The GrotheBot 5000 meme

So one of our commenters who shall not be named unless xe comes forward used memegenerator.net to create a meme generator to parody DJ Grothe’s latest bout of intractability.

It’s crude, it’s crass, it’s even gross mischaracterization in many cases, and I’m willing to admit that I’ve participated in creating at least one. I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around being a douchebag to those women who are identifying the problem and working to solve it, instead of actually fixing the problems people are having with harassment.

He can start by listening to the recommendations of the community and implementing a strong harassment policy that covers this year and all future years. Because there’s a lot of questions floating about regarding his, and JREF’s, willingness to do either. The fact that they haven’t yet is telling.

Update: Before you get all up in arms about “douchebag”, read this.

Comments

  1. Josh, Official SpokesKraftDinner says

    Oh lord …my baby is born while I’m at the airport on tranquilizers. Lulz.

  2. says

    Clearly, the fact that you are using humor instead of cold rationality(which only men are good at anyways) proves that Grothe is right and the only sexism is misandry.

  3. Robert B. says

    Tch, Joe, didn’t you know? Women aren’t good at humor either. Both funniness and smartness are entirely the province of us menz⸮

    But seriously, this whole thing is such a facepalm. I’m sure that Grothe is fully aware that atheists take flak for being atheist, and that GLBT folks take flak for being GLBT. If he heard a story like that, he’d believe it and want to help. But women taking flak because they’re women? Not in his skeptical movement. Those silly girls must be imagining it.

  4. LeftSidePositive says

    I tried to use an actual DJ quote from the apology (re: talking about sexism) in the meme. Memegenerator said the string was too long and crashed. I cut it in half. It crashed again. I cut it in half. It crashed again. When I tried to make it even shorter it just didn’t sound like DJ anymore.

  5. says

    It is quite unfortunate that persons who identify as skeptics would sink to such a low level like this and model incredibly poor conversational habits. What ever happened, I wonder, to attacking ideas and not persons? Does civility suddenly go out the window when one is concerned with someone in the skeptical community in which one disagrees with?

    I wonder how you and other ‘Watson defenders’ would act if people went around calling Watson (or even other bloggers) ‘douchebags.’ I would gamble that people would be met with the terms ‘shaming,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘gaslighting,’ ‘victim blaming,’ and many of the other phrases [recently] liberally tossed around – and quite often so. The special standards are quite evident; it’s quite okay to levy personal attacks at DJ, but criticism of Watson — even when done so respectfully — is uncalled for.

    Like him or not or disagree with him or not, DJ has been open and willing to have conversation that is free of personal attacks. So many ‘Watson defenders,’ though, don’t seem to be concerned with this ranging from saying that D.J. (or others) are ‘blaming women,’ ‘telling women how to feel,’ ‘ignoring women,’ ‘shaming women,’ ‘telling women that they are liars,’ ‘telling women to put on a smile and not talk about sexual harassment’…and even seemingly claiming that DJ is unfit to have a leadership role in the JREF.

  6. says

    And no sooner do I say something than justinvacula shows up to inform us how we’re allowed to talk about things, and how trying to apply humor to the situation invalidates not only our points, but invalidates us as skeptics entirely. It helps that justinvacula is willing to lie through his teeth correct our obvious mistakes about Grothe’s behavior and the enormously sexist and occasionally overtly threatening attacks on completely rational and dispassionate criticism of Rebecca Watson, because really who are you going to trust? justinvacula or your lying eyes?

  7. SatanHimself says

    Don’t you know that you can’t criticize a woman’s thoughts or behavior in the atheist movement…unless she’s Republican?

  8. Konradius says

    @justinvacula

    > I wonder how you and other ‘Watson defenders’
    > would act if people went around calling Watson
    > (or even other bloggers) ‘douchebags.’

    Are you ‘kidding’, clueless or evil?
    Rebecca has been called far worse in every 24 hour time period since elevator gate!

    And I can give you a direct DJ quote for every one of your quoted lines, but that would mean I’d have to spend far more time than I’m willing to give you.

    Please try to get a clue on your own time.

  9. says

    ImprobableJoe:

    So it’s perfectly permissible to throw names at Watson? How do you think calling her a douchebag would turn out? Perhaps ‘cunt?’ How about ‘feminazi?’ I wouldn’t use these terms, don’t condone them, and don’t imply an equivalence, but I am sure that you and other commenters can get my point here and see the special standard.

    Frankly, I don’t find calling the president of the JREF a douchebag humorous. Also…I didn’t talk about the meme above. My concerns are with the term douchebag as applied to Grothe.

    …and when did I claim that you aren’t allowed to talk about things, assert that application of humor invalidates your points, or that humor invalidates you as skeptics? The erected scarecrow is so large that if I were to burn it, all across the United States would see it.

    The false dichotomy you end with is also quite interesting.

  10. Drivebyposter says

    Don’t you know that you can’t criticize a woman’s thoughts or behavior in the atheist movement…unless she’s Republican?

    No. You absolutely can. But you have to have a good reason and well formulated arguments. Saying “there aren’t misogynists anywhere at TAM ever. Those saying there are just regret putting out and want to play the victim”
    isn’t a valid criticism.
    Try again.

  11. says

    Konradius:
    So because Rebecca has been called things (and not by Grothe) it’s perfectly permissible to call D.J. Grothe a douchebag? How does that work?

    Also, I wasn’t aware that we could read emotions, intention, and others’ minds in internet communications to make such grand claims. Rebecca, for instance, told me I was telling her what was best for her mental well-being and soon after blocked me following a single tweet (http://bit.ly/KUbugm)…of course it can’t possibly be the case that someone sees a flaw with her reasoning, poses a reductio ad absurdum to help her perhaps discover this flaw, wants to express some skepticism to better understand her position, or perhaps wants to pose a defeater to a certain course of action (I can use sarcasm, too).

    Criticism of Watson’s ideas, it seems, at least in this situation, is out-of-bounds, impermissible, and automatically means that people who are raising objections are telling others how to feel.

  12. LeftSidePositive says

    Justin Vacula:

    Oooh, we’re going to be all grand about attacking ideas and not people? Well, it may interest you to know that the grothebot is populated almost entirely with (abbreviated) illogical statements from DJ. If you repeat poor behavior often enough, it does reflect on you, and telling people they can’t speak up about their impressions on such a pattern of behavior basically means you are telling those who are repeatedly wronged to shut up.

    if people went around calling Watson (or even other bloggers) ‘douchebags.’ I would gamble that people would be met with the terms ‘shaming,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘gaslighting,’ ‘victim blaming,’ and many of the other phrases [recently] liberally tossed around

    Do you actually know what any of these terms mean? They’re not just random slurs–they describe very specific behaviors.

    it’s quite okay to levy personal attacks at DJ,

    What exactly do you mean by a “personal attack”?

    but criticism of Watson — even when done so respectfully — is uncalled for.

    You know full well the vast majority of it is nowhere near respectful. Moreover, there is a difference between respectful=”no swear words” and respectful=”not saying a woman being open about her experiences with harassment is just trying to get attention” and respectful=”not pretending cornering someone in an elevator at 4am to go back to your hotel room is just a ‘polite invitation to coffee.’”

    Furthermore, it’s not that the respectful criticisms of Rebecca are uncalled for–it’s that they’re WRONG. If you don’t think they’re wrong, prove it, but someone saying why they disagree with you is not “silencing” you.

    DJ has been open and willing to have conversation that is free of personal attacks.

    Yeah, like when he said (repeatedly) that women discussing their experiences with harassment were just trying to drum up controversy and generate blog hits. Like when he said women discussing harassment were engaging in “distasteful locker room banter” and recounting regretted “sexual exploits.”

    So many ‘Watson defenders,’ though, don’t seem to be concerned with this ranging from saying that D.J. (or others) are ‘blaming women,’ ‘telling women how to feel,’ ‘ignoring women,’ ‘shaming women,’ ‘telling women that they are liars,’ ‘telling women to put on a smile and not talk about sexual harassment’…

    But DJ and others ARE ACTUALLY DOING THESE THINGS. It’s not wrong to say these things when THEY ARE ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

    and even seemingly claiming that DJ is unfit to have a leadership role in the JREF.

    Again, it would only be wrong to claim DJ is unfit to have a leadership role in the JREF if he were, in fact, fit to have a leadership role in the JREF. Apart from his blatant insensitivity to women’s issues, he’s also just completely INCOMPETENT from a PR perspective and has alienated a great many people even after he’s been told what is appropriate multiple times.

  13. says

    Don’t you know that you can’t criticize a woman’s thoughts or behavior in the atheist movement…unless she’s Republican?

    Comments like this let us know that some of the people commenting aren’t even really engaged in the issues currently being discussed. They are just looking for an excuse to lash out in the general direction of people who they feel have wronged them. In this case, some Republican who should be embarrassed that Republican politicians say stupid and wrong things pretty much constantly, because their political philosophy is intellectually bankrupt, and are instead mad at the people who point out the stupidity of those politicians and pretend that the female Republicans are being singled out for sexist reasons, when they are simply being called out as being just as stupid as their male counterparts.

  14. Severos says

    Wow… Leftsidepositive… absolutely no sense of self-reflection. Such an unhappy person. *slow hand clap*

  15. says

    Oh, and it is interesting that people make the claim that no one can criticize Rebecca Watson or other women without being called sexist. It is of course a lie. Last year during ElevatorGate me and a whole bunch of other people criticized Watson’s actions in regards to Stef McGraw without being called sexist or anything else. And I know I’ve disagreed with tons of women (in sometimes inappropriate ways, to be fair) and I’ve not been dismissed as a sexist. I’ve been called wrong, and ignorant, too passionate, even a giant ass, but no one acted like they were above criticism because they are a woman or because I was being sexist.

    It is a blatant lie to claim that all, most, or even a large number of women simply say “sexist” or “misogynist” whenever someone disagrees with them.

  16. says

    It’s crude, it’s crass, it’s even gross mischaracterization in many cases, and I’m willing to admit that I’ve participated in creating at least one. I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around being a douchebag to those women who are identifying the problem and working to solve it, instead of actually fixing the problems people are having with harassment.

    You’re honestly hoping that? I honestly can’t believe that. What is more likely by far is that Grothe, if he looks at this, will conclude that you’ve concluded that crudeness, crassness, and gross mischaracterizations are the best way to handle a disagreement with someone in the skeptic movement. In other words,

    that fomenting movement controversy often seems to be prized over honest and sincere argument, that some folks are too quick to vilify and engage in destructive in-group/out-group thinking, that these online communities are exclusive rather than inclusive, and that unfortunately as a whole, the feminist and atheist blogospheres often operate quite separately from and counter the growing skeptical movement working to combat unreason and harmful pseudoscience in society.

