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Hate speech, or free speech?

Theists have really gone overboard this time in labelling anyone who disagrees with them as being engaged in hate speech against them. With more specificity, the Delhi High Court has demanded that Facebook — the international social media site — remove all images the judge has deemed “hateful”: to wit, images of Hindu deities, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed. Yes, the Muslim prophet Mohammed, a prophet who existed before cameras and thus whom nobody knows what he actually looks like. Meaning every image, of anything, that anyone claims is of Mohammed, is violating this ruling and must be removed.

Aldo Matteucci does an excellent job disassembling this news and its implications on legislation against “objectionable” materials:

- Assume “objectionable” material is sent through the mail. Is the Post Office bound to vet the content of every letter? Would the DHC block postal traffic if the Post Office fails to devise mechanisms to check and remove objectionable material? I doubt the DHC would act in this way.
– Assume “objectionable” material is put in an “advertisement section” of a paper. Is the newspaper bound to vet the content of each advertisement? I suspect jurisprudence says it does.

Different standards are upheld – depending on the judicially perceived feasibility of “vetting”, and, I’d say, the prejudice of the court. If the Postal Office belongs to my country’s friendly Crown, it will get off easily when it declares itself unable to do the vetting. Internet providers are all-powerful “foreign devils”.

But the core issue before the DHC seems to me actually to be another one. In the olden days the main issue was one of (political and morals) censorship – the state vs. the individual. The DHC case and other similar cases, however, appear to refer to Government involvement on behalf of privacy rights of third parties.

It’s funny, because this dovetails neatly with something Ophelia posted recently about an atheist Facebook group:

Essentially, a large of group of Muslim students felt offended that there were pictures of Mohammed on the facebook group. As a result, they felt that our facebook group was no longer a ‘safe space’ for Muslims. Thus, they have ‘requested’ that we remove the offending images. Until an official complaint procedure is completed they cannot mandate we take it down. However, they made it pretty clear that would be the next step should we choose to keep the images.

Was the atheist society’s Facebook page ever intended to be a “safe space” for Muslims? Is that the point of such societies – to be “safe spaces” for their opposites? Aren’t people allowed to be X without also having to be a “safe space” for anyone who disagrees with them?

Considering the discussions we’ve had very recently about the need for moderating spaces, to create safe spaces for certain classes of otherwise underprivileged folks, it’s funny that certain people have determined that this means EVERY space must be safe, and that “safety” means the same thing in every context. While the Muslims in question apparently believe it means safety from dissenting opinions, and that every space must be free of criticisms of Islam, to create a “safe space for atheists”, one has to hold criticism of religions a sacrosanct right. Atheism is, at its core, the lack of belief in (a.k.a skepticism about) everyone else’s religious truth claims.

The question this ruling raises is, if you make a space safe for atheists, does that mean it must also be safe for the religious? If you make a space safe for women, does that mean it must also be safe for anti-feminists and MRAs and misogynists? If you make a space safe for skeptics, does that mean you have to make it safe for astrologers and crystal healing and ghost hunters? Are any of these safe spaces even achievable when the needs of one group completely trample the needs of another?

This is why blasphemy laws are fundamentally unworkable. Unless you’re going to impose a strict ruling on what religion is “true”, every epistemological claim is blasphemous to someone. You cannot create a space that is safe for every religion, because someone will be offended by anything, even the most innocuous of claims. Talk about the moon landing, and you’re offending the Hare Krishna, who believe it can’t have happened because the moon is further away than the sun. Talk about evolution, or cosmology, and you’re offending the Evangelical Christians, who believe everything was created ex nihilo about six thousand years ago. Everyone loses if every space must be made “safe” for every religion.

Comments

  1. says

    I appreciate minority groups having a voice and trying to advocate for their principles. Hell, it’s great! But when that voice is used to repeatedly scream STFU at everyone else my sympathy wanes.

  2. Robert B. says

    @ fredricmartin:

    I’m sorry, that was a little vague for me. Who exactly are you talking about, and what are they saying that decreases your sympathy?

  3. says

    Giving fredricmartin the benefit of the doubt, I suspect he’s saying that giving voice to minorities is fine, except when they try to use that voice to silence others. In this case, atheists and Muslims are both minorities and should be free to say what they believe in their respective “safe places”, but not to censor one another.

    But then again, he could be suggesting we’re trying to shut up Muslims who are offended. I dunno.

  4. says

    every image, of anything, that anyone claims is of Mohammed, is violating this ruling and must be removed.

    You mean my image of Bacon Muhammad has to go? Nooooooo!

