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Alabama Teacher Suspended for Bigoted Comments

Bob Grisham, the bigoted football coach and teacher from Rogersville, Alabama, has been suspended for two weeks without pay for making bigoted comments about First Lady Michelle Obama and gay people. There are other punishments as well, none of them serious:

Among other comments, recorded by a student, Grisham blamed the school’s low-calorie lunches on “fat-butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

Grisham also mentioned his opinion of homosexuals, saying, “I don’t believe in queers. I don’t hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong and an abomination against God.”…

He has been suspended for 10 days without pay, will be barred from teaching, must attend sensitivity classes and will be assigned “other academic duties” for the rest of the semester, school superintendent Jennifer Gray said.

I don’t think this is nearly enough. I thought he had made those idiotic statements in a conversation with some guys on his football team, but he said them during class, for crying out loud. And he even said during them that he didn’t care whether someone told their parents or the superintendent on him. He should be fired. He clearly has no idea where the boundaries are.

And take a look at some of the comments on the local newspaper page. Deena Hanback Young, speaking of the superintendent, says:

I have more respect for her now for realizing this was probably a big setup to try and get this guy fired. Maybe that is the culprit they need to be looking for!…

How ridiculous! How would the kid know to start this and then TAPE it if it were not a setup? They probably totally provoked the whole thing to get him fired. LOL, it backfired on them thank goodness!

Yes, I bet a student made him say racist and homophobic things in front of the class. I’ll tell you how the student knew to make the tape, because this is almost certainly not the first time he’s said things like that in front of the class. Sounds a lot like the situation in New Jersey where a teacher was preaching to the class, telling kids they were going to hell and so forth.

Anita Nafe Prince says:

Where is your “love and tolerance” for this man? “Love and tolerance” only for those who have the same opinion as you is not “love and tolerance” at all. It’s hypocrisy.

Uh, no. It’s not. Only an idiot would think so.

Ronald and Sherry Chaney went even further:

Where is the fund to make up for the Coach’s loss of ten days pay? I want to contribute.

Wow. Seriously. Ron Howard (not that one) says:

Dude. It’s freedom of speech. People can st what they want. Leave him alone

Uh, no. It’s not. He does not have freedom to say anything he wants in front of his class.

And then Deena Hanback Young again:

I don’t think he should have been punished at all. He has the right to his own opinion which was solicited. Was the student who taped this disciplined? I thought they were not to have electronics at school.

He could have used a few different words but I’d be proud for him to teach my daughter. He has a spine, a rare thing these days. I agree with him 100%.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know so many of my fellow citizens are fucking morons.

Comments

  1. says

    Where is your “love and tolerance” for this man? “Love and tolerance” only for those who have the same opinion as you is not “love and tolerance” at all. It’s hypocrisy.

    Same old bigot’s idiocy. When people endorse tolerance, they aren’t endorsing blanket acceptance of anything and everything. They’re implicitly referring to tolerance of benign differences in people who are targeted for social marginalization. But bigots are stone-cold deaf to the implicit meaning of social tolerance, so again and again we witness the spectacle of bigots who imagine themselves to be virtuous.

  2. lancifer says

    Ed,

    The second remark is clearly bigoted but the first? How is saying that Michelle Obama is overweight and has a “fat butt” racist or bigoted?

    So you think the school should fire someone for calling the first lady overweight? Really?

  3. Artor says

    I know it’s the least relevant aspect of this mess, but I have to wonder why people seem to thing Michelle Obama is fat? She’s probably the most fit first lady we’ve had in a long, long time. Sure, Nancy Reagan was skinny as a stick, but she never looked healthy. I’d bet money on Mrs. Obama to kick my ass in a foot race, and I would be very pleased indeed to have a partner with her physique.
    It’s almost like wingnuts just make shit up, and don’t care if it matches with objective reality.

  4. says

    Lancifer,

    Attempting to discredit a woman by attacking her appearance is in fact a form of bigotry. It’s called sexism. Michelle Obama is not overweight, and even if she was it’s not at all relevant to the school lunches. And generally speaking, it’s not appropriate for a public school teacher to attack the appearance of the first lady to his students. Were you honestly not aware of this?

  5. says

    I know it’s the least relevant aspect of this mess, but I have to wonder why people seem to thing Michelle Obama is fat?

    Because that’s how you attack a woman when you’ve got nothing.

    It’s almost like wingnuts just make shit up, and don’t care if it matches with objective reality.

    Well, yes.

  6. sqlrob says

    So you think the school should fire someone for calling the first lady overweight? Really?

    The queer comments were more than enough, so why are you pretending that Ed thinks he should be fired for the comments against the first lady?

  7. lancifer says

    Gretchen,

    No, I wasn’t “aware” that remarking about the weight of a public figure was sexist and grounds for dismissal.

  8. mudskipper says

    It’s not just sexism at work with Michelle Obama. It’s racism as well. It’s a well-known stereotype that black women are all overweight with big asses. They are just slotting her into that stereotype, along with the “angry black woman” stereotype.

  9. says

    I can’t believe that something like this could happen in Alabama. Normally, I look at that state as forward, progressive, and enlightened, but then a tiny majority of its citizens say, believe, or do something idiotic and I’m stopped cold, forced to reexamine my premises.
    If this keeps up it could leak over in to Georgia or Mississippi.

  10. slc1 says

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #8

    I strongly suggest that the blogs resident climate change denier not go around commenting on the appearance of his fellow female faculty members at the university where he claims to teach physics. That’s the way to an abbreviated employment there.

  11. gridironmonger says

    Lancifer,

    The “fat butt” comment could be interpreted as dog-whistle racist/sexist garbage that plays into stereotypes of black women. And given his other comments, he has lost the benefit of the doubt.

  12. says

    No, I wasn’t “aware” that remarking about the weight of a public figure was sexist and grounds for dismissal.

    By all means, continue re-creating the situation to something other than what it actually was. The reality is right here in the post– everyone but you appears to see it.

  13. says

    And why do you people always focus on the so-called “negative”? Look at the positive!
    Yes, a teacher in an Alabama high school said things that are so-called “dumb” and so-called “ignorant” and so-called “wrong”, but, and I can’t believe you missed this news scoop, this also means that Alabama has high schools now! And teachers!
    All they need next is to pump up the elementary school graduation rate to “some” and they’ll be well on their way to being the healthy, vibrant, Banana Republic that Alabama founder Yeehaw P Coltney III Jr intended.

  14. lancifer says

    Gretchen,

    Here are his words verbatim,

    “fat-butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

    As to the “dog whistle” large derriere African American slur, I don’t see how that applies here unless you are trying to read it into the comment.

    Michelle Obama has inserted herself into the school lunch/childhood obesity issue and thus should expect that if she is overweight someone is going to comment.

  15. lancifer says

    I already said that his remarks about “queers” were enough to suspend or fore him. The overweight comments?

    Not so much. If he had said that Newt Gingrich was fat I doubt anyone here would give a shit.

  16. Michael Heath says

    Grisham blamed the school’s low-calorie lunches on “fat-butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

    lancifer writes:

    The second remark is clearly bigoted but the first? How is saying that Michelle Obama is overweight and has a “fat butt” racist or bigoted?

    Gretchen responds to lancifer:

    Attempting to discredit a woman by attacking her appearance is in fact a form of bigotry. It’s called sexism. Michelle Obama is not overweight, and even if she was it’s not at all relevant to the school lunches.

    I think this statement is bigoted against obese people, and possibly racist (“fat butt”). I also understand why we should consider the motivation might also come from sexism, but there’s no convincing evidence this is true. Also, other non-sexist/racist frame of references exist as well which follow the evidence with more fealty. One goes as follows: Because Ms. Obama is obese (she’s clearly not), than she has no moral authority to exploit her bully pulpit to make a case we should eat healthy food and restrict our caloric intake.

    This latter argument isn’t necessarily sexist, though it could be if the frame of reference was to an “uppity woman”, a framework which isn’t asserted by this coach. So I have no idea if the ‘uppity woman’ framing exists here; his premise was instead and explicitly obesity. This alternative explanation could also be used against an obese man making arguments equivalent to the first lady’s, which serves as another dissent this isn’t necessarily about sexism, i.e., no evidence of sexism, other explanations more in line with what was stated that also weren’t explicitly sexist.

