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Sep 06 2012

Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny

Silentbob posted an excellent comment on one of the last threads that I think really cuts through a lot of the pushback with regard to cleaning up our own houses. It’s not about who’s “good enough” to be part of our “exclusive club”, it’s about acknowledging problems when there’s overwhelming evidence that those problems exist, and fixing them. Given that we’ve attacked the Catholic church so often for their issues with child molestation, even though MOST PRIESTS AREN’T CHILD MOLESTERS, one would think that we would recognize the need to acknowledge the problem of antifeminism and outright misogyny even though MOST ATHEISTS AREN’T MISOGYNISTS.

The comparison my be odious, but I suggest an analogy with the paedophilia problem in the catholic church.

Atheists, of course, strongly condemn this behaviour, but are we not almost as appalled by the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! You shouldn’t condemn the whole church. Most priests aren’t paedophiles. Why make such a fuss? Focus on the good, not on the bad!”. Aren’t we especially disgusted when they resort to blaming the victim? When someone within speaks out and acknowledges the problem, don’t we praise them?

There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold those we oppose.

I’ve also elsewhere likened it to people being told they have cancer, but instead of treating it, they demand that doctors stop talking about your body being “full of cancer” when it’s really just one tumor, and really the tumor is teeny-tiny, no bigger than 0.01% of your body mass!

Can we just deal with the tumor please? Is that so hard?

180 comments

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  1. 1
    br0kenmech

    The problem with the issue of child molestation by church officials is that these officials are, according to church dogma, ordained by god. This structural dynamic is the root of the churches inability to correct the problem. So the problem was not merely one of opportunity, or of individual misconduct, it was a problem with the hierarchical nature of the church itself.

    In my opinion this makes the issue a pretty weak analogy to the skeptical/atheist community and the fact that some atheists are full blown racist sexist bigots.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    True, but it’s kind of telling that the reason the church is so recalcitrant to deal with the issue is they think they’re ordained by God and that their internal sins are the Devil trying to destroy the church. If we don’t believe in the supernatural, you’d think we wouldn’t wagon-circle to protect misogyny at the expense of minority voices.

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    You’re wrong, brokenmech. The Catholic Church has a problem which it refuses to deal with efficiently and effectively. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, the fact remains they have a serious problem which they are not solving.

    Likewise, atheism has a problem with misogyny which we have to fix. Many atheists (a) refuse to acknowledge the problem and/or (b) refuse to discuss how to deal with it.

    Besides, who gives a rat’s ass about whether or not Catholic pedophilia is a good analogy to atheism’s misogyny and other social justice problems?

  4. 4
    Petsnakereggie

    Response to #1

    It is a rare analagy that is a 1:1 map. I think the point being made is a good one in that the fact there aren’t many misogynists in the atheist movement doesn’t mean we should be OK that they are there.

    That the analagy is not perfect is, I think, beside the point. I think we can all agree that priests raping children is worse than bigotry and misogyny in the atheist community.

    We need to work on dealing with misogyny in the atheist community. Not on finding a better analagy for it.

  5. 5
    br0kenmech

    As a general detractor of FTB and the atheist+ cause, I don’t think anyone sees themselves as protecting misogyny. I think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies. I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.

  6. 6
    kbonn

    Well said. Though there is a part of it that when these things are described, they don’t seem to talk about the fact that it is a minority of atheists. The descriptions of various Conf. being unsafe for women, it stirs up images of a systematic or widespread sexual harrasment, where a woman should never be alone. Rather than what is likely, there are a few jerks who behave in a completely unacceptable manner. Some men might feel as though they are being blamed or that now women should view them as a potential harrasser just by virtue of being a man.

    What I think is meant(and I think Rebecca Watson has said at some point or another), is that: I expected not to have to deal with this sort of stuff in the atheist community. I thought it would be safer than most other places. Yet this isn’t always what comes across.

    Likewise, saying that “Misogyny is a BIG problem in the atheist community.”, could be read as “Important problem” or “Widespread problem”, or both.

    I’ve never attended an atheist conf., but, my guess would be that it is not widespread, but that it is important.

    I suspect there is some communication breakdown here, and that some people feel like the entire community is being painted as Hostile to women and that the movement as a whole is less safe then most other groups. They respond by saying you(generic) are over-reacting and are dismissive of the claims because they view them as ridiculous. Some get more hostile than that, presumably because there is less consequences for the harrasser on the internet.

  7. 7
    'Tis Himself

    think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies.

    All opinions are not equal. The opinion that briefs are better than boxers hurts no one. The opinion that bitches ain’t shit and they should all be raped until they shut up is hurtful to half the world’s population. So where do you draw the line about which opinions are acceptable and which aren’t? I strongly suspect I’m more restrictive about acceptable opinions than you.

  8. 8
    Momo Elektra

    The problem with the issue of child molestation by church officials is that these officials are, according to church dogma, ordained by god. This structural dynamic is the root of the churches inability to correct the problem. So the problem was not merely one of opportunity, or of individual misconduct, it was a problem with the hierarchical nature of the church itself.

    The problem with the issue of misogyny by some atheists is that these male atheists of course are, according to their culture and socialization, feeling superior to these women and their allies because “ratio” was and is considered the male domain, “emotional” was and is considered the female domain (which is of course stupid and not true. Men aren’t more rational than women, male responses are usually considered more rational because they come from men). That’s why the reactions from women standing up to sexism and marginalization are often quickly labeled “overemotional”, “hysterical” and thus dismissed. Not because they are any of that, but because they are unwelcome and come from women.

    This structural dynamic is the root of society’s inability to correct the problem of leftovers from centuries and millenia of religious influence, as Christianity (and other religions) never had any problem with considering women inferior to men, or other human groups inferior to the wealthy, heterosexual, white male.

    So the problem is not merely one of opportunity, or of individual misconduct, it is a problem with the hierarchical nature of our society itself.

    Fixed it for ya.

  9. 9
    br0kenmech

    @’Tis Himself
    I think you and others on this side of the great divide have put far too much emphasis on the existence of troll comments. This entire focus on trolling has substantially undermined your ability to put forward a rational position.

  10. 10
    oolon

    @br0kenmech, how do you tell a comment is from a troll? Even if it from a troll and it is a violent rape threat how is that ok?

  11. 11
    smrnda

    The analogy isn’t perfect since the Catholic Church is much more highly organized with a clear chain of command and lots of rules on the books; they could reign in bad behavior if they wanted to.

    On the other hand, dealing with misogyny in the atheist community is a bit different since there isn’t the same organization, but just because it’s harder to deal with doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be dealt with.

    For people who feel that this is coming too close to drawing some clear lines on where the “atheist community” stands, it kind of is that, but I don’t see it as a negative thing. The atheism+ is largely a response to the fact that without some clear commitment to certain ideas that go beyond just disbelieving in religion, the community is unwelcoming and has little value to some people who don’t feel like they can belong and feel safe. If this leads to some kind of a split, it’s just bound to happen.

  12. 12
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I don’t think anyone sees themselves as protecting misogyny.

    Of course some of them don’t see themselves that way. After all, being a bigot is bad. How they see themselves means fuck-all, because the end result of their choices/posts/behavior/etc is the protection, encouragement of and/or complicity bigotry.

    How can you look at the endless campaign of derranged hatred lobbed at someone like Jen McCreight and still say this with a straigh face? They mocked her for having depression for fuck’s sake.

    I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied

    I agree. They love protecting straight white cisgendered dude supremeacy. That’s kinda the problem.

    I think you and others on this side of the great divide have put far too much emphasis on the existence of troll comments. This entire focus on trolling has substantially undermined your ability to put forward a rational position.

    See? it’s an endless parade of Clueless Privileged Dudeness. nevermind how many examples are put forth, they’ll just keep pretending it’s an isolated incident, or that one bitch’s fault.

  13. 13
    eric

    Brokenmech @5:

    I think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies. I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.

    So if the RCC said “every diocese is really self-regulating when it comes to the behavior of its priests. This independence is so important, we can’t go against it by making a blanket policy condemning harassment by priests,” you’d be okay with that response?

    I don’t think so. I think you would see it for what it is: a cowardly attempt to avoid a problem.

    We might be anarchic freethinkers, but that provides no good justification for not condemning and working against harassment in the community. You would not accept the “but we’re merely a meta-group of many independent groups and individuals – we can’t institute some general policy!” excuse from any other group. So why accept it from your own?

  14. 14
    D-Dave

    br0kenmech said:

    I think you and others on this side of the great divide have put far too much emphasis on the existence of troll comments. This entire focus on trolling has substantially undermined your ability to put forward a rational position.

    Question: What is the difference between trolling and abuse?

    Some will say “Don’t feed the trolls,” but none of us want to sit by passively while actual abuse of another human being’s physical, mental or social well-being is going on, right? What level of background threat should be considered acceptable?

    And on a related note… Why isn’t it reasonable for people to want to surround themselves with people who don’t make them feel like shit?

  15. 15
    br0kenmech

    @ smrnda

    “The atheism+ is largely a response to the fact that without some clear commitment to certain ideas that go beyond just disbelieving in religion, the community is unwelcoming and has little value to some people who don’t feel like they can belong and feel safe.”

    If all that was being promoted was a friendly and safe environment for everyone to freely discuss and debate their ideas, then I doubt there would be any significant objection. The problem is that FTB and the atheism+ community are not merely saying chill on the negativity and trolling… they are endorsing very particular ideological constructs that many people see as dogmatic and authoritarian. Any casual observer can read through the threads at at the atheism+ forum and see just how unwelcoming and ideologically driven the entire dialogue is. Endless discussions about the most inane minutia of gender and identity issues. It is an intellectual black hole. Even those who are almost entirely supportive of the project are attacked mercilessly for the slightest transgression. This is why people are so opposed to the agenda being promoted by FTB and atheism+.

  16. 16
    skeptifem

    The problem with the issue of child molestation by church officials is that these officials are, according to church dogma, ordained by god.

    Silly me, I thought the problem was that they molested children and then didn’t do anything about that. Your point is what I would call an additional problem for the church, but it doesn’t detract from the similarities pointed out in the OP.

  17. 17
    Gwynnyd

    br0kenmech is protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.

    What fundamental anarchic quality is this? I’ve been part of the skeptical community since 1986 and I don’t recall any fundamentally anarchic qualities that in whose cause harassment, rape and death threats would be acceptable behavior.

    Perhaps you meant the fundamental anarchic quality of under-matured, unsocialized asshats? I can see that.

  18. 18
    loreo

    Those “very particular ideological constructs” – ARE they dogmatic and authoritarian? Many people see the Christian church as the highest expression of human freedom, but they’re wrong. If you think weeding out misogyny is dangerously, inherently dogmatic, you’re wrong too.

    We’re not here to cheer ourselves for being awesome, we’re here to discover REALITY. If what we discover mandates us as ethical beings to change, then we work for change.

  19. 19
    Petsnakereggie

    @br0kenmech

    This is why people are so opposed to the agenda being promoted by FTB and atheism+

    By “people,” what do you mean exactly? Do you mean lots of people? Some people? ALL People?

    Your lack of specificity suggests that your point of view has broad support – or at least you feel it does. It suggests you feel you represent the majority opinion though no statistical evidence exists to suggest you are right (or wrong).

    You talk of how the atheism+ forums look to a “casual observer” and yet your own statements would suggest you are no casual observer. How then, do you know how a “casual observer” would respond?

    Everything I’ve seen about atheism+ is that it is an opt in community. If you don’t want in, don’t casually observe the forums.

    If you dislike FTB and atheim+ so much, why are you here? I don’t get it. What is your goal?

  20. 20
    br0kenmech

    The problem is that by most peoples standards, sexism and misogyny are not tolerated in the skeptical/atheist community at large. The vast majority of people would not stand idly by while a woman was sexually harassed or assault. The problem is that the standards of what qualifies as harassment and abuse within the atheism+ community are not even close to the standards of the majority of people. So when someone like surly Amy says in a pod cast that she was subjected to viscous harassment, or when people use elevator gate as an example of sexual harassment (which they do) then most people are just going to role their eyes. It is at this point that the FTB/atheism+ community then accuses everyone else of supporting misogyny and rape threats. It’s the problem of crying wolf. After a while people just role their eyes.

  21. 21
    PatrickG

    If all that was being promoted was a friendly and safe environment for everyone to freely discuss and debate their ideas, then I doubt there would be any significant objection

    Yep, because the whole last year would just magically go away as people opposed to examining sexism (and other issues) in the larger atheism movement would suddenly realize that “Oh! They’re just creating a Safe Space!”

    Head, meet Desk.

    The problem is that FTB and the atheism+ community are not merely saying chill on the negativity and trolling… they are endorsing very particular ideological constructs that many people see as dogmatic and authoritarian.

    That many people see it as such does not mean it is actually so.

    Any casual observer can read through the threads at at the atheism+ forum and see just how unwelcoming and ideologically driven the entire dialogue is. Endless discussions about the most inane minutia of gender and identity issues.

    So…. don’t read the threads in atheism+ forums. It’s specifically billed as a place for people to talk about particular things, under a particular set of assumptions. If you don’t want to talk about those things, or don’t agree with those assumptions…. don’t go there?

    And you know, you might find the discussions minutiae-driven, but clearly they don’t. That’s sort of the point of the forum, is to debate fine points without constantly getting derailed.

    This is why people are so opposed to the agenda being promoted by FTB and atheism+.

    Oh, well now I understand how justified their despicable tactics really are? Clearly, since the agenda is so unworthy of engagement, the only solution is character attacks and vicious campaigns of slurs and abuse. In the face of the existential threat posed by A+, slash and burn really is the only appropriate response, right?

    Really, why is it so hard for people opposed to A+ to just …. let it go? If we’re so divisive and mean and ugly and such, why not just believe the rhetoric that A+ is doomed to failure, will burn out on its own, and all will return to normal?

  22. 22
    PatrickG

    Not to be petty, but…

    viscous harassment

    This makes me recall The Blob. Viscous attacks!

  23. 23
    br0kenmech

    @Petsnakereggie

    Why am I here? Just having a conversation. Now I’m going to wash the dishes.

    Bye all.

  24. 24
    Gwynnyd

    br0kenmech says: It is at this point that the FTB/atheism+ community then accuses everyone else of supporting misogyny and rape threats.