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the Hare Krishna[s], who believe it can’t have happened because the moon is further away than the sun.

    I won’t say that’s unbelievable, because, you know…

    but a link or the like would help.

  6. says

    A blockquote from that piece in case you see it and go TL;DR:

    The Vedic account of our planetary system is already researched, concluded, and perfect. The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun. Therefore, even if we accept the modern calculation of 93 million miles as the distance from the earth to the sun, how could the “astronauts” have traveled to the moon–a distance of almost 94 million miles–in only 91 hours (the alleged elapsed time of the Apollo 11 moon trip)? This would require an average speed of more than one million miles per hour for the spacecraft, a patently impossible feat by even the space scientists’ calculations.

  7. sumdum says

    Amazing. So they trust scientists to calculate the distance to the sun, but not the distance to the moon ? Wow.

  8. John Greg says

    The irony factor in your post, Jason, is monumental.

    Jason said:

    “The question this ruling raises is, if you make a space safe for atheists, does that mean it must also be safe for the religious? If you make a space safe for women, does that mean it must also be safe for anti-feminists and MRAs and misogynists? If you make a space safe for skeptics, does that mean you have to make it safe for astrologers and crystal healing and ghost hunters? Are any of these safe spaces even achievable when the needs of one group completely trample the needs of another?”

    Perhaps, if you leave your false dichotomies behind, you might begin to approach some degree of intellectual honesty.

    One major problem here is defining what a so-called safe space is. But let’s leave that aside for the moment.

    “The question this ruling raises is, if you make a space safe for atheists, does that mean it must also be safe for the religious?”

    No, but it does suggest that religious folk are equaly entitled to what they perceive to be a safe space of their own.

    “If you make a space safe for women, does that mean it must also be safe for anti-feminists and MRAs and misogynists?”

    Ah, again with the false dichotomies. Nonetheless, if you make a safe space for women, then that does indeed suggest that men are also entitled to a safe space of their own. If you make a safe space for radical feminists, then that suggests that MRAs (and who the fuck knows what that even means anymore) are also entitled to a safe space of their own. If you make a safe space for misandrists then that suggests that misogynists are also entitled to a safe space of their own. If you make a safe space for anti-equity feminists then that suggests that anti-feminists are entitled to a safe space of their own.

    “If you make a space safe for skeptics, does that mean you have to make it safe for astrologers and crystal healing and ghost hunters?:

    No, but it does suggest that they are entitled to a safe space of their own.

    What this all boils down to really is the issue of aggressive proselytizing and force-feeding of one group’s ideology upon another group; the demand that the “other”, the out-group adhere strictly to the tenets and ideologies of the in-group. And while religious groups and individuals tend to hold the winning card of guilt in that game, that is still something that all of us are guilty of to some greater or lesser degree from time to time, and certainly you, Jason, and your acolytes, have no more of a free pass on that issue than do I, although I suspect that your cognitive dissonance is too strong for you to be able to be honest and upfront about it.

    Now, finally, please define “safe space” for me. Your generalised ambiguity renders the term almost meaningless, as it has such once useful, now useless terms such as MRA, misogynist, rape-culture, and so on.

  9. says

    Ah, John Greg. It’s been too long since your particular brand of reading malcomprehension has darkened my comment threads. You always start out thinking you’ve got such a strong case, but it’s always predicated on some fundamental misreading of the post at hand. And yet, though you leave whole lines of argumentation swaying in the breeze, you never walk them back after you’ve been soundly criticized on them.

    In this case, it would be the idea that the Muslims in the linked post demanded that an atheist Facebook group take down images of Mohammed because they felt that space — the Facebook group — was no longer safe for them. Not that an atheist group is a particularly safe place for religious folks to begin with.

    A “safe space” is a place where one does not have to have some fundamental and integral part of a person’s identity interrogated.

    For instance, a safe place for gays would be a space where nobody calls them “fag” or tells them they’re going to hell for liking the same gender.

    A safe space for Men’s Rights Activists or Men Going Their Own Way would be someplace like Reddit’s r/mensrights where they can chat amongst themselves about how the gynocracy is keeping them down and how they hate being ownable to having to treat women like human beings in order to get sex from them.

    A safe space for antifeminists would be like your usual hangouts, ERV’s slimepit and Victor Ivanoff’s circle-hoggling board, where you don’t have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the words and phrases and attitudes you evince against women might have a net detrimental effect on women in society — where your precious ideals of “freedom to offend anyone anywhere without repercussions” that you so often mistake for “free speech” will never be questioned.

