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Aug 21 2013

Shorter JT

JT Eberhard has responded to Jen McCreight’s critique of his post on Bria Crutchfield’s critique of a commenter at a Q&A at the recent Great Lakes Atheist Convention.

He took 8,208 words to do it in, though. Here’s my summary. Shorter JT:

“I wasn’t saying that it’s always bad to express anger about racism. I am just taking it upon myself to tell an African-American woman how and when and where and in what tone she should express her anger about racism. I am doing this, even though it enrages me when religious believers do the same thing to atheists — take it upon themselves to tell us how to run our movement and our messaging, and consistently advise us to tone it down. I know when the intent behind a racist question is genuine and when it’s hostile, and other people should trust me on this. Also, the intent behind a question is the most important factor in determining how to respond to it.

“A white person being embarrassed at being called out on her racism — whether intentional or unintentional — is the most deserving target of my compassion, the one I should be spending thousands of words defending. The African-American people who were the targets of that racism are a secondary concern. Also, African-Americans’ suspicions of white people are equivalent to white people’s suspicions of African-Americans.

“If people don’t understand what I say, it’s their fault as readers, not my responsibility as a writer. Also, if people interpret my writing differently from how I want it to be interpreted, it’s not that they have a perspective that I’m not seeing — they’re just wrong. It’s a mischaracterization. They just don’t understand me. It couldn’t possibly be that they understand me all too well.

“Some people don’t like the harsh tone that some social justice advocates sometimes take. They are tickled pink to see bloggers take on religion and religious believers with passion, rage, invective, and biting wit, a la Christopher Hitchens — but they don’t like it when these tactics are turned on them. In some cases, the fact that some people will harshly disagree when they get stuff wrong is enough to keep them from speaking out about social justice. They would rather stay silent about injustice than speak out and risk being verbally smacked down if they get it wrong. And when speaking about social justice, avoiding offense should be our highest priority. People only ever change their minds on social justice when they’re spoken to nicely: harsh expressions of anger doesn’t change people’s minds — even though I say the exact opposite when it comes to speaking about religion. Therefore, social justice advocates within the atheist movement should tailor our tone to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings — even though most of us get furious when religious believers tell atheists to do the same thing. The social justice advocates — “Jen, Greta, and their ilk” (that’s a direct quote) — are driving people away from atheism. People are being driven away or kept away from the atheist movement because of infighting — but me devoting several thousand words to criticizing other atheists somehow doesn’t count as infighting, it’s only when people disagree with me that it counts as infighting. Social justice advocates are ruining atheism. Despite the large number of people who say they have had their minds changed about social justice by those of us who are writing about it, we are still ruining atheism.

“And the fact that just about every feminist friend I ever had in this movement has called me out on my attitudes about this, numerous times… that’s not a problem. They’re just all wrong. If just about every quantum physicist I knew told me I was wrong about quantum physics, I’d probably pay attention — but I’m not going to pay attention to this.”

My response:

Your concerns are noted, and will be given all due consideration. Thank you for sharing.

151 comments

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  1. 1
    Flewellyn

    Your concerns are noted, and will be given all due consideration. Thank you for sharing.

    *sings* Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
    and everything I would like to be?…

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    If I am of your “ilk”, I can’t think of a compliment I like better.

  3. 3
    Jackie the wacky

    *slow clap*

  4. 4
    Matt Facciani

    “Your concerns are noted, and will be given all due consideration. Thank you for sharing.”

    Honestly, that is all there needed to be said in my opinion. JT disagreed on how someone handled something. JT, nor anyone else, is the arbiter of appropriateness and especially not when they are coming from a privileged perspective. It is okay to disagree and I don’t understand why this has become such a big deal.

  5. 5
    Al Dente

    Even shorter JT: Tone trolling is good when I do it.

  6. 6
    Kevin Schelley

    It became a big deal because JT made it a big deal. First on twitter, then in a blog post, then in a second blog post after people criticized his blog post. If JT didn’t want it to become such a big deal he could have left this as a twitter exchange. He did not. He ignored the first rule of holes.

  7. 7
    Natasha

    JT’s response is a good example of why I’ve given up on organized atheism, too unconcerned about the fights that are the most concern to me. With the single exception of religion too many atheists, with the exception of the ‘ilk’, are just fine with the existing social order. A social order that actively harms my chosen family.

  8. 8
    benz

    What a perfect summary of the argument: JT writes a painstaking, sophisticated rebuttal, and it gets reinterpreted into a caricature and straw man that you can find insulting. What pisses me off more than anything is that you and Jen might have a point. Unfortunately, you do to much blatant lying to make it.

  9. 9
    Greta Christina

    JT’s response is a good example of why I’ve given up on organized atheism, too unconcerned about the fights that are the most concern to me. With the single exception of religion too many atheists, with the exception of the ‘ilk’, are just fine with the existing social order. A social order that actively harms my chosen family.

    Natasha @ #7L But somehow, it’s the social justice advocates who are driving people away from atheism. The pushback against that has nothing to do with it. m-/

  10. 10
    Nathaniel Frein

    I don’t understand why he even considers himself an “ally” in the first place. His blog is about religion, mental health, and videogaming. He writes well on those topics. I applaud the work he’s done on those topics.

    But he cannot legitimately say he is out actively fighting for black rights, or women’s rights, or any other social justice issue outside what he blogs about. At best (which isn’t right now) he can say “I’m not getting in the way” (which is really all I can say either).

    I don’t see how that warrants being called an “ally”.

  11. 11
    Dana Hunter

    Just in case my post on the matter didn’t make it abundantly clear, and if you’re reading this, JT: please include my name under “their ilk.” Because I sure as shit don’t want to be yours. Criminy.

    Nicely done, Greta. I hope you do the same to me if I ever fuck up.

  12. 12
    dezn_98

    I laughed out loud… and I am sorta actually crying right now for some reason. The old me, with my experiences when talking about racism, the dehumanizing treatment from white folk…. would have taught me not to expect to see so many white people actually understand the nature of white privilege. It really makes me cry, literally… to see you say things that are so on point….

    I am almost speechless. (I mean, I am not literally as this post will show!)

    I want to tell people something. The reason people of color are not into this brand of atheism right now is because of people like JT. It is not because there is this KKK element to it.. it is because of deniers and ignorant people like JT. I would never feel comfortable in a room filled with people like him. My views on social justice are my priority, not my atheism… and I won’t be a part of any crowd that lets people like JT fester and not have the ability to call him on on BS. The only reason, I have come out of lurking is because of people like crommunist
    and like yourself, because you guys really do get it… and I am so tired of making people understand that our plight is real.

    I am tired of being treated as a subhuman when I get angry over racism. I am tired of society telling me that “this tone of voice” is the only acceptable form of expression for minorities talking about their pain… and anything short of that – you are not worth listening to. They really treat us like trash, and people do not know how incredibly traumatizing and devastating that sort of constant cultural racism can be.

    It is so tiring… I saw JT’s treatise of racist white garbage tone policing…. and I can’t ignore it. I actually have to waste my day writing a reply to his garbage. Do people not get how exhausting this sht is? How likely it is that, because of people like JT, most minorities run out of steam on these issues? That most give up? That most just walk away? The only reason I am not ignoring it is because I am as stubborn and silly as PZ.. not matter how much personal pain JT’s ideas give me.. I still gatta say something.

    Yet what you did here…. you just… you really saved me of a lot of effort. Yoiu swept me off my feet. It was like this giant weight was lifted off me. I feel like I have to speak up when someone is missing a good competent chunk of the picture…. even though the process of doing this basically rips me to shreds emotionally every time.

    Lots of people in this culture just do not get how utterly dehumanizing and traumatizing it is to talk to people like JT when you are a person of color.. it is indescribable. Yet I have to put my humanity on the line everyFCKINGtime when I talk about racism… and everytime, I feel like a piece of my empathy is being taken away, being chipped at, making me “apathetic” to my own oppression… this type of sht drains people of color.. so they stay away from it as much as they can. Yet no matter how much they run away, now matter how much we already dictate our tone everyday to avoid conversation with white people like JT… it JT’s racist micro-aggression and HIS ILK always find us and smack us in the fcking mouth.

    I just want to thank you because… I made a decision to again tear my humanity to pieces just to address an ignorant white privileged fool on how he is acting real racist right now, knowing it was unlikely to do any good. I would have had to rummage through a book lengths worth of his white privilege ignorant scribbles – each error taking a books lengths work to correct – and it would have drained me, and I would have had to take a break for a bit. Get drunk, say fck white privilege, cry on the inside and then come back.

    Then yet…. you post this.

    Beautiful.

    It is funny, it made me laugh, it is actually what he implied in his post (I know he is going to respond irrationally and say this is not what he meant like most white privileged folk do), and it took some of that burden off of me.

    (I am still a stubborn bastard and might write a private take down of his post just for myself…. but it is nice to not “feel the need” to do it because…. no one else sees what I saw – racism is hard to call out. Yet here you are, like you are seeing him through my eyes, and I am grateful.)

