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Professor: Rape is Okay if Woman is Unconscious

University of Rochester economics professor Steven Landsburg has a rather bizarre comparison on his blog that could easily be mistaken for rape apologetics — as long as the woman is unconscious and the rapist is gentle enough not to cause any physical trauma.

He offers up three scenarios, which he seems to think are virtually indistinguishable. In the first scenario, “Farnsworth McCrankypants” is upset at the idea that other people view pornography and thinks they should be forced to stop. In the second scenario, “Granola McMustardseed” is upset that other people alter the natural state of a wilderness area where they might want to hike later. And here is scenario three:

Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. (Note: The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I’ve read, was not even aware that she’d been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later.) Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?

And he doesn’t seem to recognize any meaningful difference between the three scenarios:

I’m having trouble articulating any good reason why Question 3 is substantially different from Questions 1 and 2. As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits? And if the thought of those benefits makes me shudder, why should my shuddering be accorded any more public policy weight than Bob’s or Granola’s? We’re still talking about strictly psychic harm, right?

It is, I think, a red herring to say that there’s something peculiarly sacred about the boundaries of our bodies. Every time someone on my street turns on a porch light, trillions of photons penetrate my body. They cause me no physical harm and therefore the law does nothing to restrain them. Even if those trillions of tiny penetrations caused me deep psychic distress, the law would continue to ignore them, and I think there’s a case for that (it’s the same as the case for ignoring Bob McCrankypants’s porn aversion). So for the issues we’re discussing here, bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category…

Some commenters have suggested that Question 3, unlike Questions 1 and 2, involves a violation of property rights. This seems entirely wrong to me; in each case, there is a disputed property right — a dispute over who controls my computer, a dispute over who controls the wilderness, a dispute about who controls my body. To appeal to a “respect for property rights” solves nothing, since in each case the entire dispute is about what the property rights should be in the first place.

Seriously? Look, I get the idea that taking unorthodox ideas out for a walk as a means of challenging your assumptions, and this is particularly valuable for a college professor. But seriously? He really doesn’t see the difference there? And he thinks that since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent as long as she’s unconscious? That’s not a provocative counter-factual example, it’s insane and dangerous. And if I were a woman in one of this guy’s classes, I might well feel pretty damn uncomfortable that my teacher thinks that if he roofies me and isn’t too forceful, he should be able to rape me with impunity.

Comments

  1. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I’m assuming people have already emailed his superiors about this?

  2. raven says

    I’d like to see what Professor Steven Landsburg would say, if he were unconscious and got raped or gang raped.

    It happens to men too.

    He is also ignoring a huge potential cost to the victim. People get pregnant after being raped. It is all part of that sex thing.

  3. jamessweet says

    From a legal perspective, it’s sort of a non-starter, because you’re asking whether the law should punish an undetectable crime. Well… if it’s undetectable, the law can’t punish it. It’s already de facto true that undiscoverable murders are “legal”, from a sort of bent perspective.

  4. jamessweet says

    So I do think that buried under here is a potentially interesting question about the ethics of an undiscoverable crime which, if discovered is unambiguously wrong, but if never discovered doesn’t ever have any tangible consequences. I actually had a similar discussion with a friend not too long ago, but — and this is important — the example we were using wasn’t rape.

    In other words, I sort of actually see the point the professor is trying to make, but in the context of the rape culture that pervades our present society, really bad example, buddy. He may not be trying to dehumanize women, but in the current cultural context, that’s the effect.

  5. justsomeguy says

    I think whether or not the professor locks the door behind him when he leaves for work in the morning will tell us everything we need to know about his opinion of property rights.

  6. says

    We’re still talking about strictly psychic harm, right?

    Um, yeah, just like it’s “strictly psychic harm” when black people are forced to live in isolated ghettoes and use separate accomodations, as long as all their physical needs are met.

    Also, his premise — that only “psychic harm” was caused in his examples #1 and 2 — is FALSE. Porn has a potential to cause harm independent of this or that individual’s feelings about it (i.e., if it’s widely accessible to minors, or is made by coercive or expolitative means). And destruction of a natural environment affects the region, and sometimes the whole biosphere.

    His examples seem carefully crafted to support unregulated porn, unregulated destruction of the environment (when no one’s looking), and yet another excuse to treat at least some rape victims as if their “feelings” didn’t matter. Is this “professor” a libertarian perchance?

  7. says

    I’m assuming people have already emailed his superiors about this?

    Why? Has he done something illegal? People, from anywhere on the spectrum, who write to administrations because they don’t like a professor’s opinions or writings are low-rent bullies. It would put you in the same league as those who write to PZ’s superiors.

  8. scienceavenger says

    By the good professor’s logic, it should be permissable to feel up every woman that crosses your path, not to mention being a Peeping Tom. I guess thefts that aren’t noticed are OK too.

    I’m available to demonstrate all this on Mrs. Landsburg at Mr. Landsburg’s earliest convenience.

  9. doublereed says

    He’s not just ignoring the fact that men can also easily get raped/gang-raped while sleeping, he’s not looking at the Steubunville rape case properly. They didn’t rape her for sexual gratification. That much is patently obvious by the specific actions they took.

    They raped her specifically to humiliate her. And that’s not something you can brush aside in this case. Not at all. To reference Steubunville is absolutely rape apologetics in this regard.

  10. says

    I suppose it makes for an interesting philosophical scenario concerning what makes something ethical. If one approaches it from a consequentiallist perspective, you could say that if no one is harmed (I would argue that psychic harm would count, however) and, in fact, the overall outcome is positive (in that the victim doesn’t suffer while the perp increases his or her pleasure) then the action is moral. However, this ethical philosophy is obviously flawed, as it is purely a retroactive morality. No action can be judged as moral or immoral until it’s already occurred. The fact is, which this guy is ignoring, in real life this scenario is pretty unlikely, as countless things can go wrong to cause harm to the victim regardless of how careful one is. Further, if a person committed this act and succeeded, it makes it more likely that this behavior would continue or at least points toward an attitude that disregards the risk toward others for one’s own pleasure, which would increase the risk of suffering in the future. I guess one can’t expect much from armchair philosophy, though.

  11. raven says

    We’re still talking about strictly psychic harm, right?

    Psychic harm can ruin someone’s life and even kill them.

    We see it with PTSD after Vietnam and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve seen two Vietnam veterans who never quite got it together after the war and eventually committed suicide decades later. The suicide rate among returning soldiers is very high and a huge problem for the military.

    And a lot of child abuse victims suffer their whole life.

  12. scienceavenger says

    And while we are at it, will the good professor please educate us all on the physical harm done to traditional marriage by gay marriage?

  13. says

    Since neither sexual gratification nor humiliation per se are illegal, doublereed, I’m not sure why the distinction there matters. The crime was sexual assault, and assaults do not become permissible simply because the person they are committed against was not aware of it as it happened.

  14. says

    Oh looky, my comment is “awaiting moderation.” Yeah, I’m sure this “professor” is the very soul of moderation.

    Check out the comments to his post. Some of them are even more spineless and airheaded than the OP.

  15. Phillip IV says

    I guess that’s another entry in the “Big Book of Failed Attempts to Apply Economic Theory to Real Life Issues”, which has become a real bestseller since 2008.

    It’s easy to see where the good professor would end up if he follows his current line of thinking to it’s logical conclusion, applying the only hammer he’s got to a non-nail-shaped problem: that the inviolability of one’s body has no value unless it has a market price, so the solution to the problem of sexual abuse is creating a public market for rape-rights.

  16. says

    I suppose it makes for an interesting philosophical scenario concerning what makes something ethical.

    It’s an exercise in rationalized indifference. Nothing more.

  17. says

    I’m trying to see where the “mistake” part would be….

    +1 to that — his choice of examples is a pretty good indicator of where his mind is. He seems a little more considerate than Roman Polanski — but that ain’t saying much.

  18. says

    People, from anywhere on the spectrum, who write to administrations because they don’t like a professor’s opinions or writings are low-rent bullies.

    As opposed to people who openly fantasize about using unconscious women as fucktoys and asking where’s the harm?

    What’s your problem, heddle? Reflexively circling the wagons for a fellow professor?

  19. oranje says

    That’s some extreme libertarianism* there: what happens to your body is none of your concern is you don’t remember it/suffer from it. Yikes. I know it’s a thought experiment, but that’s terrifying.

    Also, he should lay off the Irish.

  20. doublereed says

    @Gretchen

    No, it doesn’t matter in terms of the law. I’m saying it matters in his characterization of the Steubenville Rape case.

  21. oranje says

    Eh, forgot about the asterisk…

    *not necessarily actual libertarianism, your mileage may vary.

  22. says

    What’s your problem, heddle? Reflexively circling the wagons for a fellow professor?

    Yeah that’s it. I’m so busted. I wanted to pretend it was all about the idea that people who reflexively report anyone to an employer because of legal speech that they find offensive or stupid (cue reductio ad absurdum) are pond scum, but you nailed me. It is just about watching out for my profession. Your insight is truly amazing.

  23. says

    Want an example of how far down the rabbit-hole of depraved indifference that blog thread is going? Check this out…

    In the hypothetical case where the unconscious victim never finds out what happened, and suffers no consequences, it’s very hard (for me, at least) to articulate the utilitarian reason why you’d want to prevent an act with benefits to the rapist and no measurable costs to the victim.

    He says his book is “thoroughly revised and updated for the 21st century.” I’m not sure I want to know what he means by that. So far it looks like just another middle-aged privileged white guy mentally masturbating about “utilitarian” ways to take advantage of little people whose feelings don’t matter…

  24. doublereed says

    Well, if that’s his point, why can’t he just take a less offensive example? Like if I hijack your car without your permission and return it with some gas. Is there a utilitarian argument against “nonconsensual borrowing”?

  25. rowanvt says

    A man who cannot find a reason why raping an unconscious woman is bad if she doesn’t find out, should not be teaching a class where he interacts with women. A man who feels that preventing an act that the perpetrator enjoys, as long as the woman never knows, would be without merit is again a man who should not be teaching a class where he interacts with women.

  26. glodson says

    I love it when someone reduces rape to a thought experiment in which one highly specific and contrived scenario is used to springboard into a discussion as to why we consider rape bad at all, which entirely fails to even understand the basic desires of the rapist, or what actually happens to the victims. This isn’t just baffling, or wrong. It is disgusting.

  27. says

    Actually, heddle, the people reporting this to his bosses are the ones watching our for your profession. Trust me, any professor who uses his position of trust/authority to dishonestly justify amoral, explotative and harmful behavior is doing more than “strictly psychic harm” to your profession, and to the communities they’re supposed to serve.

  28. says

    So the root of the logical error here…

    “Farnsworth McCrankypants” is upset at the idea that other people view pornography and thinks they should be forced to stop. In the second scenario, “Granola McMustardseed” is upset that other people alter the natural state of a wilderness area where they might want to hike later. And here is scenario three:

    …is that Landsburg not only conflates three very different kinds of “upset,” but assumes that in all three cases, upset feelings are the basis of the law in question.

    Offense is one kind of upset feeling, the one McCrankpants experiences at the thought of others reading porn. Generally speaking, the law doesn’t give a shit about this kind of upsetness, which is why porn is (mostly) legal.

    You might also call the kind of upsetness McMustardseed feels “offense,” but offending people is not the reason we have laws against “altering the state of a wilderness area.” We generally outlaw such a thing because it involves damaging the wilderness area, which is public property.

    The kind of upsetness that the Steubenville rape victim must have felt would not be called “offense.” It would be called psychological trauma, and this trauma does not depend on her being conscious during the rape to exist. It also is not required to be present for what happened to her to be called rape. Rape is defined by the act– sexual acts on a person’s body without his or her consent. It doesn’t require them to be traumatized as a result.

    What all this has to do with libertarianism, I have no freakin’ clue. It would be nice if commenters would abstain from taking any and all fucked up political standpoints and attributing them to libertarians for the sake of expediency.

  29. doublereed says

    Because I was under the impression that consent is like one of the basic ideas of ethical behavior. But if utilitarianism throws consent out the window then I’m really confused on how it’s supposed to work at all.

    I mean, clearly something that is explicitly nonconsensual is automatically a negative value here.

  30. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve got to say, his logic is just as bad with #2 as it is with #3.

    It seems crystal clear to me that there is no substantive difference between Bob and Granola.

    So a person who is upset about an oil company destroying a natural habitat and ecosystem is being just as unreasonable as a person who is upset about pornography. By this logic, if a millionaire wished to purchase a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece from a museum and torch it in the public square, no one would have any legitimite cause to criticize him — or at least, no one who wasn’t planning on seeing it in the museum. Apparently the concept that there might be objects or places that are the joint charge of all humanity is foreign to him. The whole premise seems so shockingly immoral that I can’t even bother to engage with what he’s saying with point #3. This guy seems seriously thick.

  31. raven says

    I suppose it makes for an interesting philosophical scenario concerning what makes something ethical.

    It’s an exercise in rationalized indifference. Nothing more.

    It’s also an exercise in common sense.

    Stay away from Professor Steven Landsburg who obviously has a human shaped hole where his personality would go.

    This guy is potentially dangerous but it was nice of him to put up a warning sign on the internet. The internet doesn’t forget easily and has an audience of billions.

  32. glodson says

    @ Gretchen comment 32:

    Yes, his two examples in Farnsworth and Granola are people upset about what other people are doing with something other than another person. The porn guy is upset that people are looking at porn, which is normally made by consenting adults who willfully produce the material to be consumed. Granola is upset that people are altering nature, which said people might own in land.

    Then he conflates these to rape, where someone robs another person of their agency over their own body. This does not follow, at all.

  33. iknklast says

    Raging Bee @#6: Beat me to it. I think example numer 1 is different than BOTH the others, because destruction of the environment has tangible costs to all society. Use of a woman’s body for your pleasure without her permission has costs both to the woman and to society, even if she doesn’t know about it. And, he ignores one real issue: in fact, there are legal restrictions on what you can do with your property. To destroy certain types of natural environments, you must have permits, even if they belong to you. And to enter someone else’s body, regardless of their state, you must have their permission.

    The other question I have for the “good” professor is this: Does that mean that it would be all right to use a woman sexually who is in a persistent vegetative state, as long as you used protection so she wouldn’t get pregnant, and made sure you were gentle enough not to hurt her? I think the clear answer to that is no. That is the height of low (the nadir of low?). But in his argument, it would be perfectly acceptable, because the individual would be unaware you were doing it, you would bring no harm to them, and, I suppose, you would enjoy it (if you’re some sick perverted sort of person).

  34. says

    “Legal”?

    Seriously? You’re going down that road? So now the only reportable thing is “illegal” speech?

    So if someone in the office next to you calls you a cock-sucking dick-faced dirty nigger-loving syphilitic cancer-encrusted retarded whore’s bitch — you’re OK with that? Cuz there’s not one word in that’s “illegal”.

    Please define what is meant by “illegal speech”. No — strike that. I don’t want to hear.

    Please fuck off, Heddle. Seriously. Fuck off.

  35. Doug Little says

    I fail to see how his hypothetical applies to the Steubenville rape, we know about it, there is evidence that it occurred so the psychological damage to the victim is very real.

  36. says

    I just had a look at his preface. Yep, this guy is a libertarian — the kind who took an ECON 101 class and made a full-blown religion out of the simple rules he learned there:

    There was nothing that revealed the economist’s unique way of thinking, using a few simple ideas to illuminate the whole range of human behavior, shake up our preconceptions, and jolt us into new ways of seeing the world.

    Economics is “a few simple ideas?” Bullshit. My mother got a PhD in economics, and I’ll understand quantum mechanics long before I understand her PhD thesis. This guy is making a simpleninded religion out of his simple understanding of some hellishly complex and interrelated disciplines.

    Speaking very broadly, I tend to be optimistic about the power of markets to do good, and skeptical of the power of governments to do better.

    In other words, he goes on about how “logic matters,” and then just repeats a tired, lazy prejudice that’s already been proven false. This guy isn’t fit to teach anything relevant.

  37. says

    Doug: according to the good pforessor, that’s only “psychic damage,” and it wasn’t caused by the rape, it was caused by people’s failure to properly cover it up afterword. See if the rapists had password-protected the video thay made, and confined their comments to quiet sniggering like proper gentlemen, no harm would have been done.

    And look — George Gilder likes his book! Isn’t that special!

  38. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    Ok, y’know what? Sure. Why not?

    If rape didn’t hurt anyone, it would be perfectly ok to rape. If you can somehow rape someone in such a way that they never experience it, whatever, go for it.

    Those of us living in the real world will continue to not posit incredibly nonsensical ideas.

  39. says

    Kevin,

    So if someone in the office next to you calls you a cock-sucking dick-faced dirty nigger-loving syphilitic cancer-encrusted retarded whore’s bitch — you’re OK with that? Cuz there’s not one word in that’s “illegal”.

    As I said, cue “reductio ad absurdum”. Sure enough some pinhead obliged.

    By the way, if someone called me that I would ignore them, not report them.

  40. says

    But if utilitarianism throws consent out the window then I’m really confused on how it’s supposed to work at all.

    No need to worry your pretty little head about it. It works the way the people in power say it works, so shut up, that’s why.

  41. says

    In my area of activism, the assholes who seek to restrict my freedom claim I’m subjecting them to maximum emotional trauma, but they never say why they’re so traumatized. When pushed to the wall, they respond by screaming, “It’s the children!” but never answer the obvious question, “What about the children?”

    When pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed, they react in anger with that staple of third grade playground logic, “IF YOU DON’T KNOW, IT WOULD BE FUTILE FOR ME TO TELL YOU!”

    It seems to me that perhaps, just perhaps, Ed is playing that game below.

    Seriously? Look, I get the idea that taking unorthodox ideas out for a walk as a means of challenging your assumptions, and this is particularly valuable for a college professor. But seriously? He really doesn’t see the difference there?

    Ed, if the answer is so obvious, it should take only a few words to tell us.

    And he thinks that since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent as long as she’s unconscious? That’s not a provocative counter-factual example, it’s insane and dangerous.

    Ed, just exactly WHY is it “insane and dangerous”?

    :-)

    Jenny
    (who has expressed no opinion whatever on the matter at hand)

  42. says

    By the way, if someone called me that I would ignore them, not report them.

    Just because you choose to be a chill girl, doesn’t obligate anyone else to do the same.

  43. rowanvt says

    So heddle is fine with work place harassment, racism and sexism.

    Odd. You know, when I registered a complaint about the sexist behaviour shown by a psychologist I was seeing for some ADHD meds, the staff at that hospital was horrified he’d done something like that. But I guess, per you, I shouldn’t have complained?

  44. says

    [someone] is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. […]
    Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?

    So it’s OK to rape people, if you just drug them first.
    And they let this guy teach?
    @raven


    Stay away from Professor Steven Landsburg who obviously has a human shaped hole where his personality would go.

    I’m confused. Why would the hole be human-shaped?

  45. says

    Raging Bee,

    No need to worry your pretty little head about it.

    Just because you choose to be a chill girl

    Geez. That seems a little un-Pharyguloidal of you.

  46. Sastra says

    Wait, he just needs to fix the hypothetical rape scenario where the woman isn’t aware or harmed into one which involves a space alien. This space alien would come from another dimension and therefore be completely undetectable — so undetectable that the woman could be raped while she was wide awake and she wouldn’t even know it. Nobody would know about it — not in our universe, anyway. And what if this rape also resulted in the space alien conceiving a child which saves the alien race from extinction? Bear with me, he’s an alien, so it’s not ruled out. What then? Huh? Let’s suppose.

    It is, I think, a red herring to say that there’s something peculiarly sacred about the boundaries of our bodies or our consent or the possibilities of physical or emotional harm because we’re not thinking broadly enough about hypothetical possibilities. Do you know how many imaginary worlds there are? No? Well … more than YOU can imagine, I bet.

  47. says

    rowanvt,

    So heddle is fine with work place harassment, racism and sexism.

    You are stupid beyond belief. Nothing I wrote condones work place harassment, racism and sexism. Jackass.

  48. rowanvt says

    Ed, just exactly WHY is it “insane and dangerous”?

    It’s dangerous because it is advocating the perpetuation of harm. And it’s also, as evidenced by the profs comments further down on his own blog, that it is not merely a thought exercise. He cannot find a reason to deny a rapist his/her pleasure in raping if the victim remains unaware. This teacher is effectively advocating for rape, and for drugging people so that one can rape them. After all, as long as you are gentle, it won’t be bad to rape them.

    That is an incredibly dangerous thing to be effectively advocating. Playing devil’s advocate in a situation like this is unhelpful and counterproductive. You are providing fodder for rape apologists.

  49. rowanvt says

    By the way, if someone called me that I would ignore them, not report them.

    What is that then, this quote of you? The hypothetical was hearing that directed to you at work. If you ignore, and not report, you are thereby expressing that you are okay with that behaviour because you are not seeking to change it.

  50. says

    Similarly, Professor (I am loathe to use that title as it makes me die inside a little) Landsburg if someone were to go all Lisbeth Salander on him but put the tattoo on his back. As long as he were unconscious at the time and there was no infection, no harm no foul. And if people point out his tattoo or he sees it in the mirror, well that’s not the tattooist’s fault, that’s the fault of the people pointing it out or the mirror.

  51. says

    rowanvt,

    you are thereby expressing that you are okay with that behaviour because you are not seeking to change it.

    Again with the stupidity. This time a false dilemma. That which I do not seek to change I support and endorse.

  52. rowanvt says

    Silence implies consent with regards to many social situations. If someone is telling me racist jokes, and I do not say that I find that offensive, that person is going to assume I find their jokes to be funny, or at least okay. If someone says “women are such cunts” and I don’t disagree, that person will assume I agree, or at least think their statement is okay.

    Indifference is harmful, because is furthers the status quo and does nothing to cause the cessation of harmful behaviours.

  53. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #40

    I’ll understand quantum mechanics long before I understand her PhD thesis.

    Ou contraire, Bee will never understand quantum mechanics because nobody else does. C.F. Lawrence Krauss: Nobody understands quantum mechanics; Richard Feynman: If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics.

  54. says

    rowanvt,

    This is a case of a professor writing an idiotic opinion. If I cared, I would comment on his blog or I would send him an email or I would write a counter-blog (as Ed did) or send a letter to the editor. Or I would write an op-ed. I would not run to his employer and say: “see what one of your profs is doing?” It is wrong. It is cowardly. It is not taking any initiative to demonstrate that the opinion is wrong, it is simply hoping that you can get him in trouble. As I said, it is no better that the bozos who write to PZ’s dean when PZ writes something they find outrageous and offensive. (Oh, but that’s different…)

  55. says

    Heddle:

    Bullshit.. I made a racist, sexist, ableist slur and you’re just fine with it.

    If you called me that, I’d report you in a second. So, just because you don’t know the definition of harassment, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    You’re not fit for polite company.

    Please go hang out in the slyme, with your betters. (Yes, even they’re better than you.)

  56. Who Knows? says

    People like this Landsburg fella always make me think of the one or two dimwits in high school debate who think they’ve come up with some new way at looking at a subject that, somehow, nobody else has thought of before.

    This is not something nobody has thought of, it’s just the idea is so completely fucking stupid anyone with even the smallest shred of intelligence and respect for their fellow human beings would be ashamed to admit to have thought of it.

  57. rowanvt says

    Can we prove sexism exists? Yes.
    Can we prove god exists? No. And that’s why the creationists being offended and attempting to remove him is silly.

    This is a professor who explicitly said he CANNOT find a good reason why a rapist should be prevented from their raping because of their enjoyment as long as the victim never finds out they were raped.
    This is terrifying. This is about real harm to real people due to a real thing.

    Should I have NOT reported to his supervisors the psychologist who was saying sexist things to me? You are telling me that reporting him was wrong.

  58. says

    Kevin,

    Bullshit.. I made a racist, sexist, ableist slur and you’re just fine with it.

    No, I just would choose to ignore it. Especially if it came from you–consider the source, etc.

    Please go hang out in the slyme, with your betters. (Yes, even they’re better than you.)

    OMG, but you’re brilliant!

  59. caseloweraz says

    There are things wrong with all three of Landsburg’s examples. I’ll only address the third.

    First, I contend that his statement “The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I’ve read, was not even aware that she’d been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later” is incorrect.

    Second, in trying to support a principle of nonintervention, his third example begs the question, “How likely is it that no physical injury will result from rape?”

    Third, his assumption that only “physical trauma” is germane is wrong. The young woman certainly suffered mental distress after finding out what happened. Apparently she also suffered economic harm, losing her phone and other property.

    The fourth defect is that he ignores the possibilities of pregnancy and STDs. How is Landsburg sure there was no chance of these in the Steubenville case?

    He’s an economics professor, so I’d ask him this: “If a student cheats on a test you give, and you never detect it, that cheating is perfectly OK, right? I mean, you suffered no distress and the student gained the positive outcome of a good grade.”

    According to Wikipedia: “As a self-described ‘hardcore libertarian’, Landsburg emphasizes the importance of individual choice.” As others have written here, Landsburg totally discounts the importance of self-discipline in regulating behavior. I think he just undermined his libertarianism. But then, Libertarians do tend to miss the difference between liberty and license.

  60. kosk11348 says

    heddle wrote:

    Again with the stupidity. This time a false dilemma. That which I do not seek to change I support and endorse.

    Silence has the effect of endorsing the status quo. I judge people by the results of their actions, not by whatever secrets they hold in their hearts. If you don’t seek to change a problem, then practically speaking you are part of the problem. That’s not a false dilemma, only a lesson you should have learned a long time ago.

  61. says

    I would not run to his employer and say: “see what one of your profs is doing?” It is wrong. It is cowardly.

    First, why is it wrong to tell a boss or organization what one of their subordinates is doing under the authority they gave him? Are they not entitled to such information?

    And second, why is it “cowardly?”

    heddle, you really seem to embody the bully’s values: there’s nothing worse than a snitch, and if your victim tries to get help, that makes him a coward. Seriously, can’t you come at this debate with a more grownup mindset?

  62. says

    Jeebus, Heddle, shut the fuck up! At least, you know, long enough to get it through your head that there’s a galaxy of difference between PZ’s opinions and this fuck ADVOCATING RAPE!

    If I were in charge of, say, a university, I’d sure as shit want to know if one of my employees was pushing rape as an ethical behavior. Why? Because it directly contributes to rape culture, because that person is a potential danger (if he’ll excuse and rationalize rape, who’s to say he hasn’t actually committed rape?), and because that employee is actively harming rape survivors with his words, his attitudes, and his teaching. In short, his behavior is unacceptable, and absolutely must be called out!

  63. says

    kosk11348,

    I call bullshit. I charge that there are many problems about which you are not actively seeking a solution. That does not make you part of the problem.

    It is a false dilemma. There are only 24 hours in a day, pick your battles, etc. This is reality, not the high horse you are riding. And that’s a lesson you should have learned long ago.

    I suspect that you really mean is this: there are certain problems that I, kosk11348, prioritize as being the most important. Of course I am right, and if you choose to be silent (which is an unfair extrapolation from what I actually wrote: “do not tell his boss,” but for the sake of argument…) then you are part of the problem.. Now if I am silent on what you deem to be important, it’s because it isn’t *really* important. I, kosk11348, get to make the call.

    Bullshit.

  64. rowanvt says

    Because, of course, for Heddle it’s impossible to take a few moments out of those 24 hours to say “this is unacceptable” for something as little and unimportant as advocating rape. After all, we have to pick our battles and saying ‘rape, and advocating rape, is bad’ is just not a hill worth dying on. After all, who does is really affect? Those individuals who didn’t know better than to be raped. If they didn’t want to be raped, they shouldn’t have been raped. And if they were drugged, drunk, or unconscious they really should just get over it because it’s not like it was traumatising.

  65. says

    So, heddle, what battle do you choose to fight that you can’t fight if you take any time to report a colleague for conduct-unbecoming?

  66. says

    WMDKitty — Survivor

    No, you are being an idiot. As Ed pointed out, this bozo is navel gazing. He should be called out and ridiculed for his insane views, not reported. If there is enough of an uproar he will pay a professional price. This is the way it should be done. This modern trend of notifying employers is a form of anti-intellectualism.

  67. says

    Also, heddle, I notice you’re changing your rationalizations for not reporting a professor’s gross incompetence to his superiors. First it was “wrong” and “cowardly” for unspecified reasons, now it’s “you have to choose your battles.” Maybe it’s time to admit you got off on the wrong foot, and shut the fuck up about something you clearly don’t understand. If that doesn’t conflict with your conservative-Christian doctrine, that is…

  68. says

    rowanvt

    Because, of course, for Heddle it’s impossible to take a few moments out of those 24 hours to say “this is unacceptable” for something as little and unimportant as advocating rape.

    You really don’t get it do you. This has nothing to do with me saying that his or any other opinion is unacceptable. You really can’t grasp this? It really is too difficult? I am objecting to notifying his employer; I am not objecting to taking him to task in the public forum. Geez how did you ever graduate from high school? You cannot comprehend that rebuttal is the appropriate response, not retribution?

  69. says

    This modern trend of notifying employers is a form of anti-intellectualism.

    That’s not even a good over-generalization! Why is it “anti-intellectualism” to tell a COLLEGE that one of their professors doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about and is actively seeking to justify harmful and illegal actions? And that’s just for starters…

  70. says

    Raging Bee,

    No you are missing the boat. Try rereading.

    It is wrong and cowardly for specified reasons: you should counter bad ideas, not run to someone’s boss.

    The “choose you battles” response was a regarding the false dilemma that you either speak up or you are part of the problem.

    Two separate issues. Please try to keep up. Or at least “insult” me again by calling me a girl.

  71. rowanvt says

    Heddle. This was NOT just navel gazing. You’ve ignored that repeatedly.

    Here is a direct quote from this professor in the comments of the blog:

    In the hypothetical case where the unconscious victim never finds out what happened, and suffers no consequences, it’s very hard (for me, at least) to articulate the utilitarian reason why you’d want to prevent an act with benefits to the rapist and no measurable costs to the victim.

    Sure, he still mentions the hypothetical, but that quote is disturbing. He cannot find a reason why raping someone who is unconscious is bad, especially if the rapist enjoys it.

  72. says

    This isn’t just about countering bad IDEAS, heddle, it’s about countering bad PERFORMANCE by an employee of an organization. And part of that bad PERFORMANCE is abuse of his authority to provide a forum for ideas that don’t belong anywhere near an institution of learning.

    And yes, failure to speak up about a problem does indeed make you part of teh problem, whether or not you have a decent excuse for being silent. That’s not a “false dilemma,” that’s a fact of life that shitloads of non-privileged people have to deal with every fucking day. Grow the fuck up and stop pretending you can lecture us about something you clearly don’t understand.

  73. doublereed says

    Wtf are you talking about Heddle? Notifying the employer is wrong and cowardly? Why? Because…?

    Why can’t I do that AND counter bad ideas. That’s obviously a false dilemma.

    And telling information to people can’t be anti-intellectualism by definition. You are assuming some kind of professional loss to the teacher for some reason. No, that’s up the employer to decide. I have no idea why you think telling an employer is necessarily retribution instead of simply cessation of hostile behavior. And yes, this kind of rape encouraging behavior would classify as creating a hostile environment.

    But of course you were quite correctly characterized as having a bully mentality, so who knows if you care about hostile environments. Sad and privileged.

  74. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Porn has a potential to cause harm independent of this or that individual’s feelings about it (i.e., if it’s widely accessible to minors

    Is there any actual evidence that accessing porn harms minors? I certainly never noticed.

    Why? Has he done something illegal?

    I said his superiors in the administration. If I thought he’d done something illegal, I would have said the police, you pompous dipshit.

    People, from anywhere on the spectrum, who write to administrations because they don’t like a professor’s opinions or writings are low-rent bullies. It would put you in the same league as those who write to PZ’s superiors.

    Yes, because condoning and trivializing sexual assault in an environment where it’s known to be an epidemic, destructive problem nd a cultural context where assault is enabled by that trivialization and condonement, and contributing to a hostile environment for women, is TOTALLY like throwing a cracker in the trash.

    This is like asking “well, if you lock people up for murder, why is it wrong to lock them up for criticizing the government?”

    (Aren’t you supposed to be smart?)

  75. D. C. Sessions says

    Sheesh — yet another dingdong comes along and thinks he’s the next Bishop Berkely.

    “If a woman is raped in her sleep and she doesn’t wake up, is it really rape?” isn’t even a very good analogy to “if a tree falls in the forest,” but he apparently doesn’t even get that much. Which suggests that despite a PhD and a supposedly good education, he missed out on the Philosophy 101 basics.

    Well, that and any vague suggestion of being taught to look beyond superficial consequences.

    However, what really bugs me (and I do wonder how Brad DeLong would treat all of the others as well) is that he doesn’t even seem to have the least concept of pricing risk — which is one of the most basic concepts in econmics since somewhere in the early 19th century. DeLong would probably blow a gasket — which has a real economic value even if Brad never finds out and thus never blows a gasket, because economic systems take account of more outcomes than those that actually come to pass.

    The economic — as well as ethical — implications of this are left to the reader.

  76. cptdoom says

    This seems entirely wrong to me; in each case, there is a disputed property right — a dispute over who controls my computer, a dispute over who controls the wilderness, a dispute about who controls my body. To appeal to a “respect for property rights” solves nothing, since in each case the entire dispute is about what the property rights should be in the first place.

    Um, I’m sorry, is there really a doubt, outside the far-right anti-choice fringe, as to who controls my body? I control my damn body and any use of that body to which I don’t consent is a violation of my rights. According to Landsburg, medical experiments that are undetectable by the subject – say by putting something into the cafeteria food and seeing the result – are absolutely fine as long as there’s no harm to the subject.

  77. says

    rowanvt,

    Heddle. This was NOT just navel gazing.

    Do you understand what you quoted? This chowderhead is looking at this from the perspective of some sort of theoretical utilitarianism, not morality. It is reprehensible and complete nonsense, but it most certainly is navel gazing. In fact, it is nearly textbook, late-night dorm-room navel gazing.

    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This is like asking “well, if you lock people up for murder, why is it wrong to lock them up for criticizing the government?”

    Sure. It is exactly like that. Your analysis couldn’t be more spot on. *rolls eyes*.

    (Aren’t you supposed to be smart?)

    (Are you suppose to be? I mean, you do have a sarcasm tag in your name, I know that’s a sign.)

  78. frog says

    cptdoom: I, too, went immediately to medical concepts.

    So if someone is under anesthesia for surgery, and the doctor says, “Hey, as long as I’m in here, let’s harvest this spare kidney and give it to someone who needs it,” but never tells the patient, that’s okay? I mean, suppose he’s already on a low-sodium diet anyway, and doesn’t have a lifestyle that will stress his remaining kidney, and he’ll probably live his entire life just fine and never know he’s only got one kidney. No problem, right?

    I think we have a new candidate for Stupidest Person On Earth.

  79. rowanvt says

    Here is looking at it from a non-morality related issue.

    First- It sets a poor precedent for violation of bodily autonomy. There is, after all, no measurable lasting harm from say, donating part of your liver. And so therefore forced donation is fine.
    Second- It injures societal cohesion. Knowing that any individual might choose to drug and rape me would injure my chances of finding/making friends and a life partner should I so choose due to the level of caution required to prevent being raped.
    Third- It would cause incredible emotional distress to know that some person might choose to drug and rape me.
    Fourth- It would cause incredible emotional distress to wake up from an abnormal period of unconsciousness and thereby know that I might have just been raped.
    Fifth- It would have financial costs as I would go to the hospital after any such abnormal period of unconsciousness to be tested for DNA from a rapist.

    That he can’t figure out those points makes him scary.

    Also, an individual who is willing to rape an unconscious person is probably going to be okay with raping a conscious person as well.

  80. frog says

    Or lobotomy! I mean, if you do a really good job of brain-damage, the person will have no memory of ever having been different, right? If you really do it right, they won’t even know what’s going on around them in the present, never mind the past. No harm, right?

    And death! There you go, the ultimate no-harm-no-foul crime! You kill someone quick and painless, it’s not as if they know it happened. Poof, they’re gone, their consciousness gone, and never will they be bothered by the fact that once upon a time they were alive.

    (Even if one posits an afterlife. They’re in heaven! Hooray! They’re better off than they were in life! Okay, I guess if they go to hell that’s a downer.)

  81. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    In fact, it is nearly textbook, late-night dorm-room navel gazing.

    Navel gazing is not a defense against enabling and trivializing rape and creating a hostile environment. What is WRONG with you?

  82. says

    caseloweraz @ #64:

    According to Wikipedia: “As a self-described ‘hardcore libertarian’, Landsburg emphasizes the importance of individual choice.”

    Unless you are an unconscious rape-ready woman or child, in which case you have no choice.

