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Is There Any Line You Think Should Not Be Crossed? The Amazing Atheist, and What the Atheist Community Apparently Is Okay With

Content note: rape threats, rape denial, trivialization of rape and rape threats.

An open letter to anyone in the atheist community who takes an attitude of “We don’t have to agree about everything to work together” towards people in the community who make rape threats — or who assault women, harass women in person, or harass women online.

atheist scarlet letterDear Atheist,

“He may not be an ally of feminism but he’s still a cool entertainer.”

“Why is agreeing with people always an all or nothing game? There’s a lot of people I hate that I can sometimes find myself agreeing with.”

“The Amazing Atheist usually pisses me off… but this was, as his moniker says, amazing.”

“Long story short: he’s an asshole, to be sure, but, IMO, a harmless one.”

“Aside from being an ass at times (can’t say that I am exempt), has he done anything else since the incident in question?”

That’s what some of you said. When Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog recently posted a link to a video by The Amazing Atheist — and when it was pointed out that he had made graphic, brutal rape threats in multiple public forums, including in his book — that’s what some of you said. (Note: Hemant has since said that he didn’t know about the rape threats, and that if he had, he wouldn’t have posted the video.)

In case you missed it, here are some of the things Amazing Atheist has said.

“I will make you a rape victim if you don’t fuck off.”

“I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow.”

“BTW, you have to admit, when I told you that I hope you drown in rape semen, you got a little wet, didn’t you?”

“Well, you deserved it. So, fuck you. I hope it happens again soon.”

“Is that kind of like the way that rapists dick went in your pussy? Or did he use your asshole? Or was it both? Maybe you should think about it really hard for the next few hours. Relive it as much as possible. You know? Try to recall: was it my pussy or my ass?”

“Rape isn’t fatal. So imagine my indignation when I saw a chatroom called ‘Rape Survivors.’ Is this supposed to impress me? Someone fucked you when you didn’t want to be fucked and you’re amazed that you survived? Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?”

“Just because you got raped, you have to rape the English language? You vindictive bitch! Also, don’t you ever get tired of being the victim? How many failed relationships are you going to blame on a single violation of your personal space?”

“Actually, I don’t believe you were ever raped! What man would be tasteless enough to stick his dick into a human cesspool like you?”

“I told her, ‘You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you.'”

“Go get raped in whatever orifice you have to get fucking raped in.”

“I’m going to rape you with my fist.”

This is what you called “being an ass at times.” This is what you called being “an asshole…but IMO, a harmless one.” This is what you called “not be[ing] an ally of feminism.”

Atheists, I need to ask you: Is there any line that you think should not be crossed?

Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them? Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you not link to their videos, not share their blog posts, not upvote them, not post admiring comments about them in public forums, not buy or promote their books? Will you really support the work of absolutely anyone, regardless of how vile their behavior has been, as long as they say one thing you happen to agree with?

Would you support the work of an avowed racist, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that black people are not fully human? Would you support the work of an avowed homophobe, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that LGBT people are mentally ill and should be locked into mental hospitals?

If you would — why?

And if you wouldn’t — why would you support the work of an avowed misogynist, who has publicly and unapologetically stated his opinion that women he disagrees with should be raped, and who makes public rape threats against them (visible to other rape victims, I’ll point out), in brutal, graphic detail?

Back_view_of_teen_boys_headShunning is an extreme measure. It is a last resort. We are a social species, we need other people, and deliberately pushing someone out of a community is a strong and harsh response to bad behavior. Accepting human imperfection, accepting that everyone screws up and does things we have serious problems with, and being willing to move forward from that, is absolutely necessary if we’re going to live and work together.

Shunning is an extreme measure. But if we are never willing to do it, even in the face of the most despicable behavior, we are saying that we will tolerate anything. Literally anything. We are saying that there is no line that cannot be crossed.

Now, reasonable people can certainly disagree about where that line should be drawn. We can disagree about how bad someone has to be before we’re unwilling to work with them; how consistently bad they have to be; how many times we try to reason with them before we give up.

But whatever our disagreements might be about where that line should be drawn, I would think that “I will make you a rape victim if you don’t fuck off,” “I hope you fucking drown in rape semen,” “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal,” “I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist,” would clearly and unquestionably place someone on the far side of it. The very, very far side.

And it is deeply distressing to realize that this isn’t the case. It is deeply distressing to realize just how many people in the atheist movement don’t consider that to be flatly unacceptable. It is deeply distressing that I have to calmly spell out why we should not accept people into our community who mockingly trivialize rape and make brutal, graphic, public rape threats. It is deeply distressing that this is a controversial issue in our community. It is deeply distressing that we even have to have this conversation.

Is there any line you think should not be crossed?

If you don’t — why not?

And if you do — why not this one? Why does “I hope you fucking drown in rape semen” fall into the category of “Well, I don’t agree with everything he says, but…”

In many instances, of course we can agree about some things while disagreeing about others, and agreeing when someone says (X) doesn’t automatically mean you agree when they say (Y). But when someone crosses a clear line into vile and unacceptable behavior, the community needs to make it clear that this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We need to show that some lines absolutely should not be crossed, and that if people cross them there will be consequences. Supporting someone’s work when they’ve acted abhorrently means there are no consequences.

And that’s especially true in the case of rape threats, persistent harassment of women, and other misogynist behavior — because in the atheist community, we don’t, unfortunately, currently have a clear ethical standard that this is unacceptable. We have a culture in which it’s depressingly common for people to engage in this behavior, and for other people to defend, rationalize, trivialize, dismiss, or victim-blame it — without consequences, or without serious consequences. Leaders in the movement do this, and remain leaders. We need to change that culture. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we do not tolerate this behavior. Promoting people’s work who engage in this behavior is tolerating it. And tolerating this behavior helps perpetuate it.

I’m sure that you, personally, don’t like rape threats, or approve of them. But the way you personally feel about rape threats is irrelevant. What’s relevant is how you behave when they happen. When you support and promote the work of someone who makes rape threats, you are tolerating rape threats. I agree that with some words and actions, we can agree on some things and disagree on others, and set aside disagreements to work together. Someone who says and does what The Amazing Atheist did does not fall into that category.

I understand that when it comes to the divisions and hostilities in the atheist movement about feminism and sexism, many people want to remain neutral. But there is no way to remain neutral. You cannot welcome people of color into our community, and also welcome racists. You cannot welcome LGBT people, and also welcome homophobes. And you cannot welcome women, and also welcome hateful misogynists who want to rape us.

Emoticon_Face_NeutraNeutrality is not neutral. Neutrality supports the status quo. And the status quo, apparently, is one in which people who publicly make brutal graphic rape threats, and who express joy over the fact that someone was raped, still get to be respected members of the community with thousands hundreds of thousands of followers — because they sometimes say clever things about creationists.

Is that the community standard you want to support?

I keep thinking about something Juan Mendez said at the last American Atheists conference (paraphrasing here): “The atheist community is becoming more and more visible. In a few years, the whole world will be watching us. What do we want them to see?”

When the world looks at atheists, is this what you want them to see?

(Back view of teen boys head image by Alex Neman, via Wikimedia Commons)

Comments

  1. says

    I’m just flabbergasted that Mehta did not know. I believe him–I’m just floored by how very ignorant and apathetic towards the struggles atheist women have had to endure you’d have to be in order to be ignorant of Kinkaid’s behavior. I expect that sort of ignorance from noobs, not from popular atheist bloggers and activists who’ve been in the community for years.

    Men MUST start paying attention to what women are saying. Otherwise this will continue to happen over and over again.

    I’m so angry. Again.

  2. screechymonkey says

    “Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them?”

    Apparently, saying “guys, don’t do that.”

  3. triple3a says

    Fuck this guy.

    Not rape him.  Just fuck this MRA douchebag.  Banish him to the complete ignominy and irrelevance that he deserves.  He ain’t part of my atheist community and anyone who’s willing to tolerate an Elliott Rodger in the making ain’t part of my community either.

  4. culuriel says

    Not-Amazing Atheist should be especially disturbing. Atheists routinely point to various religions’ horrible misogyny, both in sacred texts and followers’ actions, as a reason to not believe the claims of that religion. For a prominent atheist to then glorify criminal-level misogyny kind of makes our movement look like the very people we think oppress women.

  5. Peter Landers says

    Personally, I would’ve thought the Line To Not Be Crossed wouldn’t have to be anything as extreme as this “Amazing” person.

    I stopped following Hemant’s blog at least a year ago; he just seemed to be obliviously linking to these kinds of folks way too often, frequently while they were being criticized elsewhere. I felt he had to be living in a cave to not be aware of what was going on.

    I’m quite content to “agree to disagree” when both sides are being reasonable and engaging in a fair argument. But as time has passed I find my own willingness to turn a blind eye to bad arguments and ignorance of others in certain areas, even former “heroes,” has been shrinking.

    And when it comes to the endless, horrible treatment of intelligent and reasonable women (not just in the atheist “movement”, either) my tolerance has dropped to zero. If someone makes a stupid comment once, apologizes, and doesn’t do it again, maybe they’ll get a second chance. But if they just keep digging in deeper and deeper, bye bye.

  6. says

    I’ve stayed away from this guy for years, considering the clearly negative reviews I’d read from many sex-positive, humanist, non-asshole bloggers. Unfortunately, lately he’s been coming up as a suggestion in my YouTube feed, or as a commercial before sensible videos. YouTube seems to think I’m interested in his ideas.

    As someone with no interest in sifting through the drivel, this is discouraging. I have no interest in listening to any ideas from such a close-minded anti-humanist.

  7. says

    The “line” that gets crossed is complaining about these sorts of people from the ethical high ground of basic human decency. Being 10 kinds of bigot and a sexual predator is fine, but being against those things is “dogmatic” and means enforcing rules. The libertarian atheist movement cannot and will not tolerate rules.

  8. says

    SallyStrange at #2, I’m with you. It truly stretched belief to imagine that anyone who has seen a couple of this guy’s videos – any two at random – wouldn’t see that “douchebag” is about the nicest thing anyone could ever say about him.

  9. says

    “Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them?”

    Saying “It’s time for a new atheism that includes intersectional concerns like anti-racism, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Let’s call it Atheism Plus.”

  10. Ganner says

    I wouldn’t completely shun someone for being an ass, or not being an ally, or displaying some misogynist or racist views (though I would, and do in real life, call people out on these things and let them know I don’t agree with them and find those things abhorrent and unacceptable). But no… you say things like he has said, and display not a shred of remorse when called on it, I won’t socialize with you or support you or promote you in any form.

  11. Kevin Kehres says

    I am ashamed to say that I was once a fan of that foot guy. But not this one — one video (even a part of one) was enough to tell me that he wasn’t a shining example of a human being.

    More than anything, YouTube likes insults and bullying. The more outrageous the bullying, the better. It’s a holding tank for assholes. Half a million assholes think TJ is funny because he’s a bully. He’s the king of assholes.

    I’d like to attribute it to immaturity (ie, a half a million 12-year-old boys); but the evidence suggests quite plainly that the assholes cross pretty much every age spectrum.

    They do tend to be white, cis, straight, and male, though.

    Very, very disturbing. How people can have this disordered a worldview and still drive on the right side of the road is beyond me.

  12. says

    I hadn’t heard of the Amazing Atheist before Greta started posting about him. While I’m involved in the atheist community, I’m glad that I don’t have friends that would share his kind of crap.

    Even if his atheism work is brilliant (and I’m not going to go watch it to find out) his online profile is forever linked to his other speech. I do not accept his kind of hatred as being representative of the atheist community. Shunning may be a harsh sentence, but through his own actions, he shuns himself.

    If he is mentally ill we should try to help him get help, but our overall cause is too important to be sabatoged by his kind of vitriolic hatred. We always have to take steps to ensure that the general public whom we try to reach knows he does not speak for us.

    As for the question of crossing the line: I’m sure there are probably forms of entertainment I enjoy that may offend others. Everyone can probably say that. I don’t bring them up here, or anywhere else. They are my own, sometimes shameful, things. I don’t and won’t post them to Facebook or anywhere else that would hurt the community. This jackass, the Amazing Atheist goes far beyond anything I could ever enjoy and gleefully shouts about it.

  13. geekgirlsrule says

    Sadly, a lot of the atheism community seems to suffer from a bad case of the Five Geek Social Fallacies (Ostracizers are Evil, Friends Accept me as I am, Friendship before All, Friendship is Transitive, Friends do Everything Together). I always fuck up the HTML so I won’t try to link, but if you google it, they’ll come up. And while many of them sound kind of nice on their face, if you read the original article at Plausibly Deniable, you’ll see where they can, and do, go horribly, toxically wrong.

    Particularly “Ostracizers are Evil.” And, as in the Geek community at large, women are excluded from these considerations.

    I think the Atheism pool could use a little chlorine.

  14. says

    Posting a video on feminism and being positive about it = instant shunning for him! Same if he expressed theistic opinions, so not all opinions he can express would be acceptable. Only ones that happen to hurt a bunch of people his fans don’t care about…

    Brian Walsh, “If he is mentally ill we should try to help him get help … “, nope. It is neither an explanation of his behaviour nor an excuse. But it does juxtapose mental illness to him being an asshole.

  15. says

    screechymonkey:

    Apparently, saying “guys, don’t do that.”

    Ibis3:

    Saying “It’s time for a new atheism that includes intersectional concerns like anti-racism, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Let’s call it Atheism Plus.”

    More generally, anything that subjects the atheist movement to internal scrutiny. Anything that breaks the illusion that the atheist movement is a paragon of reason and virtue. Anything that requires those who “question everything” to question themselves.

  16. says

    I stopped listening to this nutter before it was cool.

    Not that it was ever cool to listen to his drivel.

    It was around the time I deconverted about 4-5 years ago, I watched a video where he said that a particular director who had been accused of rape, should be let go not because he didn’t do it, but because his movies were so entertaining that it would be a greater mis-service to a larger amount of people to lock him away.

    That was enough for me to realise what he was.

    Didn’t even feel the need to explain why that was an insanely shitty thing to say.

  17. etoo says

    Just another (in this case male) voice supporting you, Greta, on this, 100%. Thank god (just a stupid expression) for people such as yourself, and men like PZ.

  18. Greta Christina says

    “Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them?”

    Apparently, saying “guys, don’t do that.”

    “Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them?”

    Saying “It’s time for a new atheism that includes intersectional concerns like anti-racism, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Let’s call it Atheism Plus.”

    screechymonkey @ #3 & Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges @ #10: I just died a little. But yes. This. So much this.

  19. says

    Recently I called out a guy on Twitter for making misogynist comments. I said something like “Not cool, dude.” His reply; “I will tear you limb from limb as I burn your house and make you watch your siblings melt to death.” What the hell is wrong with people?

  20. says

    oolon, you’re right. Mental illness is neither an explanation nor an excuse. Whatever the reason, he is doing harm, and we have to take the necessary steps to separate him from us. But if he is mentally ill, he needs to be helped before his behavior escalates. I’m reminded of Dennis Markuze AKA Dave Mabus. He escalated to the point that he was showing up at conferences and police intervention was required. If Amazing Atheist is mentally ill, he needs to be helped before he starts to act out his rants.

  21. Greta Christina says

    If he is mentally ill we should try to help him get help, but our overall cause is too important to be sabatoged by his kind of vitriolic hatred.

    Brian Walsh @ #13: Please don’t do that. The idea that hateful and vile people must be mentally ill gets trotted out a lot (it did with the Elliot Rodger shooting), and it’s very problematic. It diminishes responsibility for hateful and vile behavior. It marginalizes people who are mentally ill, perpetuating the idea that we’re dangerous and/or evil. And it disproportionately gets used to protect white people. (As has been pointed out many times by many people: When a white person shoots a bunch of people, they’re mentally ill. When a black person does it, they’re a thug. When a brown person does it, they’re a terrorist.) Please don’t do it. Thanks.

  22. says

    I’m completely with you on this one Greta. I can’t blame Hemant for not knowing – I’d never heard of this guy either and I still haven’t seen any of his videos – but now that we do, I agree that this guy is a paradigmatic example of what we shouldn’t tolerate in our community.

  23. Dr Xenolan says

    I stopped watching the “Amazing Atheist” once I realized he was basically a colossal dick. He consistently attacks easy targets and seems more interested in thinking up creative insults than rational responses. I haven’t seen the videos where he threatens rape or read his books, but I can tell you that if I were one of the people he has threatened in this manner, I would press charges.

    Now I know how most Christians feel about the Westboro Baptist Church.

  24. kompani says

    In response to PZ Myers statement;

    “He has over 580,000 subscribers — half a million people want to see that kind of atheism.”

    I wonder how many Germans read Mein Kampf and how many around the world have read it since 1945. The number of ‘followers’ or readers does not make a thing ‘good’.

  25. says

    You know, a few months ago I might have just written off people like the “Amazing Atheist” as dumbasses, and just ignored them. Which I did.

    But after what happened in Isla Vista, I look at his sort of “casual” misogyny as just plain creepy, offensive, and dangerous.

    I don’t care what the context, unless it is “I hate stuff like this”. There is a line. And it shouldn’t be crossed.

  26. says

    Here’s the line I draw in the sand: anyone saying that any of the above blockquotes is totally excusable because of “free speech”, as though the only thing you can say in defense of it all is “well it’s not illegal”. My movement will have a fucking moral compass, thank you.

  27. says

    Hi Christine and everyone else. I apologize for the bit in my comment where I mentioned mental illness. I don’t usually interact with comment sections and I didn’t realize I had brought up an old, and hated trope. I’ve since done some reading. And, yeah, I fucked that right up. Again, sorry about that. And thank you for letting me know!

