femistasi” and retweeting sneery photoshops.

  29. doubtthat says

    It is baffling when the record is laid bare.

    I can’t offer any insight on that, but as you point out, it’s not just Vacula. Over and over and over — even in this “dialog” that Nugent started — there’s this running myth that the “problem” here isn’t harassment, it’s that feminists and skeptic/atheists with progressive political ideas are somehow imposing irrational dogma on everyone, and if only the True Skeptics were allowed to apply their reasonable process to those ideas, all of the women would just be quiet and go away and they could get back to the important work of yelling at people who believe in Bigfoot.

    I understand that about as much as I understand why people believe an old guy built a boat and put a lot of critters in it, but it’s pretty clear that it’s what they think. It’s an essential portion of their rationalizations.

  30. says

    Ophelia @25, I did notice his phrasing was a little weasely, but I think it still indicates that he’s been scared off a little bit. I’m not trying to give him any credit for being decent about it, because I don’t think decency was his motive, and I’m also not going to say that any worries you have about him at this point would be unjustified. But it does seem like his plans may have at least been *slightly* affected by your and PZ’s flat statements that any contact from him will be unwelcome. And that seems like a slight but noteworthy victory.

  31. karmacat says

    I was thinking it would be fun to mock JV at the conference. However, I do think it would give him more attention than he deserves, especially at conference where there be a lot of much more interesting talks.
    I did compile a list of quotes…..

    “You have delighted us long enough.” Jane Austen
    “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” Abraham Lincoln
    “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” Forrest Tucker
    “Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.” Oscar Levant
    “Anyone who told you to be yourself couldn’t have given you any worse advice.” Unknown
    “They worship the ground that he walks away from.”Sarcasm Society
    “You can be whatever you want; however, in your case you should probably aim low.”Sarcasm Society
    “Do something productive. Stop being yourself.” Sarcasm Society
    “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would be an affront to your intelligence.” George Bernard Shaw
    “Martyrdom: The only way a man can become famous without ability.”George Bernard Shaw
    “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”Fred Allen

  32. Pieter B, FCD says

    I don’t think that’s according to Ron Lindsay, I think Blackford announced it on Twitter.

    I read a post by Ron Lindsay which said that Blackford had announced that on Twitter, though I myself did not see that, um, twit.

  33. says

    but they shouldn’t be able to dictate what other conference attendees do and wield conference polcies fitting their personal agendas with aims to expel people they don’t like.

    This is the most infuriatingly asinine statement I’ve seen yet. No, you vacuous dumbshit, that’s exactly why the conference policies exist: so people have the ability to dictate what other conference attendees do to them.

    Note how he leaves that crucial bit out, because it doesn’t fit his persecution narrative. Nowhere are PZ or Ophelia trying to “dictate” what Vacula does at the conference. They’re not laying out an agenda for him, they’re not planning his mandatory route, they’re not limiting his restaurant options. They’re saying “leave me alone.” No one’s freedom is infringed by someone else saying “leave me alone”*. What’s being preserved is the ability of everyone to have an enjoyable conference without having to deal with annoying, entitled assholes trying to stir shit up.

    Of course, if your reason for going to the conference is to be an annoying, entitled asshole and stir shit up, I suppose you might see this as an affront to your rights, but tough cookies. There is no right to be an asshole to other people without facing consequences; you have no right to anyone else’s time or attention. And part of why conference anti-harassment policies exist is to put some force and authority behind a person’s “leave me alone.”

    In Vacula’s case, of course, there’s tons of justification, but I can’t really see a situation* where someone saying “leave me alone” really needs one at a conference. “I told this guy to leave me alone and he won’t” should be more than enough grounds for a warning from some security guard or conference organizer. I’m sure the hyperskeptics will hem and haw, but “hey, you heard them, back off” doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights either.

    Ophelia:

    Anne @ 15 – look more closely – that’s actually not Vacula saying he intends to stay away from PZ and me. It’s weasel-wording. “After these announcements, I don’t have intentions to approach them” – see? It’s weaker than “I intend not to” which is itself weaker than “I won’t.” It leaves plenty of room for him to change his “intentions” or to say afterwards that his intentions changed. I did see it yesterday but I do not in the least take it as promising to leave me alone.

    Right, or it leaves open the “it was an accident/I just bumped into them/we just happened to be going to the same speech” option. No intent, just a wacky happenstance that also happened to coincide with a video/audio feed.

