What Recent Supreme Court Decisions Have Told Me About My Value as a Woman and a Human Being

I’ve learned so much from the Supreme Court over the last few years:

Corporations are totes people who have the right to put as much money where their mouth is as they want – well, they don’t technically have mouths, but they’re still American people who have every right to talk as much as those mere biological people they’re notorious for trodding upon.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) Limits on corporate and union political expenditures during election cycles violate the First Amendment. Corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited sums in support of or in opposition to candidates as long as the spending is independent of the candidates.

(Notice we hoi polloi are thrown a sop in the form of labor unions being able to spend unlimited sums – which would be nice, if it weren’t for the fact that corporations have been busy murdering unions for decades. Hey – does that count as first-degree murder? Because that means we should be able to imprison or execute them, then.)

Corporations and rich people have lots more freedom of speech than people who aren’t rich or corporations.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) Limits on the total amounts of money that individuals can donate to political campaigns during two-year election cycles violate the First Amendment.

Image shows Supreme Court portrait: the conservative justices have corporate logos on their robes. Caption says, "I don't always undermine the Constitution of the United States, but when I do, I make sure I get paid."

People who want to keep guns around in order to shoot other people (but not corporations, because while corporations can “speak,” they can’t actually bleed) are more important than people who would rather impose sensible limits on guns for the safety of total non-people (such as children outside of wombs).

McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010) The individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense is fully applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

People of color don’t need any protection from systemic racism. Nossir. Times have changed and there is no longer any such thing as, oh, say, corporations (which are Very Important People) and political parties (*coughRepublicancough*) discriminating against people whose skin is other than white. They certainly wouldn’t refuse to hire them or prevent them from voting!

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A Michigan state constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action does not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which contains the coverage formula that determines which state and local jurisdictions are subjected to federal preclearance from the United States Department of Justice before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices based on their histories of racial discrimination in voting, is unconstitutional because it no longer reflects current societal conditions.

Making everybody in government pray to Jesus doesn’t violate anyone’s free exercise of religion. Why wouldn’t Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists and pagans and all them other (totally fake) people love praying to Jesus? Their objections are silly and can definitely be ignored. Remember: being forced to pray to a god your religion or conscience tells you doesn’t exist is no big, even if your god is a jealous fucker who will cut you for paying lip service to someone else’s god.

Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ___ (2014) A town council’s practice of opening its sessions with a sectarian prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause.

We look forward to seeing the Court twist into pretzels to define why praying to Allah is totes a violation of the Establishment clause.*

The Court has given me to understand that women are definitely lesser people than corporations. Corporations have the right to force women and trans men who haven’t had surgery to pay for their own birth control, because a corporation can be totes religious just like a person, and private for-profit corporations are so pious that they, like churches, can impose their beliefs that women should be baby factories upon women, trans men, and other folks with a uterus. Uterus-having folks, however, have no right to impose their desire for appropriate healthcare upon the corporation providing health insurance as part of their compensation. No word yet on whether corporations must pay for the aspirin they’re telling ladies to keep between their knees as a substitute for effective birth control, but I’m sure they won’t have to if they classify all pills as birth control.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) Closely held for-profit corporations have free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Viagra, of course, will be provided to the menfolk with limp willies free of charge.

Image is an angry Captain Picard with his hand extended as if protesting. Caption says, "Hobby Lobby is not a church, it's a fucking crafts store."

But hey, isn’t it sweet that the Court’s enlightened enough to finally realize there’s no good reason for the federal government to say “I don’t” to same-sex marriage?

United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___ (2013) Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines—for federal law purposes—the terms “marriage” and “spouse” to apply only to marriages between one man and one woman, is a deprivation of the equal liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The federal government must recognize same-sex marriages that have been approved by the states.

Shorter Supremes: “We’re going to give corporations insane control over the political process, and gut all the laws protecting you from racist jackasses, and let Christians force their prayers and beliefs upon you even in government settings, and we don’t give a single shit about women’s reproductive rights because every fetus and potential fetus is sacred until it’s born, after which we don’t care if it gets shot, but hey, we’re not bigots – you can have all the same-sex weddings you want! Just, y’know, don’t expect us to tell corporations, which are completely religious people, that they can’t discriminate against you. Because it’s obvious we think they own you.”

Image shows Scalia. Caption reads, "Equality? Not founder's intent, lol."

For those who say elections don’t matter, I just want to point out one thing: the majority are all Reagan / George W. Bush appointees. The dissenters: Clinton and Obama. Just one less Bush term, and women might not have to put up with their employer forcing their religious views up their vagina. Had Obama lost, same-sex marriage would still be a distant dream rather than an impending reality. So fuck you if you’re one of those who was willing to risk McCain or Romney just to punish the Dems for not being progressive enough. Play those games with local and state elections where there’s less risk and more reward, people. Leave the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices in hands that aren’t bloody evil.

Image shows Voting Rights Act being signed. Caption says, "Undone by 5 justices. #whycourtsmatter"

And go read Greta Christina’s piece on this travesty. Get outraged. Get voting. Don’t ever let yourself believe elections don’t matter. The only thing that’s going to defeat all that corporate cash is a lot of good people willing to pull the right levers.

Image is a gray cat in a suit. Caption says, "Lawyer cat objects to everything."Boycott Hobby Lobby. Get involved with SafeAndSecular.org.