    How much of the *actual* rape and death threats against the FtB bloggers do you support? It seems you MUST be supportive of people who send those rape threats because it is so irresistibly anarchic and freewheeling to do so and that’s what you’re all about.

    You MUST have at least one or two female relatives or acquaintances. Have you NO empathy at al?

  25. 25
    'Tis Himself

    The problem is that the standards of what qualifies as harassment and abuse within the atheism+ community are not even close to the standards of the majority of people.

    I quote from Jen McCreight’s Goodbye For Now:

    I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech

    So which of these insults don’t meet the standards of cis-hetero white males (which is what I assume you mean by “majority of people”)? You’re the one pretending that sexual harassment and abuse are a miniscule problem, so it’s up to you to explain away what the Atheism+ people (which includes me) see as harassment and abuse.

    Are rape threats acceptable? How about groping? How about gnawing on women’s legs without their permission? How about hitting on women who are obviously uninterested on being hit on? Come on, big guy, justify how sexism isn’t sexism for “the majority of people”.

  26. 26
    br0kenmech

    Gwynnyd

    How much of the *actual* rape and death threats against the FtB bloggers do you support?

    None. I find that conduct reprehensible.

    What is it that you think could be realistically done to prevent trolls from trolling on the internet? Most people who have dealt with trolls do understand that they are to be ignored. Putting the spotlight on trolling is a terrible strategy, if your aim is to minimize their impact… but I realize that you all have come to the backwards conclusion that trolling must be confronted head on. Good luck with that plan.

    Now I really must go wash some dishes.

    Bye.

  27. 27
    Jason Thibeault

    Just having a conversation about how we’re all paying too much heed to trolls making the community inhospitable to women, and how attacking people who say what you say as supporting rape threats and misogyny is terrible and off-putting to people like you. All in defense of your anarchic ideals of the community. I see.

    So you’d attack people trying to fix the problem, rather than the problem itself. Good to know where you stand.

    Your ideas are exactly the ideas that the atheism plus folks want to expurgate from the community because they demonstrably harm movement cohesion and adoption, and they enforce a status quo of privileged folks over the underclasses. No wonder you’re upset and hanging around places you don’t like.

  28. 28
    oolon

    @Patrick

    .Really, why is it so hard for people opposed to A+ to just …. let it go? If we’re so divisive and mean and ugly and such, why not just believe the rhetoric that A+ is doomed to failure, will burn out on its own, and all will return to normal?

    I’ve had that exact argument over and over, mainly they are fighting because…
    * FtBs must be stopped or they will destroy the atheist movement
    * I’m worried FtBs will be seen to represent the atheist movement and they are a bunch of assholes
    * FtBs are infantalising women. Or less pretentious – they tote the wrong kind of feminism
    * Or some theme on these

    And why can they not let it go?
    * See above they will destroy us all if not stopped!
    * We tried ignoring the religious and see how that went.

    There are definitely two ideas on their side at cross purposes
    - FtBs are insignificant whiners
    - FtBs are all powerful and suppress our free speech and will bring about the end of atheism!

    br0kenmech saying FtBs side are not rational… Irony burns bright!

  29. 29
    smrnda

    brokenmensch, if you have limited interest on gender and identity issues, then don’t read posts about them. I’m not that interested in golf.

    On ‘crying wolf’ I just hate that expression, not just because it’s an unoriginal cliche but because it’s commonly used by all sorts of dude-bros to argue that whenever a woman feels like her person or space has been violated, that it’s up to the dude-bro to be the arbiter of what’s misogyny and what’s not. It seems like a lot of people want to simply dismiss any discussion of sexism out of hand, and anything that draws attention to it is going to be shot down as being ‘authoritarian and dogmatic’ or else ‘exaggerating.’ The same deal with ‘this is crying wolf over sexual harassment’ reminds me a lot of the whole ‘legitimate rape’ nonsense. “Role” your eyes all you want.

    Perhaps it’s an identity politics issue. I don’t know your demographics, so it might just be that the issues don’t affect you so you don’t see them as important?

  30. 30
    'Tis Himself

    smrnda #29

    On ‘crying wolf’ I just hate that expression, not just because it’s an unoriginal cliche but because it’s commonly used by all sorts of dude-bros to argue that whenever a woman feels like her person or space has been violated, that it’s up to the dude-bro to be the arbiter of what’s misogyny and what’s not.

    QFT.

    At my company, as well as just about every other company in the First World, sexual harassment is determined by the victim. If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been. It’s not up to some dude-bro executive director to decide if that person has been sexually harassed, if the victim says it’s sexual harassment then the company’s response is to discipline the harasser and take steps that the situation doesn’t reoccur.

    So real life doesn’t meet brokenmech’s opinions and prejudices.

  31. 31
    Liam

    “At my company, as well as just about every other company in the First World, sexual harassment is determined by the victim. If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been. It’s not up to some dude-bro executive director to decide if that person has been sexually harassed, if the victim says it’s sexual harassment then the company’s response is to discipline the harasser and take steps that the situation doesn’t reoccur.

    That sounds ghastly. Where an accusation is as good as a conviction, justice is going to be misused. Due process is something that should be afforded to all, ESPECIALLY those accused of an offense.

  32. 32
    smrnda

    Glad to know that – most companies I’ve worked for took sexual harassment pretty seriously.

    I was mostly thinking about how misogyny and trivializing the issue of sexual harassment has an impact on what happens in public, less formal settings where official actions aren’t as likely to be as effective. I mean, lots of public sexual harassment happens, and all the guys out there going on about how women are ‘crying wolf’ lead to a climate where it’s considered normal. It’s like you have to argue with some guy that someone screaming “Bitch I want to fuck you!” while you cross the road ought to be considered sexual harassment, or else there’s just disbelief that events like that happen and how frequently they do because there’s already too much of a perception that women are making a big deal out of nothing.

    I think that plenty of men, if not a majority probably recognize these problems, but only because it’s been made acceptable for women to speak about them.

  33. 33
    kraut

    “The problem is that by most peoples standards, sexism and misogyny are not tolerated in the skeptical/atheist community at large”

    This is a PROBLEM? For whom? Misogynistic arseholes? MR asshats?
    You, kaputter mensch? If you belief that non tolerance of mysogynism and sexism is a problem, you really deserve your name.

    Maybe non tolerance is a problem in the GOP, the problem with the atheist movement is that a substantial number including the x-FTB contributor thunderarse seem to think that this sexist and misogynistic behaviour is completely appropriate and beyond questioning, and that any condemnation of such bullshit is akin to denying free speech.

  34. 34
    br0kenmech

    @kraut

    I worded that badly. I meant to say –

    “While, by most peoples standards, sexism and misogyny are not tolerated in the skeptical/atheist community at large, the problem is that these common standards are not shared by those in the atheism+ community.”

    Sorry about the misunderstanding.

  35. 35
    Rob

    brokenmech –

    I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.

    Anarchic? Did I miss a memo? Since when has the atheist community embodied anarchy? I know a lot of people in meatspace who, if pushed, would identify as atheist, or at least ‘non-believers’. Not one of them would give time of day to anyone espousing anarchy, not even the libertarians amongst them. In fact, I live in one of the most secular societies on earth and it’s far far from anarchic in any sense.

    In the last while I have lost count of the number of commentators calling out A+, saying it is wrong because the definition of Atheism is “…”. I’ve never seen a definition of atheism that says it involves anarchy. That is simply an ideological/political construct that you have overlaid onto atheism, just as many here have chosen the ‘+’ overlay.

    To criticise others choice because of your choice is different is deeply hypocritical.

    Also, I note that in this discussion, as in many others, you and people like you claim to be appalled by misogyny only when pushed. If you and others like you feel so strongly where are your voices openly condemning the totally uncalled for and out of proportion vileness heaped on people like Jen, Amy, Greta, Ophelia and so many others?

    I don’t care if you don’t support A+. I don’t care if you disagree with the Skepchicks on many/most of their views. I don’t even care if you actively dislike Rebecca or Jen as people for some reason. If you find the behaviour of the true arseholes so terrible why are you not condemning it loud and long?

  36. 36
    kraut

    “While, by most peoples standards, sexism and misogyny are not tolerated in the skeptical/atheist community at large, the problem is that these common standards are not shared by those in the atheism+ community.”

    Sorry. It seems to get more confusing. Do you mean to say that the standards of A+ are more or less stringent than the undefined “common” standards adhered to by other atheists and skeptics.

    If they are less stringent – can you provide any evidence? If they are more stringent – why would that be a bad thing?
    I rather adopt standards that separate me from those whose “common” standards apparently permit misogynistic, personal and hurtful attacks void of anything substantial.
    I prefer standards contributing to a non sexist and non-mysogynistic society or movement, where everybody can contribute and not being attacked for pointing out inappropriate behaviour, or at least where those behaviours can be discussed without the person calling them being insulted with vile language, and threatened with physical or psychological damage.

  37. 37
    br0kenmech

    @Rob

    Since when has the atheist community embodied anarchy?

    I meant only that the Skeptical/atheist “community” was anarchic in its composition, not that it was comprised of anarchists.

    If you find the behaviour of the true arseholes so terrible why are you not condemning it loud and long?

    The reason most people don’t feel compelled to bring up the fact that they are opposed to misogyny, rape threats, and sexual harassment, is that most people feel that such opposition is a widely held normative stance that doesn’t need constant reaffirming.

  38. 38
    mithrandir

    brokenmech – your entire argument falls apart if there are varietes of troll that don’t go away when you ignore them. I submit to you that this is not the case.

    I assert that there is such a thing as an “issue troll” – someone who is a monomaniac about a particular position, and frequents the online hangouts of those who take a contrary position and persistently issue hostile posts against them. Such people will not go away when ignored, and frequently are immune to reasoned debate even if it is offered. The only thing that stops such people from posting abuse to the forum is (a) agree with them, (b) shut down the forum, or (c) find a means to effectively ban them.

  39. 39
    mithrandir

    bah, hit post too soon. Second sentence should read “I submit to you that this is the case.”

  40. 40
    Jern

    This video should explain why there is so much opposition to feminism.

  41. 41
    Rob

    Brokenmech-

    I meant only that the Skeptical/atheist “community” was anarchic in its composition, not that it was comprised of anarchists.

    I’ll take that at face value. I might quibble and say ‘historically disorganised’ might be better.

    and –

    If you find the behaviour of the true arseholes so terrible why are you not condemning it loud and long?

    The reason most people don’t feel compelled to bring up the fact that they are opposed to misogyny, rape threats, and sexual harassment, is that most people feel that such opposition is a widely held normative stance that doesn’t need constant reaffirming.

    Yeah? Nah. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that argument does not stack up. In fact it’s terrible. Anyone even casually following this discussion over the last year can see that in at least the virtual world the ‘widely held normative stance’ does in fact need constant reaffirmation. The misogynists and general arseholes thrive in the free air they are given because their ‘allies’ (i.e. the other people who do not like FTB/Skepchick/A+) do not also take them to task for their behaviour.

  42. 42
    'Tis Himself

    The reason most people don’t feel compelled to bring up the fact that they are opposed to misogyny, rape threats, and sexual harassment, is that most people feel that such opposition is a widely held normative stance that doesn’t need constant reaffirming.

    brokenmech doesn’t see misogyny as a problem, the dude-bros he hangs with don’t see it as a problem, therefore misogyny isn’t a problem. Watson, McCreight, Olivia Benson, Greta and all the other women bloggers are too sensitive to a few poorly worded tweets and FB posts. Besides, everyone hates feminists anyway so who cares about a few rape threats?

  43. 43
    Composer99

    One cannot help but notice that br0kenmech seems to resort to the delightfully ambiguous ‘people’ (or similar constructs) who object to FTB/A+ (insofar as the latter has been inspired by the aggregation of bloggers on the former).

  44. 44
    see_the_galaxy

    The problem is that FTB and the atheism+ community are not merely saying chill on the negativity and trolling… they are endorsing very particular ideological constructs that many people see as dogmatic and authoritarian.

    What is dogmatic and authoritarian? Sounds like typical conservative demonization to me.

  45. 45
    Jesse

    I don’t want to derail here. But I see the issue with sexism as similar to issues that come up on FTB with racism.

    Over on Ed Brayton’s blog I had to explain to someone why “Islam is a shitty religion” comes off as racist. I felt like I had to go through privilege 101 with this guy. (He pulled out “Islam is not a race” and I wanted to smack my head on the laptop).

    I’ve noticed that there’s a class of people who call themselves atheists and usually accompany their posts with stuff like “nobody has a right to not be offended” and then spout something really dehumanizing and insulting. Like being a “rational” person gives you some kind of pass to be a dick.

    I think it’s interesting that issues of privilege are coming up just at the time when women are becoming more prominent as well as minorities (like Crommunist and Black Skeptics). Hmm. Something tells me that it isn’t a coincidence.

  46. 46
    Rob

    see_the_galaxy –

    The problem is that FTB and the atheism+ community are not merely saying chill on the negativity and trolling… they are endorsing very particular ideological constructs that many people see as dogmatic and authoritarian.

    What is dogmatic and authoritarian? Sounds like typical conservative demonization to me.

    Indeed. Apparently it is authoritarian to tell people that they can’t be racist, misogynistic, discriminatory arseholes. Apparently it is a bad thing to be dogmatic about that. In fact the behaviour of these ‘people’ is merely the equivalent of the religious arseholes complaining that stopping them from discriminating against others is itself discriminatory. Sheesh the blindspots.

  47. 47
    SallyStrange

    As a general detractor of FTB and the atheist+ cause, I don’t think anyone sees themselves as protecting misogyny. I think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies. I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.

    This is just “you’re not the boss of ME!” dressed up in philosophical language.

    Well, it’s true. I’m not the boss of you.

    However, I am the boss of me. I have the right to insist that you leave me the fuck alone. I have a problem, because sexist assholes won’t leave me the fuck alone. What’s your anarchic fix for this? Going somewhere else, right? Well, we’re doing that–creating our forums but they still follow us and spread lies and whatnot.

    So, now we have to aggressively remove them from our space if we want it to ourselves.

    Seriously what the FUCK do you expect me or anyone to do?!?

    Yeah, I’m angry tonight.