    I do wish these nincompoops would learn that intent isn’t magic.

    *Except of course the tortured hypothetical situations that the ‘pitters will invent as “gotchas” to prove their point, and also prove that they missed the point. Here’s a freebie: “what if someone’s telling a security guard to leave them alone when the guard is trying to scold them or throw them out, what then?”

  34. says

    I know, right?

    I’m absolutely staggered by the amount of outrage he is generating about being told to leave particular people alone.

    I’ve been letting other people do the talking about harassment policies because I don’t know much about the subject and I’ve never felt any personal need for them, for obvious reasons (I’m not sexually interesting, to put it more politely than my “critics” do). But suddenly now I do feel the personal need, and I’m damn glad they exist and CFI has one. Yes, Justin Vacula: you have to leave me alone because I told you to leave me alone.

    He’s cranking out oceans of lying bullshit about how this is me and PZ trying to get him banned. Bullshit. We’re telling him to leave us alone. Period. I said I would file a complaint if he didn’t, because it’s true and because I know from experience that he doesn’t leave people alone merely because they tell him to. But I don’t want to file a complaint, I want him to leave me alone.

    And contrary to his ocean of lies, I have every reason to think he wasn’t planning to leave me alone. All those sneers about my non-appearance on his podcast, all those renewed “invitations” to appear on his podcast, and then finally that “maybe she’ll chat at #wiscfi” – that looks to me exactly like Vacula trying to bully me into interacting with him.

  35. says

    Lying, lying, lying. That’s all Vacula does. Now he’s saying this:

    PZ “disgusted” with me. This is grounds to complain to organizers about my conduct, for approaching him?

    I have not done any of those things. I’m disgusted with him because he is a liar and a pretentious phony. Case in point: that tweet.

    Also, I’m really amused that earlier he tweeted some link to how horrible we were to him that led people HERE…only thing is, immediately after the objectionable comment there were several of us saying that we disagreed. Now he’s shifted to only linking to the slymepit, where he can control the context and avoid the awkwardness of leading people to comments that actively refute his claims.

    You know, I go to events where I’m regarded with hostility all the time: I attend creationist lectures at local churches, for instance. And here’s what I do: I go in and listen and take notes. I do not pick fights. If I ask a question, I do so seriously. If someone wants nothing to do with the heathen in their midst, I avoid them and do not try to stir up a confrontation. I dress nicely, and avoid the provocation of wearing one of my many t-shirts with godless slogans. It’s their venue and event, and I’m just there to observe.

    And then I use the information I gathered to rip ‘em apart later.

    Vacula really doesn’t get it. That he is so offended that some people have warned him that they want nothing to do with him is evidence enough that he has real boundary issues — if he didn’t, he’d just shrug and steer clear, go to the conference and gather evidence of our perfidy, and then write one of his long rambling self-aggrandizing posts afterwards.

  36. says

    I’m disgusted with Vacula too, but I’m disgusted with anyone who writes for hate sites and posts the physical addresses of people they disagree with on hostile forums.

  37. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    He WILL come out of this as a victim in his own mind, I would bet on that.

    I wouldn’t put it beyond him to completely fabricate some sort of “attack” that he can then peddle to his fellow creeps.

  38. says

    @darkstar, no reason to think leftover1under is a pit troll. They are usually not at all subtle and would never clarify any statement was a bit of hyperbole or not serious. The pit MO is to take hyperbole/sarcasm and apply a stupidity and literal interpretation filter to it, or maybe use their own innate ability n that regard, its hard to be sure sometimes. Also as to the speed that the statement got onto Twitter, there is no surprise there as they usually start commenting on a relevant post on the pit as soon as it is posted. Then every comment they think can be probed for stupidity and to make themselves feel superior is copypasta’d in double quick time. One like that which will make a Twitter meme for months/years from now will be pulled over even faster, that it was not serious and disagreed with by PZ can easily be countered by invoking conspiracy theories about the back channel or saying too much like the “real” truth. I’m sure some interesting psychological studies could be made on how information is disseminated and processed by that place. I’m equally sure that stats on how much a page like this is linked to from the pit and what proportion of hits come direct from there would also be interesting. The average pitter probably reads more FTB posts than me :-) I suspect reading for smears and not comprehension is significantly faster.

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