    A safe space for feminists would be a place free of people like yourself, who hates feminists so terribly much that you absolutely must get in on every conversation involving a feminist so you can try to prove them somehow illogical or incapable of rational, coherent, and intellectually honest thought. And I would be a poor stewart of that safe space if I allowed you to return.

    But don’t worry. I value free speech too much — it takes a lot to actually raise my ire. You’ve shown yourself able to actually converse at a reasonable intellectual level once your first fundamental misreading has been corrected. Now that you know that the Muslims in question were demanding that an atheist forum be welcoming to them, do you perhaps understand why I was saying that a “safe space for women” being infested by people who think women are subhuman life support systems for their reproductive organs would maybe be a little counterproductive?

  10. John Greg says

    “Ah, John Greg. It’s been too long since your particular brand of reading malcomprehension has darkened my comment threads.”

    Ah well, that’s just me trying to keep you entertained.

    “Additionally, I hope you find it ironic that you and your “acolytes” are so often “aggressively proselytizing” in our spaces, but we are not doing likewise in yours.”

    Juicy tasty fun indeed. Although I would argue that we do not so much proselytize as we criticize. After all, I would say we are by no means in close enough agreement about anything to proselytize about it, except perhaps our mutual mistrust and disdain of Benson, Myers, Watson, Marcotte, Zvan, Laden, and a small handful of other rather hysterical gender-feminists.

    By-the-by, I think that your definitions of safe space are, aside from the juveile hyperbole, reasonably good. Remove the hyperbolic sillyness and distortion and you actually have something reasonably useful.

    Also, I know it gives you a thrill to think and say otherwise, but most of the posters at ERV and my other hangouts are not in any way anti-feminist. We are just anti- your form of feminism; we tend to be, specifically, anti-gender feminism.

    Like I’ve said before, I support Christina Hoff Sommers’s version of feminism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Hoff_Sommers), and if I recall correctly, you feel Sommers is something of a gender traitor or some form of anti-feminist herself, which is patently absurd.

    “Now that you know that the Muslims in question were demanding that an atheist forum be welcoming to them, do you perhaps understand why I was saying that a ‘safe space for women’ being infested by people who think women are subhuman life support systems for their reproductive organs would maybe be a little counterproductive?”

    Yes, of course I do. That’s why I included this bit, that you seem to have overlooked:

    “What this all boils down to really is the issue of aggressive proselytizing and force-feeding of one group’s ideology upon another group; the demand that the ‘other’, the out-group adhere strictly to the tenets and ideologies of the in-group.”

    And that kind of hypocrisy in pretty hard to swallow, whatever “side” it comes from.

    I think the concept of safe space, while valid to some degree, has been somewhat blown out of proportion and is used as a sort of Disneyesque Yellow Brick Road implying some kind of nirvana-like wonderland of misplaced false innocence, and is used increasingly everywhere on the Internet as not so much a safe space, but more as a space where no confrontation or disagreement of any kind that rocks the ideological boat is to be sanctioned.

    Look, whether we agree or disagree is mostly moot. Real life does not, should not, and cannot provide ultimate safety to anyone anywhere. Such naive expectations do nothing to prepare real people for participation in the real world where dangers of all kinds from meaningless minor scrapes to deathly challenges exist.

    I suspect that too much safe space leads to an inability to face reality and deal with the challenges of living in an overpopulated and wildly divers world. The way I see it is that disagreement leads to debate and argument which leads, or at least has the potential to lead to change and/or consensus. And that is healthy.

    What I understand as your safe space leads to an unhealthy sheltering from the realities of disparate points of view. And there is nothing healthy in that kind of living: disagreement and debate can and should lead to self-examination and the potential for change: the unexamined life is not worth living. And the closeted child does not grow.

    And yes of course that includes me. I have had my eyes opened from time to time in these and many other forums and blogs to issues that I had heretofore not thought about or understood.

  11. CommanderTuvok says

    Jason Thibeault:

    safe space for antifeminists would be like your usual hangouts, ERV’s slimepit and Victor Ivanoff’s circle-hoggling board, where you don’t have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the words and phrases and attitudes you evince against women might have a net detrimental effect on women in society

    This is from one of the main supporters of those who like to throw “gender traitor” at women they disagree with.

    What a load of hypocritical jokers.

  12. says

    John Greg: This is honestly the first time anyone has ever pointed me at anything she’s said, but I don’t think Sommers’ version of feminism — that the current crop of third wave feminists are “gender feminists” — is accepted outside of conservative and anti-feminist circles. Generally, only those who think that saying that women are being systemically disadvantaged is somehow anti-man think like this, and in fact, if you say “gender feminist” to anyone outside of people already sympathetic with your antifeminist positions, they’ll not understand what you’re saying. The reason for that is her ideas are not generally well-known, because they’re largely ignored as antifeminist grousing.

