Quantcast

«

»

Aug 15 2013

Mr. Deity and the Victim-Blaming and Dismissiveness of Serious Allegations

Brian K. Dalton (aka Mr Deity) has stepped in it bigtime. As a SUBTLE JAB (pfft) at all these issues in the skeptical community with regard to accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and general predation, especially the accusations of such leveled against his friend Michael Shermer, he’s slipped into the end post-credits of his latest video (here, starting at 5:24) some interesting parallels. Like all “subtle jabs” predicated on a lack of understanding of a situation, however, they have all the subtlety of a hand grenade in a bucket of paint, and they fall apart under any degree of scrutiny.

Trigger warning for discussion of rape tactics and victim-blaming.

Transcript via John Morales:

I want to take this time today to answer this question I get a lot: why don’t I believe in the gospels.

Um — the first big problem I have with the gospels is that they are anonymous — a lot of people don’t know that, but it’s true.

Um, and no good skeptic, atheist, freethinker should ever accept any anonymous report just offhand; aah especially when we’re talking about something truly awful — I mean, the gospel writers have Jesus doing some pretty ugly stuff. Umm, killing a tree for no reason, which makes him look completely insane; they have him claiming to be God, which would have been a major blasphemy within Judaism at the time; and they have him turning water into wine, which we all know is just a tactic to get the ladies drunk — right? — I mean, no-one turns water into wine for any reason that’s not just completely nefarious!

But if you’re gonna talk [whoopee noise] about someone like that, you can’t do that anonymously — and if you do, what is that? What are we talking about?

That’s nothing more than gossip.

And I think that as good skeptics, atheists, freethinkers, we should all know how absolutely toxic, disgusting and beneath us it is to repeat and or report mere gossip.

[Person with wine bottle approaches wineglass-holding Mr. Deity: "would you like a refill?" "Um, no. Thank you."]

Now. See how easy that was?

Here’s another little tip: if you find it hard to say no to the refill, you can just leave the glass full! Don’t take another sip!

That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a backbone, or any sense of personal responsibility!

The other problem with the gospels is that these anonymous reports are made years after the fact; some scholars say decades. Ah, that gives Jesus no opportunity to refute the claims — I mean, there isn’t a decent justice system in the entire world that doesn’t give the accused the right to confront his or her accuser. That’s just basic justice.

And in many cases, even the witnesses of the witnesses are anonymous.

Really?! C’mon! We’re skeptics! We don’t take stuff like that at face value!

The other problem here is confirmation bias: the tendency to see only what we wanna see.

That’s clearly what the gospel writers were doing here; they wanted a hero (or a villain, depending on your perspective), and they found one!
But, as good skeptics, we should all know the power of confirmation bias — I mean, for heaven’s sake, they found witches in Salem, and Joe McCarthy found the communists under every bed — as skeptics, we need to stand up to these anonymous gossipal authors and those who would repeat such gossip and say “have you no sense of decency, Sir! At long last, have you left no sense of decency.”

Of course, if you’re completely divorced from the skeptic community, I don’t expect you to understand these basic principles — but the rest of us should know better!

Remember: “do unto others”

Anonymous reports of extraordinary things, like those found in the Gospels, are in fact untrustworthy because they describe events that would take absolutely extraordinary evidence to prove, and they involve people who cannot be interviewed because they’re long dead.

Reports of rape, on the other hand, describe events that are depressingly common. While the specific people reporting these assaults are anonymous TO YOU AND I, they are NOT anonymous to the people bringing them forward. I explained why I trust the accusers who brought forward the allegations of rape against Michael Shermer, via PZ Myers — because PZ is measured enough to verify that his trust in the people coming forward is not misplaced, and he has a lot of reputation at stake if he trusts the wrong person with a grenade like that. AND, it’s not like PZ’s account is the only one we have on record — there are no less than five accounts given by five separate people so far.

Given that the outcome of this is not likely Shermer behind bars, but rather the public understanding that it’s well possible that people’s trust in Shermer is misplaced and they no longer drink around him, I have no problem with trusting that these rapes likely happened on balance of probability of the perfectly ordinary claim, and that women should likely be warned in advance. But that’s not to say legal action against him should happen, unless it could be proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

And that’s where it’s different from the gospels, which describe implausible scenarios as truth and demand that you believe it and take drastic action accordingly, despite lack of evidence. Rather than tentatively trusting the gospels and verifying before taking action, you’re expected to go all-in. And if we were asking for extraordinary drastic measures to be taken against Shermer, for him to be put behind bars over this, and if we were doing so with significantly less evidence than what we already used to establish a pattern of behaviour by Shermer, then yes, it would be a good analogy. But we aren’t, so it isn’t.

As for his side-swipes at drinking, and on not “having the backbone” to stop drinking, thus getting drunk enough to be raped, I have to point out that there’s some serious misunderstanding in this discourse about the risk factors for being raped, and that Dalton is well guilty of these misunderstandings.

Drinking alcohol inherently comes with some risks. Some of these include impaired functionality, impaired judgment, vomiting, blackout periods, and long-term damage like liver and kidney functionality issues. Acute intoxication could lead to poisoning, and death.

Being around people who rape others also comes with some risks. Those risks include having your bodily sexual integrity violated, including but not limited to non-consensual sexual activities and having orifices penetrated or otherwise violated in various manners with various body parts or instruments.

The means by which they might ply someone into a situation where they might more easily rape them without resistance can include alcohol, used as a date rape drug. Psychological tricks can be applied to keep a potential victim drinking and to keep them unaware of just how drunk they’re actually getting. Keeping them sitting, refilling their glass for them constantly so they never realize they have lost count, keeping the conversation going the whole while so a victim doesn’t realize how drunk they really are til they start to stand up and are wobbly. Or til they fall asleep and are rendered insensible. I seriously doubt any of these tactics involve actually ASKING the person if they want more — and that’s not what the reports suggested Shermer was doing.

But the fact that they’re insensible doesn’t automatically allow for or entail rape. Having an orifice penetrated against your volition is not a side-effect of over-drinking, and damn you for making me use the passive voice in this sentence. violation

Drinking is a social experience. We choose who to trust with our less-than-sober selves based on our past experiences with a person. Since most rape is acquaintance rape, it involves violating a built-up level of trust which can be used to help put the victim in a state where they cannot legally consent to anything — especially if they’re unconscious.

So, the risk factor for being raped is not alcohol. The risk factor for being raped is being around someone who rapes people. The alcohol, while under normal circumstances an enjoyable social activity, is actually employed as a tool of the rapist’s trade. And the trust engendered by popularity, while normally integral to any social experience in any community, is also a tool of the rapist’s trade.

People like Michael Shermer may very well be “doing unto others” things that they have not asked for consent before rendering them incapable of giving consent. Minimizing this shit is damaging — not only to the victims of rape, but to the fabric of our community, and to the efforts to stamp out this sort of disgusting, unbecoming, predatory behaviour. And my description of such behaviour is crafted without even assuming any rapes actually occured!

In order to prove with some finality that Dalton has completely fucked this one up, I present two comments he reportedly left on Ashley Paramore’s video:

I witnessed this assault, and it was so bold and blatant that I and several other good men stood around because we couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t just the two of them playing around. None of us could imagine that someone would do such a terrible thing in a room full of people. We all felt so bad that we didn’t understand what was happening and stop it. Men, don’t make the same mistake. Until you know otherwise, don’t hesitate to step in. I adore you, Ashley, and I’m so sorry I didn’t do more.

It is good that you’ve recognized that not every terrible act results in an appropriate response. Imagine for a moment how the victim of such an assault might respond. Or imagine for a moment how someone who idolizes a “big name” in this community might react if they are star-struck by the fact that they’re having a long conversation with them and their wine glass keeps magically refilling without them noticing.

Are you getting the impression at this point that perhaps your dismissive comments in your own most recent video were tone-deaf, and if you were aiming for comedy and parody, you skewered not only these alleged victims of assault within our movement, but also everyone who’s ever experienced a similar sort of assault historically? Including Ashley Paramore, whose video got more than its share of argumentation identical to what you just put forth about your friend Michael Shermer. Your account therefore carries no more weight than those of the anonymous-TO-US accusers bringing allegations about Shermer forward.

And given your own revelation that you could hardly believe what you saw, maybe your comments about selection bias — “only [seeing] what we want to see” — are really fucked-up accusations to level against the people who are seeing a morass of sexism and abuse? Why would ANYONE want to see that?

You’re not a mind reader. But you have to admit, that would be pretty damned crazy of me, right? I’ve spent the last seven years building something valuable to me — it’s how I make my living — but now I’m going to risk all of that (including my financial stability) just to lie about some incident for the sake of a cause I’ve shown absolutely no interest in? I’m not just some guy sayin’ x, y, and x. People know me and could ruin my reputation based on this.

PZ Myers built a reputation for being honest to a fault over the past ten-ish years, to the point of being off-putting to many for his bluntness. He is putting the entirety of his reputation on the line over accusations made by people whom he, himself, trusts. Remember, PZ Myers “divorced” the skeptic community, not skepticism, over churlish juvenile behaviour and dismissiveness of serious ethical breaches. I’m absolutely certain he viewed these claims with skepticism and weighed them carefully. He is doing everything you just said you were doing. And you’re calling those accusations that he brought forward “gossip”, “toxic”, and “beneath us”. And yet here we are, with you putting the trust we have in YOU on the line that your account of witnessing Paramore’s assault is true.

Why is it not “gossip”, “toxic”, and “beneath us” to believe you about what YOU say you saw there?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe you. (Provisionally. We’re SKEPTICS, after all.) I’m even going to make a point to put your corroboration on my timeline post. But I also believe other witnesses and corroborations on that timeline just as provisionally, and the numerous instances of predatory behaviour about Shermer came with multiple corroborations.

Maybe you should look over this timeline again. Get a real handle on the scope and breadth of what you’re denying here.

Then come back and apologize to the alleged victims whom you both said were simply “toxic” rumours, and simultaneously “had no backbone” and fell prey to predatory behaviour. And apologize to those people angry about this bullshit for saying that we’re “seeing what we want to see”.

126 comments

11 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Louis

    If Mr Deity/Dalton had come out and said words to the effect of “Michael Shermer is my close friend and business associate. I am going to stand by my friend until any further evidence comes out about these allegations.” I could have just…JUST….retained my liking of him.

    Of course my liking of him is unimportant, before anyone tells me.

    What annoyed the living bejeesus out of me is he didn’t front up and say “X is my friend, I will not (yet) abandon that”, but instead he said “anyone making anonymous clams is on a par with anyone making extraordinary supernatural claims, and victims can be responsible in part for their own violation”. THAT distinction is the unforgivable part for me. The natural predisposition for the former, which I am guessing is Mr Deity’s/Dalton’s motivation (it’s the minimally horrific guess), does not require the latter.

    Louis

  2. 2
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    It seems like Mr. Deity is doing a very good job of resembling an old-fashioned patriarchal god – he’s got down pat the typical religious messages of “Bitchez be lyin’” and “Bitchez ain’t shit.” Very helpful.