  83. doublereed says

    It’s not JUST navel gazing, though. Because it’s trivializing a very real rape, and trivializing rape in general.

  84. baal says

    Bee has me in #29 but not #30. Men and boys aren’t always mindless sheep to follow whatever BS happens to be spouted in front of them.

    ” something peculiarly sacred about the boundaries of our bodies”

    Um. Hell yes there is something special about my body. Also my room, my house, my relationship to my wife and much more besides that. If you don’t have right to my physical or mental stuff that I’ve already agreed to, GTFO. Does the professor really not mind if his neighbors were to do a walk through of his property when he was sleep so long as they don’t disturb his slumber or leave scuff marks on the carpet?

    I can’t imagine what would make you less free than someone using your body with out your consent.

  85. D. C. Sessions says

    I can’t imagine what would make you less free than someone using your body with out your consent.

    Maybe mucking around with your brain so that you can’t even know whether you can trust your memory?

    A few of the preceding comments have brushed up against the idea, but not really mentioned that there is a very distinct cost to living in a society that condones people taking unconsented liberties with my person any time I’m not likely to discover evidence of what they’ve done.

    This is partly because of the dilemma I would face: either take paranoid precautions against everyone else, or tacitly consent to being the object of someone else’s jollies while I’m helpless. Anyone remember the surgeon who decorated his patients’ swimsuit regions while they were under anaesthesia? What does that do to the relationship between other patients and other surgeons?

    The other part of it, of course, is living in a society which condones the violations and the behavioral changes that this invites in those who are encouraged to look at other people as targets of opportunity for their jollies. And, humans being what we are, some will always push the envelope. After all, if she’ll never know why bother with a condom? Maybe you don’t have to be all that careful to not rough her up, eh? What’s the harm in taking some videos so you can relive the good times, and maybe share them with some of your discrete buddies?

    There’s no such thing as “risk free.”

  86. says

    By Landsburg’s reasoning attempted murder isn’t a crime if you don’t know someone tried to murder you. Somehow I doubt he’d find that an acceptable argument.

  87. Michael Heath says

    WMDKitty — Survivor:

    Jeebus, Heddle, shut the fuck up!

    You don’t own this blog, Ed does. Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it. Personally I’m benefiting from considering heddle’s points and those who disagree with him. That’s because I can handle arguments I reject or find wanting; we should be seeking out arguments which challenge our position, at a minimum to merely test our position.

    And I should be clear here, my rebuttal here has nothing to do with what the prof Ed’s blogs about stated but instead the debate going on in this comment post thread.

  88. rowanvt says

    Michael Heath, reworded-

    Person A: “Women should just be property. So should non-whites.”

    MH: “What an interesting position. Let me ponder this and consider if it has merit.”

    Normal person: “WTF, no. No human should be the property of another human.”

    MH: “How rude! You should want to hear this stuff!”

    Dear Michael,

    Free speech means the other person can make the statements. It does not mean we can’t call it stupid, inane, pointless, degrading, nor indicate that the point of view is entirely unwelcome.

  89. says

    This guy sounds like a total douchebag. If he wanted to examine the ethics of an undiscoverable crime, I could easily come up with a better way of doing this. One that doesn’t needlessly involve trivializing a real life rape case. I seriously just came up with this off the top of my head, so this guy’s got no excuse.

    I’m adapting this from an example I read from (I think) Dan Dennett a few years ago. He actually used it as a reductio ad absurdum on the behaviorists’ rejection of mentalistic terms in psychology. But it seems to me that it could easily be adjusted as a reductio on utilitarian ethics.

    (Note: It seems that many people in this thread don’t know what utilitarianism is. In a nutshell, it’s a 19th century ethical theory which held that “good” means whatever maximizes people’s happiness/well being. That makes it a consequentialist ethics, since good or bad is decided based on the actions outcome, rather than the intent of the actor. It’s controversial, and for good reason.)

    So imagine we have a few things:

    A torturer, who gains psychological pleasure from harming others.
    A torture method which inflicts great pain without leaving any visible marks or permanent damage.
    A drug which both (a) incapacitates a person for one hour while leaving them fully conscious and with all their sensations in tact, and (b) after the hour has passed erases all memory of the experiences of that hour from the subject’s memory.
    A victim whom the torturer wishes to torture.

    So torturer drugs victim and inflicts torture method on him/her for one hour. Victim screams in agony, and torturer is pleased by this. After one hour, victim falls asleep, then wakes up with absolutely no memory of what happened, and no visible wounds or permanent injuries. He/she thinks he/she just woke up from a typical nap. Torturer leaves and never mentions this event to anyone, and there were no recording devices around.

    If someone saw this happening, then of course they would call it a crime. However, if we are using utilitarian ethics, and suppose that the only person who witnessed this was the torturer, whose happiness/well being was increased by it, then from that perspective we have no basis on which to say he did anything wrong. He gained happiness, the victim neither lost nor gained happiness (having no memory or bodily damage to speak of), so there’s a net gain in happiness.

    I think it shows pretty clearly that utilitarianism is not a good way to look at ethics. Most people would say that the torturer did something wrong in this case despite the net gain in happiness, which would mean we must reject utilitarianism and adopt some other form of ethics.

    There. That gives us our undiscoverable crime quandary (and, I think, an obvious resolution to it) without having to refer to any real life events that are actually painful for many people. It’s not that fucking hard to do, unless you’re a complete asshole, which Landsburg apparently is.

  90. says

    rowanvt

    Person A: “Women should just be property. So should non-whites.”/

    MH: “What an interesting position. Let me ponder this and consider if it has merit.”/

    I’ll try one more time–then give up, because I think you are not worth my time.

    No. I didn’t ever, even once, even remotely, defend the professor’s point of view. I find it reprehensible. But I also find it reprehensible (and pathetic) that the response would be to notify his employer.

    Nor did Michael Heath argue that the professor’s opinion was interesting, or that someone defending the professor’s opinion was interesting. (Trivially so, since nobody is defending the professor.) Michael was arguing, I believe, that the question over the proper response to the professor’s opinion is interesting. At least that it what I read.

    Your analogy fails.

  91. says

    Sorry for the html fail. Try again:

    rowanvt

    Person A: “Women should just be property. So should non-whites.”

    MH: “What an interesting position. Let me ponder this and consider if it has merit.”

    I’ll try one more time–then give up, because I think you are not worth my time.

    No. I didn’t ever, even once, even remotely, defend the professor’s point of view. I find it reprehensible. But I also find it reprehensible (and pathetic) that the response would be to notify his employer.

    Nor did Michael Heath argue that the professor’s opinion was interesting, or that someone defending the professor’s opinion was interesting. (Trivially so, since nobody is defending the professor.) Michael was arguing, I believe, that the question over the proper response to the professor’s opinion is interesting. At least that it what I read.

    Your analogy fails.

  92. Michael Heath says

    Me @ 92:

    I should be clear here, my rebuttal here [of WMD Kitty telling heddle to shut up] has nothing to do with what the prof Ed’s blogs about stated but instead the debate going on in this comment post thread.

    rowanvt @ 93:

    Michael Heath, reworded-

    Person A: “Women should just be property. So should non-whites.”

    Wow. What’s your excuse for lying about what I actually wrote? Is it delusion, idiocy, or are you merely a liar? Perhaps you possess another attribute I missed that’s the actual cause for your defaming me; it certainly isn’t intelligence, integrity, insight, humanism, or honesty.

  93. says

    FFS
    Free Speech is:
    the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

    Free Speech is not:
    the right of anyone to spout rubbish without being told to STFU by others.
    .
    And now that I’m reading it: the *good* prof. landsend may well be up against “incitement to violence”. Inviting people to discuss whether the law *should discourage* (let alone forbid or punish) a violent crime, and saying one cannot find any arguments for that position is sailing pretty close to the wind.
    Certainly if a rape victim chooses to sue the University of R. for fostering rape-culture, they have ammunition now. Particularly, if they were drugged first.

  94. Michael Heath says

    Wes writes:

    However, if we are using utilitarian ethics, and suppose that the only person who witnessed this was the torturer, whose happiness/well being was increased by it, then from that perspective we have no basis on which to say he did anything wrong. He gained happiness, the victim neither lost nor gained happiness (having no memory or bodily damage to speak of), so there’s a net gain in happiness.

    I think it shows pretty clearly that utilitarianism is not a good way to look at ethics. Most people would say that the torturer did something wrong in this case despite the net gain in happiness, which would mean we must reject utilitarianism and adopt some other form of ethics.

    Do the defenders of utilitarian ethics accept your framing here? It appears to me you’ve created a giant and ludicrous strawman. In fact your argument here appears equivalent to the wingnut prof absurdly claiming a rapist could rape someone with no harm coming to the victim. But I’m not well-versed in philosophy so perhaps the utilitarians concede this is a weakness of their approach; currently your description of utilitarians appears more in line with how a Christianist describes atheism.

  95. rowanvt says

    Michael, you are the MH in my dialogue, not person A FFS. I thought you would at least be able to recognise your own initials. I mean, come on, even *Heddle* figured that one out.

    Heddle: Michael argued that telling someone whose opinion we find to be reprensible to shut up is not the correct way to do things. He wrote out that we should seek out that opinion to strengthen our own by considering it.

    That’s because I can handle arguments I reject or find wanting; we should be seeking out arguments which challenge our position, at a minimum to merely test our position.

    Our position is that rape, and advocating rape, is wrong. Even navel gazing that rape is not wrong if the victim is unaware is also wrong. I even pointed out for you *5* reasons, devoid of moral judgement, why it is wrong. Informing an employer that an individual who works as an instructor that this individual is positing that he can find no reason why rape if the victim doesn’t know should be punished is a protective action for the individuals who must come in contact with him.

    I ask again, are you saying I should NOT have reported the psychologist who made several sexist statements to me?

  96. rowanvt says

    Do the defenders of utilitarian ethics accept your framing here? It appears to me you’ve created a giant and ludicrous strawman.

    Is it any more giant or ludicrous than the idea of a woman being deeply unconscious, not waking up, no transmission of disease, no getting pregnant, and having a particularly gentle rape? Look at all the utterly ridiculous qualifiers needed for this farcical thing.

  97. Michael Heath says

    WMDKitty writes:

    Jeebus, Heddle, shut the fuck up!

    I respond:

    You don’t own this blog, Ed does. Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    Delft writes:

    Free Speech is:
    the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

    No shit Sherlock. But guess what, there’s a reason authentic speech advocates support free speech beyond mere protection in the public square. That’s because we see value in speech; so much so we want it to both flourish and have expansive protections of such from the government. Of course our ability to exercise this right in private venues can be justly limited – I pointed out in the very comment post you criticize that Ed has the moral and effective power in this venue to execute such limitations since it’s his blog.

    But even beyond public speech, we should still weigh the limits on speech to some standard to understand whether such suppression is helpful or harmful to increasing our collective understanding. And if it’s harmful, it’s perfectly reasonable to call such suppression tactics out and describe what it is, which is an anti-speech tactic seeking to stifle debate.

    In this case I pointed out exactly why WMDKitty’s speech-suppression advocacy is wrong to such a standard:

    Personally I’m benefiting from considering heddle’s points and those who disagree with him. That’s because I can handle arguments I reject or find wanting; we should be seeking out arguments which challenge our position, at a minimum to merely test our position.

  98. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    You don’t own this blog, Ed does. Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it. Personally I’m benefiting from considering heddle’s points and those who disagree with him. That’s because I can handle arguments I reject or find wanting; we should be seeking out arguments which challenge our position, at a minimum to merely test our position.

    Michael Heath, please do a Google search for “PTSD 101″ and stop being a condesplaining privileged little shit, thanks.

    Also, “shut the fuck up” is an expression of disapproval. Expression of disapproval and even the explicit message that certain kinds of speech are unwelcome are not incompatible with freedom of speech. Free speech means accepting the social consequences of speaking. You’re smarter than that.

  99. Michael Heath says

    rowanvt writes:

    Michael, you are the MH in my dialogue, not person A FFS. I thought you would at least be able to recognise your own initials.

    I got that. I’m objecting to you imagining what I think rather than taking on what I actually wrote. I do understand why you think I got confused on who I was in your imagination because my copy paste of your imagined dialog got inadvertently cut-off after “Person A”. However, I was not thinking what you imagine and attribute to “MH”, which is perfectly illustrative on why it’s bad form to misconstrue what people write (your admitted “re-wording” of what I wrote) and then take that on rather than what they actually write.

    As someone who once had responsibility for the speech coming out of hundreds of business professionals across many countries and cultures who were representing our company to others in our supply chain; I’m interested in hearing arguments on where to check the speech of professors given the different environment and objectives of a private business vs. a university. So here I was happy to hear multiple arguments in order to put myself in the shoes of adminstrators with authority over the prof.

    In the business world such rhetoric would have the prof get axed pronto; without a second thought. However I appreciate the differences between a business environment and a university environment enough to presume I can’t reactively apply my own instincts in a different context and yield a wise decision. To quickly react based on my past experiences would be a perfect example of the Dunning-Krueger effect. Instead I’ll consider the arguments of someone with experience in the university environment test why I shouldn’t come down just as hard on this yahoo prof as I would if I were still in the corporate world.

  100. Michael Heath says

    Azkyroth writes:

    Also, “shut the fuck up” is an expression of disapproval. Expression of disapproval and even the explicit message that certain kinds of speech are unwelcome are not incompatible with freedom of speech. Free speech means accepting the social consequences of speaking. You’re smarter than that.

    Of course the phrase is an expression of disapproval; but that’s a strawman of what it is in this context. This phrase is also an explicit demand for somebody with an opposing viewpoint cease to speak on the matter. Too bad you’re not smart enough to realize that.

    Azkyroth writes:

    Michael Heath, please do a Google search for “PTSD 101″ and stop being a condesplaining privileged little shit, thanks.

    Please quote what I’ve written and then explain how I’m being “privileged”. You can assume I’m smart enough to understand the definition of the word. Please quote what I wrote and then explain how this has something to do with, “PTSD 101″. So far you’ve failed miserably to validate how what I write here has anything to do with either; in fact the volume of evidence you attempt to put forth stands at zero.

  101. Chaos Engineer says

    And he thinks that since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent as long as she’s unconscious? That’s not a provocative counter-factual example, it’s insane and dangerous.

    Ed, just exactly WHY is it “insane and dangerous”?

    Say, are you a Consciousness from Dimension X? I was just talking to one of those last week. It was asking questions like, “If suffering builds character, then why don’t you want me to drop a bowling ball on your foot?” and “I agree that your demonstration shows that 2+2=4 for those particular 4 pencils, but how do you know that it would work if you used 4 different pencils?” and “But why can’t causality work backwards in time?” I was really trying to be helpful, but I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining things.

    What I learned from this is that a lot of what we “know” is just based on our shared experience as human beings living in 3-dimensional space, and that it’s hard to communicate that knowledge to outsiders.

    Anyway, I understand your question to be: “Why is it insane and dangerous to say that there’s no meaningful moral difference between the act of raping an unconscious person and the act of turning on a streetlight next to an unconscious person, assuming that the person doesn’t wake up in either case?”

    I don’t think I can come up with an answer you’ll understand, and I don’t think anyone else can, either. This whole Universe is just arbitrary and confusing, and if I were an interdimensional traveler I wouldn’t waste my time here.

  102. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    This phrase is also an explicit demand for somebody with an opposing viewpoint cease to speak on the matter.

    In context, it is a demand from a woman that matters intimately related to her safety and well-being not be treated as an abstract intellectual exercise where any view can be tried on for size with no more lasting consequences than, say, deciding to order strawberry ice cream instead of chocolate one day, just for a lark. That should also explain what I mean by privilege.

    The adage that “one cannot demand calm reflect in the face of an upturned knife” is an ancient one. The fact that you don’t see the knife, don’t have to worry about it, is what I mean by “privilege.”

  103. says

    Free speech FREEZE PEACH advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    Fixed that for you, MH. Telling someone to shut up because their opinions are harmful is not the repression of free speech, it’s the exercise of free speech.

    You’re getting free speech mixed up with FREEZE PEACH, which is the right to have a platform provided for every single inane thing you can think of, and never be criticized for it nor experience any negative social consequences for your silly blatherings.

  104. leni says

    Chaos Engineer:

    Anyway, I understand your question to be: “Why is it insane and dangerous to say that there’s no meaningful moral difference between the act of raping an unconscious person and the act of turning on a streetlight next to an unconscious person, assuming that the person doesn’t wake up in either case?”

    I don’t think I can come up with an answer you’ll understand, and I don’t think anyone else can, either.

    I’ll give it a go.

    Informed consent. Raping an unconscious person is forcing them to accept a risk they haven’t agreed to. Nothing might happen. But something might. Who is the rapist to decide that risk is acceptable to the victim?

    This is also the reason we have warnings on labels. This is also the reason it is considered unethical to make test subjects of people without their consent, even if it benefits the victim and not just the person doing the test.

    Pretending that informed consent is inconsequential or superseded by pleasure is dangerous and insane because that is why some people thought- likely still do- that it is acceptable to to rape or perform tests on disabled people, children, people held against their will or otherwise unable to consent in a meaningful way.

    It’s essentially arguing that being asleep or unaware *is* consent to any risk, small as a few weak photons or as large as disease and pregnancy.

    This is the same thing as arguing that it is acceptable to inject people with drugs while they are asleep. Who are they to worry about dirty needles or bad reactions or overdoses or potential psychological fallout of being experimented on! They’re sleeping it’s a free for all woooooooooooooot!!!!

    Damn I bet there are so many drug companies (and rapists) out there who wish this shit was true.

  105. says

    Do the defenders of utilitarian ethics accept your framing here? It appears to me you’ve created a giant and ludicrous strawman. In fact your argument here appears equivalent to the wingnut prof absurdly claiming a rapist could rape someone with no harm coming to the victim. But I’m not well-versed in philosophy so perhaps the utilitarians concede this is a weakness of their approach; currently your description of utilitarians appears more in line with how a Christianist describes atheism.

    It’s not a strawman. It’s a reductio ad absurdum. Maybe not a good one, but I’m really not trying to put words in utilitarian mouths. A reductio is an argument which takes a certain premise and shows that some logical consequence of that premise contradicts some other accepted premise, then concludes by rejecting the former premise. It’s common in ethics to provide an argument along the lines of “Do you think that such-and-such is immoral? Well, the ethical system you describe leads logically to it being moral, so your system should be rejected.”

    One common example is a counterargument to Kant’s categorical imperative, a consequence of which is that it is ALWAYS immoral to lie. People often counter by providing some scenario where lying would save someone’s life. Most of us think that a lesser evil (e.g. lying) is preferable to a greater evil (e.g. death), so we should lie if it saves someone’s life. But the categorical imperative seems to say that it’s even wrong in that situation. The conclusion these critics reach is that for this reason we should reject the categorical imperative.

    Utilitarianism is indeed actually consequentialist–the moral value of an action, by the utilitarian standard, is determined by the outcome of the action. And the standard by which outcomes are measured by utilitarians is net happiness. Anything which maximizes the happiness of society is said to be good. That’s utilitarianism. It’s basically the “Do no harm” school of ethics. And that’s why undiscoverable crimes are a problem for utilitarianism. They don’t reduce happiness, and yet they are still considered crimes.

    Now, I’m sure that there are utilitarians out there who would argue with me, and there are a lot of subtleties that I’m glossing over because this is a comment on a blog post and not a philosophy thesis. I could be wrong about all of this. But the way I see things, if you follow a purely utilitarian ethic, it is actually considered good, and a fortiori not wrong, to violate the body of another if A) you gain happiness from it and B) the crime is undiscoverable, and hence does not reduce anyone else’s happiness.

    Unlike Landsburg, though, I consider this to be an obvious reason why utilitarianism should be rejected. “Do no harm” isn’t sufficient, by itself, to be a basis for all ethical situations. We can’t have an ethical system where right and wrong is determined by whether or not you are seen doing it. Although the ending of Watchmen (the book, not the movie) does cause me to question this sometimes.

  106. Michael Heath says

    Azkyroth writes:

    Michael Heath, please do a Google search for “PTSD 101″ and stop being a condesplaining privileged little shit, thanks.

    I respond:

    Please quote what I’ve written and then explain how I’m being “privileged”. You can assume I’m smart enough to understand the definition of the word. Please quote what I wrote and then explain how this has something to do with, “PTSD 101″. So far you’ve failed miserably to validate how what I write here has anything to do with either; in fact the volume of evidence you attempt to put forth stands at zero.

    Azkyroth writes:

    In context, it [WMDKitty’s “shut the fuck up”] is a demand from a woman that matters intimately related to her safety and well-being not be treated as an abstract intellectual exercise where any view can be tried on for size with no more lasting consequences than, say, deciding to order strawberry ice cream instead of chocolate one day, just for a lark. That should also explain what I mean by privilege.

    The adage that “one cannot demand calm reflect in the face of an upturned knife” is an ancient one. The fact that you don’t see the knife, don’t have to worry about it, is what I mean by “privilege.”

    So you can’t quote anything that I’ve written to validate my acting like a, “privileged little shit”. Instead you conjure up a fantasy; i.e., that WMDKitty’s safety is at stake in this comment post thread. And in spite of this being an imagined fantasy of yours, you still fail to present anything that I wrote that aggravates even this false imagined threat and demonstrates it comes from the perspective of privilege – classy and stupid.

  107. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    SallyStrange joins the gang who can’t make an argument on what people write, so they conjure up their own fantasized strawman to go after, where she quotes me as follows:

    Free speech FREEZE PEACH advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    SallyStrange then takes on her strawman:

    Fixed that for you, MH.

    Well no, you didn’t “fix that”; what I wrote works perfectly for those of us who actually endorse speech beyond our being told to by our tradition or the government, but instead because we actually and I think correctly perceive the value of free speech.

    SallyStrange writes:

    Telling someone to shut up because their opinions are harmful is not the repression of free speech, it’s the exercise of free speech.

    I never claimed that WMDKitty’s speech wasn’t the exercise of her free speech rights, that’s another false strawman you knock down; I did point out that only Ed has the authority to actually supress speech in this venue. And contrary to your false claim, WMDKitty’s demand of heddle is a perfect illustration of someone attempting to suppress speech. I’ll repeat what KittyWMD wrote:

    Jeebus, Heddle, shut the fuck up!

    SallyStrange writes more:

    You’re getting free speech mixed up with FREEZE PEACH, which is the right to have a platform provided for every single inane thing you can think of, and never be criticized for it nor experience any negative social consequences for your silly blatherings.

    This is simply incoherent. I’m not getting the advocacy of speech, “mixed up”, with whatever compels you to go wingnut to the point of going all caps about a fruit. Instead I’m pointing out there is a reason we demand our government defend our speech in the public square, where that reason justifies the value in speech beyond where the government has obligation to defend it.

  108. Michael Heath says

    Wes writes:

    Utilitarianism is indeed actually consequentialist–the moral value of an action, by the utilitarian standard, is determined by the outcome of the action. And the standard by which outcomes are measured by utilitarians is net happiness. Anything which maximizes the happiness of society is said to be good. That’s utilitarianism.

    Well, the one book I read on the topic, Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape never made the case that the net benefit of the population always justifies the suffering of a handful. His argument maintained the American ideal that the tyranny of many, even for the collective net benefit, is not necessarily justification to cause harm to the individual. Especially if the suffering caused to them is not consented to by the victim.

    Wes:

    I could be wrong about all of this. But the way I see things, if you follow a purely utilitarian ethic, it is actually considered good, and a fortiori not wrong, to violate the body of another if A) you gain happiness from it and B) the crime is undiscoverable, and hence does not reduce anyone else’s happiness.

    And this is why I see your argument as a strawman and not just an reductio ad absurdum; because it oversimplifies reality in order to claim no harm was done. Consider torture and assume that the Bush Administration’s use of it actually led to a net number of saved lives in the 2000s (it didn’t, it led to horrendous results). I would argue such an argument is fallacious if they don’t consider the pervasive impact beyond the Bush Administration’s use of it which would extend beyond what the U.S. government does and even to how people interact with each other. More parents grilling their kids would lead to far more abuse, justified by the government’s example and their needing to condone such to remain a loyal partisan.

    And I realize you created an idealized scenario where no harm was created; I’d argue this is not our reality. That when people do objectively bad things, like mistreat people without their consent (and sometimes even with their consent); than that is objectively immoral. And that is an objective utilitarian moral framework. So I can’t relate what I’ve studied on the subject to your description of it; from my limited perspective utilitarians reject the behavior you claim they promote.

  109. Michael Heath says

    Me to Wes earlier:

    And I realize you created an idealized scenario where no harm was created; I’d argue this is not our reality. That when people do objectively bad things, like mistreat people without their consent (and sometimes even with their consent); than that is objectively immoral. And that is an objective utilitarian moral framework. So I can’t relate what I’ve studied on the subject to your description of it; from my limited perspective utilitarians reject the behavior you claim they promote.

    The previous paragraph to the one I quote here alluded to the damage we collectively suffer because abusing others extends beyond the act, even if the victim is not conscious they’ve been abused. However the above paragraph I repeated here risks being a circular argument without keeping that allusion in mind. So to be clear, I don’t think its feasible to abuse another in a way where there is no harm. The abuser is changed by the act, for the worse and that will have a ripple effect through society.

    I also can’t perceive cases where an abuser enjoying themselves by abusing an un-consenting victim who doesn’t directly suffer remains the entire framework for the act. The framework is far wider than that.

    I’m also skeptical such so-called victimless cases can occur to the point it’s worth even considering when arguing for the application of certain moral imperatives over others. At best it’s an outlier result whose numbers approach zero whereas we know we have a whole lot of abuse out there that requires us to consider how to respond better.

    I find appealing the application of a utilitarian and objective moral framework that uses science to minimize human suffering and protect the environment. And I don’t see this framework argued as a simplistic net benefit to the population approach. Instead I think we can do nuance by simultaneously considering the population and the individual. Especially since how well we treat individuals does have an impact on how the population treats the many. A good example is how capital punishment coarsens our culture and actually promotes violence as a viable reaction.

  110. says

    Michael Heath,

    I started writing you a response, but it was getting really long. Also, I’m drunk and sleepy. You’re not necessarily wrong about what you’re saying, but you misunderstood me on a few points. Unfortunately, explaining everything would turn into a thread-hijack about utilitarianism and the role of thought experiments in philosophy, which I really don’t want to do. So since I’m bleary eyed, disagree with you mostly on rather technical point rather than in substance, and don’t want to hijack the thread by going on and on about a tangentially related subject, I deleted the response. I could write you a (long) response at my own blog tomorrow if you want to continue the conversation. But I don’t think it’s worth it to continue the debate here when we’re only in partial disagreement and continuing it would take us way off topic.

  111. says

    Fascinating arguments.

    The guy’s a fucking asshole. Telling his employers he’s a fucking asshole would appear to be unnecessary, since at least the date of this:

    http://www.rochester.edu/president/memos/2012/landsburg.html

    Then, there’s this, too:

    http://www.rochester.edu/pr/Review/V60N3/feature5.html

    The guy’s an attention whore like that dickhead at Florida Atlantic who said that the Sandy Hook massacere didn’t happen as the government and media said it did.

  112. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    So you can’t quote anything that I’ve written to validate my acting like a, “privileged little shit”. Instead you conjure up a fantasy; i.e., that WMDKitty’s safety is at stake in this comment post thread. And in spite of this being an imagined fantasy of yours, you still fail to present anything that I wrote that aggravates even this false imagined threat and demonstrates it comes from the perspective of privilege – classy and stupid.

    You are deliberately distorting my words and ignoring the very real harm your behavior and behavior like yours does.

    I already quoted what I initially felt demonstrated you being a privileged little shit and I explained why. To that, I might add “everything you said subsequently in this thread.” I did not conjure up any “fantasy,” I observed the FACT rape may be an intellectual game to you but it is a matter of safety to women, who suffer it with some frequency. It is particular a matter of safety and well-being to survivors of rape and abuse (the word “SURVIVOR” is noteworthy here), who are generally traumatized by the experience.

    To a person with psychological trauma, a trauma trigger is inherently an “upturned knife.” Casual, trivializing, “what if” discussion of rape is a frequent trigger. You are doing harm by engaging in it. The fact that YOU can afford to ignore that “knife” and have the luxury of pretending it’s a “fantasy” because it doesn’t affect YOU, being neither subject to rape nor to triggering (nor, apparently, to basic human empathy) is what I am referring to by privilege. I’ve been more than clear about this. I will not jump through the hoop of going back and fetching trees for you to miss the forest for. I have been more than clear.

  113. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    116 comments! Did somebody bring up Israel or the Civil War?

    I guess the “rape lol” vs. “RAPE IS EVIL” thing could kind of be described as a Civil War.

  114. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I find appealing the application of a utilitarian and objective moral framework that uses science to minimize human suffering

    As long as it doesn’t require you to consider the harm done by trivializing rape and triggering survivors.

  115. martinc says

    Well, here I go putting my head on the chopping block again.

    I agree with Michael Heath. You might disagree with what heddle said, so go ahead: disagree! But saying “heddle, shut the fuck up” is not disagreeing, it actively serves to prevent heddle contributing to the conversation. I recognize that heddle has a long history on this blog that I am not familiar with, and clearly he (sorry, gender unknown: I am going to make an unjustified assumption and use male pronouns) has got on the wrong side of a bunch of people in the past, but I can’t see any justification for the reactions his comments triggered in this topic alone.

    heddle did not endorse the professor’s opinions and at 59 clearly opposes them (“an idiotic opinion”). He simply says that writing to the professor’s employer is an over-reaction. You may agree or disagree with him, but there is a big difference between disagreeing and indulging in the kind of vituperative sprays his comment produced, which have a clear tendency to discourage him (and others) from posting. The worst thing would be if these sprays are actually successful, and eventually once it is clear that making a post disagreeing with others results in a tirade of abuse, no-one will disagree at all, and we will all comment in exactly the same way on every topic and all agree with each other, and congratulate each other on agreeing. Just like the comments at FreeRepublic.

    Michael Heath brought up the fact that the Culture Wars blog has gone downhill recently in this respect and I agreed with him then as I do now. We seem to be losing the ability to say “I disagree with you” without extending it to “fuck you and the horse you rode in on”. I have read Culture Wars over the last few years because of the general intelligence of the commentaries, not because I happen to agree with all of the opinions expressed.

    rowanvt @ 57 claims “silence implies consent”. There are many times when we see something we disagree with and fail to take action. Is it really beholden on all of us to take action whenever we disagree with something? Even when hundreds of others have already taken that action, and we would just be a “me too”? I’m reminded of that XKCD cartoon where the guy can’t leave his computer to eat dinner, because as he apologetically explains to his partner “Someone on the internet is wrong!“. I disagree with Professor Landsburg, but I won’t be dictating a stern missive to his employer. Call it laziness if you like; but that just seems an over-reaction when his blog has already attracted hundreds of statements saying all I might say and more.

    And Azkyroth @ 103 characterizing “shut the fuck up” as an amorphous “expression of disapproval” rather than an imperative-voice instruction to cease commenting seems disingenuous to say the least.

    OK, finished. You can all tell me to shut the fuck up now.

  116. rowanvt says

    @ MartinC-

    That attitude is how people can hear someone screaming for help and not call 911. “Oh, someone else is calling.” That attitude is how people can witness a rape and do nothing. I think it IS beholden on all of us to point out things that are actively harmful, such as saying that as long as the rapist enjoyed it and the victim doesn’t remember it, than rape is a-ok.

    I have pointed out to clients that feeding their cat a vegetarian diet will kill it. I have pointed out to clients that hitting or choking their dog in front of me is unacceptable. I pointed out (to the staff) that my psychologists comments about my “big girl test” (referring to my state board exam for my RVT license) was absolutely unprofessional and sexist. I called my ex-fiance on his statement that Christmas was also known as “Jews go to the movies Day”. I have called guildmates in WoW on their sexism. I have confronted people being rude to the baristas as the starbucks I go to because of their sexual orientation.

    It takes almost no time or real effort to go “This is absolutely not okay.” It is, in fact, the least that could be done.

  117. slc1 says

    Re martinc @ #121

    I agree with Michael Heath. You might disagree with what heddle said, so go ahead: disagree! But saying “heddle, shut the fuck up” is not disagreeing, it actively serves to prevent heddle contributing to the conversation. I recognize that heddle has a long history on this blog that I am not familiar with, and clearly he (sorry, gender unknown: I am going to make an unjustified assumption and use male pronouns) has got on the wrong side of a bunch of people in the past, but I can’t see any justification for the reactions his comments triggered in this topic alone.

    Just for the information of martinc, Prof. David Heddle is a professor of physics at Christopher Newport Un, in Newport News, Va., which is a branch of the Un. of Virginia. He is also serving as chairman of the mathematics department at that school. I would inform martinc that the good professor will gleefully ignore calls for him to STFU.

    Re rowanvt , Raging Bee, and Delft

    What Prof. Landsburg is apparently saying is that certain types of non-consensual sex are OK under the following circumstances: namely that the victim is unconscious, no physical harm is done, including transmittal of a sexual diseases, and/or pregnancy, and she is unaware of what happened when she wakes up. We might refer to this as the no harm, no foul theory. Clearly, the good professor is full of shit. Nobody who has commented on that, including Prof. Heddle, has defended what asshole Landsburg said.

    All that Heddle has opined is that he fails to see what the purpose of reporting Landsburg to the president of the university is. What is it that the persons advocating such reporting want the president to do about it? As democommie has pointed out @ #116, president Seligman is already well aware that his underling is a fuckken asshole, and I would be willing to bet that students at that school have informed the president of Landsburg’s latest musings.

    A little background is in order here. Prof. Landsburg is not the first faculty member in history to make provocative pronouncements. Consider the case of the late Stanford physics professor William Shockley, who wrote a number of articles proclaiming that Afro-Americans were mentally inferior to Caucasian Americans, which proclamations provoked widespread demands that he get the heave ho from Stanford. Consider also the case of Northwestern Un. engineering professor Arthur Butz, who proclaimed that the Holocaust never happened, which, unsurprisingly provoked widespread demands that he get the heave ho from Northwestern.

    As MH would put it, we have two competing rights here. The first is the right of tenured university faculty members to academic freedom. The second is the right of students taking courses from these folks to be assured that they will be treated by them in an unbiased manner. Clearly, Afro-American students at Stanford would have been, at the least, uncomfortable taking a course from Prof. Shockley, given his apparent racism. Also clearly, Jewish students at Northwestern would have been, at the least, uncomfortable taking a course from Prof. Butz, given his apparent antisemitism. Thus, we might reasonably infer that female students at Rochester would be, at the least, uncomfortable taking a course from Prof. Landsburg, given his apparent misogyny.

    Personal note: I was a graduate student at the Un. of Rochester and received my PhD at that school. As a graduate, I am not at all happy at the presence of a schmuck like Landsburg on the faculty.

  118. says

    Fuck Steven Landsburg.

    I mean, it’s just such an “interesting” philosophical question, isn’t it? When it can be safely a thought experiment free from that nasty real world data and we can continue to discount the real harm that things like rape cause.

    Let’s… “season” some of that philosophy, shall we?

    TRIGGER WARNINGS FROM HERE ON OUT!

    When I was raped, my rapist did no “physical harm” to me. At the time I was confused. Afterwards I sought to minimize the crime committed against me. These days I spend nearly every single night with intense rape flashbacks. The part of my skin where my rapist rubbed himself off (the outside of my left thigh) often will tingle and it’ll feel like he’s still there pressing against me unless I’m pressing it against the bed or the couch to silence it. Once when my other partner was just cuddling me there, wrapping around there because cuddles feel good, I had a hard time not drifting back and had to constantly remind myself that she was not him and that I had consented to this touch. When dealing with other shit in my life, it increases my anxiety, my stress, the number of hours of my day lost in hellish trigger-space. All because some piece of shit felt entitled to use me like his personal Tenga egg to increase “his pleasure”. I’m sure he justified it the same way that Dr. A-hole did. Hey, he didn’t do any “real harm”, so what’s the harm?

    Not enough? Hey, let’s talk about my other partner. So she was raped at a frat party, held down, stripped, and fondled without her consent in a room full of people who did absolutely nothing. But hey, no permanent harm done, right? Hell, she’ll even say that there were no bad effects from that night. Except, hey, strangest thing, ever since she’s been having a really hard time communicating where she’s at sexually and feeling safe and allowed to explore her full sexual desires. Also, she gets this weird thing where when she gets too sexually excited, it starts to feel really triggering and unsafe and she can’t keep enjoying it. Also, she can’t feel comfortable taking off her shirt or being touched anywhere other than her back. Such a short, “no harm” action, actively discounted by the victim as being a big deal carries all that direct harm to her ability to enjoy a sex life far and away from her rapist, with people who weren’t even there at the time. She’s filled with odd depression, a disconnect from former friends, and a fucked up libido, but hey, it’s not like she had any bruises so what’s the “utilitarian harm”, right?