  48. 48
    SallyStrange

    Is Thunderf00t still considered a leader in the movement? Then yeah, the movement has a problem with misogyny. On Tf00t’s blog, an anonymous commenter told me that he would “track you down and rape the shit out of you.” I told Thunderf00t he ought to decry this and ban the poster, but it turned out to be a Tf00t impersonator. Now, I am regularly confronted with people accusing me of fabricating that threat. In other words, I created another account and logged in just to type rape threats at myself. Because that’s so much fun, I guess? I don’t get it. Anyway, Tf00t could put this to rest but he won’t and he hasn’t responded to my email about it.

    Fuck him and fuck his fans. Amazing, looking back at his and his fans’ passionate opposition anti-harassment policies. Motivated reasoning, anyone?

  49. 49
    kraut

    “He pulled out “Islam is not a race” and I wanted to smack my head on the laptop”

    since you are derailing anyway: for your information, Islam is a religion and not bound to any particular race.
    You might as well call christianity a white mans religion if you want to play the race card. And you are clearly wrong.
    And Islam is as shitty a religion – more so maybe – as judaism and christianity, mormonism etc..
    So leave that poor laptop alone.

  50. 50
    kraut

    “I have the right to insist that you leave me the fuck alone. I have a problem, because sexist assholes won’t leave me the fuck alone.”

    Demanding to be not left alone: then why the fuck do you even visit blogs where assholes abound?
    Did anybody explicitly invite you to post? Or gave you special rights for posting? Do you expect special treatment and why?
    You have only one right: either to fight those assholes or leave; since when do you have the right to be left alone when entering a public arena where unpleasant topics are discussed?
    You have the right not to post or reply, but that is as far as it goes. Otherwise – stay out.

  51. 51
    Momo Elektra

    @Liam

    That sounds ghastly. Where an accusation is as good as a conviction, justice is going to be misused. Due process is something that should be afforded to all, ESPECIALLY those accused of an offense.

    This is the kind of bullshit that makes it hard for me breathe when I read it.
    WTF?

    The only one who can and should determine whether an action was welcome or unwelcome and what it made that person feel is the person it happened to. Intentions don’t mean shit for that. No one gets to decide whether or not someone felt harassed.

    You and anyone else does not get to be the fucking judge of that.
    Due process is relevant in a court of law because they handle convictions. Intentions matter for convicting someone, not for fucking establishing whether or not a punishable crime occurred or whether or not someone felt violated or harassed.

    Fuck that. According to you anyone can walk away from a car crash they caused as long as they “didn’t mean to cause one”. In dubio pro reo means that the court should consider the person accused not guilty of causing this car crash until guilt can be determined, not that the fucking car crash didn’t happen.

    FFS!

    This isn’t difficult.

    So many people complain feminism were too dogmatic but apparently it’s acceptable for fucks like this one to to let anyone be the fucking authority of another person’s feelings than that person themselve.

    When, in a company, a complain about harassment is made, the one person who is and can be an authority about that is the one it happened to.
    Intentions don’t matter for that.

    Intentions matter when it comes to punishing it. If someone made a blunder and didn’t mean to cause harm the most they will get is a reminder to think before acting and taking the other involved people’s feeling into account.
    But apparently that’s too much to ask for.

  52. 52
    Pteryxx

    Demanding to be not left alone: then why the fuck do you even visit blogs where assholes abound?
    Did anybody explicitly invite you to post? Or gave you special rights for posting? Do you expect special treatment and why?

    O rly.

    Did anybody explicitly invite the assholes to post? Did they get special rights to make attacks on women just for Posting While Female? Or are THEY expecting special treatment in not being called out for it?

    Misogynistic assholes don’t just rain from the sky as an act of god. They decide to make women’s lives hell and they deserve to be censured or prevented. Raising a roof to make one dry space isn’t stealing anything from them.

  53. 53
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    here an accusation is as good as a conviction, justice is going to be misused.

    So,what you’re saying is, when a woman makes an accusation, justice can only happen if there’s 4 male witnesses to corroborate her story? You know, cuz obviously bitches lie so much who can trust ‘em, amirite?

  54. 54
    carlie

    You have only one right: either to fight those assholes or leave; since when do you have the right to be left alone when entering a public arena where unpleasant topics are discussed?

    FFS, did you read her comment? That’s what atheism+ is, it’s leaving and setting up something else entirely. And the assholes are following us around, stalking, butting in on every conversation happening everywhere. So, is the best societal solution to just keep moving and let them take over everything?

  55. 55
    Jesse

    kraut–

    (Sigh).

    Racism 101: it isn’t always about the person’s physical characteristics, or more accurately, it’s a social construct that can encompass many things. It’s not all or nothing. When people make insulting remarks about Jews, that particular form of bigotry is a species of racism. You are aware of the term anti-Semite?

    OK, now, in the US, Islam has become racialized. This means, contrary to reality, that most people do not associate Islam with white folks. The situation would be different if we were living in Bosnia or Tajikistan. We are not. Islam is pretty clearly a religion of the “other” in our society. Othering is a social process, a social construct.

    kraut, it just seems to me that you’ve got this desire to be kind of a jerk to people, that you don’t care that when you insult someone you aren’t just hurting their wittle feewings. You are engaging in an act of dehumanization. This is the case whether you say to a woman “just deal with it” when they get rape threats or a person of color or religious minority who has to deal with all kinds of daily bullshit.

    Tell me, kraut, why is it so important not just to argue with folks, but to hurt them? What is it about this particular stripe of atheist, if that’s what it is, that says “hey, not only am I going to argue there is no god, but I am going to try my best to alienate and dehumanize those who are less powerful than I.”

    This is why people like Crommunist and Sikivu Hutchison and Rebecca Watson are important. I don’t agree with them all the time but day-um I do agree with them when they call out much of the “movement” of atheists, such as it is, for being rather white and male and more importantly, refusing to examine their own privileges.

    Atheism is the position that god doesn’t exist. But it’s also an explicitly political stance. Because if you are going to say God doesn’t exist, presumably you don’t want to be punished for it, in all the ways that society does so. Little ways, most of the time. Sometimes big ones, like the de facto religious test for office.

    And if you are going to say that folks shouldn’t be discriminated against for being atheists, I don’t see why it’s such a gigantic leap to say that you know what? Other people shouldn’t have to deal with stupid bullshit either. Other people should also be, as much as possible, free of it.

    That’s also a political stance, because it reflects a certain vision of how a society should treat its members.

    It’s easy to be a tough guy and say “well, words don’t hurt me” when you never have to rally deal with any of it. When you can walk away. When you never, ever have to think all day, every day, about being a woman, or a person of color. About all the small things that just make your life a little more difficult than it has to be.

    When you say stuff like “Islam is a shitty religion” you aren’t striking blow for rationality. Same for when you say “women don’t get to decide when they are being harassed.” You’re just being a bully.

    Maybe you dig that, I dunno.

  56. 56
    B-Lar

    We’re not here to cheer ourselves for being awesome, we’re here to discover REALITY. If what we discover mandates us as ethical beings to change, then we work for change.

    Bangerang.

    I am reminded of an episode of Firefly (The Train Job). Captain R discovers that he has just unknowngly stolen life saving medicine on behalf of a psychotic bastard. He returns what he pinched, and is caught by the local law while doing so…

    Sherrif: “If a man can get a job, he might not look
    too close at what that job is. But a man learns
    all the details of a situation like ours, well,
    then he has a choice.

    Captain: (stone-cold serious) “I don’t believe he does.”

    Furthermore, as a result of defying a psychotic bastard, doing the right thing puts our heroes in the firing line and the captain later pays a price for his integrity. In the RW, at least we can share the cost with others who share a similar lack of choice in the matter.

  57. 57
    B-Lar

    Totally should have been blockquotes around that first paragraph. Hat tip to loreo @18.

  58. 58
    Rabidtreeweasel

    Fundamental anarchy? *snark* Yeah, and we have a Cheif Anarchist as well. Quick, everyone, circle the wagons and organize to protect the Anarchy!

    Funny how the same crowd that will say “Atheism is nothing but a lack of a belief in gods, stop trying to redefine it!” are so quick to tack their own personal values onto it. It’s almost like one can be an atheist AND hold other values that stem from their atheism. But, since atheism *is* just a lack of belief, those values vary between groups and individuals. So we organize groups that are, say, atheist but help build houses (helping hands), or are atheist but try to aid under privileged kids (For Kids Sake), or are atheist but care about social equality. Or are atheist and want to create a group that focuses on what we can do to improve the human condition in general, far from the woo of religious humanists or derailing misogynists who are angry that a woman has the audacity to have an opinion on the internet like. Oh, look! There’s a new organization that does just that.

    Gee, it’s great to live in a buffet of opinions and ideas, isn’t it? We can pick and choose where we go, and no one can define our atheism for us because it’s ALREADY BEEN DEFINED.

  59. 59
    kraut

    @jesse

    “When you say stuff like “Islam is a shitty religion” you aren’t striking blow for rationality. Same for when you say “women don’t get to decide when they are being harassed.” You’re just being a bully.”

    In case you did not read my post, I stated that find all three abrahamic religions to be shitty. So, if I say a religion is shitty, how does that imply that I label the adherents as shitheads? Who is projecting here, buddy?
    How can the condemnation or critique of an idea for that matter be taken as a personal attack of the adherent to those ideas.
    By your impeccable logic it would be always wrong to attack religions or ideas because implicitly I attack the adherent to such ideas.
    And in this case, where does the “other” come in? I am discriminating now also against white anglosaxon teabaggers?
    I am not permitted now to say that libertarianism is a pile of shit? Do I really have to argue every time why I think it is shit? or why any religion is shit? To be equally discriminating (I hope you get the logic here, which in your post I find sadly lacking)I am calling all religions a pile of steaming shit, be it hindusim, shintoism, wiccan, any kind of animistic religion, sikhism, the three abrahamic ones for sure, voodoo…please feel free to expand the list as you like.

    In case I insult your sensitivities, please read the bible (OT and NT) and the quaran and see for yourself the pile of hateful, misogynistic, murderous, ethnic cleansing and authoritarian shit those book represent or advocate. If you think they are not shit, or why it is wrong to label them as such given the content – please feel free to explain further.
    But please explain at the same time why and how you consider yourself an atheist.

  60. 60
    br0kenmech

    @48 SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius says:

    Fuck him and fuck his fans. Amazing, looking back at his and his fans’ passionate opposition anti-harassment policies. Motivated reasoning, anyone?

    I am not a fan of thunderfoot, but I think this next comment is a pretty good example of why some people are apprehensive.

    @ 30 ‘Tis Himself says:

    If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been.

  61. 61
    Forbidden Snowflake

    Do you expect special treatment and why?

    According to kraut, getting rape threats is the norm, and not getting them is “special treatment”. Jebus, what a blazing asshole.

  62. 62
    hoary puccoon

    brokenmech @ 60–

    What, precisely, do you think happens when a man is accused of sexual harassment? Twenty years at hard labor??

    What really happens is that he gets pulled aside and quietly told that some people don’t appreciate his touchy-feely style (or off-color jokes, or whatever) so please cool it. That’s it. If he says, “oh, sorry, didn’t know that was a problem” AND CUTS IT OUT, that’s generally the end of it.

    Only if he makes a complete nuisance of himself, doubles down, and tries to get revenge on the woman, while screaming his rights are being violated, will there be further repercussions. It is entirely under the alleged harasser’s control.

    Of course, men who are morally committed to anarchism and who feel that any suggestion that they behave with consideration toward others is a violation of their sacred principles may have a problem. Other guys, not so much.

  63. 63
    kraut

    “And the assholes are following us around, stalking, butting in on every conversation happening everywhere. So, is the best societal solution to just keep moving and let them take over everything?”

    In case where the arguments amount to actual harassment, personal attacks, the blog owner could monitor the topic (I have been on a variety of other forums where appropriate postings get removed)and remove the offending article or block the person from posting further.

    “As a general detractor of FTB and the atheist+ cause, I don’t think anyone sees themselves as protecting misogyny. I think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies. I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.”

    I see nothing but a non attacking – personal or otherwise – non harassing opinion in the posting that the request for being left alone was made in response to.

    If postings like the above however should be construed as harassment or a personal attack, or beyond the scope of permitted opinion, if criticism of feminism is suddenly anathema (why should it not be scrutinized as any other “ism”?), if critique of religion is frowned upon and labelled as racist (as done by some idiot here, and that is a personal attack): fuck you all and keep playing in your sandbox by yourself.

  64. 64
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I am not a fan of thunderfoot, but I think this next comment is a pretty good example of why some people are apprehensive.

    @ 30 ‘Tis Himself says:

    If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been.

    because bitches are always lying, amirite?

  65. 65
    kraut

    “Of course, men who are morally committed to anarchism and who feel that any suggestion that they behave with consideration toward others is a violation of their sacred principles may have a problem. Other guys, not so much.”

    anarchism – please fucking read some Bakunin before you conflate anarchism with libertarianism, because anarchism is taking personal responsibility for your actions, and taking away the power to regulate from the state, anarchism is the association of free individuals to make decisions based not on power but on goals,
    it is the pinnacle of a truly democratic society and not what FOX news tell you anarchism is.
    Anarchism is not anarchy, it actually the final goal of socialism and communism, the free association of free producers free to make decisions based true democracy one person one vote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin

    “Forbidden Snowflake says:
    According to kraut, getting rape threats is the norm, and not getting them is “special treatment”. Jebus, what a blazing asshole.”

    Oh, you are too kind, but maybe you should read to what I responded to. Where for fucks sake you idiot is in anything that was said a threat of violence and rape? Is your tunnelvision so pronounced that any opinion diverging from your’s is a threat of rape? Go fuck yourself you slimebag.

    I wonder sometimes what the difference is between some posters like snowflake and sallystrange and Rush Limbaugh – the same response of crying “abuse” to any deviating position.

  66. 66
    hoary puccoon

    Kraut @65–

    Sorry for trying to inject a little humor. Anarchy came from brokenmech’s own posts.

  67. 67
    skeptifem

    brokenmech- what is your way to judge if sexual harassment has happened or not?

  68. 68
    br0kenmech

    @64 Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:

    because bitches are always lying, amirite?

    Clearly this is a troll comment, but yes, sometimes people do lie. This is not a controversial claim. People who are accused deserve to be presumed innocent. The accuser must prove their case. Again this is not a controversial position.

    @67 skeptifem says:

    what is your way to judge if sexual harassment has happened or not?