  3. 3
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I have a pretty low tolerance for alcohol. Combine that with a family history of alcoholism and a personal history of not being able to refuse drinks if I imbibe too many (like seriously, if I get past a certain point, I will drink until I pass out.)

    I know precisely how much I can drink safely (a pint or so of beer, a glass and a half of wine, a single hard drink), but beyond that it’s a crap shoot as to whether I’m still in a good range to have a handle on my facilities or not.

    If I was being gregarious with someone and they offered to fill my glass, why yes, I could refuse easily. That is unless I’ve already had too much or I’m just not paying attention to how much I’ve had. It’s way too easy to get drunk, or to get someone else drunk, accidentally.

    If it’s your goal to get someone too drunk to say ‘no’ to your advances, how easy can it be?

  4. 4
    A Hermit

    I saw those comments on Paramore’s video and remember thinking “Hey! I’ve heard of this guy…nice to see he’s one of the good one…”

    Now this comes out and he’s making exactly the same arguments he seemed to be arguing against. How disappointing. Wonder if he’s told his friend Ashley that it was all her fault for having a drink while female…

  5. 5
    Tom Foss

    The “confirmation bias” thing really sticks in my craw. Which sounds more like “seeing what you want to see”: A bunch of people, many of whom liked and respected Shermer (despite potentially having issues with his libertarianism or his responses to criticism), provisionally accept a victim’s accusation that he raped her, in part because people have also been warning others about Shermer for years; or a guy who’s friends with Shermer, who’s done multiple videos with Shermer, who has a video with Shermer up on the front page of the website of the organization Shermer runs, thinks Shermer can’t possibly be a rapist, and does everything he can to dismiss the charges and blame the victim.

    Which of those sounds more like motivated reasoning? “Why People Believe Weird Things” was the first skeptical book I read, and when I was head of a science club in college, Shermer was one of three speakers I looked into bringing to the school. I don’t want to believe he’s a rapist; I really don’t. I want to believe he’s a supremely rational and reasonable nice guy, but the evidence shows him to be a hardcore libertarian who can’t take criticism, and the grapevine has been spreading warnings about him for years. Considering probabilities and rape statistics and false accusation statistics and the corroborative testimonies, the most parsimonious explanation isn’t “women lie” or “PZ and Carrie Poppy made up the whole thing.”

    I think Dalton is confusing “wanting to believe” with “not being surprised.”

  6. 6
    pneumo

    Her name is not “Paramour”. Freudian slip much?

  7. 7
    Sassafras

    Oh great, he’s pulling a Steffanelli. If I still watched Mr. Deity I’d expect a lot more “subtle jabs” in the future about feminism gone too far.

  8. 8
    hoary puccoon

    Kevin Kat @ 3–

    As I understood it, based on one of the women who supported Jane Doe via PZ Myers’s claim, Shermer *didn’t* offer to refill the woman’s glass. Apparently, he just kept topping off the glass little by little, without asking permission. (That, of course, would leave the woman in a position where she’d either have to sit there with a glass right in her hand and not drink at all, or argue with Mr. Big Shot to get him to stop.)

    So the situation was apparently even trickier than what you describe.

    Would you know how much you’d drunk, if you never were asked if you wanted another, never poured anything for yourself, and never reached the bottom of the first glass?

  9. 9
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @hoary:

    Nope. I would not be able to know such. I drink so slowly anyway (I seriously nurse a hard drink for about an hour) that it wouldn’t be anything I’d notice, especially if it’s done nonchalant and we’re just being friendly.

  10. 10
    Dave W

    It’s clear that when a friend is a victim, Brian Dalton suggests we assume the worst about the alleged perpetrator “until you know otherwise.”

    But when a friend is the alleged perpetrator, Dalton insists we must assume innocence until proven guilty.

    I have enough trouble maintaining a single standard…

  11. 11
    embertine

    Anecdote alert; the CEO of my previous company did this to me at a management conference – topping up my glass so that it was never empty. I was flattered that he wanted to talk to me for a couple of hours and kept sipping at a rate that I thought was cautious. Only when I got up did I realise that I was absolutely shit-faced. Luckily he had no nefarious intentions and had genuinely been trying to be hospitable.

    I like a drink but I rarely get beyond mildly tipsy at work events and, with a family history of alcoholism, I have a pretty good measure of how much it takes to get me drunk and I go up to that and not beyond. But I was completely wankered. I had to take three days off work with what I realise now was alcohol poisoning. Everyone laughed it off and it became one of those office stories. But I worked out that, in order to be that wasted, I must have drunk over three bottles of wine. But I only ever had one glass! And I’m a careful drinker who knows her limits! And I never get drunk at work dos! Etc, etc…

    So all of those people who say that a grown-up girlie should know her limits, most of us do, and that actually does not help if someone is actively trying to get you drunk. If that person is doing so with malicious intent, then Godtopus help you.

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes, the one instance of “Paramour” was in fact likely a Freudian slip. And a very bad one, at that. At least I got her name right the other two times! It’s been corrected.

  13. 13
    sawells

    Moral responsibility for rape borne by a woman who drank/wore a short skirt/was pretty/was not pretty/existed: total.

    Moral responsibility for rape borne by person actually committing the rape: zero.

    I’m never going to understand these horrible, horrible people.

  14. 14
    carlie

    I have a low tolerance for alcohol, and it hits me pretty quickly. I’d notice that it was suspicious that my glass was still so full, but by the time I did I’d already be to the point of not having the wits about me to know what to do about it.

  15. 15
    skemono

    [Person with wine bottle approaches wineglass-holding Mr. Deity: "would you like a refill?" "Um, no. Thank you."]

    Now. See how easy that was?

    Here’s another little tip: if you find it hard to say no to the refill, you can just leave the glass full! Don’t take another sip!

    That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a backbone, or any sense of personal responsibility!

    “Women need to be vigilant at all times and take every action possible to safeguard against being raped. You may never get drunk while talking to someone; never wear clothing that any man might find revealing or attractive; never go out walking alone; never flirt. That’s just taking personal responsibility!”
    “So we must treat all men as Schrodinger’s Rapist?”
    “What? NO! That would be misandrist!”

    Hell’s bells, this is stupid. “Personal responsibility”? Howsabout men take personal responsibility and not rape drunk women? Or sober women? Or, you know what, just not rape?

  16. 16
    smhll

    People who have flown to get to a conference may be dehydrated from the plane trip. For a hotel bar in the conference hotel, maybe it’s possible to negotiate providing a lot of complementary water bottles (sealed) on the side of the big meetup in the bar. (I know the bar makes it’s money on alcohol. Sometimes this means a bar isn’t a very welcoming environment for non-drinkers and light drinkers.)

    I have a weak head for alcohol, and I’m not particularly fond of getting drunk, and I don’t follow social norms much, so my ideas are going to be outliers. But, maybe it’s time to have a guideline that people buy their own drinks for the duration of the conference. That dodges the problem of “this is more alcohol than I would have personally chosen to drink if I had been making all the decisions.”

  17. 17
    Anne C. Hanna

    embertine @11,

    I had a similar experience (of lesser magnitude) at a dinner, with the host as the glass-filler — he was a wine lover from one of those social traditions where hospitality means automatically keeping everyone’s glasses full. I was so involved in the conversation at the table that I didn’t even notice the topping-off. He didn’t notice me not noticing, and didn’t realize that I specifically prefer to drink one glass max. I think he only got me up to about 4 glasses that way, not your three bottles, but it was still way more than I’d meant to drink. If it’s so easy to do without malice, how much easier to do with malice? :/

    ——–

    The other thing that’s just weird about this is the notion that PZ made this up/recklessly disregarded truth because he wants to destroy Shermer because PZ dislikes Shermer. It’s just so ridiculously disproportionate. You disagree with a few things somebody said, write a few critical blog posts back and forth, and as a result you wind up hating them so much you decide to falsely (or carelessly) accuse them of rape? Where on earth do these people live that that strikes them as a logical next step in the process?

  18. 18
    Jackie

    Anyone who says that a woman telling the truth is as unbelievable as magical men who live in the sky is no one I ever want to meet irl. That is just plain scary thinking.

  19. 19
    Kevin

    Having an orifice penetrated against your violation..

    The word you’re searching for here is ‘volition’.

    Otherwise, spot on.

    As I said over at Ophelia’s, anonymity or lack thereof has zero to do with whether a claim is credible, believable, or even actionable. Richard Nixon’s presidency ended largely because of anonymous accusations, while conversely, the war against Iraq was ginned up in part from “anonymous” sources claiming Iraq was preparing an atomic bomb.

    And plenty of people have come forward publicly to declare they were abducted by aliens, saw Nessie and Bigfoot, and live in a haunted house. If mere non-anonymity lent a claim credibility, then Shermer, Dalton, and all the rest of the braveheros would be on a snipe hunt at this very moment.

  20. 20
    Joe

    Curious. If we were out drinking, and needed a ride home, and I said, dude you’re much more sober than I am, you should drive, and then you do, on my advice. We get in an accident, and you kill someone. Did you consent to drive, or were you not able to? Am I to blame? Who should go to jail?

    I’m not trolling here. I just find the automatic ‘victim blaming’ accusation a bit hard to take.
    It certainly fits when someone says:… but she was wearing…

    But when two people are drinking and have sex, it IS more complex.
    And if not, I’m a straight white male who has been raped quite a lot.
    I can be a bit of drunkard, and I have certainly made choices while drinking that I would never had made sober… beer goggles being what they are.

    I am not dismissing sexual assault allegations, I think all should be treated seriously and investigated. But proof beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to come by. and making assumptions… based on trust. That seems like bias, and not very rational.

  21. 21
    Kevin

    The rape prevention networks give a lot of advice for how not to get your drink spiked with a ruphy, and other general threat-reduction tips. But they don’t cover this situation (not that I’ve seen – probably someone will prove me wrong in 3,2,1…).

    Time to spread the word, not about a particular person, but about this particular tactic.

    It’s not the women who know that are at risk; it’s the women who don’t know.

  22. 22
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    And whoosh! the point goes right over Dalton’s head as it does the heads of so many other Shermer apologists–the report is not flaming anonymous. The person is known to PZ, who trusts the reporting party. I love the dichotomy of “But…but…X would never do anything bad! I know him!” contrasted with, “Pffft! PZ only has this person’s word that X did Y.” So, Mr. Dalton, why are you so very willing to trust a denial from someone you know and trust and so very unwilling to trust a report given by someone PZ knows and trusts?

    Further hint to Dalton: In case you missed a number of the points above, the claims of the bible (turning people to pillars of salt, parting seas, talking asses (ahem)) are indeed extraordinary claims. Claims of rape are, sadly, not extraordinary.

  23. 23
    Corvus Whiteneck

    I suspect that the “seeing what we want to see”/confirmation bias bit serves a second purpose. The first purpose is as part of the larger effort to reassure the dudebro skeptics that they are the True Skeptics, etc. and that there’s no good reason to stop supporting Darn-Big Atheist Guy. The second is as an escape hatch.