    This alternative explanation coming from an obesity accusation is a red herring tied to an ad hominem. This alternative argument also reminds me of the structure of Sean Hannity’s equally absurd argument he used to make in the early- to mid-2000s. That’s where he asserted that Al Gore flies in private jets and owns a big home, therefore there is no AGW. At least Hannity’s correct on the jet and home whereas this guy lies about the state of Ms. Obama’s physicality (where Gore made his home more energy efficient).

    I’m also skeptical regarding Ms. Obama’s advocacy on dieting having anything to do with this school’s menu. If there is no evidence she’s had any influence, that opens this guy up to our considering unexpressed and repugnant motivations. But I still think we should be careful about extending our accusations beyond the evidence. He’s already given us plenty of ammunition to condemn him, we don’t need to start asserting as fact that which isn’t explicitly present.

  17. dingojack says

    Hmm let’s see say 187.5lb (the average of 185 – 190 lb) is 85.048569Kg. If Michelle Obama’s BMI was in the clinically obese range (BMI > 30) her height would be 1.683731659m or 5ft 6.288648 inches* at most .
    Dingo
    ——–
    BMI = (mass in kilos)/(height in metres^2)

  18. Michael Heath says

    bryan johnson writes:

    Grisham also called M. Obama a “big, fat gorilla” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273836/Bob-Grisham-High-school-coach-suspended-fat-butt-Michelle-Obama-abomination-queers-rant.html#axzz2KWIAzqIu), which somehow got left out of the source this blog post is quoting

    That comment came from another person listening to the coach expound. Your own source makes that clear:

    Another voice is heard in the background referring to the president’s wife as ‘big fat gorilla.’

    The fact this teacher-coach let that slur go, assuming he could hear it, is one more reason to hold him in contempt worth disciplinary action.

  19. Johnny Au Gratin says

    It’s almost like wingnuts just make shit up, and don’t care if it matches with objective reality.

    It isn’t almost like that, it is exactly that.

  20. Michael Heath says

    Grisham blamed the school’s low-calorie lunches on “fat-butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

    Me earlier:

    [the] obesity accusation is a red herring tied to an ad hominem.

    Even if no bigotry was involved as it clearly is, using defective arguments by a teacher should absolutely be grounds for discipline. Teachers should teach students how to think critically. The fact this guy demonstrates he can’t think coherently should have administrators developing his remedial thinking skills. Where if he can’t develop critical thinking skills, he should be fired for incompetency.

  21. slc1 says

    Re dingojack @ #20

    I doubt that Ms. Obama weighs anywhere near 180 lbs. However, it should be noted that, back in the 1950s and 1960, many movie stars were large women, all of whom were larger then Ms. Obama. C.F. Kim Novak, Diana Dors, and Jayne Mansfield, none of whom were considered “fat”.

  22. dingojack says

    What’s your BMI Lance? Greater than 30? 30 to 20? Less than 20?
    How is BMI relevant to the policies you hold dear, exactly?
    Dingo

  23. Brandon says

    To me, the racism here’s pretty plain. Putting aside the relevance of it to the argument, Michelle Obama’s quite obviously a physically fit, lean woman. So, why in the world would he actually believe (or state) that she’s overweight? To me, it seems obvious that it’s because he generically views black women as fat, ergo Michelle Obama’s fat, even if her appearance contradicts that assessment.

    I feel dumber for even bothering to try to figure out how his “reasoning” works though. For fuck sake, could these people at least level personal insults that have some basis in reality.

    If he had said that Newt Gingrich was fat I doubt anyone here would give a shit.

    This seems willfully obtuse. Gingrich actually is fat, so we wouldn’t have to try to figure out why someone would say he is.

  24. says

    As to the “dog whistle” large derriere African American slur, I don’t see how that applies here unless you are trying to read it into the comment.

    Michelle Obama has inserted herself into the school lunch/childhood obesity issue and thus should expect that if she is overweight someone is going to comment.

    Except she’s not overweight. I don’t know her exact weight, but you can look at pictures of her yourself and confirm that her body shape is well within the range of normal. I do believe she has been the subject of a least a couple of photographs over these last several years, so you don’t need to do any special research.

    I suppose it’s possible that the wingnuts aren’t pushing a racially tinged stereotype with this particular slur, but they push so many others it’s a little hard to believe it’s just a coincidence.

    I might also point out that 1) Michelle Obama has no power whatsoever to control school lunches, 2) campaigning against childhood obesity is a noble cause that only a utter shit could find fault with, and 3) calling someone fat, even if they actually were fat, is not a legitimate argument against anything.

  25. steffp says

    Mrs Obama stands 5’11” tall which is equivalent to 1,80 meters.
    Overweight begins at a BMI of 25. Which, at her height, equals a weight of 81 kilograms, or 178,2 pounds.
    The First Lady does not communicate her scales readings, but there is reasonable doubt that her weight exceeds 75 kilograms (165 pounds), due to her rather athletic build.
    Strange that a sports coach working in the heart of the motherland of obesity should comment like this on a fitness inspired approach to food. But bigotry and racism (and just having lost the presidency to a black Harvard professor) must have overridden whatever job qualifications Mr. Grisham may have.

  26. shouldbeworking says

    I’m a teacher in Alberta and we have a code of professional ethics. A portion of that code states

    The teacher teaches in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of all persons without prejudice as to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical characteristics, disability, marital status, family status, age, ancestry, place of origin, place of residence, socioeconomic background or linguistic background.

    That teacher is an embarrassment to my profession and deserves to lose is job.

  27. carlie says

    Dude. It’s freedom of speech. People can st what they want. Leave him alone

    So I’m sure the guy who said this would be a-ok with a teacher saying “There is no such thing as God” in the classroom, right? Or “There is no reason anyone in this country should own a gun”, or “here are the cheapest places in town to buy condoms” in class. Right? Right?

  28. says

    Now, look, here’s how what happened: Moochelle Hussein Obama, unlike every First Lady before her, inserted herself in to AMERICA’s social fabric, BURSTING in to the national monologue, and inserting her own voice, unlike every First Lady before her. Worse, she chose to ATTACK OUR children, calling them “fat blobs of fatty fat fatness. Fat.” Then she ate FOOD while “watching” the SUPERBOWL. And did IT AGAIN during CHRISTMAS, all while HURLING SLURS at our so-called “fat” “children”. AND she turned OUR SCHOOL lunches, which used to be filling and crappy and bad, into some HIPPIE kale lettuce NONSENSE (and BANNING pork and pizza, on account of shes Mulisn), which is not-filling and crappy and bad, and OUR CHILDREN are starving after tossing out all that hippie crap. And also she’s fat. Just like Algore.
    So, the coach pointed this out, and he is the one that gets in trouble?

  29. says

    BMI’s pseudoscience, anyway. It’s just a formula that reproduces (approximately) old actuarial charts from the 1940s, which were in turn based on Quetelet’s ideal height weight chart which was derived by Quetelet asking his friends what they weighed. He then decided what looked right and that’s now the standard. Amazing, huh?

  30. says

    Yes, Michelle Obama isn’t remotely fat. However, to quote Greta Christina’s repeated disclaimer:

    The point isn’t that I’m not ugly. The point is that it shouldn’t matter.

  31. says

    “BMI’s pseudoscience, anyway.”

    Well, not entirely. The medical community still uses it because it’s very easy to measure and it’s a reasonable way to track obesity trends at the population level.

    The biggest problem is that it treats all weight as the same, whether caused by muscle mass or body fat. With large enough numbers this cancels out, but any given individual could be at the peak of physical fitness and still considered “overweight” in BMI terms (this is true of a lot of athletes). Michelle Obama has big muscles so it’s possible that she’s one of these people, but since no one knows what she weighs anyway, and since she’s anything but conspicuously flabby, it’s all pretty pointless.