*I will soon be running for office as an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – if you vote for me, I assure you each meeting will begin by invoking his saucy blessing upon our government business. Does anyone know where I can find meatballs that are halal, kosher, and don’t violate Hindu dietary laws?

Snippets about the landmark rulings filched from Wikipedia’s handy list.

The following memes were found by Ophelia, who has been blogging this case all day. Take them. Spread them. Annoy your Tea Party relatives with them.

Americans United meme. Text reads, "Apparently, the Supreme Court's HOBBY is acting as a LOBBY for the interests of corporations run by the religious right." Image is a 50s illustration of two women. Caption reads, "Face it, dear. Corporations have more rights than we do." Fight back at www.safeandsecular.org. Atheists.org meme: Image shows a Hobby Lobby store, with a Monopoly-style card over it that reads "Fake religious freedom. Get out of the law free. This card may be used to treat women as second-class citizens." Caption says, "A gift from the Supreme Court to religious extremists."  Elizabeth Warren quote: I cannot believe that we live in a world where would even [sic] CONSIDER letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections. The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

A Thought Experiment for the Philosophy Dudebros

Hey, let’s do some philosophy for any more philosophy dudebros who might show up wanting to talk abortion rights. I LOVE philosophy!

All right, dude. Ready for a thought experiment? You’re always totally down with one, I’m sure, cuz you’re a philosophy dude. You’ve signed up to be an organ donor, right? Right? If not, exit the conversation now and never ever even consider you have anything to say about what women should do with unwanted pregnancies. If you’re not willing to let your dead body save other lives, you don’t even get to hypothetically consider what I should do with my alive and aware one.

Okay, organ donor wanna-debate-abortion philosophy dudebro. You’ve been in an accident. You were riding your bike, you forgot your helmet, swerved to avoid hitting a dog and ended up going ass over ankles over the handlebars on to the pavement. Cracked your head wide open. Now, you got flown to the best trauma hospital in the world, and they’ve put you back together again. You’re never going to contribute much to society, though, because your brain is so damaged that your cognitive function is greatly reduced and you’re never going to be able to live without 24-7 care again.

Hey, what’s this on your license? Is that an Organ Donor YES that I see?

Image shows part of an Organ Donation form with the box for "Donate all my organs and tissue" checked.

Organ donor form. Image courtesy Magnus D on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Sweet! Look, philosophy dudebro: there’s so many lives you can save! Sure, you can still feel pain, and being stuck in the hospital rather than a residential facility makes you really upset, and you’re aware of just how bad the quality of your life is when you can’t control what’s done to your body, but you don’t matter as much as all those people you can help, do you? After all, you’ve got two functioning kidneys – why shouldn’t we take one to save the life of a person who, with a working kidney, will go on to be a productive member of society? Right? I mean, you’ve got two, you don’t need the other one. Except if your remaining kidney fails, you’re shit out of luck, and if you develop kidney stones in that one remaining kidney, you might have complications, and there’s the fact that the surgery is hella painful and can lead to the potential for infection, complications and death, but you wouldn’t mind being forced to donate part of yourself to save another life even with those risks, would you? After all, you once marked yes on a donor registration form. Look, if you survive the removal of your kidney, and you don’t have anything bad happen to your other one, the long-term risks are minimal. That other person has as much right to live as you do. Hey, maybe even more, since they don’t need residential care. So that’s a good argument for forcing you to donate your kidney, right?

You know what, I don’t see why we can’t do it right now. Sure, you have a fully-functional brain, and your own hopes and wishes and dreams, and you don’t like to suffer, but you’re a match for this person whose kidneys have failed. It’ll only take you about four weeks to recover from the surgery. Isn’t it more ethical to save a life than keep both your kidneys? Shouldn’t society be able to choose for you whether to save a life or not? And if you’ve said you’ll be an organ donor after death, why wouldn’t you want to be one now?

I mean, it’s not like you’ll have to go through nine months of having something feeding off of you. It’s not like you’re risking all these complications, or these complications, or maybe these really bad ones, or these permanent changes to your body (not to mention lotsa complications). Compared to that, kidney donation’s a breeze!

Image is a stylized representation of a person giving blood.

Blood donation pictogram courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s have some blood out of you. It’s totally safe – your risk of complication is virtually nil. Sure, you may faint. Sure, you may despise needles and panic every time. Sure, there could be bruising and bleeding and scarring and nerve damage and stuff, but surely it’s worth it to save lots of people. Right? We can come take your blood any time we need to, and you won’t mind a bit, because life is so darn precious. I mean, wow, your blood might save that poor pregnant lady who’s bleeding to death while trying to deliver that child you forced her to have. How cool would that be?

You know what, let’s go whole hog here. You can totally donate some bone marrow, and it’ll barely hurt a bit! Barely any risk! Sure, you may suffer complications from anesthesia, but what’s a teeny-tiny little risk of death compared to saving a life, huh? I mean, you’ll be at far less risk of dying than pregnant women are! So there should be no problemo, right, philosophy dudebro?

I’m sure it’s totally fine to perform all of the above procedures on you, whether you consent or not, because greater good and life is precious and all that jazz – not to mention, you consented to be an organ donor once, and you risked your life on your bike once, and that means you’ve totally consented to the consequences we decide to impose on you. Surely, you don’t think you matter more than other people. What if the person you save is the next Elvis? Or the next Einstein? Or a fetus? Yeah, buddy! You know we can’t risk potentially losing any of those potential awesome people just because you have some silly notion about bodily autonomy, so hop up on that operating table and let’s get crack-a-lackin. Hey, you might be saving the person who grows up to cure cancer! Betcha that’ll make all the pain and fear and complications you suffer feel like nothing.