    Even an asshole like this can’t be sure how things are going to turn out. What to do if the tide of public sentiment shifts far enough that being on the record as a smug, victim-blaming rape-trivializer is bad for ratings or donations? He needs some plausible deniability. So he uses vague language and also warns against confirmation bias in the video. When the time comes, we’ll see him make a disingenuous, pedantic, literalist argument: “Woah, woah, woah, I didn’t say THAT, watch the video again — and remember your confirmation bias!”

  24. 24
    Anthony K

    That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a backbone, or any sense of personal responsibility!

    Nothing says skepticism like GOP talking points.

  25. 25
    Scr... Archivist

    But I worked out that, in order to be that wasted, I must have drunk over three bottles of wine. But I only ever had one glass!

    Maybe it’s time to name this phenomenon. I suggest “Drink of Theseus”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

  26. 26
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Nothing says skepticism like GOP talking points.

    Srsly. We should have a game featuring unattributed quotes and you have to guess “Popular Skeptic or Rush Limbaugh?”

  27. 27
    Pteryxx

    Maybe it’s time to name this phenomenon. I suggest “Drink of Theseus”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

    *CHEERS* (in the laudatory, not imbibatory sense)

  28. 28
    Audra

    Now. See how easy that was?

    Here’s another little tip: if you find it hard to say no to the refill, you can just leave the glass full! Don’t take another sip!

    That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a backbone, or any sense of personal responsibility.

    Here’s another little tip: if you find it hard to not rape someone too drunk to consent, you can just leave. Don’t make another move!

    That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a conscience, or any sense of morality. Now, see how easy that was?

  29. 29
    jh42

    The way I see it, the whole problem with Brian’s approach here is that it reinforces the reasons why rape victims don’t report rape. He starts down the path of “why should we trust the victims” (and all the victim blaming doesn’t help), and puts their past experiences on trial. Who in their right mind would actually /invite/ the level of scrutiny of one’s sexual history, analysis of the events leading up to the rape, and supposed “well, she (or he, for that matter) was asking for it/should’ve been more careful/shouldn’t have dressed so provocatively/should’ve grown a backbone/whatever”.

    For a victim of a crime, there’s nothing like continually reliving it through the constant prodding and poking at their story. For victims of a sexual crime, it’s just that much worse, and shaming victims publicly like this doesn’t do anything to encourage other victims to come forward so they can be trashed and scrutinized in the same manner.

    Brian, you owe the victims an apology. I can understand that you find it difficult to believe that your friend did what he is accused of, and it’s perfectly reasonable to say “I don’t know what happened, but I don’t believe that my friend did this, and I stand by him.” It’s not reasonable to accuse the victims of being liars or having no backbone because they don’t want their sex lives open to public scrutiny.

    Your victim blaming is why we’ve sadly cancelled our subscription to Mr. Deity. We may reconsider if you apologise to the victims for trying to blame and shame them.

  30. 30
    Ace of Sevens

    @20: That question depends on framing the initial situation as she was drunk, therefore it was rape. That wasn’t the claim. I won’t dispute that drunk people, at least drunk to a certain point, can have consensual sex, but to claim that’s what happened here is to ignore that she said she didn’t consent and just focus on the alcohol.

  31. 31
    jh42

    @20:

    “But proof beyond a reasonable doubt is hard to come by. and making assumptions… based on trust. That seems like bias, and not very rational.”

    First of all, this isn’t a court of law. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt isn’t the issue here.

    Making assumptions based on trust – especially when you’re in a class of people who are the larger preponderance of rape victims – is entirely reasonable. We make assumptions based on trust every single day.

    Completely hypothetical situation. I’m thinking about going somewhere with Walter White. (“Breaking Bad” reference for those who have been out of the loop for the past almost 6 years). I don’t know the guy, but someone who has had dealings with him in the past says “dude, I think he might be making methamphetamine, and you might want to be careful around him.” – do I dismiss that because no evidence has been presented, or do I raise my level of caution while I’m around Walt, or maybe judge that /if/ he is in fact cooking meth, maybe I should avoid being associated with him in the first place? Do I, perhaps, beg off of the planned excursion until I have more information?

    Or do I just say “well, it’s not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s a meth cook, so I’m perfectly safe to go with him because he seems like a nice guy”?

    And how’s that going to work out when I find out that we’re making a stop at a professional laundromat on the way to Los Pollos Hermanos for some lunch? Am I, just maybe, going to wish I’d listened to my friend’s rumor after all?

    You bet.

  32. 32
    thascius

    @20-The notion that “having sex while drunk automatically equals rape” is a straw man. There are people who deliberately get others (not necessarily females) intoxicated on alcohol or other things (remember the “date rape drug”?) in order to have sex with them. There are people who’ve had sex with people who were not only intoxicated but unconscious from alcohol. How is that not rape? If the worry is becoming an “accidental rapist” maybe the best way to avoid that is not to see how close to the rape line you can get before crossing over but stay as far away from it as possible (i.e. don’t have sex with someone you don’t know well if she/he is clearly intoxicated).

  33. 33
    skeptifem

    wow what a jerk.

    I wish I could get some celebrity that made him star struck to offer him that glass, possibly with an edge of social pressure added. But since he is ‘personally responsible’ I am sure he has NEVER, NOT ONCE been more drunk than he intended to be.

  34. 34
    Rumtopf

    If I was in the mood for a jolly, drunken time at a party I would accept extra drinks from someone I thought I could trust, such as a public figure I admired. So Dalton’s victim blaming advice on how to decline a drink wouldn’t have even factored were I in such a situation. Shit, I’m allowed to have a freaking drink and get drunk without someone raping me. It’s not even so much the topping up of glasses that’s the problem, I’d be quite happy to receive more drinkies from a well-meaning friend or acquaintance(or parent, like at a recent murder mystery night I attended with my mother xD), it’s topping up glasses with the intent to later take advantage of and rape a very drunk person that’s the issue here.
    So either I become suspicious of anyone who offers me many drinks (How dare you imply that all men are potential rapists you feminazi! Lighten up!)
    Or I roll with it, like I usually do (You were taken advantage of and raped? What did you expect, being so drunk!)
    Sigh.

  35. 35
    leftwingfox

    Agreed with 29, with one additional point: Deliberately plying someone with alcohol to make them more sexually receptive is incredibly unethical behaviour.

    I know people who seem functionally drunk long after they stop producing any new memories of the evening. If they agree to anything and completely forget the next day, that doesn’t make the shock the next morning, which they WILL remember, any less traumatic. Intentionally risking that outcome as a pick-up tactic is predatory behaviour.

    Some people make catastrophically stupid decisions when heavily intoxicated. I had a drunk room-mate decide without warning to drive to his mother’s house at 4:00am, fell asleep at the wheel and totalled his new pickup. I’ve seen guys decide that lighting tall grass with a porch torch was a great idea. If that’s the level of drunk you feel is necessary for someone to agree to sleep with you, intentionally pushing that on the person is a horrible idea.

    Some people may behave completely contrary to their behaviour when sober. I know an actual “Jekyll and Hyde” case, where a really quiet, soft-spoken guy gets angry and belligerent when drunk. But that’s rare, and hoping to find a woman who suddenly turns into a porn star when drunk is like chasing a unicorn through a minefield.

    And of course, there’s catatonia. Can’t resist, can’t say no, which I hope you’ll agree is outright rape, regardless of the mental state of the perpetrator at that point.

    Drunken misunderstandings happen. When we carve out exceptions and excuses for them, we not only increase the odds of tragic accidents happening, but we give cover to rapists who try to hide their predation behind the guise of “accident”.

    I think it’s better to err on the side of cockblock than it is on the side of rape.

  36. 36
    Joe

    Let us agree that dosing someone’s drink with Rohypnol means they can’t consent, and that being unconscious also means they can’t consent.

    But those are extreme obvious cases. It is clear Dalton is not referring to that. If you think he is strawmanning, that is certainly a fair point… but…

    The problem is….

    The actual quote form PZ’s blog is: “coerced me into a position where I could not consent”

    What does that actually mean? I certainly don’t know.

    You can’t call ‘strawman’, unless you know what the actual situation is. I am certainly not privy. If Dalton thinks it is just a matter of ‘buying drinks’, because that is what he was told… his reaction seems reasonable. Who you believe… when you don’t know the facts… is a more complicated thing.

    >>If the worry is becoming an “accidental rapist”…

    If the worry is doing anything stupid… don’t drink. Goes without saying, but it hardly addresses the issue. People are going to drink, and alcohol crashes your judgment, both in terms of your ability to consent and your ability to judge others ability to consent. That doesn’t make the problem easy… it makes it hard.

  37. 37
    skeptifem

    I want to say a bit about alcoholism here too. Women who are alcoholics are raped often. It isn’t as easy as ‘no thanks’ when you are an alcoholic who is still drinking. Do people with addictions deserve to be raped? I asked him on twitter but im expecting a block or no response.

  38. 38
    Tom Foss

    @Joe: gosh, if only there were a comment thread where PZ might have clarified some things. No, certainly we’re all assuming the exact same things for no reason.

    Jason, it might be a good idea to link these comments: 1, 2, since they give a little additional info.

  39. 39
    mofa

    All adults should take full responsibility for what goes in their own mouths.

  40. 40
    mofa

    Oh, I forgot to add…unless they are being force fed ‘bullshit’, which then means that all adults should take full responsibility for what is being accepted as true and valid by their brains.

  41. 41
    skeptifem

    no one is saying that other people aren’t responsible for drinking. what we are saying is that no one is responsible for being raped regardless of if they are drunk or not.

  42. 42
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    I think Mr. Dalton, for all his pride at shaking off the chains of Mormonism, better check his ankles. I think the LDS Shackles of Misogyny (+5 to Lack of Reasoning, +12 to Not Seeing Women as Human Beings, +24 to Bitchez Always Be Lying) are still hanging around them. He may want to get that checked.

  43. 43
    Great American Satan

    Mofacka must represent victim blamers, lest anyone get the notion that decent human beings could have a consensus about these issues. Thanks for keeping us honest, dood!

  44. 44
    mofa

    Commenter here continue to imply that Mr Shermer is the perpetrator of a heinous crime (without evidence)…are you all wishing to join PZ in the court room?

  45. 45
    Jason Thibeault

    Commenter here claims repeatedly that Mr. Shermer did NOT commit any crime, despite the testimonial evidence… are you saying you know something we don’t that clears his name, and that it should be illegal to warn people that a bunch of people have claimed to have been violated by him? Perhaps you could show up in the courtroom too, with your counter-evidence Matlock moment, to save Shermer’s day!

    OH WAIT EXCEPT HE’S NOT BEING TAKEN TO COURT. He’s GOING to court, himself.

  46. 46
    thascius

    And if Shermer does take this to court for libel the burden of proof will be on him to prove the allegations are false and that PZ acted with “actual malice” in publicizing them. I’m not saying that he can’t do that, but that’s how libel law in the US works. (As opposed to the UK where the burden would be on PZ.) I haven’t heard anybody say that Shermer should go to jail based on anonymous accusations (plural).

  47. 47
    Jason Thibeault

    While he DESERVES jailtime if he’s had sex with even one single person without their consent, it will be impossible to prove now, and therefore would be terribly unlikely to result in criminal charges — which is probably why it took a critical mass for the alleged victims to start speaking up. Remember, this has apparently been going on for several years, if the “protect yourselves, ladies” chatter at cons is any indication.