  28. says

    The first time I heard of the soi-disant “Amazing Atheist” was when he saw fit, after the suicide of Amanda Todd, to post a picture of himself to his Tumblr, holding up a sign in which he lambasted Todd for getting attention for her death.

    This was my first exposure to him. And it was at that moment that I decided I never wanted anything to do with him or his “fans”.

  29. says

    I thought this fellow’s fifteen minutes should have been over a long time ago. When his youtube channel first went up I sampled a few of his episodes and found nothing really intriguing or engaging so I moved on. Now it seems he found that shock generates clicks and views but none of that should entitle him to be considered a spokesman for atheism. Personally, I find him ignorable, just like many others but it really annoys me that his antics get so much attention when there is so much that is worthy of attention,

    I suppose he crossed the line where I would not have anything to do with him a long time before all the threats and churlish behavior. Everything he does is simple trolling of the meanest kind and that should earn him approbation and even pity if he wasn’t so spectacularly brutish.

  30. says

    Cross-posted from Facebook:

    In many instances, of course we can agree about some things while disagreeing about others, and agreeing when someone says (X) doesn’t automatically mean you agree when they say ( Y ). But when someone crosses a clear line into vile and unacceptable behavior, the community needs to make it clear that this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We need to show that some lines absolutely should not be crossed, and that if people cross them there will be consequences. Supporting someone’s work when they’ve acted abhorrently means there are no consequences.

    And that’s especially true in the case of rape threats, persistent harassment of women, and other misogynist behavior — because in the atheist community, we don’t, unfortunately, currently have a clear ethical standard that this is unacceptable. We have a culture in which it’s depressingly common for people to engage in this behavior, and for other people to defend, rationalize, trivialize, dismiss, or victim-blame it — without consequences, or without serious consequences. Leaders in the movement do this, and remain leaders. We need to change that culture. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we do not tolerate this behavior. Promoting people’s work who engage in this behavior is tolerating it. And tolerating this behavior helps perpetuate it.

    Yes yes yes yes yes.

    The sad thing? (A sad thing.) I was working on it. I was talking to one of those leaders – one of the Leaderest of them – about exactly that, and what a good thing it would be if he did make it unmistakably clear that we do not tolerate this behavior. He said he would consider it; he even asked me to suggest some wording. He even suggested we sign it jointly. He even sent me a revision for my opinion. I said it’s great, let’s do this thing.

    Silence.

    So close. We were so close.

  31. says

    “Men MUST start paying attention to what women are saying. Otherwise this will continue to happen over and over again.”

    The crux of it….default white male humans believe their experience IS default…and so if it doesn’t affect/phase/hurt/impact them…it cannot possibly be taken seriously when there are serious things like chupacabras to debunk…

  32. Carlos Cabanita says

    Risking to look naif, I think the atheist orgs having no other position beyond non god is not sustainable. There must be a common ethical ground, otherwise fiascos like these are everyday events. To begin, let’s agree, perhaps, on the Humanist Declaration. It’s maybe vague, but it permits to ostracize ethically anti-humanist people.

  33. says

    100% agreed, Carlos Cabanita.

    Indeed, it’s hard to see what the point of having an organization is if the only thing you can agree on is that there are no gods.

  34. Edmund Metheny says

    Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them?”

    Quite a few actually, and this guy has crossed a whole bunch of them.

  35. qwints says

    The Amazing Atheist said vile and unforgivable things. Absent evidence of his fully repudiating those remarks, conferences shouldn’t pay him to speak and people shouldn’t reference his work without condemning those remarks. People interacting with him should demand apologies. That doesn’t mean he has to go down the memory hole or that shunning (which has a very specific and unacceptable meaning to me) is the right way to respond.

  36. says

    “Would you support the work of an avowed racist, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that black people are not fully human? Would you support the work of an avowed homophobe, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that LGBT people are mentally ill and should be locked into mental hospitals?

    If you would — why?”

    Because it’s different when it’s about women because reasons. Patriarchal hegemony is too important to squander over the feelings of some ladies.

  37. Beth says

    Given your quotes above from AA, I can understand not wanting to see any of his work. I certainly don’t have any problem with people who choose not link to his videos, review his book, etc. I don’t want to be around people who act like that and will avoid interacting with them when possible.

    My questions and concerns about your post relate to responding to those who do not shun – i.e. people like the Friendly Atheist who shared a video from AA that did not contain any objectionable material. Although I appreciate your making it clear that FA has indicated he was, prior to sharing the creationist parody video, unaware of the behavior of the AA that is deserving of shunning, I think the question remains regarding those who would not shun AA but merely require that he not exhibit the atrocious behavior when they are together.

    In the Amish community (the only one I’m aware of that regularly practices formal shunning), failure to abide by a shunning decree may result in being shunned. Given the many posts on FTB about how the rifts are not deep enough or wide enough and your own statement that neutrality is not acceptable, what are you proposing should be the result when someone does? Are they to be shunned as well? If not, what other sanctions are you thinking of?

    Supporting someone’s work when they’ve acted abhorrently means there are no consequences….Promoting people’s work who engage in this behavior is tolerating it. And tolerating this behavior helps perpetuate it……When you support and promote the work of someone who makes rape threats, you are tolerating rape threats

    I have some disagreement with this idea. Is shunning the only possible consequence for abhorrent behavior? I don’t think that promoting people’s work is necessarily tolerating unacceptable behavior. For starters, the person may be unaware of the unacceptable behavior. Second, linking to a video is not the same as inviting a person to interact with others in the community, so I view it differently than inviting such a person to be speaker at a conference. Third, the quotes you provide above attributed to AA can be considered a form of promotion. (As the saying goes, no publicity is bad publicity.) Your quoting him cannot be construed as an implicit toleration of his behavior. So context is clearly important in determining what constitutes unacceptable promotion of someone’s work.

  38. Al Dente says

    qwints @37

    That doesn’t mean he has to go down the memory hole or that shunning (which has a very specific and unacceptable meaning to me) is the right way to respond.

    If someone utters criminal, bullying threats, then I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I think that shunning The Amazing Atheist is exactly the right way to respond to him.

  39. tonyinbatavia says

    qwints @37, from what I can tell, you think apologies should be demanded, which I assume you believe will have some positive effect. (What are the odds that he would actually apologize, do you think?) Outside of that, you think conferences should ban him and those that reference him should repudiate his remarks. Check.

    But I have to ask: Why the fuck shouldn’t he also go down the memory hole or be shunned?

    What value does he add that should require us to remember him and continue to, what, embrace him as one of our own?

    And how does this process work? Who provides the evidence of his full repudiation? Who vets it? Who approves it? And once that’s all validated and stuff, what happens next? Do we get to call him our own again, bring him back into the fold, celebrate him because he’s still edgy and caustic toward religionists and entertaining to some?

    And why? Why do any of that for someone who cares so little for others, who has shown so little regard for women, and who has shown so little humanity, period? Again, what is the value he adds?

    I vote for a good shunning to the memory hole.

  40. Carlos Cabanita says

    The truth is, atheism and humanism always run together. Atheism without humanism is a joke. See the libertarian variery or the anti-abortion variety. Once humanism is accepted, feminism must be accepted, as it is a corolary of humanism, LGBT rights must be defended, as a corolary of humanism, minorities must have a voice for the same reason. Social justice becomes important in the agenda, because humanismi IS social justice.
    Ah vill say det only vonce.

  41. Al Dente says

    Beth @39

    In the Amish community (the only one I’m aware of that regularly practices formal shunning), failure to abide by a shunning decree may result in being shunned. Given the many posts on FTB about how the rifts are not deep enough or wide enough and your own statement that neutrality is not acceptable, what are you proposing should be the result when someone does? Are they to be shunned as well? If not, what other sanctions are you thinking of?

    Since we’re not Amish, we don’t have formal shunning. For myself, if someone wants to view TAA’s videos and otherwise support him, then I’ll consider the supporter to be someone to be very leery of. It’s a judgement call. A casual viewer of videos is not the same as someone who is obviously promotes TAA (I’m looking at you, Jaclyn Glenn). My relationship with a casual viewer would begin with telling them how and why I’m not a fan of TAA. If that’s disregarded, then I will be polite and formal with the viewer when I have to interact with them but I’d be unlikely to have any interactions. As for Glenn, I don’t watch her videos, I don’t buy her merchandise and if she were giving a talk at an convention I was attending I would walk out before she started talking.

  42. Greta Christina says

    My questions and concerns about your post relate to responding to those who do not shun… Are they to be shunned as well?

    Beth @ #39: You may overlooked the part of this post where I said that shunning is an extreme measure, and a last resort. Given that, do you seriously think I advocate shunning people simply for not shunning the same people I do?

    If other people don’t want to work with these people or promote them, I’m not going to blame them for drawing their lines differently than I do. But you’re asking whether I would advocate community-wide shunning in that case. No, I would not. (If it happens very consistently, and the person continues with a pattern of promoting work of vile people and reacting with hostility or callousness when it’s pointed out, I might re-think that.)

    If not, what other sanctions are you thinking of?

    That’s where we start to get into the territory of “reasonable people can certainly disagree about where that line should be drawn. We can disagree about how bad someone has to be before we’re unwilling to work with them; how consistently bad they have to be; how many times we try to reason with them before we give up.” Some other consequences of behavior that we consider bad but not obviously and extremely over the top: Privately letting them know that we have problems with their behavior, and why. Publicly speaking out about why we have problems with their behavior, and with others who behave this way. Taking modulated steps back from them (i.e., promoting their work less often or less enthusiastically). Personally declining to work with them or promote their work, but not asking others to do so.

    Is shunning the only possible consequence for abhorrent behavior?

    No. There are other consequences, both less severe and more, depending on the level of abhorrence. But I’ll restate the premise of this piece, which you may have missed: If we are never willing to shun anyone, for any reason, it means we are literally willing to tolerate anything.

    I don’t think that promoting people’s work is necessarily tolerating unacceptable behavior. For starters, the person may be unaware of the unacceptable behavior.

    Which is why we’re calling attention to it and letting people know about it.

    If someone is genuinely unaware of the unacceptable behavior, the right thing to do once they do know about it is to say that they didn’t know, that they wouldn’t have promoted the person if they’d known, that they won’t do it again, and that they’re sorry. Just as you would any time you unknowingly cause harm. If that happened every time someone promoted the work of a vile misogynist in our community, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. It’s the fact that so many people don’t respond that way that’s the problem. The problem is people defending, rationalizing, trivializing, dismissing, or victim-blaming when they see it. And, of course, the problem is the distressing number of people in this community who don’t see this as a problem in the first place — or who don’t consider the problem to be serious.

    That being said: Given the tremendous importance to this community of the issue of sexism and misogyny, I do think people have something of an obligation to educate themselves about it, including educating themselves about the major players.

    Second, linking to a video is not the same as inviting a person to interact with others in the community

    ?????

    Of course linking to someone’s video is inviting them to interact with others in the community. Our community exists online as well as in the flesh — more so, in many ways. When you say “Hey, check out this guy’s video,” you’re encouraging others to interact with that person.

    Third, the quotes you provide above attributed to AA can be considered a form of promotion.

    Piffle. By that logic, we can never discuss bad behavior, ever.

    If you really can’t see the clear difference between the publicity of “Hey, check out this guy’s awesome/ funny/ amazing video” and the so-called “publicity” of “What this person has done is vile and unspeakable, they deserve to be shunned,” then I don’t know what else to say to you. And if you do understand, then you’re not arguing in good faith, and I have no reason to continue this conversation.

  43. ButchKitties says

    @Peter Landers, I used to be a regular reader of The Friendly Atheist, but I also quit about a year ago. For a blog with “friendly” in the name, that space has not felt friendly towards women or feminists for a long time. I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard to believe that he can really be that clueless about the depths of misogyny in atheism.

    When people point these issues out to Mehta, even his apologetic responses make me feel like he’s not taking the issue seriously. Before he learned of the rape threats, he still knew that TAA was objectionable, but didn’t seem to care because he wasn’t posting a video he found offensive. Yes, he’s since said that if he’d known about the rape threats (because it took something that blatant to get his attention) he wouldn’t have posted the video… in a comment buried deep in a thread. No edit to the original post where people who didn’t already know that TAA is a misogynist ass might see it, nor did he bother to take the video down. That’s a weaksauce response.

  44. johnthedrunkard says

    Plenty of other groups practice shunning, the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to mind.

    I never heard of this asshole until this week, and I do read Hemant’s blog pretty often. Still and all, he clearly deserves to be struck by lightning. Since I was already shunning him without knowing of his existence, I’ll just continue with the advantage of knowing.

    It’s hard to tell how much ‘friend’ numbers mean out in the world. When Fred Phelps died, I mentioned it at a gathering, including at least 25% GLBT folks.NO ONE RECOGNIZED THE NAME.

    I suggest we coin a term: ‘Atheism-minus’ and use it to describe irrational bigots and moral lepers who circulate in the vicinity of atheist groups.

  45. funknjunk says

    As far as I’m concerned, the “Leaders” of the movement are choosing who they would prefer support their interests and attend their conferences. And that excludes me. That’s fine by me; their prerogative as “Leaders”. But I think, much like the Democrats, who constantly throw the left under the bus to try to chase supposedly “Independent” voters, and even convince some moderates righties to go along (ugh), these guys need to know that they’re actively choosing those half a million AA fans, and however many JG fans whatever kind and quality of supporters they are … OVER me and people of like disposition.

  46. vbrodrig91 says

    I stop interacting with atheists who attack reproductive rights…Hemant Mehta ran two guest posts by anti-choice atheists. One of these forced birthers would even deny women access to chemical contraception. I don’t find this funny and my lady parts are just not on the table for ANY “rational discussion”…I actually see a debate centered around my nether parts as an attack on my dignity as a person. This is the reason why I now read your blog and not Mehtas. Go Greta!

  47. says

    My small and basic comment: any line which has atheists like TJ on the other side of it is one I will not cross.

    I know I shouldn’t be (especially at this late stage), but I’m still amazed (!) at the levels of sheer fucking loathing and hatred (not to mention infuriating stupidity and ignorance) displayed by my fellow non-religionists.

  48. Greta Christina says

    That doesn’t mean he has to go down the memory hole or that shunning (which has a very specific and unacceptable meaning to me) is the right way to respond.

    qwints @ #37: First, shunning does not equal going down the memory hole. Quite the contrary: I want people to know about this behavior, so they know who to shun. And I don’t want the history of how sexism and misogyny in the atheist community got handled. It’s an ugly history, but I want it remembered.

    Second: I will restate the thesis of this piece, which you didn’t really respond to: Shunning is an extreme measure. But if we are never willing to do it, even in the face of the most despicable behavior, we are saying that we will tolerate anything. Literally anything. We are saying that there is no line that cannot be crossed.

    Are you seriously saying that there is no behavior at all that should not result in someone being shunned? If that is what you’re saying — why? And if it’s not what you’re saying — then why does this behavior not cross that line?

  49. Greta Christina says

    Still and all, he clearly deserves to be struck by lightning.

    johnthedrunkard @ #46: Actually, I’m going to ask you — and others — not to say stuff like that here (and I wish people wouldn’t say it anywhere). If someone said anything like “I wish you would die” to me, I would interpret it as a threat, or at least as potentially a threat. Please don’t say things like that to others, no matter how horrible they are. Thanks.

  50. says

    Shunning is an extreme measure, indeed – and TAA is an extremist. An extreme misogynist (a word which does not actually do justice to the depths of his hatred, by the way) and completely unapologetic about it.

    I simply fail to see why anyone would, at this point, be concerned at all about TAA’s goddamned feelings or his human or civil rights or his anything if he were to be ignored by the atheist community at large. People, individually or not, have the right to associate, or not, with anyone they choose for reasons that they choose. Academic debates about the effects or the rightness of shunning TAA do not interest me; he’s decided by his own words that he certainly doesn’t want to share space with people of any gender who don’t think like he does, to the point where he’ll happily, unironically, not-even-in-a-crass-joke-way threaten to rape them.

    TAA has already shunned us by stating explicitly that we’re untermenschen, deserving of the worst contempt and violence he can imagine. Him being shunned in return is not only fair, it’d probably barely make a ripple as far as he’s concerned anyway (might even be considered a badge of honour – this new crop of misogynist atheists seem to revel in being loathed and take it as a sign that they’re onto something). Even if half TAA’s subscribers are dormant accounts or people who never watch his videos, that leaves a quarter million youtubers who approve of his general vileness. They are on THAT side of the line and they can stay there.

  51. says

    Yep, Hemant’s willingness to put my full humanity up for debate on his blog turned me right off. I used to read nearly every post at FA (skipping some of Terry Firma’s libertarian BS), but I’ve only been there maybe twice since I heard about that (I didn’t even go to read those posts, the idea was so nauseating).

  52. annie55 says

    Echoing Tigtog. Just a longtime lurker…but I would not be associated with any of these atheiists in my personal and professional life. I will not be associated with them in any way…ever.

    Damion…for me, the question is…who I would allow in my own home, talking to my children.

    Make your own call, and do not demand of others to make the judgements you must make for yourself.

  53. Kevin Kehres says

    @55: The standard you walk past is the standard that you accept.

    Take the fetid low ground if you feel you must. The rest of us will breathe cleaner air.