  32. Johnny Au Gratin says

    Also, other non-sexist/racist frame of references exist as well which follow the evidence with more fealty. One goes as follows: Because Ms. Obama is obese (she’s clearly not), than she has no moral authority to exploit her bully pulpit to make a case we should eat healthy food and restrict our caloric intake.

    That frame of reference may not be specifically sexist or racist but I think it is still flawed. A person who believes they have made mistakes that had a detrimental effect on themselves or others could reasonably feel a moral obligation to warn others not to make the same mistakes.

  33. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Even if Michelle Obama were fat, the other issue is that this is a tremendously disrespectful comment about the country’s first lady and the hypocrisy of their defense. Does anyone doubt for a second that if a black teacher (or even a white teacher) at this school had made an equivalent comment about Laura Bush during W’s tenure, that the same people defending this wingnut would have demanded the firing of the teacher?

  34. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Dr X – I was there less than a half hour ago and could read it. Gratifyingly, there’s a lot of criticism of the coach, too.

    Oh, and Modusoperandi, you scare me…. You should teach Poe 101.

  35. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier as quoted by Johnny Au Gratin:

    Also, other non-sexist/racist frame of references exist as well which follow the evidence with more fealty. One goes as follows: Because Ms. Obama is obese (she’s clearly not), than she has no moral authority to exploit her bully pulpit to make a case we should eat healthy food and restrict our caloric intake.

    Johnny Au Gratin responds:

    That frame of reference may not be specifically sexist or racist but I think it is still flawed. A person who believes they have made mistakes that had a detrimental effect on themselves or others could reasonably feel a moral obligation to warn others not to make the same mistakes.

    I was interpreting the Grisham’s idiotic argument. I wasn’t claiming it was a credible argument but instead the exact opposite. I went on to describe it in the very comment post you quote me from here as a red herring tied to an ad hominem. A few posts later I also asserted that Grisham’s argument is worthy of disciplinary action based solely on its incoherency; even if it wasn’t bigoted (which it is, against at least obese people).

  36. No One says

    Grisham blamed the school’s low-calorie lunches

    He is an athletic coach? Isn’t the physical welfare of his students part of his job? He should be fired for failing to promote good nutrition.

  37. says

    Gvlgeologist, FCD “Oh, and Modusoperandi, you scare me…. You should teach Poe 101.”
    Those who can’t do, teach. I do. Also, I’ve got a nice flower business on the side, but that’s unrelated.
     
    dan4 “@32: Even as ‘humor,’ your post is pretty darn strange.”
    Irony quotes? I can say this with some confidence, having repeatedly seen your sourpuss stick-in-the-mud comment, you, sir, are the human equivalent of the Orange Sensation in a box of Black Magic chocolates.
     
    bybelknap “Modus @32 is fucking awesome.”
    It’s a side effect of my medication. Placebo. I’m up to the 200mg pills.
     
    No One “He is an athletic coach? Isn’t the physical welfare of his students part of his job? He should be fired for failing to promote good nutrition.”
    This is America! Good is doing the opposite of what liberals like. It’s right there in the Constitution.

  38. No One says

    Good is doing the opposite of what liberals like.

    I like not shooting oneself in the foot. Have at it.

  39. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    @Modus…

    Those who can’t do, teach.

    Just because it’s an issue with me:
    http:// www. .com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU
    (remove the spaces and put in the word “youtube” in between www. and .com to see – I don’t want to embed the video)

  40. coloradogirl51 says

    If my child is gay I do not want his teacher screaming about queers! The only thing worst than the slap on the hand for Mr. Grisham is the spineless education board that handed down his punishment–
    Lauderdale County home to football and the good ol boy program!
    All of these parents supporting him–so r u at home right now teaching ur kids to hate queers and fat women?
    Look around Lauderdale county- ur youths are in jail and the smart ones moved away —
    It’s 2013 not 1960!

  41. glodson says

    The only things scary about Modusoperandi’s comments are how funny they are, and how if I removed the sarcasm and posted them on conservative leaning site how much people would praise them as the truth.

  42. says

    Gvlgeologist, FCD “Just because it’s an issue with me…”
    I kid because I love(*1). I have the utmost respect for good teachers. Teaching is hard. Teaching well is harder. Teaching well as a career takes hard liquor(*2).
     
    *1. I wasn’t kidding about the flower business, though, but that’s unrelated.
    *2. Kidding! I kid. But seriously, though, that can’t be good for them.

  43. Johnny Au Gratin says

    Michael Heath @ #40

    I wasn’t claiming that you supported the moral authority argument, I was pointing out another flaw with it in addition to the ad hominem and red herring aspects, and generalizing my criticism of the argument to other possible situations. As a different example, a person with anger management issues who does time for assault may come to regret it and advise or assist others with similar issues to get help.

    I would never claim this epiphany justifies the violence, but it likely does offer a perspective that someone who has not experienced these anger issues may lack. The resulting remorse may be their reason for caring about the issue.

  44. says

    His comments are definitely homophobic, but calling them racist or sexist is a major stretch. “Fat butt” and “fat ass” are not racist or sexist slurs. The author of this very blog has been called those things numerous times by trolls, and he’s a white male. At worst, they’re ableist. They’re often used against overweight people, but there’s nothing particularly racist or sexist about them. They actually more likely relate to the amusing tendency in the English language to use the ass as a metonym for the whole person. (For instance, when people say, “His ass is dead!” they usually don’t mean just the demise of his posterior.)

    There was a racist comment made, but as earlier commenters pointed out, it was not made by the coach. Maybe he said something sexist that I’m not aware of, but none of the comments I have seen by the Alabama coach are sexist. I strongly suspect that the insistence that he’s racist and sexist in addition to being homophobic is coming from the common human tendency to think that “if A is one thing I oppose, then A must be all the other things I oppose as well,” but that’s a logical fallacy. He may well be racist and sexist, but the comments from him that constitute all the evidence we have don’t prove that, and the fact that those comments are homophobic don’t prove it either. It’s entirely possible to be homophobic but not racist.

    So, yeah, I don’t think we have enough evidence (yet) to call this guy racist or sexist. But that’s not to defend him. Besides being homophobic, the biggest problem this dumb ass (note: it’s not just his ass that’s dumb) coach displays is his complete obliviousness to facts and reality. Michele Obama is clearly not fat. Any sane person who’s ever laid eyes on her can see that she’s tall and slender. If he actually thinks the First Lady is fat, then he’s a complete fucking moron. And if he just said it even though he knows it’s not true, then he’s a fucking lying sack of shit. Either way, he sucks.

    (Oh, and one other thing. I’ve noted this before in previous threads, but BMI is usually dog shit. Like Michele Obama, I’m also tall and thin. I’m 6′ 2″ and my weight fluctuates, but can go as low as 135 lbs. According to BMI, I’m “undernourished”. But I eat three square a day and come from an upper middle class family where I never wanted for food. There’s a hell of a lot more to nourishment than simple height-to-weight ratio, which is all that BMI measures. BMI only works when measuring very LARGE populations, like entire countries. For smaller sample sizes–like, less than tens of thousands–it’s worthless as far as I’m concerned.)

  45. sugarfrosted says

    @2: Black women having big butts is in fact a stereotype of black women. In an of itself it’s not racist, but I highly doubt he would have even have said that if she was white. So his intent was racist although it’s ambiguous enough that he could say it wasn’t.

  46. grumpyoldfart says

    That kid who made the video had better look out when teacher returns. There’s gonna be payback, that’s for sure.

  47. dan4 says

    @53: “So his intent was racist although it’s ambiguous that he could say it wasn’t.”

    Wow, I’m glad you cleared that up for us (*rolls eyes*).

  48. dingojack says

    Wes – “They actually more likely relate to the amusing tendency in the English language to use the ass as a metonym for the whole person. (For instance, when people say, “His ass is dead!” they usually don’t mean just the demise of his posterior.)”

    Such expressions are known in other languages too.

    For those that are interested here‘s what the FoAW has to say on the subject.

    Dingo
    .