  13. 13
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    JT just took a stand against feminism and people of color. He hinted at it when he decided to scold a black woman like she was a child over her reaction to a racist question, and made it more clear when he wrote thousands of words to defend the person asking the racist question. He made it VERY clear that if a white person makes black people uncomfortable with their racism, and a black person responds to it, he’d rather scold and pester black people into leaving the movement than have to ask that one white person to correct their bullshit.

    All the rest of it is JT signaling to the slymepit and the racists that he’s looking for them to love-bomb the SHIT out of his blog. Lots of hugs and cuddles for JT, and everything and everyone else be damned.

  14. 14
    Al Dente

    dezn_98 @12

    My views on social justice are my priority, not my atheism… and I won’t be a part of any crowd that lets people like JT fester and not have the ability to call him on on BS.

    Hear! Hear!

    I’m an atheist. So what? My atheism doesn’t define anything but how I feel about gods. My social justice views effect how I treat other people. When JT tells someone else “yer doin’ social justice rong” because he feels uncomfortable about displays of anger (except for his displays of anger) then he shows he doesn’t care about social justice.

    Sign me up for the ILK.

  15. 15
    Robert B.

    Did you just “thank you for sharing” to JT Eberhard? Yeeouch. This is what it looks like when you use up all your credibility, I guess.

    Well, I’m sure JT has no memory of me personally, he never so much as responded to my comments that I can recall (on any topic). But I’d be proud to be part of your ilk, or Jen’s.

  16. 16
    besomyka

    I read about half of his post, but around the third time his argument took the form, “I’m not , but.. I gave up.

    It’s the same reason I had to unfollow @YesYoureSexist.

    JT, if you bother reading these responses:

    You’re making it worse for the people you say you want to help.

    Look, if you have to – in the outset – denounce an interpretation, then you are admitting to all readers that what you are about to type can and likely will be interpreted as racist/sexist/transphobic/whatever. And it never fails that when examined, well what do you know, what you said right there really WAS , you had a good reason to be concerned. You should have trusted yourself.

    It may feel to you like you’re appealing to nuance, but really what you’re doing is hoping other people will rationalize your bigotry in the same way you did. I don’t need to make excuses for your defense of racism, nor for your white male privilege blindness. You’ll find out that the racists are more than willing to make those rationalizations with you, though. Just watch who shows up in the comments approvingly.

  17. 17
    Andrew Williams

    I, for one, shall continue to strive to be an atheist of Greta and Jen’s “ilk.”

  18. 18
    fluffy

    Greta,
    I left the skeptical movement because of the prevalence of sexism and cluelessness about intersectional issues. Only people like you or Bria, who communicate their passion and defiance loudly and clearly, make me stay on in the periphery and think about joining again.

    Thank you.

  19. 19
    maudell

    I was impressed with the Sikivu Hutchison quote. He’s quite the mental gymnast.

    I wonder what that means when people complain we are driving people away from atheism (especially that this whole thing started when JT tweeted about Bria, before he talked to her). We know how many women, minorities and disabled people are put off by our movement because of our dismissal of their activism. How did ‘including a broader spectrum of people’ become ‘driving people away’? Who are those people, and why do they count more as people than the people traditionally put off by the movement?

  20. 20
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    I’m proud to be of the ilk.

  21. 21
    Darlene Pineda

    “The reason people of color are not into this brand of atheism right now is because of people like JT. It is not because there is this KKK element to it.. it is because of deniers and ignorant people like JT. I would never feel comfortable in a room filled with people like him. My views on social justice are my priority, not my atheism… and I won’t be a part of any crowd that lets people like JT fester and not have the ability to call him on on BS.”

    @denz_98, absolutely. It’s a big reason why I don’t pay money to be in rooms filled with people like him.

    Intersectionality is hard, but worth fighting for. Always.

    And I would be proud to be ‘ilk’.

  22. 22
    freemage

    maudell: Near as I can tell, it’s some form of ‘dibs’. Ie, since straight white males got here first, anything that isn’t about their (our) comfort is immediately considered suspect.

  23. 23
    maudell

    I find a correlation between people who use the word ‘ilk’ and bullshit arguments. It’s not scientific, but it’s pretty reliable so far.

  24. 24
    DearAnia

    Can I be considered one of your ilk as well?

  25. 25
    Flewellyn

    Ooh, me too! I want to be an ilk too!

  26. 26
    Marcus Ranum

    you do to much blatant lying to make it.

    Please point to one of those blatant lies; I’m kinda slow. It’ll cement your case, for sure.

  27. 27
    Teh kiloGraeme

    @17

    And my axe!

  28. 28
    Kevin Schelley

    I’d much rather be considered ilk than be “reasonable” like JT.

  29. 29
    Marcus Ranum

    I read
    A white person being embarrassed at being called out on her racism[...] is the most deserving target of my compassion, the one I should be spending thousands of words defending. The African-American people who were the targets of that racism are a secondary concern.

    as
    “whoever I am mansplaining for is more important than an actual victim.”
    well, ok, JT. The great thing about energetic young gits with potential is there’s always a new one coming along. Have a good remainder of your run and try not to turn into a pathetic caricature like Michael Shermer, OK?

  30. 30
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Oooh… can I be ilk too? Or if not, can I be elk as a consolation?

  31. 31
    llewelly

    I was struck by this:

    JT: ” What I did condemn, and still do condemn, is when a person is offended inadvertently and considers it fair or even morally right to purposefully embarrass the person. This is especially true when Bria said, in her outburst, that part of her outrage was that the question embarrassed Mandisa. If embarrassing others in a crowded room is immoral when done by mistake, it shouldn’t be considered moral to do it on purpose.”

    JT: “My position is that Bria was the one who was more ethically dubious, even if her offense was perfectly understandable. ”

    I think the question asked is racist propaganda, no matter how pure the intentions of the unfortunate who asked the question.
    I don’t believe that propaganda can be stopped without expressing the suffering it causes.
    I don’t believe that suffering can be properly expressed in the calmest of tones. That is why we have language that is not calm.

    If that sort of propaganda is not shut down sternly, it goes on making the propagators look like racist tools, even if their intentions are good, and it goes on embarrassing them, unless they are only exposed to other racists.

    Worse, it goes on hurting people like Bria.

    He understands these things when the target of oppression is atheists, or the mentally ill.

    But if women, or people of color, are the targets, he quotes them at length in order to convince us that he understands both their needs and his own biases, and then, explains that they’re displaying too much anger. As if they ought to keep it all bottled up, so that those of us who are not women, or people of color, would not know how much suffering is being caused.

    Yes, I’ve been hurt, when I’ve read expressions of pain from angry people of color, angry feminists, angry LGBTQI people, and others.
    Particularly when they’re suffering due to a mistake I’ve made, or privilege I benefit from, or, worst of all, a privilege I don’t know how I would live without.

    But I do not believe I could have understood how important it was to change my behavior without those expressions of pain from those angry people.

    And it’s very different, for me, who suffers only when I read about these things, or witness them, than it is for those who suffer their whole lives, who can’t escape from it.

  32. 32
    Blueaussi

    Ilk me! Ilk me!

  33. 33
    Rob

    Yah, I have an ilk!

    When I first stumbled onto FTB I used to read WWJTD every day or two. I gradually got turned off by the dissonance between the image JT projected and his behaviour around issues of feminism, sexism and racism. By the time he went to Patheos I was only glancing at his headlines and at Patheos I’ve visited a few times and have most enjoyed posts from some of his co-bloggers.

    While JT has huge energy and fire, I have come to the conclusion he is arrogant, self-centred and more than a little intentionally oblivious (probably as a result of the arrogance). Maybe the arrogance is his defence against a harsh world? If so it’s proving to be self destructive.

    Maybe he’ll grow out of the arrogance as he gets older. That will allow him to revisit some of his attitudes. Then again, maybe not. Until I hear that he has changed I can’t be bothered with him any more.

  34. 34
    Walton

    I think Eberhard is being decidedly inconsistent with his own past statements. Look at this post from 2011, for instance, in which he embarks on an intemperate and rather bigoted Dawkinsian tirade against Islam. In that post, he attacks Chris Stedman for suggesting that atheists should temper their rhetoric with regard to Muslims, explicitly saying “I can’t stand when people try to sell themselves on how nice they are.” He leaves us in no doubt as to his view that being “nice” and trying to “build bridges” when it comes to religion is the wrong thing to do.

    And yet, it seems to me that Eberhard is now criticizing Crutchfield for deploying exactly the same tactics against racism that he himself deploys against religion. He doesn’t get to have it both ways. He can’t assert that being rude and aggressive is an appropriate response to religion (all the while mocking Stedman for suggesting otherwise) but an inappropriate response to racism. Unless he believes that religion is a worse social problem than racism, in which case he has a serious case of white-privilege-induced myopia.

  35. 35
    Lofty

    I am the milk of human ilkness.

  36. 36
    Yellow Thursday

    Can I be counted as one of the ilk, too? I try to speak out on social justice issues in my own small way, though I know that I’m not very good at speaking out about issues that don’t directly affect me. But I’m still learning.