    I suppose there needs to be some objective standard of what constitutes sexual harassment. Then if a person is accused of having harassed someone there would be some form of impartial investigation into the veracity of the claim.

    For the record I am not at all opposed to things like harassment policies. I would be very concerned about a harassment policy like the one ‘Tis Himself seems to endorse @30.

  69. 69
    Jason Thibeault

    So, because most harassment is impossible to prove without video evidence, all harassers are presumed innocent, and by extension, all women are presumed liars. The “troll argument” you’ve dismissed tells you where the problem is.

  70. 70
    Jason Thibeault

    AND. When that harassment comes in the form of online threats by anonymous assholes, under the guise of “trolling”, it’s dismissed as mere trolling. Therefore it is impossible to deal with harassment because no harassment can ever be shown to be TRUE harassment. Ever.

  71. 71
    Pteryxx

    There’s a reason presumption of innocence is a rule specifically WITHIN CRIMINAL TRIALS. Not for personal judgement, not for codes of conduct, not for discussions, not even for criminal investigations. And certainly not for questions of consent involving other people. The target of harassment should be taken *at least* as seriously as the aggressor, more so when consent is involved as they are THE definitive authority on their own consent. The evidence of widespread bigotry, denial of consent, and silencing of victims justifies correcting for the demonstrated bias: i.e. making conscious effort to consider the victims credible.

  72. 72
    br0kenmech

    @Jason Thibeault

    As far as on line anonymous trolling(yes it’s harassment)goes… I still fail to see what you think I or anyone else should do about that.

    As to the rest of your point that harassment is impossible to prove? I disagree. Sometimes it may indeed be difficult to prove, but other times there may be witnesses, or the harasser’s previous behaviours make their claim of innocence doubtful. Sometimes the harassment may take place via video or text. Sometimes there may be no need for evidence, because the harasser will just admit they have done what they are accused of doing (even though they may not think their actions constitute harassment).

    Your argument that a presumption of innocence is a presumption that all women are presumed liars, is fallacious.

  73. 73
    br0kenmech

    @Pteryxx

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    This should be a fairly familiar concept to most atheists and skeptics.

  74. 74
    br0kenmech

    *there

  75. 75
    Rob

    Brokenmech

    You are being oblivious. I hope for your own sake that you are not being intentionally so. After all if it’s only because you haven’t figured it out yet there is still hope for you. Others in this thread and elsewhere have addressed all of your points, and more, quite adequately. Jason in particular, but other FTB hosts as well have compiled a series of links delving into prehistory and explaining social theory at a range of levels. .

    I’d suggest taking some advice from Richard Feynman: “Write down the problem. Think very hard. Write down the answer.” I know the advice is not in the context Feynman meant it, but it’s still good advice.

  76. 76
    spectator

    BTW, pedophilia is not ignored by the Catholic Church. Do you really think a suspected predator could currently hide in the priesthood? Please cite evidence for the assertion that
    ” the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! ”

    How about a link to the Vatican’s website? The US Conference of Catholic Bishops? Surely you can manage to quote-mine the writings of Pope Benedict? Not so much as an off-hand response to a reporter stripped of all context? You know. Like when he said that the problem (in Africa) cannot be resolved by just passing out condemns. Remember how you claimed the pope said condoms cause AIDS? Except he didn’t.
    Invitations for coffee = misogyny. Got it!

  77. 77
    Pteryxx

    This should be a fairly familiar concept to most atheists and skeptics.

    Answered long ago.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/02/the-further-hyper-skepticism-stalling-our-conversation/

  78. 78
    br0kenmech

    @Pteryxx

    I don’t see how that addresses my point a tall. I agree that it is possible to be too skeptical about things. For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

  79. 79
    SallyStrange

    For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

    And yet you are urging the same level of skepticism be applied to similar claims. You know, claims that basically go, “This guy made me feel really uncomfortable.”

    We should be skeptical about claims like that why again? Because bitches be lying? Oh right, how unfair of me to insinuate something so dastardly as sexism on your part. Far better to allow such insinuations go unchallenged, because your sterling reputation is far more important than challenging entrenched misogyny in our culture.

  80. 80
    eric

    Brokenmech:

    The problem is that the standards of what qualifies as harassment and abuse within the atheism+ community are not even close to the standards of the majority of people.

    This is just plain untrue. The folks calling for the adoption of anti-harassment policies at atheist events (and so on) are calling for policies identical to the ones adopted by a wide range of other conventions. They even used a standard template, developed by another organization to be used by a variety of organizations. You can’t much more “standards of the majority” than that.

    The policies being promoted by the A+ group are also consistent with most workplace harassment policies across the first world, for example defining it as persistent and unwelcome (sexual) conduct.

    What you are objecting to is not some highly unusual set of standards at all, and you know it. Or you should. If you don’t, please familiarize yourself with the actual definitions of harassment that folk like Jason want to implement, then come back and tell us how these definitions are “not even close to the standards of the majority of people.”

  81. 81
    eric

    Brokenmech:

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    Physician, heal thyself. You have made a positive claim that A+ standards of harassment are not even close to the standards of the majority of the people. You are, by your own words, obliged to support that claim.

  82. 82
    SallyStrange

    Brokenmech and the other one–I really can’t be bothered–appear to be stymied by the simple fact that when it comes to matters of human interaction, having someone stand in front of you and report that, “I spoke to X, and X said this and X did this and that, and it made me feel harassed,” that is evidence.

    The testimony of an individual who experiences harassment is evidence.

  83. 83
    Chaos Engineer

    I suppose there needs to be some objective standard of what constitutes sexual harassment. Then if a person is accused of having harassed someone there would be some form of impartial investigation into the veracity of the claim.

    That would be just horrid!

    I mean, let’s look at a common scenario. Suppose A likes to tell slightly off-color jokes, and B finds them offensive. B complains to A, but she ignores him, and B is annoyed enough to go to Human Resources.

    Under your plan, HR would have to sit down with a list of jokes and run them through a textual sieve and say: “OK, A, this set of jokes is a little too off-color, and you’re not allowed to tell them to any of your co-workers (not even C, who would think they’re hilarious). And B, this set isn’t all that bad, so you’re not allowed to be offended when you hear them.”

    Isn’t it better to just stick with the method that most companies use today? HR just says to A, “B already asked you not to tell those jokes around him, so how about a little professional courtesy, OK?”

    The only problem I can see is that maybe B will lurk in a closet in hopes of hearing A tell a joke to C, so that he can complain and get A fired. But how often is that going to happen? I mean, we’re not in elementary school, right?

  84. 84
    br0kenmech

    @79 SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius says:

    And yet you are urging the same level of skepticism be applied to similar claims. You know, claims that basically go, “This guy made me feel really uncomfortable.”

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Please clarify if it is indeed your position that Rebecca Watson’s experience constitutes sexual harassment.

  85. 85
    Rob

    Brokenmech -
    @73

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    @78

    I agree that it is possible to be too skeptical about things. For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

    @84

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Does the dissonance of your statements not give you a headache? Do you not re-read your comments and face palm? Your comment at 73 is naive at best. Sure we don’t want to be credulous fools wrt others claims, but there is no need to be hyper skeptical areseholes either. Your comment at 78 is almost reasonable taken out of context of your general tone in this thread, but then at 84 you try to pretend that the comment at 73 was never uttered!

    Trying to parse your comments in such a way that your declared general rules at 73 somehow does not apply to any one specific example someone is pinning you down to casts your motivation and reasoning in a very poor light.

  86. 86
    SallyStrange

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Please clarify if it is indeed your position that Rebecca Watson’s experience constitutes sexual harassment.

    The point you are missing is that Rebecca Watson’s opinion about whether she experienced sexual harassment is the only relevant opinion as to whether she experienced sexual harassment.

    If the person who harassed her disagrees that he was harassing her, then he needs to understand that his intentions (not to harass) did not match the outcome (she felt harassed anyway).

    Unless you can establish that Rebecca, or any person who claims to have been harassed, is lying about their own personal experience, which is a claim that must also be supported by evidence, there is no reason to doubt their assessment of their own experience.

    In fact, most women don’t bother classifying the majority of harassment they experience as such. I know I wouldn’t have classified the hundreds of comments I got about the size of my breasts from classmates and perfect strangers when I was a young teenager as harassment then, but that is indeed what it was.

  87. 87
    br0kenmech

    @86 SallyStrange says:

    “Rebecca Watson’s opinion about whether she experienced sexual harassment is the only relevant opinion as to whether she experienced sexual harassment.”

    Well here is where we fundamentally disagree. Feeling threatened, harassed, or intimidated, is not necessarily the same thing as actually being threatened, harassed or intimidated.

    If the person who harassed her disagrees that he was harassing her, then he needs to understand that his intentions (not to harass) did not match the outcome (she felt harassed anyway).

    Fair enough, but we are still only able to conclude that she did indeed feel harassed, and not that this harassing behaviour has occurred.

    In fact, most women don’t bother classifying the majority of harassment they experience as such. I know I wouldn’t have classified the hundreds of comments I got about the size of my breasts from classmates and perfect strangers when I was a young teenager as harassment then, but that is indeed what it was.

    Here you are contradicting yourself. First you say that the only relevant opinion regarding whether or not a woman has experienced harassment is that opinion of the woman herself… but now you are saying that women who do not feel that they are being harassed, are in fact being harassed.

  88. 88
    Jason Thibeault

    So you’re not questioning the feelings of the people, just whether the actions themselves are objectively harassing, intimidating, etc? So maybe you should take a survey of a representative sample of women in society, and ask them what sorts of behaviours they find to be creepy, what they find to be intimidating, and what they find to be harassing (sexually or otherwise), then compare the actions to what women claim to have experienced.

    And then after that, you can say that these women have objectively experienced harassment and, since the “punishment” is telling the guy to stop it, you’ll be on board with doing so WITHOUT video evidence that it actually happened, right?

    Oh right, no, you still want it to be unimpeachable evidence before you’re willing to have that chat with those men. Wonder why there’s an underreporting problem for issues even as objectively objectionable as rape?

  89. 89
    br0kenmech

    Once we had some friends over for dinner… everything went well, and everyone appeared to have enjoyed themselves. The next day I learned that our friends wife had spent the entire night in tears over something I had said in friendly jest. She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

  90. 90
    Rob

    Brokenmech @89. You are clearly oblivious. Not in itself a crime, after all we all have blind spots. However, the dismissive attitude you have displayed in this thread leads me to conclude that you are intentionally oblivious. That makes any debate meaningless. We don’t have to agree with each other, but to discuss these issues you need to put forward some kind of argument that is at least internally consistent (yours has not been) and which stands external scrutiny(yours does not).

  91. 91
    Sally Strange

    Once we had some friends over for dinner… everything went well, and everyone appeared to have enjoyed themselves. The next day I learned that our friends wife had spent the entire night in tears over something I had said in friendly jest. She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

    Why would ANYONE want to be friends with someone as insensitive and oblivious as you? You did not intend to cause this person to break down in tears, but she did anyway. If the only thing you conclude from that is that she is unreasonable, then you more or less fail at basic human interaction.

  92. 92
    Sally Strange

    First you say that the only relevant opinion regarding whether or not a woman has experienced harassment is that opinion of the woman herself… but now you are saying that women who do not feel that they are being harassed, are in fact being harassed.

    No. I said that they would not label it as harassment per se. They would report feeling uncomfortable and not wishing to return to the area where it happened, or being wary of being around the person who did it. That’s harassment.

    Try to be less stupid, please.

  93. 93
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    br0kenmech:

    Feeling threatened, harassed, or intimidated, is not necessarily the same thing as actually being threatened, harassed or intimidated.

    So everyone is supposed to follow your rules for what constitutes threats, harassment or intimidation?

    Let’s look at a few definitions of harassment:

    Harassment is bothersome, demeaning, irritating, and annoying behavior. Sexual harassment is, specifically, harassment of a sexual nature. The law describes two different forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.
    http://www.ncsu.edu/project/oeo-training/eeo/harassment.htm

    Harassment: A pattern (two or more acts within a ninety-day period) of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in his/her position to suffer mental distress.
    http://www.musc.edu/publicsafety/stalking.shtml

    intimidation:

    Intimidation (also called cowing) is intentional behavior that “would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities” fear of injury or harm. It’s not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intimidation

    Intimidation includes physical or verbal abuse; behavior directed at isolating or humiliating an individual or a group, or at preventing them from engaging in normal activities. Behaviors that might constitute intimidation include, inter alia:
    • degrading public tirades by a supervisor or colleague;
    • deliberate insults related to a person’s personal or professional competence;
    • threatening or insulting comments, whether oral or written–including by email;
    • deliberate desecration of religious and/or national symbols; and
    • malicious and unsubstantiated complaints of misconduct, including harassment, against other employees
    http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/IMFpolicysh3.pdf

    and of course, threat:

    What is a threat ?
    A potential cause of an unwanted incident, which may result in harm to a system or organization

    http://www.bu.edu/tech/files/2011/09/2011-Camp-Wattanasin.pdf

    1:an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
    2: one that threatens
    3: an indication of something impending <the sky held a threat of rain
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/threat

    Looking at the definitions, how do *you* distinguish between an individual feeling ‘threatened, intimidated, harassed’ and an individual being ‘threatened, intimidated, harassed’?

    Unless you’re the individual who’s dealing with a situation like this, what gives you the right to determine for others whether or not they’ve been ‘threatened, intimidated, or harassed’?

  94. 94
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    br0kenmech:

    She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

    So you have a friend that you made cry (your intention doesn’t matter, since there’s no way for her to know what you were thinking). Instead of apologizing for having that effect on her, you dismiss it as ‘people feel what they feel’?
    How was she supposed to know it was innocent?
    Did you state that beforehand?
    How do you know that whatever insensitive thing you said didn’t remind her of some tragedy in her life in the past?
    From what you’ve said, you sound like the kind of person who doesn’t care what effect your words can have on others.
    Either that, or you don’t care.

    You’re despicable.

  95. 95
    Stacy

    @brokenmech, at first blush a remark like “If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been,” sounds scary. But as people have pointed out, we’re not talking here about courts of law or punishing people. We’re talking about codes of conduct under which, if someone feels uncomfortable with a behavior, it’s incumbent on the person who caused the discomfort to avoid that behavior around the person who complained.

    Yes, human nature being what it is, every so often there are going to be glitches. Occasionally someone may be utterly mistaken about what happened (that guy who touched you really didn’t mean to, he was just stretching). And occasionally someone will try to game the system, and lie about an incident.