What’s that? You won’t let me cut on you? How very selfish of you. Ah, well, as you know, it’s your body and we can’t force you do use it to keep other people alive without your permission, now, can we?

So why is it you have such a hard time understanding women and trans men are people, just like you?

Image shows a thoughtful velociraptor with the caption "You mean to tell me... that women are people too?"

Yep.

Keeping Up With the Creationists, Vol. I, Issue 1: Ain’t Just Private Schools, Kids

Hello and welcome to what I hope will be a weekly feature, Keeping Up With the Creationists, in which we peruse some creationist news and remind ourselves that, no, alas, creationism isn’t dead. It’s not even sleeping. It’s wide-awake and kicking in not only Christian private and home schools, but in our very own public school systems.

Yes, public.

If you haven’t already, read Zack Kopplin’s eye-popping exposé of supposedly-secular charter schools busily teaching kids (using government monies, let’s not forget) “that the fossil record is ‘sketchy.’ That evolution is ‘dogma’ and an ‘unproved theory’ with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth.” This is bog-standard creationist crap. I’ll be filing an Open Records request of my own to see what they’re doing to the earth sciences, but as we can tell from what Zack’s uncovered, there’s a major problem there. Those who thought creationism was beat need to go have a re-think.

As if that wasn’t enough to make you pop an extra blood pressure pill or two, here’s another bit of outrageousness: Louisiana public schools are openly teaching creationism. And they’re belittling Buddhist kids to boot. This isn’t a rogue teacher, mind, this is an entire school, up to and including the superintendent, and they’ve got Jesus hanging over the door, just to ensure the kiddies know who their lord n’ master is. The public school kiddies.

Amanda Marcotte makes an excellent point in a post about this: “bullying is a weapon that the Christian right loves and does not want to give up.” Because they adore school situations like this:

Students are frequently led in prayer, and students are required to attend an annual “See You At The Pole” prayer event. Teachers routinely hand out Christian pamphlets that [father of the bullied child] Lane describes as featuring “[t]he entire New Testament of the Bible as well as cartoons that denounce evolution and trumpet the evils of birth control, premarital sex, rock music, alcohol, pornography, homosexuality, sorcery, and witchcraft.” Needless to say, when he told the superintendent about his concerns about his stepson being routinely bullied and humiliated for being Buddhist, the superintendent “was dismissive and told us that we live in the ‘Bible Belt’ and that this is just how things are.”

So yeah, no, creationism’s not the least bit dead, and Christianists are busy undermining public school education and ensuring kids who don’t believe right are made miserable. Because Jesus.

Image is a giraffe, looking as if it's pointing to a duck that's waddling away from it. The caption is "Shun! Shun the non-believer! Shuuuunnnnnn!!"

They’re busy in not one, not two, but three state legislatures, trying to get creationism in through the backdoor. It’s not even the end of January, and nearly 10% of our states have jackasses jacking up science education. Local elections matter, folks. So does political participation. If you live in Virginia, Oklahoma, or Missouri, raise merry hell with your elected officials. Remind the saner ones that what the fuckwads are trying with these bills is the same type of shitty legislation that got Louisiana in a position where teachers are teaching creationism with impunity.

For a good editorial on the Virginia situation, one that pertains to all three bills, see here. I can forgive the tongue-bath they gave Del. Bell at the end in light of the full-throated defense of science and evolution at the beginning.

Turning now to Christianist schools, we’ve got some excellent insider tales from students a student* suffering ACE. A student at Gospel Haven Academy woke up halfway through his sophomore year in high school to realize, horrified, he’d been “taught pseudoscience, revisionist history, [and] right-wing propaganda.” Wait until you see what they’ve done to music. *shudder*

One of our own is also stuck within an ACE school: Tyler is a 17 year-old atheist who has discovered the joys of debunking the dreck he’s being taught. This line will remain one of my favorites of all time: “If teaching God’s point of view requires you to teach blatant mistruths, maybe it’s time to rethink God’s point of view.” I want this on t-shirts. I’ll see if I can in touch, and work out a nice little arrangement for a line of clothing to feature this quote, plus a humorous picture, suitable for wearing to your next church school potluck.

PZ has an excellent post on “engaging silly beliefs in multiple ways” that I urge you to consider. Those interested in Noah’s Ark might like to know it’s actually round.

And, finally, get your Sunday fix of Christianist history with Doktor Zoom. Today, we learn some very interesting… um, facts (if you can call the fucked-up things Christianists believe about FDR, Hitler, and Japan “facts”)… about WWII. Such as:

As for the Nazis’ racism, well, that’s just the inevitable result of Darwinism (never mind that the Nazis banned Origin of Species, shhhhh):

Hitler combined Marxist-socialism with Darwin’s theory of evolution, proclaiming that the German people had evolved into a superior or master race. He called for a world war to kill off the weaker races (especially the Jews) and assure the “survival of the fittest” (the German people). Because many Germans believed the notion of evolution, they accepted Hitler’s ideas. Soon public hospitals began to practice euthanasia (killing the terminally ill, the mentally retarded, and those with physical handicaps) and abortion (killing unborn babies).