  37. 37
    Robert B.

    Haha, do your commenters have a nickname yet, Greta, the way PZ’s are called the Horde? Because if not, it sounds like you should officially dub us the Ilk.

  38. 38
    Walton

    And count me in as one of the ilk, too. Though I’m not sure I’ve done enough to earn the title.

  39. 39
    zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait

    I would love to be one of the ilk, if you’ll have me.

  40. 40
    leftwingfox

    I’ll join the herd of ilk as well, as long as I get to wear antlers.

  41. 41
    antialiasis

    You know, I actually read Jen’s and your responses to JT and then his response to you without reading his original post. And when I read this I started typing a reply tentatively kind of agreeing with JT on stuff like how it’s sad when honestly ignorant people are targeted with vicious hostility and people assuming the worst of them, and that you weren’t being quite fair on him since he clearly has a lower threshold of what constitutes an unacceptable response to anger than you do so it’s not necessarily hypocritical unless he’s in favor of atheists interrupting other people’s Q&As to shame religious people, and that if he talked to the questioner afterwards it’s at least fairly reasonable for him to be assessing what her intent was. Yeah, the “Jen, Greta and their ilk” etc. was incredibly tiresome, as was his typical dismissal of the idea that he may not be very well-equipped to assess the appropriateness of a black woman’s anger, but surely you should have responded properly to the reasonable bits…

    …But then I went and read his original post, and it was so horrendously condescending and whitesplainy that I couldn’t even finish it. The fact he doesn’t seem to see that is maddening – for all his preaching about her “blind spots”, he sure needs to take a look at his own. Bria obviously either disagreed with him about where the threshold of acceptable responses lies or would have regretted doing that on her own when she calmed down; instead, he decides it’s some “blind spot” that he has to point out her. I was wincing in sympathy with her for the whole description of his confrontation with her, even though he was writing it from his point of view. Eugh. I completely see why you were too exasperated to respond to the reasonable bits of the response now.

    Here’s a thought: When a person is that angry, it’s because they’re that hurt. If the questioner was honestly ignorant, then no, she didn’t deserve to be targeted with so much anger. But going to Bria trying to convince her this happened because of some blind spot of hers is absurd. This happened because racism sucks and of course people who have to deal with it every day are furious and of course they’re going to lash out even at people who meant no harm but unwittingly perpetuated the awfulness they’re trying to fight. Just one more reason to fight racism.

  42. 42
    R Johnston

    @ 41:

    If the questioner was honestly ignorant, then no, she didn’t deserve to be targeted with so much anger.

    The questioner was not honestly ignorant. The question asked was blatantly bigoted and ignorant–akin to asking a jew to show off his horns or asking gay men whether the divine retribution of AIDS has made them reconsider their lifestyle and beliefs–and completely non-responsive and out of context. There was no basis at all for asking the question. It was completely irrelevant to the topics being discussed. The questioner was indisputably either racist or willfully ignorant to ask that question in that time and place. Either way the questioner deserved every bit of the verbal lashing received and then some.

  43. 43
    athyco

    dezn_98 @12

    I laughed out loud… and I am sorta actually crying right now for some reason. The old me, with my experiences when talking about racism, the dehumanizing treatment from white folk…. would have taught me not to expect to see so many white people actually understand the nature of white privilege. It really makes me cry, literally… to see you say things that are so on point….

    Your comments here and on Jen’s post today have given me much the same blend of opposite emotions. The crying part comes from the fact that I benefit from privilege that silences your voice in so many places–a voice that I think has much more depth and comprehension than mine. Your responsibility to be a resource is non-existent, but we lose when the status quo channels your energy and experience and intelligence into the fight against it rather than the changes that the privileged need to make.

    It’s as though the culture is forcing OCD on you. I know someone who must check each tire’s pressure and look under the hood to touch wiring and hoses before being able to start the car. He parks in unobtrusive (therefore inconvenient) places so that fewer people will see him do his ritual. He’s reluctant to drive to new places since he doesn’t know how he’d avoid panic if something went wrong with the car or with his ability to perform the ritual. (He’s not triggered as a passenger.) Most people who know or hear about his OCD sympathize and work with him, even though 98% of the time a stranger encountering him would have no idea. He’d be horrified to have to wear an OCD marker 100% of the time. Oh, the ignorance! The explanations! The waste of time before someone looked past that to what he said, valued, enjoyed, produced, loved! The repetition of “You should just…” and “Have you tried…” and “Hey, I didn’t mean…” He’d stop being the center of his full life to many who encountered him, and it wouldn’t matter if 98% of them were claiming the spotlight from some academic philosophy or ignorant concern.

    I believe it was the fellow who videotaped the conference who took the time to provide the first transcript of the white woman’s words (leaving out the preliminary to the effect of “I probably shouldn’t be asking this, but…”) but not Bria Crutchfield’s. We’re getting Bria’s response primarily translated through JT’s “filter of the appropriate.” or, as it’s called on Shakesville, the “validity prism.” He doesn’t accept such a filter from others, but he’s long winded in defense of his own.

    I’d rather interact with Bria Crutchfield, with Mandisa Thomas, with dezn__98.

  44. 44
    Randomfactor

    Ilk+

  45. 45
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    I’ll take my tea ilky, thanks. Hold the sugar.

  46. 46
    Jen

    Wait, does this mean Greta and I jointly run the ilk? I’m totally okay with that partnership.

  47. 47
    smhll

    OK, now I’m picturing “running with the ilk” as something that happens on the streets of Pamplona…

  48. 48
    Lauren

    Dezn-98,

    Bravo, beautifully said.

  49. 49
    Dana Hunter

    Can someone with experience with wholesalers do some price comparisons for horns? And will Surly Amy consider making us some SurlyRamics for the Ilk? I think we need official gear!

  50. 50
    Rob

    Wait, does this mean Greta and I jointly run the ilk? I’m totally okay with that partnership.

    I think it might Jen. Could you and Greta please issue us with our hive minds and witch hunting sticks at the earliest opportunity. I’d like mine in British Racing Green please.

  51. 51
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Nobody can run the ilk Jen… you know this. Once there’s a leadership position, a white dude will demand it and then abuse the shit out of it. We’ve got to be more of an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We’ll take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week… *grins*

  52. 52
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    I’d like mine in British Racing Green please.

    SPLITTER! Everyone knows the True Ilkperson only takes their witch-hunting kits in the feminazi-approved black leather.

  53. 53
    bcmystery

    As a huge fan of Surly-ramics and the various ilk folk, I heartily endorse the Surly-ilkramics Gear initiative.

  54. 54
    carlie

    Bravo.

    What I don’t get is that, even brushing everything about the exchange aside, what made him think he had the imperative to tell Bria what he thought of what she said? It sounds like he didn’t know her that well. Why did he think she should care what he had to say, and that he ought to take her aside to tell her?

  55. 55
    Rob

    CatieCat (52). See, this is what happens when I request stuff before installing the hive mind! I do have some black leather, but I save it for my Rebel Without A Cause Days. The witch hunting outfit is for my meeting the ilk with a cause days. I suppose I could do that in black leather, but I might get confused…

    Still, JT would put me straight.

  56. 56
    Susannah

    Where the Venn diagrams overlap, are we a Horde of Ilks?

  57. 57
    leftwingfox

    Dammit, you win Susannah. :D

  58. 58
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    “And the fact that just about every feminist friend I ever had in this movement has called me out on my attitudes about this, numerous times… that’s not a problem. They’re just all wrong. If just about every quantum physicist I knew told me I was wrong about quantum physics, I’d probably pay attention — but I’m not going to pay attention to this.”

    Is there any more patronising way to say that he has no respect for the opinions of feminists?
    That paragraph felt like a punch in the guts. “Just wrong” indeed.

    I’m happy to be an Ilk. Is that like a feminist Elk?

  59. 59
    Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion

    I just realised I twisted the issue. JT doesn’t just not respect the opinions of feminists, of course, he doesn’t respect the opinions of any marginalised group that he isn’t a member of. This issue is about the justified anger of PoC, not feminism. I didn’t mean to minimise or make it about someone else, sorry.

  60. 60
    A Hermit

    Anne Ilk?

  61. 61
    John Phillips, FCD

    We were ilk on Pharyngula before we evolved to the horde so can I be an ilk again as well, please. I used to quite like JT and his writings but he seems to have lost it for quite a while now.

  62. 62
    smhll

    Is there any more patronising way to say that he has no respect for the opinions of feminists

    To be fair, he only disputes and disrespects the opinions of feminists who disagree with his opinions. (Ahem.) When the opinions harmonize then, look, chock full of respect. (Yeah, that’s not worth much.)

    I think, perhaps, he has a wide skeptical streak. Skeptics take pride in defending all their opinions from all comers at all times (they say). He may not understand AT ALL how exhausting and dispiriting it is to fight uphill and do this against painful ignorance over and over if you are a marginalized person. He may just recklessly be taking the position “of course you should embrace this opportunity to educate someone.” (Grrrrr. Arrrgggh. Aggravating, but not evil.)