  48. 48
    gemcutter

    I wasn’t aware that simply implying someone might be guilty of a crime, without a pre-existing conviction, was something that you could be taken to court over!

    I guess we all need to shut up about the whole thing about Catholic Priests molesting boys, huh? No convictions, so obviously all these allegations are false and we are libelling the church and innocent priests every time we bring up the Church’s molestation problem!

  49. 49
    gworroll

    So for Shermer, it has to be evidence sufficient for conviction. To be fair, Dalton didn’t outright say this, but it seemed to be implied. For Paramore’s attacker, just her say so is sufficient.

    I was hoping at least for some consistency. That wouldn’t fix all the problems, and hell, the standard used for Shermers case is itself a problem, but consistency would give me more hope that he could eventually get better on these issues.

    If he felt he had to defend Shermer, he could easily have said “This is my friend, I trust him over that anonymized report”. He might still take some hits, but most people would understand a reluctance to believe bad stuff people say about your friends.

    And the victim blaming- Seriously, what the hell dude? I actually had a few thoughts on this but most of the regulars have made anything I’d say excessively redundant.

  50. 50
    Dave W

    gworroll @47:

    For Paramore’s attacker, just her say so is sufficient.

    Now be fair. Dalton claims to have been in the room and witnessed it first-hand. But he’s shown no evidence of that…

  51. 51
    PERRY

    All- Agree with you.

  52. 52
    pneumo

    I don’t know how to link to facebook posts, so copy-paste:

    Brian Keith Dalton
    14 August
    A blogger posts a third-party anonymous report of a rape — which includes only the vague charge that the person in question coerced them into a position where they couldn’t consent. Fans of the blogger assume the person in question guilty without evidence, trial, or the right of the accused to confront his accuser. Another blogger posts a third-party anonymous report from an adult child accusing the first blogger of molesting him when he was a child. Again, there is no evidence — excepting an anonymous report from someone saying they saw the blogger talking to children in a “creepy” way. There are no details of the crime. No trial. And no right of the accused to confront his accuser. Do his fans now assume that blogger number one is guilty of child molestation? Prediction?

  53. 53
    Larry, the Barefoot Bum

    Having an orifice penetrated against your volition is not a side-effect of over-drinking, and damn you for making me use the passive voice in this sentence.

    You didn’t use the passive voice. You used a participle phrase acting as the subject of “is.” And your high school English teachers are not correct: use it sparingly, but if the passive voice is the best way of saying something, it should be used without shame or embarrassment.

    Grammar aside, you are completely right, and Dalton is completely wrong.

  54. 54
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    Am I wrong in my assumption that people who are arguing against the report didn’t actually read the blog post?

    It’s not a third-party, anonymous report. It’s a first-hand report from a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, given straight to PZ to post. It’s her words with PZ acting as her medium.

  55. 55
    Psychopomp Gecko

    That was quite a downer to see that earlier.

    But it’s nice to know that at least now Mr. Deity is coming out in support of the Catholic Church in dealing with those pedophile scandals. I mean, just a bunch of people reporting things after the fact because they didn’t have the backbone, sometimes anonymously, as if a large, wealthy, and influential organization might do something to them. It’s not as if they feared for their standing in the community, their livelihood, or their peace of mind to go to bed every night without apologists for the priests sending them hundreds of emails hoping they get raped even more.

    And we totally know that reporting something years or decades after the fact after having met someone and had witnesses is completely the same as making up stuff a lifetime later when you never met the person in question and neither did anyone you know.

    To be serious for a moment, I can see why he’d want to say something about gossip, if he left it at that. But he brought up the backbone thing, you know, as if to say women are being too submissive in all this. Like they’re letting it happen to them and claiming victimhood. Like they were asking for it, in a way. And he was talking about things that True Skeptics would do, which means there are some people who are No True Skeptics in all this. Are atheists actually going to start acting like Christians and use that kind of fallacy to distance ourselves from each other?

    But what was worse is that this idiocy was in the begging segment. The part of the video where he asks for subscriptions and donations. He is fundraising off this. He’s saying this and immediately afterward asking people for money. That’s Fox News levels of low right there, using something like this for monetary gain.

  56. 56
    Rumtopf

    @KevinKat
    That’s exactly what Dalton is saying, that it’s third-hand and completely anonymous(and that it’s not evidence. wut!?)… I even got a reply from him on the video saying as much and responded with the facts – not third-hand, we’re seeing what Jane Doe actually wrote herself, and not an anonymous person for PZ. Didn’t get a response from him after that. He’s being very dishonest, either knowingly or he’s every so skeptically bought what the dudebro brigade have been repeating over and over.

  57. 57
    Rumtopf

    If I’m not mistaken, mofa’s known for his sexist flavour of bullshit on Pharyngula and was banned for it a while back, not surprising to see them excusing rapists who have targeted drunk people.

  58. 58
    Bozjemoj

    I’m not sure about Mr Deity’s message here.

    Is he saying that if someone gets shitfaced beyond ability to consent, it is okay to stick your dick in her? Because voluntarily drinking alcohol = consent to have seksy times with whoever stops by my unconscious self?

    This makes me seriously worried because once I accepted a cup of hot cocoa and that, apparently, meant I had agreed to have conscious seksy times, according to what the angry cocoa provider yelled through my letterbox at 4am while threatening to kill my cat, until the guy across the hall threw him out. Now I realize I may have – unwittingly of course – committed a serious faux pas in comestible linguistics.

    In sixth grade I accepted a piece of gum from a boy and according to him, that made me his girlfriend for the rest of the term. Despite this, my making cupcakes for my entire class did _not_ somehow make them all members of my dodge ball team. I am confused.

    Are there any more ingestion-related communication cues that I have missed learning about?

    Have I converted to Mormonism if I eat a plate of apple cobbler?
    Do I agree to babysit possessed quintuplets if I have a cup of tea?
    Will lavender sorbet make me French?
    If I take a hit of nasal spray – does that make me a Beowulf scholar?

    Omg, I think I may have inadvertently married my Nero barista. I wonder if we have any kids? – I did ask for an almond croissant once.

  59. 59
    Jason Thibeault

    Bozjemoj: *applause*

  60. 60
    Joe

    I am going to try once more, disagreement is fine, but I think there is a fundamental disconnect here.

    I don’t think Dalton is saying anything at all about ‘consent’. He seems to be criticizing the part about being ‘coerced’ into drunkenness.

    Coercion generally means forcing or intimidating someone into compliance.

    Is the anon person saying they were forced, or explicitly or implicitly threatened?
    Or is the ‘coercion’ a matter of someone using their minor celebrity to con women into a false sense of security, either intentionally or not?

    In most cases we DO hold people accountable for their own drinking, DUI for example, regardless of the fact they might be alcoholics.

    I should note, I’m not saying, intentionally getting someone drunk so you can take advantage isn’t a sleazy thing to do, but at what point… an individual might become too drunk to consent… is a grey area. And yes, if you want to avoid harm, you could not drink and get breath samples from prospective partners… but the reality is that social situations are often more fluid, and people seem to prefer it that way.

    And no, I’m not saying anyone wants to get raped. He seems to be saying the ‘coerced into drunkenness’ is the objectionable part. By the way, I’m not looking for agreement, just understanding here. I think Dalton was being insensitive.

  61. 61
    Victorious Parasol

    The heart of the “refuse the refill” approach seems to be “nobody can manipulate you without your consent.” There’s a smug superiority at work, IMO, coming from those who believe they’ve never been unwittingly manipulated, or that they are immune from manipulation.

  62. 62
    Bozjemoj

    You don’t think that’s an odd thing to take exception to? A teeny bit pedantic and irrelevant?

    You don’t think it seems a bit like… I don’t know: obfuscating by discussing everything other than the fact that a rape happened? Like arguing minutiae to avoid the big bad?

    Never mind that the tactics of predators have been discussed at length before and how we all don’t exist in a social vacuum and all that. You know, simple stuff that is understandable to anyone who has lived in the world at some point.

    If social pressure isn’t a thing (which is what Mr Deity is asserting by implying that a grown up and responsible person can not be coerced, tricked or socially pressured into drinking something they didn’t plan to drink) – then why object to someone pointing out that someone possibly got a bit rapey, since it’s not going to have any other repercussions except social ones? Clearly a grown man can handle his rape habit being discussed?

    Also, am I the only one who finds it lends itself to unfortunate implications that Mr Deity seems to claim it’s okay to be raped if you aren’t a grown up?

    Because if the chain of thought goes like this: “If you are a grown up, you can’t be coerced, tricked or socially pressured to drink something you didn’t plan to drink. Therefore anyone who lets themselves be coerced, tricked or socially pressured is not a grown up – and then it’s open season on their naughty bits…”

    Wait, what.

    Okay, let’s start again.

    Someone got raped.

    There.

  63. 63
    LykeX

    @Joe

    People are going to drink, and alcohol crashes your judgment, both in terms of your ability to consent and your ability to judge others ability to consent. That doesn’t make the problem easy… it makes it hard.

    Exactly. That’s why the legislation on drunk driving is a huge mess of grey areas and exceptions. Oh wait, no, it’s not! It’s a straightforward limit; over this and you’re breaking the law. Not that hard at all, is it?

    Also, this is less a question of two people getting drunk and hooking up. That may be unintended and lead to hurt feelings or whatever, but it’s not really the problem we’re talking about here.
    We’re talking about predators who are deliberately using this social standard as cover for their actual activities; staying sober, while boozing up their victims to the point where they can’t consent, refuse or sometimes even walk.

    We’re talking about rapists hiding in our midst. We know they’re there and that they can be anybody. We know how they operate because they’ve told us. Maybe we should take that seriously instead of wringing our hands over whether this might impact our ability to get laid at conferences.

    I mean, seriously; what’s the fucking priority here? Getting laid or stopping rapists? Answer that and the rest is easy.

  64. 64
    LykeX

    I should note, I’m not saying, intentionally getting someone drunk so you can take advantage isn’t a sleazy thing to do rape.

    FTFY

  65. 65
    Tom Foss

    You’d think in a movement this full of mentalists and magicians, people would be more aware of the tricks that people can pull to get people to do things without realizing what they’re doing. If I’m distracting a person with conversation and continuously topping off their wine glass so they can’t keep track of how much they’ve drunk, it’s little different than using sleight of hand to distract someone so I can take their wallet, or confusing people with rapid-fire math questions so I can rob them of $10.

    Coercion refers not just to intimidation or threats, but any use of pressure or leverage to get someone to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do.

    And, as has been shared repeatedly here, in many places we hold not just the drunk person responsible for their DUI, but also the bartender who overserved them. Because the sober person pouring the drinks should know better too.

  66. 66
    skeptifem

    you know what else I thought about today? Mr Deity doesn’t understand that assertiveness is frowned upon in women. He has no clue. You learn this lesson every day growing up as a girl- you are being ‘mean’ when you say no, and its a BFD because other peoples feelings are supposed to be your main concern. Its a crock of shit, but it isn’t something that most women completely unlearn, even if they put effort towards it.