That’s all for this week. Join me for more creationist shenanigans next Sunday. I’m sure we won’t lack for material…

 

*Derp. As Jonny points out, they are the same kid.

The Doxxing of Isis: Selected Links – UPDATED

There are few worse sins in cyberspace than outing a pseudonymous blogger. It’s barely forgivable to do it to someone who was using their pseud to break the law. Doing it to one who did nothing worse than harshly criticize you is roughly equivalent to the Unforgivable Curse. Henry Gee, an editor at Nature, apparently saw a few posts and the occasional sideswipe on Twitter as terrible persecution. I hope to contact Henry and get evidence of this defamation, persecution, and bullying very soon, as I was unable to discover any in several days of Googling. Certainly, it must be severe in order to justify giving a woman’s meatspace name to the public, therefore opening her private life to all of the lovely death threats, rape threats, and endless harassment enjoyed by women everywhere on the intertoobz. Would a white man with power punch down at a woman of color without suffering a campaign of harassment that would put Rebecca Watson’s stalkers to shame?

I wish I could say I think not. But perhaps he’ll surprise me. I live in (cynical) hope.

Whilst I search for evidence of this terrible persecution that was so, so horrible he had a right – nay, a duty – to dox a mouthy woman uppity female critic, I thought I’d share some recent musings on the situation. If you know of ones I’ve missed, please do include them in the comments.

And Nature? After at least three spectacular fails when it comes to the way your hallowed pages and your editors treat women, I’d be seriously reconsidering what one must do in order not to behave as raging sexist assclowns. I will here simply point out that two of the three incidents infuriated women in science and their allies involved your esteemed Henry Gee, and leave it at that. Also, I see Henry’s Twitter page was somehow tragically lost. If you need its contents from the time of the incident in question, I have preserved them.

On with the linkage, then…

Isis the Scientist: Be Not Afraid… Wherein Isis discusses her outing by Henry Gee, and explores its optics and possible consequences.

Pharyngula: Oh, Henry. In which PZ adds his caustic two cents.

Biological ANthropology Developing Investigators Troop: Outing Dr. Isis: A retaliation of consequence by a Nature editor. Wherein we are advised that we should not poo-pooh this incident as “just happening online.”

Balanced Instability: On bullying and being outed. In which Gerty Z discusses why being outed is being bullied, and how damaging it is.

Jezebel/Groupthink: Do people know about Nature editor doxxing a science blogger? Oh, dear. Looks like this misstep’s gonna make it out of the sci-com community… whoops.

Tobias Buckell: Dear Mr. Gee: you don’t punch down. In which the propriety of an editor of one of the most prestigious science journals in the world outing a young university scientist of color is explored.

DrugMonkey: The protection afforded by pseudonyms depends on the community. In which community standards are discussed. Hint: they do not include outing pseuds.

Supernova Condensate: We must not tolerate this and An addendum. In which both doxxing and behaving like assclowns towards women is strongly discouraged.

it is NOT junk: On anonymity in science and on Twitter. In which a former target of Dr. Isis’s wrath explains why he’s grateful she nailed his ass under a pseud.

FrogHeart: Is it Nature or is it Henry Gee? science’s woman wars continue (or start up again). A battle-weary soul takes Henry Gee to the woodshed, whilst wishing that woodshed doesn’t have to be used so damned often.

 

UPDATED LINKS 1/23/2014

Popular Science: Why Did This Top Science Journal Editor Expose A Blogger’s Pen Name? Title says it all, really.

Respectful Insolence: On “Orac,” Isis, pseudonymity, and anonymity. This post was perfect in nearly every particular, and a welcome, happy surprise.

NPG: Statement from Nature. Oh, Nature. Nature, Nature, Nature. This is a step, but… you’re still so very, very far from getting it. Step one: this isn’t something that just happened, it was something one of your editors did. Sigh.

Pharyngula: Henry Gee is gently, delicately, softly chastised. In which PZ explains how Nature done fucked up. Again.

The End Of The Pier Show: Reflections On This Weekend’s Events. Henry apologizes. Not perfectly, and amusingly under a pseudonym, but I’m going to hold out a tiny sliver of hope that this will be the beginning of Henry Gee finally coming around. Sometimes, it happens. Sometimes, it takes fucking up hugely, harming people in the process, to realize you’re not the person you wish to be, and to change. And while I’m fairly positive my tiny sliver of hope will be ground to powder and then set on fire, and then nuked, I’m not going to crush it preemptively. I’ll have some possibly helpful advice later for you, Henry, and good on you for taking this step towards being a better human. Just remember: nobody owes you a damn thing. And some people won’t accept your apology, not one iota of it, and don’t owe you the benny of the doubt. Step one in being a better human is realizing and accepting that.

 

unacceptable

And, last and very much least, Larry Moran gets to stand as the example of the (mostly) White Doodz Who Don’t Get It. Look, you little fucks: women, minorities, and other less-powerful folk have many and good reasons for shielding their identity. They would prefer not to have other Clueless White Fuckers like you google their name while, oh, say, researching them for a job, and find their name linked to their ‘nym by some asshat, which in turn is linked to some pointed things they said to Clueless White Fuckers, which might cause you to dismiss them outright as being Not The Right Type. Among other reasons. (The wishing to avoid threats of rape, death, and having raging asswads show up at their door to deliver a little comeuppance at two in the morning is also a favorite reason to be a ‘nym. There are ten thousand others.)