  63. 63
    A. Noyd

    @llewelly (#31)
    What you quoted, just… ugh. Embarrassing/shaming people isn’t inherently bad. There are things we should be ashamed of, like spouting bigoted questions and demanding minorities educate us. Instead, people get shamed for things that shouldn’t even matter. I’m reminded of how, on the other side of this same coin, fools object to things like black pride and gay pride on the grounds that being black or gay isn’t an accomplishment and “everyone is equal” and they’d get yelled at for having white pride or straight pride and therefore it makes no sense and isn’t fair. That’s the level of sophistication and understanding that JT is exhibiting.

  64. 64
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Greta,
    I left the skeptical movement because of the prevalence of sexism and cluelessness about intersectional issues. Only people like you or Bria, who communicate their passion and defiance loudly and clearly, make me stay on in the periphery and think about joining again.

    Thank you.

    I agree so much with this: this sort of defense is giving us much needed breathing room, I can just feel the relief and it doesn’t feel like there is this relentless force of apathy that is just dominating the entire freethinker movement atmosphere when people like JT are put in their place. Even if only for a few days, it’s very good to see this. The freethinker movements are thick with the apathy and privilege of clueless assholes like JT and Mark Ferris. I’m sick of dealing with it and likely will keep on the extreme periphery, watching from time to time.

    Thanks for sticking it to ‘em Greta! :+)

  65. 65
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    JT: “My position is that Bria was the one who was more ethically dubious, even if her offense was perfectly understandable.

    I’m watching on the extreme periphery, but it’s a good thought that assholes like this one will be forced to factionalize with their kind, and those here will form their own group as well, away from bigoted privileged assholes like this one. Ugh, I can’t stand this guy. LOL@”ethically dubious”. I can’t WAIT until people like JT lose control of this movement entirely. What a bigoted racist, unbelievable.

  66. 66
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Also @dezn_98

    I agree so much with what you said +100. I hope one day freethinker movements will be able to struggle past the chauvinist infantilism of people like JT. That’s such a long way away though, from my perspective. It will be curious for me to watch as someone watching a Gladiator match in the Coloseum doing so with a telescope, sitting 500 miles away at the top of a mountain, making sure to hide in a bush while doing so just in case…

    I don’t go into freethinker movements because of people like JT as well as others very different than him with still their own issues. It’s safety and a need to not be continuously subjected to social justice neglect and abuse. I’m with you 100%

  67. 67
    maudell

    You guys *know* that the ilk is mind controlled by PZ. He already controls all the FtBullies, Skepchick, elevatorgate and feminists. The ilk has no chance to resists his octopi super powers.

  68. 68
    Ani J. Sharmin

    @27: And you have my bow! :)

    @Greta: Thanks for posting this. I’ve been reading JT’s blog for years; he and you were among the first atheist bloggers I read, and I started reading Jen a little bit after that.

    A white person being embarrassed at being called out on her racism — whether intentional or unintentional — is the most deserving target of my compassion, the one I should be spending thousands of words defending. The African-American people who were the targets of that racism are a secondary concern. Also, African-Americans’ suspicions of white people are equivalent to white people’s suspicions of African-Americans.

    I think what you’ve summarized here is what bothered me most about JT”s reply. When he wrote the original, I thought he wasn’t giving enough benefit of the doubt to Bria vs. the amount of benefit of the doubt he was giving to the question asker. But his response to Jen actually made me see how he’s not just trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the question asker, but is actually seeing the situation differently, due to some assumptions he’s making.

    I don’t disagree with him about the necessity of deciding which tactic is better for which situation, but he’s ignoring how people who are affected by racism would see the situation differently. Not everyone would just consider intent (which I think is relevant, but it’s invoked quite a lot and can be frustrating if you’re so often the target of well-intentioned discriminatory comments and actions). Others may also compare being affected by a possibly-racist question vs. being embarrassed in public after asking a questionable question, and conclude that the first is the bigger problem. (Plus, the fact that racism isn’t one of the topics JT often blogs about makes it seem odd when he’s spending time commenting on *how* to address it.)

    Add to that, this portion (quoting directly from JT now):

    Whites and blacks alike have been shown to exhibit this prejudice, which sort of cuts against both myself and Bria. She’s naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case and I’m naturally more likely to think better of them. So while Bria and I share the premise that this community should be better, I was more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to this community member and Bria was more likely to be wounded by her ignorance. I get that there are natural biases in place to overcome, and getting it gave me tremendous pause before I reached a conclusion on the matter. We all have biases. They simply make it harder to get at the truth – they do not necessarily make us wrong.

    And I just became disappointed. Because he had just quoted stuff about how there is bias against minority students, but then didn’t realize that this larger societal issue of bias against minorities could be relevant in this setting, instead equating his and Bria’s possible bias toward the question akser.

    I guess I’ll go post something similar at JT’s blog. I don’t know if he’ll see it among the hundred of comments, but I’ve often commented in agreement on his blog in the past, so it only seems fair that I also comment to let him know when I disagree.

  69. 69
    Rob

    You mean we’ll be the same ilk as the Horde?! Damn, but I like cats.

  70. 70
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    You guys *know* that the ilk is mind controlled by PZ. He already controls all the FtBullies, Skepchick, elevatorgate and feminists. The ilk has no chance to resists his octopi super powers.

    YeeEeEeeEEEeEssSS (evil voice), they shut down our Mind Control HAARP Machine in Alaska, but we WILL REFUND IT EVENTUALLY!! They burned all of our copies of PZ’s Grande Secret Directives, but we will push out new distros on our Kindles! We must control their brain waves, purging sinful thoughts of disobeying the grand Leader’s every directive! Eventually we will strap each of them into chairs with special metal clamps on the neck, wrists, ankles, and waist, in the secret Lair underground beneath the HAARP Illuminati Mind Control machine, after making them truck it in the snow on foot for 200 miles, and we will electrocute the shit out of them while forcing them to watch an eEeEEeeeeEEvvvviIIIIlll pink and purple swirley on a TV screen in front of them while playing audio clips of PZ admonishing them to wash their brains squeaky clean!! When they are done they will speak, in drone like voices “Yes Mistress Alice, our thoughts are yours to control, anything you command will be done, and we will Obey!”.

    HahahahahhHAhahhHAhahHAhaaaa /evil Wytch cackle. >:D

  71. 71
    cubist

    Obviously, Greta’s not-Horde is the Ilk of Human Kindness.

  72. 72
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Obviously, Greta’s not-Horde is the Ilk of Human Kindness

    Doh, PZ’s is the horde, hehe. I rarely visit, I learned something new! I am not of the Ilk: I like to watch Horde vs Alliance from afar…but I think the Horde (Greta’s or PZ’s) are smart people, and the Alliance are cave dwellers, and the Horde is FAR more compassionate. The Epic battles are a delight to watch from afar on my mountaintop, with my telescope, 500 miles away from the Colloseum, in my Hermitage.

    ^.^

  73. 73
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    You mean we’ll be the same ilk as the Horde?! Damn, but I like cats.

    From what I can tell, Greta’s Ilk is her own Horde, and PZ has his own Horde too I think, not sure, but I barely visit.

    Anyway, alls I know is the Alliance is Slymepit/JT/Mark Ferris/Ron Lindsey/Justin Vacula, etc.

    Watching the Horde (PZ’s or Greta’s) and Alliance go at it in the Colloseum is a grand spectacle to behold through my telescope, here on the windy Mountaintop of Mount Doom, as I caress the One Ring and cackle evilly muahahah! :+)

  74. 74
    cityzenjane

    “The great thing about energetic young gits with potential is there’s always a new one coming along. ”

    bahhahaahah. I’m dead.

  75. 75
    A. Noyd

    Ani J. Sharmin (#68)

    “She’s naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case and I’m naturally more likely to think better of them.” [--JT]

    Is that true, though? I feel like I see a lot of PoC talking about how they find themselves “naturally” giving white people the benefit of the doubt more than they should because they’re raised in the same white supremacist society and internalize the same white supremacist messages as white people. And that it takes some effort to overcome that social programming, even when experiencing racism.

    Certainly, the notion that you can take something white people do and expect PoC to do the opposite doesn’t hold true in other contexts.

  76. 76
    cityzenjane

    “Whites and blacks alike have been shown to exhibit this prejudice, which sort of cuts against both myself and Bria. She’s naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case and I’m naturally more likely to think better of them. ”

    Whuuuuuuuut? JT is now the spokesman for a unified white consciousness? Naturally?

    Listen. Your “natural” shittyness is something I abandoned at around age 13.
    Recognizing I lived in a world dominated by white people….I stopped seeing my POV as “natural” for me and started interrogating myself AND the world I lived in.

  77. 77
    cityzenjane

    Sticks fork in back of hand to make the pain of the stupidness stop!!!!