    I find it funny that people who are so incensed by the suggestion from Grothe that they’re contributing in some way to the very problems they’re trying to solve are also apparently determined to prove him right.

  17. LeftSidePositive says

    it’s perfectly permissible to call D.J. Grothe a douchebag? How does that work?

    Because he was being a douchebag. This isn’t hard.

    False equivalency can go fuck itself.

    Rebecca, for instance, told me I was telling her what was best for her mental well-being and soon after blocked me following a single tweet

    Yeah, because you were being a JAQoff. Do you think we have never heard of a rhetorical question? Do you think you can play innocent with that? Do you honestly think we’re that stupid?

    of course it can’t possibly be the case that someone sees a flaw with her reasoning,

    While willfully misunderstanding her reasoning and the situation in which she was placed.

    poses a reductio ad absurdum to help her perhaps discover this flaw,

    to trivialize her experience…

    wants to express some skepticism

    to insult her under the guise of “plausible” deniability…

    to better understand her position,

    fucking horseshit.

    Criticism of Watson’s ideas, it seems, at least in this situation, is out-of-bounds, impermissible

    Make a specific criticism that is NOT out of bounds, and we’ll see how you do. NB: when you’re criticizing someone’s personal choices after they have been singled out for speaking up about their own harassment, it is highly unlikely that such criticism will be “in bounds”–but go ahead and try.

    Even if you manage to make it “in bounds,” it can still be just plain wrong.

    , and automatically means that people who are raising objections are telling others how to feel.

    Provide an example where someone raising an objection IS NOT telling others how to feel, and we’ll talk. Based on everything I’ve read so far, there will be something else egregiously wrong with it, but go ahead and give it a shot.

  18. LeftSidePositive says

    What is more likely by far is that Grothe, if he looks at this, will conclude that you’ve concluded that crudeness, crassness, and gross mischaracterizations are the best way to handle a disagreement with someone in the skeptic movement.

    He had MULTIPLE chances to take our concerns seriously and not strawman, deny, or obfuscate them. If he’s not going to argue with any type of intellectual rigor, then we’re going to call him on it.

    You’ve also failed to notice that we can both give thorough, deconstructing analyses of DJ’s arguments AND make fun of the hilariously bad misrepresentations he’s using and the dismissive attitude he’s taking towards women.

    I find it funny that people who are so incensed by the suggestion from Grothe that they’re contributing in some way to the very problems they’re trying to solve are also apparently determined to prove him right.

    No. “The very problems [we're] trying to solve” are people getting groped and harassed at conferences, not people being snarky on the internet. But please, tell us how we’re contributing to our own harassment and marginalization. I dare you.

  19. Severos says

    Improbable joe:”Last year during ElevatorGate me and a whole bunch of other people criticized Watson’s actions in regards to Stef McGraw without being called sexist or anything else. ”

    Lucky you. Stef McGraw does the same thing? Rape apologist. Nice.

  20. Drivebyposter says

    @Justin Vacuous:
    People have more or less respectably disagreeing with Grothe for the past 7000000 weeks (or however long this blowup has lasted) in blog posts and even mostly in comment sections and his response to thousands of words of criticism was 2 not-pologies in which he ignored all of the criticisms.

    Even this Grothebot meme is respectable. It’s satire. All of the Grothebot meme things I’ve seen have actually quoted or paraphrased stuff he said.

    You’d have a point if they were all “GROTHEBOT FUCKS CHILDREN. LULZ” but they are calling attention to actual blunders he is making while flailing about desperately trying to fix his blunders when other people have pointed out how to do it.

  21. woo_monster says

    Josh, Official SpokesKraftDinner,

    Oh lord …my baby is born while I’m at the airport on tranquilizers. Lulz.

    Josh, your “baby” is being mistreated by trolls (check out the newer entries*). Shameful.

    Grothebot 5000 meme shall be used exclusively to mock DJ, the clueless one!

    *You pathetic people have to bring up Rebecca Watson even in our nice grothebot5000 meme?

  22. LeftSidePositive says

    Oh, now the MRAs are out making memes that insist it’s all about “disagreeing with Rebecca.” Not, you know, considering the content of what he disagreed ABOUT. No, that would require thinking…

  23. LeftSidePositive says

    Oh, now the MRAs are lying and being misogynistic!

    FTFY :)

    I, Captain Obvious, humbly accept your thanks for my duties, and thanks for providing the customary synopsis, O Trusty Sidekick!

  24. says

    I, Captain Obvious, humbly accept your thanks for my duties, and thanks for providing the customary synopsis, O Trusty Sidekick!

    Hey! Why do I have to be the Trusty Sidekick?

    It would only be fair if we take turns. Since I’m the one with the ridiculous weapons cache and my own “cave”, I proclaim that you must take February, and then we alternate from that point on. So this is your month, use it wisely!

  25. LeftSidePositive says

    @Jason, #31, I guess he’s persistently ignorant about the difference between invective and slurs…

  26. Nobody says

    Sweet crispy chocolate-covered Improbable Joe on a stick. Perhaps it’s sensible to call her a cunt because she has one.

  27. Nobody says

    LeftSidePositive is the embodiment of idiocy, LSP is the equivalent of donkey ejaculate, covering everything around with a gooey coat of slightly-smelly ooze. It is easy to see oneself as completely rational when hiding in a cave with other morons, I imagine.

  28. LeftSidePositive says

    There’s something strangely flattering about that invective–it gives me this great glow of happiness that it’s the best they could come up with…

    And as for “It is easy to see oneself as completely rational when hiding in a cave with other morons, I imagine”? He would know, I suppose…truer words.

    At first I actually thought by cave he meant ERV, and that this was a brilliant satire.

    Excuse me, but I have to go to the shop and re-calibrate my Poemeter.

  29. Somebody says

    Ah, how funny it is to see those who consider ‘dbag’ the epitome of awesomeness criticize the attacks of others. We now know where all the Modern Warfare l33t pwner kiddies have gone. Free thinkers? Funny!

  30. says

    It is interesting that “Nobody” thinks he’s doing some good by being the most disgustingly misogynistic person imaginable. I don’t even think he’s real, personally. I think that he and “Somebody” are the same person, and they are shitty hateful ignorant trolls who have no real opinion on any subject besides “let’s be shitty for the lulz” and really that’s sort of it. Boring and dull, really.

  31. says

    “Feminazi”
    “Douchebag”
    “C*nt”
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueZ6tvqhk8U&w=420&h=315

    I’ll give you a hint: the word of the day is “slurs.” One of them isn’t. One of them is just an insult, not a slur designed to insult a person for what they are.

    I love it when the tone trolls go on parade, because it’s so selective. I mean, I haven’t done the Google search, but somehow I bet that Justin Vacula and others didn’t jump all over Phil Plait for tarring a whole swath of skeptics with the “dick” label (or Barbara Drescher, Jason Loxton, Skepdude, and others who then applied it to specific people), or Randi for calling Montel Williams a “whore” or Sylvia Browne any number of things, or every episode of “Bullshit” with its “asshole” and “dick” and “motherfucker” and so forth, or the SGU’s clearly mean-spirited, crass “G Hunters” parody of the Ghost Hunters, or D.J. Grothe’s accusations of gossipy lying attention whores, not in so many words.

    Strange how the tone trolls only seem to care about tone with regard to certain people or groups within the movement.

    When people say and do ridiculous things, they open themselves up to ridicule. Ridicule and insults are argumentatively neutral on their own, and only amount to fallacy when they are used as reasons to dismiss an argument, or as evidence that a claim/argument is invalid. “Socrates is wrong because he’s an asshole” is an ad hominem fallacy. “Socrates is wrong because the evidence contradicts his claim. Also he’s an asshole” is not fallacious in the slightest.

    Ridicule and insults are instead a different mode of persuasion; logical, evidence-based arguments address the logos (reason), while ridicule and insults go after ethos (character) and pathos (emotion). Good persuasion requires a combination of the three. And sometimes people are going to be convinced by something other than pure logic, because people are not Vulcans.

    Again, “Bullshit” is a key example: I don’t always agree with Penn & Teller, but that acerbic, passionate style certainly got me thinking about some of the things I assumed, and I know I’m not the only one. See also: Tim Minchin, George Carlin, Dara O’Briain, etc.

    Using insults and ridicule is a double-edged sword, of course. Some people are going to see the object as ridiculous as a result, and others are going to see the ridiculer/insulter as having low character for stooping to such methods. That’s the risk you run. Similarly, some people are going to see the dispassionate, coldly rational only-relies-on-evidence-and-logic person as detached, inhuman, or a know-it-all. It takes different strokes to move the world, or something.

    If you don’t like ridicule, don’t use it. Think people who use it are beneath you. Go right ahead. Here, I’ll even give you some places to express your thoughts: Encyclopedia Dramatica, Quickmeme. Surely you’ll find those just as crude, crass, and uncalled-for as calling D.J. Grothe a douchebag.

  32. LeftSidePositive says

    Now, now, Improbable Joe, you’re not being fair to them. “Let’s be shitty for the lulz” was the best game EVVAAR until those giiiiirls came along and ruined it with their cooties!

  33. Severos says

    Not many people in here are there? Improbable Joe and Rightsidewhatever must spend most of the day chasing each other over the same old blogs to talk each other up. How peculiar.
    Nothing disingenuous about this—-> Have fun making your funny little pictures calling people names. Quick though! All back to that other blog to comment on each others comments again, then meet back here to nub each other, yeah?!

  34. says

    Just for the record, to the little morphing troll who hasn’t managed to figure out how much damage he does his side, and to others, Vacula up there appears to be the person who introduced “douchebag” into this particular discussion. Stunning how he rages on about it after that.

  35. says

    Stephanie: Jason used it in the OP. “I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around being a douchebag…”

    Jason: I wrote a post a bit ago, but I suspect the links/language/attempt to embed a YouTube video got it filtered. Is it just caught up, or should I try to submit it again? Or should I maybe tone it down?

  36. Unfrocked says

    Actually I believe that it’s quite apparent how much your side damages itself. While the trolling was obviously crass and childish, I don’t think it’s any less so than the meme, name-calling, and poorly constructed attacks on individuals that followed.

    I’m following this thread due to a post and discussion by a handful of Atheist and ‘free thinker’ friends, merely because it brought to mind a ‘trainwreck’.

    While I won’t deign to speak for them I’m surprised that you defend behavior of the same type you attack. Perhaps the tunnel vision that people get when forming cliques overrides your ability to read the above rationally and see how it hurts your side as well

  37. says

    To all those people who are terribly concerned that I called DJ Grothe a douchebag, I will provide a heartfelt apology in the post where I recount how he’s apologized to all the women whose harassment he called “locker room talk” and “sexual exploits” that they now “regret”.