Let me repeat for the terminally hard-of-thinking: A ‘NYM IS NOT AN UNKNOWN.

And a huge, ginormous thank-you to all the dudes who’ve got, I mean, really, got it. There was an encouraging number of you out there. Thank you for taking the time to understand the lives of people without your advantages, and act. You are awesome and give me (non-cynical) hope.

In a future post, I will highlight posts that took Nature to school over the previous bout of dumbfuckery. And if Henry Gee decides to speak with me in regards to this incident with Dr. Isis, I will be happy to publish that exchange.

Full disclosure: I also blog at Scientific American, which is part of the Nature Publishing Group. The views expressed in this post are my own.

Unfollowing Bora

I see Bora’s decided he’s spent enough time in the penalty box, and has returned to the social media world. This move was classic: mention you moved your blog from Scientific American, but fail to mention why, as if sexually harassing several women is just a minor whoops you needn’t bring up, then paste on a butthurt addendum saying you had no idea you should apologize again. That, combined with the fact he’s so pleased to have his balls lovingly sucked in public by his good buddy Anton Zuiker and assorted harassment-denying hangers-on, tells me he hasn’t learned a damned thing.

you_are_doing_it_wrongMy worst fears are thus confirmed, much to my utter and complete lack of surprise: he isn’t a man who realizes he fucked up and will do everything necessary to make amends. No, he’s a predator who’s too bloody stupid to move on to a fresh victim pool.

I’ve nothing more to say to him. There’s a smidgeon of residual appreciation rattling around for his having been the one to offer me a blog on SciAm, but his actions have definitely shrunk it. I’m still trying to scrub his stink off the walls over there, and while I’m reasonably certain I got the job by virtue of SciAm wanting another geosciences writer and me being one with the free time to do it, plus the friends to push me forward,* he’s made many other women wonder if he gave their careers a boost because he believed in them or because they gave him trouser-tingles.** That infuriates me, and his actions throughout this long saga of wrong have left me disinclined to ever welcome him back. He could have left bridges intact and possibly in crossing condition when he apologized, resigned his positions, and left. He burned them to molecules by traipsing back the way he did, as if the turning of a calendar page had made it all better.

Nope.

Like Physioproffe says,

Key to demonstrating true contrition is making the following clear to those who have been wronged: (1) I respect your right to have no dealings with me, now or ever; (2) my efforts at making amends are driven not by my selfish interest in regaining the rights, privileges, and power I have lost as a consequence of my violations of trust; (3) I embrace the fact that no matter what I do, trust may never be restored, yet I still make amends and demonstrate my trustworthiness on an ongoing sustained basis.

None of which Bora has done by strutting back the way he has, demanding his victims tell him what to do if people feel he hasn’t done enough. Fuck that noise. That’s a predator’s actions, and have nothing to do with a desire to make things right.

I’ve got nothing much more to say about him that Martin Robbins hasn’t already said in a guest post on Janet Stemwedel’s excellent blog, but one thing there gave the old synapses a jog:

The three women who spoke out suddenly find themselves thrust by Bora into the unwanted position of public judge, jury and executioner, dragged into the middle of his personal redemption drama, and put under enormous public pressure by someone who remains a key community figure with 20,000+ Twitter followers. [emphasis added]

That made me realize I hadn’t unfollowed the rat bastard when he scuttled away in disgrace. I’ve remedied that, and invite you to join me. Unollow him on Twitter, uncircle him on G+, unfriend him on Facebook – clear him out of your social media feeds if, like me, you’d rather not let a predator think he can return to the flock as if all is well. If you’re in charge of conferences, don’t invite him to participate in any capacity; don’t hire him for jobs within the community; don’t offer him support or credibility. Don’t let him step into his old shoes as if nothing had happened and he won’t return to his old victimizing ways. It’s clear from his behavior that he hasn’t learned a damned thing, and will continue not to learn if we accept him back with open arms.

The only way we’re going to get through to these predatory fuckheads – or at the very least, remove their social capital in order to limit the damage they can do – is by excising them from our communities like a cancer. Show them the consequences of their actions is serious and long-lasting. Yes, even if they’re as seemingly nice and useful as Bora. Yes, even if we loved them a lot (and if they were our blogfathers), and still wish they hadn’t turned out to be such awful gits. Yes, even if they accepted some penalties, proffered a bit of an apology, and faded out of sight for a short while. Until they can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they understand the gravity of their actions and are fully committed to never offending again, they need to be locked firmly out. And if we decide never to let them back in, well, them’s the tough breaks when someone’s chosen to shatter trust. Too bloody bad.

We have plenty of talent to draw on. We don’t need the predators. For the sake of the community, we need to stop letting them back in.

 

*If I’d been his first choice, I’d be among the doubters right now, and likely triply-furious with an extra topping of rage.

**Having read their work, I’d like to observe at this point that all of them are outstanding writers. They have nothing to doubt when it comes to being among the best writers going. They unquestionably are.

New at Rosetta Stones: Wherein I’m #standingwithDNLee

So this thing happened where the editor of a sciencey sorta website *cough Biology Online cough* decided it would be hi-larious to call a black woman an urban whore for refusing to write for his shit for free. Punchline? She’s a SciAm blogger, and SciAm won’t stand with her.

I have a thing or dozen to say about that.

I’m ashamed to be a SciAm blogger right now. But I’m proud to be #standingwithDNLee.