  78. 78
    gertrud

    Chiming in as someone else who was excited about movement skepticism for a while and who was unsurprised to find out that so many of them hated marginalized bodies; after all, it is bog-standard and atheists are not necessarily going to be better than other people. I stopped caring about skepticism as a movement when I saw how many people are like JT and want to assign themselves labels like “ally” without ever having to do anything more than sometimes be nice to the underlings. If the movement is hemorrhaging people, it’s doing so because of people like JT. If it’s not, it’s because of people like you.

    People like you are why I stay on the fringes, too. Thank you. Your work matters.

  79. 79
    Ani J. Sharmin

    @A. Noyd (comment #75): Thanks for the link. A lot of the other stuff I read and talk about online is fandom stuff, so I was hapy you linked to that example. I’ve actually had that experience as well, of assuming characters were white and male and having an easier time writing characters who are white and male, even though I’m neither, and I’ve only recently been able to move away from that. So, yeah, I think JT really simplified the situation and ignored important societal realities and context. Everyone has biases, but it’s more complicated than just everyone favoring their own group.

  80. 80
    Greta Christina

    dezn_98 @ #12: You made me cry. Thank you so much for writing that.

    And in fact — thanks to everyone here. You are definitely ilk.

  81. 81
    elltee

    I just want to chime in and say that if it weren’t for people like you, Greta, and your ilk, I’d be running away from the atheist movement as fast as possible. I’d be proud to call myself ilk too.

  82. 82
    piegasm

    Sign me up for The Ilk. *ties an antler to her head a la the grinch’s dog*

  83. 83
    Kurt Horner

    FTB = the Ilk’s Club Lodge

    Proud to be an Ilk.

  84. 84
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    One of the Horde of Ilk here!

    *It’s ok if I play Alliance in WoW, though, right? I mean, my little gnome engineer rogue is the cutest.

  85. 85
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    @Crocoduck
    Yes, it’s ok if you play the Alliance in WoW though :D
    I just finished the Orc Campaign in Warcraft II Tides of Darkness, now onto the expansion pack Black Portal!!! :+)

    Also,
    @dezn_98
    Also, ((soft-hugs)) dezn_98, I understand were you are coming from so very well and I am so glad you are among us, thank you for your presence here. I’ll give them to you offline too if you live in the Boston area and want some hugs ^.^

    Regardless, this has been a very much needed thread, and Greta is a badass as usual :~)

  86. 86
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Sign me up for The Ilk. *ties an antler to her head a la the grinch’s dog*

    I’ve totally wanted to like wear reindeer horns for X-mas season at some point, I always thought they would look so fabulous on me =~)

    +1

  87. 87
    MadHatter

    Can a lurker be ilk too? You, Jen, Dana, PZ, Cromm and the many wonderful horde/ilk-like commenters here have really transformed my understand of the world. Having never been religious, a group based on atheism never appealed in large part because of the people I knew. You all make the social justice part so clear and that’s something I do want to be a part of.

  88. 88
    Hank_Says

    De-lurking to apply for my Ilk™ badge!

    The more time passes, the less surprised I am when another White Atheist Luminary (WAiL™, if the gallery pleases) displays a massive blind spot, an egregious double standard, a flat-out creepy side or outright contempt for their ostensible allies.

    JT old chap, as my dear old mum would say: pull your horns in.

  89. 89
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Can a lurker be ilk too? You, Jen, Dana, PZ, Cromm and the many wonderful horde/ilk-like commenters here have really transformed my understand of the world. Having never been religious, a group based on atheism never appealed in large part because of the people I knew. You all make the social justice part so clear and that’s something I do want to be a part of.

    Alice puts some imitation reindeer horns on the Hatter’s head.

    You look splendid Hatter =)

    Welcome to the Ilk!

  90. 90
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Greta said:

    And in fact — thanks to everyone here. You are definitely ilk.

    /puts on beautiful imitation reindeer horns and brays in a silly playful innocent manner.

    I love being Ilk ^.^

  91. 91
    ischemgeek

    Can I be ilk, too?

    Also: I find it rather telling that I lost count of the times JT referred to Bria as “inappropriate”, yet so far I haven’t seen even one time where he referred to the person asking the racist question as inappropriate, despite the person asking a racist question that had absolutely nothing to do with the talk the Q&A was about.

    In fact, while he castigated Bria as having an “outburst” during which she “screamed” at the other woman with a “long diatribe”, giving a “disproportionate response,” with her “lengthy tirade,” etc.

    The woman who spouted Fox News-esque racist propaganda? Was “naieve” and “ignorant” in asking a question with “racist undertones.” And… that’s pretty much it.

    Yet, other people over there seem to be under the impression that JT “never, not ever” painted the question as acceptable. No, he didn’t do so in so many words, but he sure as hell implied it.

  92. 92
    Johnny Vector

    A couple of times during my life I have said something out of ignorance that was taken as malice, and been outbursted at as a result. It was not a good feeling, did not make me want to stick around. In fact, it made me ashamed and guilty. So I totally left the group of the person who shamed me and never came back. No, wait, that’s not right. I used my, what’s the word? Empathy. Yes, that’s it. I used my empathy to figure that it must be a sensitive subject to cause that much pain. Then I used my research to find out why it would be sensitive. And in so doing, added a bit of visibility to the river of privilege in which I swim. Oh, and I stopped saying that shit.

    Speaking (or yelling) harshly and outragedly at someone for (even accidental) racism/sexism/etc. will drive them from the movement only if they don’t care about not saying racist/sexist/etc. things. If they do care, they will learn and grow.

    Sincerely,
    Anne Ilk [mister]

  93. 93
    Lou Doench

    So now everybody wants to be an “Ilk”. Splitters! The Approved Male Chorus dwindles in number as fickle followers flock to the new hotness. ;(

  94. 94
    Entropy101

    Damn. I used to read JT, but by now he has his foot so far in his mouth he should be able to kick himself in the arse.

  95. 95
    katybe

    I’ve been lurking for years on Pharyngula, and gradually adding to the blogs in my feed reader, but I very rarely comment, because everything I might have said had already been said, and I felt like I was jumping in to a conversation between people who all knew each other. Well, it’s people like Greta, Jen and Dana who’ve given me the realisation that even if all I say is “me too”, it’s important to add to the voices of support, and I’ve finally started to play a more active role and comment. Count me as another one who read with interest when the subject was atheism and religion, but joined in when the focus shifted to social justice. So thank you to all of the ilk for everything that you do, and “me too.!

  96. 96
    johnradke

    You and Jen have an ilk? Lucky! I’ve always wanted an ilk, but my landlord doesn’t allow them.

    Seriously though… y’all’s ILK have enlightened me on social justice issues (and continue to – I’ve got miles to go). I’m one of those who was reached, perhaps even enticed, by the fearsome, gut-punching rhetoric aimed frequently in my general direction. But I’m also pretty content to shut up and listen and read and think, rather than constructing a 9,000-word wall to protect my ego.

  97. 97
    Jacob Schmidt

    I’m not sure I hang around here often enough to call myself ilk. At least I damn well know where the best ilk is.

  98. 98
    Leo Buzalsky

    They would rather stay silent about injustice than speak out and risk being verbally smacked down if they get it wrong.

    Well, then I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that they don’t actually care about injustice if not taking a verbal smack down is their larger concern.

  99. 99
    freemage

    Oooh… the Horde usually posts too much for me to keep up at all (even on non-grenade threads). But the speed on the Ilk blogs usually runs just about right. Sign me up!

  100. 100
    Andrew T.

    I had been an avid reader of JT’s blog for years, I admired his work with Skepticon and the Secular Student Alliance, I was thrilled to meet him in person at the 2012 and 2013 Madison Freethought Festivals and tickled when he told me I had an awesome name. I loved the intensity of opinion he expressed when discussing secular activism, and I appreciated his refusal to capitulate…when he was right.

    But the flip side of this is that he will never, ever admit when he is wrong. And if he’d rather type 8000-word mountains, drive a wedge between himself and the people who had been his friends and fans, and leave the foundation of social justice in the gutter than reconsider his blind spots and do just that…it’s incredibly disappointing, it’s frustrating, but it’s sadly not unprecedented.

    Count me in on your ilk, Greta. I know who to support.

  101. 101
    Raging Bee

    From JT’s latest post:

    What I have said, however, and what has yet to be addressed, is that not every action taken on account of justifiable anger is necessarily a justified action.

    Yeah, we never questioned that. We’re just saying that Bria’s response WAS justified, and at least two people who were there agree that it was.

    Are we so detached from nuance that saying “Taking over another speaker’s Q&A to verbally berate somebody is inappropriate and unnecessary” becomes equivalent to “That person should be silent”?

    Is JT so detached from nuance that he can’t understand that misrepresenting who had taken over the Q&A is indeed an attempt to silence the person being falsely accused of same?

    Whenever somebody like myself criticizes feminists of the Jen McCreight variety, our innate features are always swiftly trotted out.

    Your PAST BEHAVIOR was trotted out first. THEN your innate features were mentioned as a PARTIAL explanation for said behavior.

    And, once again, I have not ever said that people shouldn’t get angry. Repeatedly, until I am positively blue in the face, I have said most of their anger is justified.

