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Apr 05 2013

That’s not thunder, it’s indigestion

Oh guess what! Thunderfoot has yet another video about why he hates feminism so much. It’s chapter 3 in this exciting series. What inspired this one? Richard Carrier’s talk at the American Atheists convention in Austin last weekend. I was at that talk. I thought it was damn good – but then I have reasons for thinking that, which Thunderfoot doesn’t share.

He starts with Richard talking about doing atheism and other things – which one would think needn’t be particularly contentious, because who wants to do nothing but atheism all the time always? But Thunderfoot claims it’s doing things the wrong way around, because

most sensible people start out as critical thinkers and because of that methodology that results in them becoming atheists.

So how does that make it “the wrong way around”? (Even assuming it’s true, which I doubt it is.) Here’s a fun fact: it’s possible to do critical thinking about god and the status quo, god and sexism, god and social issues.

Then he splices together a lot of instances of Richard saying “harassment” in a part of the talk. Well yes, he did, because that’s what he was talking about. Well, he shouldn’t have been, shouts Thunderfoot.

They really do make me feel that atheism’s primary problem isn’t sexual harassment creating a toxic environment, it’s professional victims creating a toxic environment. And also people like Carrier, who are absolute in their support that we should pander to these professional victims. I should remind you that this guy was actually invited to talk at this conference.

That’s their case – that’s what they’ve got. The problem is not sexual harassment, the problem is people who object to sexual harassment.

It’s possible, indeed easy, to think of situations in which that would be the case. It could always be the case that there is little or no X, and there are people saying there is a lot of X, and that makes a problem. But it isn’t the case that there is little or no sexual harassment among atheists. Phil Mason is just being a callous shit in pretending otherwise. That’s what he does.

The rest of the vid is frankly not very interesting, except for the part where he cites PZ’s “little harem of elite feminist whiners.” That’s a good one – every single word apart from “of” is a calculated insult.

Which is where we came in. Enough with the calculated insults already. To quote a friend, “debate or stfu.”

27 comments

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  1. 1
    Your Name's not Bruce?

    It’s not so much that other people’s experience of harassment is different from his, it’s that other people’s experience of harassment doesn’t count and should be both disregarded and discredited.

  2. 2
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    The underlying belief is that when women, even hundreds or thousands or millions of women complain about harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape, the vast majority of them are lying. T-footie’s belief is that women who have a different life experience than he has as a man are not wrong or even delusional, they’re intentionally making it up in order to become “professional victims.”

    That’s why all the calls for civility are ultimately doomed to failure: because the slyme-types start with the assumption that women who talk about the rather mundane fact that sexism exists are evil, manipulative liars.

  3. 3
    PZ Myers

    I haven’t watched even a second of his video…but “little harem of elite feminist whiners”? Really? So, can I get a nice backrub everywhere I go, at least?

  4. 4
    Eamon Knight

    WTF is it with these people and anti-harassment policies? Every workplace worth its salt has them, over and above what may already be required by local employment law (in non-shit-hole jurisdictions, that is).

    To me (and speaking as someone who recently helped organize a con), it boils down to: “It has come to our attention that at previous gatherings of this type, some attendees have been asshats (in a particular way) to other attendees. This is bad for the other attendees, and bad for events of this type in general. So we’re making an explicit rule for our event: Don’t Be An Asshat”. Everything else is just details wrapping a bit of definition around “Being An Asshat”, and what to do about it.

    And the only people who should object to that would appear to be those who are afraid of losing their freedom to be asshats.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    No, because I want all the nice backrubs FOR MYSELF. Because elite harem.

  6. 6
    Pteryxx

    Not only is ‘bitchez lie’ the only premise they have, it’s been debunked. Repeatedly, with evidence. That discussion was had before Tfoot ever darkened the harassment topic’s horizon.

  7. 7
    Pteryxx

    Eamon Knight, are you familiar with the history of this particular flap? The one-year anniversary is coming up (along with the two-year anniversary of Elevatorgate). Both times, the backlash started when a woman mentioned that there’s a problem.

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

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Heh. Yes, Eamon is familiar with it. He’s a regular around here (here being FTB as well as B&W).

  9. 9
    Pteryxx

    Oh, well, there it is anyway. <_<

  10. 10
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Looking back on when this all started, I remember a whole lot of people saying things along the lines of “I personally would NEVER harass anyone, or do any creepy things… but I absolutely reject the notion of someone telling me what I can and can’t do. What is this, religion?” You can see it has become more formalized and less openly-stated, but that concept still runs through a lot of the idiocy from those quarters. Basic social rules are violated for the sake of violating them, in an illogical and immature attempt at “freedom” and those basic rules are redefined as “radical extremism” and “dogmatic ideology.”

  11. 11
    docfreeride

    It could always be the case that there is little or no X, and there are people saying there is a lot of X, and that makes a problem. But it isn’t the case that there is little or no sexual harassment among atheists. Phil Mason is just being a callous shit in pretending otherwise.