In Solidarity With Students, I Present Jesus -n- Mo

The following photo would be enough to get me kicked out of just about any freshers’ fair in Britain:

Jesus -n- Mo

Jesus -n- Mo

So these are two lovely rocks from the Skykomish River, and I’ve named them Jesus and Mo because it seems many religious people have not yet learned to be reasonable adults. I know, I know, this comes as quite the shock to those of us in countries where the religious majorities are oh so sensible. But for those who have not yet learned that one group’s sacred thingies are other groups’ not-at-all sacred thingies, it seems random things will need to have the names of mythological folks plastered to them until the dumbfuckery stops.

Believers: I do know your prophets and messiahs are important to you. I remember a time, brief though it was, where seeing Jesus mocked was almost physically painful. But I knew I had no damned right to demand other people refrain from offending my religious sensibilities, just as I know now that I have no right to demand religious people refrain from criticizing my philosophies. You could pass out literature at a student fair saying that atheism is a terrible idea and name a kumquat Epicurus, if you like. That’s fine. You might annoy me, I might think you’re a douchebag, but while you’ve attacked ideas that have deep meaning for me, you haven’t attacked me. So it’s up to me to discuss these ideas with you, or avoid you, or counter your ideas with my own – but you’d howl if I got your ass removed from an open venue for being a shit, wouldn’t you?

You god-botherers are in the majority just now, and you’re able to play the thug, throwing out people who offend your sensibilities. But thuggish behavior won’t earn you any sympathy: it’ll just earn you a plethora of people finding ways around you, leaving you and your narrow world views behind.

And really, what weak-ass sort of god is threatened by having the name of one of their special favorites plastered to an inanimate object? Think about what you’re saying about your god/s when you pull shit like this.

All we’re hearing is that these beings, should they exist, aren’t in the least worthy of worship. Way to win converts.

 

For the background on this matter, see:

LSE pounces on non-existent “Islamophobia” again

Jesus and Mo respond

Chris and Abhishek report what happened at LSE yesterday

LSE Student Union gives its version

Act 2: what happened at LSE today

Reading University has banned its atheist society. Why? Because they named a pineapple Muhammad

Atheist society harassed by student union at LSE freshers’ fair

One Reason Why False Rape Allegation Statistics Are So High

Men, even good men, believe women lie about rape. There’s this myth that runs amok saying that some enormous proportion of rape accusations are just women lying to get attention, or revenge, or to hide their summer fling from mommy and daddy. And they believe it without question.

When male friends toss that grenade at me, I toss it back by asking if they know what the percentage is. “Fifty percent,” they’ll say, or above, depending on which MRAs their stats are coming from.

“It’s two to eight percent,” I say, and I need to remember to never do this when they’re walking or have something in their mouths, because the good ones are always staggered, and they always gasp. “But even those numbers are on the high side.”

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

I don’t need to go in to detail with the good ones. I don’t need to do more than remind them what actually happens to women who report. They realize immediately that very few people would be so motivated by some other factor that they would willingly subject themselves to the hell that is rained down upon rape victims. And then I remind them that while our culture often makes reporting a rape worse than the rape itself, when it comes to male victims, it’s damned near impossible to report at all. And if you’re a trans* person? Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it. Once we have finished that brief survey of Rape Culture Today, the good ones never spout nonsense statistics again.

For those who stubbornly wish to believe that bitches be lyin’, I can point them at studies. I have before and will again. But in the future, I will first make them chew on this “false” rape allegation statistic until their teeth break.

[error]Massive trigger warning for graphic description of violent sexual assault and horrific treatment by law enforcement[/error]

Now, some of them will spit out that report along with their shattered teeth and flap their bleeding gums at me: “That’s just an anecdote.” And that is true. It is just one data point behind the 2-8%. Since we are Good Skeptics™, we know to look beyond anecdotes.

So let me add in a study of police attitudes toward rape victims. It would seem EEB isn’t alone, then. And if we could factor in the victims who never reported at all because of shit like this, that “false” rape allegation statistic would drop like a rock. Since they don’t, the statistics are skewed, making “false” allegations look more prevalent.

Now add the horrific treatment victims experience from defense attorneys who believe they’re scum. I can tell you from experience this can be worse than the rape. It can be a form of torture, and like torture victims, some rape victims will recant just to make the pain stop. Magically, their allegation is now “false.” But they’re no less raped, and the rapist is no less a sexual predator.

Add in the fact that some rapists have the lock on society, and can crush their victims. If their victims had the courage to report, they’ve soon got their buddies to sweep the crime under the rug. And another several ticks are added in the “false” rape allegation column.

Add in children who receive such a terrifying reaction to their attack that they recant just to protect themselves. More “false” rape allegations.

What about victims who aren’t supported by friends and family because many cultures make it easier to believe the victims are filthy, disgusting, crazy liars rather than people suffering from sexual assault? I think you know what happens to the statistics by now.

Add in the fact that some police departments don’t make a distinction between “reports that are actually, genuinely, provably false” and “reports that can’t be prosecuted due to statue of limitations, lack of evidence, or some other reason, but no doubt the victim was assaulted.” Both numbers end up counting under “false” allegations, although a sizable percentage weren’t false at all.