  38. says

    Oh noes! Me and LeftSidePositive have agreed on a few things, and seem to share a common sense of humor, and therefore CONSPIRACY AGAINST SEVEROS AND OTHER SEXIST ASSHOLES!!!!!

    Fuckety fuck fuck fuck… me and LSP aren’t even online pals yet, let alone conspiring against anyone.

  39. Unfrocked says

    Oh, I’m sorry — judging by the conversation and other blog posts I thought this was a forum where logical fallacies were allowed.

    It might be best if you do some research and write a proper post about this. They do have some good books that go in depth on these fallacies, I would be happy to point them out to you.

    So, again and worded better for your understanding: Disregarding any other group, the posts above do not cast you or those defending you in a good light, but since this is not for populartiy: The fallacious attacks from your side do not bolster your arguments.

    Rationality and Defensibility do correlate.

  40. says

    Unfrocked is right, I made a fallacious argument. DJ Grothe is not LITERALLY a douchebag, as he does not store vinegar or other potentially harmful chemicals in his person for the purposes of “cleansing” a woman’s vagina. In fact, I hear he wants little to do with women’s vaginas.

    Edit: I have amended this statement slightly. Please read that linked post.

  41. Drivebyposter says

    Go ahead. Point out the fallacious arguments then, jackass.
    Most of what is being said is taking DJ to task for things he literally said and did.

    “Boo hoo. DJ behaved disgustingly and people were telling him to cut it out and didn’t hold his hand and suck him off while doing it. Oh the trauma! Ohhhh the victimhood!”

  42. Unfrocked says

    Thank you Joe, Jason, and LSP for proving my (and many of the other watchers) points in a way far better than I every could have.

  43. says

    Unfrocked: It’s interesting how you make accusations of fallacies, but can’t actually cite any that have actually been used. All those words, and you’ve said nothing of any substance. Except, of course, ‘all you people are stupid and everyone can see how stupid you are.’

    But I’m sure you’ll pull the ol’ rubber/glue routine on this post too, suggesting that Jason’s post and the whole conversation is just as devoid of content. And you’ll do so ignoring that even the Grothe meme images are using Grothe’s words in a reductio ad absurdum, and ignoring that this is one of several posts following a series of detailed explanations of what Grothe’s been wrong about and why, and how he and the JREF can fix things.

    I predict you’ll do that because your entire participation in this thread has been just that sort of false equivalence (making fun of someone for what they’ve said/done is apparently equivalent to calling someone a gender-based slur) and holier-than-thou posturing, without any actual substance. But I’d sure be glad to see you buck the trend and prove me wrong.

    So go on. Cite the fallacies you’ve seen here. We’re all waiting.

  44. says

    Tom Foss: Thank you for the truly thoughtful comments you left here. The idea of tone, for me, is actually quite an important one…and so much so that I have talked about it in my podcast episode “Respecting Beliefs,” numerous blog posts (Disagreement is not disrespect:Attacking beliefs, not persons,” “Belief intolerance,” and many more), and in a podcast episode I had with Dr. Peter Boghossian. Do the Google search and find them :)

    I generally fall, as you’ll see what I have written and said on the matter, on the side of strictly sticking to discussion of ideas, engaging in respectful discussion, etc (especailly with skeptics and atheists). This can be further evidenced by my blog post concerning Lawrence Krauss’ dismissal of philosophy (at American Atheists’ 2012 convention. I note all of this because this is a serious issue for me and so that you know I am not just making stuff up following your post.

    No matter what you think of Dj, calling him a douchebag, as it overwhelmingly seems (and using, even, the phrase asshat in the tag of this post) is very immature, disrespctful, and unprofessional regardless of what you think he has said or assumed.

  45. says

    Jason, care to explain your mentioning of how DJ “cares little about women’s vaginas?” Are you seriosuly bringing his sexuality into this or attacking him because of it? I really hope not. The comment, regardless, in light of DJ being gay, is really off-color.

  46. LeftSidePositive says

    Thank you Justin for reminding us that we should be respectful of someone who says women discussing sexual harassment, oh excuse me “sexual exploits,” are engaging in “distasteful locker room banter.”

    Thank you for informing us of the proper tone we’re allowed to use when the head of a major organization tries to stop us for speaking out publicly.

  47. says

    He brought his sexuality into the discussion as a preemptive defense against being told he’s being insensitive to women’s predicaments while defending Ryan Grant Long. Before anyone else brought it into discussion, even. Thus preemptive.

    I don’t think his sexuality actually informs his blatant pandering to antifeminisits, except insofar as gay folks found it offensive themselves.

  48. says

    Justin: Tone may be important to you; I’d venture to say it’s important to everyone. The thing about tone, though, is that each person chooses their own. What may seem inappropriate to you is another person’s accurate expression of their own feelings–and strong feelings may evince strong language. You may think that calling someone a “douchebag” is “immature, disrespectful, and unprofessional.” That’s up to you. I suspect many of us here find D.J.’s comments, cleaner though they may be, just as disrespectful and unprofessional (especially for someone who is speaking from such a professional position), and may equally feel that they betray such a lack of thought and consideration that an immature response is among those warranted.

    What I don’t see is how it’s relevant to the discussion. If you don’t like the tone that others use, then judge them for it and express yourself with a different tone. The tones we choose and how we interpret other people’s tones is ultimately a matter of personal taste, not one of absolute standards.

    You say you’re concerned with a discussion of ideas, but that’s not what you’re doing. Many here and elsewhere have discussed D.J.’s claims, arguments, and ideas, with a wide variety of differing tones, from Rebecca Watson’s sharp sarcasm to Ashley Miller’s patient exasperation, to the satire of the meme. I haven’t seen you among those discussing the ideas, though it’s possible I missed you in there someplace.

    Instead, you’re one discussion removed from all that, trying to discuss how we discuss ideas. To be fair, there’s been quite a bit of that in response to D.J. as well, mostly because he seems to be choosing words and phrasing that poorly reflects his actual positions, if we are to take his words in the most charitable fashion. Of course, the reason for that is largely because Grothe has levied the accusation of “irresponsible messaging,” while his own reaction to the general response to his posts suggests that he’s engaging in the same.

    We’ve seen the discussion of tone before, and it usually seems to involve two camps: those who think their way is right but can’t seem to back it up with anything more than personal preference, and those who don’t give a damn. I haven’t yet seen a productive result from any of these discussions, except from the perspective of someone who wants to derail the substantive conversation.

    Point: if you want to discuss ideas, go ahead. No one is stopping you. If you want to discuss tone, go ahead, but be warned that no one will likely care what you think about the tone they’ve chosen. It’s like trying to convince someone to stop liking the taste of chocolate, or that licorice doesn’t taste like sweaty tar.

    I do want to touch once more upon a matter once further removed from the actual discussion of ideas. Not discussing how we discuss them, as you have, but discussing when folks like yourself choose to bring up the discussion of tone. I haven’t seen you chastizing D.J. for his condescension and dismissive language in other threads. I haven’t seen you on Twitter or at Crommunist condemning Ian Adelstein for calling Rebecca Watson an “uppity c*nt”–or chastizing yourself for not realizing the difference between an insult and a slur. You haven’t popped up in the Encyclopedia Dramatica page I linked yet to correct them or issue any strong words of disapproval. So I wonder, why are you taking issue with this one, comparatively mild, use of the word “douchebag”?

    I have my suspicions, and they speak louder than your tone.

  49. LeftSidePositive says

    I love how the pro-DJ faction made a meme that says “all the women who were there on merit agree with me.” Yowza. Care to address the multiple levels of deeply-ingrained sexism, there?!

    DJ, take note: when these are the people you’re attracting (and, as near as I can tell, only these people), you may want to seriously reconsider your worldview.

  50. 'Tis Himself says

    Justin Vacula #62

    Your concern is noted.

    Do you have anything substantive to say or are you going to continue whining (and yes you’re whining) about tone? If the latter, could you just whine quietly to yourself? The adults are having a conversation.

  51. says

    LeftSidePositive: I’m curious what they think Rebecca was there on. I mean, I realize she’s the Kim Kardashian of skepticism now (I guess Paris Hilton is becoming passé), which implies that she’s famous for no good reason (or her dad represented Carl Sagan in a murder trial or something). So are they implying she slept her way to the top? Wouldn’t that contradict with all the prude-y commenting about Elevatorgate? Do they think she’s getting by on looks? Commentary on the Encyclopedia Dramatica page suggests they don’t think too highly of that. And what of the SGU? Do they attack Steve & Co. for inviting her on, since she’s apparently there for no good reason?

    I should probably stop looking for consistency among the spittle-flecked.

  52. Drivebyposter says

    DJ, take note: when these are the people you’re attracting (and, as near as I can tell, only these people), you may want to seriously reconsider your worldview.

    Exactly.

    And he has failed there as well. The second someone gets praise from awful human beings they need to distance themselves from the scum. But yet….I’ve seen nothing to convince me he doesn’t want these mutants defending him. He hasn’t distanced himself (as far as I can tell and probably wont) and he certainly wont call them out. He can’t pretend he doesn’t know about it. So…anyone keeping count?

    Does anyone have a comprehensive list of all of Grothe’s massive failings during this mess?

  53. cgauthier says

    I was under the impression that “Douche-bag” was originally a slur against misogynists. A word describing a tool that pretends to benefit women, yet is actually useless and potentially, if not probably, harmful to them seems perfectly suitable in regards to Grothe’s actions.

  54. LeftSidePositive says

    @70–well, to be fair, you can’t exactly control who praises you, so I’m not going to quibble at him for not calling them out. It’s not, in the strictest sense, his fault that slimebags defend him…but shouldn’t it give him pause that there doesn’t seem to be anyone ELSE?!

  55. LeftSidePositive says

    @71–I’m not clear on the history (& I have no idea WHERE you’d find a link for this sort of thing???), but my understanding was it was first used just as “vaginas…eeewwww!!!” and then feminists looked more skeptically at its meaning and reclaimed it.

  56. says

    Re: Comment 68

    Apparently, discussion about conversation and civility is whining? I think it is quite important, actually, as far as communication is concerned. As a skeptic, it is difficult to cite, I think, one primary goal…but if we are concerned with challenging others’s ideas, I would wager that respect in communication should be important. Also, I have offered my thoughts on the entire matter on my blog (you mentioned you may have missed them).