    Oh, you’re right, still not enough. Let’s talk my partner. She was raped multiple times by multiple romantic partners. One partner cornered her at a party after she repeatedly said no and shoved his hands down her pants and started putting his fingers inside her. Another partner tried to insert his cock in her ass while she was sleeping because quote-unquote “she wouldn’t let him do it while she was awake”. But hey, it’s not like there were any bruises or marks or… whoops, turns out she carried massive rape flashbacks, a severe reduction in the range of sexual explorations she could allow herself to have, massive self-blame, even guilt-induced rewrites of her own lived experiences (thank Bob she actually related what did happen to a friend before her rapist convinced her to blame herself to protect him) which caused all manner of existential crises. Not to mention all manner of triggers and reductions of an ability to truly enjoy and explore sexual activities with other partners. For instance, she has a really sensitive butt and physically enjoys a lot of activities around it. But anal insertion of anything is right out, because even though it feels good initially for her, the triggers of Captain Shoveitin quickly become overpowering. Same on most insertions in the front, unconscious triggers quickly shutting it down. Beyond that, feeling safe to explore desires she had regarding submission, domination, and so on took years longer than it could because of this string of rapist boyfriends. But hey, neither of them did any real lasting “physical” harm, so what’s the deal?

    The deal is that this is but a fraction of the harms committed. When a rapist removes the agency in their target, uses their body for their own gratification with no consideration of consent, it comes with considerable harm. Even if, “thought experiment” style, they’re passed out. Even if, “thought experiment” style, they don’t realize at the time its wrong. Even if, “thought experiment” style, the victim themselves actively seeks to minimize the harm.

    The harm was still committed and psychologically it is immense and long-lasting.

    For a small increase in a very specific form of pleasure in the rapist (the joy of abusing another human being), the victim carries long-lasting scars, has their ability to enjoy life severely curtailed, and has to suffer the truly alienating experience of having one’s personal body boundaries violated in the cruelest ways, because victims of this one particular crime are so often dismissed as “unimportant” to the “consideration”.

    Indeed, those inclined to a particularly useless form of “philosophy” would prefer to discount or minimize these real harms in favor of a thought experiment where they don’t exist or are somehow less important because “the exchange of ideas” and other such bullshit.

    And rape victims, like always, are expected to quietly internalize the harm they’ve suffered and minimize it publicly for the rest of us, so that it starts to be close to every woman. Indeed, in my little poly V, off in my little corner of the universe, 3 out of 3 of us have been raped. The number of rapes exceeds the number of us. All of us have minimized our rapes. All of us tried to deny the harm done to us to try and regain some sense of agency. At least two of us have blamed ourselves at one point or another to regain some sense of agency. All of us are considered moot and meaningless to the “just trying to be utilitarian” calculus of rape apologetics.

    If that little dose of real humanity does harm to anyone’s precious “thought experiments” on this subject…

    Good.

    Oh P.S.?

    It always affects the victim. Mr. Rapist might think he got away scott free, but the body has a way of remembering what’s been done to it. The victim might find themselves finding a part of their body suddenly triggering. Certain actions suddenly terrifying. A lingering feeling of horror and dread. And it’s all the worse for not having a source to put to it.

    Try and imagine that, having a bodypart be suddenly a source of terror and fear, sexual interactions royally fucked up, all because some abusive douchenozzle wanted to get his “no harm” “fun”. Imagine that is you. Now for extra fucked upness, imagine you’re in the wrong body, stuck in the wrong sex, and that body part is something you have been trying very hard not to think about at all.

    Now think about exactly what you’ve been trying to argue by playing on the raggedy edge of your precious “thought experiments” on “harm”.

    Yeah, exactly. It should sting.

  119. =8)-DX says

    Just to echo:

    @6 Porn has a potential to cause harm independent of this or that individual’s feelings about it (i.e., if it’s widely accessible to minors

    @79 Is there any actual evidence that accessing porn harms minors? I certainly never noticed.

    I am very deeply sceptical about this. Porn may cause harm to children if they are forced to watch it, just as forcing any kind of sexual behaviour or situation on a child can be harmful (and should be assumed to be such). Otherwise children surfing online or accidentally playing the wrong video tape (I mean DVD) will either be uninterested (and grossed out) by porn or at worst get some unhealthy ideas of sex and human sexuality – which it is up to the parents to correct by providing proper information/ answers to questions about sex and the porn/erotica any child will eventually come in contact with.
    The key there is consent and information. Porn already is widely accessible to just about anyone with an internet connection. This gets a bit personal for me, since I have a daughter who occassionally browses online (but in a tightly controlled environment). I’ve been thinking this over and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that there’s really no reason not to provide her with a computer of her own in the near future and deal with any problems with whatever she finds online as they come. I’m more worried about what the videos of bloody motor accidents and animal vivisection might do, than things like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisting .

  120. says

    Michael,

    You probably know that the oh-so-clever FREEZE PEACH is a Pharyguloidal designation for “Oh we believe in free speech, sorta kinda, until we don’t, and when you cross our threshold we won’t be rational about it, rather we’ll accuse you of supporting the positions you might actually loathe but are merely holding your nose and supporting the right of someone to express them.” That’s “Freeze Peach.” The ACLU in Skokie was defending FREEZE PEACH.

    You are respected enough that if you were making these comments on Pharyngula you might be in for one of their Pharyguloidal wildings. Witness the recent incident of EleenBeth Wachs, apparently well known and credentialed member of the in-crowd (I admit I never heard of her until someone sent me the link) who merely disagreed with the very public manner in which a sexist joke was reported. She didn’t side with the men making the joke. She agreed that it should have been reported to the conference organizers. She only suggested that the manner it was reported was over-the-top. She writes about the ensuing wilding from the Pharyguloids.

  121. says

    I agree with Michael Heath. You might disagree with what heddle said, so go ahead: disagree! But saying “heddle, shut the fuck up” is not disagreeing, it actively serves to prevent heddle contributing to the conversation.

    How?
    Seriously, how.
    How does telling Heddle to stfu actually acitively serve to prevent him from participating?
    I admit it clearly disencourages his participation, which would be a good thing, but it most certainly doesn’t actively prevent him from contributing*

    *I’m using that word in a broad sense where “harming people via triggering them” is included.

    Trigger warning
    So, let’s say there’s this primary school teacher. And on his blog he writes that it is totally OK to produce child pornography by placing hidden cameras in the locker rooms. As long as the children never know there#s no harm done and the pedophile has a net benefit! And even more, you can even argue that this might prevent a pedophile from using unwilling children to produce child pornography!**
    So, according to the good professor, that would be right and ethical.
    And according to heddle it would be cowardly to inform the school that they have a teacher who fantasizes about making child-pornography….
    **As if

  122. mildlymagnificent says

    Is it any more giant or ludicrous than the idea of a woman being deeply unconscious, not waking up, no transmission of disease, no getting pregnant, and having a particularly gentle rape? Look at all the utterly ridiculous qualifiers needed for this farcical thing.

    I presume this prof has, or had, parents, even children. America’s a big enough country that I’m sure he’s come across reports of staff in nursing homes for the aged or sheltered accommodation for profoundly disabled younger people sexually molesting or raping one or more residents. Most of the individual victims have little to no capacity to comprehend what happened at the time and even less ability to tell others about it later.

    The near universal revulsion at this kind of violation of the helpless by people they and their families should be able to trust is a pretty good indication that, in the most extreme version of the prof’s ‘hypothetical’, his construct of no harm, no foul is completely out of alignment with normal attitudes. The common reluctance of individuals and families to admit themselves or their frail or dementing spouse or parent to such accommodation would be multiplied manyfold if his warped notion was accepted generally as a fact of life.

    Would he admit an adult child suffering brain injury after an accident or his dementia-suffering parent or partner to such an accommodation facility if the management or staff indicated that they had such an attitude to the people in their care? Surely even he would balk at a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to sexual violation of his own relatives.

    And that really is where his nonsensical blathering leads him. If he can’t see that then he’s even more dopey than he already seems.

  123. says

    Giliell, professional cynic

    All you have is reductio ad absurdum. All you have is a variant of “fire” in the crowded theater.

    FFS there is a world of difference between your scenario and the actual scenario. Protecting children from child pornographers is not the same as protecting college students from bad ideas. The former should be dealt with by the police. The latter should dealt with by rebuttal.

    Maybe a convincing argument will be made that Landsburg should be reported to the administration. It won’t be the one you just presented.

  124. says

    So, let’s do another thought experiment.

    If somebody was to walk up to Steven Landsburg, put a gun to Landsburg’s head and pull the trigger spraying whatever brains Landsburg had in his cranium all over the landscape and then disposed of his body in such a way that it could not be found would that then be “utilitarian”? I mean the happiness level of the shooter and those offended by Landsburg’s misogynistic musings would undobubtedly rise if Landsburg simply disappeared and Landsburg, being dead would never know that he was, y’know, dead. So, where’s the harm. Hey, I’m JUST asking the question.

    I think that I would prolly write directly to Professor Douchenozzle and see if he’s a tonedeaf prick or just a prick. Depending on the outcome of that exercise and my mood of the moment I might consider telling his boss that Professor Douchenozzle was a douchenozzle. In this case the administration already knows so there is no “utilitarian” reason to do so.

  125. says

    FFS there is a world of difference between your scenario and the actual scenario. Protecting children from child pornographers is not the same as protecting college students from bad ideas. The former should be dealt with by the police. The latter should dealt with by rebuttal.

    WRONG!
    Landsburg’s scenario is about raping women, mine is about taking pictures of naked children.
    Unless, of course, only men can be students. Or the women this man teaches and has authority over simply don’t matter. And, of course, telling his male students that gratifying themselves on an unconscious woman is OK in his view if they take care she doesn’t notice (as if you could guarantee such a thing) is not so much giving them bad ideas than it is encouraging rape.
    BUt, care to elaborate why (you haven’t said why, you only said that) the original scenario (raping a woman who is unconscious) is only a “bad idea” while taking pictures of naked children is a crime. In my book they both are. And in neither case, neither the actual Landsburg case nor in my hypothetical scenario are saying that they want to do it…
    Logic, you’re doing it wrong.

  126. says

    Giliell, professional cynic,

    Why don’t you read. The professor is not advocating raping women. He, as repulsive as he is, is arguing about viewing a vile act through the lens of his pet utilitarianism and not seeing (because he is apparently an idiot) that the meter deflects. The intended audience is those who engage in this kind philosophical nonsense.

    Might someone try it because of what they read? Might someone put his theory into practice? Sure. It is a big world with lots of crazies. Someone might also get riled up something that PZ or Ed or Pete Singer or Ken Ham writes and use it to rationalize their violent actions.

    There is a continuum of speech, from the proverbial “fire” to the utterly innocuous. I get that. I also get that people place the threshold at different places. I get that too. What I will never get are those (e.g., the Pharyngula crowd) who set the threshold where they want (fair enough) but then push everything, even positions a micron on the wrong side of their threshold, all the way down to the “fire” end of the spectrum.

    Plus, you are a loser and a liar. You wrote:

    BUt, care to elaborate why (you haven’t said why, you only said that) the original scenario (raping a woman who is unconscious) is only a “bad idea” while taking pictures of naked children is a crime. In my book they both are.

    which is not true. I never once argued that raping a woman who is unconscious is only a “bad idea”. You are a totally worthless liar. Do you have your OM yet? You are very deserving.

  127. says

    heddle

    He, as repulsive as he is, is arguing about viewing a vile act through the lens of his pet utilitarianism and not seeing (because he is apparently an idiot) that the meter deflects.

    And the meaningful difference is?
    Where is the meaningful difference between saying that there’s nothing wrong with raping an unconscious woman because no harm no foul and taking pictures of children who don’t notice because no harm no foul?

    The intended audience is those who engage in this kind philosophical nonsense.

    Who cares? It’s the internet, not posted in the secret magazine for philosophical wankery. It’s out there in the public for public discussion.

    which is not true. I never once argued that raping a woman who is unconscious is only a “bad idea”. You are a totally worthless liar. Do you have your OM yet? You are very deserving.

    You wrote:

    FFS there is a world of difference between your scenario[1] and the actual scenario[2]. Protecting children from child pornographers is not the same as protecting college students from bad ideas[3]. The former should be dealt with by the police. The latter should dealt with by rebuttal.

    So, care to qualify what you meant by:
    [1] your scenario
    [2] the actual scenario
    [3] bad ideas
    So, either you meant what I understood or you were so damn vague that you were easily misunderstood.
    Neither case makes me a liar.
    But your accusation without foundation makes you an asshole.

  128. D. C. Sessions says

    As seems to happen regularly, metacomments (STFU, Heddle, etc.) seem to have now swamped those on the original topic.

  129. says

    Giliell, professional cynic,

    Yes you are a liar. Anyone with an ounce of integrity would read what I wrote and understand that what I was labeling a “bad idea” was his idiotic utilitarian theorizing about raping an unconscious woman, not the act itself. It is clear enough in all my comments. I think even you understood that–but in your typical fashion you decided to take the dishonest Pharynguloidal quote-mining route.

    I would offer that a truer analogy to what Landesburg wrote would be those professors, some with huge pulpits, who theorize that euthanizing handicapped children after they are born (i.e., not aborting them, but killing them) is a good idea. They are arguing that something that is illegal might not be so bad. Their very arguments might cause (no doubt have caused) severe emotional distress to some readers. Someone may even seize upon those arguments to rationalize a crime.

    You do realize that I also defend their right to theorize in this manner, and I think it (their theorizing) is a bad idea, and yet that does not mean I think that killing handicapped newborns is merely a “bad idea”. You do grasp the concept, right? Do you?

    Should those professors be reported to their administrations? Of course not. Their ideas should be argued, not reported.

  130. says

    Heddle

    I think even you understood that–but in your typical fashion you decided to take the dishonest Pharynguloidal quote-mining route.

    You’re wrong.
    You also appear to be a mind-reader as you claim that you know what I understood.
    Where did I quote mine you? That is of course a lie.
    So, but to stay with your analogy, would you be comfortable with a professor at the neonatal ICU espousing such views? Would you be comfortable leaving them alone with your disabled neonatal?
    Do you understand that not all of us have the privilege to look at those things with a cold intellectual wankery look. Raping unconscius women isn’t some rare and uncommon thing like somebody killing a disabled newborn.
    Do you understand that such a person might be not be fit to have authority over female students, which is why people thik his superiors should know any more than somebody who thinks that killing disabled newborns is a good idea should be in charge of them.

    And you still haven’t explained why “utilitarian theorizing about raping an unconscious woman taking pictures of unknowing naked children” is so much different and a crime.

  131. says

    “Should those professors be reported to their administrations? Of course not. Their ideas should be argued, not reported.”

    Not having any idea if the school has a code of conduct for its faculty and staff it’s hard to know if Landsburg’s douchenozzlery is in violation of such a code.

    Somehow, though, I doubt that if he were to say that Hitler’s final solution would have been “utilitarian” if the survivors of the holocaust and the general population had been kept in the dark about it* because it increased the happiness of some people that his thesis would be discussed dispassionately by a lot of folks.

    Landsburg is a professor of ECONOMICS not philosophy.

    This is one definition of “economics”:

    ec·o·nom·ics (k-nmks, k-) KEY NOUN: used with a sing. verb

    1.) The social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services and with the theory and management of economies or economic systems.
    (used with a sing. or pl. verb)

    2.) Economic matters, especially relevant financial considerations: “Economics are slowly killing the family farm” (Christian Science Monitor). (source: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/economics)

    And this:

    Philosophy is an academic discipline that exercises reason and logic in an attempt to understand reality and answer fundamental questions about knowledge, life, morality and human nature. (source: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/economics)

    is one definition of “Philosophy”.

    It seems to me that what Landsburg is doing is being a douchenozzle without in any way advancing his students understanding of economics. I don’t care if he’s an asshole (I would spend my whole day being pissed if I cared about a lot of people being assholes) . If I was paying him for an education in economics I certainly would care.

    He doesn’t have to shut up, I would rather have bigots be public with their views. I think he needs to not use his lectern as a bully pulpit.

    * Something that a large number of germans including numerous military personnel were, apparently, unaware of until after the end of the war.

  132. says

    Is there any actual evidence that accessing porn harms minors? I certainly never noticed.

    It depends on a lot of factors, including age of the minor, type of porn, circumstances and consistency of exposure, home/family environment, and quality of sex-ed the minor gets; but yes, there is a potential for harm, which is why it makes sense to at least limit minors’ access to porn.

    Sheesh — yet another dingdong comes along and thinks he’s the next Bishop Berkely.

    That pretty much sums up people like Landsburgh: take some totally idiotic idea, laugh off any silly moral objections as “emotional,” and use “pure [fact-free] reason” to reach a ridiculous conclusion, and then congratulate yourself for “thinking outside the box” (where “box” = “reality”). Libertarians do this a LOT these days.

    Um, I’m sorry, is there really a doubt, outside the far-right anti-choice fringe, as to who controls my body?

    Well, this libertarian is clearly trying to increase such doubt. Funny how libertarian sophistry just happens to dovetail so closely with anti-choice authoritarianism, innit?

    This chowderhead is looking at this from the perspective of some sort of theoretical utilitarianism, not morality. It is reprehensible and complete nonsense, but it most certainly is navel gazing. In fact, it is nearly textbook, late-night dorm-room navel gazing.

    heddle, how many times do we have to repeat to you that he was justifying a harmful criminal act in a public forum? If you can’t understand the significance of that little technicality, then you’re relly not fit to participate in this grownup conversation. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid you Christians can get when you’re trying to be smart. As Azkyroth said, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

    Anyone with an ounce of integrity would read what I wrote and understand that what I was labeling a “bad idea” was his idiotic utilitarian theorizing about raping an unconscious woman, not the act itself.

    Anyone with an ounce of reading comprehension would read what you’ve written here and understand that you care more about attacking the idea of holding a professor accountable than about the reality of what he’s doing. You insist that you don’t condone what he’s doing, but you spend a LOT more time energy atttacking us just for discussing the idea of reporting him to his superiors. You are, in fact, taking the typical misogynist tactic of pretending to disapprove of some asshole’s behavior, but then attacking his critics — bitterly and relentlessly — for not respoiding the “right” way.

    Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    Oh grow the fuck up, Heath — you know damn well that telling someone to shut up because he’s being insultingly stupid is not “repression” of anything. I didn’t hear you crying this bitterly when people like Larry Farfromsane get BANNED from here, so why are you getting a bug up your bum now?

    I’m objecting to you imagining what I think rather than taking on what I actually wrote.

    So you know you’re right, and the rest of us silly emotional peons are just imagining things? What the fuck made you such a patronizing jackass, and why are you spouting crybaby-MRA excuses practically word for word?

    democommie: thanks for the two links. DAMN, this guy is a piece of work. Not only does he have no problem making excuses for rape, he also thinks laws against employment discrimination are unfair because they only coerce employers.

    Oh, and heddle? The university president’s disclaimer is a positive result of someone doing what you said was “anti-intellectual” and “wrong” and “cowardly:” reporting a professor’s disgraceful behavior to superiors. Sort of like Baylor disowning Behe after he came out as a creationist. So tell us again how such reporting is bad?

    Also, I went back to Landsberg’s blog and found this comment of his:

    As to whether strong visceral feelings should be given public policy weight independent of any principled justification, I’d urge you to remember that the visceral disgust that you and I feel about rape is pretty much the same emotion that some people feel about homosexuality or violating the Sabbath. Giving policy weight to such feelings seems to me to be a dangerous road to travel.

    Yes, he really said that — probably from the smug security of a tenured position where he can be as stupid and pointlessly nasty as he wants to be without fear of consequences.

  133. says

    Giliell, professional cynic,

    No, actually I’m right. As far as thinking you understood, I was not mind reading but rather giving you the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong to overestimate you.

    Where did I quote mine you? That is of course a lie.

    No it was not. You quote mined me in #132 when you used my quote about “bad idea” which was, abundantly and clearly, applied to Landesburg’s pseudo-intellectual navel gazing, to imply that I was arguing that raping unconscious women was merely a “bad idea”. That is textbook quote-mining. Which is an insidious form of lying. You are what you are.

    would you be comfortable with a professor at the neonatal ICU espousing such views

    No. I am also not “comfortable” with Landesburg and his views. What does my “comfort” have to do with anything?

    And you still haven’t explained why “utilitarian theorizing about raping an unconscious woman taking pictures of unknowing naked children” is so much different and a crime.

    Because it involves children, you idiot. And your original scenario, in #128, involved a primary school teacher. We have any number of reasonable laws that distinguish about what is appropriate when it comes to children, and the contractual activities that primary school teachers may engage in, on or off campus. The thresholds on appropriate speech and contact are radically different when it comes to those who supervise children. It is perfectly responsible (IMO) to report a primary school teacher who is blogging about child pornography.

    But at some point professors should be allowed to engage in abstract theorizing, no matter how stupid, to an audience of adults, without being reported to their administration. I can’t help it if you don’t see the difference between this and a primary school teacher theorizing about a neutral or favorable view of child pornography.

  134. says

    Raging Bee,

    heddle, how many times do we have to repeat to you that he was justifying a harmful criminal act in a public forum? If you can’t understand the significance of that little technicality, then you’re relly not fit to participate in this grownup conversation. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid you Christians can get when you’re trying to be smart. As Azkyroth said, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

    As an aside, you lose already when you resort to the mob “we” rather than relying on your own arguments.

    Just out of curiosity, do you think Pete Singer should be reported to Princeton when he theorizes about the ethics of killing handicapped newborns? Which is, after all, as you put it, ” justifying a harmful criminal act in a public forum”. If not, then from your perspective, and also as you wrote, “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

  135. Catrambi says

    New rule: If you’re an adult and still confused about what “free speech” means, you should just never open your mouth again.

  136. says

    Where is the meaningful difference between saying that there’s nothing wrong with raping an unconscious woman because no harm no foul and taking pictures of children who don’t notice because no harm no foul?

    It is EXTREMELY important to remember that this sort of sophistry is not must an academic exercise with no bearing outside teh sheltered groves of academe. Real sexual predators have used this sort of BS to justify (before) or rationalize (after) real acts of sexual abuse. Following are some examples I’ve read in either news or history:

    A pedophile says that it’s okay to engage in sexual “play” with children because children are totally naive and innocent about sex, so they don’t understand it’s wrong, therefore it won’t harm them.

    College boys ROUTINELY say that if they have sex with a girl who’s passed out from drink, she won’t remember it, so no harm will be done.

    Europeans travelling to primitive idyllic places in the Pacific and Latin America (including Christian missionaries “at play in the fields of the Lord”) managed to convince themselves that taking advantage of the naive uninhibited young native women and boys was okay because, like children (see first example above), they were innocent and untainted by our concepts of “sin,” therefore it would do them no harm.

    This asshole professor isn’t just dead wrong — he’s not even as original as he seems to think he is. All his shiny new-looking utilitarian-ness is just new lipstick on a very old pig.

  137. slc1 says

    Re heddle @ #140

    I think that Prof. Heddle is beating a dead horse. The odds are overwhelming that Prof. Landsburg has been reported to the administration by female students at that university, as soon as they became aware of his musings. As democommie at 116 reported, the good professor has already been brought to the attention of his administration, for agreeing with Rush Limbaugh about Georgeown student Sandra Flack and received a reprimand for it. President Seligman stated:

    Professor Landsburg has the right to express his views under our University’s deep commitment to academic freedom. And, of course, no reasonable person would ever assume that he speaks for the University of Rochester.

    I also have the right to express my views. I am outraged that any professor would demean a student in this fashion. To openly ridicule, mock, or jeer a student in this way is about the most offensive thing a professor can do. We are here to educate, to nurture, to inspire, not to engage in character assassination.

    http://www.rochester.edu/president/memos/2012/landsburg.html

    It is my suspicion that Prof. Landsburg is going to receive another reprimand from President Seligman for his moronic non-consensual sex comments.

  138. Catrambi says

    Also, same rule applies if you think that all complaints are exactly equally valid.

  139. says

    Just out of curiosity, do you think Pete Singer should be reported to Princeton when he theorizes about the ethics of killing handicapped newborns?

    If you think he should, then go ahead and report him. I certainly can’t say that Princeton has no right to know what’s going on on their own turf. And as long as you’re talking about it here, why don’t you give us an example of Singer theorizing as stupidly and dishonestly as Landsberg does?

    As an aside, you lose already when you resort to the mob “we” rather than relying on your own arguments.

    As an aside, you’re really getting desperate, aren’t you?

  140. says

    Because it involves children, you idiot.

    So it’s okay to theorize about raping an adult woman when she’s unconscious — but it’s not okay to theorize about taking mere photographs of naked children? heddle, do you have ANY CLUE how disgraceful and ridiculous you’ve made yourself look here?

  141. says

    Because it involves children, you idiot.

    Ahh, I undrstand.
    Children = important
    Women = not so much.
    You are an idiot and you minimize rape.
    Rape causes real actual and big harm to women (and men, and children) . To argue about when it’s OK raping them doesn’t happen in a vaccuum. It happens in world where it is something that occurs every fucking minute. And it is something that happens to women on college campuses.
    Unconscious women on college campuses. As Raging Bee has shown, such arguments have real-world consequences which you keep denying or brushing away.
    Why does your “right to free speech” end when the person discusses taking pictures of children?
    Here’s my original again:

    So, let’s say there’s this primary school teacher. And on his blog he writes that it is totally OK to produce child pornography by placing hidden cameras in the locker rooms. As long as the children never know there#s no harm done and the pedophile has a net benefit! And even more, you can even argue that this might prevent a pedophile from using unwilling children to produce child pornography!**

    Let’s exchange things, shall we?
    So, let’s say there’s this primary school teacher college professor. And on his blog he writes that it is totally OK to produce child pornography by placing hidden cameras in the locker rooms rape women while they are unconscious. As long as the children never know there’s no harm done and the pedophile has a net benefit As long as the woman never knows, has no pregnancy, disease or wounds, there’s no harm done and the rapist has a net benefit.
    Tell me again why is the one scenario so different from the other?
    And please do so without minimizing rape of women.

    We have any number of reasonable laws that distinguish about what is appropriate when it comes to children, and the contractual activities that primary school teachers may engage in, on or off campus.

    And we have any number of reasonable laws (and rules) that tell what is appropriate when it comes to sex and the behaviour of college professors towards sudents, on and off campus. Whta was your argument again? Please, try to make it without “bitches ain’t shit”

    No, actually I’m right. As far as thinking you understood, I was not mind reading but rather giving you the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong to overestimate you.

    Where’s the benefit of doubt in claiming that I lied over assuming that I missunderstood you?
    Words, they have meaning.

    You quote mined me in #132 when you used my quote about “bad idea” which was, abundantly and clearly, applied to Landesburg’s pseudo-intellectual navel gazing, to imply that I was arguing that raping unconscious women was merely a “bad idea”. That is textbook quote-mining. Which is an insidious form of lying. You are what you are.

    Wrong again. I quoted the relevant part. And missunderstood you, as my later request for clarification clearly implied. The liar here is you. Or it’s your very high opinion of yourself in which you’re such a suoer-duper genius who can never do wrong or even wrote a sentence that could be interpreted differently to what you meant.

    No. I am also not “comfortable” with Landesburg and his views. What does my “comfort” have to do with anything?

    Yeah, but apparently to try and get the university to do something to ensure a safe learning environment for their female students and to think that somebody who thinks that raping them while passed out is totes OK should not have authority over them is “cowardly”

  142. Doug Little says

    Consider the case of the late Stanford physics professor William Shockley, who wrote a number of articles proclaiming that Afro-Americans were mentally inferior to Caucasian Americans, which proclamations provoked widespread demands that he get the heave ho from Stanford.

    He actually argued that a higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent would have a negative effect on the population in general and thus advocated for policy changes (ie stopping stupid people from breeding) if he was proven right. He perceived the situation among African Americans as more problematic.

    I guess the “rape lol” vs. “RAPE IS EVIL” thing could kind of be described as a Civil War.

    That’s not what the argument has been about. Heddle stated that he thought turning the idiot into his superiors is an overreaction advocating instead for a discussion about what was said. No one here is advocating for rape or think rape is joke. There has not been one opinion in support of what the chowder head (Prof Landsburg) said. I can understand this is a sensitive topic that is deeply personal to many of the people commenting here (Jesus what does that say about our species) but we have to be careful not to miss characterize what people say.

    Jeebus, Heddle, shut the fuck up! At least, you know, long enough to get it through your head that there’s a galaxy of difference between PZ’s opinions and this fuck ADVOCATING RAPE!

    This to me reads more along the lines of think a bit more before you type, it could have as easily started with “WTF are you talking about Heddle there’s a galaxy of difference…”, to me at least it doesn’t read like an attempt to stifle speech. I for one enjoy Heddle’s comments and being one of the only regular dissenters left I think his contributions are a positive thing for this blog. Actually I wish he would comment more often.

  143. says

    BTW, heddle, remember how you were pompously lecturing us about how we should counter bad ideas with argument, instead of reporting to the offending professor’s boss? Well, I tried doing it your way, by posting a comment on Landsberg’s blog stating that his premises were false, and my comment got censored. Got any other bright ideas of how we’re supposed to deal with vile, disgusting, demonstrably-harmful con-games like this? Didn’t think so.

    And no, this is not just a “thought exercise” to get students thinking. Subsequent comments by the Landsburg show that he’s knowingly pushing a dishonest libertarian con-game. (Notice, in his comment #130, how prickly he gets when someone offers an example of HIS MONEY being stolen in small increments?)

  144. slc1 says

    Re Doug Little @ #150

    Excuse me, the late Prof. Shockley sent me a number of papers which described his views on intelligence which I reviewed, most of which are not available in the published literature, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that he considered Afro-Americans, on average, to be of lesser intelligence then Caucasian Americans. In paper after paper, he repeated the claim that Afro-Americans averaged some 15 IQ points less then Caucasian Americans and that the difference was inheritable. There was nothing at all “problematical” about those views.

  145. dingojack says

    SLC – yes, and Prof. Shockley sent me some highly suggstive letters about you, which claimed (amongst other things) you are, in reality, a fifty-foot high clump of Mondo Grass. Unluckily you can’t read them for yourself because the dog atte them, but trust me on this.
    Now that’s what I call hard evidence!
    @@
    Dingo

  146. says

    Raging Bee,

    If you think he should, then go ahead and report him.

    Um, no, I made it clear that I do not think he should be reported. He should be debated. I’m consistent. I am trying to see if you are–but you seem to have avoided the question.

    Giliell, professional cynic

    Ahh, I undrstand.
    Children = important
    Women = not so much.

    OMG who can write such utter nonsense. Children, being um children, require special protection that women, being adults do not. Are you opposed to statutory rape laws?

    Wrong again. I quoted the relevant part. And missunderstood you, as my later request for clarification clearly implied. The liar here is you. Or it’s your very high opinion of yourself in which you’re such a suoer-duper genius who can never do wrong or even wrote a sentence that could be interpreted differently to what you meant.

    The “I misundertood you” explanation is often a reasonable defense against a charge of quote-mining. And sure enough my writing is at times sloppy. But this time it was crystal clear what I was calling a bad idea. So take your “I misunderstood you” and attendent notpology and shove it.

  147. says

    …but you seem to have avoided the question.

    I answered your question, in plain English, and you accuse me of avoiding it? When my answer is still up here for all to see? Who do you think you’re fooling? The only person avoiding questions is you: I asked you for an example of Singer being as sleazy and dishonest as Landsburg, and you ignored that request.

    heddle, what do you think you’re accomplishing by being such a lying little shit?

  148. says

    Children, being um children, require special protection that women, being adults do not.

    What “special protection,” specifically, is anyone advocating here that women don’t need?

  149. slc1 says

    Re dingojack @ #153

    Actually, the late Prof. Shockley did send me a number of his writings at my request when I was an RA at the Un. of Oregon. About the only publication that would have published any of them was the “journal” Mankind Quarterly, which published all manner of racist tripe. A frequent contributor was the co-author of the Bell Curve, Richard J. Herrnstein. Just for the information of Dingo the bingo, it was embarrassing to consider that such piffle could be produced by a Nobel Prize winner in physics.

  150. dingojack says

    Heddle said: “Children, being um children, require special protection that women, being adults do not. Are you opposed to statutory rape laws?”

    Are you opposed to rape and sexual assault laws? Since women are adults and all.
    How about laws concerning attempted murder, fraud, assault and etc. if the victim is an adult? Surely being adults they can look after themselves (perhaps even take the law into their own hands), right?
    Dingo
    ——–
    To be fair though, this professor isn’t a specialist in Ethics, the Law or even Biology. He’s an Economist.
    That’s the academic equivalent of going onto a evolution blog and admitting you’re an Engineer. :)

  151. says

    OMG who can write such utter nonsense. Children, being um children, require special protection that women, being adults do not. Are you opposed to statutory rape laws?

    Children get the special protection because they are unable to give informed consent and also especially vulnerable. Now please, tell me which of this doesn’t also apply to an unconscious woman.

    So take your “I misunderstood you” and attendent notpology and shove it.

    It wasn’t a notpology. Why should I apologize to an utter asshole who called me a liar for his sloppy writing?
    You can believe that I missunderstood you or you don’t, it doesn’t change what happened. You’re still claiming to know what I understood and didn’t understand. Call up Randi and get your million.

  152. says

    Raging Bee,

    I answered your question, in plain English, and you accuse me of avoiding it? When my answer is still up here for all to see? Who do you think you’re fooling?

    Yes I do. Who do you think you are fooling?

    You wrote, I believe this is a fair representation and paraphrase, that it is good an proper that Landsburg be reported to the administration. Correct me if I am wrong on you view of whether reporting Landsburg is proper. Now regarding Pete Singer you wrote:

    I certainly can’t say that Princeton has no right to know what’s going on on their own turf.

    What does that mean? That is a wishy-washy politician’s answer. This you call “plain English?” Do you think it would be good and proper to report to Princeton that Singer theorizes on the ethics of killing newborns?

  153. dingojack says

    SLC – and I have all manner of ‘evidence; about the height of your Mondo flower-spikes. Sadly, as I said, I can’t actually produce it but it’s really, really, super-duper, extra good. Trust me.
    Dingo

  154. says

    DJ,

    Are you opposed to rape and sexual assault laws? Since women are adults and all.
    How about laws concerning attempted murder, fraud, assault and etc. if the victim is an adult? Surely being adults they can look after themselves (perhaps even take the law into their own hands), right?

    Oh don’t be as stupid as Giliell. I know you are capable of reasoned thought. Saying that children need special protection (such as statuary rape laws) that women do not need is, in no universe, the same as saying adults need no protection such as is afforded by rape and sexual assault laws. Really, gimme a break.

  155. says

    But at some point professors should be allowed to engage in abstract theorizing, no matter how stupid, to an audience of adults, without being reported to their administration. I can’t help it if you don’t see the difference between this and a primary school teacher theorizing about a neutral or favorable view of child pornography.

    When the professor is “theorizing” about the victimization of some of the students in his college (a place where such victimization is known to be a real possibility), and when the victimization involves people who are AT LEAST as helpless as children, then there’s a good bit less of a difference, isn’t there?

    Also, why should professors be allowed to be stupid? Aren’t they paid to be intelligent? If a professor is doing something stupid, then he’s not doing his job, and not performing as advertized. And that alone is good reason to rat him out to his bosses — not just in academics, but in ANY line of skilled or semi-skilled work.

    Prof. Landsburg is just plain stupid, possibly by choice. He is just plain unqualified to be a teacher, and his superiors have a right, a need, and an obligation to know this. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Why does the prospect of accountability frighten you so much?

  156. lldayo says

    It’s not bestiality if I close my eyes and pretend the barking is a woman saying, “Yes! Yes!!”

  157. says

    What does that mean? That is a wishy-washy politician’s answer.

    heddle, you know damn well what I meant. Take your defensive hyperventilating and blow it back where it came from. You used to be kinda intelligent, but now you’re just a stupid one-track troll, screaming his head off about concepts most sane adults have understood and accepted around the time they turned 18, if not earlier. Concepts like “If someone in an organization is doing his job poorly, tell his boss.” Or like “If you act like a moron on company time, don’t be surprised if someone tells your boss.”

  158. dingojack says

    Heddle – so children need extra special laws because they can’t give informed consent, correct?
    And an unconcious women doesn’t, because she can’t give informed consent but is an adult?
    And you think I’m being idiotic! Sheesh!
    Dingo

  159. says

    It’s not bestiality if I close my eyes and pretend the barking is a woman saying, “Yes! Yes!!”