  54. Donnie says

    I nominate Damion for shunning. Oh wait, I already shun him for being an immense fuckwit for his inability to provide any useful or insightful commentary. Well, he did take that group photo in front of an elevator sign, and then deny that it “meant anything” while wearing a slymepitters shirt at a conference. However, your mileage may vary regarding his fuckwit worthiness. For me, I just shun him and say, “tool” whenever he posts anything.

  55. Donnie says

    Surly TJ isn’t the only standard walked past

    Standard (s)…. you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Personally, I will keep using the standards espoused by Greta and company. With their standards, Atheism will be much better off in the long run.

    However, your personal mileage will vary.

  56. annie55 says

    Every cause of note has its lunatic fringe, eccentric fringe, and purist fringe, Those of us just muddling through must make choices….and I’m good with “eccentric.”

    Raw assholery or unrelenting pedantry…not so much. Hence FTB.

  57. Greta Christina says

    I can’t believe I hadn’t banned Damion Reinhardt before. Banned. Bye.

  58. Greta Christina says

    Oh, and for the record, can I just say: This is what I’m talking about. People who look at an atheist making brutal, graphic rape threats, and look at the notion that the atheist community ought not to accept them, and think the latter is the problem and not the former. This. Right there at #55.

  59. Great American Satan says

    Take note of where Damion is coming from before interacting with him. That is all.

  60. Great American Satan says

    Look, another pitboy begging for a ban. It is the only way they can feel loved, I guess?

  61. says

    1. Sweet Jeebus, is no one else besides Amazing Atheist saying clever things about Creationists such that we must overlook the other disgusting things he says and continue to give him a platform? I can think of two public atheists right off the top of my head who are full of pithy insights about God-botherers who also manage to not be offensive, bigoted dicks: Greta Christina and PZ Myers.

    2. As to the “oh but what if someone just innocently links to him!” argument: Really? You’re on the internet already and you don’t google the person to see what other things they might have said before linking to them? If not, I’d suggest making that a regular practice. Chances are you’ll find someone else who has said that thing the bigoted dick said who is not also a bigoted dick.

  62. thetalkingstove says

    Is that the best response the Pit types have? Insinuating that not accepting certain behaviour means…what, we become fascists, or something?

    Useless.

  63. Al Dente says

    donnagratehouse @72

    Sweet Jeebus, is no one else besides Amazing Atheist saying clever things about Creationists such that we must overlook the other disgusting things he says and continue to give him a platform?

    If you want to watch videos debunking creationism I recommend AronRa. He’s intelligent, insightful, gives evidence to support his claims, and has a voice I enjoy listening to.

  64. Philip Rose says

    Oh dear. People like the Amazing Atheist are, to put it bluntly, attention-seekers, and, to a certain extent, this blog post has fallen into the trap, as seen in one comment – ‘I had never heard of him until now’. He appeals to a certain audience – proclaiming he is an atheist in Europe would get him no attention at all, yet in North America, with all its fundamentalists, he is likely to create a following.
    YouTube channels get paid. So he needs traffic. And what better way to gain traffic than to cause outrage? Every time something is said about rape, a few hundred more people will pay attention. But the ridiculous thing is that the complainers don’t realise that they are doing him a favour and so, as is shown here, he gains more and more attention, almost exponentially.
    Try it. Say something sensible and nobody comes to a blog or channel. Mention some controversy and people arrive. You’re caught in a trap – urge a shunning, and more people get interested. It’s the way the Internet works.
    You asked if there is any line to cross. Not on the interwebz there ain’t.
    I may allow myself a laugh though. ‘Shunning’ is a very religious thing to do, the Amish and the JWs being just a few who do it, along with most cults. Is atheism just becoming a religion without a God?
    ‘What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (Corinthians).

  65. says

    ‘Shunning’ is a very religious thing to do, the Amish and the JWs being just a few who do it, along with most cults. Is atheism just becoming a religion without a God?

    Surely you don’t think that the Christians invented shunning? Roman law forbade “fire and water” to political exiles who were nonetheless unhindered in living luxurious lives beyond the shores of Italy, and the original Athenian ostracism was purely political – a command to be gone from the city (and thus from the political process of the polis) for ten years.

    Shunning has always been political, and thus co-opted by religions as part of their internecine conflicts. It’s not that human philosophical conflict is a religious artefact, it’s that religious conflicts are institutional reflections of commonplace human interactions.

  66. mickll says

    I don’t get how he got half a million subscribers, how?

    Most of what he does is shout at the camera, most of the stuff he shouts is inane bullshit and some of it is pointlessly vicious.

    At least Thunderf00t made some clever takedowns of creationism before he flipped and decided a worldwide conspiracy of feminists was out to get him. But why oh why the flippin’ ‘eck does a talentless loudmouthed douche like the Amazingly Atrocious Arsehole have half a million subscribers?

  67. HappyNat says

    Philip @75

    So when someone “within” our “community” says abhorrent things we should remain silent? Sure now more people are aware of TAA, but for any decent person now aware of him they will make sure to stay far far away from him. If any person wasn’t aware of him and actually wants to follow him after reading the above, they are free to do so, but they can fuck right off as far as I’m concerned. The saying that “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is clearly false.

    As far as judging, I will judge those in, out, on, and under the church for the things they say and do, as well as who they support. Judgment and shunning are not religious, they are societal. It’s how we decide what our community will look like and what we will stand for. It a coworkers is spouting racist bullshit, I’d hope you would shun them, even if shun isn’t the word you would choose.

  68. carlie says

    Philip – nope. The whole “ha ha, he only wants attention and you gave it to him” thing is a bucket full of holes. Have you ever been told “ignore the bully and he’ll stop”? Did it ever work? No, it didn’t. Never has, never will.

  69. Onamission5 says

    So Philip’s solution to the promotion of people who do and say abhorrent things is for those opposed to abhorrent things to shut the fuck up.

    Because there is no problem, however large or small, throughout the course of human history that hasn’t been solved by the injured parties remaining silent, thereby allowing the status quo to thrive.

    Oh wait.

  70. says

    Did you know that there were active women’s groups who fought against the British rule in Ireland? With weapons? And what did they get? Magdalene Laundaries, Miss X and Savita Halappanavar.
    Why do I mention this historical trivia? Because for me it’s a lesson: If I align myself with people who only agree with me on the fact that the old order must be torn down, but not on how a new society must look like, I will end up in a worse place than the one I started out from.
    This does not mean that we must agree on everything, but a few things are non-negotiable: My bodily autonomy, my human dignity. And because I’m not playing divide and coquer, this goes for the bodily autonomy and human dignity of other people as well. Just because I can personally ignore racism and LGBTQ rights because I’m straight white and cis doesn’t mean I’m going to take the stance that those issues can be thrown under the bus because of the “greater good”.
    Which seems to be the very thing many men, and they are predominantly men, who claim that we can still work together with these people on common issues seem to take: “Misogyny doesn’t affect me, therefore it can be ignored for a moment because somebody put a nativity display on public land*”
    I have no reason to believe that the world TJ would build would be any better than the one I currently live in. Heck, there’s little evidence that the world Richard Dawkins would build would be much better.
    Everybody who says that we should stop being so divisive has to answer this question:
    Why should I sacrifice my time, work and money in order to help people who in return shit on me?

    As for shunning: I don’t think the word is appropriate here. We cannot shun those people in a meaningful way. They are not cut off from human contact, they can go on through their normal lives without people changing the side of the street (though in TJ’s case that might be appropriate. Thank plate tectonics for the Atlantic). All we can do is to say that we choose not to associate with them and maybe even not associate with people who happily promote them. In most cases this actually means that we are leaving, since we’re usually the minority. So, the demand not to do this is actually people demanding that we stay and be treated like shit for the sake of somebody/something else. Nope, nobody’s entitled to my time and presence**

    *not that this isn’t an important issue, but if I have to choose between a world with free abortion access and all nativity displays and one with the staus quo and no nativity displays I’m going to build mangers

    **’xcept for my kids. So if you didn’t come out of my vagina, just leave me alone.

  71. Al Dente says

    Philip Rose @75

    YouTube channels get paid. So he needs traffic. And what better way to gain traffic than to cause outrage? Every time something is said about rape, a few hundred more people will pay attention. But the ridiculous thing is that the complainers don’t realise that they are doing him a favour and so, as is shown here, he gains more and more attention, almost exponentially.

    How many people reading this thread are going to rush over to TAA’s channel and subscribe to him? If your answer is greater than zero then evidence is seriously needed to support your claim.

    This thread is warning people like you who may not be aware of TAA that he’s a misogynist, a rape apologist, and a thoroughly disgusting person. Sure he’s getting attention, but not attention that will do him any good.

    But your concern is noted.

  72. qwints says

    Shunning is an extreme measure. But if we are never willing to do it, even in the face of the most despicable behavior, we are saying that we will tolerate anything. Literally anything. We are saying that there is no line that cannot be crossed.

    Replace shunning with any behavior that you find morally unacceptable (e.g. killing) and you’ll see why I disagree with this thesis. Ruling out one method of punishment or criticism doesn’t mean ruling out others.

    Are you seriously saying that there is no behavior at all that should not result in someone being shunned? If that is what you’re saying — why?

    Yes. Cutting someone off from all social contact is wrong and is a cruel form of punishment which has had very negative effects on people in a number of different contexts. For me, it brings up painful memories of family members who refuse to acknowledge my existence because of my atheism.

    Saying that I’m against shunning doesn’t mean I’m for including. Boycotts of work and bans from certain spaces are fine. No one is required to forgive someone who says something as vile as TAA has or to interact with them. But I have a fundamental problem with ” deliberately pushing someone out of a community” and with the idea that, unless I am willing to shun someone, then I am tolerating their comments even if my only interactions with that person are critical.

  73. says

    qwints:

    That doesn’t mean he has to go down the memory hole or that shunning (which has a very specific and unacceptable meaning to me) is the right way to respond.

    I disagree. I think TAA should rightfully be shunned. I wish that the half a million followers he had understood that his words are vile misogynistic statements, and decided to unsubscribe. That would be shunning him. He deserves it.

  74. says

    qwints

    Replace shunning with any behavior that you find morally unacceptable (e.g. killing) and you’ll see why I disagree with this thesis. Ruling out one method of punishment or criticism doesn’t mean ruling out others.

    The thing is, we’re not talking about punishment. We’re talking about making spaces safe and inclusive.
    Just like my obligation not to kill sbdy vanishes the moment they try to kill me. If you demand that we don’t cut abusers off, you demand that abuser get access to victims because if they didn’t it would harm the abuser.
    Tell you something, I’m sick and tired of that shit.

  75. says

    brive1987:
    There is no canonical list. Damion asked a really stupid question. Greta is not the leader of the atheist movement, nor has she attempted to present herself as such. She is asking people to decide for themselves if there should ever be a line drawn, and where that line is. That’s up to each individual to decide for themselves. She has also offered reasons why someone like TAA ought to be shunned. These reasons are well thought out and sourced. They show TAA to be a misogynistic guy. She is not calling for every atheist in the world to shun him, she’s asking people to think about what, if any, line exists at which point you *would* shun someone like him.
    Are you incapable of introspection?

  76. coelsblog says

    Dear Greta,

    Is there any line you think should not be crossed?

    Yes there is such a line, and it is *well* *short* of those utterly repugnant quotes by “The Amazing Atheist”, and yes, shunning is the appropriate response.

  77. qwints says

    Giliell

    If you demand that we don’t cut abusers off, you demand that abuser get access to victims because if they didn’t it would harm the abuser.

    No, that doesn’t follow. There’s space between calling for everyone in a community to cease interacting at all with someone (i.e. shunning) and forcible inclusion. TAA should be banned from safe spaces, people should boycott his work, and no organization should give him a leadership position.

    @Tony, I’ve got zero problem with you or anyone else doing that. As Giliell said, no one has the obligation to interact socially with someone they don’t wish to, much less someone who’s abusive or a threat. But shunning has other clear meanings besides the one you cite, and when Greta Christian talks about “deliberately pushing someone out of a community,” it’s clear she’s talking more about shunning as it’s used in the context of religious communities than about individuals avoiding abusive people.

  78. says

    qwints

    TAA should be banned from safe spaces, people should boycott his work, and no organization should give him a leadership position.

    And the noticable difference between that and shunning is?
    Btw, you’re advocating for clearly labelled unsafe spaces. Are you aware of that? Every space in which you allow abusers becomes an unsafe space. It means that people who have been victimised and who are likely targets have to stay away. It means that you ARE excluding them. Tell me, what horrible crime have those people commited to deserve that?

  79. says

    Qwints is either not thinking about it, or actively trying to ignore the basic fact that if you don’t exclude abusers and bigots from your space, you are by default excluding their targets.

    It’s a binary choice, Qwints. I know which one I prefer.

  80. universalanimosity says

    Newton was an asshole and an arrogant prick, an alchemist, and an author of a “rape manual”, so objects don’t actually have inertia and gravitational forces are actually proportional to the inverse cube of the distance between bodies. Besides, mechanics is formulated in terms of masculine rigid bodies and can’t properly address fluid mechanics due to its internal misogyny. Also, Laplace worked under the imperialist colonialist Napolean.

    I’ve heard some people say Einstein was a misogynist. Assuming that’s true, time and space can’t be relative and they certainly can’t have any curvature. Also, don’t forget that E = mc^2 is a “sexed” equation because it privileges the speed of light.

    For any people worried that denying the relativity of space vindicates Newton and thus makes me seem inconsistent, don’t worry. Logic is an invention of Aristotle, a raging misogynist, so it can be safely ignored.

    Electromagnetisms founders seem okay so far, but the name for electricity does come from Greek, so they may have hated women after all.

    Kelvin was an elitist and probably a racist so thermodynamics is on shaky ground. Also, Boltzmann committed suicide, so you can’t necessarily trust statistical mechanics either, unless Gibbs is able to save it.

    Heisenberg was a Nazi, therefore it is possible to simultaneously measure non-commuting observables, and matrices have no place in quantum mechanics.

    Feynman was a womanizer and his adviser, Dirac, was an anti-social recluse, therefore path integrals are not a legitimate technique. Quantum electrodynamics is still okay, because even though Dyson is a Christian and Feynman a womanizer, I can’t find any dirt on Schwinger or Tomonaga.

    Turing was a male homosexual, and we all know the documented evidence of gay male privilege, as well as gay male misogyny. The Redstockings, some of the most important early feminists, clearly demonstrated that male homosexuality is a pretend form of sexual practice designed to marginalize, hate, or avoid women. Its entire basis is the hatred of women. We can see this in the permissiveness and even celebration of homoeroticism in ancient Greece, one of the most misogynistic cultures of all time. You’re all just lucky that Ada Lovelace existed, although she was an aristocrat, so I’m not sure we can really use computers. After all, computers clearly inherited her classist origins, as poor people have less access to computers and the internet. Until computers and internet access are free to all, they can’t shake off their intrinsically anti-proletariat character.

    Weinberg is an unabashed supporter of Israel and Salam was a hypocritical Muslim, so electroweak unification is wrong, despite experimental confirmation.

    A lot of Indians work on string theory, and most of them are part of the Brahman caste, which is a superior caste that has oppressed the lower classes for thousands of years and still does today. A lot of the other important work on strings comes from American Jews, who are mostly Ashkenazim and tend to look down on and marginalize the Sephardim and Mizrahim. They also mostly support Israel, which is an evil place, so string theory is clearly wrong.

    Krauss has been accused of a lot of sexual harassment so all of modern cosmology is out the window.

    I’ve just stuck mostly to physics, and even there I’ve only scratched the surface. Need I bring up the personal failures of historically important mathematicians, philosophers, chemists, biologists, doctors, etc.? I could easily do so. If we’re going to embrace the genetic fallacy, why not go all the way?

  81. universalanimosity says

    It seems I forgot an apostrophe. Good thing English grammar is a classist, hierarchical structure designed to oppress racial and economic underclasses by marginalizing their vernacular.

  82. annie55 says

    Hmmmm.

    I’m not following here. You appear to be comparing the scientific contributions of possible jerks to the standards of conduct one would hope to maintain in a broad community.

    I’m not making the connection.

  83. Philip Rose says

    k. Let’s explain the world of the interwebz a bit more, as there seems to be slight criticism of me saying that this article gives him attention.
    The very act of attacking him and shunning him gives him exactly what he wants – it’s simply troll behaviour. His name will appear in Google searches etc., and people will pop over to have a peek at his channel. btw – it’s not subscribers who bring in revenue, it’s viewers and commenters, so if you go there and have a row, it earns him money.
    He has proven that shocking language gets attention. Well done for that. So what are you gonna do? I’ve seen a couple of his vids – thousands of views and hundreds of arguments. Brilliant marketing by him. And it’s well known that telling someone off on the Internet makes them stop. lol.
    Sooo….shun him? ‘This thread is warning people like you who may not be aware of TAA that he’s a misogynist’. Sooooo…..I go and check on someone I never knew existed.
    ‘So Philip’s solution to the promotion of people who do and say abhorrent things is for those opposed to abhorrent things to shut the fuck up. ‘ Basically, yes. In this instance, raising a hullabaloo is what this guy wants – something you appear not to understand. It’s just a weird online fact – the more anti stuff you express, the more shit you give, the more his power grows! Every time you slag him off, another nutter will wade in to argue – more attention.
    ‘Philip – nope. The whole “ha ha, he only wants attention and you gave it to him” thing is a bucket full of holes. Have you ever been told “ignore the bully and he’ll stop”? Did it ever work? No, it didn’t. Never has, never will’
    See above. Get it through your head – this ain’t real life! Think of it this way: you go out there and bully him back, or whatever you do, and he GAINS from it, financially in that his channels get more traffic, and mentally because he’s succeeded in yanking your chain. Really – just try to grasp that. He’s basically a troll, and surely everyone knows Rule 1 about trolls: don’t feed them!
    btw if you want to see some truly decent trolling just Google my name alongside ‘Amanda’. I need some attention!!!!