    To others:
    Proposing that I ought to rebuke all people (or more specifically, some orof certain people) calling Rebecca names or saying uncouth things about her is a pretty unreasonable demand/expectaction. I can’t possibly address every stupid thing every person (or even specific persons) say on the matter and don’t really care to. I have, though, addressed commenters on my blog post and elsewhere who have said nasty things. Anyway, I can throw it back on commenters here and say (Why haven’t you rebuked persons a, b…). Obviously, this would be silly for me to say. Implying that my lack of rebuking certain people is indicative of some sort of hidden motive or lack of true concern (or whatever else)women is ridiculous.

    I mainly posted here because I expect better from bloggers who are featured on what might be the premier network of bloggers in the atheist movement. It is quite a shame that a platform would be used to call the president of the JREF a douchebag (or really anyone with a position of influence who has done great good for the skeptic/atheist community) in addition to the post having the tag of asshats. What is this, 4th grade?

  57. says

    a) I have spent thousands of words explaining exactly what was wrong with his actions.

    b) I have spent thousands of words making suggestions of how to actually fix the problem.

    c) You’re taking issue with exactly one word.

  58. says

    Yes, I am talking about one word (actually two, don’t forget your ‘asshats’ tag). So what? Does the fact that it is one word make it less of a problem? Does the fact that your noting of a and b somehow make the word less of a problem? Besides, my issue is a larger one of communication. I am voicing my concerns here on this blog. You know, this whole frackas isn’t just compromised of one thing that ought to be focused on. People can comment and express disagreement/concern with whatever they’re concerned about -they don’t gave to focus on what you seem to want them to.

    Also, I’ve spent a considerable amount on words on why I think Rebecca Watson’s response was not, as I see it, a good/effective one. So what? Suppose I spent one million. Suppose you spent two. Who cares? Arguments stand on their merits, not on how many words someone wrote on something.

  59. says

    So attack my words on their merits — specifically the ones I spent all that time actually arguing for/against things. Stop laser-focusing on *two* of them, that makes you a tone troll and a waste of everyone’s time. Especially not when I’ve good reason to use those words and have promised to apologize for using them when DJ apologizes to the women he’s slut-shamed by saying it’s just “locker room talk”, “sexual exploits”, etc.

    Seriously, do you not get that? He’s slut-shamed victims of sexual harassment. If he didn’t mean that, why has he not yet “clarified” in his usual manner, dumping a two-thousand word “apology” that includes more “but it’s those damned feminists’ and FtB’s fault!” assholery?

  60. says

    And why why WHY is this about Rebecca Watson at all, except that she’s fed up of the bullshit and said she can’t support it? I know you really want people to go to your blog and read your whargarbl about how terrible it is that she handled things, but this “pox on both your houses” is really irritating. Either she has every right to listen to the very clear message that she’s not welcome and take her leave, or he should make amends by actually implementing a real policy — and not this “we posted something on a blog post last year that says ‘we totes hate harassment’ but has no teeth or actual rules behind it” nonsense that they won’t even post somewhere near where con-goers are supposed to register.

    Which, by the way, is only in existence because last year some asshole suggested he would corner her in an elevator.

  61. LeftSidePositive says

    Count Vacula sucks the substantive lifeblood out of reasoned discussion…

    …pale corpse of tone-trolling remains.

  62. says

    @Justin:

    but if we are concerned with challenging others’s ideas, I would wager that respect in communication should be important

    Important, but not absolute. Sometimes people need to be shocked. Sometimes people need to vent. Sometimes people have acted in a way that deserves no respect. Andrew Wakefield is a slimy fraud, and it does no one any good to treat him with undue respect as they’re demolishing his claims. Eric Hovind is a sleazy liar, and treating him with undue respect only serves to legitimize his claims to an authority that he has not earned.

    And D.J. Grothe is a good skeptic who has done a great deal of commendable work for the skeptical movement and community. He also has a nasty tendency to stick his foot in his mouth on issues of sexism, and to double down rather than examine his own prejudices and assumptions, which are poor qualities in a leader and a skeptic, respectively. He has, understandably, lost the respect of many through his words and actions, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who doubts his fitness as a leader in the movement.

    But then, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if D.J. had shown the same respect you demand we show him, and that he demands of others. If he had approached the “irresponsibly messaging” women in private, rather than commenting publicly, this might not have happened. If he had not dismissed genuine concerns as “locker room banter,” this might not have happened. If he did not continue to shirk responsibility and hold up a survey and a program statement as if they were the absolute most he could possibly do, this might not have happened. Your calls for respect are misdirected, and you’ll find that D.J. will receive that respect once more when he has earned it.

    Now, however, he has earned ridicule and derision.

    I can’t possibly address every stupid thing every person (or even specific persons) say on the matter and don’t really care to.

    Agreed. So why single out one use of the word douchebag on a whole Internet full of vulgarity?

    Implying that my lack of rebuking certain people is indicative of some sort of hidden motive or lack of true concern (or whatever else)women is ridiculous.

    Then why are you here? Did you throw a dart at a map of the Internet? What burning desire said “all those other vulgarities, the slurs and threats and disrespectful comments, I’ll let those slide, but these people here on Lousy Canuck they are where I should focus my concern about tone”?

    I mainly posted here because I expect better from bloggers who are featured on what might be the premier network of bloggers in the atheist movement.

    But you don’t expect better from the President of the JREF? You don’t expect better from the celebrities like Penn & Teller or Randi? I’ve done five minutes of googling, and you don’t seem to be in the trenches at Pharyngula condemning PZ for his language. You don’t seem to spend your time at ERV (over on the slightly less premier network of skeptical/atheistic bloggers) mucking out the slimepit, you don’t seem to spend much time at r/atheism calling out the misogyny and so forth there, on the world’s largest network of atheists.

    No, it seems like your concern about tone is very tightly focused. It’s very tightly focused on criticisms and satire of one figure who you clearly view as an authority because of his title and work, which somehow apparently puts him above the sort of criticism we readily hurl at others. It’s very tightly focused on a guy who repeatedly minimizes sexist remarks and harassment while claiming to be an ally who cares. It’s very tightly focused on a guy who publicly labeled Rebecca Watson part of the problem.

    I don’t want to armchair psychoanalyze, so I won’t. You have your reasons for choosing this post over all the other posts you could go after, and for apparently holding critics of D.J. Grothe to a standard that you don’t hold others, including D.J. Grothe, to.

    The shame is the amount of time wasted on this circle-jerk of a tone discussion, rather than actually discussing ideas.

  63. says

    I approved the earlier morpher this time around because I wanted everyone to see the drop in the ocean of misogyny that is the internet. If my “douchebag” is horrendous, where’s the vituperation about this morpher’s messaging?

  64. sunnylazar says

    Jason…man you have courage.
    First on a public forum you call DJ a “douchebag” and hold him to ridicule.
    Then, again on a public forum on 54, you double down and ridicule him again with sexually explicit perjorative.
    Dawg, that’s a text book case of sexual harrassment and if the blogs are considered workspace you can add hostile work environment.
    You have held this brother up to offensive ridicule that has been defamatory in word and sexual in nature…and…
    your excuse at #75, “I only said the word once”…is that the same as,”I have helped humanity in my lectures but only grabbed her ass once.
    Man oh man, you must have absolutely ice water in your veins and couldn’t care less if DJ takes this to an attorney and asks about defamation and sexual harrassment looking for remedy and relief.
    You could argue first ammendment but wow…these suits get costly and most people settle…deep pockets really help.
    Don’t you find it ironic that the very thing you are railing against you are committing.
    You must be a scream at conventions. I know great attorneys so man I want to party and hang with you.

  65. says

    Jason says:
    “Either she has every right to listen to the very clear message that she’s not welcome and take her leave, or he should make amends by actually implementing a real policy — and not this “we posted something on a blog post last year that says ‘we totes hate harassment’ but has no teeth or actual rules behind it” nonsense that they won’t even post somewhere near where con-goers are supposed to register.”

    The false dichotomy should be obvious. She can take what DJ says and say something like “While I don’t appreciate what you’ve said or how you’ve handled this, I can act like an adult and understand that there’s going to be disagreement amongst people in the skeptic community rather than sitting home.” She can also have many other various responses.

    Like I said in my Twitter conversation with her and my post, I have severe disagreements with some people in the atheist/skeptic community, but I’m not going to sit home and pull out supporting a convention. If the basis of severe disagreement — as what seems to be the bulk of her argument/objection — should be good reason for people to sit home, lots of people would end up sitting home. I can ‘get past that’ and so many others likely do. I even recall reading posts of bloggers talking about how they have severe disagreements with some speakers and just tolerate them, don’t listen to them, or do something else.

    I won’t go into those details about said personal disagreements because I’d rather ‘take the high road’ and not cause strife (like what’s been going on in the past week or two). Again, one can discuss effective responses to sexual harassment/disagree with Grothe…Rebecca’s option, though, isn’t a forced one as many are claiming.

    “Stop laser-focusing on *two* of them, that makes you a tone troll and a waste of everyone’s time”

    Continuing to talk about me being a ‘tone troll’ isn’t even addressing my objections to your associating the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ with DJ. Suppose, for sake of argument, as you said, that DJ said some really bad things. I’ll agree, for sake of argument, with your thousand-or-so-word explanations for why you feel the way you do. I still don’t understand why it should be permissible to associate the words ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ with Grothe. Why do you feel the need to do that? How is that constructive. If you words/arguments have merit, as you say (and tell me that I should take your words on their merits), why even bother using the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat?’ Leaders of the skeptical movement and people who do great things for the skeptical movement deserve better than that…no matter how much you disagree with them or how bad you think they are.

    I wonder…would you use the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ in relation to James Randi? Michael Shermer? Neil Degrasse Tyson? Sam Harris? Rebecca Watson? Greta Christina? Jen McCreight? J.T.? Jessica Ahlquist? Do these people deserve such disrespect as you’re giving to D.J.? …and I don’t care what they say or how disrespectful you think their comments are. They don’t deserve it and neither does D.J. I think we can and should behave better than 4th graders might.

    “I know you really want people to go to your blog and read your whargarbl about how terrible it is that she handled things”

    Actually, people have asked for what I had to say on the matter (and mentioned something about failing to Google), so I mentioned it. Comment 14, actually, if I’m not missing something, was the only link I gave. …and, yah, I don’t see what the problem is with giving my opinion on the matter? Shall I instead link the lengthy post here with its full-text? That would be obnoxious and uncalled for, I think. Further, you mentioned how many words you’ve written addressing the issues, so I don’t see what the problem is with people knowing about mine (as if the lengthy writing even matters, anyway, or somehow makes one’s position more tenable).