    Follow-on question: is it bestiality if you treat your wife like a dog? (Maybe not, if the harm done is “strictly psychic.” Or if she doesn’t know it’s harmful. Or something…)

  160. lldayo says

    Follow-on question: is it bestiality if you treat your wife like a dog? (Maybe not, if the harm done is “strictly psychic.” Or if she doesn’t know it’s harmful. Or something…)
    No, that’s just role-playing.

  161. ellien says

    this is the classic argument…..

    “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

    Gee boss! I don’t know….

    does it?

  162. smhll says

    I don’t want anyone thinking of my vagina as a thing that they can just ‘borrow’ whenever I’m not using it. That’s perilously close to thinking of my whole person as just an underutilized gratification object…

    (I know I can’t control what some of you are thinking (since I can’t control what any of you are thinking), but shit that’s some repulsive stuff.)

  163. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    But at some point professors should be allowed to engage in abstract theorizing, no matter how stupid, to an audience of adults, without being reported to their administration.

    Why?

    The is a case of professional responsibility. If, as an engineer, I engage in questionable behavior that is forbidden by my deontology code while doing my job, I face sanctions up to expulsion. And this deontology code does have paragraphs about discriminatory and unethical behavior.

    Even if university professors are generally not members of professional orders, they share some characteristics with professionals.

    Professors are members of an institution which is completely justified in knowing what they do using the priviledges granted by said institution. They receive funding by both public and private organisms. If the institution or organism has a code of deontology, which most have, professors must follow it or face expulsion or defunding. A member of the public who denounces breaches of conduct is totally justified in doing so. It is not the role of the public to protect academic freedom, it’s the role of the institution, which is supposed to protect both the public and its members.

    In PZ’s case, there was no breach of that code, so the university simply rejected the claims. In this professor’s case, it might be the case that there was. The university and the organisms who granted him money are justified in knowing what he’s done as a professional in their employ, and will be the ones deciding if they want or not to be associated with it. If there is a failure to protect academic freedom, it rests with them, not with the public.

    I can’t help it if you don’t see the difference between this and a primary school teacher theorizing about a neutral or favorable view of child pornography.

    They’re both using a professional status in a way that might cause harm, and should expect the consequences.

    Professional status is not a right.

  164. David Marjanović says

    I find it interesting that there’s been no reaction at all to comment 125.

    What’s up? Is it too long?

  165. lofgren says

    It always gives me this weird funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when heddle is the most rational voice in a conversation.

  166. says

    “It always gives me this weird funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when heddle is the most rational voice in a conversation.”

    You have a body part that should be examined by a qualified medical professional; it is not your stomach.

  167. says

    lofgren,

    It always gives me this weird funny feeling in the pit of my stomach when heddle is the most rational voice in a conversation.

    Hah! Thanks! But why do I feel like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof when the constable says to him “You’re a good man, for a Jew” to which he replies: “Rarely have I received a compliment such as this.” Or something close to that.

    David Marjanović

    What’s up? Is it too long?

    I can only speak for myself, but I liked #125 because it was exactly right: a poignant response by someone who knows directed at the bullshit theoretical musings of a total jackass named Landsburg. Much, much, much better than reporting him.

  168. Stacy says

    heddle, I agree with Giliell. The teacher in her thought experiment and Landsburgh are morally equivalent: both are people in authority who publicly proclaim that it’s theoretically OK to invade helpless people’s privacy and right to bodily integrity as long as they never know about it. If you think Landsburgh shouldn’t be reported because Academic Freedom, try making the person arguing for the harmlessness of videotaping unknowing naked children in a locker room a university professor and see if you still feel the same way.

  169. says

    Professors are members of an institution which is completely justified in knowing what they do using the priviledges granted by said institution.

    Not to mention damage to that actual institution.
    I mean, if you were shopping for colleges and given you had the choice between one where people with authority hold such views and one where they don’t and the other things are comparable, which one do you choose?
    I wouldn’t choose the one Landsburgh is teaching at and I’d certainly discourage any daughter of mine to go there either.

    +++

    I can’t help it if you don’t see the difference between this and a primary school teacher theorizing about a neutral or favorable view of child pornography.

    If you do, it tells only one thing and that is that you don’t regard sexual assault of women as a serious issue. Statuary rape laws exist because children can’t give consent.
    Rape is by definition the lack of consent. Unconscious women can’t consent either. To treat an assault on them as something they don’t need to be protected against is to minimize rape.

  170. Stacy says

    you know damn well that telling someone to shut up because he’s being insultingly stupid is not “repression” of anything.

    Telling somebody to “shut up” is speech.

    If telling somebody to “shut up” is repression of free speech, then telling somebody not to tell somebody to shut up is also a repression of free speech. And telling somebody not to tell somebody not to tell somebody to shut up….

    Recursive, innit.

    (Notice that nobody commenting on this thread has the power to make heddle stop commenting. And nobody on this thread is advocating that Landsburg not be allowed to express himself on his own blog, or in various public venues.)

  171. says

    Stacy,

    Thank you for a calm tone in challenging me. I almost don’t know how to handle it. It is not an approach I see very often.

    Giliell’s scenario involved a primary school teacher. That is someone with direct supervision of children. That is not, in my opinion, remotely analogous to a professor who discusses horrible ideas but whose students are adults who can think for themselves.

    Interestingly enough I think Pete Singer gives an extremely good response to a similar question when people flipped out over ethicists theorizing about the ethics of “post birth abortion.” You can read it here, and a relevant excerpt is:

    The moral status of newborn infants is a real issue, and it is proper for academic journals to publish articles that, like this one, discuss it in a serious and well-reasoned manner. People who wish to defend the traditional view of the sanctity of all human life should respond to the authors’ arguments, not by mere abuse.

    I think he is spot on, and I have been trying to give the same response here. (OK, he writes much better, but he’s at Princeton and I’m not–for a reason.)

  172. Stacy says

    Giliell’s scenario involved a primary school teacher. That is someone with direct supervision of children. That is not, in my opinion, remotely analogous to a professor who discusses horrible ideas but whose students are adults who can think for themselves

    Notice I suggested you change the primary school teacher to a university professor, heddle. Would you still be against reporting him?

  173. CaitieCat says

    181 – Gilliel:

    I wouldn’t choose the one Landsburgh is teaching at and I’d certainly discourage any daughter of mine to go there either.

    May i ask an honest question, Gilliel? Why would you only recommend against your daughter going there? I’m not being sneaky or gotcha here, just don’t understand why you would want your son to be taught by this fellow, but not your daughter. Would it not be likely that your son, exposed to this kind of thinking in his education, might become a danger to others? Why wouldn’t that be worth preventing too?

    I see the possibility also that you actually have a daughter or daughters and no sons, and this is not a counterfactual, but thought I’d mention it only as a point of interest. Otherwise, I’m right with you on this comment.

  174. says

    Stacy,

    No I would not advocate reporting him, under the same conditions. That is, if said college professor was theorizing about the ethics of taking pictures of children in some philosophical framework (not advocating that anyone should do it) in a forum arguably dedicated to such academic arguments, then I would make the same suggestion: beat him to a pulp with good rebuttals to his theories. Do it publicly so that the humiliation factor is high.

  175. says

    CatieCat

    May i ask an honest question, Gilliel? Why would you only recommend against your daughter going there?

    Because I don’t have sons and am done with reproduction.
    If I had a son I would be against him going there, too. Not only because I wouldn’t want him to be taught rape-apology, but also because I would want him to be safe, too.

    +++

    That is someone with direct supervision of children. That is not, in my opinion, remotely analogous to a professor who discusses horrible ideas but whose students are adults who can think for themselves

    Yep, especially when they’re unconscious….

  176. CaitieCat says

    Because I don’t have sons and am done with reproduction.

    Thanks, I hoped it might be that. I appreciate your gentle response.

  177. Michael Heath says

    Wes @ 115,

    Our dialog was helpful to me. I’ll be more observant on utilitarian devotion to individuals at the expense of the collective given your posts here. Thanks.

  178. Michael Heath says

    heddle to me:

    You probably know that the oh-so-clever FREEZE PEACH is a Pharyguloidal designation for “Oh we believe in free speech, sorta kinda, until we don’t, and when you cross our threshold we won’t be rational about it, rather we’ll accuse you of supporting the positions you might actually loathe but are merely holding your nose and supporting the right of someone to express them.” That’s “Freeze Peach.” The ACLU in Skokie was defending FREEZE PEACH.

    I knew none of this. It’s been years since I read PZ Myer’s blog regularly, and then only for several months and a handful of the first comment posts.

  179. Stacy says

    FREEZE PEACH is the fetish of sanctimonious gits who think “free speech” means freedom from criticism of speech (especially theirs.) The sort who think a blogger moderating his or her blog is an affront to our Precious First Amendment Rights.

  180. says

    Stacy, #191,,

    That is the theory. In practice it is usually STFU. Or please explain how when SallyStrange did her ftfy on Michael Heath (always a cheap, dirty, repulsive tactic, btw, the old ftfy–which is really: let me distort what you say with impunity and pretend it is a joke and see how it demonstrates my cleverness!) in #108 she was discussing someone who thought criticism of their speech was out of bounds or had anything to do with comment moderation.

    The thread went:

    WMK Kitty: (#67) heddle, STFU
    Michael Heath (#92): You don’t own this blog, Ed does. Free speech advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.
    SallyStrange’s childish ftfy (#108): Free speech FREEZE PEACH advocates support speech, they don’t seek to repress it.

    None of that fits your theory of FREEZE PEACH. Nobody was saying their opinion was off limits to criticism. Nobody was talking about comment moderation. But you are right, many here view their 1st Amendment rights as precious.

  181. says

    Thank you for a calm tone in challenging me. I almost don’t know how to handle it. It is not an approach I see very often.

    So he just falls back on repeating himself and talking about tone instead of addressing any of the substantive responses to his arguments. (See, AT THE VERY LEAST, comments #156, 163, 165, and 173.)

  182. says

    People who wish to defend the traditional view of the sanctity of all human life should respond to the authors’ arguments, not by mere abuse.

    You came in here attacking people for mentioning the idea of reporting an incompetent employee to his supervisors, then you ignore arguments against your position, and now you quote someone to support a tone argument?

    Is your hypocricy divinely inspired?

  183. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    That is someone with direct supervision of children. That is not, in my opinion, remotely analogous to a professor who discusses horrible ideas but whose students are adults who can think for themselves.

    The harm caused by an abuse of authority are not limited to cases involving children.

    That is one reason such thing as professional orders, ethics comities and codes of conduct exist, to protect the public. The other reason being the protection of the autonomy of its members.

    Protecting the public means that people are entitled to denounce professionally unacceptable behavior. In fact they should, especially if they are themselves professionals. In my province’s engineer’s deontology code, failing to report unprofessional behavior is itself a breach of conduct.

    The idea that academic freedom implies that a university professor can say and do anything using his/her status, protected by his/her institution, without having any responsibilities tied to it, seems very dangerous to me. About as dangerous as letting engineers, doctors or lawyers have all the protections of their professional order and the priviledges granted by their status without any way for the public to be heard and protected when they are harmed by their actions.

  184. lofgren says

    (always a cheap, dirty, repulsive tactic, btw, the old ftfy–which is really: let me distort what you say with impunity and pretend it is a joke and see how it demonstrates my cleverness!)

    Yeah, this trick needs to fucking die. You shame yourself when you use it. It’s the internet’s equivalent of WorldNet Daily’s “forensic speech expert” saying that Obama secretly wants to be a dictator because he once put “I” and “dictator” in the same sentence.

    People: heddle is not defending the professor. He is only disagreeing that seeking some kind of professional rebuke for a professor (or, I would argue, anyone) taking some of our fundamental beliefs out to examine them is appropriate. I happen to agree in this case. But even if I didn’t, after watching his argument get distorted over and over again, and the repeated rhetorical tricks used to imply that he advocates rape, I would be tempted to side with him just so that I could avoid ever being associated with you assholes.

    Going back to the original piece, I think it is important to note that:

    1. Landsburg never advocates rape.
    At no point does he say that rape is good or just or acceptable. The piece is a question about why and how we draw certain lines in the sand. There is absolutely nothing actionable about it. The entire scenario takes place in one of those perfect vacuums populated by one-dimensional lines and two-dimensional planes that only philosophers and physicists care about, and its purpose is to press the reader to more carefully articulate and rationally defend their own beliefs. Do we need to be able to articulate why an imaginary harmless rape is still morally wrong? No, not really, because as several posters have pointed out and as Landsburg himself points out in his own post, such a scenario doesn’t really exist outside of the hypothetical. But just because a scenario is not likely to occur does not mean that we should attempt to silence discussion about it. It is very unlikely that I will ever be marooned on a deserted island with nothing but a laptop and my three favorite movies, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. (Ginger Snaps, the 1989 Batman, and something with lots and lots of female nudity. I expect I’ll have a lot of free time on that deserted island.)

    2. Landsburg never says it is “OK to rape.”
    What he says is that he has “trouble articulating” why rape is inherently wrong (as opposed to wrong due to the harm it causes). You could certainly make a reasonable argument that his inability to articulate on a topic that he himself brought to the table is nothing more than a rhetorical ploy, but to be honest in this case I don’t think that matters. Landsburg says very little in the piece, mostly asking questions. His inability to speak to the injustice of rape comes across as a weakness rather than a sly implication that rape is actually acceptable. Contra Ed’s final sentence (which is frankly a little slimy for you, Ed), Landsburg does not suggest that he believes it should be legal or acceptable to roofie somebody and rape them gently. In fact he outright states that would be wrong, and that attempting to alter any legal realities to reflect any difficult questions that derive from his purely hypothetical example would most like lead to greater injustice. There is absolutely no indication that his post is anything but a thought experiment.

    3. Landsburg is not a rape apologist.
    Rape apology is the act of diminishing the responsibility of the rapist for their actions. Landsburg does not do that. The example of Steubenville is brought up only to illustrate that it is possible to be sexually assaulted without realizing it. Landsburg never suggests that the rapist is anything but wholly responsible for his actions. The question is more along the lines of whether or not is acceptable to steal a car, drive to the store, and then return the car, replacing any used gas, so that the owner never realizes it’s gone. The thief is still wholly responsible. The question is whether or not his actions are should be considered immoral, illegal, or unethical, and, most importantly, why.

    4. Landsburg never says that “since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent.”
    The point of that section is that we cannot appeal to some magical barrier between the world and our bodies. Bodily autonomy is a myth. He knows that the most common response to his scenario will be that it is wrong because it is a violation of the victim’s right to consent to what goes into her body. But that right is clearly applied inconsistently. He is challenging the reader to properly articulate why a penis is different from a photon. (I’ll let you write your own punchline. Mine involves the double-slit experiment.) If it makes you uncomfortable to ponder if our rape laws are too strict, then ponder whether or not our flashlight laws are too lax. Landsburg’s point is only that until the difference is spelled out in a clear and rational fashion, the two violations are the same.

    And, you know, you don’t have to agree with him. I think that size alone is sufficient to show the difference between a photon and a penis. Even Raging Bee’s penis is probably almost ten times the width of a photon, and size does matter. Pricking somebody with a pin will get you a different charge, and has a different moral dimension, than stabbing somebody with a bowie knife. I also think that the fact that there are clearly cultural and biological implications to rape suggest that any actionable response to rape should be assessed at the biological and cultural level, not the level of abstract physics or in a philosophical clean room. But if Landsburg wants to do that, I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as his discussion remains abstract and clean.

    Note that Landsburg remained active in the comments and even updated his original post. This was a case of somebody starting with difficult questions, and a moral consensus evolving through conversation. Landsburg never quite acknowledges the failure of his analogies, but he also doesn’t continue to assert that the three situations are indistinguishable. He also modifies the rape scenario multiple times in the comments, testing reactions and challenging responses. He is behaving, in other words, like a teacher. The fact that the starting point of the discussion is reflexively reprehensible is no reason to punish or silence him. And frankly his participation in hypothetical scenarios for the purpose of more clearly articulating moral philosophy is not the business of his employer, even if he is a professor.

  185. Stacy says

    People: heddle is not defending the professor.

    We know that.

    He is only disagreeing that seeking some kind of professional rebuke for a professor (or, I would argue, anyone) taking some of our fundamental beliefs out to examine them is appropriate.

    Well, now, nobody has argued that the problem is that Professor Landsburg is taking some of our fundamental beliefs out to examine them.

    The problem lies with this particular thought experiment.

    He is behaving, in other words, like a teacher. The fact that the starting point of the discussion is reflexively reprehensible is no reason to punish or silence him.

    Ah, the problem is the “starting point” of the discussion. I see.

    Oddly enough, I haven’t actually seen anybody here argue that the problem with this little scenario is its starting point. The problem is with its effects. The problem is that it makes an abstract thought experiment out of a harm which in fact is not, sadly, reprehensible according to “Our” “fundamental beliefs”. If it were, quite a few of us might be more sanguine about Landsburg’s little thought experiment.

    In any classroom in which a professor academically suggests that the rape of an unconscious person might not be such a bad thing more than one of those students, statistically speaking, will have been raped. How might an 18 year old feel speaking up about what for her is a very personal and very traumatic subject in front of an authority figure who minimizes the harm of rape?

    The question is more along the lines of whether or not is acceptable to steal a car, drive to the store, and then return the car, replacing any used gas, so that the owner never realizes it’s gone.

    That might have made for an interesting thought experiment. Oddly enough, human beings are, in very many ways, not comparable to cars, both in their utility as the subjects of counterfactuals and in real life. For the reasons why, please refer to the previous 196 comments.

  186. dingojack says

    SLC (#171) – Aww, did my mocking of your non-presentation of cited ‘evidence’ hurt your tiny little feelings?
    I am fully aware that strictures such as actual, presentable evidence (as opposed to guilt by association and hearsay) have a tendency to cramp your style, but sadly that’s the way it goes. Present the evidence, or be doubted & mocked (at best).
    Dingo

  187. lofgren says

    The problem lies with this particular thought experiment.

    Well then, if I may play the Landsburg, why are some thought experiments acceptable, and some unacceptable? Is it unacceptable to think about them at all, or only to discuss them on your personal blog? Is it more or less wrong if you are a professor? How can I know ahead of time which thought experiments should result in professional censure and which are safe?

    Oddly enough, I haven’t actually seen anybody here argue that the problem with this little scenario is its starting point. The problem is with its effects.

    I haven’t actually seen anybody demonstrate any effects of Landsburg’s thought experiment at all, so that can’t possibly be right. As near as I can tell, the full effects are that posters at his blog and posters at this blog got a full day’s conversation out of it. If you can demonstrate other effects, you should do so. It will be interesting to know how thought experiments can have direct effects on the world beyond, y’know, thinking.

    The problem is that it makes an abstract thought experiment out of a harm which in fact is not, sadly, reprehensible according to “Our” “fundamental beliefs”. If it were, quite a few of us might be more sanguine about Landsburg’s little thought experiment.

    This is an absolutely fascinating assertion. The problem with Landsburg’s thought experiment is that it treats some “harm” as an abstraction.

    First, I would repeat the questions I had at the beginning of this post. How do I know which topics are safe to treat as abstractions, and which are wrong? Our legal system treats rape as an abstraction. That’s the only way that you can come up with broadly applicable just penalties. What makes that right and this wrong? Is it OK to treat, say, nuclear annihilation as an abstraction?

    And for this, for discussing abstractly on his personal blog a topic you do not believe should ever be discussed in any way except in concrete, literal terms, you think that he should receive some professional blowback? What would be appropriate? Should his employer fire him if he refuses to take down this abstract hypothetical? Should they dock his pay? What seems appropriate to you for an employer to do to an employee who discusses abstract concepts that they don’t like?

    In any classroom in which a professor academically suggests that the rape of an unconscious person might not be such a bad thing more than one of those students, statistically speaking, will have been raped. How might an 18 year old feel speaking up about what for her is a very personal and very traumatic subject in front of an authority figure who minimizes the harm of rape?

    First of all, that an abstract hypothetical about rape, so we should probably inform your employer so that he can decide what punishment you deserve.

    But I imagine she would be pretty intimidated. Nevertheless, this is the nature of ethics classes: you pick a topic, you talk about why it’s wrong, and you talk about appropriate responses. The professor very often plays the devil’s advocate, because that’s how you get students to think critically and defend their ideas. I would suggest that any ethics or philosophy class that intends to tackle the problem of rape should be clearly labeled in the course catalogue.

    This same process is repeated over and over, every day, with topics like rape, murder, theft, assault, child abuse, child endangerment, religious indoctrination, littering, fossil fuel consumption, and ice skating. It’s done in classrooms, and legislatures, and court rooms. How might a child who was involved in a religious cult feel talking about his very personal and very traumatic experiences in front of an authority figure whose entire job is to challenge him to articulate and rationally defend his moral beliefs? What about a child whose mother was murdered or whose father lost his entire livelihood in a Ponzi scheme? Should we place murder and theft into the category of Things It Is Not OK To Discuss In Abstract Hypothetical Terms?

    And even if we do place such difficult subjects into that category, why can’t we limit its applicability to, say, classrooms? Why should the potential emotional turmoil of a hypothetical student in a hypothetical classroom talking to a hypothetical teacher have any implications for a real person posting discussion questions for strangers on the internet on his personal blog? Why do we have to go whole-hog “You can’t ever talk about that?” Why not “You can’t talk about that in a classroom?” Or “You can’t talk about that with 18 year olds.” Or “You can’t talk about that with people who you have authority over.”

    That might have made for an interesting thought experiment. Oddly enough, human beings are, in very many ways, not comparable to cars, both in their utility as the subjects of counterfactuals and in real life.

    This is exactly why the question of rape must be considered head-on. Any conclusion that we came to regarding the moral dimension of “borrowing” and then returning a car would not be sufficiently applicable (unless somebody could show that it is) to a rape to make the discussion a viable substitute. If you are going to discuss the question of whether or not rape is inherently harmful or morally wrong, you have to talk about rape. Talking about cars won’t cut it.

  188. Michael Heath says

    lofgren,

    Thanks for the effort to defend the need for smart contrarianism and the socratic method, especially in an academic context. This was my dilemma from the first, that we have a competing right issue here and we need to weigh the perspective you espouse against Steve Landsburg’s questions that wrongly minimizes the harm from rape in a culture that is far too tolerant of rape and rapists. A competing right dilemma where with my business background, that didn’t exist, making it easy to justify getting rid of such people in the contexts I’m used to operating. Your point that we need to intellectually understand the moral outrage good people have towards rape and rapists is also a good one.

    However, in this particular context your standard is not met by this particular prof and his argument. So I think that opens the door to Mr. Landburg being very deserving of some fierce blowback, including consideration that he should be formally disciplined or even fired. If I’m his boss I’m recognizing a couple of things:

    Steve Landsburg’s an idiot, where the aforementioned blog is merely one example of his idiocy as others have demonstrated by linking to other arguments Landsburg’s made. You want your teaching staff to be smart; so right there if I’m his boss I’m beginning to think about how I leverage opportunities to fire his ass.

    One example of Landburg’s idiocy demonstrated in the linked blog post is his obliviousness is framing a person committing heinous acts against another is only harmful if there is direct conscious suffering from the victim. He fails to understand how committing such acts will cause and encourage some to commit more and worse heinous acts, where others will absolutely suffer. He also fails to understand that committing such acts without repercussions changes the context on how we view our interactions with others; it coarsens us and enables more atrocities and suffering to follow. Here that means opening the door to justifying some types of rape, in spite of the fact rape is by definition the violation of another’s autonomy without their consent and by observation, is predominately very traumatic to the victim.

    If I were his administrator my obligation doesn’t merely extend to protecting tenured profs in order to foster intellectual freedom, a very important objective, but also to the rights of students to get a good education. So I think it’s absolutely fair to consider the rights of students when it comes to assessing the viability of Landsburg continuing at his university. I admit I know little about tenure and perhaps I won’t get my way with Landsburg, but from a systemic perspective I would hope his administrators modify their process for tenure so they don’t get such a defective output like Landsburg again.

  189. Michael Heath says

    Weed Monkey:

    Michael Heath, you’re defending rape apologists if they don’t harm a business. Fuck you.

    Your idiotic delusions have you imagining a position opposite of that I took. Specifically, my post @ 104 to set the pretext:

    In the business world such rhetoric would have the prof get axed pronto; without a second thought. However I appreciate the differences between a business environment and a university environment enough to presume I can’t reactively apply my own instincts in a different context and yield a wise decision.

    So I considered the defense of academic freedom, an aspect that’s not a typical factor in the business world for this subject matter where I have no administration experience in academia. And what did I conclude in relation to your defamatory description of what I actually wrote? @ 201:

    Thanks [Lofgren] for the effort to defend the need for smart contrarianism and the socratic method, especially in an academic context. This was my dilemma from the first, that we have a competing right issue here and we need to weigh the perspective you espouse against Steve Landsburg’s questions that wrongly minimizes the harm from rape in a culture that is far too tolerant of rape and rapists. A competing right dilemma where with my business background, that didn’t exist, making it easy to justify getting rid of such people in the contexts I’m used to operating.

    However, in this particular context your [Lofgren’s] standard is not met by this particular prof and his argument. So I think that opens the door to Mr. Landburg being very deserving of some fierce blowback, including consideration that he should be formally disciplined or even fired.
    [emphasis here only]

    and again @ 201:

    You want your teaching staff to be smart; so right there if I’m his boss I’m beginning to think about how I leverage opportunities to fire his ass.

    Weed Monkey’s post is a fine illustration of tribalism in play. The inability to analyze a situation one step removed from one’s tribalistic talking points, which allows all the most remedial thinking defects to come into play – including the inability to comprehend what one reads and consider what was actually written if the writing doesn’t toe the line to the tribe’s talking points.

    This is exactly what we observe from many (most?) conservatives and just like we’re increasingly encountering in Ed’s blog from some on the left as some of us long-time readers of Ed have observed. That’s concerning to me because I really don’t have much desire to debate delusional dishonest idiots or defend their defamatory statements against me or anyone for matter, even people behaving badly. Arguing is far more productive when the premises are honest and sufficiently framed; not so swell when tribalistic morons are polluting the venue with falsehoods.

  190. says

    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith,

    The harm caused by an abuse of authority are not limited to cases involving children.

    As far as I can tell, nobody claimed differently.

    That is one reason such thing as professional orders, ethics comities and codes of conduct exist, to protect the public. The other reason being the protection of the autonomy of its members.

    If Landsburg violated anything in his contract he should be disciplined. If he violated any rules of any professional organizations he is a member of they should take appropriate action. Regardless, the appropriate public response is just what is happening, partly (the good part): public examination and dissection of his ideas.

    Protecting the public means that people are entitled to denounce professionally unacceptable behavior. In fact they should, especially if they are themselves professionals. In my province’s engineer’s deontology code, failing to report unprofessional behavior is itself a breach of conduct.

    Again, if he violated anything contractually or is in violation of his professional society’s guidelines, official action should be taken.

    The idea that academic freedom implies that a university professor can say and do anything using his/her status, protected by his/her institution, without having any responsibilities tied to it, seems very dangerous to me. About as dangerous as letting engineers, doctors or lawyers have all the protections of their professional order and the priviledges granted by their status without any way for the public to be heard and protected when they are harmed by their actions.

    Setting aside that this is another strawman–nobody said academic freedom means you can say or do anything. Examples of things you cannot say or do are so easy to come up with I won’t even bother. Setting that aside, I disagree. I can dismiss his dumb ideas. I can’t dismiss a faulty bridge.

  191. Michael Heath says

    heddle,

    Some elaboration on your part regarding how administrators should handle professors with tenure who demonstrate incompetence at teaching and representing the university would be helpful.

    As I argued earlier this morning, if I were an administrator in this case I would at least re-visit the process my university uses to hire profs and grant tenure in order to minimize incompetent profs like Steven Landsburg demonstrates himself to be. Both in the blog post Ed links to along other commenters’ links.

    While that’s a more systemic and strategic fix, that alone doesn’t address Landsburg’s pollution of the present environment in regards to continuing to expose his idiocy to students while also embarrassing his university.

  192. says

    Michael,

    The tenure process is highly flawed, no doubt. But I suspect that, as in the case of many who go lunatic fringe, he held it under wraps while he was an assistant prof. If not, then he made it through reviews from his department committee, college committee, dean, a cross-discipline committee of tenured faculty, a provost or VPAA, and possibly even the president. Whether or not he sailed through–who knows? After tenure there is not much leverage if he doesn’t violate his contract.

    However, there are some possible steps: You can deny merit pay increases. You can give the least desirable teaching assignments or, if it is not the same thing, you can give the least-potential-for-damage assignments. You might, for example, give him a seminar of very bright grad students who can intellectually kick his ass. You can even review the grades he gives those students. If he is not a full prof you can deny him that promotion. You can make sure he never gets elected to any prestigious committees. In short, if there is no contractual violation, you can still make his professional life fairly miserable.

    I imagine, for example, that Behe’s professional life in the bio department at Lehigh is not all that pleasant. But that’s just a guess.

  193. says

    Dude, defame my ass. The thing important here is this asshole’s inexcusable behaviour, not the loopholes you can use to get him away with it.

  194. says

    By the way, I see PZ posted on this. His angle is that this represents further evidence of the moral terpitude for only crime on par with religion: libertarianism. Fair enough and unsurprising. But has anyone asked PZ if he thinks Landsburg should be reported?

  195. says

    I find myself agreeing with heddle’s comment @207, except…

    In order for any of those prescriptive remedies to take place, Landsburg’s behavior is going to have to be reported to somebody.

    I think that is a dilemma.

    Weed Monkey:

    I disagree with Michael Heath on a number of issues but your reading of his comments is very different than mine and I don’t see him defending Landsburg or his “thought experiment”.

    You may, if you so desire, be really unpleasant to me. It is usually a good way for me to make the thread devolve into a shitslinging festival of fuck you’s, but whatever works for you is fine with me.

    In the meantime, try re-reading Mr. Heath’s comment and seeing if you might have missed something or attributed malice where there is none.

  196. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    If Landsburg violated anything in his contract he should be disciplined. If he violated any rules of any professional organizations he is a member of they should take appropriate action.

    Glad we agree on this point.

    But for any sanction to be taken, the misconduct has to be reported by someone.

    Do you agree that the organism that employs him has a right to know what he does with the title and priviledges it grants him ?

    If so, then what is the problem with reporting his actions ?

    I can dismiss his dumb ideas. I can’t dismiss a faulty bridge.

    Good for you.

    But faulty ideas can be just as dangerous and sometimes more, than faulty bridges.

    Ask, say, refugees from Rwanda.

  197. says

    Not that they’re similar in any way, except the “reporting”, but Rutgers shitcanned their head basketball coach yesterday, a day or so after a video of him berating, cursing at and physically assaulting members of the basketball team was released to ESPN by, IIRC, a disgruntled former assistant. Sans the video surfacing (and the fact that he posted a pretty dismal three season record with the Scarlet Knights) he might still be there.

  198. says

    1. Landsburg never advocates rape.

    No, he just wants people to start imagining a virtually impossible la-la-land scenario where it’s totally acceptable and conseqeuce-free. Not sure why, since it’s virtually impossible in the real world…could it be because he wants people to question the victims’ perspective?

    2. Landsburg never says it is “OK to rape.”

    Yes, actually, he very directly DID insinuate that in certain circumstances — circumstances that would only happen in his own fantasies — it would indeed be okay to rape.

    3. Landsburg is not a rape apologist. Rape apology is the act of diminishing the responsibility of the rapist for their actions.

    Landsburg invited his audience to imagine a scenario where rape caused no “real” harm, which means less harm done by the rapist, which means the rapist has less responsibility for harm done. So yes, Landsburg does indeed seek to diminish responsibility of the rapist for his actions. When he directly implies that a woman would not be “harmed” by rape if she never knows about it, that means the people who TELL HER she was raped bear partial responsibility for the harm done to her. That’s diminishing the rapist’s responsibility, dumbass.

    4. Landsburg never says that “since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent.” The point of that section is that we cannot appeal to some magical barrier between the world and our bodies. Bodily autonomy is a myth.

    First, NONE OF US “appealed to some magical barrier between the world and our bodies.” That’s not what “bodily autonomy” means, and Landsburg is either stupid or lying when he pretends otherwise, and so are you. And second, anyone who says “bodily autonomy is a myth” is explicitly denying a basic individual right, for no good reason that I can see. That includes you, lofgren.

    Even Raging Bee’s penis is probably almost ten times the width of a photon, and size does matter.

    Yeah, nice to see Landsburg’s apologists using reasoned arguments instead of gratuitous insults. Wassamatter, lofgren, are you feeling insecure in your manhood and need to compensate by trying to belittle someone else’s?

    Well then, if I may play the Landsburg, why are some thought experiments acceptable, and some unacceptable?

    Gee, I dunno, why don’t you read our criticisms of him? Didja ever think that might help answer your question?

    The problem with Landsburg’s thought experiment is that it treats some “harm” as an abstraction.

    No, asshole, the problem is that it treats real harm as an abstraction for the purpose of belittling the vital interests of rape victims.

    The professor very often plays the devil’s advocate…

    Most professors do this a LOT more honestly and competently than this guy did, and with far less blatantly dishonest intent. You don’t get to say “I was just playing devil’s advocate” every time you say something totally insultingly stupid and get called out on it. There’s a difference between “playing the devil’s advocate” and pissing all over legitimate needs and interests by blathering about some impossible la-la-land where we don’t have to worry our empty little heads about women or children who get raped ’cause they never suffered any real harm.

    Like I said before (see comment #143, shithead), this “thought experiment” is just a rehash of old rationalizations for the sexual abuse of powerless people, dredged up from the professor’s own pervy fantasies, which this privileged twit thinks is something new and dashingly clever. He is, at best, an incompetent professor blathering about things he doesn’t understand and bringing his own stupid prejudices and sexual fantasies to work with him; and that alone is good reason to report him to his superiors. I’m sure there’s better professors waiting in line to take this guy’s place.

    Setting aside that this is another strawman–nobody said academic freedom means you can say or do anything. Examples of things you cannot say or do are so easy to come up with I won’t even bother.

    You won’t bother, because you know you’re wrong and don’t care. I’ll “bother” by mentioning that one such forbidden thing is creating a hostile environment, which such blathering is known to do in workplaces and other situations where the perp has authority over others. (What sort of grade would a student get if he/she called his professor out on all the BS Landsburg shovelled out here?) Oh, and did I “bother” by mentioning simple incompetence and failure to do the job adequately?

  199. says

    If Landsberg was teaching sociology or psychology then, maybe, his “thought experiment” would have some purposeful “utility”. As he is teaching economics why didn’t he use an example like:

    If some banker, stock funds manager or other financial officer uses funds not his to make money for himself and returns the monies of others undiminished at the end of the exercise, has he harmed those people?

    And y’know what? that’s actually HAPPENED. Well, except for the part about the innocent parties not getting fucked, which IS sorta like the rape scenario, just not as “sexy”.

  200. says

    Oddly enough, I haven’t actually seen anybody here argue that the problem with this little scenario is its starting point.

    Actually, I did, when I pointed out that: a) his first two scenarios were based on false premises; and b) his third scenario (the rape of an unconscius woman) was so ridiculously improbable as to fall squarely into the category of “fantasy.” As in, a sexual fantasy that a middle-aged spoiled white guy dressed up as a “thought exercise” for his own JAQing pleasure.

  201. says

    Sorry, I must clarify: (the rape of an unconscius woman in such a way that no physical harm is done and she never finds out about it for the rest of her life)

  202. says

    As he is teaching economics…

    And that’s another problem I have with this con-artist: he’s dishonestly mixing disciplines, so he can use shabby economic reasoning to fool the philosophy students, and shabby philosophy to fool the economics students. This is common tactic for charlatans operating under academic cover.

  203. says

    His angle is that this represents further evidence of the moral terpitude for only crime on par with religion: libertarianism.

    That’s because Landsburg identifies himself as a libertarian, the preface of his book is full of typical libertarian ECON-101-as-religion stupidity and bullshit, and he’s using very-thinly-disguised libertarian crap-artistry in his scenarios and reasoning. So yes, Landsburg’s bullshit is indeed solid evidence of the vileness of libertarianism. (And why is libertarianism a “crime on par with religion?” Because it IS a religion, with all the same irrationality, magical thinking, backwardness, authoritarianism, bigotry, and contempt for reason we see in just about every other religion known to Man.)

  204. says

    The problem with Landsburg’s thought experiment is that it treats some “harm” as an abstraction.

    Why the “quotes” there, “lofgren?” Do you “doubt” that the “harm” done by “rape” is “real?”

  205. says

    Raging Bee @217:

    Next thing you’re going to say is that, like lawyers, 99% of libertarians give the rest a bad name!
    (democommie ducks hurled invective {;>))

  206. says

    To drive home how truly inexcusably bad this professor’s “thought experiment” is, I’d like to quote a bit of a comment by LykeX @240 in PZ’s post on this subject (cited by heddle above):

    I think the rape example is misguided on a number of level[s], most of which have already been mentioned up-thread, but most important of these, I think the choice of example and some of the statements really imply some worrying attitudes on the part of the professor.