  67. 67
    Donnie

    So, as skeptics, we should be telling off the victims of “give me your money so I can remove the curse” scams, because the victim gave the money to them voluntary. I mean, it is not the scam artist’s fault because the victim gave the his/her money to the scam artist. Skepticism, we have all been doing it wrong!@!!! Nice to know…..

  68. 68
    LeftSidePositive

    And another thing that I’ve posted on like a BILLION threads about alcohol and consent that rape apologists like Joe just can’t figure the fuck out: being drunk and getting raped is IN ABSOLUTELY NO WAY similar to driving while intoxicated. The reason you’re responsible for driving drunk is that you put other people in great danger of grievous bodily harm through your actions (those actions being the driving, not the drinking, since simply being drunk doesn’t actually harm anybody else). This does not compare to being drunk and being responsible for what SOMEONE ELSE does to you. The person who gets really drunk is not hurting anyone by being so, and no rape would have happened if that person were not steered away from just sleeping it off alone. It’s the rapist there who chooses to exploit them that does the harm, so the proper analogy is not a drunk driver, it would be seeing that a pedestrian is drunk and then using that as an excuse to swerve at them and hit them.

  69. 69
    skeptifem

    I use some drunk driving comparisons because you *cannot* convince these apologists that a woman drinking isn’t behaving recklessly. It doesn’t matter if they are behaving recklessly because its *irrelevant* to the fact that rape isn’t a natural disaster or an accident, and this issue is at its core about the harm that has been done and who is responsible for that. The person who caused the harm is obviously the responsible party so I figure, why not argue it on their terms? Sometimes I agree to certain premises that I disagree with for the sake of argument because it makes it easier to actually get at the key issue.

  70. 70
    LeftSidePositive

    And another thing about these “it was probably just buzzed sex that she regretted…” folks, is that I don’t think they’ve ever actually thought through how that’s supposed to, like, work in practice. For one thing, if there were some epidemic of women who get buzzed-but-not-incapacitated, have sex, and then “regret” it, we would expect to see these “accusations” spread out at random among all non-monogamous sexually active males (or at least those who hang out at parties). This is most emphatically not the case. Instead, we see repeated patterns of behavior centering around only a few men, in ways that are consistent with their stated attitudes towards women.

    Moreover, people generally don’t do things drunk that are dramatically different from what they do (or want to do) while sober. People who are not making memories but still upright don’t generally react with shock and horror to find they danced on a tabletop or made cheezit-and-Nutella sandwiches when intoxicated, much less think that someone forced them into it. People kinda know they are letting loose and so the things they did while drunk aren’t huge revelations (in contrast to someone doing something TO SOMEONE else, because then the character of the acted-upon doesn’t come into play during the act). Indeed, many people get drunk specifically to feel less inhibited to do things they wanted to do anyway, so in the case of “consensual but buzzed” sex, we’d be seeing people who actively want to have casual sex and use alcohol to facilitate it. The likelihood that such a person would want to encumber their future funsexytimes by accusing a partner is ludicrous. That would interfere with their ability to get more of the sex they wanted. If for some reason someone were “ashamed” of a one-night stand they had consented to, why the everloving fuck would making a rape accusation be the way to address it? And I’m not even talking ethics–I’m saying that any even marginally rational actor would find it counterproductive. A person who actually had a casual encounter that they later regretted (and, as an aside, what the fuck is up with this fixation on “regretted”? Is it 1953 again? Or 1853?!) would be strongly incentivized to just keep it to themselves, not draw attention to it, and not inform the entire world that they had been in physical contact with this person they don’t want to acknowledge. It literally makes no sense.

  71. 71
    Victorious Parasol

    As other people have pointed out, if you regret having sex with someone, then the next morning you can just … NOT TALK ABOUT IT. You can refrain from sharing any details with anybody.

    Or conversely, you can tell all your friends that yeah, you slept with so-and-so last night, and it was a HUGE mistake, because he was hung like a baby carrot, or because she had this weird habit of barking the whole time, or even just, “Lousy lay – next time I’ll stick to masturbation.”

    Option 1 keeps your regret reasonably private (depending on what the other person says). Option 2, if presented appropriately, means that you’ll get sympathy or good-natured teasing from your friends, depending on your friends.

    Neither option requires you talking to strangers or having samples collected from your body by strangers, or any other legal-medical steps.

  72. 72
    Tom Foss

    Victorious Parasol brings up some good points. The “morning-after regret” argument never seems to follow through with a motive. Why would a woman who regrets sex with someone make a false rape allegation? What does she stand to gain? This isn’t Iran, where it would help her explain why she’s not a virgin on her wedding night. This isn’t the 1950s, where it might help her explain an out-of-wedlock pregnancy (and I’ll note that neither of those cases would exactly be easy on the woman, regardless of allegations). What benefit does she get from making a false allegation?

    I think the argument is predicated on the mistaken belief that making a false rape accusation is easy and cheap. But as we’ve seen (in Steubenville, for example), even true rape accusations substantiated by photo and video evidence result in shaming and humiliation and character assasination for the victim, and most of the time result in little to no punishment for the accused. Why would someone go through that because of post-consensual-sex regrets? Why would someone go through that when they know there’s not going to be any legal consequence? What possible motive could they have?

    I’m not even being facetious here: I want to understand what these “post-sex regret” arguers think the woman’s thought process is.

  73. 73
    skemono

    So, as skeptics, we should be telling off the victims of “give me your money so I can remove the curse” scams, because the victim gave the money to them voluntary. I mean, it is not the scam artist’s fault because the victim gave the his/her money to the scam artist. Skepticism, we have all been doing it wrong!@!!! Nice to know…

    I used to read the JREF blog, and yes, that was often a reaction to those types of stories.

  74. 74
    Victorious Parasol

    Thank you, Tom Foss.

    I don’t know what the “post-sex regret” arguers believe about a woman’s thought process is either, especially given all the evidence (reactions in the blogosphere, in the news, in casual conversation) that our culture is overall more likely to shame than to support a victim of sexual assault.

  75. 75
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    Mofa

    Commenter here continue to imply that Mr Shermer is the perpetrator of a heinous crime (without evidence)…are you all wishing to join PZ in the court room?

    You are, to quote Brendan Behan, “cuter than a shithouse rat”. There is no law, yet, that abridges people’s right to think whatever they want. There is an absolute defense against attempting to take legal action against people for their opinions (at least, in the US. Please reread the First Amendment until it actually sinks in.) Most states have laws in effect to dissuade people from attempting the retaliatory lawsuits you seem to be advocating–please see SLAPP suits. For a quick definition, let’s go to Wikipedia:

    A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

    (bolding added) Do you want a really good example of how Shermer might have handled all this? Look to John Scalzi. Scalzi has put up with Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) calling him “Raper” for who knows how long. Instead of filing a C&D and/or bringing a lawsuit, Scalzi mocked him. He used Beale’s taunts to raise funds for some deserving charities and organizations. The result of Scalzi being “defamed”? Nothing, other than raising the aforesaid funds. He’s lost either no or vanishingly few fans/Twitter followers/blog readers/book purchasers. And he continues to write excellent books (allow me to recommend Red Shirts).

    Making the choices he has, Shermer has upped the ante. He’s invoked the “Streisand effect”. By filing the lawsuit, he’s spread the word all over the Internet. He’s made himself look silly and (if I may borrow one of the favorite words of the MRAs) strident. For a guy that’s supposed to be oh-so-smart and oh-so-rational, his reaction to this as well as his previous reaction to being taken to task for saying asshole-ish things (“witch hunt”, “lynching” and invoking the ever-popular Nazis), makes him look less than intelligent, touchy, way too concerned with his fee-fees and, by dragging all this into a courtroom, like a bully.

  76. 76
    Stephanie N.

    For one thing, if there were some epidemic of women who get buzzed-but-not-incapacitated, have sex, and then “regret” it, we would expect to see these “accusations” spread out at random among all non-monogamous sexually active males (or at least those who hang out at parties). This is most emphatically not the case. Instead, we see repeated patterns of behavior centering around only a few men, in ways that are consistent with their stated attitudes towards women.

    Thank you — this is a very useful point, and one that bears repeating.

    So much of the discussion I’ve been having elsewhere (as I wandered onto Al Stefanelli’s blog, and other blogs since then) has been about the nature of “evidence” and “standards of evidence” — the sheer number of people who insist we have “no evidence, only hearsay” or “that’s not testimony”, etc is quite impressive — but this is a different useful sort of evidence, indeed. The sort that a skeptic should either a) listen to or b) admit that they’re being one-sided in their skepticism, which is always a useful bit of rhetorical leverage.

  77. 77
    Lagerbaer

    When Dalton advises women to just say no to refills, he unintentionally corroborates the allegation that Shermer is a predator, because what such an advice communicates is: “If you don’t want to get raped, you better stay sober when this guy’s around”.

  78. 78
    jh42

    Tim Foss, exactly what I’ve been thinking.

    (Aside – not sure why, but I had a couple of replies that are still awaiting moderation – Jason, did I violate the comments policy in some way?)

  79. 79
    Jason Thibeault

    No, sorry jh42, it got buried under some spam. Released it all.

  80. 80
    Greta Christina

    “Women need to be vigilant at all times and take every action possible to safeguard against being raped. You may never get drunk while talking to someone; never wear clothing that any man might find revealing or attractive; never go out walking alone; never flirt. That’s just taking personal responsibility!”
    “So we must treat all men as Schrodinger’s Rapist?”
    “What? NO! That would be misandrist!”

    skemono @ #15: QFT.

  81. 81
    jh42

    Thanks, Jason – I figured it was something like that. :)

  82. 82
    jh42

    Joe @60:

    I don’t think Dalton is saying anything at all about ‘consent’. He seems to be criticizing the part about being ‘coerced’ into drunkenness.

    Coercion generally means forcing or intimidating someone into compliance.

    Is the anon person saying they were forced, or explicitly or implicitly threatened?
    Or is the ‘coercion’ a matter of someone using their minor celebrity to con women into a false sense of security, either intentionally or not?

    I think arguing the minutiae of the definition of “coercion” misses the larger point here. While yes, words have meanings, and yes, word choice is important, the larger issue here isn’t whether the person who used the word “coercion” used it properly. We’re not talking about a police report or formal incident report. We’re talking about what appears to me to be an informal warning to a subset of the community.

    A legal definition, though, also includes “by psychological force”, which does not necessarily imply physical force or threats. There are lots of ways psychological force can be applied, and some of them are pretty subtle. Deception, for example – which is part of some states’ code that applies to rape situations.

    But as I said, getting into a debate over semantics (even though, as I said, yes, words *mean* things) when the larger issue is that women were (at a minimum) harassed seems like a diversionary tactic.

    And no, I’m not saying anyone wants to get raped. He seems to be saying the ‘coerced into drunkenness’ is the objectionable part. By the way, I’m not looking for agreement, just understanding here. I think Dalton was being insensitive.