  84. Greta Christina says

    qwints @ #89 (and similarly @ #83):

    TAA should be banned from safe spaces, people should boycott his work, and no organization should give him a leadership position.

    and @ #37:

    conferences shouldn’t pay him to speak and people shouldn’t reference his work without condemning those remarks. People interacting with him should demand apologies.

    What else do you think we mean when we talk about shunning?

    I think moderated online forums should block him (and for the record, I think all online forums should be moderated), and I think conferences and in-person groups should ban him, not just from speaking, but from attending. Isn’t that what you mean by “banned from safe spaces”? I think people should stop following his YouTube channel, and should not link to his videos, upvote them, or otherwise promote them. Isn’t that what you mean by “boycott his work”? And I definitely think that people should not respond to his rape threats with some equivalent of, “Well, I don’t agree with everything he says, but…” Isn’t that what you mean by “I think that when people interacting with him should demand apologies”? (And what do you want people to do when they demand apologies and he declines? Just keep demanding?)

    What — specifically — do you imagine we’re recommending here that you disapprove of?

    I get that shunning is an extreme response, and I get that it’s upsetting for people who have experiences religious shunning. This is why I said it was a last resort. But I’ll ask again: What, specifically, do you imagine we’re recommending that you disapprove of?

    As SallyStrange and Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- others have pointed out: This is not about punishment — except insofar as “punishment’ means “demonstrating that actions have consequences.” This is about making our spaces safe for women. And this is about having basic ethical values, and being willing to stand by them.

    Are you really and truly saying that the atheist community as a whole, or that any subset of the atheist community, has a moral obligation to include someone who repeatedly trivializes rape and makes graphic, brutal rape threats? Do you really think we have a moral obligation to include someone, no matter what terrible things they have done and unapologetically continue to do, for as long as they want? Do you really not see the effect that has on women who want to be part of this community, or who want to be part of any subset of this community? Do you really think atheist women should have to check first to see if a space they want to take part in has a “People who make rape threats aren’t excluded” policy? Do you really think that “People who make rape threats are not welcome” should not be a community-wide standard?

  85. Greta Christina says

    Look, another pitboy begging for a ban. It is the only way they can feel loved, I guess?

    Great American Satan @ #71: Part of my comment policy is that if people barely tread the line of acceptable behavior here, but say or do vile things elsewhere, I’ll ban them. If you know if someone commenting here who has said or done vile things elsewhere, please let me know.

  86. annie55 says

    My response is that folks like me, who have lurked silently for years, need to hear and read the public repudiation of people like TAA.

    We need this in order to find our own voices without fear of the kind of horrific treatment towards others we have witnessed to date. We need this to feel safe coming out of the “closet.” What we do NOT need is to be associated in ANY way with the attitudes and behaviors of Slyme-pitters and reprehensible you-tubers, particularly in the minds of friends, family and colleagues.

  87. tonyinbatavia says

    Nice list, universalanimosity @93. Most impressive. It really makes me reconsider my general distaste for tolerating people like TAA in our community.

    Wait. No it doesn’t.

    All those you cited contributed big, wondrous, incredible things, but that doesn’t mean we need to have anything to do with them. We can take their professional contributions — which means none of those things are out the window, incidentally — without accepting them into our social spaces.

    But I am trying to figure out your math. Being smart = the right to be an asshole? Or, being smart = an inability to treat other humans well? Or, being an asshole = great contributions? In the tent I want to inhabit, none of those add up.

    Meanwhile, I’m curious: What do/will we lose if we decide not to tolerate TAA’s heinousness? Your answer won’t change my desire to purge the community of the likes of him — but I am genuinely curious about what you believe the net loss to science or society would be.

  88. Greta Christina says

    I was going to let universalanimosity (#93) stay for a while. But then he wrote this: @ #94

    It seems I forgot an apostrophe. Good thing English grammar is a classist, hierarchical structure designed to oppress racial and economic underclasses by marginalizing their vernacular.

    and it became clear that they’re not engaging in a good-faith disagreement, but instead are trolling. They’ve been put into comment moderation: future comments will have to be approved before they go onto the blog.

  89. Greta Christina says

    The very act of attacking him and shunning him gives him exactly what he wants – it’s simply troll behaviour.

    Philip Rose @ #96: I urge you, before you ever say another word about how we shouldn’t feed the trolls, to watch this short video (three and a half minutes) by Jay Smooth, brilliantly dismantling the entire “don’t feed the trolls” notion.

    The tl;dr: People like The Amazing Atheist, thunderfoot, the SlymePit, and the like are not simply drive-by trolls seeking attention. They are engaged in a sustained, systematic, organized, years-long campaign to drive feminist women and other social justice advocates off the Internet. And when you tell people to just ignore racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. trolls, you’re basically saying that people should stay silent in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. How well has that worked out? How well has silence ever worked as a method of resistance?

    As for this:

    Get it through your head – this ain’t real life!

    Get it through your head — this is real life. This is human interaction. The Internet is where people socialize, get news, get emotional support, do charitable fundraising, do political organizing. (This is uniquely true for atheists in parts of the world where they have to stay closeted and there is no in-the-flesh atheist community.) What on earth makes you think the Internet isn’t real? What makes you think that human interaction on the Internet doesn’t count, that it doesn’t have an affect on people? What makes you think that harassment and threats on the Internet don’t take an emotional and psychological toll, just because they’re communicated via pixels?

    And for many of us, the Internet is our workplace. We have to be on the Internet to do our jobs. Are you seriously saying that we should not speak out about rape threats and other harassment in our workplace, because you think it feeds the trolls?

  90. universalanimosity says

    I don’t give a shit about TAA, but the genetic fallacy is either acceptable or it isn’t. There’s no cutoff where someone’s contributions are important enough that we can ignore our logic. That’s special pleading. Either everything somebody does becomes tainted by their badness, or none of it does and it all must be evaluated on its own merit. The middle is excluded. My incredibly sarcastic and condescending post was an attempt to mock the sort of magical thinking inherent in the genetic fallacy that I see being put forward here. Feel free to exclude someone you don’t like. Feel free to disregard anything that comes from them as if it were infected, though I will mock such superstitious behavior. But don’t you dare be inconsistent.

  91. Greta Christina says

    I don’t give a shit about TAA, but the genetic fallacy is either acceptable or it isn’t.

    universalanimosity @ #104: You’re not paying attention. This isn’t about rejecting the idea because we don’t like the person. We’re not rejecting the idea of criticizing religion because TAA supports it. But there are approximately 897,756,644 atheist YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters, writers, interpretive dancers, and more who criticize religion. We can support their work. It’s not like TAA has written the single definitive takedown of creationism that will persuade everyone who sees it of the rightness of evolution.

    It’s not about rejecting the idea. It’s about shunning the person. It’s about making it clear that we, as a community, do not tolerate certain things — including rape threats.

    And if you seriously don’t give a shit about TAA — why not? He’s an atheist YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of followers, who has mockingly trivialized rape and made brutal, graphic rape threats. Why do you not care about that?

    As for this:

    My incredibly sarcastic and condescending post

    Please read my comment policy. Deliberate condescension is not acceptable here, and I expect people to argue in good faith. Please respect my comment policy, or leave this blog. Thank you.

  92. qwints says

    What — specifically — do you imagine we’re recommending here that you disapprove of?

    That people should shun (i.e. intentionally cut off all interactions with) people who say or do sufficiently reprehensible things. They shouldn’t talk to them. They shouldn’t answer phone if they call or respond to a letter or e-mail from them. They should pretend not to see them if they’re in the same room together.

    Discussion of cutting someone off entirely brings up very painful feelings for me, and I realize I’m focusing on my objection to the punishment (negative consequences if you prefer) rather than the severity of the crime. I think I’m really bothered by the similarity of the idea that not shunning someone is endorsing all of their behavior to similar things that were said in my family and religious context.

  93. Al Dente says

    universalanimosity,

    You have a misunderstanding of the genetic fallacy. The Niakor Project defines the fallacy:

    A Genetic Fallacy is a line of “reasoning” in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    The origin of a claim or thing is presented.
    The claim is true(or false) or the thing is supported (or discredited).

    Nobody here is arguing that atheism is wrong or creationism is correct because TAA argues to the contrary. I’ll remain an atheist regardless if TAA is one or not. What we are arguing is that he should be publicly shunned because of his misogyny and rape threats.

  94. Al Dente says

    qwints @106

    Discussion of cutting someone off entirely brings up very painful feelings for me, and I realize I’m focusing on my objection to the punishment (negative consequences if you prefer) rather than the severity of the crime. I think I’m really bothered by the similarity of the idea that not shunning someone is endorsing all of their behavior to similar things that were said in my family and religious context.

    I’m sorry that you suffered from shunning. However there is a major difference between you and TAA. You are a private person. None of us know anything about you except what you’ve posted here. TAA is a public person who uses his public platform to express hateful ideas and make threats. This behavior should not be tolerated. The only things we can do to express our dislike for TAA’s behavior are to (a) publicly denounce that behavior and (b) refuse to have anything to do with him, i.e. shun him.

    If you have another suggestion as to how we should treat TAA then please tell us what it is. But ignoring him in hopes he’ll go away is not going to work. If your toilet overflows then ignoring the mess will not clean it up.

  95. tonyinbatavia says

    Uh, universalanimosity @104, how specifically is E=mc^2 tainted in any way by Einstein’s misogyny? I accept the contributions of his work at the same time that I don’t tolerate his behavioral defects. The former is a merit; the latter is a flaw. There’s no magical thinking, there’s no ignoring logic, and there’s no superstition involved.

    There’s no cutoff where someone’s contributions are important enough that we can ignore our logic should tolerate their heinousness towards others.

    Fixed that for you.

  96. A Hermit says

    Giliell, professional cynic @81

    If I align myself with people who only agree with me on the fact that the old order must be torn down, but not on how a new society must look like, I will end up in a worse place than the one I started out from.

    This does not mean that we must agree on everything, but a few things are non-negotiable: My bodily autonomy, my human dignity.

    And because I’m not playing divide and conquer, this goes for the bodily autonomy and human dignity of other people as well. Just because I can personally ignore racism and LGBTQ rights because I’m straight white and cis doesn’t mean I’m going to take the stance that those issues can be thrown under the bus because of the “greater good”.

    THIS^^^^ A million times.

  97. A. Noyd says

    universalanimosity (#104)

    My incredibly sarcastic and condescending post was an attempt to mock the sort of magical thinking inherent in the genetic fallacy that I see being put forward here.

    Nobody’s putting forward anything of the sort. You might as well be sarcastically and condescendingly mocking Greta and her commenters for advocating for the use of live ferrets for declogging drains.

  98. A. Noyd says

    qwints (#106)

    Discussion of cutting someone off entirely…

    Ask yourself: Cutting someone off entirely from what?

    People here are talking about cutting abusive assholes off from the atheist/skepticism movement. It’s not like that’s even going to happen, but it could at least happen for a larger segment of the atheist/skepticism movement. And it has to for any segment that doesn’t want to drive away the targets of the assholes’ abuse. There is no happy medium where both the abusers and their targets both stick around.

    I think I’m really bothered by the similarity of the idea that not shunning someone is endorsing all of their behavior to similar things that were said in my family and religious context.

    Because not tolerating bigotry is the same as not tolerating challenges to religious authority? See, the context matters. It matters a lot.

  99. Al Dente says

    A. Noyd @112

    Because not tolerating bigotry is the same as not tolerating challenges to religious authority? See, the context matters. It matters a lot.

    Thank you, that was the concept I missed when writing @108.

  100. Onamission5 says

    Philip @96, what you are advocating for is that atrocious behavior go unchallenged, and the targets of that behavior never speak to what they are being put through, never name the actors. You are advocating a culture of “shut up and take it.”

    In what way does that solve the problem of atrocious behavior?

  101. says

    qwints:

    What — specifically — do you imagine we’re recommending here that you disapprove of?

    That people should shun (i.e. intentionally cut off all interactions with) people who say or do sufficiently reprehensible things. They shouldn’t talk to them. They shouldn’t answer phone if they call or respond to a letter or e-mail from them. They should pretend not to see them if they’re in the same room together.

    You appear to be reacting to these recommendations as if they were being given to the only social group that TAA belongs to, and that being shunned by a subset of atheist activists is going to mean that his close friends in his local community are suddenly going to exclude him from their daily lives. What we are talking about is the public response to someone who has pushed themselves forward as a public figure.

    Why would you expect that Kincaid has a relationship with his (online) audience such that he is ever going to confront face to face shunning in private situations from anybody with whom he has previously had a close personal friendship? We are talking about shunning his activist activities online which is where they happen. All that means is that some people in the audience that Kincaid and others have built are going to decide to leave the forums where they are holding forth, and will decline to promote his online productions.

    I’m sad for anybody who has experienced face-to-face ostracism and shaming from their family and friends who have been their primary social support group. But that is not what we as a very loose collective of people who share a philosophical and activist interest are talking about when we talk about shunning a public figure who has brought our shared interest into disrepute. All we are talking about is taking our role as an audience elsewhere.

  102. says

    If we’re going to embrace the genetic fallacy, why not go all the way?

    I did not see anybody here who embraced it (but maybe you can substantiate your allegation).

    Saying:
    “X is an asshole because of Y behaviour therefore I choose not to promote his videos/posts/podcasts about an unrelated Z as I can find non assholes who make the same points as in Z.”

    Is different than saying:
    “The idea in Z came from person X who is an asshole because of behaviour Y therefore Z is wrong.”

    The latter is the genetic fallacy, the former cannot be as it does not say anything about whether Z is correct or not.

  103. Greta Christina says

    Note to any commenters who care: universalanimosity has posted a couple more comments, but they are in violation of my comment policy, and I am not allowing them to go through.

  104. Greta Christina says

    What — specifically — do you imagine we’re recommending here that you disapprove of?

    That people should shun (i.e. intentionally cut off all interactions with) people who say or do sufficiently reprehensible things. They shouldn’t talk to them. They shouldn’t answer phone if they call or respond to a letter or e-mail from them. They should pretend not to see them if they’re in the same room together.

    qwints @ #106: Are you saying that people in the atheist community are ethically obligated to talk to, take phone calls from, answers letters or emails from, and engage when they’re in the same room with, people who make brutal, graphic rape threats?

    I understand that shunning is a painful issue for many people, and I agree that religious shunning is reprehensible. I don’t know how many times I have to say “this is a last resort.” Maybe I need to flesh that out more: This is not a step to be taken lightly. This is not a step to be taken frequently. This is not a step to be taken without trying more moderate alternatives first. And this is not a step to be taken without excellent reason. But you haven’t engaged in any real way with the question of how we’re supposed to include people into our communities who make rape threats, without making rape victims or potential rape victims feel excluded and unsafe. As Al Dente said @ #108, you haven’t offered us any alternative.

  105. hburrey says

    Anyone who knows anything about TJ, the amazing atheist, should know by now that this is not a secret. He has addressed these quotes and the convesation they took place in several times and people use it to attack him constantly. To answer your question, I don’t think this is an occaision to draw lines, I really don’t think TJ did anything wrong. You guys are talking about shunning and whatever forms of social punishment but do any if you think about the context in which these words took place? Why don’t you look up any of the several times this has been talked about and get some perspective before you jump to conclusions and talk about “shunning” someone from the internet. This is just ridiculous. My question for you is: where do you draw the line? How long can and will you attack someone for one mistake, one argument that got out of hand and (conveniently) you won’t even look at the other side of. Enough. Why won’t anyone address real problems like the lines feminists (like the ones involved) cross, giving feminism a bad name.

  106. says

    So wait, The Amazing Atheist raped someone or was about to rape someone?
    I must have misread the context. I thought he was just portraying the boisterous and offensive character he always plays when addressing people he finds stupid.

  107. says

    Hooray for taking things out of context! Hooray for suggesting an entire society turn their back on a fellow because that person said something mean even though they obviously have no intention of doing those means things! Hooray for treating victims like children and trying to censor anything that may cause them the slightest discomfort! Hooray for taking something we all find offensive and broadening the spectrum wide enough to fight anything at all related it with politically-correct neo-puritanical rigor! Hooray for not understanding that comedy sometimes means taking those things that frighten us and turning it into a joke!
    Thank you for taking the time to talk about The Amazing Atheist instead of doing something that might actually lead to social change. I’ve read enough of these articles to know that the change your trying to lead us towards is a religion in it’s own right.

  108. mickll says

    “I thought he was just portraying the boisterous and offensive character he always plays when addressing people he finds stupid.”

    Except that he continued to threaten people with rape in his private time. When Edward Norton plays a curb-stomping Nazi on American History X it’s clear he’s playing a role because after the credits roll and the contract expires he goes back to being Edward Norton and washes off the Swastikas. When the Amazing Atheist has finished shouting at his handycam he continues to espouse the same opinions on women, rape and the age of consent elsewhere.

  109. mickll says

    OK Ryan, I’ll bite. What’s the context for this?

    ““I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow.”

    And how does the context for this piece of comedy/performance art make it all better?