    “Seriously, do you not get that? He’s slut-shamed victims of sexual harassment. If he didn’t mean that, why has he not yet “clarified” in his usual manner, dumping a two-thousand word “apology””

    Are you asserting that he’s doing this:
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/?
    Anyway, I don’t buy this “If he didn’t mean that, why has he not yet “clarified” reasoning. One can raise any sort of objection or claim to anyone’s writing and follow up with “If he didn’t mean that, why hasn’t he yet clarified” (as if somehow a lack of clarification of something someone assumed someone was asserting implies that the person’s assumption was correct). That seems quite close to what’s often called an argument from ignorance, it seems.

  66. Tom Foss says

    Arguments stand on their merits, not on how many words someone wrote on something.

    That’s right. Arguments stand on their merits, not the number of words, or which words were used to make it. “All men are mortal; Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal” is no more or less valid than “Socrates is a fucking asshole of a man; all fucking shitbag men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal, asshat.” That one is not to your taste is irrelevant.

    Thank you for arguing yourself out of the discussion.

  67. says

    I wonder…would you use the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ in relation to James Randi? Michael Shermer? Neil Degrasse Tyson? Sam Harris? Rebecca Watson? Greta Christina? Jen McCreight? J.T.? Jessica Ahlquist? Do these people deserve such disrespect as you’re giving to D.J.?

    If they did the kind of asshatish, douchebaggy things that DJ has to several women now, then YES. They would have a nobody from Canada say “hey, that’s an asshattish, douchebaggy thing you just did”. And I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Just because DJ didn’t use any swear words, doesn’t mean that he was being any more polite to the victims of harassment whose stories he called “locker room talk”. For the last time, I’ll apologize for my transgression when he apologizes for his repeated ones.

    That was your last post here until you could get serious about the actual arguments we’ve all made.

  68. says

    83: turning DJ’s words against him may feel really bad to be on the receiving end, if he’s actually reading them, but I’m not chasing him around with them. Whatevz.

  69. says

    Tom Foss:

    Thanks for the follow-up and the conversation. I’ll consider your thoughts surrounding effective approaches concerning satire, language, and general approach since you brought up Penn and Teller and other considerations. (I also wasn’t aware of Randi calling Montel a whore. I see that he called Montel a media whore…and don’t think that is productive, either, for whatever that is worth).

    Penn and Teller are known for being comedians and often employ humor to prove a point or just generally fit their ‘characters’ they play. Many people know this, expect this, and ‘get it.’ Penn calling someone a douchebag or an asshat (or many other things which of course I have heard) is much different than Jason here calling D.J. Grothe an asshat or douchebag.

    As far as PZ is concerned, he generally has that ‘offensive/crass’ approach…and I’m not a huge fan of it although, as it seems, I tolerate it and am a frequent reader of his blog (I addressed PZ’s dismissal of Massimo Pigliucci, too, in a blog post of my own in December of 2011). When I tackle arguments people make, others’ behaviors, etc, I keep my content free of personal attacks, name-calling, etc even if these people have said abominable things.

    I’ll concede some ground, though, and say that everyone has their own approach and it can be effective and reach some in some ways that otherwise wouldn’t reach people. This shouldn’t entail, though, that ‘anything goes’ or hold people to no reasonable standards of professionalism, behavior, conversational tone, etc. If that were the case, any objection to name-calling would have to be immediately thrown out. If that were really obvious (that conversational tone is not an issue because everyone has a different approach), I wouldn’t expect to see outrage when people use the terms ‘feminazi,’ for instance. (I think it’s a ridiculous term, personally, and would never use it…many others might agree). While there may be many right ways to do something or many different approaches, this doesn’t mean that there are no wrong or inadvisable ways.

    I’ll further consider your ideas on Hovind and Wakefield as those seem to be tougher cases (although I still don’t seem to be a fan of name-calling even them). It’s food for thought. When I see effective uses of satire and name-calling, though, I generally see an element of obvious humor in a situation which should be apparent for everyone. I don’t see that here. Admittedly, there may be other options. I’ll leave room for that.

    I kind-of already explained why I am here having this discussion above (or perhaps more in the latest comment I made) and why it just seems to happen that my ‘dart’ landed here. Let me elaborate (although I don’t think it is relevant, but let’s assume for the sake of argument it is):

    I think the entire ‘drama’ about the discussion of sexual harassment and Watson’s response to it and DJ’s responses to it have gotten really out of hand and wild accusations have been made by many parties in which people claim to know the content of others’ minds and claim to know that people have malicious intent (such that DJ “doesn’t care about women or how they feel.”)

    I wanted to stay out of the issue initially because the last time when I made an effort to comment on Watson’s posts or assertions she was making seemed to be a waste of my time. When I expressed skepticism to her general assertion of, as it seemed to be, “Not having a woman in a poll of five people is sexist or indicative of a person ‘forgetting about women’” and asked her to defend her position, I seemed to have received nothing more than glib dismissals, charges of sexism, and wild distortions of what I was saying (you can see this in the comments of Watson’s “I won a major award!” post on Skepchick in which I post under the handle ‘justinvacula’ if you care to).

    After Watson responded the way she did and many commenters followed suit, the bells of skepticism started ringing in my mind. Following this, I noted various other dubious assertions of Watson but mainly avoided the discussion and went on with what I was doing instead of participating in ‘in-fighting.’

    I’ve heard some people in the skeptic/atheist community who are afraid to challenge the claims of Watson because they fear character assassination, personal attacks, being blacklisted, etc. Some people have told me that they believe Watson is a ‘sacred cow’ of sorts in the skeptic community in which she seems to be immune to criticism (and even some say feminism or any self-identified feminist bloggers is/are the sacred cow, but I don’t agree with that at all).

    I found it important to weigh in on the issues and challenge Watson’s claims while sticking my neck out there and hopefully encouraging others to do the same and not fear the repercussions of criticizing her ideas.

    Additionally, I (and I am sure many others) consider the work of the JREF to be very important. I don’t want to sit by while people besmirch its president and the organization itself.

    Perhaps shorter: while browsing FTB, a source from which I get much of my information regarding the ‘atheist movement’ and generally quite the respected source, I saw this post and felt the need to comment…and now I’m here. Also, I don’t comment on blogs too much. I would rather talk to people about ideas on the phone, in-person, write posts of my own, etc.

    Either way, it’s possible to have a strong conviction on a matter and simply not express it. A lack of commenting in places x, y, and z and only commenting in place a shouldn’t lead one to believe one isn’t genuine or some ulterior motives exist. Surely the often glibly referred to ‘ivory tower academics’ have very strong convictions and only might comment in one or few places on an issue.

    P.S.: Psychoanalysis (or at least most of it) is bunk – at least according to many in the mental health community. Consider this a bald assertion, argument from authority, or whatever else, but I don’t want to go into that much here and I also don’t think you want to either.

    …and I think time can be well-spent discussing matters of tone…and so much so that I am actually going to be giving a speech about related issues under the umbrella of ‘reframing conversation’ this September to a humanist group which invited me to do so…and, as I mentioned, I have written and spoken about this before. One’s ‘waste of time’ might be another’s time well-spent.

  70. says

    Justin hit my mod wall with a rather long post. It’s a significant gish gallop, but aside from the tone nonsense, significantly less objectionable than the other crap he’s said so far. Before I release that post though, I want to remind everyone of exactly what DJ said:

    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

    The instant he walks back this paragraph in its entirety, I report it top-level in a blog post, and apologize for calling him a douchebag. This is my solemn vow.

    I of course reserve the right to take him to task for the other shovels full of dirt he throws in our eyes while he’s apologizing for that stuff though.

  71. says

    It’s released, @88. Now could someone tell me why Penn and Teller’s “douchebag” and “asshole” is different from mine? Is it because they’re known to do it all the time, whereas I only get really mad when people are intractable over extended periods of time despite good argumentation clobbering them in the face from all sides repeatedly?

  72. says

    FYI, this person I don’t know felt it was “social” to message me on Twitter to get my opinion on your behavior, Jason. I gave it to him in exchange for his thoughts on D.J.’s “sexual exploits” statement, such as they are:

    If it is the case that DJ used the phrase ‘sexual exploits’ as a description of harassment, I don’t really care so much to the point of its impact on the part of the discussion I’m concerned with; it doesn’t change the feelings on the matter of people calling him an asshat or a douchebag. I described this in the comments of LousyCanuck’s blog if you care for more of an explanation.

    Let’s assume though, that it is the case that ‘sexual exploits’ was used by DJ (and now as I’m looking at it it seems DJ might have just used this as a replacement for ‘women being harassed by speakers. I don’t, though, condone this and wouldn’t myself use this language). I think, though, that it’s important to be charitable in this context and assume DJ messed up/misspoke [because he made a long apology about something].

    Another one of those idiots who think that D.J. deserves more benefit of the doubt than D.J. is willing to offer the women who are complaining about having been harassed and assaulted.

    Also, FYI. Apparently “no one” uses “douchebag” to mean something sold to women as being good for them but which is actually harmful, despite you and I having discussed that usage. Justin can totally tell you mean something else by it because…because…well, apparently because you’re talking about D.J. treating women poorly. Maybe he can explain how that works.

  73. LeftSidePositive says

    So, DJ slut-shames women but I don’t think it’s relevant to the discussion in which people are calling him out for slut-shaming? I don’t think it has any relevance to how the people being slut-shamed should approach DJ?!

    And, I’m sorry, he used a term connoting consensual sexual activity “as a replacement” for non-consensual sexual activity? What the fuck is that called again? Oh, yeah SLUT-SHAMING!!!

    WHY does DJ get the benefit of the doubt that he misspoke, when he has never apologized or indeed offered ANY explanation of this behavior?!

    And is there ANY other context in which things just get replacements like that?!

    “Mr. Jones has some comments at this time about the generous donation he made to Mr. Smith–no, wait, I’m sorry, Mr. Jones was speaking about how Mr. Smith stole $5,000 from Mr. Jones via a fraudulent check.”

    “Miss Weatherby was wondering if Mr. Rutledge will remember to fill the tank since she lent her car to her–no, wait, I’m sorry, Miss Weatherby is reporting a grand theft auto.”

    “Will the Fredericks family be making waffles for their houseguest? Oh, I’m sorry, I meant home-invasion-robber…I always get those two mixed up…”

    Seriously…WHAT THE FUCK?!

  74. says

    Precisely, Stephanie. All men automatically mean the best and have everyone’s best interests at heart, whereas women default to being lying and capricious.

    @Jason :

    Is there a reason to take morons seriously on your own blog? You’re not going to lose any support or appreciation from anyone sensible by just banning these fools outright. They’re only here because they’ve already been blocked from Skepchick and other blogs, where they likewise attempted to suck all the air out of the room.