  49. frog says

    Modusoperandi, I’m adding my pixels to the expressions of appreciation. You crack me the hell up, dude.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    Modusoperandi,
    A Real American (TM) would be using far more ALL CAPS and would never use spell check. Spell check is librul. Also, you are suspiciously coherent. You are not a commie, are you?

  51. says

    @Wes,

    You know there’s more to bigotry than the use of slurs, right? And that the fact that a certain kind of insult has been used at other targets really says nothing about the significance of it being used toward this target?

    Or, if the coach had suggested that Michelle Obama is a criminal, would you say “But the author of this very blog has been called a criminal, and he’s a white male”?

    Yes, there’s a tendency of people to load on epithets while going after someone that don’t really stick, just because they can. But your reasoning in suspecting that to be the case here is pretty poor. People might not be right when they suggest that the coach is sexist and/or racist in addition to being homophobic, but they have reasons for doing so.

  52. says

    In other news…

    http://news.msn.com/world/pope-benedict-to-resign

    Wonder what his golden parachute looks like? Does he get to keep the wardrobe?

    Will he get Swiss Guards protection for life?

    A guy who blogs as GOD sez that the Popealope is retiring to spend more time with other people’s grandkids.

    Another wag suggests that he’s going to take a year off and then go be the Pope of Penn State.

  53. stace says

    The outright nerve of this Pope Palpatine guy, doesn’t he know that the only honorable way out of Popitude is to fucking die?

  54. says

    Oh, also:

    It’s entirely possible to be homophobic but not racist.

    Yes, but it’s harder to be homophobic but not sexist. They have the same basic root in a rigid conception of gender roles– men are supposed to be one thing, and women another. Part of what they’re supposed to be includes “heterosexual.” This is also called gender essentialism.

  55. D. C. Sessions says

    The biggest problem is that it treats all weight as the same, whether caused by muscle mass or body fat.

    Rather OT, but arguably the biggest problem is that it uses the wrong scale factor for height. All proportions equal, weight would increase as the cube of height, not the square. As a population measure, that’s OK because height is negatively correlated with longevity independent of other factors. As a guide to individual weight and health, it produces ludicrous results (NBA stars on the edge of “morbidly obese” compared to very plump 4’11” women coming in on the edge of “underweight.”)

  56. says

    I realize that this is neither the thread, nor prolly even the blog for addessing the issue, but…

    “The biggest problem is that it treats all weight as the same, whether caused by muscle mass or body fat.”

    and other comments in that vein have set me to thinking.

    We can have “carbon credits” for companies that have a lighter carbon footprint than other company’s that are wastrels; this is an accepted fact.

    What we don’t have is a system for people like myself who are, um, hyperzaftig, to give someothat excess adipose tissue to people like Wes @52. Maybe something like lipofusion, where they suck the fat outta me and pump it into a thinny. I assure you, Wes, that I could flesh you out and get RIPPED at the same time. Contact me at [email protected] to discuss how we might petition the government for help with the program.

    I remember a comedy special some years back where a comedian opined that had Mama Cass shared that ham sammy with Karen Carpenter that they’d both be alive today.

  57. says

    I also understand why we should consider the motivation might also come from sexism, but there’s no convincing evidence this is true.

    Women are routinely and automatically attacked for their looks by their critics; men, not nearly so much. How is that not “convincing evidence” of sexist intent?

    Also, attacking women for their alleged bodily imperfections is something most routinely done by people who have proven themselves sexist in other ways as well. So again, how is that not “convining evidence” of sexist intent?

    Heath, the last time you ventured onto this turf, you made an unmitigated ass of yourself. As someone who at least respects you and doesn’t want you to disgrace your own brand, I’m warning you: don’t make the same mistake again.

    And as for the twit with the fake demon mask…

    I already said that his remarks about “queers” were enough to suspend or fore him. The overweight comments? Not so much.

    Are you familiar with the concept of “leading by example?” It’s an old concept, lots of people seem to think it’s a good way to raise mature and healthy kids. You should look it up sometime.

    No, I wasn’t “aware” that remarking about the weight of a public figure was sexist and grounds for dismissal.

    Yeah, we all knew before there were huge gaps in your education; but thanks for admitting it anyway. Does this mean you’re going to stop talking down to the rest of us and pretending you’re intelligent?

  58. says

    “Fat butt” and “fat ass” are not racist or sexist slurs.

    They are when they’re used by racists and/or sexists to demean women and/or persons of other races.

  59. says

    There’s two ways we can look at this: either “fat butt/ass” is racist and/or sexist; or it’s not racist or sexist because it’s used indiscriminately, with no thought, by people who really have nothing to say, with absolutely ZEE-RO regard for race, gender, the actual subject of the dispute — or even the actual size of the butt in question.

    So we can argue over which is the case — but either way, such comments are NOT ACCEPTABLE, especially when coming from a so-called teacher in the presence of minors who need to learn how to conduct themselves among other people.

  60. says

    They are when they’re used by racists and/or sexists to demean women and/or persons of other races.

    Bee, your snake is biting its own tail there. When evaluating whether a comment is bigoted, it’s not exactly helpful to say “It is when it comes from a bigot.”

    A statement demeaning women and/or persons of other races isn’t necessarily bigoted, either. It’s not an example of bigotry just any time a man insults a woman, or a person of one race insults a person of another race.

    The reason I think the coach’s comment was sexist is because he chose to attack Michelle Obama’s appearance in lieu of her actual deeds, speech, or positions, when those were the actual subjects of the conversation. When you have to change the subject in order to attack some physical aspect or circumstance of birth of the person you’re supposedly arguing against, away from the topic of that person’s actual positions, that’s a damn good sign that you’ve got some prejudices going on.

    If the topic of the conversation was “Do you think Michelle Obama is attractive?” saying “No, I think she’s overweight. I think she has a fat butt” would be rude. It would be wrong. It would be inappropriate for a public school classroom (but then, so is the topic itself). But it wouldn’t be bigoted per se.

  61. says

    Bee, your snake is biting its own tail there. When evaluating whether a comment is bigoted, it’s not exactly helpful to say “It is when it comes from a bigot.”

    Well, that’s pretty much the truth, albeit a messy one. Just like a particular joke can be funny when told in one situation, and demeaning and insulting when told in another. Intent isn’t magic, but in some cases, it’s easily discernable, from such things as tone and context, and that discernable intent affects the outcome at least as much as the particular words themselves.

    In this instance, the teacher’s comment about Michelle’s posterior was indeed sexist, and probably racist, because it directed people (specifically, minors in his care) to ridicule someone based on features they had already been conditioned to think of as something to ridicule or laugh at; something they already tended to associate with certain racial and/or sexual stereotypes.

    (Besides, you talk about snakes biting their own tails like it’s a BAD thing. Wassup widdat?)

  62. ildi says

    Wes @52:

    His comments are definitely homophobic, but calling them racist or sexist is a major stretch. “Fat butt” and “fat ass” are not racist or sexist slurs. The author of this very blog has been called those things numerous times by trolls, and he’s a white male.

    Except for the fact that Michelle Obama is not fat, whereas our esteemed host (and Al Gore during his Inconvenient Truth campaign) shops in the, erm, husky aisle (though irrelevant). When I grew up down South, a bubble butt was also described as a n****r butt. It’s the same type of insult as calling Ann Coulter a cross-dresser.

  63. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee to me:

    Heath, the last time you ventured onto this turf, you made an unmitigated ass of yourself.

    Challenging people to confront incontrovertible facts inconvenient to the tribe might count in your book as making an ass of oneself. But I will continue to attempt to be consistent in condemning dishonesty wherever I encounter it. I care far more about my character and the quality of my arguments than I do being popular with a group of incredibly sloppy thinkers (exception TCC whose last post to me on this topic was not sloppy but did not stand up to scrutiny relative to what was factually asserted).

    I also find it ironic I’m the ass when again, the facts I repeatedly presented led to all sorts of avoidance, denial, insults, and misrepresentations, but never directly challenged points which falsified those facts. Because again, those facts I presented were incontrovertible – no interpretation challenges were present.