    This would be extremely problematic if we were talking about a court-like system with a one-strike rule involving punishments for alleged transgressors. But we’re not. We’re talking about creating safe spaces by allowing people who feel harassed to approach a third party, who will then talk with the other person/people involved. If there’s no dispute as to what happened (intentions aside,) the person who caused the offense will be asked to not behave that way around the person who felt uncomfortable. There’s no need for publicizing problems when you’re talking about a single incident. (If a pattern emerges, that’s something else.) There’s no “punishment,” no shame involved, unless the behavior in question is egregious (in which case, yes, investigation is required.)

  96. 96
    silomowbray, sans frottage pour la douche

    Stacy @95:

    And occasionally someone will try to game the system, and lie about an incident.

    Egregious case in point: a colleague was eventually fired because another colleague accused him of hitting on him at work, persistently. Fired colleague is gay. Accusing colleague is straight. I have no evidence of what actually happened, but to this day I wonder what actually transpired. Years after I left the company I did hear (which I know is not the same as evidence) that the accuser is a homophobe.

  97. 97
    PatrickG

    To expand on Stacy’s remark: the use of the term “due process” is, as commenters above have pointed out, entirely not useful in this debate.

    Workplace conduct codes have nothing to do with criminal or civil court actions, except insofar as those arise from suits. If I complain about any kind of harassment from a colleague at work, I should be taken seriously. The person I complain about should modify behavior, so as to create a workplace in which someone does not feel uncomfortable.

    Mind you, this is not taking into account power differentials or workplace culture, which make that expression of discomfort even harder in many cases. This is an idealistic expression of being able to say “I’m uncomfortable, please don’t do that”.

    As Stacy says, a phrase like “If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been” does sound scary at first, because it connotes dreadful punishment. But, as someone above noted, the penalties are typically not severe. Being asked by a supervisor to not make jokes like that in a work environment is not tremendously burdensome. Being asked to undergo some form of sensitivity training for persistent behavior may be taken as an insult, but it’s really not punishment.

    @ silomowbray: That’s a real problem with these situations, as complaints and actions are (correctly) treated with extreme confidentiality. Reputation of parties are involved, after all.

    @ spectator: I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but HA! You should write for The Onion. I mean, really:

    BTW, pedophilia is not ignored by the Catholic Church. Do you really think a suspected predator could currently hide in the priesthood?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA. I refer you to the NYT, the LA Times, the Irish papers, multiple papers in the UK, in Germany, in Poland, in France, in … well, everywhere. Reassignment of problematic priests is a fucking policy of the Catholic Church.

  98. 98
    hoary puccoon

    brokenmech and others are also ignoring the cost to the victims of harassment if they complain. Even if every complaint is, in fact, justified, the person who reports it can easily get a reputation for being a whiner or crying wolf. (Look what happens if you say, “Guys, don’t do that”!) So that puts a real limit on the use of harassment complaints as an instrument of–, well, harassment.

    I did remember one instance of a man who was fired for sexual harassment. The complaint was that he constantly showed up for work in T-shirts with offensive messages and even illustrations. In that case, there was no “he said/she said” ambiguity. Everyone could see he was guilty as charged. And the entire female staff was united in their objection. Even so, the boss told me he gave the guy several talks and warnings before he finally fired him. And he was still willing to tell potential employers that the guy was a hard worker, if they could put up with that quirk of his.

    Now, the only way that can be turned around so that the guy was the victim is if you completely deny the women’s right to make *any* complaint at all. (Of course, the “she shouldn’t have complained, it was only a T-shirt” meme does seem to be going the rounds, doesn’t it?)

  99. 99
    Sgaile-beairt

    Relevant quote: Colleen Doran, a veteran comics artist and writer who suffered serious campaigs of coordinated stalking and harassment in the 80s and 90s which was brushed as ‘hysterical”, you’re being mean to the poor socially mal-adept/mentally ill menz, etc etc, responds to a Chill Girl saying women shld just suck it up, on her blog (www.adistantsoil.com)

    “I like to think younger generations of women will not have to grow up armored assholes to deal with assholes, tossing off a crusty “Get over it!” every time a young girl gets groped at a con, or gets a barrage of rape threats on twitter. I prefer a world where men and women stand up and say, “This is not acceptable,” to a world where men and women chastise others to develop crocodile hides as if ugly words and ugly actions bounce off it.

    It doesn’t. It just makes you ugly, too.”

  100. 100
    Momo Elektra

    (Of course, the “she shouldn’t have complained, it was only a T-shirt” meme does seem to be going the rounds, doesn’t it?)

    Yeah. I wonder if besides not being subjected to any kind of similar abuse those people simply lack imagination. (Little Trigger Warning:)

    If there was a conference and someone wore a t-shirt with the words “Everyone at this conference doesn’t protest the raping of little children” they surely wouldn’t say it was only a t-shirt.

    Protesting such a thing is not legally or morally required, so I’d say it wasn’t even slander. It’s certainly no criminal offense.

    But of course everyone would expect the organizers of that conference to either remove that person from the premises or at least ask them to remove that shirt.

    So they don’t really care about “only a t-shirt”. That’s irrelevant. Obviously they support the message they got from Dr. Hall’s t-shirt which they assumed, for good reason, to be “Skepchicks feminazis dumb, bully-harass-make fun of them”. That’s why they defend it. Because they like the message.

  101. 101
    br0kenmech

    What happens when someone complains about a joke that belittles, mocks, and dehumanizes, creationists?

  102. 102
    Jason Thibeault

    Context, br0kenmech. If it’s a workplace where people of all religions need to be put on equal footing, then all religious talk would be frowned upon and anyone complaining about anyone else’s religious speech should be taken seriously and those religious folks told to keep it out of the workplace.

    If we’re talking about religious people complaining about being dehumanized (!) by being told that their religions are ridiculous (which has nothing to do with their humanity), and they’re complaining about it in the atheist community (!!!), where they have no expectation that their ideas are “safe”, then they will get largely and roundly ignored and/or mocked further.

    But they might have a point if someone went around saying “Muslims are all monsters / terrorists”. That’s the kind of moral judgment and unevidenced prejudice we can’t actually support in this community.

    So why are you trying to make gotchas out of situations without any context given, br0kenmech? What’s your motivation for this intractability?

  103. 103
    Stephanie Zvan

    Wow, br0kenmech, could you have strayed any further from the point of this post? If you want to think/talk/propound on questions of harassment at events, I recommend you start here: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/?p=2160

  104. 104
    Jafafa Hots

    The accuser must prove their case.

    “So unless all women in the workplace invest in personal security monitoring with audio and 360 degree video coverage, then guys can grab her ass and there isn’t jack shit you can do about it, huh?”

    “PROVE I just called you a slut in the hallway when we were alone! PROVE I keep asking you out in the parking lot even though you keep saying no.
    PROVE I grabbed your ass.”

    “PROVE it, bitch!”

    Even someone so clearly addled and deliberately blinkered as yourself has to admit that the vast majority of sexual harassment incidents leave NO EVIDENCE.

    So effectively you throw away the concerns and experiences of millions of women because some guy somewhere might hypothetically get called into the HR office for a talk he didn’t deserve.

    Yes, you are defending the status quo.
    Yes, your position provides cover for misogynists.
    Yes, your position penalizes women by trivilializing their experiences and their lives as less important than some mythical falsely-accused and unnecessarily-reminded-to-behave man.

    Welcome to being part of the problem.

  105. 105
    Jafafa Hots

    she had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    I notice that you don’t mention what you said. Perhaps it was so inconsequential to you that you don’t even remember.

    She was devastated? So she is not a reasonable person?
    Who judged that?

    The guy who said the thing that made her cry.

    I guess your opinion is that we the arbiter of what is or is not harassment depends on how the harasser feels about it.

    Maybe your friend misunderstood what you said but nonetheless the way you report this incident still reveals that you;re a shitty friend that she is well rid of.

  106. 106
    Jafafa Hots

    (I mean, if you consider friendship to be where you care more about your friend’s feelings than you care about “being right.”)

  107. 107
    smhll

    But they might have a point if someone went around saying “Muslims are all monsters / terrorists”.

    If this statement were on a t-shirt, I want to make the point that the t-shirt doesn’t make a statement once, it makes the statement over and over and over each time a person who can read it walks past it. The relentless nature of the message amplifies the level of aggression. A t-shirt is a bit like a broken record that never shuts up.

  108. 108
    br0kenmech

    @ Jason Thibeault

    Sorry, I meant what would happen in the context of an atheist/skeptic convention where the harassment policy was such that if someone felt they were being harassed then they were being harassed? Other people have said that they would like to see policies that would’ve required Harriet Hall to change her shirt, so I was trying to illustrate how that type of policy could be abused.

    I also feel that many people are underplaying the negative effect that being accused of sexual harassment could have on someone’s reputation.

    @106 Jafafa
    What I said was that I would have to kill her when the revolution came. I said it in jest and without malice. I did not think twice about the comment and she gave no indication that it had distressed her. We were all in a safe space surrounded by mutual friends and family. It was only the next day that I leaned that she had been crying all night because of what I had said.

    Of course I felt bad for her, and I realized that her feelings were genuine, but I also recognize that the problem… the cause of her distress was internal.

    I have quite a bit of personal experience with depression and anxiety disorders in my family, and I know for a fact that the distress, anxiety, paranoia, and fear that people can experience is not always an indication of a problem with the outside world.

  109. 109
    Pteryxx

    Of course I felt bad for her, and I realized that her feelings were genuine, but I also recognize that the problem… the cause of her distress was internal.

    No, it wasn’t.

    The cause of her distress was the comment you made. External to both of you, once you voiced it. Inside her head is an interpretation that the comment was hurtful and distressing to her. Inside YOUR head is an interpretation that the comment was harmless — TO HER.

    The excuse inside your head doesn’t outweigh the reason inside hers. You assume that your internal judgement call reflects absolute reality while the woman’s doesn’t – and you cannot make that claim.

  110. 110
    br0kenmech

    @Pteryxx

    Of course I would agree that the reasoning in my head cannot outweigh the reasoning in her head, but what I have been trying to stress throughout this discussion is that there are other measures of reason at play. You seem quite emphatic that the only measure of what is reasonable is in the mind of the individual claiming psychic injury. I am trying to point out that sometimes that persons feelings are not indicative of a problem in the outside world, but rather they are indicative of a psychological problem internal to the person experiencing the psychic injury.

    Yes the injury may be triggered by an external event, but that does not mean ipso facto there is anything wrong with the event that triggered the injury.

    If I trip and fall down the stairs, while ten thousand other people use the stairs without injury daily, then it is unlikely that the fault is with the staircase, in spite of the fact that my injuries are real.

  111. 111
    Pteryxx

    And the ‘reasonableness’ standard is demonstrably biased against both victims in general, and women in general. Hence the term ‘victim-blaming’ to point out when this bias is in play. Also why harassment laws and training specifically include the word of the complainant as evidence and instruct that the complaint be taken seriously. Because otherwise, bias against the complainant’s credibility, such as you display, is the status quo.

    Credibility is a basic survival tool. When I was very young and just beginning to get what feminism was about and why it was necessary, I had a boyfriend whose uncle was a nuclear physicist. One Christmas, he was telling — as though it were a light and amusing subject — how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand….

    quoting Rebecca Solnit: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/08/problem-men-explaining-things-rebecca-solnit

    You can always say an incident doesn’t meet YOUR standards of harm as applied to YOU. You’re not entitled to supersede another person’s judgement of their own feelings. You’re also responsible for the harm your actions cause whether or not you intended harm or agree with the hurt person’s judgement – you’re not a staircase with no moral responsibility.

  112. 112
    PatrickG

    If I trip and fall down the stairs, while ten thousand other people use the stairs without injury daily, then it is unlikely that the fault is with the staircase, in spite of the fact that my injuries are real.

    Way to minimize the scope of harassment and the frequency with which it happens. I highly recommend reading the links so many people have provided you, in order to realize that this problem isn’t in the range of 100 ppm.

  113. 113
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    brOkenmech:

    I am trying to point out that sometimes that persons feelings are not indicative of a problem in the outside world, but rather they are indicative of a psychological problem internal to the person experiencing the psychic injury.

    I’ll ask again, how are you supposed to distinguish between ‘feelings’ of being harassed, and that person actually ‘being’ harassed?
    You haven’t offered up any support for your assertion. All you’re doing is dismissing victims.
    You also have yet to counter the points made by Pteryxx and Jafafa Hots WRT the standards of harm as applied to the individual.

    You completely dismiss the harassment other people feel because *you* don’t agree that they’ve been harassed. Have you ever read a policy on sexual harassment in a workplace environment?
    Here is a sample policy:

    Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors,
    and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexually harassing nature, when: (1)
    submission to the harassment is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of
    employment; (2) submission to or rejection of the harassment is used as the basis for
    employment decisions affecting the individual; or (3) the harassment has the purpose or
    effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an
    intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
    Any employee who has a complaint of sexual harassment at work by anyone, including
    supervisors, co-workers or visitors, should first clearly inform the harasser that his/her
    behavior is offensive or unwelcome and request that the behavior stop.
    http://dlr.sd.gov/humanrights/samplesexualharassmentpolicy.pdf

    The actions of one person can have an affect on another.
    You might not think asking someone to mess around in the broom closet is sexual harassment, but you’re not the recipient of the harassment. You don’t get to determine what constitutes sexual harassment for someone else.

    You’re trying to frame this discussion in the context of yourself. It’s not about you.

  114. 114
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    PatrickG:

    Way to minimize the scope of harassment and the frequency with which it happens. I highly recommend reading the links so many people have provided you, in order to realize that this problem isn’t in the range of 100 ppm.

    Not only that, but he made a ridiculous analogy.
    Last time I checked, stairs are not living entities capable of causing people to fall down stairs.
    People, however, are quite capable of causing harassment to other people. They can also choose *not* to do so.

    It seems more like he’s br0kenrecord who refuses to follow links or listen to the arguments of others, choosing instead to live in his own world where he gets to be final arbiter of what constitutes intimidation/harassment/threats for others.