    Anyone who reflexively responds to a long-running discussion about a person who has discredited themselves over the course of months with the thousand-word equivalent of “you’re so mean and childish for using that word!” is functionally disengaged from the argument and almost certainly simply doing their best to waste your time and bury the issue under an avalanche of irrelevant tripe.

  75. says

    Justin: I’ll try to keep this briefer.

    “While I don’t appreciate what you’ve said or how you’ve handled this, I can act like an adult and understand that there’s going to be disagreement amongst people in the skeptic community rather than sitting home.”

    Boycotts and protests are an adult reaction, and one is not required to be present at every venue that would have them. When Unions strike to protest unfair working conditions, it is not more “adult” for scabs to cross the picket line and go to work. When bands refused to play Sun City to protest its pro-apartheid politics, it was not more “adult” of the Beach Boys to play there anyway. There is nothing childish in recognizing that one’s appearance at a venue may appear to be tacit or explicit approval of the people who run the venue, or carefully choosing the people you associate with.

    I still don’t understand why it should be permissible to associate the words ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ with Grothe. Why do you feel the need to do that? How is that constructive.

    It’s permissible because insults may be in bad taste, but they are not illegal, immoral, or irrational. As I mentioned before, they form an entirely legitimate appeal to ethos and pathos, which may or may not benefit the person hurling them.

    To put it in less charged terms, we can cite statistics and science about why the anti-vaccination movement is harmful; why, then would we have things like the Jenny McCarthy Body Count; why would we talk about the children who die because their parents deny them life-saving vaccines? Because we are appealing to emotions and character in addition to logic and reason.

    Also, skeptics are allowed to get fucking angry, just like anyone else. And when people are angry, they sometimes say harsh things. Deal.

    Further, it doesn’t matter if the insults are constructive. They don’t need to be. The constructive part is the argument. The insults are flavor and flair; logically irrelevant but possibly rhetorically useful.

    Leaders of the skeptical movement and people who do great things for the skeptical movement deserve better than that…no matter how much you disagree with them or how bad you think they are.

    I think this gets to two different hearts of the matter, because apparently the matter is a Timelord.

    First, it’s interesting that you don’t consider Rebecca Watson among your “leaders of the skeptical movement” or “people who do great things for the skeptical movement.” Nor, apparently, do you consider the other women and bloggers that DJ has casually trashed.

    And second, like hell they do. Having a title or a history of good work does not elevate a person above criticism any more than it makes them incapable of error. It may, at most, entitle them to some benefit of the doubt, some patience and chance for clarification. But it does not, and should not, inure them to criticism.

    Moreover, when these people are the public faces of our community, it falls to those in the community to call them out quickly and swiftly when they do make an error, because you’d better be damn sure that our opponents would seize on any and every chance to do that calling-out for us. Being in positions of power in the community means that when they misspeak, they misspeak for all of us. When they step in it, we all stink, and the responsibility to keep a clean house falls to us.

    If we are to have a moral leg to stand on in calling out irrationality, hypocrisy, and immorality in other groups and communities, then we need to be particularly vigilant in excising it from our own.

    I wonder…would you use the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ in relation to James Randi? Michael Shermer? Neil Degrasse Tyson? Sam Harris? Rebecca Watson? Greta Christina? Jen McCreight? J.T.? Jessica Ahlquist? Do these people deserve such disrespect as you’re giving to D.J.?

    No, those people (in general) do not deserve that disrespect. Were those people to earn such disrespect, however, then I certainly would have no problem in using harsh language to describe them. I think Neil Tyson was kind of a jackass for throwing atheism under the bus in a recent BigThink interview, playing the same misleading word-game that Carl Sagan did with the term. I think Michael Shermer is a douchebag for propping up libertarian politics and economics as some kind of inevitable outcome of evolution, and for playing the “golden mean” agnostic thing like Bill Maher does. Speaking of Maher, I think he’s a giant asshat for his continued denial of the germ theory of disease and basic medicine, and I think Dawkins was an equally big asshat for not repudiating the science award that was given to him a few years back, and for basically saying that atheism trumps science. Dawkins was a douchebag during the Elevatorgate/Dear Muslima thing, making a fallacious argument that he himself has debunked in non-sexism contexts. J.T. Eberhard is behaving like a douchebag right now in his posts and comment threads. Even Randi conducted himself like a prize idiot over that whole Global Warming fiasco a few years back, and even after Phil sorted him out, I’m reasonably certain that he doesn’t understand AGW science one whit.

    Penn and Teller are known for being comedians and often employ humor to prove a point or just generally fit their ‘characters’ they play. Many people know this, expect this, and ‘get it.’ Penn calling someone a douchebag or an asshat (or many other things which of course I have heard) is much different than Jason here calling D.J. Grothe an asshat or douchebag.

    Please explain how in a way that is not special pleading.

    When I tackle arguments people make, others’ behaviors, etc, I keep my content free of personal attacks, name-calling, etc even if these people have said abominable things.

    And that’s your choice. You do not, however, get to make that choice for everyone. And that it is your choice does not make it, in any objective way, the right or best choice.

    I wouldn’t expect to see outrage when people use the terms ‘feminazi,’ for instance. (I think it’s a ridiculous term, personally, and would never use it…many others might agree). While there may be many right ways to do something or many different approaches, this doesn’t mean that there are no wrong or inadvisable ways.

    “Feminazi” is an utterly meaningless term designed to denigrate and dismiss feminists. It is not quite as strong as a slur, but it has the same basic value and intent.

    A major difference, you’ll find, is the difference between insulting people for what they are and insulting people for what they’ve done. Even the harshest of atheist/skeptical communities generally frown on the former. You can frown on the latter too (subjectively, in the case of Penn & Teller), but not everyone is going to agree with you.

    When I see effective uses of satire and name-calling, though, I generally see an element of obvious humor in a situation which should be apparent for everyone. I don’t see that here. Admittedly, there may be other options. I’ll leave room for that.

    Satire is rarely obvious to everyone. Consider that numerous watchdog groups and politicians have treated stories from The Onion as factual.

    wild accusations have been made by many parties in which people claim to know the content of others’ minds and claim to know that people have malicious intent (such that DJ “doesn’t care about women or how they feel.”)

    I agree. Why, there was this one person who claimed that “atheist blogs [...] often seem to present controversies, possibly unduly fomented just to drive readership,” and made further statements that bloggers wrote posts simply to improve blog hits or increase pageviews, something I suspect would require a MDC-worthy bit of telepathy.

    When I expressed skepticism to her general assertion of, as it seemed to be, “Not having a woman in a poll of five people is sexist or indicative of a person ‘forgetting about women’”

    As an expert in statistics, I can verify that 1 in 5 is an accurate representation of the number of women in the world.

    I’ve heard some people in the skeptic/atheist community who are afraid to challenge the claims of Watson because they fear character assassination, personal attacks, being blacklisted, etc.

    Are those the same “some people” who were “personally involved with one of the controversialist blogs that there has been explicit direction from that blog’s founder to this effect [i.e., to write posts calling out various people in skepticism in order to boost pageviews]“? Because I have some skepticism about those “some people.”

    But yes, a casual glance at the evidence shows that Rebecca Watson mobilizes huge numbers of people to engage in character assassination and personal attacks, and no one is ever brave enough to stand up and tell her what a c*nt she is for doing so.

    I found it important to weigh in on the issues and challenge Watson’s claims while sticking my neck out there and hopefully encouraging others to do the same and not fear the repercussions of criticizing her ideas.

    You’re so brave, expressing your totally normal and not hyper at all skepticism about Watson’s truly outrageously extraordinary claim that a “top five atheists” list, in a year where Jessica Ahlquist made national headlines for standing up to abuse, threats, and an entire community to fight for church-state separation, might be the result of some sexist or at least privilege-induced blindness when it doesn’t include a woman but includes at least one person that most folks wouldn’t realize is even an atheist.

    You deserve a medal.

    Additionally, I (and I am sure many others) consider the work of the JREF to be very important. I don’t want to sit by while people besmirch its president and the organization itself.

    I agree that the work of the JREF is important. That’s why I don’t want to sit by while the president of the organization behaves like an ass, alienates supporters, and makes the organization look like it’s being run by someone so incompetent that he doesn’t understand that Facebook is public or that leaders are supposed to take responsibility for the mistakes and failures of their policies.

    Either way, it’s possible to have a strong conviction on a matter and simply not express it. A lack of commenting in places x, y, and z and only commenting in place a shouldn’t lead one to believe one isn’t genuine or some ulterior motives exist.

    I agree. The problem is that you’re choosing to comment on Problem A in place X, when the same problem is clearly orders of magnitude worse in places Y and Z. And, in fact, when problem A in place X only arose because of the prevalence of problem A in Y and Z. Plus, you’re explicitly willing to ignore, overlook, dismiss, or forgive problem A in certain places when those places have special titles that elevate them above other places in your mind.

    And that speaks to a bigger problem.

    P.S.: Psychoanalysis (or at least most of it) is bunk

    And armchair psychoanalysis is twice as bunk. It’s a bunk bed.

    Hm. I failed to keep this brief. Apologies, all.

  76. says

    LeftSidePositive: Thanks *blushes*.

    Kagerato:

    Anyone who reflexively responds to a long-running discussion about a person who has discredited themselves over the course of months with the thousand-word equivalent of “you’re so mean and childish for using that word!” is functionally disengaged from the argument and almost certainly simply doing their best to waste your time and bury the issue under an avalanche of irrelevant tripe.

    “Mommy, mommy, he said a swear!”

    Yeah, seriously. Name-calling may be childish, but the whole notion (tacit or explicit) that there are “bad words” which somehow are worse than the attitudes they express, is about as juvenile as it gets.

    As Shakespeare said, “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” Similarly, one may use very polite language to express some very douchey sentiments.

  77. LeftSidePositive says

    Tom: a most excellent evisceration!

    Seconded on that whole thing where apparently boycotting is just ipso facto wrong…WHY?! Boycotts have been hugely successful for tons of movements. If you want to make an argument that issue X isn’t worthy of a boycott, go ahead and make it, but mostly I just hear the word “boycott!” in shocked, indignant tones. And part of this I suspect is that so many people just take for granted that women’s issues can’t be important enough to boycott over.

    You know, I make fun of those “War on Christmas” boycotters all the time–but I respect that is an appropriate means of social pressure for what they’re trying to accomplish, better than say, passing a law! But when I criticize them, I do so on the grounds that their cause is FUCKING STUPID, not that it is wrong to boycott!

    And I must say I love the “we’re afraid of Rebecca’s gang!” memes going around…why is it that a not-insignificant part of me thinks it means “we’re afraid they’ll come up with an argument we can’t answer” or “when we strawman disgracefully and remain willfully ignorant, they will unflinchingly call us on our bullshit!”