    It really is tiring how often people feel the need to use rape as an example in cases where other things would do as well, or even be more appropriate. [LykeX had cited a better example of siphoning blood from people in their sleep.] It’s as if they derive some weird pleasure from the discussion itself; as if they’re constantly on the lookout for a way to mention it, while maintaining plausible denial.

    It’s just plain creepy.

    So yeah, reporting this creep is the right thing to do — not just to his bosses, but to the entire civilized world.

  207. David Marjanović says

    I can only speak for myself, but I liked #125 because it was exactly right: a poignant response by someone who knows directed at the bullshit theoretical musings of a total jackass named Landsburg. Much, much, much better than reporting him.

    At a pure research institution, I’d agree with this 100 %.

    But Landsburg writes exams and then grades them. He and his creepiness have real power over real people. Therefore, the people with the power to fire him should know what he has said.

    (Incidentally, his follow-up post shows he fails epically at expressing what he wants to say, and at so much as getting the idea that anyone might not immediately understand what he wanted to say. This alone should be a reason to fire him from any teaching position.)

    You can even review the grades he gives those students.

    Is that so in the USA? Where I come from, grades are unassailable. Oh, sure, students can sue if they think they were flunked unjustly – kindly stand by till I’ve stopped laughing my ass off.

  208. says

    Is that so in the USA? Where I come from, grades are unassailable.

    In my experience, a college dean always has the power to overturn a grade. Of course, this power is rarely used. The few cases I know of were not to change a grading scale, but for a professor being unreasonably unaccommodating.

  209. says

    Thanks, David, for alerting us to the follow-up post — which, it turns out, is just as full of weasely dishonest bullshit as the original post, starting with this bit of blame-shifting:

    But we’ve had more than the usual number of non-regular readers here the past few days, largely in response to my post on psychic harm, and more than a few of them have made the mistake of plunging into a conversation they didn’t understand (often, apparently, without even reading the post they were responding to).

    Yeah, because great philosophers never say stupid shit, they only say things the plebes don’t understand ’cause they’re too emotional. What a patronizing asshole.

  210. lofgren says

    we have a competing right issue here and we need to weigh the perspective you espouse against Steve Landsburg’s questions that wrongly minimizes the harm from rape in a culture that is far too tolerant of rape and rapists.

    This seems like a weak argument to me. The “right” of, presumably, rape victims to have their rapists be un-tolerated by society does not seem to me to be in competition with Landsburg’s right to think about morals and ethics and engage in discussion with commenters on his blog. No rapist will go free because of this, no rape victims will be treated unfairly. As has already been discussed, the hypothetical has no relationship to the real world. It is an exercise.

    I truly do not believe that Landsburg is arguing that rapists or rape in the real-world should be treated any differently. If there is some reason to believe otherwise, let me know.

    The final form of the rape example, as developed by Landsburg and several commenters, is a rapist who rapes his victim, with no witnesses, while the victim is unconscious through no action of the rapist, never tells anybody else about the event, and then drops dead minutes later. In other words, there isn’t even a rapist to talk about punishing anymore. At this point the question is so abstract and hypothetical that I suspect even some theologians are starting to doubt its worth, but there are a lot of people in the world who love this sort of thing. Hell there are people in the world who spend many hours a day pondering what would happen if a vampire had sex with a werewolf and they had a child.

    This is the second time that someone has told me the problem is that Landsburg is talking about rape, and rape is not taken seriously enough by our culture. I don’t think I can argue with the second part of that statement. Teenage boys commit rape and think it is a funny joke. There is obviously something wrong with that. (I doubt that their acts were inspired by abstract philosophical exercises performed by professors on their blogs, though.) However, by attempting to pressure University of Rochester to take some disciplinary action against Landsburg, we are not really saying that we take rape seriously. We’re punishing talking about rape.

    Let’s say Landsburg gets fired over this. How exactly does that cascade into a healthier attitude towards rape?

    However, in this particular context your standard is not met by this particular prof and his argument.

    I think you have obviously misunderstood me, as I proposed no standard to measure him against. Therefore I do not know what metric this professor has failed to meet and cannot determine if he deserves to be punished by his employer for it.

    One example of Landburg’s idiocy demonstrated in the linked blog post is his obliviousness is framing a person committing heinous acts against another is only harmful if there is direct conscious suffering from the victim. He fails to understand how committing such acts will cause and encourage some to commit more and worse heinous acts, where others will absolutely suffer.

    There have been several other comments like this: Landsburg failed to mention this-or-that angle when talking about rape. In fact, this particular topic is discussed in the comments to Landsburg’s post and also alluded to by Landsburg himself, who says in his post (to reiterate) that “one could raise a number of practical issues” with his hypothetical. Although he does not go into detail, the impact of these acts on future acts is certainly one of those. I believe it is clear, based on the abstract, hypothetical ridiculousness of his example, the Landsburg is attempting to isolate the rape itself from the effects of the rape. In the final rape scenario, nobody living ever knows that a rape has been committed, so it is impossible for this act to breed imitators.

    Further, I disagree with this approach to Landsburg’s question. I agree that the original piece treats a grave subject a bit too lightly, and that’s coming from a guy who freely mixes his comments with penis jokes. However, it is not reasonable to punish a person who asks questions for failing to address the answers ahead of time. You don’t want people hesitating to propose hypotheticals because they don’t already know the conclusions.

    As for Landsburg’s idiocy, remember that he is an economics professor, not an ethicist or a philosopher. It’s really not that hard to go through life never having considered the question of whether rape is inherently wrong or whether it is wrong because of its effects. As noted, it’s a highly abstract question with little benefit to the real world. The fact that Landsburg did not immediately address every possible outcome of his hypothetical (as well as the fact that his hypothetical was initially highly flawed) are not evidence that he is not good at his job because I would wager that pondering the implications of imaginary rape scenarios is not something that is very important to economics professors. If Landsburg’s hypothetical example fails to take into account some important factor in determining the harm caused by rape, tell him. He appears to be plenty open to that feedback, as several commenters do just that.

    He also fails to understand that committing such acts without repercussions changes the context on how we view our interactions with others; it coarsens us and enables more atrocities and suffering to follow.

    I don’t like this sentence. Arguing that something “coarsens” “us” seems to me to be very similar to the claim that we have lost god’s grace. It’s a metaphor for something (as obviously we were not previously “smooth”), but I don’t know what it is a metaphor for. When you say that we will be “coarsened” if Landsburg is not punished, what exactly do you mean? Please speak literally. I am comfortable with metaphor and parable, but I find that they lack the specificity necessary for this conversation.

    Here that means opening the door to justifying some types of rape, in spite of the fact rape is by definition the violation of another’s autonomy without their consent and by observation, is predominately very traumatic to the victim.

    Here that means exploring what, exactly, makes rape wrong and how we should adjudicate it. Of course that opens the door to justifying some types of rape. You cannot ask the question “Is rape wrong?” without considering the possibility that the answer might be “no.” To suggest that a person should be punished if he allows for that possibility is to make the conversation impossible.

    And even if you, Michael Heath, KNOW that rape is always wrong, even when it is never detected due to imaginary contrived circumstances, that does not mean that everybody else knows it. The fact that you have already arrived at the conclusion does not mean that we should pull the ladder up after you and take your word for it. Clearly, Landsburg doesn’t know that rape is inherently wrong (or at least he is feigning that position) and he is interested in finding out by discussing the topic. What you are proposing is that a person should be punished by his employer for failing to arrive at your predetermined conclusion fast enough.

    If I were his administrator my obligation doesn’t merely extend to protecting tenured profs in order to foster intellectual freedom, a very important objective

    To be clear, I’m not defending Landsburg on the grounds of tenured professorship or intellectual freedom. I’m saying that Landsburg has done nothing wrong, it’s none of his employer’s business, and I hope he sues their ass into the ground if there are any repercussions for this. It would be one thing if Landsburg was actually advocating or apologizing for rapists. But to be fire for grappling unsuccessfully with a complicated, abstract hypothetical? That is truly ridiculous.

    So I think it’s absolutely fair to consider the rights of students when it comes to assessing the viability of Landsburg continuing at his university.

    Of course it is. In fact I would argue it is the ONLY thing that should be considered. What has not been demonstrated for me is how this blog post infringes on the rights of students.

  211. says

    This is the second time that someone has told me the problem is that Landsburg is talking about rape…

    That’s not what we’re saying, you lying twit. The problem is that he’s talking about rape in a patronizing, insulting, willfully-ignorant, and totally useless way, patting himself on his privileged back for “thinking outside the box,” and repeatedly pretending that people want to outlaw rape solely because of their own personal feelings or tastes, and not because of observable harm done.

  212. says

    Here’s my response to Landsburg’s follow-up post, which showed up beriefly on his blog before being deleted…

    1. This was not a post about censorship, or about the environment, or about rape.

    Then why did you mention censorship, the environment, and rape?

    2. The post was laden with unrealistic hypotheticals. That’s the only way I know of to approach these questions.

    What’s wrong with using REASONABLE hypotheticals, which might actually be relevant in the real world? Do you not know how to use them?

    The whole point is to focus on the stuff we’re not sure of, such as: Should my distress over someone else‘s rape receive policy weight?

    NO ONE is advocting such an approach, and you are being extermely dishonest — not to mention downright sleazy — when you pretend our concern about rape is nothing but “personal distress” as opposed to, say, empirical observation of real harm done.

    In other words, we assume away all the usual harm to the victim precisely because we’re already know that this harm is dreadful and merits policy weight.

    Your “exercise” proves that such reasoning accomplishes absolutely nothing, at best: by assuming something that doesn’t exist (in this case, “harmless rape”), you arrive at a conclusion that has no relevance to any real-world problem. Just like, say, a TV show about how to prepare for a zombie-apocolypse.

    Or to put this yet another way: In this business, the way one acknowledges that an issue is settled is to assume it away. It is settled that damage to rape victims is real, great, important, and deserves the attention of the law. Thus we assume it away.

    In what business does anyone do that? I certainly don’t “assume away” an incontrovertible fact, nor do I engage in vapid intellectual exercises based on premises that are clearly both false and irrelevant to any real-world situation.

    3. If you think it’s obvious that my distress over someone else’s rape should receive policy weight, you’ve got to explain why my distress over someone else’s Sabbath violation should not (or allow that it should).

    NO ONE is arguing about “your distress,” we’re arguing about observable harm done. Why do you have to minimize and belittle legitimate concerns about a violent crime? (Oh, and are you really trying to equate outrage over rape with outrage over a victimless violation of a religious rule? Do I detect a (badly) hidden agenda here?)

    4. The use of hypotheticals as attention-focusers is not unique to economics or to policy analysis.

    Some people do this better than others. You did yours very badly, and accomplished nothing.

    6. Occasionally I post about topics I’m passionate about, and I’m glad when those posts get a lot of attention. This was not one of those occasions. This post was more idle noodling than anything else, with no good arguments and no conclusions; the whole point is that I can’t seem to figure out what the good arguments are on this subject, and I was hoping for a little help from my readers.

    you didn’t know about the issue, you didn’t really care enough to inform yourself of the good arguments that have been out there for CENTURIES…so why did you even bother with this at all? Funny how you pretend not to care AFTER you get called out on your BS.

    8. I care about abstract policy analysis using contrived hypotheticals to focus attention on difficult issues.

    This “exercise” did nothing of the sort. You contributed nothing to the ongoing grownup debate about rape and related issues.

  213. lofgren says

    It’s becoming more and more obvious that Raging Bee’s issue is with the entire field of philosophy, and their habit of “assuming away” settled facts in order to hone more complex issues.

    I get that frustration. I do. I have one friend who is very interest in the subject of what kind of government humanity would choose for itself if everybody’s memory was somehow erased. He seems to believe that this exercise can somehow inform a better government in the real world. I keep trying to explain to him that he might as well be talking about aliens. You are highly unlikely to come to any viable conclusion by denying all of history.

    But you need to realize that when a person is engaged in this kind of exercise, “Let’s ignore that for the moment” is code for “I agree with you too much to mount a reasonable argument on that subject, so let’s talk about something that is harder to agree on.” This is exactly why Landsburg modifies the scenario in response to posters bringing up: the change of other people’s opinion of the victim, the possibility of one crime inspiring future crimes, the likelihood that people will commit other crimes in order to facilitate a “just” rape, the fact that the risk of others discovering the rape even if the rapist takes precautions automatically infringes on the victim’s rights, the obvious difference in the likely impact of the psychic trauma of a person who has been raped vs. a person whose neighbor turns on a porch light, and others. Each time Landsburg says, “OK, but let’s look at it this way,” he is saying “You’re right. There’s no point in discussing that. Let’s move on to something more interesting.”

  214. says

    It’s becoming more and more obvious that Raging Bee’s issue is with the entire field of philosophy…

    What, Landsburg is the only philosopher on Earth?

    But you need to realize that when a person is engaged in this kind of exercise, “Let’s ignore that for the moment” is code for…

    Ooooh, he’s speaking in CODE? Why does he need to speak in code, if he really has something decent to say? Or is that just another excuse to pretend his critics are all barbaric philistines who don’t understand his special genius?

    … he is saying “You’re right. There’s no point in discussing that. Let’s move on to something more interesting.”

    More interesting to him alone, totally irrelevant to the rest of us, and utterly useless in solving any real-world problem. Sort of like a sexual fantasy.

  215. says

    lofgren, I just posted a point-by-point rebuttal of Landsburg’s latest BS. It’s right above your latest comment. Either address what I actually said there, or admit you’re full of shit.

  216. says

    “However, by attempting to pressure University of Rochester to take some disciplinary action against Landsburg, we are not really saying that we take rape seriously. We’re punishing talking about rape.”

    Reporting such behavior as Landsburg’s is not equivalent to “attempting to pressure” anyone. If you report it AND attempt to pressure someone, that is wrong. If you report and THEY decide, indepedently, to do something about it, that would be THEIR business.

  217. says

    However, by attempting to pressure University of Rochester to take some disciplinary action against Landsburg, we are not really saying that we take rape seriously. We’re punishing talking about rape.

    Jesus fucking Christ, lofgren, how far out of your way are you going to avoid understanding our objections to Landsburg’s BS? You’ve already won a silver medal in Olympic point-missing — Landsburg probably has the gold, because while you only ignore a huge volume of substantive criticism, Landsburg actually deletes it.

  218. David Marjanović says

    This is the second time that someone has told me the problem is that Landsburg is talking about rape, and rape is not taken seriously enough by our culture. I don’t think I can argue with the second part of that statement. Teenage boys commit rape and think it is a funny joke. There is obviously something wrong with that. (I doubt that their acts were inspired by abstract philosophical exercises performed by professors on their blogs, though.) However, by attempting to pressure University of Rochester to take some disciplinary action against Landsburg, we are not really saying that we take rape seriously. We’re punishing talking about rape.

    Uh, no. That would be punishing talking about rape in a way that implies it’s not really a big deal – Landsburg hasn’t read comment 125 in this thread, and, apparently, neither have you.

    I agree that rapists are highly unlikely to be inspired by abstract philosophical exercises. However, those exercises contribute to sustaining a culture that considers rape not really a big deal and (partially or entirely) excuses it as “oh well, boys will be boys” and the like.

    On “pressuring”, see comment 231.

  219. Michael Heath says

    Weed Monkey to me:

    Dude, defame my ass. The thing important here is this asshole’s inexcusable behaviour, not the loopholes you can use to get him away with it.

    Your delusion continues. I argued the opposite of that which you feel I argued.

    If you were actually not defaming me, you’d blockquote that which I write that supposedly describes what you falsely describe me writing. But you can’t, because I never asserted what you falsely claim I argued. In fact I asserted the opposite. And I use ‘feel’ specifically since there’s no evidence of rational thought coming from your posts.

  220. Michael Heath says

    David Marjanović:

    (Incidentally, his follow-up post shows he fails epically at expressing what he wants to say, and at so much as getting the idea that anyone might not immediately understand what he wanted to say. This alone should be a reason to fire him from any teaching position.)
    [emphasis David’s]

    Well as I noted previously, from an intellectual perspective he failed miserably in the original post. Which is exactly why I argued that even if tenure protects him, I’d be looking to fire his ass. It’s pretty sad when teachers are the ones displaying a lack of critical thinking skills. This is also one more illustration on why I argue we should overtly teach critical thinking as a standalone class, in all formal educative settings.

  221. slc1 says

    Re Heddle @ #208

    As I predicted above, the students at the Un. of Rochester have already reported Prof. Landsburg the administration at U of R so this argument between you and Raging Bee is an exercise in irrelevance. IMHO, the female students there have a legitimate concern as to whether this asshole will treat female students in his classes fairly. If I were a female student at Rochester, I sure as hell wouldn’t take a course from this schmuck. I suspect that President Seligman, who has already reprimanded Landsburg earlier on on a related issue involving Sandra Fluke, will have a come to Yeshua conversation with him. As to whether this is a firing offense, that depends on the rules at the university relative to removal for cause. This is much more serious than the case of Michael Behe, more like Northwestern Un. engineering Prof. Arthur Butz.

    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/crime/article/Students-Censure-NY-college-prof-for-rape-blog-4409337.php

  222. lofgren says

    Reporting such behavior as Landsburg’s is not equivalent to “attempting to pressure” anyone. If you report it AND attempt to pressure someone, that is wrong. If you report and THEY decide, indepedently, to do something about it, that would be THEIR business.

    You honestly believe that? That urging non-students on the internet to report to Landsburg’s administrators that they disapprove of his blog is not the same as pressuring them?

    Suffice to say I disagree.

    I think I find this part of your comment most interesting:

    If you report it AND attempt to pressure someone, that is wrong.

    The reason I find it interesting is because I feel completely the opposite. I think that if you report somebody, you should have a pretty good idea of what you believe is a just punishment for their infringement, and you should advocate for that punishment. If you feel that it would perfectly just for NO discipline to be meted to Landsburg whatsoever, then why the hell are you reporting him? Because you know the administration is not going to interpret your complaint that way. They will assume that you are reporting something that you feel is wrong, and you expect that something should be done about it. If I tell a child’s parent that he did something I feel is wrong, I expect that the parent will engage in corrective behavior. I could, of course, pressure the parent to do something even more than simply reporting their child’s misbehavior, but the report is itself a form of pressure. It’s social reprobation.

    That would be punishing talking about rape in a way that implies it’s not really a big deal

    OK, so the specific problem is that he appears insufficiently horrified by the hypothetical rape in his hypothetical example while speaking broadly and abstractly on his personal blog.

    Let’s say that Landsburg adds a preface in which he says that we can all agree that rape is wrong and that it’s very sad for people who are raped and that nobody should ever be raped and rapists are bad.

    Would that be sufficient? Who decides when a conversation is sufficiently deferential to rape that it does not deserve punishment?

    Do we leave it up to individual employers to determine what the proper tone for a conversation about rape is, as proposed by you and democommie? That seems like a seriously fucked up universe to me, where McDonald’s employees can talk about rape like it is a spectator sport because McDonald’s says that’s OK, but Burger King employees live in fear that if they even mention rape without a long preamble about its obvious horrors and injustices then they may be fired (legal), or forced to lose 50 lbs. or pay an additional $200 for their health insurance (legal), or told that they need to do ten jumping jacks in the middle of the restaurant while shouting “I’m a poopyhead!” every day at noon (legal)? Does that seem like justice to you? Is it really only McDonald’s or Burger King’s “business” how they punish their employees for talking about rape in a way that they feel is improper?

    Landsburg hasn’t read comment 125 in this thread, and, apparently, neither have you.

    I have, in fact. However, I’m not sure of its relevance to Landsburg’s conversation. In all of those cases, both the victim and others learned about the rapes, and so obviously they are not consistent with Landsburg’s hypotheticals. As Landsburg acknowledges, the psychic harm from rape is extreme. That’s why he modifies the scenario to eliminate the victim’s awareness of the crime.

    those exercises contribute to sustaining a culture that considers rape not really a big deal

    This is a highly dubious assertion. I see no evidence that Landsburg’s exercise contributes to such a culture in any way. Are you prepared to present some?

    And just to be clear, are you arguing that discussing the abstract morality of rape in any way is wrong?
    Or is it only wrong if you start from a point of assuming no harm and then develop a theory of harm?
    Or is it only wrong if you are too clinical and detached from the subject matter?

    I seriously want to get to the bottom of what exactly Landsburg has done wrong. There is no shortage of outrage over his disinterest and his inept communication, but these are not of themselves crimes. In fact disinterest is absolutely required when engaging in this type of exercise. The lesson I am learning is that there is only one, true, right, and proper way to talk about rape, but nobody will tell me what it is, only what it isn’t, and only by making broad unsubstantiated, highly subjective indictments so that I cannot assess the value of their claims. Specifically, what should Landsburg have said or not said in order to place his blog post in the realm of acceptable discussion? If the entire topic is simply off limits, well, that seems fundamentally wrong to me. The only reason to be afraid of discussing the morality of rape is if, deep down, you don’t actually believe that your emotional response will hold up to scrutiny. I don’t think that anybody here has to be afraid of that.

    and (partially or entirely) excuses it as “oh well, boys will be boys” and the like.

    Show me where Landsburg does this. I address this accusation in my comment 197, point 3.

  223. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #235

    I don’t know what the rules are regarding tenure at the Un. of Rochester are but this doesn’t, by itself, seen like a firing offense unless it can be shown that statements like this one and his comments about Sandra Fluke are indicative of a negative attitude toward women which is reflected in his attitude toward them in his classes. Not even Holocaust denier Arthur Butz, the closest case IMHO was fired from Northwestern, Un.

  224. lofgren says

    Well as I noted previously, from an intellectual perspective he failed miserably in the original post. Which is exactly why I argued that even if tenure protects him, I’d be looking to fire his ass. It’s pretty sad when teachers are the ones displaying a lack of critical thinking skills.

    Teachers are not perfect. I’ll wager that even the great Michael Heath has either reasoned his way to the wrong conclusion, or failed to be sufficiently critical in a discussion before. (In fact in my opinion it has happened several times in the comments of this very blog.)

    Landsburg may be an idiot and he may have failed to think through this scenario sufficiently. He may even have failed at communication. But so what? Thinking critically and communicating himself clearly while writing for his own personal blog with no affiliation with his employer whatsoever are not part of his job. Nobody has made any accusation that he is failing at his job or performing it improperly. One crappy blog post, even a hundred crappy blog posts, are simply none of his employer’s business. Unless you have some evidence that he is failing his students, this has nothing to do with the University of Rochester.

  225. slc1 says

    Re dingojack @ #199

    I’m not sure what Dingo the bingo is saying here. Is he saying that I never received a number of papers written by the late Prof. Shockley as I claimed above or is he saying that I have misrepresented them? This exchange took place in 1969, long before the development of the internet so I doubt that any of them are available there.. AFAIK, none of them were published in a reputable journal (unless some of them were published in Mankind Quarterly) so I have no idea where they might be found at this late date. An example of the type of sloppy research in this area that the good professor engaged in was a computation based on the number of Jews in North America, which he estimated at 2 million. At the time, according to the World Almanac, the number of Jews in the US and Canada was in excess of 6 million. This was only the most obvious error in his “research”.

    I would also point out that he based many of his claims on the work of Arthur Jensen, who had published a controversial paper in the Harvard Educational Review. Unfortunately, many of Jensen’s claims were based on the “work” of the infamous Cyril Burt, who we now know produced fraudulent papers based on the evaluation of identical twins who did not exist. So much for Jensen and Shockley.

  226. slc1 says

    Re lofgren @ #239

    One crappy blog post, even a hundred crappy blog posts, are simply none of his employer’s business. Unless you have some evidence that he is failing his students, this has nothing to do with the University of Rochester.

    Not true, and it is negated by the reprimand administered to Prof. Landsburg by University President Seligman earlier on. However, I agree with lofgren that, unless, it can be shown that these blog posts are indicative of his attitude toward women and are reflected in his interactions with them in classes, they probably don’t rise to a firing offense.

  227. Michael Heath says

    I wrote earlier:

    Well as I noted previously, from an intellectual perspective he failed miserably in the original post. Which is exactly why I argued that even if tenure protects him, I’d be looking to fire his ass. It’s pretty sad when teachers are the ones displaying a lack of critical thinking skills.

    lofgren:

    Teachers are not perfect. I’ll wager that even the great Michael Heath has either reasoned his way to the wrong conclusion, or failed to be sufficiently critical in a discussion before. (In fact in my opinion it has happened several times in the comments of this very blog.)

    Cite requested on my supposed failures. I certainly don’t claim to predominately argue irrefutable conclusions, but I’m not aware of any arguments beyond a mere handful I’ve made that are structurally defective, at least at the rate it’s an observable phenomena. Where Mr. Landsburg is consistently making news for his idiocy.

    And your rebuttal here is a strawman of what I concluded about Mr. Landsburg and advocated in reaction to another of countless teachers who can’t think at the sophomoric level. Though unfortunately, most teacher fails that go viral are at the remedial level. We can use a number of sports analogies to illustrate why.

    Batting in baseball, shooting free throws in basketball, or putting in golf. In all cases there is certainty of failure; 100% success has never been observed, nor is it feasible given current human capabilities and the vagaries of factors outside the control of the player.

    But any observer with skills that makes them a competent amateur for any of these sports can immediately tell on the first swing, shot, or putt whether a player is fundamentally sound in their mechanics; at least to determine whether they’re a competitive player (with some oddball outlier exceptions of course, like Rick Barry’s under-handed free throw shot). Not necessarily the skills needed to beat others at the highest level, but skills to be competent at least at an amateur level. And in this case, it’s clear that Mr. Landsburg is not fundamentally sound when it comes to argumentation, not even remotely so though he least he’s passed the remedial level.

    Here Landsburg fails spectacularly in terms of insufficiently framing the set of needed premises to form an insightful question. That’s because he fails to present all the implications of the act he studies; and if he had sufficiently set forth the needed premises, even he’s probably smart enough to realize there is no argument to be made that rape can create a net benefit, even theoretically.

    I noted two missing premises, I bet there are more*: That raping someone will change many for the worse – so marginally increased future outcomes that have negative repercussions are near-certain. And two, that a culture tolerant of such an abhorrent act is bound to commit more atrocities. Where both of these are sophomore level observations where I’d expect post-grads to have post-grad critical thinking capabilities.

    *I’m skeptical that raping an unconscious person doesn’t harm them, even if the rapist is “gentle”. But I can’t validate that here where the defects I do rely on are self-evident.

  228. Stacy says

    @Raging Bee

    Oddly enough, I haven’t actually seen anybody here argue that the problem with this little scenario is its starting point.

    Actually, I did, when I pointed out that: a) his first two scenarios were based on false premises; and b) his third scenario (the rape of an unconscius woman) was so ridiculously improbable as to fall squarely into the category of “fantasy.” As in, a sexual fantasy that a middle-aged spoiled white guy dressed up as a “thought exercise” for his own JAQing pleasure

    By “starting point,” I think I took lofgren to mean we’re objecting simply because his hypothetical is about rape. To be honest I don’t precisely remember what I was thinking last night when I wrote that, but I know I had that impression from lofgren, and his later comment

    This is the second time that someone has told me the problem is that Landsburg is talking about rape…

    –suggests I was right about that, at least. But point taken, and @lofgren, if I wronged you there, I apologize.

    I would say rape is not off-limits for thought experiments, but that there are some subjects that it’s intellectually unethical–is that a thing?–to use that way without a thorough understanding of the subject and its real-world implications, and rape is one of them. Another one is torture; I had a similar repulsed reaction to Sam Harris’s banal nuclear time bomb scenario. At a time when the American government was openly torturing people and defending same, Harris felt it important to point out that there’s a hypothetical and thoroughly implausible scenario in which torture might arguably be the least bad option. Sure. And, you know, we all reflexively hate the idea of human vivisection, but what if an alien magically implanted a special key deep in your abdomen, and the only way to dismantle the Bad Guys’ doomsday machine was to retrieve the key, and we can’t use anesthetic because Reasons…discuss, kids.

    /rant over

  229. slc1 says

    Re Stacy @ #243

    Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote about the use of torture to extract evidence about a pending terrorists attack long before Sam Harris opined on the subject.

  230. says

    “You honestly believe that? That urging non-students on the internet to report to Landsburg’s administrators that they disapprove of his blog is not the same as pressuring them? Suffice to say I disagree.”

    Noted.

    “I think I find this part of your comment most interesting:

    If you report it AND attempt to pressure someone, that is wrong.

    The reason I find it interesting is because I feel completely the opposite. I think that if you report somebody, you should have a pretty good idea of what you believe is a just punishment for their infringement, and you should advocate for that punishment. ..”

    Really? Well, I guess that’s your privilege. I, otoh, might send a letter or e-mail to someone, informing them of something that is going on in their organization and let THEM decide what sort of action/response is appropriate.

    If I am involved, personnaly, in the situation that I am informing them about and I am affected by it, I might THEN suggest a course of action to them.

    I’m pretty sure that the University of Rochester has a desire to present itself to the public in the best possible light and what Landsburg has done is not furthering that goal.

    As I commented earlier, Landsburg is not teaching a course in philosophy or anything akin to one. He teaches economics which is considered to be a mix of art and science by some but is not considered, by anyone I know, as a study of the human psyche. Landsburg is a douchebag, people who inform the school admin of his douchebaggery can certainly let the school do whatever the school deems appropriate.

    If his three “examples” are the best that he could come up with, then Landsburg is a fucking moron.

  231. says

    slc1: thanks for citing the article about student response. I’m glad to see both students and non-students calling out pseudointellectual bullshit like this when they see it. There’s hope for my beloved country yet.

    I just wish that university officials would stop blathering about “academic freedom” when the real issue is plain old pants-on-head stupidity and incompetence. “Academic freedom” means the freedom to explore controversial ideas, NOT the freedom to be a completely disgusting creep, moron or charlatan under academic (or pseudo-academic) cover.

    Incidentally, for those of you who are still, inexplicably, bitching and whining (and, in lofgren’s case, lying) about the horrible alien concept of reporting bad performance to the boss, I’d just like to point out that such reporting serves another very useful purpose: ascertaining where the university stands on the issue in question. I, for one, feel that’s at least as relevant as where the offending professor stands. How is that wrong?

  232. says

    I think that if you report somebody, you should have a pretty good idea of what you believe is a just punishment for their infringement, and you should advocate for that punishment.

    Um…isn’t it the authorities’ job to determine punishment, based on their rules? Why is it suddenly the complainant’s job to tell the authorities what to do? This is clearly a stupid demand, desperately made up by lofgren on the spur of the moment to try to support a position that’s proven unsupportable.

    Let’s say that Landsburg adds a preface in which he says that we can all agree that rape is wrong and that it’s very sad for people who are raped and that nobody should ever be raped and rapists are bad. Would that be sufficient?

    No, it wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t make his mind-wank any less stupid, dishonest, or inappropriate. Just like prefacing a black joke with “I’m horrified by racism” would not in any way justify the racist humor.

    Do we leave it up to individual employers to determine what the proper tone for a conversation about rape is, as proposed by you and democommie? That seems like a seriously fucked up universe to me…

    This is a typical babyish libertarian dodge: “Nobody is perfect enough to be trusted to make the right ruling, therefore let’s not allow anyone to make a ruling, therefore no accountability!” And it explains why lofgren is tying himself in such knots to excuse Landsburg: infantile libertarians have to stick together to avoid grownup accountability. Because nothing is more fucked up or terrifying to a child than being judged by grownups.

    Seriously, lofgren, if Landsburg can’t trust his superiors to treat him fairly, shouldn’t he looking for better superiors? Why is it anyone else’s duty to protect Landsburg from his own bosses?

    I see no evidence that Landsburg’s exercise contributes to such a culture in any way.

    You sound like a Slymepitter saying he sees NO EVIDENCE AT ALL of hatred or misogyny in the Slymepit (yes, I have heard that said). Do you see any evidence that the Earth is round?

    I seriously want to get to the bottom of what exactly Landsburg has done wrong.

    That’s been explained in both the OP and hundreds of subsequent comments. Your failure to acknowledge any of them proves you DON’T want to “get to the bottom” of anything. If you wanted to, you would have done it already, instead of banging on and on about how you don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    There is no shortage of outrage over his disinterest and his inept communication, but these are not of themselves crimes. In fact disinterest is absolutely required when engaging in this type of exercise. The lesson I am learning is that there is only one, true, right, and proper way to talk about rape, but nobody will tell me what it is, only what it isn’t, and only by making broad unsubstantiated, highly subjective indictments so that I cannot assess the value of their claims…

    Either your reading comprehension is shit, or you’re being a pathological, inconerent liar — specifically, a privileged twit refusing to understand the legitimate concerns of people outside your comfort-zone.

  233. says

    By “starting point,” I think I took lofgren to mean we’re objecting simply because his hypothetical is about rape.

    And that, in fact, is another perfectly valid “starting-point” objection: why mention rape at all, when there are PLENTY of other examples that are at least as appropriate to a given thought-exercise, if not more so? This guy is a professor, and he claims he’s been thinking about the issue for a long time; he should have been able to think of a better example, and he has no excuse not to have done so.

    (His excuse is that he heard something about Stubenville on the news, and it got him thinking, and that’s why he used the example he did. It was a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, which (as an excuse for being stupid) kinda contradicts his “I’ve been thinking about this a long time” pretense.)

  234. lofgren says

    Cite requested on my supposed failures.

    I’m not going to go back and dig up every disagreement we have ever had. Generally speaking, I think that most of our disagreements have stemmed from your obsession with manufacturing jargon and processes, and attempts to apply that perspective where it is not appropriate. Most of the time, I find this approach refreshing because it refocuses the debate from lofty ideals to real-world functionality. All too often on this blog, and the internet in general, commenters become too focused on their fantasies and ignore the fact that laws have to be established, implemented, enforced, and effective. You consistently remind us that it’s not sufficient to support an idea because it feels good, it also has to work. However, I do believe you have applied this rubrik in inappropriate ways, at times ignoring the fact that a human is not a widget, or favoring metrics for success that in my opinion are highly inappropriate.

    Reason is not a foolproof system. Two people can start with observably true facts and proceed through entirely rational channels and still arrive at different conclusions, with neither or both being correct. In fact it has been argued that this is the essence of tragedy. In addition reason is a practice that humans struggle with consistently, and getting it right is quite difficult. You are obviously someone who has had a lot of experience having your reasoning skills tested by real-world consequences, and it has obviously honed your ability to procede rationally. But just like an economics professor may have had his ability to reason when working with economic models honed to a fine edge, your experience has come in a particular area with fairly specific tests for success, and that has shaped your ability to reason because it encourages you to value some factors differently than others. This is utterly rational. Your experience has taught you that you should lend additional weight to those factors to represent their real-world worth. However, the same factors that are of significant worth in the business world are not necessarily of the same worth in politics, or relationships, or any other area of life. Most of the time, the difference is not staggering or crippling, so your values are unlikely to be challenged on a regular basis.

    What we have here is a similar problem of someone who has been trained to place a greater value on some factors than others. His training in economics and his experience as a libertarian have resulted in rewards and adulation for appropriately valuing these factors, and of course as an academic he has rarely faced the real-world tests of his values that Michael Heath has. (I realize how condescending it sounds to use your name that way. I am switching to third person references because this post will be read by others and I want to be clear that I am referring to a specific person and not an abstract “you.” Please believe I mean no disrespect, as I hope you can surmise from the praise ) When he attempts to apply the same values to crime, he finds that the result is that he undervalues certain factors that are of minimal importance to his primary area of knowledge. This is to be expected.

    I noted two missing premises, I bet there are more*: That raping someone will change many for the worse – so marginally increased future outcomes that have negative repercussions are near-certain. And two, that a culture tolerant of such an abhorrent act is bound to commit more atrocities. Where both of these are sophomore level observations where I’d expect post-grads to have post-grad critical thinking capabilities.

    I disagree with you, but only slightly. I also don’t see any reason to think that Landsburg disagrees with you. I also don’t think that neglecting two premises in an informal discussion on a personal blog is some kind of offense against, well, anybody. Except Logic, if you’re the kind of person who anthropomorphizes abstract concepts.

    The reason I say I disagree slightly is that I’m not sure what you mean by “raping someone will change many for the worse.” Based on the construction of this sentence, it appears that you feel that Landsburg failed to consider that his hypothetically harmless rape would necessarily have harmful effects on the rapist. I’m not sure I buy that assertion, but it seems like something worth bringing up in response to Landsburg’s thought experiment. However, I also consider the possibility that your sentence is poorly constructed and what you mean to say is that most of the time (pretty much all of the time), a rape will have negative effects for the victim. In this case, I don’t think that Landsburg has neglected that premise. The fact that rape has negative effects for the victim is addressed twice in the original post and multiple times in the comments, which is why the final version of the scenario stipulates that the victim will never know about the rape and shifts the “psychic harm” to a loved one who magically finds out about the rape.