    Wasn’t Tuvok supposed to be dispassionate, logical, and honest? Perhaps a bit of evidence for your assertion is in order.

    I challenge either of you to show where I supported anyone calling anyone else a gender traitor. Surely that’s gotta be possible, with your encyclopedic psychic knowledge of the types of things I think and believe.

  13. Darren says

    Jason, I think you have straw-manned (or, at least, misinterpeted) Tuvok here. He wrote:

    This is from one of the main supporters of those who like to throw “gender traitor” at women they disagree with.

    To which you respond:

    I challenge either of you to show where I supported anyone calling anyone else a gender traitor.

    Tuvoks point, if I understand it correctly, is that by not challenging those on “your side” when they use “gender traitor” to dismiss the views of women they disagree with, you are tacitly supporting them.

    Couple this with the text Tuvok quoted from you:

    maybe, just maybe, the words and phrases and attitudes you evince against women might have a net detrimental effect on women in society

    This is where the hypocrisy lies. Surely you agree that having your views dismissed as those of a “gender traitor” may have a “net detrimental effect”?

  14. says

    John, are you telling me you get your ideas about feminism from the American Enterprise Institute?!? Pray tell, what else do you think they’re a reasonable source of information on?

  15. says

    I challenge either of you to show where I supported anyone calling anyone else a gender traitor. Surely that’s gotta be possible, with your encyclopedic psychic knowledge of the types of things I think and believe.

    I doubt it will do any good to press them on this. They’ll likely just squirm and wriggle away while continuing to insist there is evidence you did that somewhere (though they won’t say where) on the Internet. At least, that’s been my experience dealing with one of their ringleaders.

  16. says

    By the way, for people who get so worked up over the term gender traitor but subscribe to Sommer’s ideology, do they have any complaints about this: Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women

    Why would that be OK while gender traitor isn’t? Or is that not OK either? And why would liberals buy into the ideology of a person who stresses “moral conservation and traditional values”? Or are the people subscribing to Sommer’s ideology not liberals (I was under the impression that most of them at ERV’s were)?

  17. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    “The question this ruling raises is, if you make a space safe for atheists, does that mean it must also be safe for the religious?”

    No, but it does suggest that religious folk are equaly entitled to what they perceive to be a safe space of their own.

    If some group wants an internet safe space, then they can create it for themselves. They shouldn’t demand that someone else’s safe space be made safe for them, especially when the other group has opinions radically different from the first group.

  18. John Greg says

    I said:

    “… if I recall correctly, you feel Sommers is something of a gender traitor or some form of anti-feminist herself, which is patently absurd.”

    Jason said:

    “This is honestly the first time anyone has ever pointed me at anything she’s said….”

    Then I stand corrected. I could have sworn that a couple of months ago when I posted something here mentioning Sommers, you responded either here or at one of the other FTB blogs by stating that Sommers was an anti-feminist, or a false feminist or something like that. Perhaps I confused you with someone else.

    “Generally, only those who think that saying that women are being systemically disadvantaged is somehow anti-man think like this, and in fact, if you say “gender feminist” to anyone outside of people already sympathetic with your antifeminist positions, they’ll not understand what you’re saying.”

    Jason, that is complete and insupportable nonsense. For starters you state that “saying that women are being systemically disadvantaged is somehow anti-man”. No one that I know has in fact said any such thing. What is being said is that the overall focus of groups like Skepchick, and individuals like Watson, Myers, Marcotte, Benson, et al, tends to be generally dismissive of most men’s concerns in regard to equity-feminism versus gender-feminism. For example, almost without fail when a poster at Skepchick or the FTB blogs says something along the lines of “Men’s rights / needs / issues / should also be taken into consideration”, they are soundly and roundly dismissed as MRAs, misogynists, or worse, and the “faithful” start crowing things like “Here come the MRAs with their whiney men’s issues crap”, and so forth and so on. That does not in anyway speak to any kind of equality; it speaks to exclusivity.

    Secondly, you continue to insist that I, and presumably most of the people who post at ERV, are anti-feminist, which is simply not true. Because I and other folk do not agree with or support your feminist paradigm does not in any way make me anti-feminist. Feminism encompasses a range of thought and ideology from extremists to something almost laissez faire. You are in essence presenting, yet again, the false dichomoty of your narrow perspective. You are saying in effect, “either you’re with us or you’re against us”. The real world is not black and white like that.

    “The reason for that is her ideas are not generally well-known, because they’re largely ignored as antifeminist grousing.”