    And, once again, you DID berate Bria for getting angry.

    That we are hurt does not always justify us hurting others. That’s why the words “justice” and “revenge” are not synonyms.

    Is he actually trying to imply that Bria was getting “revenge?”

    What I did condemn, and still do condemn, is when a person is offended inadvertently and considers it fair or even morally right to purposefully embarrass the person.

    How can you point out that someone is wrong without at least risking embarrassment?

    If embarrassing others in a crowded room is immoral when done by mistake, it shouldn’t be considered moral to do it on purpose.

    So now he’s equating the offense with the response, as an excuse to condemn the latter (more than the former).

    But I was still willing to give Bria the benefit of the doubt (practicing what I preach, as it were), by speaking with her in private.

    Making an unfair criticism in private is not “giving the benefit of the doubt.” Does JT even know what those words mean?

    What I did say is that … a question that carried no malicious intent should convince someone they’re unwelcome.

    First, he has no right to assume the queztioner’s intent. And second, he has no right to tell others what should or should not make someone else feel anything. If a stupid question — one that has indeed been asked a zillion times before, with obvious malice — makes someone feel unwelcome, then no one gets to veto that feeling.

    There may have been reasons Bria or another black attendee felt unwelcome and, if so, I’m very sad/sorry about that. If those reasons exist, I am as of yet unaware of them.

    How can he not be aware of them, when the people he claims to be responding to have been explaining them in excruciating detail? That last sentence pretty much invalidates JT’s entire critique and admits he’s just ignoring any facts he finds unpleasant. That’s where I stopped reading, at least for now. Screw this twit, he’s obviously not willing to understand what’s going on here.

  102. 102
    Raging Bee

    Can someone please tell me if JT makes ANY REFERENCE AT ALL to the specific facts of who said what, when and where? I saw no such reference in the bits I read, and that alone flushes his credibility down the toilet. How can he judge Bria’s actions without discussing her actions?

    Two other witnesses support Bria, and actually talked about what was said in the process. And JT seems to have totally ignored all those pesky mundane facts. It’s almost like Bill Dembski pretending to do science without all that “pathetic level of detail.”

  103. 103
    A. Noyd

    @Ani J. Sharmin (#79)
    You’re welcome for the link. I really like reading Ami Angelwings’ perspective on stuff even if I tend to stay away from fandoms myself. (Also, she’s a good example of someone whose personal style is to be genuinely civil, but who doesn’t try to police anyone else’s tone.)

  104. 104
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    On Ilk-ley Moor Baht ‘at

    Tha’s bahn’ to catch thy deeath o’ cowd
    Then us’ll ha’ to bury thee
    Then t’worms’ll come an’ eyt thee up
    Then t’ducks’ll come an’ eyt up t’worms
    Then us’ll go an’ eyt up t’ducks
    Then us’ll all ha’ etten thee
    That’s wheear we get us ooan back

    On Ilk-ley Moor Baht ‘at

  105. 105
    Inaji

    Count me in, too. I am proud to stand as a member of The Ilk.

  106. 106
    Portia

    Caine:

    I guess we can help occupy the middle of that Horde/Ilk Venn diagram :)

  107. 107
    Raging Bee

    …and not to the berating of a person who didn’t know better and doing her best to intentionally cause emotional pain in the process.

    First JT says we can’t just “assume” that the original question was asked with any malicious intent. Then he does a total one-eighty and assumes that Bria had the INTENT to “cause emotional pain in the process.” Assuming bad intent in one person, while rejecting out of hand the assumption of bad intent in another, is not just clueless privilege, it’s actual prejudice.

    Bria then told me that some people in the audience appreciated what she did. I’m sure there were many that did. My argument isn’t that nobody applauded Bria’s behavior, but simply that those who did were wrong to do so.

    So no matter how many people say Bria was right, JT will just insist they were all wrong? Of all the people who were actually there, he’s teh only one who REALLY saw what REALLY happened? Damn, this boy isn’t just high on his own righteousness — he’s ODing!

  108. 108
    Portia

    Raging Bee:

    Good for you for suffering through it to rebut specific tidbits from JT. Your points are excellent, here’s one more I glean from your 107, that you’ve touched on, but I think merits extrapolation: He decries assumptions about intentions, but assumes that Judy “didn’t know any better.” We can’t know what Bria was thinking, or what Judy was thinking if we think she was thinking racist things, but because he knows that Judy wasn’t thinking racist things, he can read minds, and his ability to read minds is contrary to the prima facie evidence. Because he’s RIGHT.

    It’s mind boggling how someone can be so dedicated to their own rightness in the face of so much counter-evidence. If I hadn’t long ago realized he had this proclivity and abandoned any belief in his stand-up-ness, I would be really sad and disappointed at his behavior in this situation.

  109. 109
    smhll

    but because he knows that Judy wasn’t thinking racist things, he can read minds

    I think he mentioned making his assessment based on tone of voice and body language. (Which does give some observable clues that one can extrapolate from.) (I have no idea if he had prior knowledge of the questioner’s personality, or if a few people gave him ‘testimonials’ about her.)

  110. 110
    Portia

    I think he mentioned making his assessment based on tone of voice and body language. (Which does give some observable clues that one can extrapolate from.) (I have no idea if he had prior knowledge of the questioner’s personality, or if a few people gave him ‘testimonials’ about her.)

    Which just means he thinks that a wolf in sheep’s clothing is a sheep, and when people point out the big teeth and the sharp claws under the wool, they’re hysterical and ILK.

  111. 111
    Jacob Schmidt

    I think he mentioned making his assessment based on tone of voice and body language.

    Everyone knows that racists only act uncivily; no racist would ever calmly ask racist questions in a polite manner.

  112. 112
    Ronja Addams-Moring

    I just want to chime in and say that if it weren’t for people like you, Greta, and your ilk, I’d be running away from the atheist movement as fast as possible. I’d be proud to call myself ilk too.

    This, +10000

  113. 113
    MrFancyPants

    I can’t say that I’m a member of the Ilk since the total extent of my activism is to cheer from the sidelines, Greta, but in that sense I’m pleased to be a part of the unofficial Ilk Auxiliary.

  114. 114
    Kevin Schelley

    so for horde/ilk crossover would it be an ilktopus?

  115. 115
    Pieter B, FCD

    We are Ilk; call us Legion, for we are many.

    [irony intended]

  116. 116
    Onamission5

    Can be Ilk, even if not sniny enough to be Horde?

  117. 117
    Gretchen

    “I wasn’t saying that it’s always bad to express anger about racism. I am just taking it upon myself to tell an African-American woman how and when and where and in what tone she should express her anger about racism. . . .
    “A white person being embarrassed at being called out on her racism — whether intentional or unintentional — is the most deserving target of my compassion, the one I should be spending thousands of words defending. The African-American people who were the targets of that racism are a secondary concern. Also, African-Americans’ suspicions of white people are equivalent to white people’s suspicions of African-Americans.

    Unless it is literally impossible for a white person to be right on a matter of racism while a black person is wrong, what is the point of ignoring the actual content of what these people are saying in favor of their respective races?

  118. 118
    Greta Christina

    Unless it is literally impossible for a white person to be right on a matter of racism while a black person is wrong, what is the point of ignoring the actual content of what these people are saying in favor of their respective races?

    Gretchen @ #117: Please keep up. This is not about the content of what either person said. Even JT acknowledged that the content of the original comment from the audience was racist, and that the content of Bria’s response was reasonable. This is entirely about tone-trolling.

  119. 119
    dezn_98

    @117 Gretchen

    Man… WTF?

    Why does someones race matter when we talk about racism? Do you know how woefully ignorant that question is?

    It is because race matters when we talk about racism. You can not talk about racism with any efficiency unless we acknowledged what race we are and what that means about the things we are likely to say or do say on this subject. To try to only look at someones words and ideas.. and not where those ideas are coming from, and not through what racial lense this person might be looking at it from… then you can not have a substantive conversation about racism. If you don’t know that.. then you do not know anything, and cut this colorblind syndrome out.

    Let me put this sht in a highly simplistic form – however the core reasoning would remain consistent if you ever, which you clearly have not, do any amount of research about racism all the way to the graduate thesis/activist level.

    Black person says to another person of color… “Man, black people need to go get real jobs”
    White person says to black person… “Man, black people need to go get real jobs”

    These are the same exact words – yet I assure you that the persons race (the person saying it and the person it is directed towards) can change the context and meaning and tone of that statement. There are dozens of variables to consider here, and when you get to internationalist… things like gender can ad another shade of color to what is said and the meaning of it .. a highly nuanced view will be required to understand the language presented. You can not divorce the words from the speaker nor can you look at the words in the absence of cultural history and social forces. All these things matter..

    If you do not understand that. If you can not figure out at least one way words can change meaning by the color of the ones saying it…. then you are not ready for any real talk about racism. Heck, I would say you are not ready for any real talk about social justice in general.