    See the hyper-skepticism thread for just such an insinuation of a “personal attack.” It was equal parts infuriating and hilarious.

    Finally, did it ever occur to these people that, yes, they may disagree with Rebecca, but on the vast majority of these issues THEY WILL BE WRONG?! And that we don’t have to stop saying that they’re wrong if they refuse to consider counterarguments? Like you showed with Jessica & the “top atheists”–of course your free to your own opinion, but that doesn’t stop us from judging it or making obvious assessments about what your opinion brings to light!

    Is that really so hard to understand?!

  78. says

    Stephanie at 93:

    It should be quite obvious that Jason’s calling D.J. a douchebag was not an allegory as you claimed (although allegory is not the proper term…perhaps metaphor is), but rather was used in the common way almost everyone understands it when compared to a person… perhaps likely as Urban Dictionary defines it.

    Do you actually think, when you, in real life, hear people using the term ‘douchebag,’ that they are making some sort of higher-level joke comparing the person to a product sold to women?

    Is Jason’s calling D.J. an asshat also some sort of higher-level joke that doesn’t mean what we commonly believe it to be?

    I can’t believe that we’re actually having a discussion about what a person means when someone is calling someone a douchebag. Perhaps Jason can clear this up, be honest, and state that it wasn’t a reference to the product sold to women. He’s been defending his use of the term here.

    “Justin can totally tell you mean something else by it because…because…well, apparently because you’re talking about D.J. treating women poorly. Maybe he can explain how that works.”

    Have you STILL not read what Jason wrote in the original post after Tom Foss pointed it out in 45 following your assumption that I was the one who introduced it on the conversation [which seems to makes no sense because this entire time I have been objecting to the use of the term] pointed it out?

    “I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around >>>being a douchebag to those women who are identifying the problem and working to solve it, instead of actually fixing the problems people are having with harassment.<<<"

    (arrows added for emphasis)

    …and yes, I do think D.J. deserves the benefit of the doubt and perhaps you (and commenters here) would understand why I believe this if you linked the quotes I used in my answer to your question here.

    If you linked the first paragraph of my response to you (or the entire response), perhaps commenter 94 would think differently and I wouldn't be, as it seems, mischaracterized:

    "I'm not really interested in answering the question of my thoughts on DJ using sexual exploits as adescription of harassment, but I will. When I initially posted about the recent issues of harassment and thediscussion of such, I didn't talk about whether persons' appraisals of DJ's comments were accurate…andactually assumed they were for sake of argument in regards to whether Watson's behavior was aneffective response to what she (and others) construed DJ as asserting. Read on http://www.justinvacula.com/2012/06/my-twitter-conversation-with-rebecca.html if you care to/didn't already."

    On other assorted comments:

    This use of the term 'slut-shaming' (and alleging D.J. is partaking in such) is quite interesting and really bizarre considering D.J. said "No woman — no person — should ever be blamed for being a victim or speaking about sexism or any social problem. I was wrong to write anything that could even be construed that was, and it was never my intent. I am sorry.

  79. says

    I wonder…would you use the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ in relation to James Randi? Michael Shermer? Neil Degrasse Tyson? Sam Harris? Rebecca Watson? Greta Christina? Jen McCreight? J.T.? Jessica Ahlquist? Do these people deserve such disrespect as you’re giving to D.J.?

    Funny, that, but I remember that when Randi posted some lazy, non-informed comments on “climate-change scepticism”, lots of other prominent sceptics did take him to task for that, some none too gently. And when Sam Harris uttered lazy, uninformed views on screening people who “looked Muslim” in airports, he received a storm of harsh critics. Hmmm, maybe there’s a lesson, here. Y’know, something about great honour bringing great responsibility…

  80. SatanHimself says

    I said (#10): Don’t you know that you can’t criticize a woman’s thoughts or behavior in the atheist movement…unless she’s Republican?

    Ignorant Joe said (#16): Comments like this let us know that some of the people commenting aren’t even really engaged in the issues currently being discussed. They are just looking for an excuse to lash out in the general direction of people who they feel have wronged them. In this case, some Republican who should be embarrassed that Republican politicians say stupid and wrong things pretty much constantly, because their political philosophy is intellectually bankrupt, and are instead mad at the people who point out the stupidity of those politicians and pretend that the female Republicans are being singled out for sexist reasons, when they are simply being called out as being just as stupid as their male counterparts.

    I say: Try again, Joe. I’m a registered Dem, who usually votes Dem (usually the lesser of the evils), but I hate both parties and I’ve been following this whole thread. I don’t have any loyalty to DJ or to TAM. And I most certainly don’t have loyalty or particular respect for any mere blogger who thinks he/she is self-important when he/she hasn’t really ACCOMPLISHED anything for the atheist (don’t get me started on the word “skeptic”)movement. While I would not behave like the jerks Rebecca has encountered, she needs to get over it, or she needs to NAME NAMES. Because by being too chickens***t to name names, she is basically smearing the entire male population who speak at, or attend, atheist (F**K “skeptic”) conventions. (And F**K the term “con”…”con” has many other definitions, and mere laziness amongst the youth in America has spawned its use in place of “convention” or “conference”.) She clearly has “issues” with men in general. (And, although I am male, my wife has always been the main breadwinner, I have two bright daughters, and one of MY favorite TV shows is actually ‘The View’.) So don’t dare insinuate I am anti-female. I do however, like the term “FemiNazis”….the one thing Limbaugh has ever done that I admire.

    Bloggers…TAM…podcasts….these are nothing but mere entertainment for the vast majority of their patrons. They are “preaching to the choir”. Big deal. Give me instead people who are actually on the front lines fighting legal battles for church/state separation (and atheist civil rights) via lawsuits, confronting elected officials, confronting religionists, challenging discriminatory practices, etc.

    Get out from behind your keyboards, get out of your “cons”(sheesh), and actually DO something, as people like Justin “Not-So-Vacuous” Vacula have done.

    Oh yeah, and another thing. Feminism has nothing to do with atheism, and I’m sick of bleeding heart liberals trying to tie the two together, just like they tie “gay marriage” or “pro-choice” or the Democratic Party to atheism. Gay marriage and abortion are NOT strictly religious issues, but the liberals will try to convince people that they are. And if an atheist DARES oppose gay “marriage” (as if there’s no BIOLOGICAL component to marriage) or unrestricted abortions (as if abortion is a really HUMANIST procedure), they will be attacked as traitors.

  81. says

    No matter what you think of Dj, calling him a douchebag, as it overwhelmingly seems (and using, even, the phrase asshat in the tag of this post) is very immature, disrespctful, and unprofessional regardless of what you think he has said or assumed.

    In shorter words: You’re angry, therefore you’re wrong.
    It doesn’t matter that your concerns were dismissed, that women speaking out about harassment were accused of lying, were slut-shamed and told to shut up.
    Because DJG used long words for that and proper sentences and the offensiveness content doesn’t matter as long as the words are kindergarten-approved.

  82. says

    SatanHimself@100: I won’t deal with the rest of your petulant screed, but this last parting shot certainly is worth examining.

    Oh yeah, and another thing. Feminism has nothing to do with atheism, and I’m sick of bleeding heart liberals trying to tie the two together, just like they tie “gay marriage” or “pro-choice” or the Democratic Party to atheism.

    The Venn diagrams intersect pretty heavily because empathy, compassion and rationality are all necessary to call one’s self a “humanist”, and the vast majority of humanists are atheist. Saying “I’m atheist” does not automatically mean you’re right on anything else. Look at, say, Penn Jillette or Bill Maher for example.

    Gay marriage and abortion are NOT strictly religious issues, but the liberals will try to convince people that they are.

    No we won’t. I’m well aware some people think homosexuality is icky without prompting by religious authority. But the “icky factor” is significantly smaller than the “that’s sinful and God will send hurricanes to destroy Florida if you don’t stop” factor.

    And if an atheist DARES oppose gay “marriage” (as if there’s no BIOLOGICAL component to marriage) or unrestricted abortions (as if abortion is a really HUMANIST procedure), they will be attacked as traitors.

    Not as traitors to “atheism”. As traitors to other values these people hold. Like that making abortions legal means saving women’s lives and protecting their right to bodily autonomy, valuing their full-grown-adult lives higher than the potentiality-for-a-baby-in-nine-months-if-all-goes-well that latched onto their internal organs. If they don’t want to reproduce, or if reproducing will kill them, they have every right to choose.

    As for the “biological component” to marriage, I’m well aware that in some jurisdictions you can annul a marriage if you haven’t “consummated”. It’s kinda up to the two people involved what constitutes consummation though, isn’t it? If those icky gays and their icky oral or toy sex or bum sex counts to them, what difference does it make to you? Why do you care so damned much?

  83. says

    Somebody call the media. SatanHimself is a unicorn. He agrees with Republicans on every social issue and hates “bleeding-heart liberals” but votes Democrat because the Republican candidates are too…too….

    I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

  84. says

    I wonder, with ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ being a sufficient enough phrase to dismiss anything I say, why people find so much issue with the ‘tone’ of D.J. and the ‘just-one-words’ he says. Oh, of course, because the words have implications, right…well, so do the words you use when you levy personal attacks at him. …and two wrongs (assume for sake of argument that appraisals of D.J.’s comments offered here) surely make a right, right? Never again do I want to hear — if the standing of ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ shall reign supreme — objections to ‘tone’ and ‘just one words’ for language just doesn’t matter, apparently.

  85. Emptyell says

    @ justinvacula #88

    “…and I think time can be well-spent discussing matters of tone…and so much so that I am actually going to be giving a speech about related issues under the umbrella of ‘reframing conversation’ this September to a humanist group which invited me to do so…and, as I mentioned, I have written and spoken about this before. One’s ‘waste of time’ might be another’s time well-spent.”

    I must admit that I first thought you were a typical tone troll with intent to derail. It now seems that you are a serious person seeking to make valid points. I definitely appreciate your thoughtful concessions and considered arguments. Others have already responded to various points in detail. What I am interested in is your thoughts on the importance of tone overall. So…

    FWIW: My $0.02 about Tone & Civility

    In my experience tone, propriety, civility, decorum, etc are very important to the progress of rational discourse, but this assumes a small to insignificant disparity in the power of the participants or explicit mechanisms for overcoming the disparities that exist (ie “Permission to speak freely, sir!”). When there is a large and unameliorated power differential, telling the less powerful to be civil is usually the equivalent of saying “We will give your opinions due consideration and get back to you with Our decision.” In some cases it may well be that those in authority truly are concerned, but as long as the imbalance of power exists it is still entirely up to them what form it is appropriate for that concern to take. To overcome this imbalance often requires impolite methods.