    I also read my target’s blog post about me. That post led to even more defamation by her commenters, in this case towards me. I.e. outright lying about what I actually wrote, lies about how I framed my points, along with all sorts of conjured up motivations and reasons on why I would bulldog a liar for lying.

    Supposed rationales on why I would do such thing which were all imagined, i.e., no quotes by me were referenced to to support all the absurd criticisms presented. That includes your imagined and false reasons why I bulldogged this issues in that post and at least one of the threads published here. Bad form on your part creating an imagined Heath and criticizing that one rather than dealing with what I actually wrote using even remedial logic not dependent on logical fallacies.

  64. says

    Challenging people to confront incontrovertible facts inconvenient to the tribe…

    So now you’re pulling the “tribalism” card to explain away our response to your BS? You’re sounding more like the MRAs every day.

    …the facts I repeatedly presented led to all sorts of avoidance, denial, insults, and misrepresentations, but never directly challenged points which falsified those facts.

    That’s a fucking lie, and you know it. It might sound plausible to say we didn’t muster sufficient facts to refute your arguments — but to say we NEVER directly challenged your points is a blatant and disgraceful lie.

    If you want to accuse someone of “avoidance,” look in a mirror.

  65. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier as quoted by Raging Bee

    Challenging people to confront incontrovertible facts inconvenient to the tribe…

    Raging Bee responds:

    So now you’re pulling the “tribalism” card to explain away our response to your BS? You’re sounding more like the MRAs every day.

    What a perfect illustration of exactly what I was describing was the typical response. Do I really need to walk you through why your statement here is so magnificently perfect? Does your ideology so blind you can’t see how you demonstrate the exact behavior I describe here?

    Me earlier:

    …the facts I repeatedly presented led to all sorts of avoidance, denial, insults, and misrepresentations, but never directly challenged points which falsified those facts.

    Raging Bee responds:

    That’s a fucking lie, and you know it. It might sound plausible to say we didn’t muster sufficient facts to refute your arguments — but to say we NEVER directly challenged your points is a blatant and disgraceful lie.

    Than please have it at, post a comment which falsified the facts I pointed out. That of course will be impossible, but have at it.

    The only shot I can imagine requires a miracle. A miracle that magically reverses history and has Ms. Benson quoting exactly what Mr. Shermer stated rather that not doing so. And then repeatedly lying by falsely claiming she quoted him exactly when in fact, in fact, she didn’t quote all of what he stated where the sentence that was cut-off was directly supportive of another defamatory lie told by the defamer. That other lie being Ms. Benson falsely claiming Shermer raised a topic he never even raised. Instead the defamer quotes another person and then projects that onto the defamed claiming this was exactly what the defamed meant when in fact the defamed never even raised the topic, let alone asserted such a misogynistic statement.

  66. ildi says

    I also find it ironic I’m the ass when again, the facts I repeatedly presented led to all sorts of avoidance, denial, insults, and misrepresentations, but never directly challenged points which falsified those facts. Because again, those facts I presented were incontrovertible – no interpretation challenges were present.

    I also read my target’s blog post about me. That post led to even more defamation by her commenters, in this case towards me. I.e. outright lying about what I actually wrote, lies about how I framed my points, along with all sorts of conjured up motivations and reasons on why I would bulldog a liar for lying.

    Really? Your ‘facts’ were challenged and falsified over and over again, but your response to the refutations of your lying lies (e.g., Shermer never saying the sexist things he did, Benson lying and defaming him) was tribalism!!1!!11eleventy1! (quotes, please, for evidence of this) and repeating your original incorrect assertions ad nauseum….

  67. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Do I really need to walk you through why your statement here is so magnificently perfect? Does your ideology so blind you can’t see how you demonstrate the exact behavior I describe here

    Sorry, RB, I’m failing to see what’s respectable about this out and proud sexist ass.

  68. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier as quoted by Raging Bee:

    Challenging people to confront incontrovertible facts inconvenient to the tribe…

    Raging Bee responds:

    So now you’re pulling the “tribalism” card to explain away our response to your BS? You’re sounding more like the MRAs every day.

    I resopnd:

    What a perfect illustration of exactly what I was describing was the typical response. Do I really need to walk you through why your statement here is so magnificently perfect? Does your ideology so blind you can’t see how you demonstrate the exact behavior I describe here.

    Illuminata writes:

    Sorry, RB, I’m failing to see what’s respectable about this out and proud sexist ass.

    This is really amazing. You demonstrate the very behavior Raging Bee does. And please, quote exactly what I wrote that makes me a proud sexist.

    My criticism of the defamer was based her blatant dishonesty, it had nothing to do with anything but that. Where I repeatedly also noted, condemned, and ridiculed the absurdly bad behavior of her target. If I’m wrong and you are right, then you should easily be able to quote what I’ve written that makes me both sexist and proud of it.

    You won’t be able to because I am not, just like Raging Bee can’t make the facts of Ms. Benson’s dishonesty disappear.

  69. says

    My criticism of the defamer was based her blatant dishonesty…

    Of which you gave only one example — a very mild exaggeration that was nowhere near “dishonest,” and in fact sounded more spot-on every time you (and your fellow quibblectical materialist Steersman) quoted Shermer’s actual words, in or out of context.

    (Oh, and she’s “The Defamer” now? What is this, a Stephen R. Donaldson trilogy?)

  70. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    My criticism of the defamer was based her blatant dishonesty…

    Raging Bee lies:

    Of which you gave only one example — a very mild exaggeration that was nowhere near “dishonest,” and in fact sounded more spot-on every time you (and your fellow quibblectical materialist Steersman) quoted Shermer’s actual words, in or out of context.

    Ms. Benson told many lies, dozens. She lied when she claimed that she quoted Shermer exactly. She did not, she left out a key sentence that helped her with her big lie. She then repeatedly lied by claiming she quoted him exactly when we know she did not, we have the articles and can clearly see, if we’re not deluded, she left out a key sentence which helps her sell the defamatory misogynistic description of what she claims Shermer said.

    Ms. Benson then lied by taking something somebody else said on a topic Shermer never even addressed, and claimed this is what Shermer meant (“exactly that”). In fact Shermer never even raised that topic. What this other person said that Benson projected onto Shermer was blatantly misogynistic. So Ms. Benson defamed Shermer by claiming this was what Shermer meant in spite of his never even raising the topic. Shermer helps validate this by pointing out in his predominately absurd response to Benson’s article that he doesn’t believe what Benson falsely claimed he stated.

    Ms. Benson then repeatedly lied by claiming she quoted Shermer exactly, when we know she did not given the sentence she didn’t include that effectively helped her sell her defamation of Shermer on the other lie. She also lied by claiming we weren’t meant to take her projection of somebody else’s claim onto Shermer as, “exactly that” pedantically. Where I never argued from that perspective. Her defamation of Shermer claiming he said, “exactly that”, is obviously just really bad writing and sloppy thinking on Benson’s part while her meaning is easily understood. Shermer never said the misogynistic thing that Benson projected on to him by quoting someone else altogether precisely because he never even raised the topic. The topic was raised by Ms. Benson and then dishonestly projected onto Shermer.

    One lie, what a hoot; there were dozens of lies by Ms. Benson in the two relevant threads here at this blog. And doubling down on your commitment to her lies is exactly what ideologues do when confronted with incontrovertible facts. Which we enjoy having on this controversy. This is not a fight about opinions, but instead the existence or non-existence of facts, where I enjoy those facts existing in plain English on easily found webpages.

  71. says

    Jesus fucking Christ, Heath — I’m gonna tell you this as lovingly as I can: Fuck off and deal with your personal meatspace problem(s) in meatspace already! We’re not taking sides, or asking you to divulge personal details; just do what you gotta do. Take all the time you need. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors here. You’re just embarrassing yourself by obsessively rehashing an old (and OT) argument that’s already been more than adequately dealt with on more than one thread.

  72. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath

    Ms. Benson didn’t exactly lie. What she quoted Dr. Shermer as saying he did, in fact, say. What she did was quote mine him by leaving out a pertinent part of his statement. Quote mining is not exactly lying, but, IMHO, is nearly as bad as it gives a false impression of what the actual position of the quote mined is. Quote mining is a favorite activity of assholes like David Barton and the ID folks and I would agree that Ms. Benson is guilty as charged of that offense and should apologize.