    This is another way that “fairness” devoid of cultural context can add to oppression of minorities. Because it is fair to say that “it does not matter who says something, ideas should count on their own”.. and that is a good metric for most things – a fair metric for most things. However, when you enter the social justice arena… trying to apply this metric an an “even handed” fashion without the knowledge how how this metric usually plays out to discriminate against minority opinions, or impeded an actual in depth talk about social justice.. is a recipe for disaster.

    Finally…. man… she, and many, not only talked about the mans race… she took his ideas apart. She talked the idea, not the man… and then she showed how the man came up with these ideas based on his social status…. further highlighted a long historical trend of other men of such social status saying the same things that in effect function as a silencing mechanism for minorities. She did much more than you give her credit for… so I agree with Greta….try to KEEP UP.

  120. 120
    Inaji

    Portia:

    I guess we can help occupy the middle of that Horde/Ilk Venn diagram

    Indeed, and happily so.

    Kevin:

    so for horde/ilk crossover would it be an ilktopus?

    Consider that (Ilktopus) seriously stolen.

    Onamission5:

    Can be Ilk, even if not sniny enough to be Horde?

    You’re sniny! And a member of the Horde. A fellow Ilktopus.

  121. 121
    Onamission5

    Horde of Ilks or Ilktopus? Horde of Ilktopi? Sniny horde of ilktopi?

    I think I’m overthinking this.

  122. 122
    Grimalkin

    So… I tried to avoid reading too much into this because… the last thing I need is more faux ally in the morning. But I LOVE ILKS SO MUCH and we got to talking on the A+ forums and I got fiendishly creative and then I made this and I wanted to share it with the class:

    two flavors: http://i522.photobucket.com/albums/w345/Okasen/ilky_zps3f570f7d.png and http://i522.photobucket.com/albums/w345/Okasen/Ilk_zps0743c035.png

    I know, it’s not quite a surly, but I think I might put them up on zazzle and sell them as shirts. (I’ve got an A+ fundraiser I’d put the funds towards if nobody objects) And wear them to JT’s Skepticon talk.

    Also Greta; Thanks for the shorter JT. I… can’t… 8208 words, is what I’m trying to say. If I wrote 8208 words people would think I was working on a fuckin’ novel. I am working on a fuckin novel too, it’s only got 20,000.

  123. 123
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    #I am Ilk

    +++

    I think he mentioned making his assessment based on tone of voice and body language. (Which does give some observable clues that one can extrapolate from.)

    Which is simply complete nonsense. Because to actually say racist (sexist, homophobic…) bullshit you don’t have to be malicious.
    I remember that some people honestly tried to cheer me up and expressed sympathy when I told them that I was expecting my second daughter. The fact that they meant well doesn’t mean that they didn’t say some very hurtfull and deeply misogynist things.

  124. 124
    Raging Bee

    He decries assumptions about intentions, but assumes that Judy “didn’t know any better.”

    I think that’s part of a way of thinking that, if unchecked, tends to give the person who starts a dispute more of a pass than those who respond to his/her provocation. A person who says something stupid or ill-considered or offensive can be excused for “not wanting to start anything” or “not knowing any better;” but those who respond to the offending statement have no such excuse, because they knowingly chose to respond to said statement. It’s another manifestation of the kind of “it takes two to tango” pacifist logic that condemns the respondent more than the aggressor — because, after all, it wasn’t actually a “fight” until the intended victim fought back.

  125. 125
    freemage

    As Larry Wilmore said on the Daily Show: “The benefit of the doubt is racist.”

  126. 126
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Which is simply complete nonsense. Because to actually say racist (sexist, homophobic…) bullshit you don’t have to be malicious.

    ++++++++++++
    and +++++

    also ++

    ^.^

  127. 127
    smhll

    Everyone knows that racists only act uncivily; no racist would ever calmly ask racist questions in a polite manner.

    Good point. Point taken.

    I admit I made a logical error. When I first heard about “the question” about black on black crime, it sounded pugnacious to me. Like a white person had listen to a black person’s presentation (which, at the time, I was guessing must have been about crime and wrongful death) and tried to put the onus for solving it back on the black community. (Which sounded like really mean point-scoring jackassery to me.) When I heard the statements that the questioner didn’t mean to be offensive, I was highly skeptical, because I found the question very offensive. When JT elaborated (a little) on the demeanor of the questioner, I revised my opinion (about intent) and figured that the person asking wasn’t a pugnacious JAQer. (I may be wrong.) However, my logic swerved. A person can still be racist without being pugnaciously confrontational (in the style of Bill O’Reilly). My comments did not adequately consider and reflect that possibility.

    (Even if the questioner wasn’t obnoxious “on purpose”, I still support Bria’s right to speak from the heart and have the whole group hear her. And JT’s insistence that he gets to judge degrees of offensiveness is really wrong.)

  128. 128
    Anne Marie

    I asked on his original post:

    I’d really like to know why you’re so sure that the questioner was totally naive and willing to learn and yet also totally convinced that Ms. Crutchfield was trying to berate and embarrass said questioner. Why assume pure motives for one and not the other?

    How would you react if you were at a conference and someone in the audience asked you specifically an “innocent” question about how YOU were fixing the “fact” that all of us depressed people are just losers who need to get over it and the only response you got after was another atheist at the conference with no diagnosis telling you weren’t allowed to express any emotion about it and you should just recite facts at the person because they just wanted to learn? Would you really believe that person’s question was honest or feel welcomed by that other atheist?

    Annnnnd no answer! Of course. (Tangent: Just like when I asked Shermer in a Q&A how he could say in the very same book that people like Paris Hilton don’t earn their vast amounts of wealth and then complain that we should be taxed for working hard. Skeptics have awesome blind spots when it comes to the ideas they hold dear!)

    Link to comment: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2013/08/on-the-bria-crutchfield-outburst-at-the-great-lakes-atheist-convention/#comment-1007205057

  129. 129
    manuel moegarcia

    I didn’t choose the ilk life, the ilk life chose me.

  130. 130
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    I was thinking of maybe a t-shirt for the next women-centred atheist con: “Got ilk?”

  131. 131
    Portia

    CaitieCat:

    Love it. Fabulous idea. Can it have a little octopus somewhere?

  132. 132
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Dunno why not. I’ll do some fiddling with Illustrator tonight, see if I can make something I like enough to present. Maybe an octopus with an elk antler. Just one.

    This links well for me with my day, as I’m experiencing a sudden break in my severe depression symptoms, partly because I took steps to make myself less financially insecure (i.e., admitted my disabilities/growing infirmity and started work on making a claim for support on that basis), and partly because I’ve been artistically inspired by the amazing Adam WarRock (if you are a nerd and like – or even don’t loathe – hiphop, Google This Guy).

    So it’s nice to have an idea for a little quick project to work on. :)

    I wonder if Greta would be kind enough to pose for a reference photo for me, I think I have a good idea how I’d like to do it in a sort of chiaroscuro sense. If you are interested, Greta, e-mail me? Stephanie has one of my e-mail addresses handy, if you don’t have it as moderator here. A selfie would be fine, the shot shouldn’t take more than two minutes. :)

  133. 133
    Portia

    I didn’t know you were a designer! Very cool. I’m probably a little OT here but I’m excited to see what you design. I like the antler’d octopus idea :D

  134. 134
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Honestly, my day job is cobbled together from half a dozen different jobs: I do graphic design and artwork, I do poetry and fiction writing, I do non-fiction writing and blogging, I translate a few languages to English professionally, I proof and edit academic papers for non-native speakers of English, I tutor a few languages in conversational classes at community centres and such…the idea is, if I can get about sixty hours of work a month, I get to live without support. When I fall short, the disability safety net catches me.

    That’s the hope, anyway. :)

  135. 135
    Pieter B, FCD

    “Got ilk?” wins teh intertubes for today. I had been thinking about an antlered octopus, but not sure I like just the single antler. I would definitely buy a TShirt.

  136. 136
    Liz McK

    All this discussion of benefit of the doubt and skeptics reminds me of Ta-Nehisi Coate’s comment (in his great essay “Fear of a Black President”) :

    “Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.”

    I also wonder how it is that Bria behaved badly when she pointed out someone’s mistake in a room full of people, so he took her aside — privately! — to explain what she did wrong. And then wrote a looooong blog pointing out what he thought Bria’s mistake was to the entire internet. Isn’t that …. the wrong thing to do, according to him? You know, “embarrassing” Bria in public and everything? How does that even remotely begin to make sense?

    link to Fear of a Black President: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/fear-of-a-black-president/309064/

    I’m also wondering if Schrödinger’s Rapist needs a companion, Schrödinger’s Racist. This cat could explain how and why it is bad policy for a black woman to give the benefit of the doubt to a white person asking a question that’s a well-known racist dog whistle.

    This stuff really isn’t rocket science. That all these allegedly brilliant thinkers can’t figure it out is endlessly perplexing to me, to put it mildly.

  137. 137
    Jacob Schmidt

    I’m also wondering if Schrödinger’s Rapist needs a companion, Schrödinger’s Racist.