    I am sorry Jason but that statement only shows how truly ignorant you are of the wider issues of real-world feminism, and the larger scope outside of your own quite narrow definition and understanding. Just because her ideas are not well known by you, or because you have largely ignored them does not in any way mean that this is also true globally.

    “I challenge either of you to show where I supported anyone calling anyone else a gender traitor.”

    If you review my original statement you will see that I presented it not as a quote, but as conditional or conceptual. And I stand by that. I have the impression that you fully support the concept of gender traitor as espoused by Skeptifem; perhaps not the words, but the concept.

    Zvan said:

    “John, are you telling me you get your ideas about feminism from the American Enterprise Institute?!?”

    I get my “ideas about feminism” from a vast array of sources. One need not support the institute to agree with some of Sommers’s speculations.

    “Pray tell, what else do you think they’re a reasonable source of information on?”

    That sentence is an irrelevancy, a non sequitor, and a derailer all neatly tied up in one wee phrase.

    ‘Tis Himself said:

    “They shouldn’t demand that someone else’s safe space be made safe for them, especially when the other group has opinions radically different from the first group.”

    It seems to me that that is the gist of my argument, and that such a guideline would apply to any and all concerned parties.

  19. says

    If you review my original statement you will see that I presented it not as a quote, but as conditional or conceptual. And I stand by that. I have the impression that you fully support the concept of gender traitor as espoused by Skeptifem; perhaps not the words, but the concept. –John Greg

    Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women [by your feminist authority, Sommers]

  20. julian says

    Wasn’t Tuvok supposed to be dispassionate, logical, and honest?

    He was also a shitty character.

    I get my “ideas about feminism” from a vast array of sources.

    Would some of those places happen to be the rubbish bin? Because that’s where Sommers belongs. The bin. She’s one of those people who not only have no idea what they’re talking about but are frequently misleading about the work they’re citing/referring to.

  21. says

    “They shouldn’t demand that someone else’s safe space be made safe for them, especially when the other group has opinions radically different from the first group.”

    It seems to me that that is the gist of my argument, and that such a guideline would apply to any and all concerned parties.

    versus

    What is being said is that the overall focus of groups like Skepchick, and individuals like Watson, Myers, Marcotte, Benson, et al, tends to be generally dismissive of most men’s concerns in regard to equity-feminism versus gender-feminism. For example, almost without fail when a poster at Skepchick or the FTB blogs says something along the lines of “Men’s rights / needs / issues / should also be taken into consideration”, they are soundly and roundly dismissed as MRAs, misogynists, or worse, and the “faithful” start crowing things like “Here come the MRAs with their whiney men’s issues crap”, and so forth and so on.

    Also, if you’re going to claim you get ideas from people other than Hoff Sommers, you might want to demonstrate some of them. So far, all you’ve got is “gender feminism” vs. “equity feminism,” “misandry,” and “making all women victims.” Guess who introduced them all into the dialog.

  22. John Greg says

    LOL. Zvan, you’re bloody hilarious. Gish galloper, non sequitorian, and mage of irrelevancy supreme, and with the intellect of a frozen cane toad to boot.

    No wonder Laden kisses your wee botty (with full recip of course).

    :)

    LOL, yet again.

    Keep on rollin steph; keep on rollin.

  23. Forbidden Snowflake says

    That’s a rather piss-poor way to reply to someone who has pointed out a contradiction in your words, John.

    Also:

    except perhaps our mutual mistrust and disdain of Benson, Myers, Watson, Marcotte, Zvan, Laden, and a small handful of other rather hysterical gender-feminists.

    Can I have the names of those other rather hysterical gender-feminists, please? You seem to be quite the compass-pointing-south when it comes to taste in blogs.

  24. John Greg says

    Forbidden Snowflake said:

    “That’s a rather piss-poor way to reply to someone who has pointed out a contradiction in your words, John.”

    Yes, it is. And I thought so at the time I posted it. Perhaps I could use julian’s rather limp-wristed excuse for wishing people to die in a fire and say “I was drunk at the time”.

    Actually, there are a few reasons for my piss-poor response, one being that I think Zvan is an intellectually dishonest fool. But perhaps more importantly, I do not see the contradiction. Perhaps you could elucidate for me.

    “Can I have the names of those other rather hysterical gender-feminists, please?”

    I do not see what purpose that would serve, but sure:

    Benson, Myers, Watson, Marcotte, Zvan, Laden, McCreight, Skeptifem (real name unknown), Reed, Christina (perhaps), several of the bloggers on Skepchick.org who’s names only come to mind when they post a goofy post. Of course, names / identities and individuals come and go, both from sight and from memory, so there are probably others who I have currently overlooked.