    Initially, maybe one could charitably interpret some of the resistance to worries that people were claiming the atheist/skeptic community was worse than the wider world as far as harassment. Saying that it was a special A/S community problem would have suggested that A/S folks (perhaps men especially) were worse in their treatment of women, and hurt feelings at that would have been understandable.

    (Set aside reasons one might expect better from people who say they’re really good at critical thinking and stuff. Set aside the fact that association with the A/S community is voluntary, which means people who don’t want to deal with its harassment could vote with their feet.)

    But this has been going on long enough that it’s hard not to believe that the anti-anti-harassment folks have a lot invested in denying the very existence of harassment in their community. Like maybe they have a stake in keeping harassment on the table as a live option for things-to-do-at-conferences (or in everyday life).

    It’s pretty creepy.

  12. 12
    Eamon Knight

    @7: Oh yes, more than I want to be (though less than quite a few others, including company present, are). EG tore loose when I was on vacation and off the net, and by the time I got home it was layers deep in accusations and counter-accusations and tangential flamery, and it *looked* a lot like the sort of Internet Feud I recall from Usenet. Which I know from experience, are so not worth the time required to read through to figure out who started it.

    So I figured (and hoped like hell) that it would all just fizzle out by September and we could all go back to arguing about accomodationism and whatnot. But it didn’t, so eventually I had to go look at the history and…WTF? “Guys, don’t do that”, and saying something unfair about a less-prominent blogger? *That’s* what started this shitstorm? That’s why a boatload of people are up in arms against Skepchick? This is what’s “poisoning atheism”? Jesus Haploid Christ, that’s stupid, and certain people need to get another hobby.

  13. 13
    Stephen T

    No, because I want all the nice backrubs FOR MYSELF. Because elite harem.

    Wait. You get cookies and backrubs?
    *looks at what you’ve been putting up with*
    OK, that’s fair.

  14. 14
    okstop

    Good lord. Still, though, I wish someone would press him on this claim: so no one is ever sexually harassed? Or only a few are, and we think it’s more because of the “professional victims?” If someone were sexually harassed, would that person have a right to complain about it? I see – so, how can we tell the difference between the legitimate complaints and the “professional victims?” Ah, yes. And can you demonstrate the presence of this distinction in each case? Etc.

    I hate it when people make bullshit empirical claims like that and get away with it.

  15. 15
    Pteryxx

    okstop: we tried, believe me, we tried, during Tfoot’s mercifully brief tenure as a blogger on FTB. Now he just repeats the same debunked myths over and over, as loudly as possible.

  16. 16
    Great American Satan

    I like posts that take these jokers down because I like seeing that happen, but I noticed I have a tendency to gloss over or completely skip reading parts where they are directly quoted. Today I reminded myself why. In reading his words above I could just hear his mealy-mouthed arrogance and felt my heartbeat quicken with rage.

    If I was Bruce Banner, I’d be shopping for a new apartment about now. That people think like this at all is disgusting. I’m disgusted.

  17. 17
    fwtbc

    great1american1satan @ 16:

    I like posts that take these jokers down because I like seeing that happen, but I noticed I have a tendency to gloss over or completely skip reading parts where they are directly quoted. Today I reminded myself why. In reading his words above I could just hear his mealy-mouthed arrogance and felt my heartbeat quicken with rage.

    I’m much the same. I think we need some kind of MRA Godwin where as soon as someone uses the word “misandry” in a sincere accusation, they lose. I try to give these shitheads a fair hearing, but it’s always cut short by a single thing that just makes me go “… aaaaaaaand we’re done.”

  18. 18
    maudell

    Yeah, the human rights website A Voice for Men picked up the story too.

    You know, the point is that if women stopped complaining, sexual harassment would stop being a problem for Phil Mason, therefore: problem solved! Then we (meaning they, because in an ordered world women would not be outspoken atheists) could spend all our time pointing out that Genesis is contradictory (but the parts of the bible about women and homosexuality should not be brought up, because that would bring ideology to the movement).

    It’s weird. Seriously, has he always been that way? Because it seems like he’s losing it. He’s beyond enhanced factorrhoids by now. He’s starting to sound like the “why aren’t there crocoducks” argument as a refutation to evolution. Only now his “arguments” are only good to display how much he doesn’t understand very simple concepts. (His rebuttal of Sarkeesian is a good example of him replying to arguments that weren’t made)

    Alternative theory: it’s a big performance art as an analogy to religious confirmation bias. (Maybe he’s teamed up with Victoria Jackson on her experiment?)

    It’s like a train wreck. I should look away, but I don’t.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    I haven’t the faintest idea. I’d never heard of him before he joined FTB and then quickly unjoined. That’s notwithstanding what he assures us about how much more “impactful” he is than everyone else. Yes he really said that. In the video.