Add in about a trillion circumstances I haven’t remembered to include. Compare that to the enormous number of rapes and sexual assaults.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

The reality is that false rape allegations are a tiny bit of flotsam on a sea of rape. Even if that 2-8% number were accurate, it would still be far too small to use to discount rape allegations out of hand. The fact that even that tiny percentage is inflated by cases like EEB’s should ensure that every decent human being treat victims’ reports as provisionally true. The idea that most or even many rape allegations are false is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. Those who continue to insist otherwise have forfeited any right to be considered good people.

Dr. Phil’s Rape Culture Goggles

Another day, another clueless dude* asking a dumbshit question about rape.

“If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused” Screen cap courtesy Change.org.

I heaved a weary sigh when I got the Change.Org email inviting me to sign the petition advising Dr. Phil that a) answer’s no, you dumbshit**; b) apologize; and c) air a show that advises viewers not to rape people, no, not even if they’re drunk. Not surprised? I’m having a heart attack from not surprised. Dude sods up topic of sexual assault, news at midnight because who’s gonna stay up for this predictable bullshit?

Thing is, Dr. Phil’s not only a dumbshit, he’s a terribly influential one. Oprah merely mentioning she liked a book would send her fans phoning every bookstore in the country with requests for it five seconds later. This is her pet shrink. I’ve no doubt a large contingent of the country believes rainbows shine out of his arse and that every nugget he excretes is pure genius, because Oprah likes him. He’s not just a symptom of rape culture: he’s one of it’s most powerful enablers.

Forget the fact his staff took that tweet down and blurted to some news agencies that they didn’t really mean it like that. The way the question and hashtag are phrased virtually scream to wanna-be rapists, “Yeah, you tap that passed-out pussy, bro! Go forth with Dr. Phil’s blessing, my randy son.***” They tell victims that they totes deserve it if they’re so foolish as to consume a mildly alcoholic drink when not alone in a locked panic room while wearing a burka. I don’t believe that’s what he and his staff intended – I believe it was, in their minds, “a research post in preparation for a show.” Problem is, Dr. Phil and staff had their rape culture goggles firmly screwed to their eyeballs, and it’s terribly hard to see how awful your action is when you’re wearing those. Say it with me, now: Intent is not magic.****

Alexandra at Feministing did the hard work of explaning most all that was wrong with this short, shitty tweet, under the following headings:

1. The tweet perpetuates the idea that rape is blurry.

2. The question is too simple for the problem.

3. The question assumes all victims are women.

4. The tweet focused on offenders rather than survivors.

5. Dr. Phil is concerned with “can” rather than “should.”

If you’re wondering what’s so wrong about this rape tweet, begin there. Me, I’m going to explore what’s wrong with Dr. Phil’s reaction, and his approach to this “very serious” topic generally.

Let’s have a gander at Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, shall we? Surely, the feed that started the outrage will have a fine apology to offer.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil's Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

Screen cap of Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed, covering August 19th to the 22nd. Notice a distinct lack of an apology, or indeed any mention of the problem tweet at all.

Dr. Phil @DrPhil

(18 hours ago) Have you experienced abuse by a stepparent? How was it resolved? Reply to @drphil with #stepparentabuse

(15 hours ago) If you have info about missing 15-year-old Erica Lynn Parsons, please call the Rowan County Sheriff at 701-216-8700. bit.ly/DP0820

(20 August) How young is too young to have “the talk” with your kids – and why? Reply with @drphil #pregnanttween

(20 August) Children learn what they live. | #DrPhil

(20 August) Have you ever felt alienated from one parent by your other parent? Reply to @drphil with #parentalalienation

(20 August)  Have you experienced #parentalalienation? Do you know someone who has used their child against their partner during a divorce?

Or, not.

Website?

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

Dr. Phil homepage screen cap 1

And 2

And 2

 

Erm, nope. Not a single mention on the front page. Dear, oh dear. And it doesn’t appear there’s a newsy sort o’ thing where we can get the latest word on how Dr. Phil Fucked Up and Intends to Fix It.

Let’s search for the word “rape” and see what happens.

Rape search results, page 1.

Rape search results, page 1.

Deary, deary me. Numero Uno, Be on the Show – Know Someone Accused of Statutory Rape? My. It’s a 404 now, but sounds awfully like it was an invitation to MRAs, “ephebophiles,” and other assorted assholes to whine about how unfair it is that Dude’s in jail – sure, he was 45 and she***** was 13, but she looked older! And she was, like, totally begging for it!

Rape culture goggles again, I’m afraid.

Campus Crisis“? Let’s have a look. “Know the safety tips and warning signs…” Judging from the promo video, it’s all about tips to the victims about how not to get raped. Yay, rape culture! Let’s have a look at these “Top 5 Safety Tips,” then, and see.

Okay: “Never Walk Home Alone, Limit Alcohol, No iPod or ATM at Night, Change Your Route and Routine, Give Someone Your Schedule”…. DingDingDingDingDing! We have a rape culture winner! Ladies (cuz you know they didn’t mean dudes), here’s how not to get raped by a stranger! And it’s all your fault if you get raped trying to have a normal life! And special bonus – here’s five ways to retraumatize yourself if you screw up – remember, no conviction, no rape! Remember, girls: it’s not date rape without proof of a date rape drug being used! Also, if his wee-wee didn’t get forcibly stuck in your vee-vee, you haven’t been raped, so quit whining! Whee, rape culture, woo!

Might I suggest a new set of tips?

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON'T ASSAULT PEOPLE.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips. Really like number 10: DON’T ASSAULT PEOPLE. Via A Rape Survivor’s Blog.