    He was absolutely being insensitive, and he needs to stop doubling down and apologize for his insensitivity. As I said @29, if he wants to stand by his friend and say “I don’t believe he’s capable of this”, that’s one thing. It’s maybe even a reasonable thing to do – but to go so far as to say/imply that those who have made the accusations should “learn to hold their liquor” or “have a spine” (thus implying “if it happened, they were asking for it”) is not very different from saying that bullied gay kids are “asking for it” because they “chose” to be gay.

    Which is disgusting.

  83. 83
    scimaths

    The heart of the “refuse the refill” approach seems to be “nobody can manipulate you without your consent.”

    I think that is one of the ways they try and deflect from their behaviour, but the reality is that predators know full well that women are (very forcibly) socialised to be nice to men, not to say no, not to assert their boundaries, not to be one of those humourless feminist hags who can’t take a joke, can’t join in with a bit of social drinking …

    Predatory men will take advantage of this, even as they continue to pretend it is nothing to do with them choosing to use alcohol in that situation to drug the women they are targetting.

    The question is where is the backbone and personal responsibilty of the men who leverage a misogynstic culture to enable them to commit rape and other assaults ? Where is their backbone and sense of responsibilty ?

  84. 84
    jh42

    I’ve just figured out the other thing that’s bugging me about the “parable”:

    Of course, if you’re completely divorced from the skeptic community, I don’t expect you to understand these basic principles — but the rest of us should know better!

    This smacks of the sort of absolutist, “either you’re with me or you’re with the terrorists” rhetoric that I often hear from “True Believing Mormons” (yes, I’m based in Utah). It’s not so much the specific words, but the tone/attitude that maybe conveys this more.

    The wording also strikes me as a little weird, to say the least. “Completely divorced from the skeptic community” sounds like it might be a little personal drama playing out. Maybe not – I don’t know him well enough (or indeed, *at all*) to know if that’s the case or not. But I’m wondering if that made anyone else raise an eyebrow.

  85. 85
    Jason Thibeault

    jh42: It’s a specific dig at PZ, who famously “handed the skeptic movement his divorce papers”.

  86. 86
    jh42

    Ah, that makes sense. Somewhere in this memory-thing of mine, I guess I do remember hearing about that somewhere.

  87. 87
    doubtthat

    I’ve had a decent amount of success explaining this brand of rape apology (to white dudebros) as follows:

    You play beer pong with your buddies and get smashed. Do they get to molest you in any way they see fit?

    That’s one of the purest examples of male privilege. Bros are free to get drunk recreationally and maintain an expectation that they not be sexually assaulted. A woman gets drunk recreationally and we treat her like a gazelle that sliced her own achilles tendon and limped up to a pride of lions.

    I cannot imagine that the chorus of dudes lecturing women on turning down drinks would similarly chastise one of their friends that was raped after a shot contest at the Frat house, “Look man, you had to know this would happen…”

  88. 88
    doubtthat

    I’ll also add to the discussion above about false rape allegations:

    If a woman is ashamed of an unfortunate hook-up, probably the least effective way to deal with that shame would be to submit herself to a multi-year public rape trial where her entire sexual and mental health history will be scrutinized and she will be publicly cross-examined by a defense attorney.

    “Oh no, you guys found out that I hooked up with Steve? The only solution is to publicize that fact to everyone in this town and countless others who will likely follow the trial.”

  89. 89
    Joe

    >I think arguing the minutiae of the definition of “coercion” misses the larger point here. While yes, words have meanings, and yes, word choice is important, the larger issue here isn’t whether the person who used the word “coercion” used it properly.

    I don’t think this is ‘just’ semantics though. I think this kind of difference of focus is part of the problem with regards to the ongoing flame war that has been going on, in the community. Dalton seems to be one of those who focuses on ‘personal responsibility’… like many on the libertarian side, this is important to him. (Shermer fits into that camp too of course).

    On the other side, are those who are the ‘social justice’ types. The problem is, they don’t speak the same language because they don’t value all the same things, and then even when there could be a productive conversation, everyone ends up just talking past each other, getting annoyed and hurling insults. Round and round. And on an issue, as sensitive as this sort of accusation… it is even more important to be careful of words, because everyone is high strung and tone deaf.

    It may not be part of your larger point, but it is part of his.

  90. 90
    jh42

    I don’t think this is ‘just’ semantics though. I think this kind of difference of focus is part of the problem with regards to the ongoing flame war that has been going on, in the community. Dalton seems to be one of those who focuses on ‘personal responsibility’… like many on the libertarian side, this is important to him. (Shermer fits into that camp too of course).

    There’s an element of personal responsibility on the other side – someone who is accused of harassment has a personal obligation to not engage in harassment or rape. They can’t put the blame on the victim and then decry the victim as being irresponsible. It’s always the “personal responsibility” of the victim, but rarely (if ever) the personal responsibility of the perpetrator that gets called out in situations like this.

    Absolution of the perpetrator for their actions by putting applying the “personal responsibility” standard to the victim is no different than idea that women should wear Hijab because guys can’t control themselves. It puts the personal responsibility on the woman for not acting in a way as to “provoke” the men around them, while at the same time absolving themselves of responsibility of, you know, being a rapist or someone who harasses women.

    As a guy, I find the idea that guys can’t control themselves around women to be pretty offensive. It reinforces the stereotype that guys think with their genitalia rather than with their brains.

    Ultimately, if “John” rapes “Sue”, “John” is responsible for his own actions – the action of forcing someone to have non-consensual sex. Nothing “Sue” does or doesn’t do absolves “John” of the crime of rape.

    On the other side, are those who are the ‘social justice’ types. The problem is, they don’t speak the same language because they don’t value all the same things, and then even when there could be a productive conversation, everyone ends up just talking past each other, getting annoyed and hurling insults. Round and round. And on an issue, as sensitive as this sort of accusation… it is even more important to be careful of words, because everyone is high strung and tone deaf.

    Kinda like the idea that “theory” always means “hypothesis”, as seen used by creationists in the in the neverending debate about the Theory of Evolution and “teaching the controversy”. Creationists use the definition that’s convenient for them, and skeptics use the definition that (and I’m going to go out on a limb here) actually applies – because in that context, we are talking about a scientific usage of the word.

    It may not be part of your larger point, but it is part of his.

    That’s a fair point. Maybe I was thinking that but didn’t articulate it clearly enough – that he’s diverting the conversation through the use of a semantic trick by nit-picking a definition of “coercion” that fits his narrative.

  91. 91
    scimaths

    Dalton seems to be one of those who focuses on ‘personal responsibility’… like many on the libertarian side, this is important to him.

    And by “personal responsibility” you/he means everyone else, and women in particular, must be responsible for Dalton’s actions. He would not be responsible for drugging and assaulting someone, they would be responsible for being drunk while in possesion of tits and ass. Something like that, right ?

  92. 92
    SubmitComment

    72 Tom Foss wrote:

    Victorious Parasol brings up some good points. The “morning-after regret” argument never seems to follow through with a motive. Why would a woman who regrets sex with someone make a false rape allegation? What does she stand to gain?

    It’s a good point and it was basically brought up by a bunch of people but, as already pointed out by LeftSidePositive, it kinda presupposes that people always act “rationally,” which we know not to be the case (your post reads a bit like an argument from incredulity). It’d be more fruitful to look into studies analyzing whether that argument stands (not sure whether they exist) rather than assume it doesn’t because the behavior involved doesn’t seem “rational.” After all, the totality of false allegations is already really small so you’d be looking at rare incidents, happening to very few and by very few people. There’s some room there for reasons provided that might make you go “wtf.”

  93. 93
    Kevin

    This is just so incredibly fucked up.

    This happened to me: I have a friend who also at the time a client of mine. She’s major cute, and a nice person. I like her. We’re not only professional colleagues but personal friends. I saw her through some very tough personal times.

    We were at a BIG event that went extremely well. We (with several others on the larger team) celebrated. Alcohol was involved. Quite a lot of alcohol, in fact. Probably as much as I’ve had in any one sitting in a long time.

    At some point in the proceedings, this incredibly cute, and very, very smashed young woman gave me a hug that lasted far too long to be a “thanks, buddy” hug. And she put her arm around my neck and kind of nuzzled me. At the time, we were both single.

    And you know what happened next?

    ….

    NOTHING!

    Because I’m not the kind of guy who takes advantage of a drunk person. No moral/ethical person is.

    How hard is this to understand? There’s stuff you don’t do. This is one of them.

  94. 94
    Victorious Parasol

    I can’t decide what I find more disturbing: the idea that a rape victim needed to be more “personally responsible” or that she needed to be “more careful.” In any case, neither being personally responsible/careful is an absolute defense against a cunning manipulator who’s honed and perfected a technique for subverting all the usual “being careful/responsible” safeguards.

  95. 95
    Tom Foss

    @SubmitComment: Those are fair points. I don’t necessarily intend it as an argument from personal incredulity–I’m not saying it’s impossible or unlikely just because I can’t imagine the train of thought, I just want to know what the train of thought is supposed to be.

    So your points provide more detail to my question:
    1) The commonness of the “morning-after regret” argument suggests that it must happen with some degree of regularity. Consequently, the proponents of the argument should be able to find studies demonstrating that it exists, and suggesting at the proportion of it. At least they should be able to find publicized examples of it.

    2) If case studies or other examples can be provided, then what caused the alleged victim to make the false claim because of morning-after regrets? Was it a conclusion reached through some application of reasoning, or is there another root cause?

    Surely if this situation is common enough to be trotted out by rape apologists accusation skeptics nearly every time an accusation of rape is made, then there should be some attempt to quantify it and/or explain it. Maybe there’s an evolutionary psychology reason behind it.

  96. 96
    Jackie

    Doubtthat,

    I’m having trouble understanding why certain people seem drawn to the “She just regrets screwing him” narrative.

    If she merely didn’t think the sex was worth shaving her legs over or she found out afterward that he bit his toenails..or whatever caused this “regret”, why would she want to tell anyone she was raped? Exactly how bad in bed is this guy supposed to be? How batshit, cackling, evil is this woman supposed to be to want vengeance years later because she got some dull nookie? Is this something they think women do? Do they think every now and then one of us get’s a lackluster lay, so we write a note in our journals reminding us to frame the dude for rape years later? ? Is she supposed to regret it because sex is shameful and nasty and makes her a slut? That isn’t regret. That’s shame and I don’t see why a person would draw attention to the thing they are so irrationally ashamed of. Are they saying that out of shame she came forward anonymously so that people who don’t know who she is won’t think she had icky, dirty sex on purpose? Really, what sort of motivation is there supposed to be for her to lie about being raped?

    In order to think that scenario is more plausible than one in which the woman is being honest, you have to believe some very nasty things about women to begin with. Which I think is the case with these people.

  97. 97
    Susannah

    I’m not a drinker. A half glass of wine is my limit these days, and that is a rare event. Even when I was drinking, it was rare and not usually to excess. I’ve been in bars only a couple of times in my life. I’ve been drunk three times, on social occasions. (Once on spiked coffee.) So I may be missing something here.

    But let me run this through. Say a couple, or a bunch of friends, or any group are drinking together of an evening, and someone gets shit-faced. How do they get home? Friends take away their keys, and call a taxi. Or someone drives them home. Or drives them home and puts them to bed.