  110. Michael Robertson says

    I have no time for people that promote rape culture. I’m sure there are quite a few people that, like myself, had no idea that he said such things. In the videos I’ve seen him in rape was never mentioned. I appreciate your calling him out on it but please don’t try to group all of us that have watched him into a group of non-caring misogynists. The Atheists that I associate myself with are some of the best people I know. They care about their family, friends, city and planet and they treat people with respect even when they disagree with them. That being said, Atheists are people just like Jews, Arabs, Catholics and Protestants and they have the same flaws that all of them have but that doesn’t mean you have to like them just because they’re Atheist.

  111. qwints says

    Are you saying that people in the atheist community are ethically obligated to talk to, take phone calls from, answers letters or emails from, and engage when they’re in the same room with, people who make brutal, graphic rape threats?

    Absolutely not. No one is required to interact with anyone they don’t want to, much less someone who has threatened or harmed them.

  112. says

    The line that shouldn’t be crossed is plucking lines from a conversation, without context, to fit your needs, much like most Christians do with the bible.

  113. mickll says

    Again Craig, in what context does wanting someone to drown in rape semen make it all ok?

  114. A. Noyd says

    Michael Robertson (#124)

    please don’t try to group all of us that have watched him into a group of non-caring misogynists.

    Which no one has done. I mean, who the fuck are you, even?

    But how about we group you in with non-caring misogynists for commenting only to talk about how much you’re worried about how you are perceived (in the abstract, no less, because we don’t even know you personally). Your priorities are seriously screwed up.

  115. Al Dente says

    Craig Goetsch @126

    Rape triggers

    Please explain which nuances we’re missing from:

    I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow.

    and

    “I’m going to rape you with my fist.”

    What’s the context which makes these reasonable remarks made in polite conversation?

  116. Greta Christina says

    do any if you think about the context in which these words took place?

    I must have misread the context.

    Hooray for taking things out of context!

    The line that shouldn’t be crossed is plucking lines from a conversation, without context, to fit your needs

    hburrey @ #119, Ryan Currier @ #120 & #121, and Craig Goetsch @ #126: Really? There’s a context — other than a consensual SM scene or a piece of writing or art intended to expose and explore the issue of rape and rape threats — in which it’s okay to say, “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow,” “You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” “Rape isn’t fatal… Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist”? It’s okay to say stuff like this more than once? It’s okay to say this and follow it with anything other than the most abject apologies and the most vigorous efforts to make it clear that you take seriously rape and misogynist rape threats, and adamantly oppose them?

    All three of you have been put into comment moderation. I doubt highly that any of you are arguing on good faith, or are likely to respect my comment policies. I’m aware that TAA has pointed his followers at this blog post, so I expect that for a little while, this blog will experience a higher volume than usual of ugly sexism and misogyny. I am therefore on higher alert about this stuff than usual, with a lower level of patience or willingness to engage and explain.

  117. Greta Christina says

    I appreciate your calling him out on it but please don’t try to group all of us that have watched him into a group of non-caring misogynists.

    Michael Robertson @ #124: If you watched TAA genuinely not knowing about the rape threats and misogyny, I’m not grouping you into a group of non-caring misogynists. I find it a little hard to believe — my understanding is that many of TAA’s videos have had very misogynist content, and this stuff has been pretty widely discussed — but if you genuinely didn’t know about it, then you didn’t.

    If, however, you continue to watch his videos, continue to link to them/ upvote them/ share them/ Tweet them/ comment approvingly on them/ otherwise support and promote them, even after having seen the rape threats, then yes, I am going to group you in as someone who is uncaring about misogyny.

    If you don’t do at least some work to stay in the loop about the serious issue of sexism and misogyny in the atheist community, and the serious issue of the persistent campaign of threats, harassment, intimidation, and more that’s been aimed at feminist women in the atheist movement, I’m going to group you in as someone who is uncaring about misogyny.

    And if you continue to place your hurt feelings over being grouped in with non-caring misogynists as a higher priority than the ugly reality of misogyny and rape threats — and the ugly reality of the dismissal, denial, defense, and trivialization of misogyny and rape threats — then I’m going to group you in as someone who is uncaring about misogyny.

    I encourage you to read a short piece I wrote a bit ago, Some Thoughts on Intention and Magic. The tl;dr: There is an important difference between saying, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, I didn’t know, I’m sorry, I’ll be more careful in the future” — and saying, “I didn’t mean to hurt you — so why are you being so mean to me about it?” If you promoted TAA’s work, you unintentionally caused harm. The right thing to do when that happens is to acknowledge this and apologize — not get defensive and make your hurt feelings over being informed about it the primary concern.

  118. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Greta @ 130: that’s exactly it. I mean everyone is whining about “context” and how the cruel, cruel feminazi’s are taking everything out of context to lead witch hunts at the puir wee men while
    a.) there is no context that makes anything said by TAA remotely okay
    b.) conveniently eliding the whole context of misogyny in the atheo-sketosphere and the ongoing harassment of the feminist women therein.

    I mean, YES! Look at this context over here! It’s been non-stop harassment and threats that feminist women who stand up against misogyny have endured for almost three years!

    Thank you for writing the article and dismantling the problematic comments.

  119. says

    universalanimosity

    I don’t give a shit about TAA, but the genetic fallacy is either acceptable or it isn’t. There’s no cutoff where someone’s contributions are important enough that we can ignore our logic

    So, which important contribution has TAA made? What has he said or done that is so damn important that we cannot ignore it? Anything that I cannot get from people who are actually decent?
    We’re not talking about physics here, we’re talking about religion, politics and society. There is no “view on religion” that is a seperate entity to “view on women”.

    qwints

    That people should shun (i.e. intentionally cut off all interactions with) people who say or do sufficiently reprehensible things. They shouldn’t talk to them. They shouldn’t answer phone if they call or respond to a letter or e-mail from them. They should pretend not to see them if they’re in the same room together.

    So you actually DO demand that the targets of his misogyny should play nice to him and ignore their own pain and hurt, that they put their own wellbeing aside and sacrifice this for the benefit of somebody who thinks that they should be raped.
    I.e., the same horrible misogyny women have been raised with all their lives. The same logic that keeps women in abusive relationships. Of course, if we DO get hurt we will get blamed, too. Why did we do exactly what you told us to do?
    This is painful for you? Tell you something, this is painful for me, too. Because I’ve heard the things you say too often. That it is not justified for me to set my own limits when it comes to contact with my abuser. That I am a bad person for not giving this person a 517972th chance, how can they change if I don’t let them? That I am cruel for not allowing this person to do to my children what they did to me.
    Oh, and since you say that this is not about the actual victims but about everybody else: Yes, I demand that they make a decision. Me or them. This is not about juvenile schoolyard politics where you need to decide between two friends based on their taste of music. This is having to make a decision between somebody who thinks that rape is OK and somebody who has been a victims of sexual violence or who is likely to be one*
    I’ll be out of this conversation now, because what you’re doing is triggering and gaslighting abuse victims and I notice how I start shaking again.

    *Just to clear things up because I realize that people might draw the wrong conclusion: While I’ve had my share of sexual assault and really fucked up things in my life, I’ve luckily escaped sexual abuse. That doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered a different form of abuse.

  120. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Philip @96, what you are advocating for is that atrocious behavior go unchallenged, and the targets of that behavior never speak to what they are being put through, never name the actors. You are advocating a culture of “shut up and take it.”

    In what way does that solve the problem of atrocious behavior?

    It doesn’t. This is a feature, not a bug.

    universalanimosity:

    All of them made important contributions to physics, and none of them are invited to games night.

    Neither are you.

    What’s your point?

    (You must teach thermodynamics – your arguments are really TdS :P)

  121. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    That people should shun (i.e. intentionally cut off all interactions with) people who say or do sufficiently reprehensible things. They shouldn’t talk to them. They shouldn’t answer phone if they call or respond to a letter or e-mail from them. They should pretend not to see them if they’re in the same room together.

    Discussion of cutting someone off entirely brings up very painful feelings for me, and I realize I’m focusing on my objection to the punishment (negative consequences if you prefer) rather than the severity of the crime. I think I’m really bothered by the similarity of the idea that not shunning someone is endorsing all of their behavior to similar things that were said in my family and religious context.

    You’re comparing threatening to rape people who said critical things about you, to not believing religious claims. You’re comparing a demand that a person cease to engage in intellectual and regular honesty with a demand that a person cease to engage in harassment and threats of violence.

    These things are not similar.

    This is like asking “but if it’s not okay to lock someone up for posting an blog article critical of the government, how can I be okay with locking someone up for embezzling?” It’s a category fucking error. And it’s becoming a real detriment to both your own understanding and the conversation here.

  122. says

    Ah, “context” – the cry of everyone whose shitty attitudes get thrown under a spotlight, from Bible fundies clumsily defending the Old Testament endorsement of slavery by calling it “indentured servitude” to, well, apologists for a vile and unapologetic internet misogynist. I struggle to see what context could possible redeem TAA’s disturbing little rants, especially considering he’s hitched his wagon to online atheist feminist-bashing in general and is, also in general, a loutish boor with a propensity to verbally assault people.

    As for Philip Rose’s “don’t feed the trolls/it aint real life” advice: nah. Pointing out and arguing against assholish behaviour isn’t troll-feeding – you yourself do the same thing on the ‘tube.

    Also: the internet IS real life. We may be separated by cameras and keyboards but we’re still human beings interacting and communicating and, occasionally, acting like assholes. People depend on the web for work, for social interaction and for political activism precisely because it enables communication with other humans – it’s not a MMORPG where you clock in and out of a character. Online, you’re you, I’m me, rules of common goddamn courtesy still apply and if someone else acts like an asshole I will tell them they’re being an asshole – they aren’t some abusive NPC goblin in a tavern asking for a digital axe in his forehead that I can forget about, they’re a real person who has crossed a boundary.

  123. A. Noyd says

    Hank_Says (#136)

    People depend on the web for work, for social interaction and for political activism precisely because it enables communication with other humans – it’s not a MMORPG where you clock in and out of a character.

    As a former MMORPG player, let me point out that shittons of communication takes place out of character in those games. You shouldn’t use MMOs as some kind of counterexample for social interaction when they’re a very strong example of it. They’re built to encourage and even require it.

    NPCs are a good analogy, but your point—which is a very good one—would be better served by invoking offline, single-player RPGs.

  124. says

    There’s a context — other than a consensual SM scene or a piece of writing or art intended to expose and explore the issue of rape and rape threats — in which it’s okay to say, “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow,” “You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” “Rape isn’t fatal… Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist”?

    What is, “things not to say to anyone, ever”.

  125. says

    I just want to make something clear: atheism is in no way related to feminism! AA happens to be an atheist and at the same time he’s not a supporter of feminism, but this should in no way reflect on his religious (or rather non-religious) beliefs. That is regarding the question at the end of this article.

    On a second note, it is very easy to take some phrases totally out of context to make them appear as offensive as possible. I am not saying they are not offensive…but I think they’re offending the wrong people!

    I have watched many of TJ’s videos and most of the time, when it’s about feminism, I see him refuting some unstable, high-arsed woman, who is bitching about how feminism isn’t being taken seriously. All the while she brings to our attention the major flaws in society that make feminism needed: how rape is ok (where the hell did any of you see that rape is ok in any western country, or in Europe? I think Africa is the only place where rape is still considered ok and guess what? Feminism isn’t there!), how abuse is ok (again, it is not, it is against the law, what more do you want) and how women are sexualized in magazine covers. How can you think about a problem as serious as rape or sexual abuse then come back to magazine covers??

    Wanna know what makes me angry the most? That the people bitching about how hard it is to be a sexual abuse victim, how misunderstood they all are, have NEVER gone through that experience! And how can that not be insulting to the woman who has been sexually abused at some point in her life and then she sees some bitch with a pole up her ass taking offense for HER trauma?

    I am a woman, I am self-secured and I do not take offense to every pussy joke I hear, for every half naked woman I see on magazine covers or on the streets and not even to “threats” like the ones AA made. Why? Because they’re not directed at me! They’re directed to the people who destroy feminism by making it about stopping women from being seen as attractive, cause it’s offensive. Well, it’s not. To me it isn’t. And before feminists make statements for the whole female sex maybe they should actually ask how many of them actually feel that way.

    If I feel offended by something, I can stand up for myself. I don’t need a support group from half around the world to take offense for me and speak in my name.

    On a closing note, I ask, just like TJ asked in one of his videos, just how is feminism going to solve all these rape, sexual abuse and whatever problems? Are they going to make a petition on Facebook? Tweet about it? Bitch to other people about it? Feminism has no legal standing. Leave the fighting about such matters to the people who can do something about it. Also, please keep in mind that AA works in the entertainment business. That means he will often exaggerate with his statements in order to prove a point and to increase his audience.

  126. says

    I think there is no line. Free speech means you can say what you want to who you want. I also feel the OP is taking this man way to seriously. He’s more or less mocking the fact that feminists claim all these ways to fix the supposed “rape culture” in society when in reality they are simply trying to change the paradigm from patriarchy to matriarchy. That’s it. …and tbh I don’t even really see a patriarchy anymore. Maybe in the parts where some of you live you do, but as for me everything seems pretty fair (or as fair as they could possibly be). Men and women work the same jobs for the most part, I see more women managers at most places then men. The only places where women don’t really succeed like men would be in more harsh working environments, and let’s be honest…that makes sense. But tell me who is more likely to be hired on as someone at a desk nowadays…i’d say the women. Who is more likely to get a higher position in any company…many would claim “the man” but i’d claim “the better qualified one”. The one with the degree, the one with the exp, the one that presents themselves best. That’s who. Has nothing to do with gender unless the person hiring is themselves, a sexist (goes for both men and women).

    Another problem with rape culture is that it only applies to women. Apparently from a feminists point of view, men can’t be raped. Also, all men are rapists. (yes i’m talking specifically about the extremist feminist, but who do you think sets the policies for what they all believe). It’s just silly. The sad truth is if you classify yourself as any kind of “ist” you are truly racist/sexist to some other group and you’re scum who is not capable of looking at things logically. That’s what the “ist” actually means…a set of beliefs that promotes your views over others, that are typically bad for people in general. Maybe we should all just stop saying we’re this or that and say we’re people. Stop trying to censor others. (no I don’t think the guy is over board on anything. He says what he wants and anyone should be free to do so. You should take a look at some of the things others (feminists) have said to him and you might see why he “mocks” them. Their dumb. Their minds have been rotted by a belief system that makes no sense. That goes for all religions/racists/sexists/feminazis/paganists/zionists/socialist/fascists/(insert any bullshit here).

    They’re all dumb, they’re all evil in their intents as a group, and they are all bad for the world and the general population in it. If you want true freedom and fairness you need to all stop “thinking” (if you can call it that) your ways are right and your beliefs are right and realize you are all people who do not have the capacity to EVER set policy that effects other human beings. You’re incapable. You’re biased. You’re ability to think logically has been tainted by you religious and social beliefs and you’re not fair. Fairness is saying what you want when you want. Fairness is not causing harm to one another. Fairness is the right to protect yourself. Fairness is having real elections with many choices(not 2), not affected by money, not concerned with social issues, not letting groups (like feminists, the super rich, (once again, insert bullshit group here) affect the outcomes. That’s fair. …and you all sit around worried about what some internet personality is doing. I bet he’s laughing his ass off at this cause he’s thinking the same way I am while you’re worried “Is anyone else offended”…good, be offended, it’s good for you. I hope someone here exercises logical thought. Have a good day all.

  127. carlie says

    Eva and Nathan – do either of you actually thing that flouncing in here and spouting off things that have already been dissected and rejected numerous times in this very post and thread will have any effect whatsoever other than making you look utterly ridiculous?

  128. AMM says

    Maybe I’m showing my age, but does anyone else remember learning “you are judged by the company you keep”? So far, I haven’t seen any of TAA’s defenders denying that he says horribly misogynistic and rapey things. If one of my “friends” said even one of these things, they would no longer be a “friend” and would, at best, be tolerated, but only to the extent I didn’t have an alternative. Yes, I am going to judge those who tolerate and defend him and his ilk as being misogynists and rape apologists. I’m also going to judge the people who are happy to hang out with those who tolerate him as being in the same category, once they know about it.
    .
    As for “shunning”: we can’t put this guy in jail, we can’t make it so he can’t get a job or rent an apartment. The most that we can hope for even in our wildest dreams is that he’ll be a has-been, having to work at a dull day job to pay the rent and “famous” only among a few hundred people, mostly his friends and relatives. IOW, a life that is about as good as most of us can ever hope for. If you think that it is cruel and unconscienceable for him to suffer that fate, why is that fate just fine for me and mine?

  129. learninglate says

    Almost always a lurker here, but wanted to express my appreciation both for this post and for @81 Giliell’s comment. That comment expressed something I hadn’t considered. Thank you.

  130. AMM says

    Also: if TAA were saying racist threats (e.g., proposing lynching) or anti-semitic threats (e.g., approving references to Nazi genocide), would so many people be turning out to “defend” him? I see him as little different from Father Coughlin or the KKK, who used to have large and proud followings, but find few (public) defenders today.
    .
    The fact that so many people think TAA’s misogyny and rape threats are socially acceptable, and even enjoyable to listen to, is a measure of how socially acceptable hatred and violence against women still are.

  131. tonyinbatavia says

    I love how defenders are trying to rescue TAA’s reputation with the classic “out of context” argument while accusing those who don’t want to associate with that assclown as being the problem. I sure hope they have seen rationalwiki.org’s entry on the man and have developed good apologetics for every bit of his heinousness. That right there is a vile, horrid person they are defending.