  115. 115
    br0kenmech

    @Tony •King of the Hellmouth•

    I have already said that I am not at all opposed to the concept of sexual harassment policies. The example policy you have quoted sounds very reasonable to me. perhaps, rather than consistently trying to mischaracterize my position, you could try to respond to what I have actually said. For a group of self described skeptics, there sure is a lot of mind reading going on in this thread.

  116. 116
    br0kenmech

    @Tony •King of the Hellmouth•

    Not only that, but he made a ridiculous analogy.
    Last time I checked, stairs are not living entities capable of causing people to fall down stairs.

    Seriously? You need me to explain the analogy to you?

    If the staircase was investigated and found to be poorly constructed, or in disrepair, then we as a society would agree that those stairs were substandard and that this indeed was the likely cause of injury.

    Simply falling down on the stairs is not enough to determine that the stairs are substandard.

  117. 117
    Pteryxx

    and if someone tells you they fell down the stairs, would you believe them or assume it’s all in their head unless they produce evidence or witnesses?

  118. 118
    br0kenmech

    @Pteryxx

    and if someone tells you they fell down the stairs, would you believe them or assume it’s all in their head unless they produce evidence or witnesses?

    Are you stupid? How much more clear could I be? Of course I believe them.

  119. 119
    SallyStrange

    If the staircase was investigated and found to be poorly constructed, or in disrepair, then we as a society would agree that those stairs were substandard and that this indeed was the likely cause of injury.

    Simply falling down on the stairs is not enough to determine that the stairs are substandard.

    Your presumption is of a universal reasonable, able-bodied person.

    Perhaps the stairs are perfectly well-constructed for the first 200 people who used it. However, the 201st person to use it had a broken foot and there was no elevator. She tripped and fell. The fault is not hers, but the fault is not in the stairs either, it’s in the designers of the building who failed to take into account the fact that humans are individuals with individual needs and not everyone can negotiate stairs.

    Here’s another analogy for you: some people are really scared of dogs. It’s unreasonable of them to be scared of my boss’ friendly golden retriever, yet they are. What’s the “reasonable” response? To beat them about the head with the irrationality of their fear, or to put the dog outside for the duration of their visit?

    You say you’re not against harassment policies, but then you go and parrot every bogus argument put forth by those who are opposed to harassment policies, like the debunked idea that men’s reputations are ruined–RUINED!–by the onerous burden of having to go in for sensitivity training, or having a talk with the boss in which they are told to avoid making certain remarks. Or the idea that it’s inherently unreasonable to feel harassed by something that was not INTENDED as harassment.

    So what are we to make of you? Are you going to resolve this dissonance?

  120. 120
    Jason Thibeault

    And the stair builders’ reputations are not ruined because someone differently-abled were unable to negotiate it. The building designers / managers are tarred with the fact that they were unable to accomodate all walks of life.

    JUST LIKE WITH HARASSMENT POLICIES.

  121. 121
    SallyStrange
    and if someone tells you they fell down the stairs, would you believe them or assume it’s all in their head unless they produce evidence or witnesses?

    Are you stupid? How much more clear could I be? Of course I believe them.

    She’s got a point, you know. How do you know they’re not lying? They could be angling to sue the owner of the building. Shouldn’t you check to see their bruises first before you accept their version of events? Wouldn’t want to needlessly damage the reputation of the architect, after all.

  122. 122
    SallyStrange

    Err, sorry, Pteryxx, I apologize for misgendering you. “Zie has a point,” I should say.

  123. 123
    Pteryxx

    Xe’s got a point, you know.

    fix’d. And thanks.

  124. 124
    br0kenmech

    @119 SallyStrange says:

    The fault is not hers, but the fault is not in the stairs either, it’s in the designers of the building who failed to take into account the fact that humans are individuals with individual needs and not everyone can negotiate stairs.

    Yes, you are completely correct.

    Here’s another analogy for you: some people are really scared of dogs. It’s unreasonable of them to be scared of my boss’ friendly golden retriever, yet they are. What’s the “reasonable” response? To beat them about the head with the irrationality of their fear, or to put the dog outside for the duration of their visit?

    As a parent and a dog owner I fully support restrictions on where dogs are permitted as well as when and where they are required to be on a leash.

    …but the rights of dogs, are not analogous to the equal rights of human beings.

    …Or the idea that it’s inherently unreasonable to feel harassed by something that was not INTENDED as harassment.

    Again I will repeat that this is not my position. There is nothing inherently unreasonable in feeling harassed, intimidated, or threatened, but these feelings, while reasonable, do not in and of themselves demonstrate the presence of harassing, intimidating, or threatening behaviour.

  125. 125
    Jafafa Hots

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get past the
    “I told her I’d kill her as a joke and it’s her fault that that upset her” bullshit.

  126. 126
    br0kenmech

    @121 SallyStrange says:

    She’s got a point, you know. How do you know they’re not lying? They could be angling to sue the owner of the building. Shouldn’t you check to see their bruises first before you accept their version of events? Wouldn’t want to needlessly damage the reputation of the architect, after all.

    Really? This is just getting silly. Fine. Yes I would apply reasonable skepticism to the claim that they had fallen down the stairs. Are their injuries? Are there financial motivations? Does the person making the claim have a history of false allegations, etc… but assuming that there was reason to believe that they did indeed fall down the stairs, and that the person who fell was not differently-abled… I would not jump immediately to the conclusion the the stairs must be substandard.

    @120 Jason Thibeault says:

    And the stair builders’ reputations are not ruined because someone differently-abled were unable to negotiate it. The building designers / managers are tarred with the fact that they were unable to accomodate all walks of life.

    If the building was substandard according to societal norms with regards to providing services to the differently-abled, then their reputations are not being unjustly impacted.

    If the building owners were forced to go to unreasonable lengths to accommodate the unreasonable expectations of an unreasonable individual, then that would be unreasonable.

  127. 127
    br0kenmech

    It seems to me that you folks are making the absurd claim that under no circumstance, ever, could anyone ever be wrongly accused of harassing, intimidating, or threatening someone.

    That whenever a person falls it is always the fault of the substandard environment, rather than the fact that their shoes were untied.

    In refusing to concede to even the most benign, inconsequential and obviously correct positions, you make yourselves sound like raving lunatics.

  128. 128
    br0kenmech

    @Jafafa Hots says:

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get past the
    “I told her I’d kill her as a joke and it’s her fault that that upset her” bullshit.

    I’m quite certain that I read PZ saying the someone should be “fucked into the ground” the other day. Not a single person raised any issue with his statement. Why? Could it be that adults with average reading comprehension levels can tell that he is using hyperbole to illustrate his point. Could it be that you are being belligerently obtuse in your inability to get past the fact that people do use these types of language without malice or callous disregard for the feelings of others?

  129. 129
    Jafafa Hots

    It seems to me that you folks are making the absurd claim that under no circumstance, ever, could anyone ever be wrongly accused of harassing, intimidating, or threatening someone.

    Yes, it clearly does seem that way to you.
    Since the words on the screen clearly don’t make that assertion, then by your rules…

    Your problem is internal.

  130. 130
    Pteryxx

    And here you were just claiming not to be a mind-reader.

  131. 131
    br0kenmech

    @Pteryxx

    And here you were just claiming not to be a mind-reader.

    Technically, I never made any such claim.

  132. 132
    Jafafa Hots

    Could it be that you are being belligerently obtuse in your inability to get past the fact that people do use these types of language without malice or callous disregard for the feelings of others?

    Again, you read the words you want to see and not the words I typed.

    I SAID that people do in fact make that kind of joke. I said that EVERYONE has done that.

    The point is that you do not talk AT someone. You talk WITH someone. And if that someone is upset by something you said, even if misinterpreted… even if they are by your standards “overly sensitive” then you, as a person in the conversation, as a friend, bear responsibility to COMMUNICATE with that friend until the matter is fully understood and resolved to some degree.

    You do not talk AT someone, declare their reaction to be their problem and wash your hands of it.

    You VALUE that friend, you value their point of view and experience and even if you still disagree you take their feelings into consideration.

    I can say “fuck” and “shit” in front of my mother. I won’t in front of my dad because I know it makes him feel uncomfortable.

    Is that HIS fault? Is it “internal?” Is he unreasonable, and should I write his opinion off?

    I guess so, if I’m a self-centered ass.

  133. 133
    br0kenmech

    If I claimed that I felt harassed and intimidated by the manner in which several of you have addressed me during the course of this discussion, would you seriously consider me a victim of harassment and intimidation? And yet that is precisely what you want me to believe.

  134. 134
    Sally Strange
    …Or the idea that it’s inherently unreasonable to feel harassed by something that was not INTENDED as harassment.

    Again I will repeat that this is not my position. There is nothing inherently unreasonable in feeling harassed, intimidated, or threatened, but these feelings, while reasonable, do not in and of themselves demonstrate the presence of harassing, intimidating, or threatening behaviour.

    If someone feels harassed, then harassment has, by definition, occurred.

    This is always true. Sometimes the harassment is because of miscommunication, but that’s still harassment.

    Sometimes the person is lying about feeling harassed, but then there’s nobody who feels harassed.

    QED, you are wrong.

    And still a great example of how the OP’s analogy between atheists passively enabling sexism and Catholics passively enabling child rape.

  135. 135
    Sally Strange

    If I claimed that I felt harassed and intimidated by the manner in which several of you have addressed me during the course of this discussion, would you seriously consider me a victim of harassment and intimidation? And yet that is precisely what you want me to believe.

    At THIS point in the conversation, it’d be bloody obvious that you were lying in order to score points.

    Context is everything.

  136. 136
    Sally Strange

    It seems to me that you folks are making the absurd claim that under no circumstance, ever, could anyone ever be wrongly accused of harassing, intimidating, or threatening someone.

    We are making the claim that, excluding the possibility that the person who says they were harassed is lying, there are two possibilities: the other person harassed them intentionally, or the other person harassed them unintentionally.

    Why is this so difficult to understand? Oh right, empathy deficient.

  137. 137
    Sally Strange

    Not a single person raised any issue with his statement.

    That’s a lie.

    I won’t speculate as to whether it was intentional or unintentional.

    But, given that PZ made that statement at least six months ago, maybe more, it makes me suspect you have a perma-hate-boner for PZ.

    That’s kinda sad.

  138. 138
    br0kenmech

    @134 Sally Strange says:

    If someone feels harassed, then harassment has, by definition, occurred.

    This is always true.

    I completely disagree. This is irrational and dogmatic for reasons I have already pointed out repeatedly.

    Sometimes the harassment is because of miscommunication, but that’s still harassment.

    Sometimes the person is lying about feeling harassed, but then there’s nobody who feels harassed.

    @135

    At THIS point in the conversation, it’d be bloody obvious that you were lying in order to score points.

    Context is everything.

    So it is sometimes acceptable to doubt the sincerity of the person claiming they feel harassed? You acknowledge that it is possible that a person may claim to feel harassed when in fact they could be lying. Interesting.

  139. 139
    Sally Strange

    If someone who had just spent two days arguing with me that it’s unreasonable to believe that “harassment has occurred” (note the passive voice there) just because someone claims to have been harassed, suddenly started claiming that I had harassed them?

    Then HELL YES I would suspect them of lying. As a general rule.

  140. 140
    Sally Strange

    You are ignoring the fact that I was excluding cases where the claimant is lying.

    In cases where you have no reason to suspect the claimant of lying, then yes, a claim of harassment is evidence that harassment has occurred. Some person behaved in a way that made the other person feel harassed. Whether they were behaving that way with the intention of harassing someone is immaterial to the fact that they did, in fact, harass someone.

    Just like if you accidentally drop a rock on my head, or hurl it at my head, it is still a fact that there was a collision between my head and the rock.

    I’d say you were a lackwit but I think you’re perfectly intelligent, just callous and selfish.

  141. 141
    br0kenmech

    @Sally Strange

    Context is everything.

    I could not agree more.

  142. 142
    Jason Thibeault

    Actually, br0kenmech, as the blog host, I would take your claim seriously. I would look into the matter and, if I found that your claims of being harassed via your voluntary participation in this thread because these commenters have called you names is valid, I would recommend that people tone it down. If, however, I agree that your claims have no merit, or that you’ve done every bit as much to damage discourse as others; if I find your contributions to this conversation to be contributing to and not working against the problem, I would warn YOU to cut out your damaging behaviours.

    As it stands, people saying your reasoning is obviously motivated and your argumentation disingenuous and repetitive, your ability to reason flawed and your logic figure-eighted around itself, are all correct, demonstrably. The evidence is here on display. And since you believe the things you’ve done are not harassment, and all the things in the community that we’re fighting against are not harassment, you saying people calling you names is harassment is laughable at best.

  143. 143
    br0kenmech

    @142 Jason Thibeault says:

    Actually, br0kenmech, as the blog host, I would take your claim seriously.

    lol. Sure you would.

  144. 144
    Jason Thibeault

    I just explained the full thought process I went through examining your claim in detail, exactly how it happened. As an exercise, I ran through exactly what you said. Since you’re mind-reading again, perhaps you could also tell me what I’m thinking right now?

  145. 145
    br0kenmech

    @Jason Thibeault

    I just explained the full thought process I went through examining your claim in detail, exactly how it happened. As an exercise, I ran through exactly what you said. Since you’re mind-reading again, perhaps you could also tell me what I’m thinking right now?

    Calm down.

  146. 146
    PatrickG

    Calm down.

    That made me laugh out loud. I’m quite sure Jason is calm (though of course he can inform us as to his state of mind).

    But damn, you’re running out of material.

  147. 147
    br0kenmech

    :)

  148. 148
    Stephanie Zvan

    br0kenmech, I don’t believe that was a compliment. I believe that was the sort of laughter that is torn from a person when they can’t believe someone has just done something that stupid.

  149. 149
    PatrickG

    Ha! Yes, Stephanie. That was just a sheer “Wow” on my part. br0kenmech clearly had nothing to say, and didn’t even say ‘nothing’ very well.

    Two gut laughs in one thread. Achievement unlocked!

  150. 150
    Sally Strange

    Calm down.

    Calmer than you, Dude. Calmer than you are.

  151. 151
    Lima

    1. In response to the post. There is not a mysonginst problem with the atheist movement. There might be a mysonginst problem within a small clique of people that spend a lot of time on the interwebs, but this hardly constitutes as a whole.

    2. Reading the comments from the outside looking in, it would seem that the responses are emotional about brokenmechs views about the site to the point that supporters of the site have already determined in their mind what type of person brokenmech is and it almost looks as if people are attacking his views based on personal reasons as opposed to logical ones.