    And there are others about whom I am undecided, for example, Jean Kazez, who initially struck me as a very reasonable individual until she joined the madding crowd and threw out the known rules and definitions of English usage, and language and diction, and cultural influence over same and decided that she and she alone knew what the singular definition of a certain word is, was, and always shall be — and it might be noted that I make a small claim to some authority in this issue as my degree is in English, and my professional certifications are in a variety of professional writing genres.

    That’s just a very long winded way of saying that Kazez exposed her hypocrisy (and stubborn dictional ignorance) clearly and is therefore on my undecided list.

    “You seem to be quite the compass-pointing-south when it comes to taste in blogs.”

    What does that mean?

    If you mean compass pointing to the US specifically in terms of criticizing blogs, then yes, that would be true. I think that most of the American atheist / skeptic /feminist bloggers that I am familiar with are indeed generally hysterical and highly prone to crisis invention, hyperbole, and manufactured rage over miniscule and usually local events.

    And most of the bloggers from Canada and the UK and Europe that I am familiar with seem to me to be much more grounded in reason, critical thinking, and a legitimate skeptical approach to more world-encompassing events.

    Generally speaking, I am in the smallish but growing group of people who are increasingly dismayed by what appears to be a notable decline in critical thinking and meaningful skepticism in the so-called atheist / skeptic / feminist community in favour of anecdata, hyperbole, loud anger, and Myers-esque politics of viciousness.

    Now, of course, that could all be very easily explained away as a form of self-bias confirmation, or something like that. Neither I, nor you, have any way of really knowing, there being far, far too many blogs etc., around the world to be able to make a practical and meaningful argument about. After all, like all of us, I can only base my opinions and perceptions on that which I experience.

  25. says

    A compass pointing south is reliable. Do exactly the opposite of what it says, and you’ll be just fine. So, thanks for the recommendations. Not much new, but perhaps Jean Kazez is now worth reading?

  26. John Greg says

    “A compass pointing south is reliable. Do exactly the opposite of what it says, and you’ll be just fine.”

    Huh?

    “So, thanks for the recommendations.”

    Again, huh?

    “Not much new, but perhaps Jean Kazez is now worth reading?”

    In my opinion, even though I disagree with some of Jean’s opinions, yes, she is well worth reading.

  27. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Yes, it is. And I thought so at the time I posted it. Perhaps I could use julian’s rather limp-wristed excuse for wishing people to die in a fire and say “I was drunk at the time”.

    Oh, it wasn’t piss-poor because it was insulting. It was piss-poor because insulting was all it was. You didn’t try to counter Zwan’s point; in fact, given your next paragraph, you didn’t even understand where she was going with it.

    But perhaps more importantly, I do not see the contradiction. Perhaps you could elucidate for me.

    In the first quote, you seem to agree that an expectation for an ideological rival’s safe space be made safe for you is unreasonable. In the second, you express indignation over the fact that your ideological rivals’ safe spaces weren’t welcoming to you.
    It does appear as if you are demanding that which, in the words of the first quote, “they shouldn’t demand”.

    And my “compass-pointing-south” remark meant that I find your opinion about bloggers so consistently wrong that I can just go ahead and regard your condemnation as a recommendation.

  28. John Greg says

    Forbidden Snowflake, okay, I see what you mean now. Thanks for the elucidation. My response is:

    Yes, I do not think that, as you phrase it, a “rival’s safe space be made safe for you” is a reasonable or even realistic expectation. If one demands a safe space, whatever the heck that is, then one must somehow create it for themselves, largely because only that individual can define what a safe space is for them.

    In the larger picture, and for several reasons, I do not think any expectation for a blog or other Internet entitity to be made a safe space is realistic. For one thing, everyone is going to have a different definition of what safe space means; of what entails a safe place, and for another thing, I do not think the term or the concept is even attainable or for that matter even meaningful.

    Generally speaking, it matters very little to me that I be made welcome on any given Internet blog or site. My primary concern with Internet dialogue is one of freedom of expression, or more accurately, the freedom to state one’s opinions and thoughts within some range of respectability. I would expect to be met with open discussion, not with agreement, mollycoddling, back slapping, or any other sort of enthusiastic support.

    Yes, it is of course nice if people agree with one’s opinions and thoughts, but that’s not why I present them. One could say that for me a safe space (although I still deny the relevance or praticality of such a specious term and/or concept) would be one that allows people to state their thoughts and opinions without fear of deletion, editorial censorship, or banning within a well defined, realistic, and clearly stated posting policy.