    Meanwhile, it’s pretty evident their understanding of these issues is about an inch wide and an inch deep, which makes their speaking to us like we are first graders all the richer.

    Eva @139 and Nathan @140, you are clearly out of your depths here. Not only are you defending an odious, repugnant fucknut, but your defenses (such as they are) haven’t demonstrated even the slightest bit of understanding of feminism (much less human decency). You aren’t doing TAA any favors by giving shallow, ignorant lectures to people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about. And you are embarrassing yourselves.

  132. says

    tonyinbatavia

    I love how defenders are trying to rescue TAA’s reputation with the classic “out of context” argument while accusing those who don’t want to associate with that assclown as being the problem.

    I have the feeling that “context” really means: “how the other person made him do this and brought it upon themselves.”
    Because I really don’t know what “context” apart from what Greta already mentioned could make these things look less vile and remotely OK.

    learninglate
    Thanks. People like you make it worth to keep going on.

  133. opposablethumbs says

    Eva and Nathan … bless your hearts. It can’t be easy, living under a mountain of strawpeople that high.

  134. says

    Being atheist says nothing of our political views or ethics… It doesn’t state why he denies existence of gods or even if he has ethical arguments against god. Just because someone is atheist does not mean they are not misogynistic or patriarchal thinkers. Being atheist does not mean you won’t have the same type of women who support men who debase women… Masochists need no religion, neither do sadists. His followers share this obsession with hating on women… This is just more reason why I have disdain for atheists who say, ” If we abolished religion” … blah, blah, blah.

    The same hate, dislike, bias and etc would exist – we’d just create new validations for behaviors. After watching and reading him for several months, I felt a sadness for him – even when freed from religion, he is still enslaved by the same views of Bedouin Tribesman, especially on women. Yes, it is disheartening to see so many subscribe to him. However, it is also revealing a truth that maybe we all need to accept. Being atheist is not an inoculation against biblical or religious cruelty … It is not an inoculation against arrogance, ignorance, self loathing and subservient women who have a need to please males or receive some type of gratification from appraisal. for being vacuous nut huffers… It does not mean we are intellectually superior.

    Surprise, we’re still human after-all.

  135. HappyNat says

    After reading some of the TAA’s defenders in this thread I actually think worse of him. It’s pretty clear they don’t understand context, feminism, patriarchy, rape culture, free speech, or along with a host of other things. My only hope is being linked to FTB some of them stick around and learn something.

  136. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    There’s a context — other than a consensual SM scene or a piece of writing or art intended to expose and explore the issue of rape and rape threats — in which it’s okay to say, “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow,” “You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” “Rape isn’t fatal… Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist”?

    What is, “things not to say to anyone, ever”.

    “Yes, officer, those were his exact words.”

  137. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I just want to make something clear: atheism is in no way related to feminism!

    Not this shit again.

  138. tonyinbatavia says

    Nathan @151 (this from the guy who said we are “taking this man way to (sic) seriously”) I occasionally make grammatical mistakes by accident. You, meanwhile, occasionally make grammatical mistakes by accident and you defend a loathsome waste of human flesh on purpose while remaining completely and totally ignorant about feminism. The original statement stands.

  139. Onamission5 says

    If atheism is in no way related to feminism, then atheists need to stop using women’s issues as a bludgeon against the religious. You don’t get to use behaviors and attitudes which harm marginalized people to criticize a group you don’t like then turn around and do the same things within your own group that the religious group is doing, perpetuating the same attitudes you criticize in others. Stick to separation of church and state and leave off the “they are so bad to women” dialogue.

    Except, atheists really can’t do that, can we, because that is one of the ways we know religion doesn’t have the answers, that is part and parcel of the claim to being good without gods: that atheists have morals and ethics without the belief in deities. If you claim to be good without gods, show you are. Stop being ~ist toward marginalized groups both inside and outside your sphere, and stop supporting people who are. Easy peasy.

  140. Greta Christina says

    Quick note: Nathan McComb & Eva Carsel have been put into comment moderation. Much of what they’re saying violates my comment policy, and any further comments from them will be previewed by me before I decide whether they’ll go through to the public site. (I’ll take the time to dismantle their comments later; I have other things to do right now.)

  141. guitaro says

    Hi Greta,

    I haven’t been a regular reader of your blog, but that changes as of today.

    Put me down as in complete agreement with all you’ve said here; I just wish it wasn’t necessary for any of it to need saying.

    Yes, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. While I’ve never been a victim of rape, one of those lines for me is the one that legitimizes, rationalizes, encourages, or condones rape culture or reinforces any of the underlying attitudes that perpetuate it. Not to mention the rape threats, wishing it on anyone, etc.

    It’s just sad to me that this doesn’t seem to be everyone’s default/factory setting.

  142. says

    Angela Long:


    The same hate, dislike, bias and etc would exist – we’d just create new validations for behaviors.

    The entire basis of evo-psychers.

  143. says

    There’s a context — other than a consensual SM scene or a piece of writing or art intended to expose and explore the issue of rape and rape threats — in which it’s okay to say, “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow,” “You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” “Rape isn’t fatal… Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist”?

    What is, “things not to say to anyone, ever”.

    “Yes, officer, those were his exact words.”

    And in the courtroom, of course, as you’re testifying against him.

  144. says

    Wow @ 139 & 140: It’s not often you get consecutive arguments of such similar length & ignorance.

    Onamission @ 155 summed it up:

    If atheism is in no way related to feminism, then atheists need to stop using women’s issues as a bludgeon against the religious.

    Exactly. So, you down-the-line dictionary atheists, stop railing against burqas, against FGM, against the refusal to ordain women, against child marriages, against forced pregnancies and against all the other privations & abuse foisted upon women by organised religions, because atheist issues aren’t feminist issues. Right?

    While you’re at it, stop campaigning for the separation of church and state – enough with opposing creationists in public school science classes and religious monuments on public land and prayers at council meetings. Atheism is just the simple non-acceptance of theistic claims so stop getting mired in politics and education already! [Now you know exactly how stupid “atheism isn’t related to feminism” sounds to other people.]

    And now this gem from 140:

    I think there is no line. Free speech means you can say what you want to who you want…Stop trying to censor others.

    Sure, go ahead and say what you want to whom you want. Just remember:

    1) free speech is a two-way street, so don’t bleat if someone objects to how you use yours or employs their freedom to block their ears whenever you talk.

    2) free speech isn’t some absolute right, it’s a privilege given by (some) governments to their citizens and it always has caveats, such as openly threatening people (try employing your free speech, for example, to threaten the life of a sitting politician and see who knocks on your door the next morning).

    3) It isn’t “censorship” to ignore or criticise someone else or to advise others to ignore or criticise them if they have a history of saying objectionable things, nor is it censorship to block them from contacting you in any space that’s yours, be it your home or online or any place where you get to set the rules. Censorship involves removing or restricting someone’s ability to express themselves openly; if I block some racist idiot on twitter or facebook or ban some mouth-breathing misogynist from my blog, they still have their twitter, their facebook and the rest of the internet to express themselves. All I did was shut my door in their faces; they have the rest of the street – the planet – to hurl abuse at. And they can even continue to hurl abuse at me; I’m just not going to bother to stick my head out the window to hear it.

  145. says

    @ Nathan

    “I think there is no line. Free speech means you can say what you want to who you want.”

    Oh my crap I wish people had the slightest understanding what “free speech” actually means in the U.S.

    It means that the GOVERNMENT cannot arrest or fine you merely for the for the things you say, and even that has certain limits, but that’s it. Free speech does not mean I have to listen to the shitty thing someone else says. It doesn’t mean I have to go watch Amazing Atheist’s videos because “free speech” requires me to listen to him.

    However it does mean that the government will not arrest or fine me for pointing out that Amazing Atheist is an objectively bad person who should be criticized for the awful things he says. It does mean that I can refuse to encourage that kind of behavior by promoting a person who does these sorts of things. Even were his statements meant as a joke I would not promote him if for no other reason than he clearly has an awful sense of humor.

    This XKCD joke pretty much sums up my opinion on people who think like this.

    http://xkcd.com/1357/

  146. says

    Said in the text blurb of the previous XKCD comic.

    “I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.”

  147. Al Dente says

    Nathan McComb @140

    Free speech means you can say what you want to who you want

    What about my free speech to denounce someone making misogynist rape threats? Free speech is actually the right to make political statements without fear of repercussions from the government. Free speech is not the right to say anything you want. Libel, slander, and threats are not legally protected speech. Free speech does not mean you are guaranteed a platform from which to speak or listeners to hear your speech. Free speech is not freedom from criticism, rebuttal or societal reaction to your speech. If you say something then it’s my free speech to criticize what you’ve said. If, as in this instance, what’s said is so offensive that people are outraged, then those people can refuse to have anything to do with the speaker and to publicly denounce him and his speech.

  148. says

    Wow. I had no idea that he said stuff like that. (I haven’t been paying that close attention, but I admit to having enjoyed some of his videos in the past.)

    The only way I can see my way around these statements is if it turned out that he didn’t say them.

  149. Great American Satan says

    No such luck, Lance @165. The best thing I can say for him is that he has a bit of a talent for profanity, and he got the right answer on one of the easiest questions of life (is god real?). And his talent for profanity isn’t even that great, because he can’t seem to get away from the rape shtick.

    That’s of course assuming it’s a shtick, which some of his followers have claimed, and not an open admission of an inhumanly cruel disregard for victims of violence. From our PoV, it’s hard to see how this shit could be a joke, given there is nothing resembling humor in it.

  150. Great American Satan says

    Although now I’m curious what he said about this article when he linked back here. Not curious enough to bear even a minute of him directly. I’d like a paraphrasing if someone else has the constitution to subject their self to it.

  151. Gerard O says

    While the so-called ‘Amazing Atheist’ is obviously not that amazing, it’s fair to say that PZ Myers and his Pharyngula munchkins engage in their fair share of goonish behaviour. No-one who has engaged with these people could seriously call them liberal or tolerant, and yet the always seem to occupy the moral high ground, at least in their own shrivelled minds. What a sad clusterfuck this is.

  152. tonyinbatavia says

    Gerard O @168: Define “goonish behavior.” Provide specific examples of said behavior, preferably with links. Draw explicit parallels between those behaviors and TAA’s heinousness with an eye on demonstrating that there is true equivalence.

    Or is the entirety of your message complete and utter horseshit?

  153. says

    So true, Gerard O. Personally, I’m more of a radical than a liberal (though PZ himself obviously likes the label) and I have zero tolerance for bigotry.

    Unlike you, though, I don’t view not tolerating bigotry as some sort of personal failing.

  154. Gerard O says

    tonyinbatavia #169: I have not claimed that the behaviour exhibited by this Kincaid moron is equivalent to Myers and his flying monkeys. Having survived maximum security prison (and numerous other zany adventures) I’m hardly going to have a breakdown because someone was a bit rude in a weblog’s comment section. I maintain however that the Myers clique is aggressive and intolerant of people with different worldviews.

    SallyStrange #170: Being intolerant of bigotry is not the same as bombastic self-righteousness, which is what I detect at Pharyngula.

  155. says

    Oh geez. Bombastic self-righteousness. Fetch the smelling salts!

    Well, that certainly is NEARLY as “goonish” as making repeated, brutally graphic rape threats.

  156. Great American Satan says

    ^171 said with no small amount of self-righteousness. It might be reasonable to apply that label to various of the SJW breed, but one should also acknowledge that PZ and a number of others on FTB have been willing to concede mistakes and try to make them right, on the occasion that has come up. When one’s morals are motivated by compassion and concern for traditionally oppressed parties, their moral errors will be fewer and farther between, offenses less frequent. Hence the people that have the most complaints about FTB: regressive misogynistic rape-defending scumfucklers, scientific racists, etc. etc. etc.

  157. Beth says

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I appreciate your clarifications.

    Greta #44:

    Beth @ #39: You may overlooked the part of this post where I said that shunning is an extreme measure, and a last resort. Given that, do you seriously think I advocate shunning people simply for not shunning the same people I do?

    That was a concern of mine. As I indicated before, in communities that use shunning, it’s not unusual to also shun those who don’t comply with a decision to shun someone. Thank you for letting me know that isn’t something you would support. Your answer to my question regarding other sanctions was very reasonable.

    Second, linking to a video is not the same as inviting a person to interact with others in the community

    ?????
    Of course linking to someone’s video is inviting them to interact with others in the community. Our community exists online as well as in the flesh — more so, in many ways. When you say “Hey, check out this guy’s video,” you’re encouraging others to interact with that person.

    My apologies. I meant to make a distinction between on-line and in the flesh interactions but did not phrase it well. You have a valid point regarding on-line interactions.

    Greta #97: What else do you think we mean when we talk about shunning?
    I think moderated online forums should block him (and for the record, I think all online forums should be moderated), and I think conferences and in-person groups should ban him, not just from speaking, but from attending. Isn’t that what you mean by “banned from safe spaces”?…What — specifically — do you imagine we’re recommending here that you disapprove of?

    I am concerned about the idea that people who say such things should be banned from safe spaces. I think that it should be made clear that those kind of threats and insults are not acceptable conduct. If they cannot keep from saying such things, I agree that they should be ejected and banned. But banning people for unacceptable conduct they engage in elsewhere? I’m not so sure about that.

    I do not wish to defend the quoted remarks that TAA has made. On the other hand, I generally require only that people not engage in such conduct around me, not that they never ever say anything offensive. I think it is important to recognize that there are subcultures in America where such language is considered acceptable. (I think the threats TAA made would be recognized as rhetorical overstatement not a serious indication of what he would do within that subculture.) The members of these subcultures are typically predominately young and male. Gamer culture would be an example.

    I fully support that organizations reject those subculture norms and make it clear that such behavior/language is unacceptable. I suspect that TAA, like most people who participate in such subcultures, can understand and respect that such behavior is not acceptable other places and behave appropriately when it is required.

    As SallyStrange and Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- others have pointed out: This is not about punishment — except insofar as “punishment’ means “demonstrating that actions have consequences.” This is about making our spaces safe for women. And this is about having basic ethical values, and being willing to stand by them.

    I think that requiring people to abide by these standards of behavior in safe spaces and shunning those who do not is quite reasonable.

    Are you really and truly saying that the atheist community as a whole, or that any subset of the atheist community, has a moral obligation to include someone who repeatedly trivializes rape and makes graphic, brutal rape threats?

    A moral obligation to include them? No. But you seem to be making the case for a moral obligation to exclude them – i.e. shunning. A community has an obligation to do is to make clear the standards of behavior for that community and enforce them. Banning participation by those who will not abide by those standards within the community is perfectly reasonable. The case for banning participation by those who choose not to abide by those standards when participating in other communities is not as clear.

    This is where context does make a difference. If someone is making such threats in spaces where they are clearly not acceptable and welcome, then such shunning seems reasonable. If someone is making such threats in spaces where such rhetoric is acceptable, that’s different. If they can control themselves and behave acceptably when it is required, then banning them from the community is not appropriate.

    Gilliell #90 (response to quints): Btw, you’re advocating for clearly labelled unsafe spaces. Are you aware of that? Every space in which you allow abusers becomes an unsafe space. It means that people who have been victimised and who are likely targets have to stay away. It means that you RE excluding them. Tell me, what horrible crime have those people commited to deserve that?

    I think that it is appropriate to have clearly labelled unsafe spaces. Just as many women want ‘safe spaces’ where they are free from such intimidation and threats, I think that many men want ‘unsafe spaces’ where they are free to say anything they want, express their harshest feelings in over-the-top rhetoric or discuss currently socially unacceptable ideas without fear of being silenced or banned for participation in discussions others find repugnant. I don’t think that people who participate in ‘unsafe spaces’ and say things there that are not acceptable elsewhere should be considered ‘predators’ or ‘abusers’ and universally banned from ‘safe spaces’.

    Greta #118: Maybe I need to flesh that out more: This is not a step to be taken lightly. This is not a step to be taken frequently. This is not a step to be taken without trying more moderate alternatives first. And this is not a step to be taken without excellent reason. But you haven’t engaged in any real way with the question of how we’re supposed to include people into our communities who make rape threats, without making rape victims or potential rape victims feel excluded and unsafe. As Al Dente said @ #108, you haven’t offered us any alternative.

    How about banning the behavior, but waiting until someone violates that standard within the community before banning the person?

  158. Gerard O says

    I would disagree with Great American Satan in that the best moral systems are those that are based on universal principles (including the expansion of ethical consciousness to include the entire biosphere, as expounded by Jeremy Rifkin). That’s where “concern for traditionally oppressed parties” becomes problematical.

    Jews are the best example of an oppressed people who had that addressed, in part, by being given their own State. Now we have children playing soccer on the beach being turned into mincemeat and a despised, nuclear-armed garrison state that has threatened to nuke the entire globe if it is attacked in a serious way.

  159. Gerard O says

    SallyStrange #175: I stated clearly that there was no equivalence in the behaviour of someone like Kincaid and the bombast of someone like PZ Myers. Nobody could sincerely believe that I claim that rudeness is on a par with rape threats.

  160. Great American Satan says

    I see. The old “fix every problem in the world except oppression that is happening right now, and it will magically go away without my having to acknowledge my own part in it or address it directly” strategy. Let us know how that works.

  161. says

    I see. So when you typed this sentence

    While the so-called ‘Amazing Atheist’ is obviously not that amazing, it’s fair to say that PZ Myers and his Pharyngula munchkins engage in their fair share of goonish behaviour.

    in response to a call for atheists to disavow Kinkaid on the basis of the fact that he makes rape threats, you didn’t mean to compare whatever was going on at Pharyngula with making rape threats. You didn’t at all mean for readers to draw that conclusion that rape threats are one type of “goonish” behavior and (in your later clarification), “bombastic self-righteousness” is another type of “goonish” behavior.