    Say they’re staying in the same hotel. If the drunk person can barely walk, someone kindly takes them to their room, and settles them in. That’s it, if they’re decent people.

    Ok. You’ve got this falling-down drunk person, (however s/he got drunk; it doesn’t matter) with someone who wants sex and doesn’t require consent. They don’t do it then and there, in the bar. They have to get to someplace private; her room, his room, wherever.

    So the way I’m seeing it, the sober(er) person says, “I’ll see you to your room.” Isn’t that a nice thing to do? Of course. And then, once the victim is inside and calm, he proceeds with his intentions.

    Where is she to blame in this?

    I’m not saying this is what happened in any particular case; it’s just that I’m seeing a disconnect between “They were in a bar and she got drunk,” and “He raped her.”

    Or am I too far out of the scene, and am missing something?

  98. 98
    John Phillips, FCD

    Susannah, you’re not wrong, that is the tactic the more obvious user of date rape drugs use, i.e. get you so out of it, only quicker, that they can take you wherever they want. Alcohol just usually takes longer and is not so obvious in social situations.

  99. 99
    fleda

    Paraphrase: (refuses wine from waiter) See! Isn’t that easy? Or if you don’t have enough backbone to refuse the offer, just don’t drink the wine!

    Because no woman who has ever been raped while drunk got drunk because she was naive, unused to drinking, overwhelmed, nervous, shy, inattentive, caught up in the festivities like everyone else, in awe of the famous person paying her attention, or in any of a thousand states of mind very different from that of a coolly sarcastic older white man refusing wine from a waiter.

  100. 100
    Corvus Whiteneck

    You know, maybe Dalton and Shermer would prefer the focus stay on the one case relayed by PZ. The more we talk about that one, the less time we spend relaying the numerous reports — including by non-anonymous individuals — of his disgusting, skeezy (though legal) behavior which by itself would be reason for a civilized person not to invite him to anything, nor give him a dime for any reason.

    The guy should be a pariah regardless of anything ever written on Pharyngula.

  101. 101
    jh42

    or in any of a thousand states of mind very different from that of a coolly sarcastic older white man refusing wine from a waiter.

    Well, an actor playing a waiter. It’s funny how much easier it is to turn down an offer for more wine when doing so and moving on after the offer is declined is part of a script you’re supposed to follow. A clearly set-up situation is so much easier to predict than an actual situation with a roomful of people interacting without a script.

    I’m sure the victims would have had a far better experience had those offering drinks been following a script that dictated that they (a) make it clear that they were offering more, rather than just walking by and topping off drinks without asking, and (b) respect the wishes of people who said no, or (c) recognized that the person whose drink they were refilling without asking actually was perhaps more inebriated than they may wish to be.

    Life doesn’t come with a script.

  102. 102
    MTran

    Ya know, the comparisons I keep seeing about liability for drunk driving really bug me.

    There is no conflict with drunk driving laws. The person who has caused damage due to intoxication is liable for that damage.

    The “intent” to drink was generally made before or concurrent with the intent to drive. As with many other torts, this intent is “transferable.” For instance, if you shoot a gun with the intention of “scaring” someone but end up shooting him, or someone else, you will be found criminally culpable and civilly liable.

    Further, with drunk driving, it is typical for people to drive to a bar or party, with the intent of driving back home from that location. So if they drink before driving home, the entire series of activities was intentional. If they harm someone, they are liable. This is a sound law based on sound reasoning.

    Now how does that compare to someone being responsible for their own rape? It doesn’t. An alcoholically impaired person cannot give consent for sex. Similarly, in most jurisdictions I’m familiar with, a person does not have capacity to enter into a contract or sign a will while they are intoxicated.

    Now, compare that to a person who wants to have sex with another whom they know to be intoxicated. They’d better wait until the object of their affection is sober enough to consent. And if a guy has been plying the object of his intentions with alcohol or other drugs to reach the point of incapacity to consent, then that is not seduction, that is rape. He has deliberately and knowingly abused his victim twice: first by liquoring them up then by screwing them.

  103. 103
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Wait, isn’t it obvious why all these MRA-dudes think that post-sex regret is a thing? They must see it every time!

  104. 104
    Anne Marie

    And this is pretty much what I’ve found out from my own personal experience. You get a million questions from people about why you were drinking so much and a lot of people ignoring the fact that no one shouldn’t be raping anyone and that you can’t get consent from someone who can’t stand up. People want all the details of the victim’s behavior and then also get angry at you if you haven’t reported it when you get the same routine from the authorities. You can’t win. Sigh.

  105. 105
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    @ Anne Marie

    Exactly. You can’t win. I don’t remember which Internet Feminist finally clued me into the fact that, no, as a woman, I can’t win and that is what patriarchy fucking means. One of those life-changing revelations; it was almost physically painful. I don’t remember what I was reading or even when it was, exactly, but I do remember the feeling. It hurt then, and it still hurts.

    Because up until that point, I didn’t believe in catch-22s. I really believed that there was always a solution, if you just looked long enough, worked hard enough. Even if you didn’t find the solution, it didn’t mean there wasn’t one out there, just that you couldn’t find it. But it finally hit me that not only are the rules of the game stacked against us from the start–hell, they don’t even tell us the rules, just force us to figure them out as we go along–but even if we start to win, the rules can be changed at any time. The game is rigged worse than any mob casino and you can never win.

    When people found out that I had turned down a ride home from a coworker the night I was raped, even people who were supportive let me know that was a stupid move. But if I’d gotten in his car, and it turned out he was a rapist, you know that I would have been blamed for accepting a ride from a guy I didn’t know very well, because obviously it would have been safer to walk home, considering I’d walked home every night for months without incident. As people have pointed out upthread, you’re a misandrist bitch for assuming all guys are rapists, but irresponsible and stupid if you drink with a guy. And on and on and on.

    (And it’s not just women, of course. To quote Charles M. Blow, writing after the Zimmerman verdict: “We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly. So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion?”)

    The game is rigged, and there’s no point even trying to win.

  106. 106
    Pteryxx

    Submit Comment @92 and so on, about false rape accusations: this is from Have a Balloon in PZ’s Grenade thread. It gets fierce.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/comment-page-7/#comment-665683

    I also want to dig deeper into the statistics about false rape allegations. People have already cited the research showing that these make up only 2-8% of all rape allegations. What’s interesting is that recently, a report came out in the UK that actually looked in detail at the false allegations themselves.

    There were 5,651 prosecutions for rape for the period between January 2011 and May 2012 the study looked at, but only 35 for making false allegations of rape.

    The study found that a significant number of these cases involved “young, often vulnerable people, and sometimes even children”.

    Around half were brought forward by people aged 21 and under, with some involving people with mental health difficulties.

    In 38% of those investigations, the initial complaint of rape or domestic violence was made by someone other than the suspect. When the alleged victim was under 18, that figure rose to 50% and often involved a parent.

    It was a feature of these cases that the suspect later reported that the whole thing had spiralled out of control and he or she had felt unable to stop the investigation.

  107. 107
    hoary puccoon

    Maybe it’s time for the MRAs to start being leery of Shrodinger’s Rape Accusers?

    Come on, guys, what were you doing, letting a woman you didn’t know into your hotel room at 4:00 in the morning? Didn’t you know you might be accused of rape?

    What were you doing, buying her drinks, and even– topping off her glass? Weren’t you just asking for allegations?

    And why did you trust her, if you’d never met her? (Alternative version, why did you trust her, if you’d known her for years and she’d never shown much interest?)

    You know, you’ve got to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for yourselves, guys. If you’ve been accused of rape unfairly, it’s PARTLY YOUR FAULT, because– unh, reasons.

    And, what were you wearing that night?

    You know, some women think men wearing bifurcated garments are just asking for accusations, don’t you?

    (Unless you were wearing a kilt, which would be waaay worse!)

  108. 108
    Hazelwood

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been covered but I would like to say that as a individual who has been a teetotaler her whole life (have sipped various alcoholic drinks but never had a taste for it), the pressure to drink in social situations is considerable. I’m a pretty prickly person and never really been one to respond to peer pressure (which sounds nice but can actually isolate you socially) and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised that most people have found themselves placed in a situation where they were unable to properly gauge how drunk they were getting. People want you to join in with them and there is actually considerable stigma associated with not drinking – people will often call you a killjoy and lots will assume I don’t drink because of religious belief or moral objection. It is not at all simple to refuse to drink and I would say that, as a person who can just say ‘I don’t drink at all’, I have it easier than most.

  109. 109
    mildlymagnificent

    Exactly how bad in bed is this guy supposed to be? How batshit, cackling, evil is this woman supposed to be to want vengeance years later because she got some dull nookie? Is this something they think women do? Do they think every now and then one of us get’s a lackluster lay, so we write a note in our journals reminding us to frame the dude for rape years later? ? Is she supposed to regret it because sex is shameful and nasty and makes her a slut? That isn’t regret. That’s shame and I don’t see why a person would draw attention to the thing they are so irrationally ashamed of.

    QFT

    You’d shut up about it, maybe tell a close friend. Then one day another friend suggests that she’s got her eye on lack-lustre dude and …… ? I dunno, it’s never happened to me. I suspect I’d keep quiet and then eventually have it dragged out of me if someone notices the unusual reticence. At which point, the embarrassment takes over, the feet shuffle and you admit that it wasn’t very exciting, in fact it was a bit of a dud, but if you’re keen, you’re welcome to try so long as you’re not expecting much out of it.

    This is really the sort of thing I would see reserved strictly for “back-channel” or “locker-room” style conversations, much like the other kind really. (The Go for it, he’s really great! kind.) Never in a million years would I expect any woman I’ve ever known to say anything publicly about a too dull, too clumsy, sooooo embarrassing sexual encounter.

  110. 110
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    TMI ahead
    I once got black-out drunk.
    I was a teen, at a camp for a weekend. I had too much beer. Then I decided to smoke pot. For the first time. That didn’t go down well. I puked. Mostly over myself. Later I found out that pot in and on itself has that effect on me.
    And I wanted to shower, only that I couldn’t walk ba myself anymore. Some friends helped me, all male. I lost memory somewhere in that shower. So, there’s this bunch of guys having a naked young woman on their hands who is clearly not saying no to anything.
    What did they do? Well, they rubbed me down, got me to my tent, helped me into my PJ’s and let me sleep. They laughed at me the next morning.
    I drank too much in my youth. I don’t like getting drunk anymore. And in the process I made the discovery that sometimes you simply lose track. Suddenly you notice that you had much more than you should have. And at that point there’s still more alcohol in your stomach waiting to enter your system. Yep, my mistakes. That still doesn’t mean it would have been OK for somebody to take advantage of me drinking too much.

  111. 111
    cityzenjane

    “As people have pointed out upthread, you’re a misandrist bitch for assuming all guys are rapists, but irresponsible and stupid if you drink with a guy. And on and on and on.”