  73. says

    No, slc1, she — excuse me, The Defamer (what kind of shoes go with that title?) — did not “quote-mine,” as the actual quote, both in and out of “context,” showed; she paraphrased.

  74. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee writes:

    Jesus fucking Christ, Heath — I’m gonna tell you this as lovingly as I can: Fuck off and deal with your personal meatspace problem(s) in meatspace already!

    You can’t provide any evidence I’m wrong, because I’m right.; the facts are incontrovertible. So now you change the subject, imagining something you conjured up and then dishonestly projecting what you imagine on to me. That’s the exact type of projection Ms. Benson did. Your repeating her behavior is both unseemly and unwelcomed.

    Raging Bee writes:

    We’re not taking sides, or asking you to divulge personal details; just do what you gotta do. Take all the time you need. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors here. You’re just embarrassing yourself by obsessively rehashing an old (and OT) argument that’s already been more than adequately dealt with on more than one thread.

    Uh, you’re the one that raised the Benson-Shermer issue @ post 66. I’m merely responding to your lashing out at me. Prior to that all my posts were directed at the facts Ed blogged about here. So, more projection.

  75. ildi says

    Ms. Benson then repeatedly lied by claiming she quoted Shermer exactly, when we know she did not given the sentence she didn’t include that effectively helped her sell her defamation of Shermer on the other lie. She also lied by claiming we weren’t meant to take her projection of somebody else’s claim onto Shermer as, “exactly that” pedantically. Where I never argued from that perspective. Her defamation of Shermer claiming he said, “exactly that”, is obviously just really bad writing and sloppy thinking on Benson’s part while her meaning is easily understood. Shermer never said the misogynistic thing that Benson projected on to him by quoting someone else altogether precisely because he never even raised the topic. The topic was raised by Ms. Benson and then dishonestly projected onto Shermer.

    Right…

    (mislaid my crazypants translator)

  76. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee @ 84:

    No, slc1, she — excuse me, The Defamer (what kind of shoes go with that title?) — did not “quote-mine,” as the actual quote, both in and out of “context,” showed; she paraphrased.

    This is compelling evidence you don’t know even know what Shermer was asked, what he said in response, what Benson wrote in response, what I and others pointed out that was dishonest about Benson’s article.

    First off, your defectively conflating her quote-mining Shermer with her paraphrase of what Shermer stated. That’s the evidence you don’t know what the fuck is going on here. These are two distinct lies in her article (and dozens defending that article), both lies have been clearly and repeatedly delineated as I do here.

    Let’s start with the paraphrase where I will put in bold the misogynistic claims Benson falsely projects onto to Shermer which he never even raised as a topic. I will also put in italics how Benson projects this horrible onto Shermer. Benson said:

    The main stereotype in play, let’s face it, is that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.”
    Don’t laugh: Michael Shermer said exactly that during a panel discussion on the online talk-show The Point.

    Here’s what Shermer actually said with some added context around what he was asked, who was in the audience, and some added context (from Shermer’s response to Benson defaming him). I italicize the statement he made which Benson didn’t include in her article. A quote-mine she repeatedly and dishonestly claimed she never did. Shermer:

    Here’s what happened: last summer I appeared on an online television show called The Point, hosted by Huffington Post chief science correspondent Cara Santa Maria, who invited me and two other men (Sean Carroll and Edward Falzon) to discuss atheism. In a Q&A following the main discussion, a male viewer asked: “Why isn’t the gender split closer to fifty-fifty as it should be?”

    Santa Maria responded first: “In putting together this panel I had a hell of a time finding a woman who would be willing to sit on the panel with me to discuss her atheism. Why is that?”

    She then turned to me. I said: “I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.”** I then followed this up by noting that at the 2012 TAM, there had been more women speakers than men. In that I misspoke slightly; according to TAM organizer D.J. Grothe, the number of men and women speakers was equal (the roster on the web page is incorrect) until, ironically, Ophelia Benson herself dropped out.

    Shermer’s, “guy thing” was about being active within the atheist movement, where Shermer is wrong though unlike Benson, has fessed-up. Given I think this is also sexist though one can make an argument it wasn’t – just a bad observation, I think he should also apologize for making a sexist statement. As best as I know, he hasn’t.

    Benson turned this wrong, arguably sexist observation into something totally misogynistic and off-topic to an issue he never even discussed, nor believes (the second link provides his answer to that as well where I quote him below*). That would be her falsely twisting the above statement into this:

    that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

    Now on to the quote-mine. Shermer’s statement was, I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. That was in response to a member of the audience’s question, “Why isn’t the gender split closer to fifty-fifty as it should be?”. This clearly refutes the defamation Benson projects on to him with her description:

    that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

    What Benson attributes to Shermer was not even a topic Shermer raised.

    These are facts Raging Bee. There is no interpretation to debate here. She quote-mined him, that quote-mine helped her put words into his mouth on a subject Shermer never discussed, and then she repeatedly lied by claiming she did no such thing.

    Raging Bee – I care about truth. Do you? I thought you did, even when I thought you were wrong in your conclusions. But coming to disagreements about conclusions is not a disagreement about truth, instead and here, that revolves around denying the existence of incontrovertible facts which we can easily retrieve to see how Benson lied, and then lied more to defend her lies.

    *Shermer:

    it is clear from my answer that I do not believe that women are, in Benson’s characterization, “too stupid to do nontheism” or that “unbelieving in God is thinky work and women don’t do thinky.”

    I don’t believe that for a moment, and in any case the evidence (as I outlined at the beginning of this essay) overwhelmingly demonstrates that women are more than capable of thinking, writing, speaking, and debating about God and theism. Unquestionably. Unequivocally. After reading Greta Christina’s book, for example, if I were a believer heading into a debate with her about God, I would be trembling in my boots as much as many theists I know were when they faced the great Christopher Hitchens.

  77. ildi says

    What Benson attributes to Shermer was not even a topic Shermer raised.

    Since you’re all about truth and context Michael Heath, why is it that you so consistently ignore the rest of the conversation in that video?

    Falzon I have heard, I have heard some, just anecdotally, it’s partly, there might be actually an imbalance of women to men in atheism for emotional reasons. Women, I’m told, maybe somebody can help me out with this, are more inclined to hang onto their faith for emotional reasons than men.

    Santa Maria (laughing) It’s a hypothesis, right?

    Shermer Probably it’s more like justification of faith. Guys are more likely to say I believe in God because of intelligent design and they’ll spout the arguments that sound rational and women are probably more in tune to the real reason people believe, the emotional need and [comfort?] social reasons and so on.

    So, Shermer is perfectly willing to entertain the notion that yes, indeed, more women than men are religious, and that the reason for that is because women hold opinions for emotional rather than intellectual reasons. He is just digging himself in deeper. The facts are incontrovertible and ignoring them shows the extent of your inability to admit that there is quite a lot of unconscious sexist bias like this floating around even among your so deeply-admired skeptics. (A bit of tribalism going on, I dare say?)

  78. Michael Heath says

    Wow ildi, you too are in Benson’s league in regards to creating whole new, and false, versions of what people actually say. Nice red herring by the way, i.e., avoiding Benson’s lies.

  79. ildi says

    Yeah, Shermer’s actual statements are a red herring…

    It’s not a matter of being “in Benson’s league”. It’s a matter of not letting you maliciously distort an article discussing the implicit assumptions about gender in terms of science and authority that are still pervasive, even among people you wouldn’t expect, giving the statements of a fellow skeptic as an example (newsflash: Benson considered Shermer to be part of her tribe) into an article dedicated to defaming Shermer as a vile misogynist through a pack of lies.

    What is the matter with you?

  80. says

    Ms. Benson then repeatedly lied by claiming she quoted Shermer exactly…

    For the fuckumpteenth time, she NEVER claimed to have quoted,/i> Shermer exactly. She only claimed to have DESCRIBED, via paraphrase, what Shermer had said. We do this sort of thing all the fucking time, without misrepresenting what was said, and you know it.