    In other words. It would seem that in this comment discussion, brokenmeck could say he dislikes the color blue and many of you would find a reason to find fault with his views on the color and make judgement on his character because of his comment. However seeing that the staircase analogy seemed to fly over a few heads not sure if the color blue will make any sense.

    In fact, this comment thread is a perfect example of the staircase.

  152. 152
    Lima

    misogynist. iPad spellcheck. :/

  153. 153
    skeptifem

    The entire staircase argument boils down to the idea that harassment isn’t really harassment unless it meets specific conditions (which still go unnamed, which shows a lack of honesty this far into the conversation). I’ll accept it for the sake of argument, because what I really want to know is what brokenmech thinks counts as actual harassment and what doesn’t. SO BROKENMECH, what counts and what doesn’t, since a woman’s word isn’t a good measure?

  154. 154
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Shorter Lima: if I lie enough times, you’ll believe what I say, right?

  155. 155
    Lima

    What does that even mean? What exactly are you implying?

  156. 156
    Entrained

    Jason Thibeault says:
    September 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm ADT
    So, because most harassment is impossible to prove without video evidence, all harassers are presumed innocent, and by extension, all women are presumed liars. The “troll argument” you’ve dismissed tells you where the problem is.

    This is a huge part of the problem. Jason, you make declarative proclamations that are complete bullshit and then want to be taken seriously. Most harrassment is proved without videotape of any kind. They are proved through eyewitness testimony otherwise there would never be a hostile work environment or sexual harassment case proved in the workplace. And all alledeged harassers are initially perceived “not guilty” which is different than innocent. There is a high bar to prove guilt. That’s the fucking law as demanded by the legislature. And then your statement that by extension , all women are presumed liars, what bullshit. What alternate reality are you from? You are making arguments with absolutely no basis in fact or law, just pure conjecture and make it up as you go along shit because you can’t get your own way.
    Lastly, how high is this treehouse you and the other A+ group are going to make? I’ m really curious how you intend to keep anyone out. You’re going to exactly what. Is someone that doesn’t share your point of view going to be shunned, not let into a con, get stared at, given the evil eye, bad thought them? These trolls as you call them are eating you up and you don’t even know it.

    Pteryxx says:
    September 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm ADT
    There’s a reason presumption of innocence is a rule specifically WITHIN CRIMINAL TRIALS. Not for personal judgement, not for codes of conduct, not for discussions, not even for criminal investigations. And certainly not for questions of consent involving other people. The target of harassment should be taken *at least* as seriously as the aggressor, more so when consent is involved as they are THE definitive authority on their own consent. The evidence of widespread bigotry, denial of consent, and silencing of victims justifies correcting for the demonstrated bias: i.e. making conscious effort to consider the victims credible.

    Wrong again.
    The presumption of innocence is absolute in any investigation. If it can’t be proved then there are no findings and it’s the end of the story. If you don’t like it change the law but we are a nation of laws and you don’t get to make shit up because your delicate sensibilities get hurt. As passionate as what you said sounds, it doesn’t mean shit in an investigation. And you are making another bullshit assertion that victims aren’t taken seriously or credible. Such crap.

  157. 157
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I’ll accept it for the sake of argument, because what I really want to know is what brokenmech thinks counts as actual harassment and what doesn’t.

    it’s whatever he FEELS harassment is
    Not sure.

  158. 158
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Entrained says:

    The presumption of innocence is absolute in any investigation. If it can’t be proved then there are no findings and it’s the end of the story. If you don’t like it change the law but we are a nation of laws and you don’t get to make shit up because your delicate sensibilities get hurt. As passionate as what you said sounds, it doesn’t mean shit in an investigation. And you are making another bullshit assertion that victims aren’t taken seriously or credible. Such crap.

    I’m sorry, but you’re the one who’s wrong. The presumption of innocence applies within the justice system. Until any case of harassment enters a court of law, you don’t have a ‘presumption of innocence’.

    One of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/presumption_of_innocence

    I’ m really curious how you intend to keep anyone out. You’re going to exactly what. Is someone that doesn’t share your point of view going to be shunned, not let into a con, get stared at, given the evil eye, bad thought them? These trolls as you call them are eating you up and you don’t even know it

    A+ is opt-in.
    That means it’s completely up to you to join. If you want to, cool. If you don’t, cool. There’s no membership card. No fee to join.
    There’s no way to keep someone in or out.
    That said, if you’re someone who holds views antithetical to the advancement of racial equality, trans rights or gay rights, you’re not going to get a warm welcome in the A+ forum.

    I’m really curious why someone who’s opposed to A+ would want to even *join*.

    Also, victims of harassment *are* dismissed. You can easily search the internet for *plenty* of examples.
    Here’s one to start your search:

    A Baltimore Sun analysis of federal crime statistics showed that for the past four years, Baltimore has led the nation in the percentage of rape cases that police say are false or baseless. Many victims of sexual abuse say police interrogators ask confrontational questions and challenge their motives and veracity; as a result, many women decide not to cooperate, leading to the cases being shelved.

    The Sun’s analysis also shows that four in 10 emergency calls on sexual abuse never make it to detectives specializing in sex crimes, having been dismissed by police officers at the scene.

    Police initially defended their practices. But after reviewing the analysis, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for an audit into all such “unfounded” cases, which began earlier this month. Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III also announced the creation of a hot line for victims to share their stories of interacting with police or to request that their cases be reviewed by the audit committee. More than two dozen cases reported to the hot line will be reviewed by the committee.
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-ci-unfounded-rape-conviction-20100725,0,6853467.story

  159. 159
    hoary puccoon

    Lima @ 151–

    You really read all the comments? Are you sure? Did you read the one (108) where brokenmech blithely mentions that the “innocent joke” that upset his friend’s wife was a death threat?

    You know, people might make death threats in fun sometimes. But it seems to me that if your death threats are upsetting someone, the healthy reaction isn’t “she must have an emotional problem.” The healthy reaction is, “I guess death threats don’t go over too well. I’d better stop making them.” That’s the problem I saw in brokenmech’s attitude– his inability to take responsibility for his own actions. I suspect other posters saw the same thing.

  160. 160
    Forbidden Snowflake

    OK, so let’s assume people get knocked up feel harassed because they deviated from some universal, objective standard of purity reasonableness. And you can totally say that it’s their own fault because they’re sinners and sluts hypersensitive. But the only solution you have in that case, trying to reform people through abstinence-only sex-education mansplaining, doesn’t seem to work. So what do you do? Is there an actual solution to the problem which emerges from your model, and if not, why should it be preferred?

  161. 161
    Lima

    @hoary. Yes I read what brokenmeck wrote, ( what is the purpose of asking “are you sure”, what type of response are you expecting from me with that comment?). Obviously I read his comments considering I made mention of the staircase. No where did I see this “death threat” you have made up in your mind, and continue to use the word over and over as if it really existed. I saw the mention of friends getting together and jokes being made and someone that perhaps was over emotional or with some other type of stress disorder go home and over react over a comment made in jest. However I saw no death threat nor do I consider it one…

    Something that many fail to grasp in this comment thread is that people are purposely creating the problems in their heads when in truth they are not there. They seem real to you because of the way you have been programmed or because of a past experience , but that does not nesseceraly mean that the death threat existed, nor in truth did I read it out to be one.

    Which goes back to my comment about the color blue. Instead of understanding the analogy brokenmeck was giving you to help you understand what he was saying more clearly, it was taken out of context and used against his character.

    There is a song called “die”. The lyric is “die mother phucker die” Would you consider that a death threat?

  162. 162
    Entrained

    Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says:
    September 10, 2012 at 1:48 am ADT
    Entrained says:

    The presumption of innocence is absolute in any investigation. If it can’t be proved then there are no findings and it’s the end of the story. If you don’t like it change the law but we are a nation of laws and you don’t get to make shit up because your delicate sensibilities get hurt. As passionate as what you said sounds, it doesn’t mean shit in an investigation. And you are making another bullshit assertion that victims aren’t taken seriously or credible. Such crap.

    I’m sorry, but you’re the one who’s wrong. The presumption of innocence applies within the justice system. Until any case of harassment enters a court of law, you don’t have a ‘presumption of innocence’.

    See actually you do. I’m speaking from experience and education not making shit up and interpreting what I read on the Internet.

    I’ m really curious how you intend to keep anyone out. You’re going to exactly what. Is someone that doesn’t share your point of view going to be shunned, not let into a con, get stared at, given the evil eye, bad thought them? These trolls as you call them are eating you up and you don’t even know it

    A+ is opt-in.
    That means it’s completely up to you to join. If you want to, cool. If you don’t, cool. There’s no membership card. No fee to join.
    There’s no way to keep someone in or out.
    That said, if you’re someone who holds views antithetical to the advancement of racial equality, trans rights or gay rights, you’re not going to get a warm welcome in the A+ forum.

    I’m really curious why someone who’s opposed to A+ would want to even *join*.

    Great, then what’s all the fuss. You see, this is really not about opting in at all, it’s about creating a different philosophical and behavioral approach regarding interaction by a group of folks that want life approached differently than it is now in the atheist community. Just curious what happens when someone doesn’t make the cut because their behavior doesn’t fit, ho makes the decision, and then how they are pushed away.

    Also, victims of harassment *are* dismissed. You can easily search the internet for *plenty* of examples.
    Here’s one to start your search:

    A Baltimore Sun analysis of federal crime statistics showed that for the past four years, Baltimore has led the nation in the percentage of rape cases that police say are false or baseless. Many victims of sexual abuse say police interrogators ask confrontational questions and challenge their motives and veracity; as a result, many women decide not to cooperate, leading to the cases being shelved.

    The Sun’s analysis also shows that four in 10 emergency calls on sexual abuse never make it to detectives specializing in sex crimes, having been dismissed by police officers at the

    All harassment does not come close to rising to rising to the level of sexual abuse so I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to prove with that argument.
    Just more bullshit from the uneducated but it’s entertaining to read crap like this.

    Police initially defended their practices. But after reviewing the analysis, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for an audit into all such “unfounded” cases, which began earlier this month. Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III also announced the creation of a hot line for victims to share their stories of interacting with police or to request that their cases be reviewed by the audit committee. More than two dozen cases reported to the hot line will be reviewed by the committee.
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-ci-unfounded-rape-conviction-20100725,0,6853467.story

  163. 163
    PatrickG

    @ Entrained:

    First, I highly advise using blockquotes when responding to people. You can see the format directly above the comment boxes [blockquote][/blockquote], except with pointy brackets instead of square.

    Second, you are flat out wrong in your assessment of “presumption of innocence”, unless you are using it as a call to moral action instead of a description of (most) legal systems. There are a few caveats here, which I’ll address in a moment.

    There are several distinctions to be made here, the principal two being:

    #1 – the difference between legal systems that operate under the concents of (a) de jure (presumption of guilt) or (b) Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (“The proof lies upon the one who affirms, not the one who denies.”)

    #2 – the difference between criminal and civil cases

    Considering #1: Most contemporary jurisdictions in the world have moved away from the de jure standard. In fact, it’s considered a hallmark of a “civilized” legal system. I’ve gone lazy here and am just going to quote from wikipedia, but the links provided there are accurate and do point to the relevant portions.

    The key point to take here is that the extension of presumption of innocence is almost universally limited to a criminal context.

    Emphases mine, and where the language in this summary may be unclear, I’ve included some additional information below the wall of text.

    The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe says (art. 6.2): “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”. This convention has been adopted by treaty and is binding on all Council of Europe members. Currently (and in any foreseeable expansion of the EU) every country member of the European Union is also member to the Council of Europe, so this stands for EU members as a matter of course. Nevertheless, this assertion is iterated verbatim in Article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

    In Canada, section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Any person charged with an offence* has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”.

    In the South African Constitution, section 35(3)(h) of the Bill of Rights states: “Every accused person** has a right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent, to remain silent, and not to testify during the proceedings.”

    In France, article 9 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 1789, which has force as constitutional law, begins: “Any man being presumed innocent until he has been declared guilty …”. The Code of Criminal Procedure states in its preliminary article that “any person suspected or prosecuted is presumed innocent for as long as their guilt has not been established”[13] and the jurors’ oath repeats this assertion (article 304).[19]

    Although the Constitution of the United States does not cite it explicitly, presumption of innocence is widely held to follow from the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments. See also Coffin v. United States and In re Winship.***

    In the 1988 Brazilian constitution, article 5, section LVII states that “no one shall be considered guilty before the issuing of a final and unappealable penal sentence“.

    In the Colombian constitution, Title II, Chapter 1, Article 29 states that “Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law”.****

    The Constitution of Russia, in article 49, states that “Everyone charged with a crime shall be considered not guilty until his or her guilt has been proven in conformity with the federal law and has been established by the valid sentence of a court of law”. It also states that “The defendant shall not be obliged to prove his or her innocence” and “Any reasonable doubt shall be interpreted in favor of the defendant”.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, states: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence”.

    Additional information for those juridictions listed here that aren’t quite so clear in their language from this quote can be found at the following links. Not comprehensive, but should be quite illustrative.

    * For Canada
    ** For South Africa
    *** For the U.S.
    **** For Columbia — see Page 11.

    (One fun note, in wee Scotland, you can be guilty/innocent, or the jury can return a verdict of “Not Proven”.)

    Considering #2: Agonizingly, I’m in some haste here, and this is much more the interesting area to discuss. However, since I should have run out the door 15 minutes ago, I’ll submit OJ Simpson. Acquitted at trial, taken to the cleaners in civil court. Different burden of proof/standards of evidence apply. It should be very clear that a civil action here did not use the same standard as the criminal trial. I’ll come back to this if you really care to contest the point, but I don’t recommend it, because you’re simply not correct in your assertions above.

    In conclusion, while this discussion is certainly on topic regarding accusations of rape in the context of a criminal trial, your calls for presumption of innocence have jack shit to do with most instances of sexual harassment, company policies regarding such, and/or (as Pteryxx quite rightly points out) criminal investigations (police have no obligation to assume you’re innocent while they investigate you).

    Let me stress that again, actually: Presumption of innocence may be a moral stance when regarding civil actions (such as most cases of workplace sexual harassment), but it is in no way required by law, nor is it a standard of practice, nor is it compelling on the various actors involved in such a case. You really seem to want it to be, but it’s not.