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

7. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

9. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

10. Don’t assault people.

Rather more sensible advice, targeting the correct part of the population. Shame Dr. Phil doesn’t seem to know about it.

I can hardly bear to look further, but it’s like a gruesome accident scene. Let’s see what Dr. Phil’s got to say about Steubenville. I think I can already tell by the title – Football, Booze and Bad Behavior just screams “those naughty boys will be boys with some slutty girl” – but bennie of the doubtie, they’re always telling me.

Dr. Phil sez, “Where the hell are the adults in this situation? Why isn’t there supervision? Why do they feel so safe that they can talk about this so openly?” Way to go, Dr. Phil. Let’s parse what you’re saying: People have no responsibility not to rape – it’s up to Mommy and Daddy to stop them cuz boyz will be boyz, amirite? Oh, and the real problem is the fact the boys felt cool bragging about it – rapists naughty children should show some decorum.

Joyous. Dr. Phil’s on the same page as this prosecutor. Gee, I wonder why rape victims are reluctant to report?

And my gosh, those poor friends of the accused in the last few paragraphs! People are being meeean to them, just for standing by rapists their buddies! (Death threats, assuredly, are not okay no matter who they’re aimed at. Neither is erasing the victim and perpetuating rape culture, Dr. Phil.)

Looking through the rape search results, the impression is overwhelming that Dr. Phil is your typical male middle-American asshat. Male rape victims are almost completely erased, as if they couldn’t possibly exist. Rape is pretty much stranger rape, unless it was some dude actually drugging a chick he knows (alcohol doesn’t count), or someone like an evil relative or family friend preying on the kiddies. Date Rape = girl drank too much, boys couldn’t help themselves, guess you’ll know better next time, eh, sweetheart? Rape victims are responsible for protecting themselves against rape, but heaven forfend we tell rapists not to rape! And then he marvels at the number of college men who don’t think rape is rape? Oh, puh-leez.

Dr. Phil: you’re part of the reason people (not just men!) are unclear on the concept. You’re a huge part of the problem.

the-fail-is-strong

So, yeah. Well past time he did something to set that right.

Petition’s here. And do feel free to tweet Dr. Phil. The more people telling him this shit must stop, the better the chances he’ll realize it’s time to remove the rape goggles. Let’s hope he can do better than some skeptics we know.

 

 

*Sometimes dudette, but most often a certified dude.*

*Paraphrase.

***Don’t talk to me about women also being capable of rape – talk to Dr. Phil.

**** Those hard-of-understanding people might also wish to try reading this succinct explanation as to why intent is not, in fact, magic.

*****I know, I know, but in Dr. Phil’s world, there is no xe, only she. And possibly he if the details are salacious and the teacher hot enough.

 

[notice] Hola, new commenters! Please do peruse the comment policy thoroughly before you expend valuable time sharing your thoughts. Or tl;dr: I reserve the right to drop asshats in the trash without a second glance. Bad behavior elsewhere will also get you instabanned here. Not an asshat or someone who’s been kicked out of other places for bad behavior? Then you’re probably cool. Thanks for reading![/notice]

Some Essential Reading on the Sexism in Skepticism Debacle

I’ll tell you something, when I haven’t been wrapped up in my geology research, I’ve been on a roaring boil. I’m fed up with this shit. I’m through with people who think women are objects to do with as they will, and people who think inability to consent is consent (pro tip: it is not, and if you have sex with someone who is unable to consent, you’re a rapist). I’m done with people who think preventing rape and sexual assault is a woman’s job rather than placing the burden and blame where they belong: on the people who assault. I’m tired of the little shitstains who think this is all a bunch of silly drama and do their level best to shut the victims up. I want these disgusting fucks out of my community. They don’t belong in civilized spaces.

No one should have to put up with this outrageous fuckery. And I’m appalled that self-declared rational thinkers are so very terrible at thinking through something as simple as this, and coming to the conclusion that hey, you know, this shit has to stop.

I’m so damned grateful to the women who have come forward and the bloggers who refuse to relinquish the atheism and skepticism communities to the predators.

There’ve been some blog posts over the last few days I want to draw your attention to, in case you missed them. They’re necessary.

In no particular order, then:

Greta Christina’s Blog: Harassment, Rape, and the Difference Between Skepticism and Denialism – UPDATED and  Why We Need to Keep Fighting.

The Digital Cuttlefish: Feelings And Actions.

Pharyngula: I think the SFWA might just be awesome and What? Responsible, intelligent youtubers? INCONCEIVABLE!

Almost Diamonds: What Is Not in Dispute and How Many Do We Lose?

Butterflies and Wheels: Your various cleverations and No, the system does not work.

Lousy Canuck: Sexual harassment accusations in the skeptical and secular communities: a timeline of major events.

Black Skeptics: Predators Beyond Belief.

Skepchick: If you don’t like rape, don’t get raped DUH, The Good Old Days, and Atheism, Sexism and Harassment. The Price of Speaking Up.

Daylight Atheism: Disillusionment and That Was the Wrong Answer, CFI.

 

I’m sure there are many more, but these are most of the posts that have helped clarify my thinking. Hopefully they will be of some use to you as well.

I’ve not yet finished exploding. Stay tuned if you like watching Dana unleash the Smack-o-Matic SuperDeluxe 9000. I’m polishing it as we speak.