    In that sense, I consider ERV to be a safe space because I can be quite certain that I will be allowed to state my thoughts and opinions without fear of censorship or editorial suppression, and others can expect to reply and rebut those thoughts and opinions as they see fit also without fear of suppresion — disagreement, even deeply angry disagreement, yes; enforced suppression, no.

    As I have stated previously, disagreement leads to debate and argument, which in turn leads to the potential for consensus and change.

    Furthermore, I consider such places as Pharyngula to be deeply unsafe spaces because of the intellectually fraudulent editorial practices and fundamental mendacity of Myers. No one, absolutely no one can ever be certain that their posts will be left uneditorialized or completely removed by Myers simply because he did not like the content. And you cannot argue that it is a safe space if one keeps within the posting guidelines and rules because Myers himself does not follow his own rules either for posting or for what he decides is material better edited or deleted.

    My interpretation of the concept of safe space as used in this discussion is that most folks seem to mean, as I previously stated, that a safe space means a space where their ideas are rarely criticized, or only superficially criticized, are generally universally supported, no one meaningfully contradicts them, no one ever gets really angry, and the bad words du jour (everchanging shifty sands) are avoided.

  29. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Beside the fact that I find your description of Myers almost comically wrong, I now see that the reason for the apparent contradiction is the extremely idiosyncratic definition of “safe space”. Given that you only pulled it out now, and not during the actual discussion of what a “safe space” constitutes, I suspect you just made it up to make your words seem non-contradictory.

    By the way, I think you forgot to answer Aratina Cage’s question about whether you find Christina Hoff Summers’s “gender-traitoring” other women acceptable.

  30. John Greg says

    Forbidden Snowflake said:

    “… I now see that the reason for the apparent contradiction is the extremely idiosyncratic definition of ‘safe space’. Given that you only pulled it out now, and not during the actual discussion of what a ‘safe space’ constitutes, I suspect you just made it up to make your words seem non-contradictory.”

    An interesting comment in that an interpretation is not a definition. I have not been able to find in the current discussion, nor in the other one (http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/01/10/freethought-and-freedom-to-express-yourself-on-someone-elses-private-property/), a meaningful or useful definition of the term “safe space”. Jason’s initial article is mostly contradictory self-congratulatory bafflegab, and the supporting comments mostly thin air. The whole discussion can basically be boiled down to FTB is a great place to be because I say so, and also because I say so it provides the perfect locale for free debate as defined by me and if you disagree with me you are wrong. Yeah me!.

    If you read my comments a little more closely, you will note that I did not in fact include a definition of the term “safe space”. I included my interpretation of what I think you folks mean by that term. That is not a definition, it is an interpretation based on the vague and inconsistent descriptions the FTB bloggers have used to explain it. You will also note that I do not think the term is actually meaningful anyway; that it is simply an intentionally vague and fundamentally meaningless term used to support an ever-changing argument favouring certain forms of censorship and dialogue control.

    “By the way, I think you forgot to answer Aratina Cage’s question about whether you find Christina Hoff Summers’s “gender-traitoring” other women acceptable.”

    I did not forget to answer Cage’s comment; I just didn’t bother. For one thing, I think Sommers is right in that certain types of feminist women have indeed betrayed women in general, but I would not call that being a gender traitor. Gender traitor is a stupid phrase, the primary intent of which is not to present an argument, but to shame and dismiss any woman who does not follow a certain somewhat specific and somewhat narrow dogma (and that is quite specifically not what Sommers is saying when she uses the word betray).

    In my opinion Cage has mis-interpreted and misunderstood Sommers’s rationale, and to clarify that would require a long and sophisticated dialogue and argument (generally about language and interpretation of it, as well as philosophical questions) that would not only be very difficult to carry out successfully on a blog, but a discussion that is a few pay grades above Cage’s intellectual level.

  31. says

    So, John (and I don’t mean toilet) Greg contends that Sommers can say that women have betrayed women (that some women are traitors to their gender), but others cannot.

    I’m watching the South Park episode on Mormons tonight in honor of Mittens’ big win in Florida, but I just want you to know John (not toilet) Greg that I’ll be thinking of you when I do.

  32. says

    Shorter John Greg: “When you disagree with a woman who tells all other women that everything’s fine just fine, you’re calling her a gender traitor. But when one of those women accuses every feminist of betraying women, that’s so self-evidently right and so self-evidently different I don’t even need to defend it.”

    And all this because of some imagined support of some gripe that Skeptifem had over… what was it again, John? Do you even remember? Because I do.

  33. Forbidden Snowflake says

    John,

    “They shouldn’t demand that someone else’s safe space be made safe for them, especially when the other group has opinions radically different from the first group.”