    If Landsburg’s reasoning had failed him in any way that affected the real-world, I would agree that some kind of consequences should be appropriate. In the case of Sandra Fluke, for example, we have a real person about whom real misinformation is being spread. Obvious harm can be measured as a result of spreading that misinformation, and both individuals and groups of people may suffer because of it. Spreading misinformation is also an obvious ethical lapse. If Landsburg had been insufficiently deferential to the suffering of a real rape victim in a real situation, that would be an appalling failure of empathy. In both of these cases, opprobrium should be swift and pointed.

    But Landsburg took great pains to isolate his thought exercise from any real victims. He is dealing with violations of an abstract nature in order to determine the appropriate “policy weight,” to use his term, of “psychic harm.” Note that there are actually two rape scenarios even in the original blog post (and many variations in the comments). In the first scenario, Landsburg ponders whether the “psychic harm” to the victim ought to be a factor. Note that he never says it shouldn’t be, only asks how it ought to be weighted. He then modifies the scenario after noting that the “psychic harm” to a victim of rape is “an order of magnitude” greater than that of a person penetrated by photons from his neighbor’s porch light. That is to say, he acknowledges that if psychic harm is given any weight at all, then a rape is still going to be always wrong. So in the first variation on his original scenario, Landsburg isolates the victim from psychic harm and instead shifts that harm to a loved one who (through magic, one would presume, given that there are also no witnesses) finds out about the rape. Should their (ie not the victim’s) psychic harm be afforded any policy weight?

    Honestly, I’m not defending the question. Like Michael Heath, I simply do not believe that it is actually possible to put your penis inside somebody without leaving some trace that you were there. This is why, as I said above, size matters. Bajillions of photons pass harmlessly through our bodies every day. Only a tiny, tiny number of those photons knock out an electron in our cell nuclei that then, eventually, might lead to cancer. The risk that your neighbor exposes you to by turning on his porch light is almost incalculably small. This is simply not true for a penis. Like with my friend who is obsessed with universal memory wipes, once you get to that level of magic in your scenario it kind of loses interest for me. Similar to the question of what would happen if a vampire and a werewolf had a baby. At that point, the answer might as well be “anything you want.”

    But a failure of logic in pretty much the most harmless way possible, in the most harmless venue, while dealing with totally imaginary scenarios does not seem like something to punish to me. Landsburg is clearly open to correction and he responds to several commenters who point out premises that he neglected, usually with agreement in the philosopher’s fashion (“Let’s ignore that for now…”). As I said before, I don’t see any reason to think that Landsburg imagines his thought experiment should impact the real treatment of real rapists and rape victims in any way. As he peels away the identifiable harms of rape, he is definitely grappling with a question over whether rape is inherently wrong or simply wrong on practical terms. As many posters have pointed out, this obviously opens the door to the possibility that there is such a thing as a not-wrong rape, but only highly contrived, imaginary circumstances where the future effects of the rape are fully known ahead of time. I do not get the impression that either Landsburg or his audience actually believe that such an unlikely event will ever actually occur anywhere ever. Without a time machine, it’s actually literally impossible.

    As to Landsburg’s other failures, I admit that I have not read any of his other blog posts and don’t really have a desire to. Perhaps you are right, and those posts show a consistent pattern of failures in rationality. However, that is not the argument that has been set forth by most of the commenters here, which is why I chose not to address it. (Actually, I think you are the only one, as the majority of comments have simply discounted your notion of “competing rights” of a professor to post sloppy arguments on his personal blog vs. rape victims to not have their experiences minimized – a dichotomy I also reject, as I do not see those rights in conflict in this case.) The vast majority of comments, including those calling for punishment by his employer, have instead argued that Landsburg’s primary crime is insufficient empathy with hypothetical rape victims, as evidenced by… well, nothing really, except a general feeling that he should be more sad about the imaginary rape of a hypothetical person.

    What this reminds me of is that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and his date have sex in the movie theater during Schindler’s List. People who hear about it react as thought Jerry has somehow wronged actual victims of the holocaust. But the holocaust happened decades ago. At most, you could say that Jerry and his date were disrespectful to other people sitting in the movie theater. The fact that Jerry can get it up with a movie playing in the background that happens to be about the holocaust is not evidence that he doesn’t care or is attempting to minimize the pain of the people who actually experienced those actual events. One is a performance. One is reality. Landsburg’s disinterested treatment of a hypothetical figment is not indicative of his feelings towards real people and real situations.

  235. lofgren says

    I, otoh, might send a letter or e-mail to someone, informing them of something that is going on in their organization and let THEM decide what sort of action/response is appropriate.

    You are naive beyond description if you honestly believe that your information will not be interpreted as a request for action.

  236. says

    “You are naive beyond description if you honestly believe that your information will not be interpreted as a request for action.”

    Do you think that I’ve never done anything like that? I assure you that I know the difference between pointing something out to someone and DEMANDING THAT THEY TAKE ACTION. When I WANT someone to be disciplined, fired or prosecuted for their behavior toward me or someone else I say so. What you’re suggesting is that every notification to an authority, regarding one of their employees or other persons over whom they have control, is given equal weight–that is simply not the case.

  237. lofgren says

    I would say rape is not off-limits for thought experiments, but that there are some subjects that it’s intellectually unethical–is that a thing?–to use that way without a thorough understanding of the subject and its real-world implications, and rape is one of them.

    I don’t have the vocabulary to call this logical failure out based on a name, so I will attempt to describe the problem.

    What you are saying is that, in essence, it is wrong to discuss something until you fully understand it.

    The problem with this is that it is only through discussion with others that a person can determine if they have a thorough understanding of something or not.

    You have effectively put the discussion of rape (at least in thought experiments) fully out of bounds, because without performing such experiments it is impossible to have a thorough understanding of rape, and we cannot perform those experiments because we do not have a thorough understanding of rape.

    It is the nature of ignorance that it is not aware of itself. No person in the world – rape victims and rapists included – has a “thorough” understanding of rape. Some people know they don’t understand it. Some people think they understand it and they are wrong. Some people have a really good understanding and know that there are some aspects they can never understand because they are who they are and they cannot be somebody else. Some people think that the perspective on rape that another person brings to the discussion is irrelevant or ought to be punished. A person who falls into the second category should be corrected in the course of conversation – but not punished by his employer. Ignorance of our own ignorance is a universal human condition.

    In your own experiment, you shifted the location of this discussion from a blog to a classroom, you shifted the relationship between the participants from strangers on the internet to a professor and a student, you specified the student’s age to imply a lack of confidence and life experience. You specified a gender and a background.

    Can I take this to mean that you believe that you have a “thorough” understanding of rape? Or is it just that you believe that your understanding is more thorough than Landsburg’s? The thing is, you are both clearly confident enough in your understanding that you feel comfortable creating hypotheticals about the feelings, experiences, and attitudes of totally hypothetical rape victims, and you feel comfortable enough to judge that rape victim’s psychic harm and lend it weight. In Landsburg’s case, he views the psychic harm done to rape victims as more than sufficient to treat a physically harmless rape as a moral and legal crime. In your case, you see the psychic harm done to a rape victim by engaging in a Platonic exercise concerning rape to be sufficient to say that those conversations should never happen.

    Another one is torture; I had a similar repulsed reaction to Sam Harris’s banal nuclear time bomb scenario. At a time when the American government was openly torturing people and defending same, Harris felt it important to point out that there’s a hypothetical and thoroughly implausible scenario in which torture might arguably be the least bad option.

    Harris’ situation was slightly different. While I have no problem with Harris engaging in an exercise where he tries to find the moral edge of a typically immoral act, the argument was presented (in my opinion) in a way that allowed the audience to assume that support for torture at the hands of our government meant support for only that specific type of torture that had been thoroughly vetted as the “least bad” option. that was not entirely Harris’ fault. The CIA was at the time saying things like “We can’t tell you how many people we have tortured,” and “We can’t tell you how many terrorist plots we stopped by torture,” allowing them to imply that the first number was very small, the last number very large, and each one of the same proportion as Harris’ example. Harris was interjecting experimental models into real world politics in a way that elided the massive information gap between those performing the torture and those (i.e. us) who must judge their moral choices. I do not believe that Landsburg has done that here. In my opinion it is fairly clear that he is not talking about the messy, sloppy real world with its complications and confusions, but rather with one of those philosophical clean rooms I described earlier, where we can look down on the system like gods and judge the suffering of others with complete and perfect foreknowledge of their entire lives.

    Sure. And, you know, we all reflexively hate the idea of human vivisection, but what if an alien magically implanted a special key deep in your abdomen, and the only way to dismantle the Bad Guys’ doomsday machine was to retrieve the key, and we can’t use anesthetic because Reasons…discuss, kids.

    Have you seen the movie Saw? It was written by a TA at my alma mater. In the movie, a woman is told that the key to her survival is inside the stomach of a living person. She cuts it out of him.

    That is a movie, presented for entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that the dilemma does not resonate with real people. We must all have considered how far we would be willing to go to protect our spouse, our children, our pets, and our material possessions, right? Your suggestion that discussing those moral boundaries is “repulsive” is fair. It is rather repulsive to think about whether you would rescue your son or your daughter from a fire if you had to choose one, or whether you would shove a fat man off a bridge to save the lives of a train full of people. Nevertheless, these are the building blocks of ethics. If you think the conversation is too repulsive to engage in, move on. It’s not something that a person’s job or career ought to be put at risk over.

  238. lofgren says

    What you’re suggesting is that every notification to an authority, regarding one of their employees or other persons over whom they have control, is given equal weight–that is simply not the case.

    I never said nor implied any such thing.

    What I said was that if you inform on an employee to an employer, they will take that as a request for action. If you write a letter to Burger King telling them that an employee was talking about rape in a way that you did not like while he was off the clock and not in uniform, Burger King will not interpret that as you doing them some kind of favor, no matter how many times you write “Just sayin'” at the bottom. If you go to a website and encourage thousands of other people to write the same letter, they are DEFINITELY not going to interpret that as an attempt to politely inform them about something that is totally irrelevant to you and that you have no opinion on. they are going to interpret it as a call to action, specifically to punish the employee somehow.

    If you inform University of Rochester, and they say “Meh, he was writing about something on his personal blog, unrelated to his area of study, and he got it wrong. No biggie,” are you really suggesting that this would, to you, be an equally just outcome as if they fired his ass today and banned him from the campus for life, then threatened to fire anybody who ever voiced support for him or disagreement with their policy? Those two situations are not remotely equal to me. I find it hard to believe that you could claim to have no opinion whatsoever on the matter.

  239. lofgren says

    Does lofgren think that the students at the Un. of Rochester are out of line in complaining to the administration there about Prof. Landsburg?

    Yes, I think they are out of line. I think that it is clear that Landsburg has not violated (with his blog comments on rape) any university policy. I think they are using inappropriate tools to express their outrage. And I question their intellectual honesty for taking segments of Landsburg’s discussion completely out of context, for example by taking a discussion question and implying it is a rhetorical question for which Landsburg proffers no answer. And until Ed admits that his own description of the blog post in question was inaccurate, I view this as a blot on his record as well.

    But I also think they are way less out of line than random assholes forming a lynch mob on the internet.

  240. says

    lofgren:

    You’re a fucking moron.

    You conflate someone writing/e-mailing their concern about someone to a person in authority with “thousands” of such communications.

    I understand your libertarian sensibilities about not wanting anyone to interfere with Prof. Asshole’s “free speech” but so fucking what? You’re not the only person with an opinion on the matter, but you do seem to be the only one who’s making a fucking project out of being obdurate and obtuse about what he did.

    If he hasn’t violated some tenet of the university’s charter or his employment he gets to be a hero to folks like you without being a martyr. If, otoh, he did do something which is against the rules, well that will be his problem.

    Here’s a little though problem:

    If Landsburg says something that upsets a lot of people and those people give notice to his employer that they think he’s out of bounds AND the University’s administrators look into it, shrug their shoulders and say it’s nothing that they see as a problem, leaving Landsburg in his position to continue doing exactly what he’s been doing–where’s the harm to Landsburg?

  241. lofgren says

    You conflate someone writing/e-mailing their concern about someone to a person in authority with “thousands” of such communications.

    Basic reading comprehension: Get some.

    Those were two different examples. Never were the conflated.

    Anyway, I’m not sure what your beef is. Are you saying that it is wrong to conflate these two examples because one is inappropriate pressure (which you describe as “wrong”), while the other is appropriate notification (which is, by inference, “right”)?

    Because the actual situation that we are talking about is far more similar to the latter example than the former.

    I look forward to your rationale of why a single letter-writer is applying inappropriate pressure, but the internet campaigner attempting motivate thousands is in the right.

    I understand your libertarian sensibilities about not wanting anyone to interfere with Prof. Asshole’s “free speech” but so fucking what?

    Hey, let’s just throw the word “libertarian” around like it’s our feces.

    1. I never said anything about “free speech.” You are clearly thinking about somebody else. That topic was primarily discussed before I even came aboard.

    2. Libertarians, speaking generally, are opposed to any limits on what an employer may or may not demand of an employee. My arguments would be anathema to most libertarians. They are not rooted in any libertarian ideology. Honestly, I’m having some trouble seeing how they even relate to libertarianism. I look forward to your rationale for how an argument that an employee ought to suffer no consequences from his employer for engaging in a hypothetical scenario on his own free time has anything to do with the libertarian argument for extreme limitations on the areas of appropriate government policy.

    you do seem to be the only one who’s making a fucking project out of being obdurate and obtuse about what he did.

    I’m sorry. I’m not being willfully obtuse. I swear I am trying to understand the arguments put forth. So far, every but one of the supposed crimes that Landsburg committed have fallen into one of three categories in my opinion: Those I disagree with, those that I agree with but do not believe warrant any kind of professional censure, and those that are easily disproven.

    The lone exception is Michael Heath’s assertion that Landsburg should be fired not for this lone post and not for anything related to his comments on rape specifically, but rather for a pattern of sloppy thinking and poor argumentation. I have chosen not to avail myself of Lansburg’s other writing, so I simply can’t speak to that claim. Given what I have seen of Landsburg, it certainly seems more than plausible. But Michael Heath is alone with that claim, as neither other posters nor the UR students make mention of Landsburg’s other writings.

    Examples of arguments that I disagree with would be that Landsburg’s thought experiment turns Rochester into a “hostile environment,” that his speech puts women at risk, that his speech contributes to the furtherance of attitudes towards rape which he specifically disavows, and that his disinterested tone is itself an insult to rape victims.

    Those that I agree with but do not believe should be punished by his employer would be that Landsburg’s scenario is deeply flawed, that he disrespects the gravity of emotional trauma caused by rape by not treating his own exercise with appropriate rigor, that his arguments are too abstract to be really useful, and that he is being deliberately shocking in an adolescent manner in order to attract attention to himself.

    Those that I think are easily disproven are that Landsburg advocates rape, of either conscious or unconscious people, that he is a rape apologist, or that he believes that the emotional trauma of rape victim is unimportant or insignificant.

    This is a litany of charges and in my opinion they qualify Landsburg as being kind of dick. But I’m definitely having a hard time getting from “kind of dick” to “professional censure.”

    And honestly, if his crime was so obvious, you would think we wouldn’t have any difficulty pointing to it and saying, “There it is.” Yet I’ve received a half dozen different answers to my question, in some cases multiple from the same person, and I have not yet seen anyone tell me what Landsburg should have said to make his exercise acceptable. The closest anybody has come to that would be Stacey, who says that the exercise would be acceptable if Landsburg had a “thorough” understanding of rape. But there is no way for Landsburg to know if he has sufficient understanding of rape to engage in thought exercises. I certainly don’t know if I have sufficient understanding. Stacey appears to believe that she has sufficient understanding, but I just have to take her word for it.

    Finally we have the fourth category of claim, which I didn’t even include above because it doesn’t even really count: those who assert that Landsburg’s transgressions are “obvious,” but then they can’t or don’t actually explain them and instead heap abuse on those who wish to understand better. Well, I’m sorry, it’s not obvious to me. Faulty reasoning, bad analogies, and poorly constructed hypotheticals are not things that we normally punish people for beyond a good ribbing. The fact that Landsburg did these things with rape as the topic of his analogy does not really seem like it should raise those faults from “sloppy” to “punishable.” Certainly not by his employer, who, it seems to me, have no business punishing people for the things they do on their own time which harm nobody.

    If Landsburg says something that upsets a lot of people and those people give notice to his employer that they think he’s out of bounds AND the University’s administrators look into it, shrug their shoulders and say it’s nothing that they see as a problem, leaving Landsburg in his position to continue doing exactly what he’s been doing–where’s the harm to Landsburg?

    I think the harm comes from three areas.

    First, it validates the idea that employers should police the speech of their employees when that speech harms no one and was engaged in on their own time and in another venue unrelated to the employer.

    Second, as Landsburg does not have the foresight that we are affording ourselves in your hypothetical, it puts him through an investigation that is wasteful, stressful, embarrassing, intrusive, and unnecessary.

    Finally, it justifies a gatekeeper approach to morality that absolves the vast majority of actors for their inappropriate behavior simply because the authority figure ultimately makes the right decision. If I try to bribe a cop into letting me steal something right under his nose, and he refuses, does that mean that I have done nothing wrong? I think it was wrong of me to put the cop in that situation to begin with. I think it is wrong of the students and of strangers on the internet to put the University of Rochester in that position. As you have wholeheartedly embraced this approach to morality with your cowardly “I’m just informing, it’s none of my business whether anything comes of it” that lets you dodge any blame for dickish behavior, I don’t expect you to agree with me. But I believe that the responsibility to do right rests with all of us, not just with the authority figures who make the ultimate decisions.

  242. says

    “First, it validates the idea that employers should police the speech of their employees when that speech harms no one and was engaged in on their own time and in another venue unrelated to the employer.”

    It’s nice that you know this for a fact. The rest of us don’t. Please furnish the data so the rest of us can rejoice that nobody was harmed.

    “Second, as Landsburg does not have the foresight that we are affording ourselves in your hypothetical, it puts him through an investigation that is wasteful, stressful, embarrassing, intrusive, and unnecessary.

    Oh, so, your hypothetical based on his hypothetical concludes that he is unjustly pilloried and inconvenienced. Well, gosh, two words, “Fuck him”.

    “As you have wholeheartedly embraced this approach to morality with your cowardly “I’m just informing, it’s none of my business whether anything comes of it” that lets you dodge any blame for dickish behavior, ”

    And fuck you, as well.

    Apparently you have led a sheltered and blameless life where nobody ever said or did anything that you found necessary to let their superiors know about.

    Your entire premise is fucked, btw, as it’s pretty obvious from his letter to the douchebag that the president of Rochester University absolutley thinks he’s an asshole and an idiot.

    So, what you appear to be saying is that if we had let poor, professor Landsburg alone, he would not have been upbraided by the guy who runs the business. I’m guessing, due to the tone of his letter, that the president of Rochester U. is not thrilled with the idea that employees, tenured or otherwise, are doing things, publicly, that reflect badly on the institution.

    And you seem to think that this happened in the last couple of days. It did not, we had NO effect on this situation. So, the whole calling me a coward, yeah, fuck you, again.

  243. lofgren says

    It’s nice that you know this for a fact. The rest of us don’t. Please furnish the data so the rest of us can rejoice that nobody was harmed.

    You’re kidding, right? Please furnish the data that anybody was, could be, might be, was possibly, supposedly or has even claimed to be harmed. It’s not my burden to prove that nobody was harmed unless you are prepared to do the same for every comment you have ever posted on the internet ever, or face professional censure. This is just inane.

    Oh, so, your hypothetical based on his hypothetical concludes that he is unjustly pilloried and inconvenienced. Well, gosh, two words, “Fuck him”.

    It’s not my hypothetical. It’s your hypothetical. This craven refusal to take responsibility for your own actions is starting to be a pattern with you, and it’s disconcerting.

    Apparently you have led a sheltered and blameless life where nobody ever said or did anything that you found necessary to let their superiors know about.

    Um, what?

    When I talk to somebody’s superiors about their behavior, and I’ve done it, you’d better believe I expect action, and I tell the superiors what I believe would be appropriate, and I tell them why.

    This is called taking responsibility. This is called acknowledging your role. This is called not being an authoritarian who trusts one’s betters to make moral decisions for him.

    If I inform on somebody, it’s because they deserve it.

    I don’t inform on somebody and then pretend that I have absolutely nothing to do with the fallout. That’s called being an asshole.

    Your entire premise is fucked, btw, as it’s pretty obvious from his letter to the douchebag that the president of Rochester University absolutley thinks he’s an asshole and an idiot.

    Logic: you suck at it. I mean, we knew that from the beginning of this post where you attempt to shift the burden of proof onto me to prove a negative, which is the kind of thing that ten year olds understand not to do. But how does the UR president’s opinion of Landsburg disprove my assertion that employers have no business punishing their employees for harmless speech engaged in far from the employer’s venue, in an area of expertise unrelated to the employee’s job, and on the employee’s own time? You do realize that being an asshole doesn’t make somebody wrong automatically, right? I mean, you are at least marginally aware of basic logic?

    what you appear to be saying is that if we had let poor, professor Landsburg alone, he would not have been upbraided by the guy who runs the business.

    Hmm. Yeah. Nope. Never said that. You’ll have to quote it for me. Except you can’t.

    the president of Rochester U. is not thrilled with the idea that employees, tenured or otherwise, are doing things, publicly, that reflect badly on the institution.

    I’m sure he isn’t. Poor baby. Still, not really his business to punish people for the things they do on their own time that harm nobody.

    And you seem to think that this happened in the last couple of days. It did not, we had NO effect on this situation.

    Which is totally irrelevant to my arguments.

    And yeah, reporting somebody to Mommy and then wiping your hands of the situation is absolutely cowardly. If you believe that reporting somebody is the right thing to do, then you must have some notion of what an appropriate reaction would be. You’re like Tara on Sons of Anarchy when she tells Jax that she’s being stalked, and he kills the stalker, and she’s all “Gosh, I had no idea that would happen! This is totally not my fault!” No, Tara, it is your fault. If you tell your jealous psycho ex boyfriend that you’re being stalked by your other jealous psycho ex boyfriend, and one of them kills the other, that is pretty much par for the course. If you report an employee to an employer for doing something that you don’t like, then you must take partial responsibility for the results of your actions. Anything else is both cowardly and childish.

  244. Michael Heath says

    Lofgren writes:

    And yeah, reporting somebody to Mommy and then wiping your hands of the situation is absolutely cowardly.

    It’s amazing how many words you’ve written digging your hole. Here we have a perfect illustration of how deep that hole has become.

  245. says

    So, the students and everyone else are just “out of line” for daring to think that there ought to be consequences for contributing to rape culture when you’re a professor. Even just a consequence as simple as having your bosses receive a bunch of disapproving emails.

    Lofgren, the brave defender of the FREEZE PEACH of rape apologists.

  246. says

    I’m finding it hard to believe that there are people who are actually taking offense to people reporting something they perceive as harmful. Maybe this is just because I’m in the military, and we take the concept of professionalism in and out of uniform very seriously (officially, anyway), but I know if I heard one of the NCOs in my company talking about this kind of crap over a few beers at the bar, I’d report his ass to his superior immediately. The reason I’d do this is because I would perceive that this NCO is giving credence to a meme commonly used by rapists to justify their rape (well, he/she was unconscious and I was gentle, so it wasn’t a big deal). It doesn’t even matter if that NCO were to give these magic caveats that “she never finds out/nothing bad (like pregnancy or STDs) happens to her” because this really just adds to the potential rapist in the audience’s confidence that “oh, yeah, I could totally do this without any consequences.” The fact that this NCO is doing this from a position of authority makes it even worse than when a bunch of junior enlisted are talking this kind of crap amongst themselves.

    In the same way, this professor’s personal blog is undoubtedly being read by his students and others who attend school who view him, whether he’s “on or off duty” as an authority figure, and when this person says things like “As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?” and “bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category,” it is reinforcing excuses that actual rapists use to defend their rape and gives them philosophical tools to defend that position, in their minds if not necessarily among those better versed in logic. So if I saw this hypothetical NCO doing this same thing, I would perceive it as increasing risk of sexual harassment and sexual assault and would thus feel it was my duty to report it. This wouldn’t necessarily be with the intent of ruining this person’s career, of course; however, I would do so with the thought that something should be done to discourage this behavior, even if it’s simply the CDR coming to the NCO and saying “hey, watch what you say ’cause you represent this organization as a leader whether you’re in or out of uniform” or mandatory SHARP training. The same applies to professors, of course: they also represent their organizations whether they’re in or out of class in a way a McDonald’s burger jockey does not.

    Even if there are those who don’t agree that harm has been or could be done, to say that those who do see it as harmful shouldn’t be snitches or tattle-tales or whatever other kindergarten bullshit only serves to silence those who not only perceive harm to others, but those who are actually harmed. We see that all the time, even with the Steubenville case where some people seem more pissed off that the rape was reported and ruined the poor rapists’ futures than the fact that someone was raped. Being a “snitch” is not cowardice. The fear of retaliation means it takes a lot of bravery to stand up and let an authority figure know that someone’s doing the wrong thing (which is why whistleblower protection laws are taken so seriously). It would be nice for some of those arguing for people to shut up and take it could at least respect that.

  247. says

    “Reporting to mommy”?

    That sounds like somebody has issues. Did somebody tattle on you?

    A.) Landsburg’s actions were public.

    B.) He thinks enough of himself to put a blurb about his latest book on the front page of his blog.

    C.) This is not the first time he’s settled on a “hypothetical” that’s unnecessarily sensationalist:

    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2013/02/27/deficit-attention-disorder/#more-8342

    when he could have just as easily used some other example.

    So, HE called attention to himself, anything that happened beyond that is a natural progression of what happens when assholes spout poisonous nonsense from their pieholes.

    He’s a smug, libertarian asshole. If you’re not supporting him because of your being a libertarian, then why? 1st Amendment? does not apply. What else is there, aside from a desire to protect an asshole from the fallout of his assholery?

  248. says

    We see that all the time, even with the Steubenville case where some people seem more pissed off that the rape was reported and ruined the poor rapists’ futures than the fact that someone was raped.

    Yeah, that’s lofgren’s mindset, beneath all the bloviation and hand-waving. Just another overgrown junior-high-schooler still thinking there’s nothing worse than a snitch.

  249. slc1 says

    Re michaelbrew @ #262

    I think that michaelbrew hits the nail right on the head. The question, which lofgren keeps avoiding, is, what is Landsburg’s attitude toward female students unfortunate enough to be in his classes. Given this stupidity and his previous crap about Sandra Fluke, if I were Seligman, I would be looking very closely into that aspect of his behavior. As I stated previously, if I were a female, I wouldn’t even consider taking a course from this putz, any more then I would consider taking a course from Arthur Butz if I were a student at Northwestern..

  250. says

    On Pharyngula, WMDKitty commented on this thread, explaining why she hasn’t come back. She wrote:

    There’s a reason I haven’t been back to that thread. Two, actually. Michael Heath, and Heddle.

    I’m all for mental masturbation, but not when it harms people.

    And, in this particular thread, it is harmful. Those two are telling me (and other survivors) that, “hey, you weren’t really harmed, your rapist got his rocks off, so it’s all good.”

    It is amazing that someone would tell a baldface lie that is so easy to refute. I said that Landsburg’s dumbass ideas should be refuted not reported. Michael also came down hard on Landsburg, but said something more nebulous (in my opinion) about the appropriate response–I’m not sure what his final position was. But neither of us said anything remotely vile like “you weren’t really harmed, your rapist got his rocks off, so it’s all good.”

    WMD Kitty– you are probably the most vile, heinous liar I ever encountered on the internet. You are truly repulsive for putting such horrible false words in anyone’s mouth. You are beneath contempt. You are batshit crazy.

  251. says

    Heddle

    Thank you for so clearly demonstrating that you are, and continue to be, part of the problem.

    I did not “lie”.

    You, however, continue to lie and to twist others’ words to mean whatever you want them to. Fuck you. Fuck you with a rusty chainsaw, you rape-enabling jackass.

  252. says

    WMDKitty,

    You put horrible words in quotes attributed to me and to Michael. You are worse than a liar. You a totally repulsive disgusting excuse for a human being. Anybody who can lie to that extent makes me sick to my stomach.

  253. says

    I. Was. Not. Lying.

    Your comments (along with Mr. Heath’s) had the DIRECT EFFECT of telling me, A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE, that what happened to me doesn’t matter, because “psychic harm” isn’t real.

    Google PTSD 101.

  254. says

    Yes. You. Did. Lie. The quote I linked to on Pharyngula is a demonstrable lie. You are full of shit. Our comments were uniformly disparaging of Landsburg. Neither of us said anything in support of his position–not even remotely. Neither of us even hinted that his theory has validity or was worthy of anything but scorn. Your you disagree with me therefore you are a rape apologist argument by intimidation is as disgusting as your lying.

  255. Michael Heath says

    WMD Kitty writes:

    I. Was. Not. Lying.

    Your comments (along with Mr. Heath’s) had the DIRECT EFFECT of telling me, A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE, that what happened to me doesn’t matter, because “psychic harm” isn’t real.

    Sure you’re lying, blatantly. If not, quote what I wrote that has me arguing that what happened to you, “doesn’t matter”.

    And let’s also be clear, your framing here about your being a victim is not a justifiable excuse to lie about others or mutate others’ arguments into something altogether different as you do with at least me. In fact it’s a character failure against those who have actually suffered to have another lie in reference to abuse. And yes, I’m skeptical you’ve suffered abuse precisely because of your dishonesty against me; you’ve proven your dishonesty. How I can trust any of your un-validated assertions when you make such blatant falsehoods which can easily be demonstrated to be untrue? Your lying by about me also harms the victims of abuse; precisely because it dilutes the credibility of those who are abused. It gives unwarranted license to accused abusers and their enablers to claim victims make up their abuse.

    And whatever you quote back from should include the context with what I argued would have been done from the background where I had hiring/firing powers. That happened to be in the business world where I immediately pointed out in this thread such rhetoric would have gotten Mr. Landsburg’s ass immediately fired (at least in the tech sector where I worked with the people I worked with). And as I also pointed out, I’ve never been in a university setting while sufficiently cognizant that a competing right exists there that predominately doesn’t in the business world, academic freedom protected by tenure.

    So I worked through that factor that Landsburg’s bosses must consider in this thread. And as I worked through that impediment, new for me, I repeatedly pointed out such rhetoric in our culture is unacceptable given our defective tolerance for rape. When I finally weighed in on Landsburg I ended up concluding I would attempt two actions: 1) If I were an administrator with power over him I’d seek to fire his ass, and 2) I’d seek ways to insure people like him didn’t achieve tenure. My motivations were also expressed: a) such rhetoric in our culture given our laxity towards rape is unacceptable, and 2) this person’s an idiot and unqualified to teach others. Maybe I couldn’t get him on this action, but he’d certainly be on my hit list. This assumes the truism, “you can’t teach stupid” holds in this case; where Landsburg never repents, makes amends, and becomes an effective teacher prior to my having sufficient evidence to get rid of him.

    I do disagree with heddle about one thing. Several commenters in this venue lie far more and far worse than WMD Kitty. She doesn’t even make my top five; particularly because the type of defamation she does here isn’t as characteristic of her as it is of others who don’t like their tribe challenged when an ally lies, repeatedly lie for what appears to be the sheer entertainment value they get out of people’s reaction to their lying, or their political ideology motivates and them to deny and lie.

  256. says

    I. Am. Not. Lying. You dishonest, manipulative sack of shit.

    Look up PTSD 101, and engage your fucking brain.

    Learn what a “trigger” is.

    Then come back here and fucking APOLOGIZE for your disgusting lies about me.

  257. Michael Heath says

    Heddle,

    Thanks for linking to PZ’s blog post. That thread’s fallacies in regards to what you and I wrote serve as a perfect illustration of not only the rampant dishonesty there, all in fealty to the tribe, but also why I’m concerned about Ed’s blog. Precisely because such delusion, idiocy, and fealty to political ideology at the expense of objective truth and reason is increasingly infecting Ed’s blog post comment threads.

    I used to think of PZ’s blog as merely sophomoric, an essentially harmless place for rightfully angry young atheists to vent; with high hopes they’d eventually grow out of it and settle down in a rational place. They seem to be slow learners.

  258. Michael Heath says

    WMDKitty writes:

    I. Am. Not. Lying. You dishonest, manipulative sack of shit.

    Look up PTSD 101, and engage your fucking brain.

    Learn what a “trigger” is.

    Then come back here and fucking APOLOGIZE for your disgusting lies about me.

    You need to quote what was written and who said it that deserves criticism. And then explain why they deserve criticism.

    I’m fairly certain everyone in this venue already knows what you reference that I quote here. The problem demonstrated so far isn’t others’ ignorance, but instead your repeatedly misrepresenting what others write coupled to an effort to stifle debate about how to handle the unacceptable behavior of Mr. Landsburg. Where you present no evidence at all that whatever someone else wrote deserves to be shut out of the dialog here.

    You also don’t have the moral high ground to shunt off debate. Your argument here for someone to shut up is no better than religionists seeking to end debate on assertions they find offensive. If you can’t handle it, you have every right to avoid such debates. The rest of us on the other hand have every right to continue to speak, in fact I’d argue we have a moral imperative to speak out, with Ed having the sole authority to moderate what we write in this venue.

  259. slc1 says

    Re WMDKitty – Survivor

    The only person who has commented here and who has said anything even remotely supportive of fucktard Landsburg is lofgren. Neither Heddle or Heath or anyone else considers him to be anything but a piece of filth. The only difference is the issue as to whether he should be reported to the administration, which is water over the dam as it has already been reported by students there. Since it’s the students at the Un. of Rochester, especially those who might have the misfortune of getting this asshole in a course, who are affected, they are justified in such reporting. The notion that Seligman & Co. would somehow remain unaware of this blog post is grasping at straws.

  260. says

    Landburgs describes a rape scenario and wonders:

    Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?

    I’m having trouble articulating any good reason why [someone objecting to rape] is substantially different from [someone objecting to the idea “that someone, somewhere might be altering the natural state of a wilderness area”

    .
    Heddle says

    The professor is not advocating raping women.

    Given that rape is a crime, wondering whether the “law ought to discourage it”, is as close to advocation as is not directly and obviously incitation under the law, which is also a crime.

    This is a case of a professor writing an idiotic opinion. If I cared, I would comment on his blog or I would send him an email or I would write a counter-blog (as Ed did) or send a letter to the editor. Or I would write an op-ed. I would not run to his employer and say: “see what one of your profs is doing?” It is wrong. It is cowardly.

    So clearly, heddle does not care whether the rape count at a provincial university goes up because students have been encouraged to think it’s not really bad. Of course what he does find reprehensible is the idea that the *good* prof Landsburk may be held accountable for his ponderings. Now that would be wrong. (Strangely, heddle thinks what Landsburg is doing is fine, but for some reason also believes that L’s employers would object – I wonder why?)

    WMD Kitty– you are probably the most vile, heinous liar I ever encountered on the internet. You are truly repulsive for putting such horrible false words in anyone’s mouth. You are beneath contempt.

    But of course the worst thing is rape survivors objecting to this kind of speculation, and the trivialisation of their suffering on this very thread.
    .
    Heath says

    You [rape survivors] also don’t have the moral high ground to shunt off debate.

    The debate whether “the law ought to discourage rape”.
    I guess you mean like in sports, leave it to the actives? Or include the enthusiastic spectators in the debate?

    .
    Yes, there are people here who are beneath contempt. But its’s not the rape survivors.

  261. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    You [WMD Kitty] also don’t have the moral high ground to shunt off debate.

    Delft quote-mines what I wrote and mutates it into:

    You [rape survivors] also don’t have the moral high ground to shunt off debate.

    And then argues from his dishonest framing:

    The debate whether “the law ought to discourage rape”.
    I guess you mean like in sports, leave it to the actives? Or include the enthusiastic spectators in the debate?
    Yes, there are people here who are beneath contempt. But its’s not the rape survivors.

    Wow. I’ve been repeatedly arguing for more debate, the opposite of seeking to disallow some from arguing their position. That instead is what WMD Kitty is doing.

    Perhaps Ed should create a Bryan Fischer award (psychological projection) for commenters.

  262. says

    Delft,

    Given that rape is a crime, wondering whether the “law ought to discourage it”, is as close to advocation as is not directly and obviously incitation under the law, which is also a crime.