    Finally, let me apologize for the wall of text. I feel strongly about people basing arguments off of incorrect assumptions regarding legal constraints on private actors in civil cases.

  164. 164
    [PZ Myers] (spoofed)

    Sally Strange @ #137: Do you mean that you found a problem with my “fucked into the ground” statement? Sorry, but I still stand by it. BTW, maybe it’s just my current mood but I read several of your comments here and you’re VERY annoying. Are you someone with good intentions? Yes. Someone I agree with most of the time? Yes. But no offense, you’re just a very annoying person. :)

  165. 165
    Jason Thibeault

    As PZ isn’t travelling to Chicago, he didn’t write that comment.

  166. 166
    Jason Thibeault

    The whole “presumption of innocence” line of argumentation here is a facet of hyperskepticism. Yes, if we were charging this person with criminal harassment, the burden of proof is on the people wanting to put them in jail. However, if we provide no way for the harassed to actually find protection, because we’re more worried about how the person doing the shitty things might take it or what their intentions are, such that we never tell them to cut it out, then we are failing as human beings.

    There’s an underreporting problem. When people are harassed, they don’t report it because “what can be done about it?” and “who will believe me?” often have a similar answer: “nothing” and “nobody”. This is because (in a very small part) of the people gaming the system and “crying wolf” for their own gain, yes, but it is mostly because of the fact that most harassment can’t be proven because the perpetrators are smart enough to do it with plausible deniability.

    For most harassment, it’s unintentional. Like br0kenmech’s case, it’s a failure of empathy — telling someone they’ll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes, when they see that as an actual death threat, is a form of unintentional harassment. You hurt her feelings, you don’t know why, you assume the fault is the person’s. What if she has a history of having people turn on her? What if she has a grandmother who came from a war-stricken country?

    Because you have empathy, you would apologize to that person and avoid such analogies in the future. If you don’t, then you’re a callous, terrible friend.

    Likewise with sexual harassment. Let’s say you make a pass at someone from work that you find attractive. Let’s say it’s after hours, and there’s no imbalance of power. If that person doesn’t reciprocate, you back off. If they’re uninterested, you drop that line of thinking. You don’t keep mooning after the person, making repeated passes or trying to “wear them down” over time, because then every time that person sees you from then on, they think of that instead of the work they’re trying to do. The reason workplace sexual harassment is taken so seriously, so much closer to actual criminal proceedings (and yet, still isn’t, because the repercussions are so mild — being told “stop it” then being fired is a damn sight milder than being put in jail!), is because a workplace is a WORK place. You can’t work if you feel like you’re surrounded by wolves.

    Likewise with this community. You can’t be an activist and discuss your ideas around the central theme if you feel beset upon by a) people who are trying to do everything they can to push you out because you’re a girl; and b) people who minimize this and say there’s no problem with misogyny in the community because it’s just a small subset of the real community and those people aren’t “real” members. Either you own the problem, and you fix it, like workplaces have with sexual harassment policies (and we largely have with conference harassment policies), or you accept that this community will never be welcoming to women because of that subset of people and pretend like it’s women’s own fault for not being thick-skinned enough. Like the men are. Who don’t get that kind of harassment ever.

  167. 167
    Jason Thibeault

    And it seems the same person who tried to spoof PZ also tried the identical comment four minutes later from UK. I’m guessing they’re using Tor or some other anonymizer.

  168. 168
    Forbidden Snowflake

    That is just so slimy.

  169. 169
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, but I’m fighting for some changes to the network to prevent it from happening again. It’s a relatively simple thing to check the WordPress registered users table’s email addresses and usernames and prevent anonymous users from using those — however, it has to be added functionality. It’s not part of WordPress core.

    It’s like these assholes realized it worked on Jen McCreight so they’re going to try others. I wonder how many registered authors’ comments on blog posts right now are being spoofed and nobody realizes it, and how much fallout those spoofed comments will have in the future. And this from people who claim to be rationalists and arbiters of what moral actions are justifiable and what are anathema to the community (since they think feminism is anathema).

  170. 170
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Entrained:
    Since you’re so convinced that you are correct with your interpretation of “presumption of innocence”, I’m sure you can provide some evidence that you are correct and everyone else is wrong.
    You know, with some links to reputable sources that confirm your belief.
    Oh, and I second the notion: please learn how to blockquote.

    [type the word 'blockquote' here]
    copy/paste the words you’re quoting here
    [/type the word 'blockquote' immediately after the slash]

    Use the greater than/lesser than brackets

  171. 171
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Entrained:

    Great, then what’s all the fuss. You see, this is really not about opting in at all, it’s about creating a different philosophical and behavioral approach regarding interaction by a group of folks that want life approached differently than it is now in the atheist community. Just curious what happens when someone doesn’t make the cut because their behavior doesn’t fit, ho makes the decision, and then how they are pushed away.

    There is no “make the cut”.
    People don’t get selected like a reality television show.
    If you sign up for A+, chances are you’re someone who is an atheist, and you are interested in talking about issues related to progressive social justice (such as racial or gender equality, or gay rights issues).
    I can’t imagine anyone joining A+ if they’re not interested in social justice issues. Discussing the negative effects of religion is one aspect of A+, so joining just to talk about *only* atheist issues doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, as that’s a far more narrow focus than many people seek to discuss there. Still, an individual could theoretically ignore anything not related to secularism.
    If you’re someone who doesn’t agree with A+ at all, I can’t see why you’d sign up.

    As for pushing someone out, the only way that could happen is if someone *chose* to leave.
    There’s no EJECT button at the A+ forum.
    There’s no boss that comes in and say “Get out. You’re fired.”

    Why would someone choose to leave? Those answers are varied. I imagine if someone were to join A+ and decide to comment about how they hate queers, comments by them would be met with derision by various commenters. At some point, that person might opt to leave.

    There’s just no other way they could get “kicked out”.

    Why are you having so much trouble with this?
    Do you view A+ as some sort of “Private Property” with a giant “Keep Out” or “Beware of Dog” sign out front? If so, you’re wrong. Check out the A+ forum. You can see for yourself. You can sign up if you want to join. Or you can NOT sign up if you don’t want to. That’s all there is to it.

    BTW, those in support of A+ are not the ones making the fuss.
    The people complaining about divisiveness are making the fuss.
    [the divisiveness was already present, and has been for some time, as evidenced by the pushback against women's rights]

    The people complaining about elitism are making the fuss.
    [no,it's not elitist to say people are tired of being made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe because of rape or death threats, and have decided to carve out of space "over there" away from the people who like doing that; nor is it elitist to say that this space is for anyone who wants to talk about socially progressive issues]

    The people complaining about automatically being labelled misogynists or assholes are making the fuss.
    [as many, many, many people have stated, NOT joining A+ does not mean someone is an asshole/misogynist. Al Stefanelli, one of the great bloggers here at FtB has stated he doesn't want to join. He doesn't like labels. That's completely his decision. It doesn't mean he's a misogynist/asshole--he's about as far from that as one could get--it just means he doesn't want to join. Some of the people who don't want to sign up to A+ are nice people. Some of the people who don't want to sign up to A+ *are* asshole misogynists. Those labels would only apply to people who actually display those characteristics.]

    The people complaining about stealing atheism are making the fuss.
    [no one owns 'atheism', so it can't be taken away. Moreover, A+ is about people who identify as atheists-hence the 'A' in A+- wanting to create a space away from the antagonism they've been faced with for so long so that they can talk about progressive social justice issues; hence the '+'. A+ doesn't redefine atheism. It's a subset of atheism with a specific focus on social issues.]

    Without all of those people making a fuss, there wouldn’t be any drama.

  172. 172
    perplexed

    Folks believed in those things prior to A+ and will believe those things during and after A+ . The issue of inclusiveness was started by folks trying to have a harassment free con with policies they felt would protect them from folks with bad intentions. That’s when some of the bloggers tried to make the treehouse taller. There will be a representation of the same folks classified as misogynist assholes in A+ that were in atheism. In my view nothing was gained except we moved backwards for 2 reasons in my opinion,
    We fractured ourselves philosophically. I want nothing to do with some of he bloggers who I find obnoxious and quite frankly worse than some theists I know in terms of close mindedness.
    We fractured ourselves politically. One of David Silverman’s goals was to drive the Atheist brand to make the movement politically stronger. This took us in the opposite direction of that goal.
    Entrained is now eliott1…
    Agreed that no one can hijack an idea but several vocal folks with a constituency can fracture it, regardless of good intentions.
    As to presumption of innocence, I do harassment investigations as part of m professional responsibilities and have most of my life. Every allegation is treated as an allegation and every person that has an allegation made against them has the presumption of innocence going into the investigation. Then the facts take us to a conclusion. In they said/they said situations short of eye witness corroboration, a video or a confession you will get a result of no findings. Yes, so I’m convinced along with every professional organization I deal with that performs similar investigations, but it’s not my position to try to change your mind. Believe whatever you choose but I promise you if it was you being investigated based on an allegation, and the allegation was false which occurs more than you might think and you have someone like me in front of you, you want me to go in with the presumption of innocence.
    An example, the allegation of a guy taking upskirt camera pictures at TAM 2 years ago. It was all over the blogs, some folks gave their account of what happened and folks relacted on blogs like a mob. All that was missing were pitchforks and torches. Except, the guy didn’t do anything. I saw the reports which included a variety of video they observed as well as real time observation and looking at his camera card and talked to the investigator. He did nothing. Absolutely nothing except being guilty of carrying his camera low. For that he was treated hortifically. So yes, even after allegations are made, everyone deserves the presumption of innocence for exactly this reason.

  173. 173
    xmaseveeve

    Patrick is right. In a criminal court, proof is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’; in a civil court it is ‘on the balance of probability’. This is because there is something at stake for the accused person.

    Saying, ‘Look, even if you didn’t mean it that way – don’t do that, guy (or gal).

    Sally is right. Context matters. To a woman – alone in a lift, at night, with a man – the question of joining him for coffee makes her wonder which answer will prevent her from being raped.

    The context of the ‘you’ll be killed’ ‘joke’ has not been given, but I’d imagine that it was during an argument about feminism, and the man making the alleged joke is nothing but a misogynist bully.

    Women in the workplace need a safe environment. They are not there for the entertainment of men.

    Oh yes, one more thing. Would the idiots who don’t support equality and justice please google the ‘thin skull rule’? I’m not good with computers (being a girly) so can’t provide a link. Essentially, you must take your victim as you find her. Goodnight all. xxx

  174. 174
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    eliot:
    I love how you misrepresent those people who were asking for conventions to HAVE harassment policies. Way to argue honestly.

    Also, since you’re asserting that presumption of innocence somehow applies to a harassment situation that hasn’t even made it to the level of a criminal investigation, would you care to cite some evidence to support your opinion?

  175. 175
    PatrickG

    @ eliott1/entrained:

    Entrained is now eliott1…

    Ok, that’s weird.

    I also find the rambling nature of the post to be inconsistent with Entrained’s earlier responses.

    I’d hazard that this post may have been undertaken while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant. If I misinterpret the cause, I apologize, but the sheer number of typos and grammatical errors make me reluctant to engage.

    I may be relacting hortifically, but I’d encourage you to post a more concise argument tomorrow.

  176. 176
    Raging Bee

    One huge diference between the A+ movement and the Catholic Church, is that the Church’s abuses take place in meatspace: priests raping boys, higher-ups covering for said priests, and known officials and spokesmen saying stupid hateful shit on company time. It’s much harder for an outsider to infiltrate the Church and cause such scandal, than it is to infiltrate an A+ forum like this one and post misogynistic crap while pretending to be an atheist or skeptic. I say this, not to minimize the problem or belittle the victims, but to remind everyone of the very strong possibility that a lot of the hateful crap we’re seeing could very easily come from the enemies of atheism and progressivism; and the people who appear on the Internet to be asshole atheists could just as easily be garden-variety assholes or right-wing Christians looking for an easy “win” by using sock-puppets to try to reinforce every negative stereotype of atheists that’s out there.

    Seriously, folks, we all know the enemies of A, A+, and rational inquiry are perfectly capable of all sorts of lies and “black propaganda.” Do you really think the likes of Karl Rove would be above some easy sockpuppetry, if they thought it might cause division, demoralization and/or paralysis on our side?

    I think that tougher enforcement of basic manners on forums like this one, and greater willingness to ban the worst offenders — without wasting any more time explaining ourselves to suger-hyped children who aren’t listening anyway — would be a huge step toward purging our movement of misogyny. And when the public sees the offensive assholes purged from cyberspace, that will send a message that said assholes are not so likely to be tolerated in meatspace gatherings either.

  177. 177
    skeptifem

    176

    if you think its only happening online you haven’t been paying attention. The fiasco surrounding harassment policies at conventions revealed lots of incidents that occurred in meatspace. I also find it laughable that you think its our “enemies” being clever when leaders in the movement are saying and doing sexist things. I have a sexism hall of shame on my website specifically because so much of this BS comes from people who are big names in the atheist/skeptic movement (DJ grothe, richard dawkins, penn jillette, the amazing atheist, thunderf00t, etc). Then there are all the things that happened at various TAM events, as though evangelicals or other anti-atheists would pay hundreds of dollars and fake being a skeptic just to make the movement look bad. It seems much more likely to me that there really is a sexism problem within atheism/skepticism.

  178. 178
    Jason Thibeault

    Dawkins is a false flag theist plant, skeptifem!? Oh holy shit, I fucking knew it!

    The whole argument sounds one step away from “Obama is an alien reptiloid.”

  179. 179
    Stephanie Zvan

    There are also plenty of people, like Hoggle and Woolly Bumblebee, who have a blog history that says they once focused on atheism and stopped when they started harassing atheists instead.

  180. 180
    Raging Bee

    skeptifem: I did not say ALL of the assholes are right-wing sockpuppets, nor did I say that all of the offenses were taking place only in cyberspace. I merely said: a) it’s possible that a lot of the hate we’re seeing is coming from, and driven by, people outside the movement; and b) curtailing the hate in cyberspace would probably make a significant difference all around. That’s not the whole solution, of course, but it’s a sizable part of one.

    Dawkins is a false flag theist plant, skeptifem!?

    He’s doing enough damage to the movement that he might as well be. When you’re as dumb and uncaring a “leader” as George W. Bush, it really doesn’t matter what side you say you’re on.

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