    It seems to me that that is the gist of my argument, and that such a guideline would apply to any and all concerned parties.

    What, if anything, did you mean when you agreed with a statement centered around the concept of “safe space”, if you “do not think the term is actually meaningful anyway”?

    And your interpretation/definition argument seems like meaningless weaseling, in context. It doesn’t make the contradiction go away.

    For one thing, I think Sommers is right in that certain types of feminist women have indeed betrayed women in general, but I would not call that being a gender traitor.

    Why? Do you think that the key point is the particular string of letters that is “gender-traitor”, or is it the accusation of betraying the woman gender?

    Gender traitor is a stupid phrase, the primary intent of which is not to present an argument, but to shame and dismiss any woman who does not follow a certain somewhat specific and somewhat narrow dogma (and that is quite specifically not what Sommers is saying when she uses the word betray).

    So basically, the difference when Sommers calls other women traitors is that she, in your opinion, is right, and those other women are wrong, and the ideas they defend are therefor dogma. It’s a bullshit double standard, really.

  34. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Shorter John Greg: “I’ll whine about the blogs I don’t like because they’re not nice to MRAs like me.”

  35. John Greg says

    Forbidden Snowflake said:

    “What, if anything, did you mean when you agreed with a statement centered around the concept of ‘safe space’, if you ‘do not think the term is actually meaningful anyway'”?

    As previously stated, I meant that regardless of its meaningfulness or otherwise, I agreed that the responsibility for creating the so-called safe space, or whatever, lies with those who feel the need of such a thing in the first place, not with the person or persons whose places one is visiting.

    “It doesn’t make the contradiction go away.”

    We will have to disagree on whether or not there is a contradiction. I do not think there is a particularily salient contradiction; you do.

    “So basically, the difference when Sommers calls other women traitors is that she, in your opinion, is right, and those other women are wrong, and the ideas they defend are therefor dogma.”

    Basically, yes. But it’s more involved than that. In my opinion, almost all of the instances over the last several months of the use of the term gender traitor are not trying to make an academic argument (as Sommers is doing), they are just name calling. Can you really not see that distinction?

    Additionally, saying that some women have betrayed other women (in feminism, i.e., due to its/their “irrational hostility to men, its recklessness with facts and statistics, and its inability to take seriously the possibility that the sexes are equal–but different….”) is substantively different than using the term gender traitor as a shaming epithet, mainly due to context. Never mind that Sommers is a credited academic and not just a flock of self-righteous raging blogging gender-feminists.

    Jason said:

    “And all this because of some imagined support of some gripe that Skeptifem had over… what was it again, John? Do you even remember? Because I do.”

    I thought this discussion was mainly about so-called safe spaces, not gender traitors? And do I remember what? Skeptifem’s ludicrous rants (at her blog) about gender traitors? Is that what you are referring to?

  36. Forbidden Snowflake says

    We will have to disagree on whether or not there is a contradiction. I do not think there is a particularily salient contradiction; you do.

    Yes, I do. All of your complaining about feminist blogs not being sufficiently welcoming to you while agreeing with the concept of “safe space” still seems like a contradiction to me.

    Basically, yes. But it’s more involved than that. In my opinion, almost all of the instances over the last several months of the use of the term gender traitor are not trying to make an academic argument (as Sommers is doing), they are just name calling. Can you really not see that distinction?

    I see the distinction, but unless you provide an example, I don’t trust your judgment, given your tendency to misrepresent, misunderstand and label opinions you disagree with as angry hysterical dogma.
    Anyway, that is irrelevant; the point is that we have now established that the accusation you leveled against Jason:

    I have the impression that you fully support the concept of gender traitor as espoused by Skeptifem; perhaps not the words, but the concept.

    applies to yourself better than to him.

    Additionally, saying that some women have betrayed other women (in feminism, i.e., due to its/their “irrational hostility to men, its recklessness with facts and statistics, and its inability to take seriously the possibility that the sexes are equal–but different….”) is substantively different than using the term gender traitor as a shaming epithet, mainly due to context.

    It’s not different at all. Both instances show the use of an emotionally charged term (“betrayal”, meaning usually conscious misuse of trust for personal benefit) to shame an ideological rival. Each instance of its usage may be accurate or it may not be, but Sommers’s accusations of betrayal in response to what she considers the errors of feminism are just as sensationalist and shaming as any other.

    Never mind that Sommers is a credited academic and not just a flock of self-righteous raging blogging gender-feminists.

    Your heap of cheap insults notwithstanding, this matters not one bit.

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