    No it doesn’t you moron. Wondering if drugs should be legalized does not mean you advocate using drugs. A few years ago a certain famous blogger’s daughter was speculating if bestiality should be legal. I defended her. She was not “close to advocation as is not directly and obviously incitation.” What a stupid argument you make.

    So clearly, heddle does not care whether the rape count at a provincial university goes up because students have been encouraged to think it’s not really bad. Of course what he does find reprehensible is the idea that the *good* prof Landsburk may be held accountable for his ponderings. Now that would be wrong. (Strangely, heddle thinks what Landsburg is doing is fine, but for some reason also believes that L’s employers would object – I wonder why?)

    More stupidy or blatant quote-mining. I never said what he should not be held accountable. I said, about a million times, that attacking his hideous ideas in the public forum is the proper response. I also said that if he broke any contractual obligations and/or professional society conduct he should be punished. I never said what he was doing was fine you lying sack of shit. As for the hypothetical that rape at that university will increase because of his theories 1) you must think most college students are as dumb as you and 2) I said in my first or second post that it was a big world and somebody might co-opt his writings to rationalize a crime–but that is true of anyone’s writings. Somebody might co-opt Pete Singer’s ideas and kill a handicapped child. Have you reported Singer to Princeton?

    How does one sit down and write lies like this? What is the motivation? You are a repulsive weasel, that’s for sure.

  263. says

    @Michael Heath
    I didn’t mutate your quote, I put it in context. The clue is in the nym: WMDKitty – Survivor.
    WMDKitty, like other rape survivors on this thread, have repeatedly explained why such debate is wrong.
    Not everything is up for debate. “Is rape really wrong?” is such an issue, hypotheticals notwithstanding.
    Why? Because there are victims and THEY SUFFER. Whatever cushioned, privileged world you live in, they have to do without it.
    MacEwan writes:

    There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women’s Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

    If you really can’t see that you’re behaving like a jerk, then it’s pretty clear why.

  264. says

    @heddle
    Wondering whether the law “ought to discourage” sth and whether something should be legalised are not the same thing, but I don’t expect you to appreciate such nuance.
    You also apparently think college students cannot be influenced by their professors’ thinking – so maybe we should just close down the universities altogether, as they’re clearly useless?
    And you haven’t explained why reporting Landburg would be wrong, when what he’s doing is fine. After all, when he wins an award, would you say it was “wrong” and “cowardly” to let his superiors know?
    .

    …moron… lying sack of shit… repulsive weasel…

    Wunning out of arguments, are we?

  265. says

    Delft,

    Not everything is up for debate. “Is rape really wrong?” is such an issue, hypotheticals notwithstanding.

    Then argue that. Do not, as WMDKitty did, write about Michael Heath and me:

    Those two are telling me (and other survivors) that, “hey, you weren’t really harmed, your rapist got his rocks off, so it’s all good.”

    Do you not see the difference?

  266. says

    Delft,

    You also apparently think college students cannot be influenced by their professors’ thinking – so maybe we should just close down the universities altogether, as they’re clearly useless?

    Oh, so now with the false dilemma. I believe that if a professor is a outright holocaust denier there will be an outcry in the public forum and in the classroom) so loud that he will be unable to convince any college student (who was not already a nut) that the holocaust was a fabrication.

    In the same manner a professor who theorizes about the legality of rape will create such public ridicule and scorn that his ability to influence a student is near zero. That is why what has happened to Landsburg–public humiliation–is far better than reporting him. It robs him of credibility.

    That is a far cry from your pitiful “so I guess profs have no influence ergo close the universities” counter.

    Please try to do better.

  267. says

    @heddle
    WMDKitty has been telling you that. So has Cerberus. And Azkyroth, who explained it was:

    […] condoning and trivializing sexual assault in an environment where it’s known to be an epidemic, destructive problem [a]nd a cultural context where assault is enabled by that trivialization and condonement, and contributing to a hostile environment for women […]

    You simply refused to listen. And WMDKitty took your message.
    .
    You really should look up PTSD and triggers. Also the effect of accusing rape survivors of lying.
    .
    Giving you the benefit of the doubt: you may be a decent person, who simply hasn’t a clue what effect their actions have. In that case, you will educate yourself, and behave differently in the future.
    I recommend reading MacEwan’s Feminism 101 – I don’t necessarily like her, but she writes well. Note: that is “reading” not “commenting”.

  268. says

    @heddle

    In the same manner a professor who theorizes about the legality of rape will create such public ridicule and scorn that his ability to influence a student is near zero.

    The reporting on Steubenville shows very much the opposite. And in Lansdsburg’s thread it didn’t take long for someone to claim that “[in Steubenville] noone was raped”. Did they think that only because of Landsburg? Probably not. But a tenured professor publicly embracing this point of view made it seem permissible to say so.
    .
    The general rule “ridicule means no influence”, is clearly wrong. It’s hard to find an idea on which more ridicule has (rightfully) been poured than creationism. Yet there are still people who teach it, and an amazing number of people in the US believe it. It seems that at least that percentage of Americans is credulous enough to believe what they’re taught, regardless of how much the ideas are ridiculed.

  269. says

    Not to derail the derail but…

    If I’m reading what others are saying correctly there seems to be substantial agreement that Landsburg is a shitheel.

    There seems to be a majority opinion, among commenters on this thread, that what Landsburg did is reprehensible.

    There is a lot of disagreement as to whether Landsburg’s employers should be notified about what he did on a private blog (presumably while not on the University’s dime–very difficult to tell as he’s salaried and probably decides when and where to do a lot of his work).

    There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of discussion about his having inherent authority as an economics professor at Rochester University:

    “Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester, where students recently elected him Professor of the Year.” (http://www.thebigquestions.com/the-author/)*

    or the fact that his blog seeks to be “provocative” in a number of his other posts.

    In sum, the majority of commenters here think the guy’s a douchebag. There is a great deal of disagreement whether that douchebaggery should be reported to his employers by anyone. The charge is levelled by Lofgren and heddle that reporting his behavior to his employers is cowardly. There are other issues (clearly from comments 266-284, and possibly beyond that mark) those are not part of the original discussion(s).

    FWIW. The firing of Coach Rice by Rutgers University appears to have been done BECAUSE the tape of his verbally and physically assaulting his student athletes (what a completely bullshit label) went public. The AD admitted on Saturday that he had had the tape since late last year and claimed that he never watched it. So, yeah public outcry, brought about by public availability of the damning information MADE that happen.

    I would say that Landsburg’s situation is no different than Hank Williams Jr. or The Dixie Chicks. They all spoke their minds and two of the three were made aware that their views, despite having aired them on “their own time” had consequences. Why should Landsburg, or anyone else, be immune from the process?

    * I’m thinking “professor of the year” might have to be revised, sometime soonish.

  270. says

    WMD Kitty– you are probably the most vile, heinous liar I ever encountered on the internet.

    In that case, heddle, you probably haven’t seen that much of the Internet. At worst, WMD Kitty misunderstood and distorted Heath’s and your meanings, as a result of an understandable emotional reaction. That may be a mistake on her part, but it’s not “vile” or “heinous,” especially by Internet-debate standards.

    Also, heddle, you and Heath need to understand that when you respond to a blatant lying perverted propagandist sack of shit like Landsburg by threadjacking about a relatively minor faux-pas by one of his critics, that’s gonna tend to make you look like “enablers;” so you’d better not complain too bitterly when someone misreads your priorities. This applies especially to heddle, who first barged into this thread to demonize someone for the horrible crime of suggesting that someone might tell Landsburg’s superiors about his conduct; and who went on to make a total ass of himself by banging on and on about this otherwise perfectly ordinary idea.

  271. says

    There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of discussion about his having inherent authority as an economics professor at Rochester University…

    …or how he’s using that authority to push a bogus glibertarian agenda, based on a simpleminded misreading, and gross over-application, of simple micro-economic rules.

    That could be another reason why this scumbag’s job is safe: his department was bought by a libertarian “donor,” and hiring propagandists like Landsburg was the price of the “donation.”

  272. says

    Thanks for linking to PZ’s blog post. That thread’s fallacies in regards to what you and I wrote serve as a perfect illustration of not only the rampant dishonesty there, all in fealty to the tribe…

    I’ve been following that thread too, Heath, and the only “rampant dishonesty” I see there is coming from the libertarians — and it’s getting its proper evisceration from “the tribe.” So I’m not really sure which “fallacies” you’re complaining about.

  273. says

    In the same manner a professor who theorizes about the legality of rape will create such public ridicule and scorn that his ability to influence a student is near zero.

    Um, heddle, have you ever noticed that the ideas that get the most puiblic ridicule are the ones that have the most visible influence or effects? That’s why people ridicule them so much — because of the observable damage done.

    Your attempts to minimize Landsburg’s evil just keep getting lamer and lamer. And you wonder why you’re called an “enabler?”

  274. says

    @democommie
    From the OP:

    And he thinks that since photons enter our body without our consent, a woman should not be protected against a penis entering her body against her consent as long as she’s unconscious? That’s not a provocative counter-factual example, it’s insane and dangerous.

    (my emphasis)
    So arguing, as I was doing, that it is unacceptable to discuss rape in this way is part of the proposition under discussion, and not a derail.
    Some commenters, like myself, agree with the OP that it’s dangerous. It contributes to rape culture. It makes people believe accepting or trivialising rape and the suffering of rape victims is acceptable behaviour. Several rape survivors have tried to explain, and to my mind very compellingly, what is wrong with this type of discussion, and especially the insinuation that psychological damage is irrelevant.
    heddle and Michael Heath believe it is OK to discuss it in this way, and describe trying to suppress it as anti-intellectualism. They have said they disagreed with Landsburg’s conclusions, and called him various names.
    Landsburg has shown he is unfit to teach in any environment, and I would welcome his dismissal. Not as “retribution”, but as damage limitation, and for the message it would send that at least one university does not welcome rape apologists. But the underlying problem is not that Landsburg is a jerk with a bad idea (though both true). It is an issue of culture. And what we need is not just to get rid of Landsburg, but to make every last heddle, Heath and Harry understand why summarily dismissing the suffering of others – or insisting others be allowed to do exactly that – is wrong.

  275. says

    Delft,

    heddle and Michael Heath believe it is OK to discuss it in this way, and describe trying to suppress it as anti-intellectualism. They have said they disagreed with Landsburg’s conclusions, and called him various names.

    Speaking for myself and not for MH, I have no problem with this representation of what I wrote. It is not quite accurate, because I do not think that it is OK to discuss it in the same sense that I don’t think it is OK to discuss a theory of holocaust denial. I think he should be allowed to write what he wrote and then pay the professional consequences resulting from public discrace. But that is a minor quibble. I can accept the way you just framed my position.

    Now contrast to:

    Those two are telling me (and other survivors) that, “hey, you weren’t really harmed, your rapist got his rocks off, so it’s all good.”

    or

    So clearly, heddle does not care whether the rape count at a provincial university goes up because students have been encouraged to think it’s not really bad. Of course what he does find reprehensible is the idea that the *good* prof Landsburk may be held accountable for his ponderings. Now that would be wrong.

    both of which are demonstrably false.

  276. says

    heddle, the quotes from WMD Kitty may not be exactly true, but the second quote is pretty damn close to the general thrust of your comments here. From your first comment on this thread you showed you were more concerned about a professor getting heat for his words than about any possible real-world effect of his words. That’s pretty close to acting as an “enabler” of such disgraceful conduct. If WMD Kitty was mistaken about your priorities, it’s only because you have been a dreadfully careless and incompetent communicator (like Landsburg).

  277. says

    The quote from WMDKItty suggests that PTSD and triggers are playing a role. Look them up. Reread the MacEwan quote above.

    As for mine:
    You clearly condemned someone’s suggestion that Landburg’s ponderings be brought to the attention of his superiors as wrong and cowardly. But that is accountability. After all, if his superiors are fine with it, what is the harm in letting them know?
    A tenured professor publicly embraces the position that he cannot think of reasons why hypotheticaly-phrased-description-of-what-Landsburg-thinks-about-Steubenville “ought to be discouraged” – yes, I do think that is likely to up the count of similar events at Rochester, if only because possible perps know that at least part of the staff are sympathetic. Certainly you cannot be sure it won’t. And certainly it creates a hostile climate for female students. What woman wouldn’t be freaked out by this guy?
    You wrote “if I cared” which says you don’t.
    .
    And now you write: [you] do not think it’s OK […] but he should be allowed to write what he wrote […]
    I think the writing alone causes enough damage, both in reinforcing rape-culture and in the suffering of victims who become aware of what he writes, to merit his not being allowed to write it.
    If you think he should be allowed to do so, what is your position?
    Are you claiming it causes no suffering:
    And that there is no effect on culture (chilly climate, rape count, suffering inflicted on victims through trivialisation reinforced by such writings)?
    Or do you just not care?

  278. says

    “So arguing, as I was doing, that it is unacceptable to discuss rape in this way is part of the proposition under discussion, and not a derail.”

    You may look at it in any way that you like. It is a derail when someone brings in information from another thread on a different blog and continues an argument HERE which was apparently still going on THERE. Whatever you and WMDKitty want to argue with heddle and Michael; Heath is fine with me, but it is definitely changing hte direction of the conversation from something to do with Landsburg to something to do with your and WMDKitty’s disagreement with Michael Heath and heddle over at PZ Myer’s blog. Carry on.

  279. says

    I think the writing alone causes enough damage, both in reinforcing rape-culture and in the suffering of victims who become aware of what he writes, to merit his not being allowed to write it.

    Therein is the fundamental disagreement. Although I agree there are thresholds, I do not agree, repulsive as his writing is, that he crossed the threshold. To use a double negative because it better reflects what I think, I absolutely disagree that he should not be allowed to write what he wrote.

  280. says

    It is a derail when someone brings in information from another thread on a different blog and continues an argument HERE which was apparently still going on THERE.

    I wasn’t doing that. I am not aware of either heddle of Michael Heath on any other thread. All my comments here are completely on topic of this post, and refer only to comments made here.

    Please read for comprehension.

  281. says

    I, for one, do not think he should be physically or legally prevented from writing his rape-excusing crap; but I do think he should be fired for it, if that’s possible under the university’s rules, because: a) he’s misusing his authority to give credibility to a rationalization for criminal behavior; b) he’s degrading the university’s overall image and credibility; and c) his commentaries, as a professor, raise serious and credible doubts about the ability of certain students (i.e., women, anyone who has dealt with rape or rape-related issues in any way, and anyone who expresses disgust at his stated opinions) to be treated fairly at that so-called school.

    If a guy tells dirty jokes to colleagues at his place of work, or talks aloud about his sexual fantasies, or his opinions of the physical attributes of female colleagues, or says offensive or insulting things about issues relating to women’s bodies, he can be fired for sexual harrassment and/or “creating a hostile work environment.” That’s pretty close to what Landsburg is doing with his blog, where he uses his title to establish his authority as a credible and knowledgeable person.

  282. says

    Oh, and d) he’s just a fucking idiot, and any half-decent university should be able to find a better econ professor than this wanker.

  283. says

    delft:

    Hey, when you’re right, you’re right. heddle introduced it into the conversation at #266 when he mentioned that WMDKitty had gone over to Pharyngula and posted a comment about why she wasn’t coming back and then she did. So, an apology for that.

    This:

    “@Michael Heath
    I didn’t mutate your quote, I put it in context.”

    Is a lie. Sorry, I don’t agree with heddle on the substance of the post; I don’t agree with Lofgren and I’m not sure if I agree with Michael Heath or not. But I know what he said. He did not say what you quoted. I understand that
    you substituted “rape survivors” for “WMDKitty”. If Michael Heath meant to say, “rape survivors” that is what he would have said. And, IN THE CONTEXT, of his comment he is absolutely correct that nobody has the right to shut off debate. Everyone has the right to argue the points or ignore the conversation; that is the extent of yours, mine or anyone’s rights in the matter.

  284. says

    @democonnie.
    My quote was copied and pasted. I added in square brackets, as is the custom, an elaboration of “you”, i.e the person or persons to whom it was addressed. It was addressed to a rape survivor, who had commented as such a one, and in the name of others with the same experience who have commented on this very thread, and been ignored by you and heddle and MH.

    If I misunderstood MH, and he clarifies he was addressing only WMDKitty, and he meant to imply that other rape survivors do have the right to shunt off the debate, only not WMDKitty for some reason, I humbly apologise and hereby amend my quote to “You [a rape survivor]…”
    Happy now?
    .
    And yes, rape survivors have every right to shunt off people who are discussing whether rape is really wrong, e.g. into examining exactly how horrific such an action (i.e. said discussion) is.

  285. says

    I’m a professor and I’d report him in a hot second for violations of professional conduct, abuse of the school’s authority, and promoting sexual violence and discrimination in the classroom. His behavior is all of the above, and typically congruent with more serious violations, in addition to letters to the editor and debating him.

    It has been my experience, in the academy, that any prof who will go on the record with that sort of tripe is frequently also engaging in other serious violations of professional and legal conduct.

  286. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #299

    that so-called school

    Hey, watch yourself; that’s where I went to graduate school.

  287. says

    His behavior is all of the above, and typically congruent with more serious violations, in addition to letters to the editor and debating him.

    It has been my experience, in the academy, that any prof who will go on the record with that sort of tripe is frequently also engaging in other serious violations of professional and legal conduct.

    Exactly.

  288. says

    Delft: And when I say in my experience, I mean I literally reported someone for violations.

    That process is deliberately intended to be awful, and the school will typically do everything in its power to prevent you from reporting. In my case, despite the prof in question behaving that way on video.

  289. says

    I should note that the only reason I returned to this thread was because certain dishonest individuals decided to launch inappropriate and hurtful personal attacks against me.

    It is neither dishonest (nor a breaking of one’s word) to defend oneself against such douchebaggery.

  290. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    Thanks for linking to PZ’s blog post. That thread’s fallacies in regards to what you and I wrote serve as a perfect illustration of not only the rampant dishonesty there, all in fealty to the tribe…

    Raging Bee responds:

    I’ve been following that thread too, Heath, and the only “rampant dishonesty” I see there is coming from the libertarians — and it’s getting its proper evisceration from “the tribe.” So I’m not really sure which “fallacies” you’re complaining about.

    Just type in “Heath” and follow the comment posts. There’s only six. One of them actually conflates me with Steve Landsburg, in spite of my antipathy towards what Landsburg wrote and him personally, to the point I’d like to see him gone. A perfect illustration of tribalism, especially how our names appeared in there (via WMD Kitty).

  291. Michael Heath says

    WMD Kitty @ 307:

    I should note that the only reason I returned to this thread was because certain dishonest individuals decided to launch inappropriate and hurtful personal attacks against me.

    It is neither dishonest (nor a breaking of one’s word) to defend oneself against such douchebaggery.

    If this actually true, why do you fail @ 307 to blockquote that which was written that’s supposedly dishonest and therefore has you justifying your using pejoratives against others?

    I pointed out @ 271 you were blatantly lying about me, I quoted what you claimed and referred to what I actually wrote in this very thread that demonstrated what you claimed was demonstrably not true. That’s what honest people do; dishonest people do what you do here @ 307. And your seeking allies at PZ’s blog to defend your dishonest indefensible position as you did referring to me; that’s what tribalists do.

    Tribalism, I recall Sarah Palin in 2009 and 2010 repeatedly and falsely whining her free speech rights were violated simply because her arguments were demolished by reason and evidence. So she sought solace from her allies on the right by lying about what kind of criticism she was receiving. Your behavior here and on PZ’s blog post thread is analogous to Palin’s brand of tribalism.

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong, but whose back the tribalists’ defend. I say fuck that; our arguments should instead rest on their cogency.

  292. says

    WTF? “Seeking allies”?

    No, I went to a safe space to vent about this thread. I did not expect to have allies, I didn’t call for anyone to come over here, I was upset, and needed to vent. That’s all.

    How in the everloving fuck is that “tribalism”?

    And where, exactly, is the “reason and logic” in your defense of a professor who is directly encouraging rape, and making all women on “his” campus that much less safe?

    I see you treating very real, and very devastating harms as irrelevant, just so you can have your “thought experiment”. I see you very deliberately ignoring and dismissing what all of us survivors have told you. I see you slandering people as “liars” just for calling you out, and I see you twisting words to deliberately make others look bad.

    I am not the problem here.

    YOU ARE.

    And when women and rape survivors tell you that you’re in the wrong, you need to shut your fucking mouth and listen.

  293. says

    “My quote was copied and pasted. I added in square brackets, as is the custom, an elaboration of “you”, i.e the person or persons to whom it was addressed. It was addressed to a rape survivor, who had commented as such a one, and in the name of others with the same experience who have commented on this very thread, and been ignored by you and heddle and MH.”

    Bullshit. You obviously equated what Michael Heath said with what you heard in your own head. That would be YOUR problem.

    “If I misunderstood MH, and he clarifies he was addressing only WMDKitty, and he meant to imply that other rape survivors do have the right to shunt off the debate, only not WMDKitty for some reason, I humbly apologise and hereby amend my quote to “You [a rape survivor]…”
    Happy now?”

    WTF does that even mean? Michael Heath is nothing if not specific in his comments. What you did was blatantly dishonest, whether you are aware of that or not. As I said before, if Michael Heath wanted to say such a thing he would simply say it. He did not. You are mistaken or you’re lying about it.

    ” And yes, rape survivors have every right to shunt off people who are discussing whether rape is really wrong, e.g. into examining exactly how horrific such an action (i.e. said discussion) is.”

    No, they do not. They have the same rights as everyone else. They have the right of rebuttal and they have the right of opting out of the conversation. That’s it. If you don’t like the direction that the thread is going you can try to change it or you can refuse to continue reading/commenting. You have no right, under any circumstance, to stifle the conversation of others because it hurts your feelings.

    There are lots of things that bother me. I either deal with it or walk away, that is what adults do. Whining about the unfairness of others who continue to say things that you don’t lke is childish.

  294. says

    TRIGGER WARNINGS ALL THE WAY DOWN

    I’m going to speak carefully here, possibly even meekly, definitely from a position of vulnerability, but I do not want that to any way lessen what I intend to say or the real emotions at the core.

    There is such a thing as context. Our words, our arguments, our actions exist in a social context whether we intend them to be or not. It is not one we can run from or ignore or eliminate. It consumes us. It envelops us. It colors the words we say and how they will impact those who’ve got the scars.

    It is whether we want it to be or not.

    With regards to rape, the context that is most unavoidable, that most colors everything surrounding what privileged individuals may seek to provoke, is the thing known as the rape culture.

    Cause see, unfortunately, in our culture, whether we are aware of it or not, rape is constantly minimized. Rape victims treated like the real criminals in rapes and rape investigations. Rapists, the real victims. Rapists are constantly given social excuses, explicit and implicit support that encourages the continuation and expansion of rape and the complete forgiveness and apathy towards it. Furthermore rape victims are encouraged to silence themselves, turn their pain inward and blame themselves for the regain of the agency violently robbed of them, and even turn passive eyes to their victimization, letting their rapists continue on with minimal pushback. Arguments are constantly made in earnest seeking to find the magical “not rape” form of rape that it’s “okay to do”. Is it okay if she was drinking? What if she was wearing a short skirt? What if she was asleep and never knew?

    AND THEY IMPACT REAL EVENTS.

    My rape. My rape. The day some man decided that he had so little to fear from social backlash that it was perfectly okay to rape me in a crowded convention panel, rubbing himself off while I froze dead in shock and confusion.

    Let me make that clear. My rapist felt comfortable raping me in public, surrounded by people because he knew he would suffer no consequence for it. That because he did not “penetrate” me, many would view the harm as “minimal” including his victim and thus he’d be able to “get away with it” with a boon for him (orgasm) and no harm, no foul to anyone else.

    And leaving off that last, little bit. He was right.

    HE. WAS. RIGHT.

    When he was done and I was left confused and surreal in a location I was previously enjoying. When I had an experience, a panel I was genuinely excited for ruined and possibly in a way that will spoil any chance of enjoying convention panels fully again.

    I shook his fucking hand and let him go about his day.

    Even if I wanted to do something now or even later that evening, it was far too late. I didn’t have his name, just the scars of what he did to me. What he took from me. And how that makes it so I have to constantly press one side of my body against beds and couches just so I can’t feel him there for a short while.

    And the why of that was clear. Why would he have feared retribution even in a well-lit, well-attended space surrounded by people? No one did intervene. His rape went uninterrupted, he suffered no consequences. If I had objected at the time and raised a fuss, I would have been breaching all sorts of social forms. I would have been treated like a freak and he would have denied his actions and accused me of making it up and honestly many people would have believed them because rape victims accounts are constantly viewed as inherently suspicious.

    My mom sat behind me. Why did she sit behind me? Why didn’t she reclaim her seat? Why didn’t she intervene to save her child while they were being molested in front of her? Because there’s a signal that cis-women have learned to signal each other when they see rape actions or rape-like behavior. Subtle signals that won’t disrupt the oh so important social codes and signal their friends to extricate themselves without being “rude”. Signals I never learned, because I was raised on the other side of that culture where it wasn’t necessary survival to learn such things. And so she was stuck, sitting and watching her child get raped.

    My partner did the same, because of the same training, the same rules. She had already suffered rapes in the past. By later accounts, she had a good notion of what was going on, but she was also left frozen like I was. Because of social obligations, because of rape culture supports, because of a system that always places the onus on victims to be polite that rapists and other abusers exploit.

    When I asked later to decode the incident and learned what had been done, I instantly minimized it. Because I existed in a world where so many around me had suffered such worse rapes so frequently that I felt guilty for “daring” to feel bad about what had happened to me. In the context of a full blown rape culture and so many other people’s rapes, why was I feeling skeezed out and surreal about some guy rubbing up against me.

    Minimizing the trauma, trying to bury it down, because so many narratives seek to minimize it, treat it as the least important aspect of the discussion. Allowed to occur because the rape culture.

    My other partner’s rape. She was raped in a room full of “friends”, people she was happy to belong with, fellow queer voices she engaged in so many wonderful activities with.

    They watched as she was raped.

    They watched and did nothing. They did not punish her rapist. Nor did they punish any of the other rapists in their club. One of the rape victims of their frority left the school entirely because of their rape. A school they wanted to attend, gave huge amounts of effort, spent huge amounts of money, because some asshole wanted to get their rocks off and because a culture of minimization, silence, and cold indifference to victims drove them away, soured and ruined what brought them joy, what motivated them.

    And that’s what’s been happening with my other partner. She used to enjoy being in a drag troupe. But that was something she used to do with “them”. She used to enjoy queer social events. But that was where she was violated. She used to enjoy hanging out with her forority. But they protected every last one of their rapists and did nothing in response. She used to enjoy all sorts of things. A whole range of sexual explorations are now trigger spaces and can’t be explored yet. She can’t even let herself be touched when her body’s on fire for it. Because of one asshole.

    And that asshole knew. They knew that they could rape another woman in a room full of people. Because “there was alcohol”. Because “it’s greek society”. Because the frority had already protected rapists already against rape victims. Because no one takes it seriously. Because her victim wouldn’t press charges. Because no one would stop her.

    And she was right. My other partner pushed her off, but there were no other “negative effects” for the rapist. Meanwhile my other partner is suffering all sorts of damage. And it affects those in her life. Her increased depression spells after that rape and the way it made her close down discussing where she’s at sexually (plus her ability to be sexually with someone) have broken up relationships for her. Lost her partners and lovers who were harmed and lost and scared and hurt by these lingering confusing traumas.

    And it should be noted that this is true despite the fact that she has yet to acknowledge that what has been done to her was rape. Despite the fact that she has yet to acknowledge that it has even impacted her in the slightest.

    These scars permutate and affect and she minimizes and erases and denies aspects of her reality and feels embarrassed and could only feel safe sharing them when I admitted my own rape to her because that is the message reinforced and repeated everywhere. That these actions aren’t “worth focusing on”. That they are immaterial and can be glossed over for “more interesting topics”. That they are secondary.

    My partner carried so many scars. Still carries scars to this day. So many years have been robbed from her in exploration. It has impacted others. It has impacted me, like it does all partners of rape survivors, as secondary victims. Serving as real life set pieces for flashbacks, having the anger of someone the victim let walk away from any consequences of the rape (because of the oppressive culture of victim blaming and minimization) being displaced onto the partner, because they are the one who is there at the time.

    I’m not saying this to claim some sort of ownership or responsibility to my partner’s suffering or even that I resented her in any way when it happened (I resented her rapists, but I always supported her in every way possible, even if that meant serving as phantom to lash out at). But to illustrate that these destructions go everywhere, all are fed by the culture.

    Of the 4 rapes my little V suffered, 3 of them occurred in places with other people who ignored what went on. All were internally minimized by each of the victims because “there’s worse out there” or “what could I do” or “it wasn’t that bad” or “IT WAS ALL MY FAULT“. That last one is very very common for rape victims. All of our rapists knew that they could get away with it, that they could easily rationalize destroying and violating another person, treating them like an object worth less than a spent tissue.

    And they were able to do so because of a thriving culture. One where piece after piece builds the edifice. Of victims being silenced, of rapists being praised, of various “can I get away with rape if it is…” arguments, of conversations that constantly ignore or devalue the perspectives of those harmed, of minimizations of the range and durations of these harms, of arguments against the existence of mental harms, of arguments that only count horrible physical abuse and strangers as “real rape”, of arguments that require the victim to have been brave and stalwart to be taken seriously, of ways in which victims are disbelieved as victims if there is any excuse to do so, of arguments that it is wrong for victims to speak out, of eliminations and disrespects to the very concept of triggers and enduring harms, of an entire culture that ensures that rape is never fully understood or talked about, where rape victims feel adrift and without allies, left vulnerable to their pain and their depression, where those who have never had to suffer these things get to dominate the entire conversation to talk about what is “really interesting”.

    These contexts permeate. Dominate. Exasperate.

    And hey, if the rape victims are hurt out of the conversation, what does it “matter”? Who among the “real people” are affected? Why should we care?

    After all, what we were saying never intended to harm them, to continue the harm being done to them, echo the traumas they suffered, to encourage other rapists that they will receive widespread social support no matter where or who they strike, to encourage victims that no place is safe and besides its everywhere and bad so why cry about what’s happening to you, to tell those not yet victimized to sit and accept it when it happens to you, to value what is rude over your own bodily autonomy. To view your own body as a public possession, that autonomy isn’t as big of a deal as someone’s precious arguments.

    And it continues to the point where an overwhelming number of women and a fair number of men have these traumas, these scars, these things blocking so many things they wish to enjoy, that bring sorrow and confusion and pain to their partners as well.

    These contexts are.

    And we cannot change that.

    I wanted to put that down and note that, otherwise you might figure that where I’m coming from next is unfair or “being a liar” and I wouldn’t want to do that.

  295. says

    THERE WILL BE TRIGGERS, MOST LIKELY.

    Ok, now, I should note that in the contexts presented above, in the rape culture we all stew in, and in the fact that every aspect of this hellish thread is a triggering nightmare that I have forced myself through because I wanted to see for myself, with my own eyes, with my own understanding, I make these comments.

    Michael Heath @271

    And yes, I’m skeptical you’ve suffered abuse precisely because of your dishonesty against me; you’ve proven your dishonesty. How I can trust any of your un-validated assertions when you make such blatant falsehoods which can easily be demonstrated to be untrue? Your lying by about me also harms the victims of abuse; precisely because it dilutes the credibility of those who are abused. It gives unwarranted license to accused abusers and their enablers to claim victims make up their abuse.

    You wanted to argue for yourself as a person “wronged” by what you viewed as spurrilous accusations of rape apologia and complicit perpetuation of the rape culture. That that was something separate from yourself and that the very notion was the vilest of things that could be done by another person to somebody (points for irony considering the thread).

    And then we get this.

    I would like to believe you understand already, before I even begin what is so unforgivably fucked up about your actions in that paragraph. That you are already apologetic, but sadly, given your behavior sense, it appears not.

    Let me explain then.

    In the context wherein rape victims are constantly minimizing, questioning, even at times trying to erase their rapes and where rape victims are constantly accused of lying when they mention their rapes, you have decided that because you consider WMDKitty a “liar” (an accusation you and heddle seem a little too overly fond of all across this thread, I should note), it is fair game to assume they are lying about their rape. That they are making it up, because… what?

    WHAT THE FUCK WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD YOU RANCID PILE OF SHIT?!? WHAT’S YOUR FUCKING RATIONALIZATION? YOUR EXCUSE?

    Oh gosh, WMDKitty must just be faking someone vulnerable and even easier to abuse because of all the free cake and cunnilingus given to rape victims. Because rape victims are treated so fucking well in our day to day society. It’s not like rape victims are accused of making up their rapes all the time. Not like some little diseased troll tried to accuse me of making up my rape because “how else could no one have done anything, boo hiss zero stars”. Not like that shit happens all the fucking time.

    I’ll spell it out shitbeard.

    WHAT. YOU. DID. IS. NEVER. OKAY

    Ever.

    Period.

    You just don’t tell a rape victim that they made up their rape. Not if you ever want to remotely pretend to consider yourself a good person. You just don’t do it.

    It’s such unbelievably toxic rape apologia. And you’re sickening “I speak for the abused who are wronged by being such a liar” toxic little dance is something ALL MANNER OF ACTUAL RAPISTS have pulled when they’ve escaped justice for their crimes because of a sexist rape culture or lack of evidence. It’s what rape victims have constantly used to minimize what’s happened to them. Because we don’t want to “harm the “real” victims”. It’s part of why I minimized what happened to me, why my partner minimized what happened to her, and probably why my other partner IS MINIMIZING what happened to her.

    You, right there, participated, so unbelievably strongly in the rape culture, DIRECTLY perpetuating it in service to your sick little tactic and your tiny fucking high horse, that it makes a mockery of your very pose this entire thread.

    I have no doubt your only response to this will be dismissing me or blaming WMDKitty for “drawing in allies” but I needed to state, here and now that THIS is appalling. THIS is unforgivable. THIS is psychological violence upon a rape victim. However much your “feelings” were hurt because someone interpreted you in a negative light based on your ignorance of the context of your actions, arguments, and what “you found most interesting”, this removes any and all sympathy ever.

    You chose right there to be scum, Michael Heath.

    I hope you are happy with that choice.

    democommie @311

    ” And yes, rape survivors have every right to shunt off people who are discussing whether rape is really wrong, e.g. into examining exactly how horrific such an action (i.e. said discussion) is.”
    No, they do not. They have the same rights as everyone else. They have the right of rebuttal and they have the right of opting out of the conversation. That’s it. If you don’t like the direction that the thread is going you can try to change it or you can refuse to continue reading/commenting. You have no right, under any circumstance, to stifle the conversation of others because it hurts your feelings.

    And if that has the real world action of simply just pushing out all rape victims out of discussions surrounded rape and rape culture and rape apologia, because, hey “they all chose to opt out” “same as everybody else”. I mean, sure, they “opt” out, because the conversations suck them back into times where their very autonomy was stolen from them, all sense of agency removed, and traumatic scars, lasting years unto decades were etched across their minds. But they “opt out” just the same.

    I mean, if they just chose to be “stronger” then they could stick in there, muscle through the triggers, the flashbacks, the PTSD, the storm of emotions, and all the continued pain, and all the dismissive assholes who have no such negative emotions and so are free to openly dismiss or minimize the effects of the rape culture openly treating their experiences like garbage or literal nothing.

    It’s not something anyone else has to do to participate and rape victims are always demanded upon to be stronger, most often by themselves, but hey, what does context have to do with anything. All I know is that they are being little fucks wanting to “stifle” conversation because “it hurts their widdle feefees”.

    I mean, HOW COULD ANYONE SEE ANYTHING DISMISSIVE THERE, RIGHT????

    It’s not like actual trauma is treated as literal nothing, as something that wouldn’t at all rob someone of the right to free rebuttal or opting out by choice rather than medical necessity, as something equivalent to getting grumpy about someone calling you an asshole on another blog or something. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU’RE DOING THAT RIGHT HERE.

    There are lots of things that bother me. I either deal with it or walk away, that is what adults do. Whining about the unfairness of others who continue to say things that you don’t lke is childish.

    SURE AM GLAD THAT’S NOT HAPPENING!

    Oh those rape victims, just whining like children. Oh, you carry intense psychological scars for your entire life and the entire culture is openly dismissive of you and what happened to you and actively encourages others to perpetuate said abuse. Why can’t you just be adults and act like it’s encountering someone calling you a mean name on a blog or something?

    There are not enough fucks in the world to encompass what you are doing right here.

    michaelbrew @262

    In the same way, this professor’s personal blog is undoubtedly being read by his students and others who attend school who view him, whether he’s “on or off duty” as an authority figure, and when this person says things like “As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?” and “bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category,” it is reinforcing excuses that actual rapists use to defend their rape and gives them philosophical tools to defend that position, in their minds if not necessarily among those better versed in logic.