    Here’s what Shermer said — from YOUR QUOTE OF HIM:

    …It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.

    Note the bit in bold: either intentionally or through EXTREMELY clumsy choice of words, Shermer is saying that being “intellectually active” (as in, thinking) is “more of a guy thing.”

    And here’s what The Defamer said — again, from YOUR QUOTE OF HER:

    …that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.”

    So once again, Ophelia’s description is not really that far off, is it? If it’s an exaggeration, it’s one Shermer set himself up for by his own lazy blathering.

    And since — again, from YOUR QUOTE OF HIM — Shermer was at least willing to re-word his stated opinion in response to the reaction he got, maybe you should just join Shermer in recognizing (if only implicitly) that he misspoke, and stop crying about the perfectly understandable consequences of his misspeaking.

  81. curiousgeorge says

    Did anyone else notice in the article that this teacher / coach was teaching a psychology class when he made these comments?

    I’m thinking the course was called: “Advanced Studies in the Psychology of Ignorant Assholes”

  82. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier on Benson lying by claiming she quoted him exactly when in fact she stripped-out Shermer’s “fifty-fifty quip”:

    Ms. Benson told many lies, dozens. She lied when she claimed that she quoted Shermer exactly. She did not, she left out a key sentence that helped her with her big lie.

    Raging Bee obliviously fails to comprehend the fact there are two lies he continues to defectively conflate into one issue, in spite of my spelling it out for him @ 87:

    For the fuckumpteenth time, she NEVER claimed to have quoted,/i> Shermer exactly. She only claimed to have DESCRIBED, via paraphrase, what Shermer had said. We do this sort of thing all the fucking time, without misrepresenting what was said, and you know it.

    Well, actually she repeatedly claimed she quoted him exactly, many times. I’ll give two linked examples below where I think there might be several.

    You also continue to be incredibly dense here, in spite of my pointing this out to you @ 87 with the actual statements in play by both Benson and Shermer.

    There were two different lies in Benson’s article, where I never argued her paraphrasing Shermer on its own is wrong; your battle on that one continues to be with an imaginary foe. Benson’s claim she quoted Shermer exactly was about the quote-mine, i.e., removing Shermer’s, I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. No one has a problem with her paraphrasing or claiming he said, “exactly that” when it comes to being honest or dishonest. Specifically, here is Benson doing exactly what you falsely claim she didn’t do:

    Dudes, I quoted exactly what he said. You can’t “greatly distort” and “defame” people by quoting exactly what they say.

    Well you can, she did exactly that where that’s a different issue from the quote-mine. Just two posts down from the above link, @ 140, Benson also falsely claims:

    I didn’t quote-mine.

    So in regards to Shermer’s statement, she didn’t quote him exactly, she quote-mined him where I quote everything Shermer actually said (again) and put in bold font that which she quote-mined which made her other lie, the paraphrased false defamatory description of what he said, easier to sell. Here’s Shermer:

    Here’s what happened: last summer I appeared on an online television show called The Point, hosted by Huffington Post chief science correspondent Cara Santa Maria, who invited me and two other men (Sean Carroll and Edward Falzon) to discuss atheism. In a Q&A following the main discussion, a male viewer asked: “Why isn’t the gender split closer to fifty-fifty as it should be?”
    Santa Maria responded first: “In putting together this panel I had a hell of a time finding a woman who would be willing to sit on the panel with me to discuss her atheism. Why is that?”

    She then turned to me. I said: “I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. [The preceding sentence is the sentence Benson quote-mined out of her article. She then repeatedly lied by claiming she quoted him exactly when in fact she left this sentence out, which made the defamations preceding her quote-mine of Shermer easier to swallow.]. It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.”** I then followed this up by noting that at the 2012 TAM, there had been more women speakers than men. In that I misspoke slightly; according to TAM organizer D.J. Grothe, the number of men and women speakers was equal (the roster on the web page is incorrect) until, ironically, Ophelia Benson herself dropped out.

    And here’s Benson againdishonestly denying she quote-mined Shermer – the italics are her’s, not mine. Yes, she emphasizes her own lie:

    Michael Heath, you really should stop saying I lied (and, yes, calling me a liar). I provided the exact quote. [Heath - No, she didn't.] It’s right there on the page.* Then when I comment I say “it’s a guy thing” instead of “it’s more of a guy thing” – but the exact quote is immediately above, and it’s obvious to any experienced reader which one is the exact quote. It’s not lying to give a paraphrase in the commentary when the original is right there.

    So Raging Bee, you are demonstrably wrong. I’ve proved it twice, where Benson repeatedly argued she quoted Shermer exactly when in fact she didn’t. And this lie is different from the defamatory lie he meant, in Benson’s words:

    that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

    That defamatory lie was easier to sell by stripping out the “fifty-fifty” quip; which Benson repeatedly and falsely claimed she didn’t do. When in fact we know she did, it’s a fact, an incontrovertible fact. And yes, I’m aware of the fact that Benson conflated her quote-mine with her paraphrase as you do here. But that was pointed out to Benson prior to and after these quotes. Which just increases the volume of her dishonesty given we clearly showed that which she removed where she responeded by claiming she quoted him exactly, even when others pointed out she both didn’t and it helped her sell her defamatory and misogynistic:

    that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

    Raging Bee – when one person gets everything that’s written and you’re the person who continually fails to even be aware of the existing factual premises, I suggest taking a breath, reading more slowly, and considering what the other person is actually writing rather than fevered, false, imaginings you’re attributing to them.

    Until you concede that Ms. Benson repeatedly lied about quoting Shermer exactly when in fact she demonstrably did not, instead pulling a classic David Barton move, I have no further desire to continue to engage you on this matter. And again, this is not in regards to her paraphrase of him but instead her quote-mining him.

    *Given the two link limit I can’t link in this post to Benson’s article. But the original post did not have her quoting Shermer stating, I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. It was stripped out, and that helped sell her defaming him on by claiming he said or meant all sorts of misogynistic things as Benson falsely describes:

    that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

  83. says

    …Benson lying by claiming she quoted him exactly when in fact she stripped-out Shermer’s “fifty-fifty quip”…

    The “fifty-fifty quip” doesn’t change what Shermer said elsewhere. Therefore, “stripping out” said quip doesn’t make Benson a liar, and keeping it doesn’t make his “more of a guy thing” bit any less ridiculous or wrong than it is.

    If you’re trying to say Shermer’s offending words mean something different “in context,” I’ll just say that out of context, Shermer’s offending words are incredibly stupid; and in context…well, they don’t really fit in their context — first he said the “fifty-fifty” thing, then he said something that contradicted it. So either way, Shermer’s “it’s more of a guy thing” comment was incredibly lazy, sexist and stupid, and Ophelia was right to attack it like she did, and your charge of “quote-mining” is no more credible than Sal Cordova’s actual quote-mining.

  84. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee writes:

    Ophelia was right to attack it like she did, and your charge of “quote-mining” is no more credible than Sal Cordova’s actual quote-mining.

    I never claimed what Shermer stated wasn’t worthy of criticism. In fact I condemned him for his comments at least a dozen times in the two relevant threads. Instead I’m also condemning Ophelia Benson for:
    1) Raising a misogynistic point and then falsely projecting that onto Shermer when he never even raised the topic let alone asserted anything like what Benson attributes to him, i.e. Benson’s:

    . . . that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.”

    2) Quote-ming out the “fifty-fifty” topic which makes it easier to sell her defamatory comment above.

    3) Repeatedly claiming, falsely, she quoted Shermer exactly when in fact she quote-mined out the fifty-fifty topic. Which again, demonstrably falsifies that Shermer ever said anything about the topic Benson writes as:

    . . . that women are too stupid to do nontheism. Unbelieving in God is thinky work, and women don’t do thinky, because “that’s a guy thing.

    4) Failed to interview Shermer about his objectionable statement to understand what he meant prior to publishing her article. And instead creating a far worse description which is demonstrably false. What she wrote was demonstrably defamatory.