    I had that thought too. PoC’s don’t have the privilege of assuming that racist BS is really just innocent ignorance. It might actually be malicious; letting that shit slide won’t get us anywhere.

  138. 138
    Kathryn Dawson

    Delurking and late the party, but definitely count me as one of the ilk!!

  139. 139
    sonofrojblake

    The social justice advocates — “Jen, Greta, and their ilk” (that’s a direct quote) — are driving people away from atheism.

    Well, that’s just false. What are you saying? That because I dislike the, er… “ilk”‘s chosen methods of communication, that I’m going to start believing in a god or gods, or something? Hah! Ludicrous.

    No – the social justice advocates are NOT driving me away from atheism. They’re driving me away from social justice advocacy. They’re causing me, a person who abhors sexism, racism, homophobia etc. and who striives in everyday life to personally be as socially just as I can be – to pratice what I preach, if you like – to be quiet about it because I don’t want anyone to think I have anything to do with you people. As the late great Bill Hicks said of non-smokers – “I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think I’d become one of you.”

    My atheism is firm and untouched, thanks for asking, because “their ilk” are not, in the public mind, primarily regarded as atheists. There’s no risk that people would say “oh, you’re an atheist like that Greta Christina person, are you?”. If I were to “come out” as having a particular focus on social justice, though, that would be a risk. Best to keep it quiet, therefore.

  140. 140
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    LOL, well, sonofablake, if we’re driving you away from a place you don’t want to be, why are you still here?

    This is another of those “What you wrote is complete shit and utterly worthless which is why I read it all then made a login for your site just to tell you how shit and worthless it is” things, isn’t it?

    Pro tip: no one gives a fuck what you “think”*. Go away, and improve the average IQ around here.

    * For some value of “think”.

  141. 141
  142. 142
    Anne Marie

    @John, what’s your point? A person caring about a friend doesn’t keep them from acting offensively toward that friend or others later. It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Given his most recent post decrying Greta and “her ilk,” I don’t really care how much money he helped raise last year.

    People aren’t entirely good or bad, racist or anti-racist, sexist or anti-sexist, and if JT can’t take any criticism for his actions without (A) seeing it as a moral condemnation of him as a person and (B) declaring that every person who disagreed with him is a bad, bad person who is ruining atheism for all and keeping all the good people away from it, then he has a lot to learn.

  143. 143
    cubist

    Mr. Eberhard, I completely understand why you want to remind people of your son’s virtues. I mean, he is your son, and he does have some darn fine qualities. On the whole, I’d say your obvious pride in your son is justified.
    Unfortunately, your son’s virtues are not unaccompanied by flaws. And when he puts one of his flaws on public display… repeatedly… over an extended period… in spite of multiple people’s attempts at helping him identify and correct said flaw… well, what should people do?

  144. 144
    Portia

    John,

    In other places, it’s been covered and covered that a flawless history of good acts (even if any person could claim such a thing) does not excuse bad behavior from criticism.

    Are you implying that JT’s support of Greta during a very difficult period in her life came with an IOU attached? That’s one possible reading of your comment, and it just seems kind of jerkish to me.

  145. 145
    Greta Christina

    johneberhard @ #141: Yes, I remember that JT was, at one time, a supportive friend. I am painfully aware of it. This makes the current rupture — and his behavior following the rupture, and his behavior for months leading up to it — that much more baffling, that much more painful, and that much more sad.

  146. 146
    sonofrojblake

    why are you still here?

    Because some of what gets written here is interesting to read. I don’t necessarily have to agree with every word of it to consider it worth reading and engaging with.

    no one gives a fuck what you “think”*. Go away

    Oh, I get that. In fact, that was rather my point. You’re part of a tiny clique within a tiny subset of the population, and this is your response to someone who explicitly states that they’re in alignment with you on practically every issue you care about. Good luck with your efforts.

  147. 147
    Stacy

    No – the social justice advocates are NOT driving me away from atheism. They’re driving me away from social justice advocacy. They’re causing me, a person who abhors sexism, racism, homophobia etc. and who striives in everyday life to personally be as socially just as I can be – to pratice what I preach, if you like – to be quiet about it

    If you’re being quiet about social injustice, then you ain’t “striving in everyday life to personally be as socially just as [you] can be.”

    If you’re being “driven away from social justice advocacy” because your feelings have been hurt, or because nobody’s given you or those like you a cookie for their awesome well-meaningness, you don’t “abhor” “sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.” as much as you’d like to think you do.

  148. 148
    sonofrojblake

    If you’re being “driven away from social justice advocacy” because your feelings have been hurt…

    I’m not. Simple enough. No idea how “because I don’t want anyone to think I have anything to do with you people” is unclear as an explanation of reason, or how it can be misinterpreted as “someone hurt my fee-fees.”

    Moving on.

    or because nobody’s given you or those like you a cookie

    Nope. I told you the reason. You apparently don’t like my reason, so you’ve just made a couple of other reasons up.

    I’m being driven away from active social justice advocacy because I don’t want to appear associated with people whose stated motives I’m in alignment with but whose chosen mode of communication I disagree with.

    Straw man shit like the above is a perfect example.

  149. 149
    Johnny Vector

    I’m being driven away from active social justice advocacy because I don’t want to appear associated with people whose stated motives I’m in alignment with but whose chosen mode of communication I disagree with.

    Let me make sure I understand the generalized version of this plan, so I can apply it to all forms of activism that I might be interested in.

    I don’t like the way Greenpeace communicates, so I will not advocate for environmental issues.

    I don’t like the way Quakers get their message out, so I will stop being active in any anti-war movements.

    I don’t want to appear to be associated with people who promote atheism in a strident way, so I will no longer campaign against creationists running for my local school board.

    I mean, I’m totally against destruction of the environment, and war, and creationism, but with the way some people talk about that stuff, I certainly can’t be bothered to get off my ass and do anything. I mean, I don’t want to… Shit, did I say that out loud? Where’s the edit button?

  150. 150
    athyco

    I’m being driven away from active social justice advocacy because I don’t want to appear associated with people whose stated motives I’m in alignment with but whose chosen mode of communication I disagree with.

    Then it would appear that your active social justice advocacy has met the minor hiccup of a bit more research on your part. But that’s minor! I am sure that there are other active social justice advocates who fit your requirements, and if there are not, then you can be the one who draws the like-minded to you!

    Do you have links to your previous social justice advocacy groups/causes/events? I’d like to see how they operate.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who claim “private” talks with misguided/frustrated marginalized people are the way to go but who tweet with a con’s hashtag and with other hashtags like #BadForm and #Awkward before they try the private talk.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who ask a marginalized person for her reaction to another marginalized person, cherry pick from the answer so that the entire response has to be made public in comments, then not respond in any way to the marginalized person making the correction.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who telepathically conclude the well-meaning naivete of a “black on black crime” white person question on a presentation that has nothing to do with crime without wondering for a moment–or speaking to the white person first (or at all)–if the impetus to ask such a question after a presentation on the intersection of the hospitality industry with atheism was the skin color of the presenter.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who decide to call a subsequent Q&A “hijacked” when the black male presenter looked to and approved another person’s answer.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who have never once mentioned that there was an actual question in that Q&A that got the response–a response that was directly on point since the question was “What can we do to get more POC involved in atheism?” It would be bad to imply with “outburst” that the response came out of nowhere.

    I’d hope that they aren’t ones who start all these things in motion on one day and then tweet their only quote from the conference “Confrontation is a natural part of opinion interaction” from the talk of a white male presenter the very next day.

  151. 151
    PatrickG

    I’m being driven away from active social justice advocacy because I don’t want to appear associated with people whose stated motives I’m in alignment with but whose chosen mode of communication I disagree with.

    Johnny Vector and athyco pretty much said it already, but I can’t possibly avoid adding to the blatantly obvious.

    So go associate with other people!

    In what world is the community here the only way to be involved in social justice? You don’t like people here? Fine. Lots and lots of other groups out there, doing good work in more non-confrontational ways.

    Go mentor some youth. Go feed the homeless. Go teach some computer literacy courses at your local community centers. Offer technical expertise to non-profits you approve of. Help fund-raise for causes you like. Do some lobbying/political activism. Work on a political campaign. You can do all these things without ever encountering another internet commenter who says mean things! The options are endless!

    So many things you can do that don’t require you to stay here and, yes, have your feelings hurt to the extent that you’re actually drawing away from social justice activism because you don’t like the way some people talk.

    In other words, stop tripping over your own ego.

  1. 152
    Guest Post: “I Am Tired of Being Treated as a Subhuman When I Get Angry Over Racism” » En Tequila Es Verdad

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  2. 153
    Ilk T-Shirts! (And Tank Tops, Hoodies, Onesies, and More!) » Greta Christina's Blog

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  3. 154
    Guest Post: “Quit Sitting Around Here Being Brand New to This” » En Tequila Es Verdad

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  4. 155
    Ilk Necklaces by Surly Amy! » Greta Christina's Blog

    […] commentariat here seems to have named themselves! PZ at Pharyngula has his Horde, and now I apparently have… the Ilk. (As in, “Jen, […]

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