  20. 20
    jenBPhillips

    Perhaps he meant ‘impacted’– as in, being extremely full of shit that will not budge without a medical intervention? It may be a cry for help, and the poor man simply needs some irrigation.

  21. 21
    SallyStrange

    I give good backrubs. :)

  22. 22
    Nadai

    Pteryxx @15

    Now he just repeats the same debunked myths over and over, as loudly as possible.

    But don’t you know that the truth of a statement can be determined by how loudly and repetitively it’s said? Just ask Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh.

  23. 23
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    They really do make me feel that atheism’s primary problem isn’t sexual harassment creating a toxic environment, it’s professional victims creating a toxic environment.

    Notice how this isn’t an argument from any facts. There’s no evidence in evidence. It’s about how it ‘makes him feel’.

  24. 24
    Nothing

    Thunderf00t has wasted so much time and effort trying to fight anti-harassment policies in conferences that by now I find it hard to not think of him as a sexual predator himself.
    I hope it’s not really the case, but I have to wonder why he protests so much when he clearly don’t have any argument.

  25. 25
    Arctual

    Hmm. I must say, after watching the video, that I understand Thunderf00t’s problems with the A+ movement. The ‘you’re with us or against us’ rhetoric by Carrier is not something I approve of. Not to mention the five statements of A+ are poorly worded, and the harassment claims made by bloggers are questionable (mentioning irrelevant and unimportant comments on YouTube videos as harassment; internet trolls exist and in these cases there is no probability of them ever raping you… unwanted intimacy on conferences is different, of course) and I do not feel there is a need for the Atheism+ movement. I do agree that the atheist community needs to take a critical look at its social values, but the divisiveness (and yes, there clearly was divisiveness) propagated by Carrier is the reason why I am not convinced of the worth of the A+ movement versus the worth of the new atheism movement.

  26. 26
    tonyinbatavia

    Been away away awhile, but CHA-CHING! Quadruple the amount of my normal contribution has been deposited in Ophelia’s account. Please divide it in equal shares oh behalf of Stangroom‏, Reed, Paden, and today’s anonymous asshate. “You Hate, Ophelia Profits.”

    Oh, and Arctual, thank you so much for sharing. While you have now officially provided your token lip service in favor of a “critical look” of the movement’s social values– whoa, what a brave stand, looking! — there are a lot of people who are way past looking and who are actually taking action to improve what are obviously fucked up values. But, good, you want to have a look. Hopefully you will one day see what you are trying so hard to ignore and then you will catch up to those who actually give a shit about making a difference. (Incidentally, what do you see as being the worth of the new atheist movement? Not in comparison to A+, just by itself. How would you describe new atheism’s worth?)

  27. 27
    urostor

    OK, so I watched TF’s video and briefly read the Carrier’s response (will read it more carefully when I have time)
    In response to tonyinbatavia: I admit I’m new here and at the moment I sympathize with TF more than FtB. The way how you responded to Arctual was incredibly condescending in my opinion. But – oh well – that’s the Internet [not: compassion, honesty, reasonableness].

    See what I did there? I acknowledged that something that I find offensive (well, sort of, because TF’s video really gave such an impression, but then again he butchered what Carrier said) is not dangerous.
    I found this article, to which Carrier linked to: http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/ being full of phrases where writer’s motivations are assumed. Out of the blue. The most ridiculous example being “rape” and “there are also plenty of posts trying to make her feel bad for being such a stupid fucking female” – and then the picture/meme of male/female and an object. You start to wonder – where is this coming from? Because seriously, my impression is that if the author of this article hadn’t been primed to think like this, it would have never occurred to her. That is why some call her a professional victim.

    I’m prepared for shitstorm. Again – this is the Internet and those things happen, who would make a big deal of them?
    But I’m open minded to the possibility that I’m wrong. I have not read anything in particular on FtB, so probably I hadn’t done my homework either. So, there’s a challenge – convince me using your values epitomized by Carrier, and using those moderated comment section. Try to be compassionate – not everyone is as knowledgeable as you.
    Oh, and I also happen to think that allowing everyone – save for spammers – to comment freely is a better approach. You’ll get much more BS comments, dick jokes etc, but you would expose people to what they don’t like and maybe desensitize them a bit. I know that empathy is one of your key values. But again – too much of it may lead to being overly preoccupied with issues that are non-issues to other people. And to qualify – yes, for example AGW is a non-issue for some, but there objectively are victims of it.

    Also, tonyinbatavia: those who are in the “looking” phase might not be instantly and wholly convinced by those who “looked”. Newbies always come. Compassion, empathy?

    One more thing – Rebecca is my favourite person from The Skeptics’ Guide.

    shitstorm come! Sorry for the stream of consciousness. Now you can compassionately laugh at my illiteracy, like someone in a comment about TF somewhere on the site. I won’t bother looking where, it’s time to sleep. Take my honesty for it.

  1. 28
    Intersectionality Fails | Reasonable Conversation

    [...] Hahahaha. No. [...]

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