    5) Repeatedly failed to own up to her own false statements but instead repeatedly lies about what she actually wrote. A credible person would publish a retraction their description of what Shermer meant was factuallyincorrect. That’s given two facts, one – he never said such a thing or even raised the topic, and two – his response makes that clear.

    I do not follow either of these people. I know only a little about Shermer because he’s the editor of Skeptic magazine, a magazine I’ve perused a couple of times in bookstores but never saw any content compelling enough to get a subscription or purchase beyond a handful of times. Shermer’s behavior here has validated my ignoring him in the past.

    Specifically, his eagerness to jump on bandwagons with his ‘guy thing’ statement, his reliance on anecdotes to make an observation about a population, and his juvenile, wingnut-like response to Benson’s defamation of him. He was justified in being angry about her defaming him, but he did himself no favors going Godwin in his response. That demonstrates both a lack of emotional intelligence and that he’s not committed to using only structurally sound arguments.

    What I now know about Ms. Benson because of her article on Shermer and her defense of that article is that she’s a sloppy thinker, writer, and a serial liar. I find her contemptible because of her dishonesty and her inability to own up to her dishonesty. What she did is far worse than Shermer. And my contempt for her has nothing to do with her politics, contra your false claims about me in this regard. Instead my contempt is wholly focused on the quality of her writing, thinking, and her enormous lack of integrity as listed above.

  85. curiousgeorge says

    Michael Heath

    I never claimed what Shermer stated wasn’t worthy of criticism. In fact I condemned him for his comments at least a dozen times in the two relevant threads. Instead I’m also condemning Ophelia Benson for:
    1) Raising a misogynistic point and then falsely projecting that onto Shermer when he never even raised the topic let alone asserted anything like what Benson attributes to him,

    You are contradicting yourself and offering irrelevant excuses. First, you say Shermer’s comments are worthy of criticism and then go onto to criticize Benson for criticizing becasue a) Shermer didn’t bring up the point and b) Shermer did not assert “anything like” what Benson attribues

    As to Point A. The fact Shermer did not bring up the point is irrelevant. This was an ask and answer question session. All that matters is how Shermer answered the questions asked.

    As to Point B. Your point there has been about quote mining where Benson does not say atheism is 50/50. How does the 50/50 statement negate the statement that unbelieving is thinky, think therefore guy thing. What makes that statement even more damaging is that it is on the tail of using the word stupid and women in the same sentence.

    I see the quote mining point, but in my opinion, it isn’t nearly enough. By saying that you (assuming you are male) feel Shermer’s remarks are worthy of criticism and going on to say Benson (a female) cannot criticize these same remarks makes you appear sexist. To make this worse, you go on to call Benson a liar, sloppy, and saying what whe did was far worse. How is reacting to sexist remarks far worse than making sexist remarks?

    The only way that I could see it would be so is that if she just flat out called Shermer a habitual sexist and did not confine her remarks to these specific statements.

    I think that beating the sexist attitudes out of men towards women will take generations and it is getting better in some regards. What I see happening is that men who are really trying to overcome the deep rooted mysoginy of their socialization and our culture are given little to no deference when they screw up. I am NOT offering excuses, but I think socialization is hard to shake and I think many women find it difficult to shake the always be a “good girl” socialization in trade for assertiveness.

    I do think the affects of the sexism by men towards women is far, far, far more damaging to their options and personhood. Everybody needs to pay attention and keep beating back on these problems. Hopefully, more parents are raising their daughters to be assertive and also playing down the hyper masculinization stuff as well.

  86. says

    4) Failed to interview Shermer about his objectionable statement to understand what he meant prior to publishing her article.

    This item alone proves how totally unhinged and infantile Heath’s one-man crusade against Ophelia has become. First, when have we EVER been expected to interview someone we’re criticizing and get clarification before gong public with our criticism? Did anyone say we couldn’t criticize Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” bullshit unless we interviewed him first?

    And second, since no one can force Shermer to grant an interview, this bogus rule, in effect, gives Shermer veto-power over all criticism of Shermer’s utterances. Since when did anyone need Shermer’s permission to criticize Shermer?

    I warned you, Heath, the last time you waded into this manufactroversy, you made an unmitigated ass of yourself. You ignored my warning, and now you’ve embarrassed yourself again. You’re not just wrong, you’ve completely lost your mind. Stop pretending you have anything close to a rational case here, and take some time to deal wtih your personal problem(s).

  87. says

    PS: Oh well, at least Heath admitted that Shermer’s statement was, in fact, objectionable. So why is he getting all upset when someone objects to it? Did he interview Shermer before admitting this?

  88. ildi says

    curiousgeorge:

    What I see happening is that men who are really trying to overcome the deep rooted mysoginy of their socialization and our culture are given little to no deference when they screw up.

    Except I don’t think this is the case with Shermer. He strikes me as one of those ‘equity’ or libertarian feminists; as long as there are no legal barriers, then there is no inequality. He, like Harriet Hall, thinks that science has shown that there are indeed sex differences, and as Dr. Hall said, because of this we shouldn’t expect there to be a 50/50 split in interest in various fields of endeavor. (Hall is quick to point out, though, that individual differences do outweigh the averages.)

    So, when Shermer gives as the reason that even though atheists may be split 50/50 that it is hard to find women atheists to speak up because being intellectually active and speaking up in general is more of a guy thing, he’s not talking about the social influences that keep women silent. He is talking about biological differences (’cause science!). He wasn’t mis-speaking.

    Equity feminists think that these social influences are negligible at best, non-existent at worst, and anyone who acts like they exist is just playing the victim, and taking away the focus from real feminists like Dr.-Colonel Hall, who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps, thank you very much! Grow some thicker skin!

  89. And How says

    You, in fact, are quote mining my post and misrepresenting what I said. Or I suppose reading comprehension is a struggle for you.

    Settle down. Thank you very much !

  90. And How says

    ildi @ 99.

    Please disregard my comment in post 100. I thought you were taking a shot at me with the grow some thicker skin comment there at the end. And maybe you were, maybe you weren’t – doesn’t matter.

    To be honest, I am not familair with Shermer’s views, Benson’s views or Hall. I’ve read a few of Ophelia Benson’s blogs. My comments were directed at Michael Heath’s comments on Shermer’s remarks as explained in this thread.

    Thinking that passage of equal opportunity laws will reverse a culture of sexism is deluded. That is even more more stupid than believing passage of prohibition was going to stop people from drinking alcohol. Difference being, as a society we decided we didn’t need to prohibit drinking alcohol, so that died on the vine. However, sexism and bigotry of all kinds needs to go.

    In my opinion, sexism is deeply ingrained in into the way children are socialized by well meaning parents and our culture supports sexism as well. I wish it were as easy as changing laws, but it is not going to change without a strong, effective and persistent counter culture movement lasting over many generations.

    I can only imagine how frustrating having others working against what needs to be done with bone headed over-simplifications that work against what needs to happen.

  91. ildi says

    Are you logged in under a different name? My “thicker skin” was a rhetorical comment the victim-blamers like to make.

  92. And How says

    Yea, I changed my name because I wasn’t sure about curiousgeorge violating trademark or something.

    But anyway, I misread your post because I’m not familiar yet with the terms.

    I think as to your other point about what Shermer meant by saying atheism is 50/50 but speaking at confrences is more of a guy thing.

    As it happened, out of college in the early 80’s I took a position in a progressive minded corporate culture. Equal opportunity is taken very seriously. My work has helped enlighten me that stereotyping females is totally false and destructive.

    The work force is now 51% female. Lower, middle and upper management is now 50% female. Executive level is now at 23% female and I believe there is every indication it will rise.

    If Mr. Shermer believes that women are not as intellectually active and aren’t willing to speak up – I’ll bring him to work with me one day. He can sit in on an upper level management meeting with 50% females. He’ll figure out how wrong his “science” is very, very quickly.

    I also have two daughter and a son. There are differences in their natural tendencies in different aspects of personality, but it has nothing to do with their gender. My daughters are more stereotypical “male” in some areas, my son is more stereotypical “female” in some areas.

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