    Pull the other one, it has bells on it.

  162. Greta Christina says

    Re Gerard O @ #168, #171, #177: Thread derailing is a violation of my comment policy.. Gerard O has been put into comment moderation.

    He has already said that he is not equating rape threats with what he himself describes as “bombastic self-righteousness.” Unless he is making an argument that bombastic self-righteousness is, like rape threats, a blatant and grotesque ethical violation that should result in a person or people being shunned from the community — or unless he can demonstrate why his opinion that the supposed “bombastic self-righteousness” of PZ Myers and the Pharyngula commenting community is relevant to the discussion of shunning people who make rape threats — further comments from him will not be approved. (A sincere apology for thread derailing would also be acceptable.)

  163. says

    Beth

    But banning people for unacceptable conduct they engage in elsewhere? I’m not so sure about that.

    I would argue that their presence makes a space unsafe in itself, even if they “behave themselves”*. If I ever had the opportunity to go to a con, the knowledge that I might run into TAA and folks would absolutely keep me from it.

    *which usually means to keep going where officials don’t see them

    Gerard O
    Do you have anything to say to the point of this conversation? So far you have aired your immaginary grievances against PZ and the Horde and tried to start a conversation about Israel and Palestine. You admit yourself that there is no relevant connection between PZ and Co. and their behaviour, and TAA and his behaviour, yet you desperately try to make it about them.
    Just a hint: You don’t get to play the “reasonable and tolerant” card when you call people “flying monkeys”

  164. Greta Christina says

    I think it is important to recognize that there are subcultures in America where such language is considered acceptable. (I think the threats TAA made would be recognized as rhetorical overstatement not a serious indication of what he would do within that subculture.) The members of these subcultures are typically predominately young and male. Gamer culture would be an example.

    Beth @ #174:Are you serious?

    First: How do you know that TAA’s threats aren’t serious? Are you psychic?

    Second: Even if we conceded that TAA’s threats are likely not “serious” in the sense that we can feel comfortable that he will never actually physically rape anyone — what makes you think that they’re not “serious” in their intent to make women feel threatened and unsafe? Given TAA’s history of misogyny generally, what makes you think his hatred of women is not serious?

    Third, and very importantly: Are you seriously okay with gamer culture staying predominantly male, and staying hostile to women? Seriously? Gaming is HUGE. 59% of all Americans play video games. In 2013, Americans spent 15.4 billion dollars on video games (compared to 10.9 billion spent on movies, in the US and Canada). And that culture’s traditional male-dominance, and the hostility towards women that’s come as women have joined in increasing numbers, is legendary, and has been widely discussed as a serious problem. Are you seriously okay with conceding that culture to people who make brutal, graphic rape threats, or are otherwise overtly hostile to women? Are you seriously okay with saying “gaming is for boys and young men, who cares if women feel threatened and pushed out”?

    Which brings me to the crux of your point: Why are you okay with ceding any culture or subculture to people who hate women and make rape threats?* When there are cultures that tolerate hatred of women and rape threats, two things happen. 1: Women obviously don’t feel welcome in those cultures — and when those cultures make up a significant part of the world (as they currently do), it marks huge areas of the world as unsafe and unwelcome for women. 2: Those cultures serve as places where misogynists support general hatred and hostility towards women, and indeed orchestrate harassment and hate campaigns outside that culture. 4Chan is a perfect example, as is the SlymePit. The idea that people who spew misogynist hatred and rape threats will politely keep their bile behind clearly marked-off lines, and will not carry that hatred outside of those lines, is bollocks. (There’s plenty of research showing that people’s own bigotry and tolerance of bigotry goes up when they’re exposed to it.)

    Yes, I understand that there are subcultures in America where hateful, threatening, misogynist language is considered acceptable. I am trying to change that.

    * With the exception of cultures such as the BDSM culture — but in that case, the “threatening” language is explicitly spelled out as theatrical and consensual, and the “outside of play space” respect for women and for people’s bodily autonomy is made very clear.

  165. Greta Christina says

    Beth @ #174: Also, I’ll echo what Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- said @ #182. If I knew that TAA was attending a conference, I would feel entirely unsafe at that conference. The idea that people who hate women and make brutal, graphic rape threats against them can be trusted to behave themselves outside the spaces where they make those threats — it’s absurd.

  166. Beth says

    @Giliell #181:

    I would argue that their presence makes a space unsafe in itself, even if they “behave themselves”*…*which usually means to keep going where officials don’t see them

    I can understand feeling that way about people who threaten others. I don’t want to be around people who threaten me either. But I would disagree that their presence alone, when they are not behaving in acceptable ways, makes a space unsafe. Unpleasant perhaps, but not necessarily unsafe.

    If they violate the acceptable behavior standards – even when they do so where the officials don’t see them – then I agree that they make the space unsafe and should not be allowed to participate. It’s the pre-emptive idea of shunning due to behavior elsewhere before they have actually violated the community standards within the community that causes me concern. I will add the caveat that if the behavior elsewhere was also in violation of community standards in that particularly elsewhere, then it would be reasonable to shun them as they have demonstrated their unwillingness to abide by the appropriate community standards.

  167. Greta Christina says

    I can understand feeling that way about people who threaten others. I don’t want to be around people who threaten me either. But I would disagree that their presence alone, when they are not behaving in acceptable ways, makes a space unsafe. Unpleasant perhaps, but not necessarily unsafe.

    Beth @ #185: Seriously? You don’t think letting someone in with a pattern of threatening violence makes a space unsafe?

    if someone is a child abuser, you would feel safe having them in a group of children, as long as you didn’t see them abuse children in that particular space?

    If someone is an embezzler, you would feel safe hiring them as your accountant, as long as you didn’t see them cooking the books at your particular company?

    If none of that is true — then why should I feel safe in a space with someone with a track record of hateful misogyny and rape threats, as long as they hadn’t yet been observed engaging in hateful, threatening, misogynist behavior in that space?

    You seem to be treating hateful misogyny and rape threats as if it were a matter of differing cultural manners. It’s like you think we want to shun someone for not wearing a shirt in his own home or at a party where shirtlessness is acceptable, when we generally expect people to wear shirts. You seem to be saying that as long as people respect the manners of the particular spaces that they’re in, and understand that different spaces have different manners, we can trust them to respect the manners of the space that they’re in. Is that really what you’re saying? Are you really putting misogyny and brutal, graphic rape threats in that category?

  168. says

    Beth

    I can understand feeling that way about people who threaten others. I don’t want to be around people who threaten me either. But I would disagree that their presence alone, when they are not behaving in acceptable ways, makes a space unsafe. Unpleasant perhaps, but not necessarily unsafe.

    Do you honestly claim that I should feel safe in the presence of somebody who thinks that for the positions that I hold
    -I should be raped
    -should stop complaining about rape ’cause it isn’t fatal
    as long as they only take it to Twitter or my door afterwards and not at the venue?

  169. says

    I stopped reading this word vomit when I realized that you don’t bother linking any sort of proof that TJ said these things at all. No links to Tumblr, Youtube, Twitter or any quotes from his book that supports your theory of TJ saying these things. Also even if he did say these things how do we know he didn’t say them to people who had been proven to be lying about their rape. PZ I know you are a huge supporter of the anonymous rape accuser but lets be honest crying rape doesn’t make it so.

  170. says

    So, Amber Schweitzer’s resoning is:
    -He probably didn’t say them
    -if he said them, the person they were said to probably deserved them
    -PZ said something I disliked. No, I don’t care that this is NOT PZ’s blog…
    -I am apparently unable to follow two links. Therefore I win

  171. A. Noyd says

    Re the con problem: There’s also the issue of how people like TAA are popular in large part for the way they act out. Being bigoted, abusive fuckwads is their schtick. Which means they draw like-minded people and make it look as if things like rape threats are condoned wherever they’re invited. So, aside from issues of trust, even if TAA himself avoided making rape threats or triggering victims at a con, his very presence could encourage others to misbehave.

  172. Beth says

    Beth @ #174:Are you serious?

    Yes.

    First: How do you know that TAA’s threats aren’t serious? Are you psychic?

    No, I don’t know that. What I know is that within certain subcultures such over-the-top rhetoric is accepted without being taken seriously.

    Second: Even if we conceded that TAA’s threats are likely not “serious” in the sense that we can feel comfortable that he will never actually physically rape anyone — what makes you think that they’re not “serious” in their intent to make women feel threatened and unsafe?

    I absolutely think this is his purpose in making such threats. That’s why I agree with you regarding making such behavior unacceptable.

    Third, and very importantly: Are you seriously okay with gamer culture staying predominantly male, and staying hostile to women? Seriously?

    No, I’m not okay with that. I would expect gamer culture to change with the influx of women. I expect conferences and other community sites would, for the most part, adopt standards that ban such behaviors and participants to learn that they cannot behave that way in those places. At the same time, I am also not okay with telling a subculture that they must change their culture in order to make their space safe for people who are not okay with that behavior. If they want a freewheeling unsafe space, they have the right to set their standards differently.

    Which brings me to the crux of your point: Why are you okay with ceding any culture or subculture to people who hate women and make rape threats?*

    Because I think everybody deserves to create and participate in the subculture they want even if I or others find them despicable. I’m perfectly willing to cede the culture of the KKK to people who hate blacks. As long as I am not forced to participate in their subculture and they accept and abide by the required standards of behavior when in community spaces, I can live with them having a subculture that I don’t want to participate in.

    When there are cultures that tolerate hatred of women and rape threats, two things happen. 1: Women obviously don’t feel welcome in those cultures — and when those cultures make up a significant part of the world (as they currently do), it marks huge areas of the world as unsafe and unwelcome for women.

    Yes, you are right, it marks huge areas of the world as unsafe and unwelcome for women. I don’t have any problem with attempts to change such cultures. I think it will be necessary for them to change if they want to be continue to be part of the larger society. But if a group doesn’t want to be part of the larger society, if they are not interested in attracting women or minorities or people without the fortitude to tolerate their culture, then shunning will not be effective.

    2: Those cultures serve as places where misogynists support general hatred and hostility towards women, and indeed orchestrate harassment and hate campaigns outside that culture. 4Chan is a perfect example, as is the SlymePit.

    I’m not terribly familiar with either of those places/groups, knowing them only by reputation which tells me they aren’t places I want to be. From the Christian POV, many atheist spaces are considered places where harassment and hate campaigns against the religious are orchestrated. It’s reasonable to have limits on acceptable behaviors in public spaces. It’s not reasonable to insist that every space follow those same rules.

    The idea that people who spew misogynist hatred and rape threats will politely keep their bile behind clearly marked-off lines, and will not carry that hatred outside of those lines, is bollocks.

    I agree that is an issue and not everyone will be able to stay on their best behavior. But most people are able to adjust their behavior to the standards of the community they are participating in. I don’t think organizations should ban people from participation or attendance due to the expectation that they will be incapable of appropriate behavior, which is how I interpreted your objection to my suggestion that people actually commit inappropriate behavior in a venue before they are banned from that venue or ones with similar behavioral standards.

    Yes, I understand that there are subcultures in America where hateful, threatening, misogynist language is considered acceptable. I am trying to change that.

    You have my support for that. Recognizing that such subcultures exist and marginalizing those that won’t change via shunning those subcultures is very appropriate. What I’m not sold on is shunning anyone and everyone who participates in such a subculture. If they can behave themselves when around me and when participating in broader communities with different standards, I don’t think that shunning is required.

    From 186

    You don’t think letting someone in with a pattern of threatening violence makes a space unsafe?

    It depends. For example, consider someone with a pattern of threatening or violent rhetoric in a cultural milieu where threats are common and not considered credible. For example: ‘He should be shot’ is a common statement in many subcultures but isn’t considered a threat. Instead, it’s recognized as an expression of extreme disapproval. If the person lacks any history of actual violence and if they accept that they aren’t allowed to give voice to such threats within the space, then no, their presence should not be considered sufficient to make it unsafe for others.

    You seem to be saying that as long as people respect the manners of the particular spaces that they’re in, and understand that different spaces have different manners, we can trust them to respect the manners of the space that they’re in. Is that really what you’re saying?

    Close. I’m not saying we can trust them. I’m saying we should grant them the opportunity to respect the manners of the space that we jointly share. If they have established that they cannot or will not abide by such standards of behavior then it’s appropriate to shun them. BTW, I think you can still shun or ban TAA by this standard.

  173. Beth says

    @Giliell #189

    Do you honestly claim that I should feel safe in the presence of somebody who thinks that for the positions that I hold
    -I should be raped
    -should stop complaining about rape ’cause it isn’t fatal
    as long as they only take it to Twitter or my door afterwards and not at the venue?

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that someone who says such things in a venue where it is acceptable is not sufficient reason to ban them from a venue where it isn’t acceptable. If you want to shun them and any venue where they might appear, that seems quite reasonable to me.

  174. maddog1129 says

    @ Beth #191

    First: How do you know that TAA’s threats aren’t serious? Are you psychic?

    No, I don’t know that. What I know is that within certain subcultures such over-the-top rhetoric is accepted without being taken seriously.

    I’m not so sure that you can know that the threats are “not taken seriously” inside those communities where people freely express such threats.

  175. Greta Christina says

    Beth @ #191 and #192: In other words:

    You think brutal, graphic rape threats constitute “over-the-top rhetoric” which, in some places, aren’t “taken seriously.” And that’s okay with you.

    You don’t have any problem with attempts to change these cultures — and yet are spending hundreds of words arguing that outside those cultures, we have no right to exact a social penalty for being part of those cultures.

    You would expect gamer culture to change with the influx of women — but you somehow expect this to happen without women asking gamer culture to change, or exacting social penalties if it doesn’t.

    You think women don’t have a right to ask spaces that they’re participating in, or want to participate in, to ban people who make rape threats — because each space has the right to set their own standards, and they don’t have the right to ask these spaces to change those standards.

    You think the tolerance of misogyny and rape threats in many subcultures has no effect outside those subcultures. You think standards within a subculture — even a large subculture — have no effect on people’s behavior outside that subculture, because “most people are able to adjust their behavior to the standards of the community they are participating in.”

    You think that even if people have behaved in a consistent despicable manner elsewhere, we should still grant them the opportunity to respect the manners of the space that we jointly share. You think every single space should be a tabula rasa, a fresh start, in which all past behavior elsewhere is forgiven.

    And you’re “perfectly willing to cede the culture of the KKK to people who hate blacks.” You’re willing to just let the KKK exist, without opposition, and without any social consequences outside the KKK — because hating black people is just part of internal KKK culture, and doesn’t in any way spill out from the KKK into the culture at large.

    You think racist hatred, misogynist hatred, and rape threats are just subcultural quirks, mannerisms, with no ethical implications and no effects outside the cultures they’re practiced in.

    Your opinions are despicable. You just went from being in comment moderation to being banned. Get the hell out of my blog, and out of my life.

  176. Greta Christina says

    I realized that you don’t bother linking any sort of proof that TJ said these things at all.

    Amber Schweitzer @ #188: Um… do you know what it means when online text appears in another color, commonly blue or purple? It means that’s a link. Example: Near the beginning of this post, where I said “In case you missed it, here are some of the things Amazing Atheist has said,” the words “some” and “things” are in a different color. If you click on them, you’ll find links taking you to citations of TJ saying these things.

    Also even if he did say these things how do we know he didn’t say them to people who had been proven to be lying about their rape.

    You think it’s okay to make brutal, graphic rape threats to people who lied about rape? Or to people who might possibly have lied about rape?

    PZ

    You think you’re commenting on Pharyngula?

    I’m not even going to bother with comment moderation on this one. Banned.

  177. John Horstman says

    Re: Al Dente #163:

    If, as in this instance, what’s said is so offensive that people are outraged, then those people can refuse to have anything to do with the speaker and to publicly denounce him and his speech.

    Emphases added.
    For those keeping score at home, the italic part is freedom of association and the bold part is freedom of speech.

  178. speed0spank says

    Uhhh Amber…even *if* someone was found to be fabricating their entire rape story the decent human response would not be anything close to ‘You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you.’” I am sickened by anyone who thinks that.
    Personally, I’d rather be around one of the (what? 2% or so?) people who lied about rape than AA. They might have some issues but they still seem miles better than this AA asshole.

  179. Great American Satan says

    Regarding the gaming thing, it’s telling that there is cultural overlap between tAA’s crowd and Team Dickwolf, and always good to be reminded why I’m not reading Penny Arcade anymore or going to their misogynist con.

  180. carlie says

    For example: ‘He should be shot’ is a common statement in many subcultures but isn’t considered a threat. Instead, it’s recognized as an expression of extreme disapproval.

    Shooting people is not common. Rape is exceedingly common. Extreme disapproval through hyperbolic rhetoric only works when the rhetoric is, indeed, hyperbolic and not a genuine possibility.

  181. says

    Beth

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that someone who says such things in a venue where it is acceptable is not sufficient reason to ban them from a venue where it isn’t acceptable.

    You’re free to find me dogmatic, but there isn’t a place where I find such threats and rethoric acceptable. Because they betray a mindset. This person doesn’t see women as people, rape as bad. That’s somebody who is NOT safe to have around.

  182. Drolfe says

    So disappointing to see someone defending the perpetuation of white supremacy, based on some kind of libertarian zeal, i.e. ‘free speech absolutism’.