    If you will indulge me for a moment in an extreme example. I think we all agree that violence is a bad form of argument. But when one group brutally oppresses another sometimes it is the only viable response (argument) aside from submission (which is no argument). History is replete with brutal tyrants who exemplify this.

    In between the extremes of argument by violence and argument by civil discourse we have all sorts of various appeals to emotion, calls to action and so on which attempt to address the various power discrepancies. To tell women not to get all angry and stuff about sexism* is like telling workers not to strike or Gandhi not to make salt because they should just be having a reasonable conversation about their grievances.

    Does this seem reasonable to you? Is there something I’m missing?

  86. says

    Justin @106:

    I wonder, with ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ being a sufficient enough phrase to dismiss anything I say, why people find so much issue with the ‘tone’ of D.J. and the ‘just-one-words’ he says.

    You’re intentionally misconstruing what I said about “just one word”. You claimed we weren’t making arguments. The evidence you proffered was one word as opposed to thousands.

    Oh, of course, because the words have implications, right…well, so do the words you use when you levy personal attacks at him. …and two wrongs (assume for sake of argument that appraisals of D.J.’s comments offered here) surely make a right, right?

    You’re never allowed to insult anyone under any circumstances ever. Not even if they’ve insulted a class of people. Gotcha.

    Never again do I want to hear — if the standing of ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ shall reign supreme — objections to ‘tone’ and ‘just one words’ for language just doesn’t matter, apparently.

    Of course it matters. If it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t offer an apology in exchange for DJ’s. I don’t see DJ offering an apology though.

  87. Emptyell says

    @ satanhimself #100

    And F**K the term “con”…”con” has many other definitions, and mere laziness amongst the youth in America has spawned its use in place of “convention” or “conference”.

    Absolutely right! Damn kids these days!… Wait. Just a minute… HEY YOU, GET OUTTA MY YARD!

    OK, where was I?

  88. says

    Vacula makes more vacuous arguments. News at 11.

    Isn’t it interesting how he has endless amounts of time to complain about how mean people are to Grothe, but no time whatsoever to complain about insulting and sexist language used against women? Where’s my 5,000 word essay about all the slurs used against Watson? Actually, at the extraordinarily low signal-to-noise ratio Vacula writes at, it would probably take 50,000 words to address all of those. Not that he would ever consider trying.

  89. Emptyell says

    @ Jason

    “Emptyell: I just released two more Justin Vacula comments after you’ve commented. I suspect they will alter your perceptions somewhat.”

    So color me an optimist. I do tend to always assume the best of people.

    @ Justin

    I’m still open to the conversation if you are actually interested. If you prefer to just go on as you have then I will, sadly, stand corrected.

  90. says

    Justin:

    …and yes, I do think D.J. deserves the benefit of the doubt and perhaps you (and commenters here) would understand why I believe this if you linked the quotes I used in my answer to your question here.

    D.J. deserved the benefit of the doubt. He was given multiple chances to clarify and apologize, and even when he did those things, he surrounded his clarifications and apologies with more of the stuff that people were complaining about to begin with. He has since lost the benefit of the doubt.

    And I think some would say that he lost the benefit of the doubt when he did all this six months ago and has shown no signs of learning from that fiasco.

    This use of the term ‘slut-shaming’ (and alleging D.J. is partaking in such) is quite interesting and really bizarre considering D.J. said

    The slut-shaming came before his apology, when he dismissed concerns about harassment with this statement:

    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

    He dismisses the concerns of women over being harassed as post-coital regrets. ‘These ‘rumors’ only exist because some women slept consensually with some speakers and afterward regretted their consensual sexual exploits, so they’re smearing the men involved.’ Slut-shaming or not, that comment is unconscionable.

    He has not, so far as I have seen, apologized whatsoever for that comment.

    As for your “just one word” bullshit, at this point it’s clear that you’re either seriously dense or intentionally misreading/dishonest. No one here for the most part gives a flying fuck what words D.J. used in his various responses. Our problems are with the actual substance of what he said. And what he said was that TAM women’s attendance is down, that it’s because of women bloggers misinforming women about the level of harassment at TAM, that it’s clearly misinformation because they have an anti-harassment policy statement in the program and no one thought to say that they were sexually harassed in the exit survey, and the only instance of harassment wasn’t reported in the precise right way (not that it was that important anyway), and it all boils down to some women being upset over consensual sexual encounters.

    This isn’t about tone. It’s about D.J.’s false and unsupported claims, his spin doctoring and blame-laying, his offensive and divisive insinuations, his attempts to claim authority and certainty with a flawed-at-best measurement tool, his inability to even suggest that the anti-harassment policy needs to be improved, and the incompetence represented by his handling of the whole matter, starting with publicly posting accusations that he apparently didn’t mean to be publicly posted.

  91. 'Tis Himself says

    DJ Grothe’s apologies consist mainly of his justifications for his statements.

    He apologized to Ashley Miller for not recognizing that she had been sexually harassed and then complained that she hadn’t made a report about an incident at which he (Grothe himself) had been present and had been involved in ejecting the harasser.

    He apologized to Rebecca Watson for accusing her of being so unkind as to discuss harassment problems at TAM. He even acknowledged that such problems do exist. He went on to say:

    but I would appreciate if such reports were balanced with an acknowledgment of the great effort the JREF goes to ensuring that TAM is a safe and welcoming environment for women.

    He is complaining that all he’s getting is “awshits” and not a single “attaboy”. This complaint is in the middle of an apology for making a previous complaint.

    Grothe makes it obvious that he’s less concerned with harassment of women and more concerned about the reputation of JREF and of TAM. In other words, he’s being a douchebag and asshat.

  92. Emptyell says

    @ Justin #88

    …and I think time can be well-spent discussing matters of tone…and so much so that I am actually going to be giving a speech about related issues under the umbrella of ‘reframing conversation’ this September to a humanist group which invited me to do so…and, as I mentioned, I have written and spoken about this before. One’s ‘waste of time’ might be another’s time well-spent.

    It’s been a while since I offered to discuss this further. I guess I don’t rate as “time well spent”. Presumably too busy preparing that speech he has been invited to deliver*.

    Still, not the garden variety tone troll. Perhaps the koi pond type. A bit more pretentious than average with a knack for hiding in the lily pads.

    . . .

    *note to Justin: It’s great that people are interested to hear your opinions and I wish you well in your presentation. Bringing it up here looks a bit silly though.

    For one, many of the folks in these parts are well respected experts in their fields who lecture and stuff. We know how fallible we are anyway so we’re not all that impressed. Sorry.

    Secondly if Einstein, Newton and Galileo all showed up here insisting that proper tone and decorum are more important than dealing with sexual harassment and abuse of women we’d call bullshit on them too (though probably with a little more awe and deference and where the fuck did you guys get the Tardis?). Of course that would be an epic derail.

  93. says

    I know that this is late and unfair since he can’t respond, but somehow I missed this before:

    …of course it can’t possibly be the case that someone sees a flaw with her reasoning, poses a reductio ad absurdum to help her perhaps discover this flaw, wants to express some skepticism to better understand her position, or perhaps wants to pose a defeater to a certain course of action

    Dude, you’re arguing against someone’s personal fucking choice of what to do with their time. And, moreover, suggesting that she was suggesting a larger boycott when she explicitly was not.

    To put it in Vacula’s terms, how is that “permissible”? What gives you the right to argue against how someone else chooses to spend their free time? Why the flying fuck do you care whether or not a person’s personal decisions are based on sound reason or emotion or preference or rolling a goddamn die?

    Here’s a reductio ad absurdum for you: “I was planning on going to this place, but the owner decided to blame me for a bunch of the place’s problems, without any good reason to do so. I decided not to go back, but some twits on the Internet got upset about it. Should I be forced to go to a place where the owner makes me feel unwelcome to appease some tool on Twitter?”

    God, what an asshat.

  94. Emptyell says

    So was Count Vacula banned?

    So much for the in depth conversation I was hoping to have about the place of tone and decorum in civil discourse and conflict resolution. Shucks.

  95. Pteryxx says

    Vacula’s still on Twitter if you– oh. Right, sarcasm’s a deeeeeefinite possibility here. >_>

  96. DoesItMatter says

    I think it’s funny the arguments/debates that we (Atheists) get passionate about. I’ve seen people here comment because someone takes issue with a word or two, yet we defend the first amendment. We don’t like someone being offended by a word, but openly debate because friends profess their love for jesus. Is religious harm different than the harm the characters in this tragedy or what have you are suffering? What kind of intellectuals ban a person, because they can’t win a debate against one person? All because he was looking at something from his own view point? Sounds like the christians I argue with. For a group of intelligent people, have we not learner to ignore? Yeah sure, you can over analyze this all you want, but I can always makes this as simple as you need it. I work well with those with special needs. See? That’s insulting and trolling.

  97. Emptyell says

    Yeah I can be a bit droll at times.

    I was flattered that LeftSidePositive gave me a 51% to 49% benefit of the doubt between hilarious and total misogynist scumbag.

  98. Emptyell says

    @ DoesItMatter

    You will have to try a lot harder if you want to be taken for a troll. If you want to study up on technique there’s some exceptional work by vethtiche over at:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/05/27/mass-hysteria/

    It starts at 18 with heisenbug and vethtiche gets going at 25.

    Vethtiche makes justinvacula look like rank beginner. LeftSidePositive also provides some links over there that explain this much better than I can.

    I try to give apparent trolls the benefit of the doubt, so I offer to discuss their concerns in a civil manner (I actually do find this an interesting topic and am happy to discuss it). You may have noticed this above. When they then completely ignore me and go on attacking is when I decide that they are a troll and not worthy of further attention.

  99. DoesItMatter says

    @Emptyell

    No. I really don’t feel like wading through some other long winded arguement where the tribe attacks somebody for being stupid or being raised with the wrong morals. It’s honestly quite simple, there are ultimately two reasons to debate. One is to get others to see our point of view and the other is to prove our intelligence. The issue is that everyone is intelligent, most just think they’re intelligent in areas they’re not.

    No. I am not going to wade through another blog where the hive attacks another misinformed, poorly educated or someone with piss poor manners or morals.

    You’ll be amazed how many people a simple, juvenile

  100. Emptyell says

    I appreciate you declining to take the bait. I also appreciate the response. For what infinitesimal value it may have you get my “not troll” seal of approval. This may seem silly but, as you are the first recipient this feels somewhat significant.

    I disagree with your hive mind evaluation but don’t feel any compelling need to resolve this. It’s refreshing to feel that we seem to share a somewhat limited assessment of the value of our opinions. The trolls are not like this.

    Cheers and best wishes.

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