    THIS.

    This is a further context that we all have to cope with.

    The shadow we exist under and which “innocent” remarks must contend with.

    lofgren @249

    As I said before, I don’t see any reason to think that Landsburg imagines his thought experiment should impact the real treatment of real rapists and rape victims in any way. As he peels away the identifiable harms of rape, he is definitely grappling with a question over whether rape is inherently wrong or simply wrong on practical terms. As many posters have pointed out, this obviously opens the door to the possibility that there is such a thing as a not-wrong rape, but only highly contrived, imaginary circumstances where the future effects of the rape are fully known ahead of time.

    He is peeling away and removing said identifiable harms.

    He’s placing them outside the conversation.

    And that exists in the context that that is how the victim’s reality is constantly treated that way in public discussions about rape. Always the perpetual abuse, pain, suffering, trauma, triggers, etc… are always placed “outside” the conversation, always skirted around.

    In addition, we have a context of a world where a number of rapists often flood any conversation about rape by actual rape victims to argue the margins, to wonder where exactly the line is so as to dismiss their actions as rape or to creepily work to play on the raggedy edge of consent or to push it further and further over to dismiss all rapes.

    In addition, we also have a context in which actual lawmakers regularly argue that the only rapes that can be considered legitimate are the most graphic of anal rapes by the most swarthy of strangers to the most Christian and virginal of victims.

    In addition, we also have a context where there are actual movements that sell rapist and consent-ignoring and kindness-abusing “techniques” sold specifically as “seduction tactics” and training young men in their usage and encouraging them to dominate spaces with women and use them and congratulate each other for the homosocial benefits of perpetuating these cultures.

    And they are the only one “outside” the conversation. The rapist’s “benefits” were never placed “outside” the conversation. And the argument was entirely designed to then use a situation where the rapist ideally “won” a comparison to then move back to a more general point against the concept of psychic harm (AT ALL) and bodily autonomy (AT ALL). All in the context of arguing that rape and sex should be viewed entirely in transactional terms, which is something that is sadly VERY common among libertarians and is (surprise surprise, rapey as all hell)

    But Landsburg took great pains to isolate his thought exercise from any real victims. He is dealing with violations of an abstract nature in order to determine the appropriate “policy weight,” to use his term, of “psychic harm.” Note that there are actually two rape scenarios even in the original blog post (and many variations in the comments). In the first scenario, Landsburg ponders whether the “psychic harm” to the victim ought to be a factor. Note that he never says it shouldn’t be, only asks how it ought to be weighted. He then modifies the scenario after noting that the “psychic harm” to a victim of rape is “an order of magnitude” greater than that of a person penetrated by photons from his neighbor’s porch light. That is to say, he acknowledges that if psychic harm is given any weight at all, then a rape is still going to be always wrong. So in the first variation on his original scenario, Landsburg isolates the victim from psychic harm and instead shifts that harm to a loved one who (through magic, one would presume, given that there are also no witnesses) finds out about the rape. Should their (ie not the victim’s) psychic harm be afforded any policy weight?

    Yeah, there it is. We placed the rape victim outside, and used someone adjacent to them. We then ignore the real psychological side-effects to the adjacent in terms of shared depression, anger, traumas, fear of similar abuse, fear of similar spaces, affected interactions with the victim, secondary traumas, etc… to argue that they are babbling about nonsense and then used it to present a leading non-conclusion on “psychic harm” with some weasel wordery to try and hide the three-card monte play.

    In addition, he also uses an argument about photons to DIRECTLY minimize the violation of bodily autonomy in rape.

    Maybe completely useless, but deliberately misleading conclusions that are deeply minimzing, offensive, and based in current apologia is just what philosophy is all about these days. But if that’s the case, they might as well close it down and admit they lost anyone who had anything useful to say to the various minority group studies departments a LONG LONG time ago.

    I however do not agree that that is what is “central to philosophy” as you stated earlier. This argument is disingenuous, increases the rape culture, and is directly minimizing to victims in cheap ways.

    May he forever find Legos underfoot for the rest of his days.

    lofgren @237

    I have, in fact. However, I’m not sure of its relevance to Landsburg’s conversation. In all of those cases, both the victim and others learned about the rapes, and so obviously they are not consistent with Landsburg’s hypotheticals. As Landsburg acknowledges, the psychic harm from rape is extreme. That’s why he modifies the scenario to eliminate the victim’s awareness of the crime.

    Given that this is directly about me taking about how the rapes in my little V have affected me and my partners and me through my partners and how we were all directly minimized by Landsburg’s sick little “oh, if there’s no physical harm, it’s not like it really counts” game playing ESPECIALLY AS WE ALL INITIALLY DISMISSED BECAUSE OF THOSE EXACT INTERNALIZED MESSAGES, I heartily invite you to receive all the “Fuck Yous” I can possibly give to another person.

    You dismissive little shit.

    To all the fuckers, you know who you are:

    In the contexts presented, in the pains we rape victims live and struggle with to this day, with the days constantly going by where I can’t remember the last day I didn’t suffer through at least one flashback when I tried to close my eyes, the choices you made here, the choices you will make here (because I have no illusions that any of you will turn around and stop digging in the holes you have chosen to make, sadly) mean things.

    And sadly, thanks to the rape culture we all stew in, it means accidental rape apologia. Accidental minimizations. Accidental misplaced blames and angers. Accidental misplaced priorities and weights. Accidental misplaced umbrage and pride. Accidental continued violence and continuation of the rape culture against those most harmed by it.

    Repeatedly.

    Constantly.

    I should inform you that for the entire time I have been writing the last two posts, I have been in near tears, because of all the shit the various little apologia has triggered within me. I have been stressed out and riding high on adrenaline.

    And for the last however long I have been writing these posts, I have constantly been feeling my rapist pressing into my left thigh, his flesh consuming mine, his noises in my ear, his violation present and real in this moment in the same type of vivid flashbacks I have been having way too regularly for months.

    This particular flashback is of remarkable intensity comparably though. And it is entirely because of your combined appalling behavior in the treatment of the subject and the rape victims surrounding it.

    I do not tell you this to dissuade you from your chosen path. I mean, let’s be honest, you will instead choose to become angry and defensive.

    But rather to provide the painful context of your actions that needs to be made front and center.

    Your actions have consequences. In our diseased culture, they harm.

    And I’m only the “minor” case.

  296. says

    I”ll be interested to see if anyone posts a successful response to Cerberus: Fucking Oppression, Man. Because from what I’ve seen, unless you accept the dictum: STFU and listen, you will be labelled some variation of a privileged rape enabler. Attempts to frame your disagreement in your sincere sympathy for anyone who has been to that particular hell will be summarily dismissed as unwanted crocodile tears and possibly counter-productive. It doesn’t matter how many times you insert into your text qualifiers that shouldn’t be necessary in an adult discussion: Just to be clear, I”m not…It goes without saying that…. Those will have no effect. Anything short of knee-buckling submission to STFU and listen, is a position without merit. Welcome to the ultimate argument from intimidation: STFU and listen or you are a rape enabler and/or apologist. Welcome to a small sample of Planet Pharyngula, a place other-worldly in its ugliness.

  297. says

    @heddle
    It’s not disagreement that’s the problem.
    If you say, “Oh, I’m so sorry for your suffering, but I’ll ignore the effect my actions have on you and on other victims, and will just continue on my way” that’s not disagreement. That’s dismissal.
    .
    “STFU and listen” is not asking for “knee-buckling submission”. Yes, I understand how it may sound like that to you. But it’s a misunderstanding nevertheless.
    It is saying:

    This is my lived experience you’re talking about. For you this may be a totally irrelevant theoretical discussion like “is the moon made of green cheese?” or “suppose there were fairies and unicorns, and you could invite one of them to live in your garden, which would you choose?”. But for me, and other victims, and those who know they are in danger of becoming victims it isn’t a nice enclosed theoretical discussion. It is threatening. So don’t simply wave away the victims suffering with a theoretical. Don’t say it’s “just psychic” suffering. The suffering, even where “only” psychic is immense.
    Your discussion is also dangerous, as it gives credence to the idea that rape is somehow not intrinsically wrong, it’s more a question of the exact circumstances. That increases the likelihood of someone becoming a rapist, as it makes it easier to rationalise such behaviour. Truly believing actions are bad is a deterrent, perhaps even the strongest deterrent there is. Yes, you can easily scoff at the idea of increased likelihood of rape because you are unlikely to become a victim. Others don’t have that luxury. Don’t contribute to there being more victims.

    “STFU and listen” is asking you to respect that.
    .
    On one of Landsburg’s threads someone proposed an alternate theoretical. The connection seems to be down, so I can’t copy it, but the gist was:

    There is rape, a trial, and a conviction. Then you as a bystander have a chance to make your feelings known to the court. Should your feelings of distress add to the sentence?

    You can discuss that to your heart’s content.
    Why is it different? Because in this one the victim is not dismissed as irrelevant, is not waved away, or conveniently airbrushed out of the picture. As happens to rape victims all the time.

  298. says

    @311
    I have you fairly and squarely on the horns of a dilemma: either you admit my quote was accurate, or you must maintain that MH was proposing only WMDKitty had no right, and other rape victims do.
    Instead of having the guts to admit you’re wrong, or the sense to shut up, you accuse me of dishonesty.

    When a donkey calls me an ass, I consider the source.

  299. says

    Anything short of knee-buckling submission to STFU and listen, is a position without merit.

    Yeah, because being expected to listen to other people is just SOOO dictatorial. If someone wants you to listen to them, that automatically means their position is “without merit.” You know who else expected people to listen to him? HITLER. True story. (Okay, liberals like FDR expected people to listen to them too, but that just shows how liberals are so similar to fascists, amirite?)

    Seriously, heddle, would it really kill you to step back and admit you stepped in something way the fuck out of your depth? I could say it’s the “Christian” minister in you that forbids you to listen to others, but there are plenty of Christian ministers who are far better than you at listening to the people to whom they claim to minister.

    What’s your bloody point, dude? If it’s that reporting Landsburg to his superiors is bad, we’ve already refuted that. So what else do you have to say that’s so fucking much more important than the persepective of someone who’s actually experienced what Landsburg was blathering about in the abstract? Whatever it is, you seem to have forgotten it in your urgent haste to scream about the horrors of being told to listen to others.

  300. says

    Cerebrus:

    Wow. Sorry about your experience.

    This:

    “There are not enough fucks in the world to encompass what you are doing right here.”

    at the end of the trashing you decided to avail yourself of in regard to what I wrote @311. Gosh, does that make you feel a whole lot better. Do you want to lump me in with your rapist, so you can hate me? because I just can’t know what it’s like?

    I was raped, repeatedly, over a period of 3+ years, as a child. I have deep seated and, after over 50 years, crystal clear memories of the abuse, the abuser, the pain and the feelings of guilt and helplessness. I quit sleeping the sleep of a child before I was in kindergarten. I do not trust ANYONE, ever–although I do a very convincing job of acting as if I do. Everything I just wrote is 100% accurate, it IS my experience.

    I do not hold the people who did not abuse me responsible for my pain and suffering. I have not, do not and will not attempt to tell people “to STFU and listen”, ever, it they are talking about child abuse, sexual abuse or any other sort of abuse, up to and including rape.

    I will, as is my right, rebut their assertions, I will be as insulting and ugly as I want to be with people who think that ANY abuse is tolerable on account of the “minimal damage” it does–that is also my right..

    You don’t like what I say in my comments? That’s your option. You want to call me names and lump me in with the rapists who hurt you and the people who were supposed to protect but failed in their obligation to do so? Go for it. Don’t expect me to agree with you or give you a lot of pats on the back.

    What you suffered at the hands of rapists is horrible; that horrible suffering, unfortunately, does not give you or anyone else the privilege of exceeding your rights and allowing you to control the conversation. You can like that or not, it won’t change anything.

  301. says

    Just type in “Heath” and follow the comment posts.

    I did that, and got no hits other than one instance of “heathen.” My browser’s search utility may be hosed. In any case, after seeing how you made an ass of yourself as a result of the whole Shermer debacle, and after seeing how quick you were to cry about “defamation” here the minute someone disagreed with you, I’m really not inclined to give you much credence here. If you don’t like being misunderstood by people with a real stake in a certain debate, maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to derail conversations by bitching about peripheral matters.

  302. says

    “@311
    I have you fairly and squarely on the horns of a dilemma: either you admit my quote was accurate, or you must maintain that MH was proposing only WMDKitty had no right, and other rape victims do.
    Instead of having the guts to admit you’re wrong, or the sense to shut up, you accuse me of dishonesty.”

    You self-righteous asshole.

    Your premise is flawed, you do not have me on the horns of a dilemma until you can furnish the original quote that says what you seem to think it says. You manufactured a false quote. It cannot be accurate. You can’t admit that because it lumps you in with others who do the same thing,.

    Michael Heath can defend himself,

    Again with the “STFU”. What is it with you and other people who think that saying that will have any effect on me or anyone else who disagrees with you.

    I’m not good at math but it seems that the equation is:

    democommie’s antipathy towards rape and rapists – democommie’s accepting a lie by Delft = democommie has to STFU.

    Sorry, that’s YOUR problem to deal with, not mine.

  303. says

    @321:

    Is that some sort of a rebuttal, or just your way of saying that you don’t have one?

    Stop lying and people will stop calling you a liar. See, it’s that simple.

  304. says

    Why do you think repeating idiocies makes them any truer? IF you could read, you’d know what I wrote was perfectly true. Calling me names is not going to change that.
    People who believe, as you do, that calling people names is a replacement for actual arguments are simply not worth engaging with.
    I’d say go back to kindergarden, but if you ever went there, you clearly failed to learn the lessons it’s supposed to teach. Catch up.

  305. says

    Um, Delft. Fuck you, you sanctimonious piece of shit.

    You tell a lie, then you try to hide behind some idiotic explanation about what Michael Heath REALLY said when he typed:

    “You also don’t have the moral high ground to shunt off debate. Your argument here for someone to shut up is no better than religionists seeking to end debate on assertions they find offensive. If you can’t handle it, you have every right to avoid such debates. The rest of us on the other hand have every right to continue to speak, in fact I’d argue we have a moral imperative to speak out, with Ed having the sole authority to moderate what we write in this venue.”

    I will assume (and I will stand corrected if wrong) that Michael Heath’s “shunt” in the first sentence is a typo, as
    “…shunt off debate” makes no sense and Michael Heath has a tendency to sometimes mis-spell a word–as do we all. Nowhere in that comment does he say that WMD Kitty or anyone else who is a rape survivor has no RIGHT to anything EXCEPT the heckler’s veto. If you can’t see that, well, I guess that “reading comprehension” is fucking endemic around here.

    “People who believe, as you do, that calling people names is a replacement for actual arguments are simply not worth engaging with.”

    Uh-oh, I guess that negates everything that Cerebrus and WMDKitty have had to say; too bad, so sad.

    “And when women and rape survivors tell you that you’re in the wrong, you need to shut your fucking mouth and listen.”

    Well, heck, didn’t I JUST do that. So, STFU and LISTEN or, no, wait, say wtf ever you want to, but be prepared for disagreement and ridicule.

  306. says

    Holy crap, I totally missed this little steaming brown gem from Heath:

    And yes, I’m skeptical you’ve suffered abuse precisely because of your dishonesty against me; you’ve proven your dishonesty…

    So, Michael, you’re exaggerating an emotional misstatement into “dishonesty” and “defamation,” and then using that as an excuse to discount a woman’s entire story? You are aware, are you not, that this is how rape victims are treated every fucking day, both in public debate and in court? The fact that you adopt a standard tactic of MRAs and rape-apologists doesn’t really help your credibility.

    And besides, you’ve made enough misstatements of your own, on this and other threads, that you’re really not in a position to rule on anyone else’s credibility.

  307. says

    As Cerebrus pointed out, the context in which statements are made counts. I could trot out the statistics on how little rape is reported, and ask our……doubters….. to realize that there is no harmless mention of rape, especially in the context of speculating whether it’s a ‘free’ rape to rape the unconscious (which not a few people ’round here have had done to them).

    The doubters here likely think, because I see this way too often myself in terms of the denial to listen, that talking about our own rapes is a rhetorical move, perhaps even cynical. If your idea of a conversation about this sort of subject is an academic debate (and suggesting that it’s okay for yourself or your male students (the stats on rape are overwhelmingly skewed toward the male rapist) to rape anyone they find or render unconscious, you’re bound to be disappointed: Your expectations are not realistic.

    And no, this does not make you more objective. Demanding that a subject like this remain neutral to all persons in the conversation is a sign of ignorance on your part.

    Many people find, when this subject comes up, the claim that not actively opposing this sort of speculation provides coverage to rapists. In general, I direct your attention to the work of David Lisak and anyone who directly studies rapists. In fact, since we’re clinging to the academic debate, I refer you to the titles of papers. Anyone clinging to the necessity of this kind of debate should have access to their own databases.

    Kitzinger & Frith (1999) “Just Say No? The Use of Conversation Analysis In Developing A Feminist Perspective On Sexual Refusal, Discourse & Society”

    Lisak & Miller. (2002) “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists” Violence and Victims, 17: 1

    McWhorter et al (2009) “Reports of Rape Reperpetration by Newly Enlisted Male Navy Personnel” Violence and Victims, 24: 2

    Lisak et al. (2008) “Understanding the Nature of Predatory Behavior in Sexual Violence”

    Lisak also gave an excellent interview at NPR in 2010, on his findings on the subject to date.

    Those are a nice start, but for those of you who are already academics, it’s not like looking this sort of thing up on the databases provided you is difficult.

  308. dingojack says

    Mouthyb – I absolutely agree a rape claim sure can ruin the lives, of both (or worse, all) parties , and for that reason any claim of harm needs to be investigated thoroughly .
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Yes it’s an insignificant sample, but it does go to support: “…ask our……doubters….. to realize that there is no harmless mention of rape… ” [emphasis mine].

  309. says

    dingojack, your link is borked.

    Just in case you’re one of the people who think there are loads of false accusations and that such things ruin a person’s life, I refer you to Lisak’s “False Allegations of Sexual Assualt: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases”. His findings were that the false reporting only constituted 5.9% at the most prevalent, the same rate at which crime in general is falsely reported. And, as any of the papers I listed could tell you, the comparable harm between a false accusation and the damage done by a rapist are not comparable. As the professor notes, of that 5.9%, the collecting agency (local police) made no distinction between accusations that could be proved false, accusations that were not investigated, and accusations that were dropped. There is no follow-up on those sorts of cases, and since the collecting agency did not distinguish between the previously mentioned cases, of which an unknown amount are not so much false as un-investigated or just dropped for any other reason. We have, therefore, no way of verifying what of those accusations are demonstrably false or what of those accusations could be true but not investigated for whatever reason.

    Just in case you are thinking it, a 101 level knowledge of the research could correct any presupposition that there’s a feminist conspiracy to downplay the effect of accusations and prevent male reporting. Feel free to read your own research, instead of someone else’s interpretation of research you’ve never read.

  310. dingojack says

    oops. But here‘s another one. What were the consequences for the ‘victim’ and the ‘assailant’?
    Again – evidence that all such claims should be thoroughly and professionally investigated. I’m sure you agree.
    Dingo
    ——–
    PS: the original article.. Two of the 5.9%

  311. dingojack says

    Ah so if fire broke out in your building it wouldn’t be real if reported in a newspaper; an academic paper however….
    That one should be careful at jumping to a conclusion about who is a ‘victim’ and who a ‘perpetrator’ and therefore that all claims should be given serious attention and thoroughly investigated, and recognising that harm can affect more than the victim – totally imaginary, right*?
    Dingo
    —–
    * Well you got to beat your strawman, why shouldn’t I.

  312. says

    Not that I need the headache…

    Rape in the U.S. (and everywhere else, in all likelihood) is under reported, under investigated, under prosecute and when convictions ARE obtained, they often result in sentences which are laughable.

    That does NOT mean that each reported rape should not be thoroughly investigated.

    I could be mstaken but I think that the bulk of the comments decrying Michael Heath and others for being rape enablers are based on Michael Heath’s comment to WMD Kitty @271 (in part)

    “And let’s also be clear, your framing here about your being a victim is not a justifiable excuse to lie about others or mutate others’ arguments into something altogether different as you do with at least me. In fact it’s a character failure against those who have actually suffered to have another lie in reference to abuse. And yes, I’m skeptical you’ve suffered abuse precisely because of your dishonesty against me; you’ve proven your dishonesty. How I can trust any of your un-validated assertions when you make such blatant falsehoods which can easily be demonstrated to be untrue? Your lying by about me also harms the victims of abuse; precisely because it dilutes the credibility of those who are abused. It gives unwarranted license to accused abusers and their enablers to claim victims make up their abuse.”.

    Like I said, I could be wrong, but the above quote seems to be what set off the shitstorm.

    I don’t need to defend Michael Heath, he can do that himself.

  313. says

    Democommie,

    I like this part from the article your linked:

    First Amendment scholar Marjorie Heins, who is author of a new book, Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge, praised Seligman for the standard set for protecting academic freedom.

    “He has accurately stated the delicate balance that a university has to achieve,” said Heins, who noted that UR’s standard for acceptable conduct comes from court rulings.

    She said that as a matter of good educational policy, a professor should be removed if the college has shown that he has engaged in unprofessional conduct in class of sufficiently severe nature or that his academic writings have fallen severely below the standards of the profession.

    Heins, who teachers at New York University, said that nothing she has heard about this case would warrant demands that he be punished.

    “The best way to fight his views is with more speech about the issues they are concerned about,” Heins said.

    I wonder if anyone told Marjorie Heins to STFU and listen.

  314. says

    dingojack: Fire in a newspaper office? Of all the really weird associations, that one is fairly high on my list.

    I’m saying that the standard for proof is different. If I write a newspaper article, people have to agree something happened somewhere.

    If I write an academic paper, I have to have the approval of a committee, be addressing a society wide issue and be damn scrupulous about what I say, in addition to making public how I got the information, what methods I used on it and that I’ve done a net good for society (testing on humans requires that I prove I am not just doing no harm, but also doing the group studied or society a net good.)

    One of these things is not like the other. If the root of your objection is that you don’t have access to those data bases, you can always use scholar.google.com

    And while I agree in principle that all claims should be thoroughly investigated, your continued supposition that there is something unsavory about victims in those circumstances raises my hackles. Victims during those investigations are already treated like liars. About that, there is NO disagreement among criminologists who study rape. The specialists overwhelmingly agree: our system does a poor job of prosecution and treats the victim in those circumstances like they’re probably lying about everything.

    tl;dr version: Your version of reality is worrisome.

  315. says

    heddle: Didn’t your university make you take a sexual harassment seminar? It was my understanding that such things were mandatory. Any course designed for compliance with US law talks about what’s called a ‘hostile learning/working environment.”

    The prof’s behavior falls squarely in that category. He’s a legal liability to his institution.

  316. says

    heddle: why is Heins’ opinion important here? And what the hell is a “First Amendment scholar” anyway — someone who slept through all but one lecture in a ConLaw class?

  317. says

    heddle:

    Agreed as to the comments of Marjorie Heins. I will continue to disagree as to the process of notifying employers/authorities of such behavior. In a sense it’s all moot; that Landsburg or anyone else with any sort of audience, publishing what he did, and NOT being reported to someone is nearly a certainty.

  318. says

    I edited that last sentence and it came out wrong.

    It should have read:

    “In a sense it’s all moot; for Landsburg or anyone else with any sort of audience, publishing what he did, being reported to someone is nearly a certainty.”

  319. says

    democommie: thanks for the article. I cannot believe how new bits of wrongness just pop up every time I read a quote from Landsburg, even if it’s a quote I’ve read before. “Safely unconscious?” WTF?! Since when did unconsciusness equate to safety? The only way you can be “safely unconscious” is when you’re unconscious in a place where you are physically safe. And if you’re being raped while you’re unconscious, well, you’re not “safe” or “safely” anything.

    I cannot believe what a demented indifferent piece of shit this “professor” is. “Safely unconscious?” Who writes this stuff?!

  320. says

    heddle: Didn’t your university make you take a sexual harassment seminar? It was my understanding that such things were mandatory. Any course designed for compliance with US law talks about what’s called a ‘hostile learning/working environment.”

    Yes.

    The prof’s behavior falls squarely in that category. He’s a legal liability to his institution.

    At least at the moment, based on their public statements, they seem to think he is an friggin’ embarrassment and not a legal liability. Perhaps you should offer them legal counsel.

  321. slc1 says

    Re heddle @ #345

    Unless there is some evidence of sexual harassment on his part, I don’t see any legal liability here. What is someone going to sue about (recognizing that people sue over almost anything these days, vis Orly Taitz)?

  322. says

    heddle: All it takes is his students to go past protesting, which they’re already doing, or a student to file a complaint, behavior he appears to be courting fairly hard.

    You don’t have to be legal council to know that once someone gets this kind of national attention and you start getting protests of over 20 people, you have a problem. With the subject matter, I’d be very surprised if one of his students doesn’t complain.

    Those comments create a hostile working or learning environment, according to the material I’ve been taught in sexual harassment seminars (eg complaints rising to the level of being able to pursued as a complaint.) The fact that his institution is only treating it as an embarrassment is a oversight on their part, and could be a part of a complaint on hostile environment that the professor was tacitly allowed to create the situation via no official censure or action on the university’s part other than a general statement that he’s an embarrassment.

    And yes, if a university is made aware that a professor is making those kinds of comments and does nothing in particular about it, they are also liable in the complaint. Now, whether or not the complaint becomes enough of a liability to offer something to the complaining student to get them to drop the complaint, it still generates bad press, tarnishes his department’s reputation, can cause problems getting students for his classes, and he’s being actively protested at this point.

  323. slc1 says

    Re @347

    I don’t want to play lawyer here but, as long as he doesn’t make such comments in class, I fail to see that the students calling for his head have a legal leg to stand on. In fact, if the authorities at UofR were to fire him based solely on the blog posts, he might well have a wrongful termination suit against them! I repeat, there has to be some evidence of misbehavior in his classes to rise to the level of termination. I will repeat the case of Holocaust denier Arthur Butz, engineering professor at Northwestern, who was not fired. Many of us would consider Holiocaust denial to be more serious then dumb comments made by Landsburg on his blog. Apparently, no evidence of discrimination toward Jewish students could be found in Butz’s classes.

  324. says

    slc1: He did make comments to that effect in class, or at least the students protesting him and his administration think so, from their statements to local press.

    Also, as someone who has filed a complaint that rose to the level of a lawsuit, let me reassure you that his in-class remarks rise to the level where the HR dept is obligated to look into it, if a student complains.

    As far as why his college hasn’t announced that they think his words are liable: if they admit a legal liability, they’ve created a new one, as far as the court system is concerned. Admitting that there’s a problem you KNOW is actionable is seen as a sign of guilt unless they fire his ass concurrent to that admission (but they’d still be more liable to suits of wrongful damage and the like.)

    And really, people, no matter what you choose to think about the professor’s comments, he’s still engendering risk for himself. His ‘free speech’ does not preclude him from suffering the consequences of causing this sort of controversy.

    On a person note from my own experience: you never hear so many defenders of free speech in other arenas as you do when sexual harassment/sexism comes up. People will come the fuck out of the woodwork to argue that the behavior in question is ok, or that it isn’t really a deal, etc.

    Shame on you!

  325. says

    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    On a person note from my own experience: you never hear so many defenders of free speech in other arenas as you do when sexual harassment/sexism comes up. People will come the fuck out of the woodwork to argue that the behavior in question is ok, or that it isn’t really a deal, etc.

    Then your experience is very limited when it comes to this blog, where there is a long-standing tradition and cadre of people who disagree on many things but will reliably agree on defending free speech.

  326. says

    I don’t want to play lawyer here but, as long as he doesn’t make such comments in class, I fail to see that the students calling for his head have a legal leg to stand on.

    What “legal leg” do the students need to show that Landsburg is a shitty professor, an embarrassment to their college, and not trustworthy in the exercise of his authority? What “legal leg” do they need to make a case that he should be replaced by someone who can do his job better?

  327. says

    Actually, heddle, mouthyb’s quote is pretty close to the truth — especially in regard to your own behavior here: we’re talking about a stupid professor abusing his title and doing his job poorly, and YOU are the one quoting a “FIrst Amendment scholar” and pretending this is a “free speech” case.

  328. says

    Landsburg is an asshole; that much seems self-evident.

    Firing him for being an asshole is prolly impossible as he is tenured.

    Unless he breaks some rule of his employment contract or commits a crime under color of university authority (which may amount to the same thing) he likely cannot be removed from his post.

    His professional life can be made sundy forms of hell bu the administration but I think that, and various “encouragements” by his employers to make him resign are the limit of their option.

    FWIW, I have an economist (the chair at a college less prestigious than Rochester) who I e-mailed about Landsburg. His reply was that Landsburg ain’t all that. He said he published enough stuff to achieve tenure and since then has not distinguished himself.

    My suggestion would be that the students elect Landsburg “Dickwad professor of the year” and perhaps wear t-shirts with a legend:

    “Careful, Landsburtg; I’m not unconcious!”.

  329. says

    A fun tenure fact: your tenure can be revoked under several circumstances. If you cause damage to the school’s name and reputation, if a committee of your peers feels that you no longer merit tenure or if you are arrested for a crime, you can have your tenure revoked.

    The more you know……

  330. says

    Firing him for being an asshole is prolly impossible as he is tenured.

    Has anyone at UR actually said he’s tenured? If he was, you’d think the UR administration would be quick to point that out to the protesters and the news media.

    It’s hard to tell from a photo, but he looks kinda young to have earned tenure.

  331. says

    This:

    “Author of The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, and his most recent book More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics, Steven Landsburg is a lively commentator on economic issues who appears frequently in national popular publications. He currently pens a monthly column on “everyday economics” for Slate magazine, exploring such diverse subjects as the national debt, the obesity crisis, payments to Hurricane Katrina evacuees in New Orleans, and salary caps in the NFL. In his scholarly work, Landsburg has focused on algebraic K-theory, quantum game theory, module patching, the philosophy of science, and moral philosophy. He has written two economics textbooks and is currently working on a text on general relativity and cosmology. (source: http://www.rochester.edu/news/experts/index.php?id=285)”

    doesn’t say he’s tenured but this

    ““We are dismayed that a fully tenured academic would so carelessly sully our fine institution’s name,” the flier said.” (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/03/08/students-hold-silent-protest-after-professor-backs-limbaugh-in-blog-post/)

    does.

    What I find more puzzling is that his characterization of Sandra Fluke as “demanding money” is, unless something happened during her testimony to congress of which I am unaware, she did not demand money. Did I miss something that happened back then.

    This guy is pretty obviously a piece-of-shit.

    slc1 might want to look at the last bit on his bio; Landsburg is working on a text on general relativity and cosmology?

  332. says

    democommie: Wow, is he publishing outside his field! Does it say if those publications are in vanity pubs? Professional journals tend to require a demonstrated expertise in the field (ie a degree).

  333. says

    @358:

    Well, being that he’s an expert on so many other things, I don’t see a problem. Gotta wonder what publisher solicited that treatment.

  334. says

    It’s certainly unusual for a publication track record. I ain’t saying it’s impossible to contribute to multiple fields, but I am saying he’s not even contributing well to his own, if you know what I mean.

  335. says

    Maybe he’s just read a lot of sci-fi and has a burning desire to explore questions of cosmology as he’s done with other philosophical questions. Or, he could just be a total wanker; yeah, I think I’ll go with total wanker.

  336. slc1 says

    Re raging bee @ #352

    How does bee know that Landsburg is a shitty professor? As I understand it, he received an award for teaching in 2007. According to rate my professor he got a 3.9 out of a possible 5, for that that might be worth (I recall that Michael Behe got a 5 out of a possible 5 when I looked at at his record a couple of years ago). 3.9 doesn’t seem to merit the claim of shitty. Arthur Butz got a rating of 1.5 which would seem to merit shitty (of course, maybe the Jews in his classes gave him a big fat 0 which brought down his rating).

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=71418

    Re democommie @ #357

    Prof. landsburg has a PhD in mathematics from the University of Chicago. Apparently, he has specialized in the past in something call K theory (by the way, when I referred to a branch of mathematics as a theory on Panda’s thumb, a couple of mathematicians took exception to using the term theory). I don’t know anything about K theory but it appears to be a branch of topology. According to an article in Wiki, K theory seems to have an application to string theory in physics.

    I have no idea what his qualifications are to pontificate on General Relativity and cosmology. I would hope that his views will not be as extreme as his economic views appear to be.

    One of the interesting tidbits on Wiki was his pontification on jury trials, namely that a jury finding a defendant innocent who later confesses should be punished, presumably by having a fine levied against the members while a jury finding a defendant innocent who is later definitively proved so should receive a monetary award. Of course, that proves that he pontificates on subjects on which he is totally ignorant. The only decision that a jury is called on to make is to determine if the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not called upon to solve the case. If there is a reasonable doubt, the jury will be instructed to find the defendant innocent.

  337. says

    Professional journals tend to require a demonstrated expertise in the field (ie a degree).

    Not if their editors are safely unconscious.

  338. says

    slc1:

    I figured you’d know more about the subject than I could find out without hurting my brain and between the dog telling me he needed to be taken for a romp and the beer telling me it needed to be drunk…

    Landsburg may be a multi-disciplinary genius, but I sorta doubt that’s the case.

    Raging Bee:

    Some might say that “safely unconcious” is the default state for a LOT of people in academia–and numerous other fields.

  339. says

    One of the interesting tidbits on Wiki was his pontification on jury trials, namely that a jury finding a defendant innocent who later confesses should be punished, presumably by having a fine levied against the members…

    Yeah, because juries don’t face enough pressure from public emotion, mob sentiment and media framing already. So would the confessin have to be proven in a trial before the former jurors get hit with fines? Or would it be automatically taken at face value?

    …while a jury finding a defendant innocent who is later definitively proved so should receive a monetary award.

    So a defendant is found NOT GUILTY (not “innocent,” bit of a difference there), but now jurors have a monetary incentive to press for further proof of innocence? And if they don’t get such “definitive” proof, that would, of course, cast doubt on their not-guilty verdict. Which then pretty much undermines the whole concept of “innocent until proven guilty.”

    This guy looks like a bigoted twit trying to pretend he’s found new and clever ways of undermining the basic rights of others. And all he can come up with is some thinly-veiled scheme to bribe and blackmail juries.

  340. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #367

    A more charitable view of Landsburg is that he pontificates on subjects he is ignorant about. I shudder to think of what he is going to say about cosmology and GR in his next tome. It may give folks like Phil Plait, Ethan Siegel, and Sean Carroll, who know a lot more about the subject then I do, something to yuk about.

  341. says

    We’re well past “charitable vews” here. Landsburg has already shown he’s not just a moron, he’s willing to use well-known insidious propaganda tactics to plant false notions into public discourse. That’s what his “harmless rape” exercise was: an attempt to insinuate that certain public policies he didn’t agree with were driven by nothing more than personal distaste; and to get people to reason based on that false premise, without examining the premise itself. That, and his selective deletion of comments that didn’t fit his script, proves he’s a knowing liar, and there’s no need or reason to be “charitable” toward knowing liars.

  342. says

    Raging Bee:

    I had up until now, left reading Landsburg’s blogthread comments to others. Having gone over there and seen the echochamber that he’s got going for him, I see that I was right to do so.He seems to have a nice stable of MRA’s to engage in a psychic circle jerk.

    I thought that this was rather telling:

    “Steve Landsburg
    April 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Twofer:

    Why would you assume the rapist benefits?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revealed_preference

    I’m supposed to take seriously a university professor who’s using fucking Wiki to buttress his argument?

    I though about leaving the fuckdouche a note but it would almost certainly offend him and not get published.

    Had I done so, it would have been about my little “thought experiment” about him having someone blow his brains out,. Since it’s only a hypothetical, where’s the harm?

  343. says

    Yeah, commenting on his blog is probably a waste of time; but it might be useful for someone on our side to keep track of him now and then, just to have an indicator of what sort of bullshit people like him are trying to feed the public.

    Oh, and thanks for the National Post link. All I can say to that is, holy fucking shit!

    “How is it possible for someone to leave a digital trail like that yet the RCMP don’t have evidence of a crime?” [the victim’s father] writes. “What were they looking for if photos and bragging weren’t enough?”

    If I was a Canadian cop, I’d be frightfully ashamed of my entire profession, and maybe my country as well. Everyone has planey of evidence to mercilessly shame the victim, but the cops are too clueless to lift a finger? Really?!

  344. says

    Inefficiency at pretty much everything except beating protestors and tasing visiting polish people to death seems to be SOP for the RCMP.

    But, then, maybe “anonymous” shouldn’t have threatened to out the 4 rapists and just let their parents handle the whole thing.

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