    “Words will never hurt me” is not a true statement.

  183. Drolfe says

    I was wrong.

    I thought about this for a while and figured out it was wrong to not also mention that I am disappointed and disgusted to see anyone defending rape culture and misogyny using those same arguments. I guess I was just jarred by the KKK argument after having come to expect the common but reprehensible arguments in defense of some ‘free speech right’ to make so-called “rhetorical” rape threats.

  184. says

    Anyone who takes this blog seriously needs to watch this:

    (embedded video removed, and commenter banned — I don’t generally like it when people embed videos in comments, but it is a serious violation of boundaries to embed videos by people I have clearly and repeatedly stated I want nothing to do with. – GC)

  185. Silentbob says

    @ 203 Brandon Vega

    So in a post that says…

    When you support and promote the work of someone who makes rape threats, you are tolerating rape threats. I agree that with some words and actions, we can agree on some things and disagree on others, and set aside disagreements to work together. Someone who says and does what The Amazing Atheist did does not fall into that category.

    … you decided to embed an Amazing Atheist video? (How very subversive of you.)

  186. will dunn says

    Bit dismissive there, eh? Let’s not listen to his opinion because a person who only watched 5 minutes tops of a 27 minute can summarize someone’s opinion.
    Really His defense for these comments are (in no particular order or encompassment); he was young, they’re out of context, they’re not serious and they’re just generic insults. He also says that later allegations of racism, sexism and discrimination and falsified and that there is no evidence for it (personally I don’t think those were allegations directed at him, but it was in the video).

  187. Silentbob says

    @ 206 will dunn

    His defense for these comments are (in no particular order or encompassment); he was young, they’re out of context, they’re not serious and they’re just generic insults.

    So you’re saying WMDKitty’s assessment @204 was entirely accurate.

  188. will dunn says

    If you’re going to be pedantic then no, he also offers no excuse at one point and explains something, then apologizes.
    If you want your argument to stand you should take into account the circumstances. There’s a time and a place for everything, including words and context matters. If both sides of an argument are just brainless insults at each other then that’s how they should be taken. It’s like punishing and ostracizing all people that cause GBH out of self defense because you didn’t take into account the other person. Are you really going to hold everyone to account for what they said when they were young adults and not accept an honest apology? Some of the people on this forum are really sheep-like;

    “I’ve stayed away from this guy for years, considering the clearly negative reviews I’d read from many sex-positive, humanist, non-asshole bloggers.”

    If you really want to know about him you should watch a few of his videos, I can understand if you dislike them (I’m not a huge fan of his silly voices and yelling) but he is for equality. If anything the most controversial thing about him is he thinks people shouldn’t take people’s words so seriously and his lack of long term empathy for victims of various incidents.

  189. says

    will dunn @ 206 & 208

    ‘I was young’ isn’t a defense. At best an excuse. Unless it’s followed with something along the lines of ‘…and I’m really sorry and I’d never do that now’.

    If he’s calling rape and death threats ‘generic insults’ then he is still pretty awful. Also, it’s really hard to imagine a context where they’d not be horrible, so that’s not much defense either.

    Falsified claims would be a real defense, sure. It might take being specific, though, when there’s documentation of saying horrible things.

    You say he is ‘for equality’. But, lots of people are “for” wonderful things like equality and freedom and so on but who have really strange or problematic definitions of such. Plenty of people think religious freedom means the right to discriminate based on and impose their religious rules on others. Plenty of people seem to think freedom of speech means able to shout and bully others in their own spaces. Plenty of people think equality means homosexuals have the equal freedom to obey gender roles and marry people of the opposite gender. With feminism specifically, there’s a lot of ‘equity feminists’ and the like who think equality means anything short of blatant legal discrimination is equality.

    Also, you seem to think that the opinion that one shouldn’t take others’ words so seriously is a good excuse for using horrible insults and threats? And that threats and attempts to trigger PTSD are something to be waved away as just a controversial lack of long term empathy for victims? I think a lot of people find those to be pretty major flaws.

  190. Greta Christina says

    Everything will dunn has said @ #206 & #208 — “it was out of context, it wasn’t serious, it was just generic insults” — has been already been addressed here, ad nauseam. (Oh, except for the part about how the worst thing about TAA his lack of empathy. Um… yeah, that’s kind of what we’re saying. Lack of empathy for victims of “various incidents” — which I assume means rape victims — is almost a textbook definition of being despicable.) Failure to read and engage with points already made multiple times + generic copy-paste defenses of someone I consider despicable = comment moderation. Any future comments will have to be approved by me before they go onto the blog.

  191. A. Noyd says

    Silentbob (#205)

    … you decided to embed an Amazing Atheist video? (How very subversive of you.)

    I doubt he meant to embed it. The commenting software probably did that for him without his planning it. Happens to regulars on FtB all the time. But that he tried to link the video at all is bad enough.

  192. Cody Reel says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation, but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. -GC

    GOD, feminists and liberals are so goddamn WORTHLESS.

    I wish everyone could just ignore these worthless whiners.

  193. says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation, but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. -GC

    1st off im a big fan of the amazing atheist what you got to do it dont let other peoples opinions bother you as they do not concern you at all i am a atheist myself and i know how the word rape is spread about but remember dont mess with other people that you dont even know just cos you got butthurt from something they said i know how real rape is and i hate when someone is raped but remember TJ was using words just words

    so go home make me a sandwich and stop making good people look bad

    Thank You

  194. doublereed says

    Why do people bother defending this guy? He’s just a negative, mean person all-around.

  195. Thorndyke Berberich says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation, but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. -GC

    Clearly none of you militant fake feminists have ever watched his channel. His intellect and morality surpass most of yours in either field. His vitriol is very understandable. You internet fascists are devoid of any ability to process reason, logic or reasonable debate. You are almost identical to hard line religious nut cases when it comes to these facets of thought. When one attempts proper intellectual discourse with you and nothing but inane garbage is thrown back at you then the only recourse is to try and shock and offend your deluded minds into sanity. I find myself doing this to fundamentalist “feminists” and Christians just as a way of channelling my frustrations. You people are destroying the real feminist movement with your ignorance and giving real intellectual and intelligent women a bad name. More and more people are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate feminism from you imbeciles with your “rape culture” nonsense. You are the Westboro Baptist Church of Feminism.

  196. A Hermit says

    You are almost identical to hard line religious nut cases when it comes to these facets of thought.

    Says the sycophantic follower of atheism’s version of Rush Limbaugh as he joins his fellow ditto-heads to swamp a woman’s blog with personal attacks and insults for the crime of daring to disagree…

    Self awareness is not strong with these guys, is it?

  197. A Hermit says

    Re: the “context” defense..given that at least some of those comments were directed at a rape survivor in what TJ himself admits was a deliberate attempt to trigger PTSD I think the context makes the comments even worse, if that’s possible…

  198. Alexander Serbayev says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation, but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. -GC

    It’s funny how people get upset over mere words. Does Amazing Atheist joke about rape? Yes. Will he ever rape anyone? No. That’s all. People who don’t get jokes are idiots. People who understand that those are jokes, but think that those jokes are unacceptable, are also idiots, and I am personally sick of social justice warriors like those.
    And Amazing Atheist like to makes those jokes because modern feminism in first world countries is mostly bullshit. It’s mostly about sense of entitlement of stupid women. Actual feminism is about fighting for rights of women in countries where women actually don’t have equal rights, like Pakistan. Bitching about jokes is not.

  199. PatrickG says

    so go home make me a sandwich and stop making good people look bad

    Clearly, this is one of those jokes excused by context, I’m sure.

    On the plus side, we have no worries about making this guy look bad. He does it all by himself! Do these people even stop to think how stupid they appear when they venture out of a YouTube comments section made up of their own slavishly fanatical ilk?

  200. A. Noyd says

    Are these guys being sent from somewhere that provided them with a template for commenting? Four troll comments in a row that start with the same quote by Greta in the same format is weird.

  201. says

    Seems not even one of his fans are able to make a coherent argument. The comments that have been moderated are totally lacking in any sort of point, but full of irrational and yes emotional (!) appeals to fallacy. I’ve not seen his videos but I’m guessing critical thinking and how to form a simple syllogism are not part of his output.

  202. says

    Does Amazing Atheist joke about rape? Yes. Will he ever rape anyone? No. That’s all.

    I wonder how you know that.

    Personally, when a man announces that he is willing to rape someone, I take him at his word. What has he got to lose, after all? It’s not like the conviction rate for rape is above 5 per 100 rapes committed.

    Unless you have him under 24/7 surveillance, that’s really not something you can say for sure.

  203. A. Noyd says

    Silentbob (#221)

    I believe that’s not a quote, but a notation added by Greta.

    Whoops, my bad. Thought it was the addendum she’d added somewhere about the hater parade that they were quoting.

  204. nunraper says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation (although they’re being posted in this separate blog post for the purposes of documentation), but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. Also — please take note of the commenter’s handle.-GC

    I’ve been working on my wife trying to convince her that Feminism has become this militant, rape obsessed and victim embracing distortion of it’s former self and she has been arguing with me, saying that you guys only represent a tiny minority of Feminists. Then I showed her this blog and made her aware of Greta Christina’s popularity. It finally convinced her that I was right all along. I’d just like to thank you guys for that! :-)

  205. John Thimakis says

    I wouldn’t exactly say those quotes were taken out of context, but no context is given.
    I watch his channel and from experience, I can tell you that although he can be very vulgar at times, it’s more for shock value and he definitely is not being literal.

  206. says

    Note from GC: I’m getting an influx of comments from fans of The Amazing Atheist. Most of them are variations on the same themes that have already been addressed ad nauseam: you took the rape threats out of context, he wasn’t serious, you’re taking this too seriously and are making too big a deal of it, comment moderation oppresses my freeze peach, etc. These are not passing comment moderation (although they’re being posted in this separate blog post for the purposes of documentation), but the commenters are not being banned. However, I am letting a handful of the more extreme comments through, for purposes of public documentation. This is one. The commenter has been banned. -GC

    I would not expect a grown ass woman to be so infatile, stupid, and lame. REALLY? Someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face, because you apparently can’t take a fucking joke. Could you be more anal? Do you lose some poop in your pants every time your feminists sense tingles? This A+ pond of scum, is an echo chamber of socially retarded Asperger’s people who have gone undiagnosed an entire life.

    You know you are little small Ellliot Rodger clones. He could not take a joke. He was anal. You can’t take a joke. You are anal. So when are you gonna organize a mass shooting of all these Rape Joke people?

    Q: Is a Rape Joke ok, if it involves the Holy Virgin Mother Mary? Because thats the only kind of Rape joke that I like. I mean, this woman is basically famous for not having sex before giving birth. Rape is certainly profoundly fun in this scenario… Is it not? Oh, and Remember, if you answer no to my Question, you are all Antisemites. Because you know how Jews like to make Rape jokes about Mary. You don’t want me to send the ADL after your small fish asses. I mean FTB is like a small ADL. Imagine what the big ass full grown ADL could do to your little hairy armpit bloggette?

    I challenge you Motherfuckers.

  207. alexreynard says

    If you would not stand with a rape denier, what about the person who said this:

    “Although consideration of female victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were made to penetrate by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a woman who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a man.”

    And what if this person were a prominent researcher and tenured professor? And what if I’d flipped the genders and this was actually a quote from feminist Mary Koss, justifying why she refuses to acknowledge the existence of male rape victims. So would you denounce Koss too?

  208. Greta Christina says

    this was actually a quote from feminist Mary Koss, justifying why she refuses to acknowledge the existence of male rape victims. So would you denounce Koss too?

    alexreynard @ #230: Yes.

    I would absolutely denounce that. People of any gender can be rape victims, and people of any gender can be rapists. It is despicable to deny that men can be raped.

    It is also, to make it very clear. very much not in the mainstream of feminist thought. The overwhelming majority of feminists have understood for some time that men can be rape victims. And while the majority of rape is male on female (which is why much writing about rape is done in terms of gender dynamics), male rape victims have an extra burden to cope with — namely, the sexist ideas that either men can’t be raped at all, or that being raped somehow makes them less of a man. These ideas make it even harder for male rape victims than female rape victims to get justice, to seek help, even to tell anyone about it. The overwhelming majority of feminists understand this, and vehemently oppose it.

  209. PatrickG says

    @ Al Dente:
    Not just a tu quoque, but a reverse argument from authority. She’s tenured, thus all feminists must accept her fallacies as canon?

    It’s also worth pointing out that alexreynard misrepresented the quote. Here’s the actual statement by Koss — and mind you, I found this at AVfM*, which I won’t link to because of our bloghost’s commenting rules:

    Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman

    I completely disagree with this statement, for the record.

    That said, I find it reprehensible that alexreynard would engage in such deliberate misrepresentation of the quote. You didn’t just switch genders, as you claimed. You rewrote a key phrase.

    I think we call that argumentum ad lying, alexreynard.

    * P.S. A google search of the first few phrases of that quote doesn’t actually bring up any direct source material. Probably exists somewhere, but the first page of results were to MRA sites, hence the reference to AVfM.

  210. Thomas Hobbes says

    Anyway, to answer the question: I don’t know where exactly the line is, but i do know Amazing Atheist crossed it. He’s not one of MY community, that’s for sure.

  211. Karen F. says

    Hey there Greta;

    I stop by every once in a while as I ramble about the ‘Net. I’m having a bit of trouble with this blog post. For a couple of reasons.

    First – just to give some context: I’m a Canadian, so some of what I say may come from a slightly different social context. And sound a bit like an “enabler”, which I honestly don’t intend. TAA’s behaviour is vile. And what he said is horrible. And I am not going to defend him or excuse him.

    The person I am defending is Mr. Rose. I have been a subscriber to his YT channel for a long time. Since he was The True Pooka. (Waves at Philip) I happen to know he is a staunch feminist. And I understand what he’s saying, too.

    Controversy and extremism on YT is nothing new. And horribly, Mr. Rose is right about the effect that adding to anyone’s publicity has on YT hits. He really is.

    Youtube floats in an uneasy (and problematic) relationship between manufactured entertainment and reality. Some people produce sincere and thoughtful videos. Some people post pseudo-reality entertainment. Some post fluff and fun. And, unfortunately, some people post horrible hate-filled rants and raves. Of those people, some don a “persona” to do so (similar to an author’s pseudonym) and some do not.

    On Youtube it is about chasing the dollar, for a lot of people. It has made people rich, and it has transformed people’s lives. Anyone could “catch on” and make a million dollars. Ryan Higa and Simon Tofield for example. But there is definitely a dark side to that place. A terrible underbelly. And infamy means money as surely as fame.

    So my response is – yes, we should do our utmost to see that he is separated from the “atheist community”. I personally would love to see his channel name changed to The Amazing Asshole. But, unfortunately, his current name is “too famous” for him to voluntarily change it.

    What I don’t really agree with is giving him more attention (and therefore more money).

    I think this could have been handled a little differently; YT has a mechanism for complaints. If nobody complains, nothing is done. (Honest, that’s how they operate) And I think a mailing list to get the word out would have been a better option. It’s slower, but better in the sense that it probably would not drive (lure, provoke, whatever) traffic to his channel.

    I think that this is one time that “no news is good news” is actually true.

  212. Greta Christina says

    Karen F. @ #236: I see. So when a hugely popular YouTuber makes grotesquely misogynist comments, including graphic and brutal rape threats, you agree that he should be separated from the atheist community — but you don’t think we should let the public know about this effort. Publicizing his vile behavior merely drives traffic to him — so therefore, we shouldn’t talk about it publicly. We should spread the word about his vileness quietly and through back channels . And people who aren’t connected to those back channels will just have a to wait a few years before they get the word.

    Seriously. That is seriously what you’re saying. You’re saying that the benefit of publicly exposing the terrible behavior of a terrible human being, and letting the community know about it so they can make an informed decision about whether to support him in the future, is not worth the risk of temporarily, for the course of maybe a week or two, driving some extra traffic to him.

    I encourage you to watch this very short (three and a half minutes) video by Jay Smooth, Why You Should Feed the Trolls If You Damn Well Need To, on why the whole trope of “don’t feed the trolls, it just drives traffic to them and gives them attention” is a terrible response to hatred and abuse, effectively telling targets of that hatred and abuse to shut up about it. In the meantime: Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  213. pickwick says

    I read all the comments.

    It’s no surprise that none of the “arguments” offered in defense of this loathsome person are anything but contemptible; I just wanted to shovel even more scorn on the argument that people who talk like that are “not serious, only joking, he didn’t mean it and you’ve got no sense of humor,” etc.

    I’m sure some small number don’t mean it; there are plenty of thoughtless people everywhere, following whatever seems to be the social norm without sparing a neuron or two to think about it. But the only online misogynist I’ve ever met was just the same in person, and built along the same lines as this TAA, near as I can tell: superficial cleverness, arrogance, sense of superiority, and a tendency to make “jokes” that were often violent. In his case, he dated an ex-girlfriend of mine, an alcoholic and codependent, and did his best to crush her spirit; she survived the experience, separated from him, and is doing well, now that a few years have passed, but it enrages me to see people defending that kind of communication. Some people DO mean it, in a general sense EVEN IF (which is an “if”) not the specific terrible things they say. But that doesn’t even matter, because there’s no context that could make those words acceptable.

    Shun away, is my view. I’m mentally ill and not likely to be much help at present, but I respect you and will try to make the spaces I do spend time in safer and more comfortable for others. Part of that is making sure people like TAA are not welcomed.

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