    …and people wonder why we’re stabby sometimes…

  112. 112
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    @ hoary puccoon #107

    I remember a discussion a couple years back with my younger brother, and others. He was talking about how totally unfair it was that a guy could go out drinking a meet a girl, and if she lied and said she was underage, or drunk, he could go to jail for rape. Plus all the other stuff we’ve all seen about stupid girls who go out and get drunk– “What do they think is going to happen?” etc.–and hey, it’s nice to know Brian Dalton has the critical thinking skills of my 17 year old dudebro brother.

    So trying to think through the red-hot rage mist that filled my brain, I used pretty much the exact counter example you did. We hold a girl responsible for what she’s wearing/drinking/going home with a guy/etc. but we shouldn’t hold a guy responsible for sleeping with someone he didn’t know…if it turns out she’s evil and “cries rape” just for fun, or is 13 and looks 22, isn’t that his fault for not exercising more responsible behavior?*

    Yet another example of patriarchy being so ingrained in people’s minds. He could not wrap his head around what I was saying. He thought that holding the guy responsible was disgusting, victim-blaming (yes! he used that phrase!), morally reprehensible, showed I was a crazy, out-of-touch feminazi…but holding the girl responsible, well, that was just common sense. And he could not see the disconnect there. I eventually had to give up even trying, because I was in tears–another proof that he “won”, because he was able to discuss things calmly, and I was “emotional” and therefore irrational.

    What was worse is that we were at a family BBQ. Not only did no one agree with me, they all actively agreed with him. Even his girlfriend, which would have been bad enough, but what was really devastating was hearing my mom agree with him.

    (I spent the rest of that family get-together in my bedroom.)

    *Note: I was totally granting his utterly ridiculous points for the sake of the exercise. In no way do I agree with this.

  113. 113
    Tom Foss

    EEB: I’ve never been much of a player or anything, but I don’t see why it would be such a terrible hardship to not sleep with someone until you’ve known them long enough to figure out what age they are. If there’s a chance they might be lying to you about something significant, maybe that’s a sign to wait until the second or third date.

    Rape culture is bizarre, and I’m sorry you had to deal with its ardent defenders. Ugh.

  114. 114
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Tom Foss
    “When in doubt, do not fuck” seems to be too high a standard for many.
    Tells you a lot about them and their respect for their partners, because obviously they don’t fucking care and are pretty much willing to inflict life-long suffering on their partner just for the sake of a single fuck.
    Pretty disgusting people they are.

  115. 115
    Anne Marie

    @Giliell, professional cynic: I love how the response to getting consent seems to be, “BUT IT’S NOT FAIIIIR, I WANT SEX NOWWWWWW.”

  116. 116
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Anne Marie
    With all the maturity of my almost 4yo who screams about “I want ice-cream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW.”
    Seems like they didn’t learn the lesson that you can’t have everything you want whenever you want back then. Unfortunately there is no parent around now to tell them that yes, you can hear that and you understand that but it’s not good for them and others so no, they can’t have it…

  117. 117
    Al Dente

    I have to disagree with you, Anne Marie. The response isn’t “I WANT SEX NOWWWWW” but rather “She’ll probably say ‘no’ so I won’t give her the chance to refuse me.”

  118. 118
    Anne Marie

    Al Dente, I think there’s plenty of both. I think there are some legitimately well-meaning but terrible-acting and loud dudes who think their desire for sex is more important than the issue of rape. They don’t believe they’d ever commit rape so it’s ridiculous that they should have to change their behavior and miss out on sex even once because they don’t think they’re the problem. Ugh.

  119. 119
    Mary V Browder

    Dalton responded, really specifically, to criticism about his video. He was NOT referencing the woman who came forward with the story about being raped, but a single paragraph in the account of the woman who was not assaulted, but creeped out by the behavior of keeping her wine glass full.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXloqvGehqE

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this. He doesn’t believe a woman can ever be complicit in her own sexual assault and in fact left the Mormon church because of this conviction. Please watch before blacklisting him as a bad guy; he’s an ally, and though his first video definitely came off as insensitive (and was definitely unclear about what he was commenting on, and open to highly offensive interpretation), this video makes the much more important point that abuse is never the victim’s fault. I think we can all agree with that.

  120. 120
    melaniemallon

    Someone posted that link on Skepchick, too, so sorry if my comment is a bit of a duplicate of the one there.

    His disclaimer followup said that he was only responding to the woman describing Shermer’s MO of keeping her wine glass full without her realizing it, but that story was corroborating the original woman’s story, that he coerces women with alcohol into a position where they cannot consent. And he misrepresented the entire situation by role-playing it as someone *asking* if they can refill a person’s glass, which is not what Shermer is accused of doing.

    No matter how many “nevers” he put in after the fact, the drinking segment conveyed that a rape victim is to blame for drinking in the first place. What other possible reason did he have for including it? And what possible reason could he give that would make it any less insulting, condescending, and belittling of women in any context? If he wanted to demonstrate that he does indeed unequivocally support rape victims, that he is not victim blaming, he would need to at a minimum start by apologizing for doing the wine glass schtick in the first place. It was demeaning and sexist AT BEST.

    His whole leaving Mormonism story demonstrates only that he is against victim blaming if he believes it was rape-rape. Clearly, it’s not rape if a woman is drunk, if there aren’t witnesses to the rape itself (there are witnesses to Shermer’s tactics and witnesses to the woman’s state afterward and to her filing a report, but that’s clearly not enough).

    His simply calling these accounts rumors and gossip is itself dismissive in a clearly sexist way. The word “gossip” is as common as the word “hysteria” to dismiss women. A firsthand account is not gossip or a rumor. Anonymous women aren’t gossiping about their own experiences, FFS.

    He supported Ashley after the fact only because he witnessed it. That makes it a *real* assault to him. A woman saying she was raped clearly doesn’t count.

    He didn’t just do a piece about supporting his friend and believing him to be innocent or wanting to withhold judgment. That would have been understandable. He chose instead to mock women and rape victims. There’s no clarification that could make this defensible. An apology for doing it in the first place should have been the centerpiece of what was essentially a CYA second video.

    With allies like this . . . .

  121. 121
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this.

    Why?
    How do you determine what’s important for me?
    You apparently can’t believe that he’d fail to convince anybody that he’s right after all. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world works and melaniemallon has explained to you why.

  122. 122
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    @ Mary V Browder #119, Giliell #121

    Why? How do you determine what’s important for me?

    THANK YOU.

    You know what’s important for me right now? Self-care. Not being triggered anymore. Walking away from dangerous spaces. Staying away from people who cannot be trusted.

    I’m not speaking for anyone else, but I can no longer trust Brian Dalton. In my evaluation of my emotional needs vs. Brian Dalton’s emotional needs, I’m sorry, but I’m going to place not being actively harmed ahead of Brian’s need for me to “hear him out”. He fucked up. I was not expecting what I saw at the end of what was supposed to be another funny Mr. Deity video (a video I was excited to see when it popped up on my youtube feed!). It triggered an emotional shitstorm, because I have PTSD and RTS, and I’m in the process of recovering from both the initial attack and the victim-blaming & disbelief I experienced afterwards. Is Brian repsonsible for my mental health problems? Of course not. But he is responsible for the words that came out of his mouth.

    I don’t owe him a goddamn thing.

    Maybe–maybe–in a few months, if he shows himself to be trustworthy, if he understands what he did wrong and accepts responsibility, if he apologizes (a real apology, without excuse or qualifications), if I hear from other people who I trust that I should listen to him and hear him out, I might give him a chance, and listen. Depending on what he has to say, I might even re-subscribe to his channel (though that would take a lot of trust-building on his part, assurance that I won’t ever click on a new video and receive another emotional sucker-punch). But even then, I don’t have any obligation or responsibility to do so, and he lost any right to expect consideration or openness from me.

    (Understand: I was open to him. That’s how he was able to land such a painful hit. If I hadn’t liked him, respected him, talked with him online, and thought he was a genuinely good person, I wouldn’t have been so affected by the video. Upset, yes, but not violently triggered.)

  123. 123
    jh42

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this.

    Mary, how is this different from Brian’s defense of his friend?

    In the end, as EEB said, he violated a trust, and he appears not to have though the repercussions through from this action. He still doesn’t seem to comprehend what he’s done wrong – which is evidenced by an explanation but not really an apology.

    I felt sucker-punched, because the begging/thank you segment is always generally so funny and upbeat, and the episode itself was very good (I live in Salt Lake City and have family members and friends who are current and former members of the LDS Church), and we got to the begging segment and it was far more serious than anything he’s done in that segment.

    The sucker punch for me was just not being able to share it with my wife, but knowing that she’d hear about it anyways. So I was put in an awkward position. Relatively speaking, of course, being put in an awkward position is not really that big of a deal.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel to someone who was (a) a rape survivor, (b) a woman, or (c) one of the victims who this whole thing is actually about. I can’t even begin to understand that, but I try to empathize.

    With regards to “explaining” that he was referring to with the wine gag – I’m sure that explanation really comforted the actual victim. “Oh, I was only referring to this person/situation, not to all women around the world.” Wonderful

    Brian showed no empathy – not in the begging segment, not in the “explanation”. The “explanation” was a step in the right direction, but the right way to handle this is to unreservedly apologise for his actions.

    Not to apologise if people were offended, not to apologise for not being clear – just a straightforward “I fucked up, and I’m sorry”. That would start to rebuild the trust.

    Until that happens, my cancelled subscription will stay cancelled. Even with it, I might not renew, but without it, there’s no chance of that happening.

    You don’t get to tell me what I must or must not do. Only I can make that decision.

  124. 124
    Arawhon, a Strawberry Margarita

    Oh. My. God. I just went and read the comments on that new video explaining his other one, and He really doesnt deserve any respect at all. He really doesn’t believe the Jane Doe from PZ’s Grenade post:

    Ashley’s assault happened in a room full of people. Witnesses have backed her up and have been willing to make their names known publicly. Ashley told us where the assault happened and when. Ashley’s entire story can be checked out. Had she named the person in question, there is so much detail to her story that the person in question could easily clear himself were she lying. PZ’s report was a hit job. But not for long. Stay tuned (and tubed)!

    Thats in the Top Comment section for the video. Absolutely disgusting. He thinks only rape-rape deserves any notice and you better have several (male) witnesses at least.

  125. 125
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, we all know you need 4 male witnesses…
    That’s why I don’t believe a word about many male western atheists’ concern for muslim women. Because they’re not really interested in their rights and welfare, they just want to feel justified in their hatred.

  126. 126
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Ah, I see, Skeptics would like us to emulate the famously rational middle eastern courts, which have decided a that it takes multiple women to equal the testimony of a man. We can’t just believe a woman who says she was raped–that’s crazy talk! But if a man saw it–hey, dilemma solved. He can assure people that it’s okay, this attack actually happened, it’s not just another girl who got bored with Lifetime reruns and bad sex so she decided to space things up and claim rape.

  1. 127
    Blag Hag Grab Bag 8/15/2013 » Blag Hag

    […] Mr. Deity and the Victim-Blaming and Dismissiveness of Serious Allegations – Well, knock another idol off the pedestal. Disgusting and disappointing from someone I considered a friend. […]

  2. 128
    Just curious here, Atheist Foundation of Australia

    […] Shermer business yesterday, hours after multiple websites had pointed out that there was a massive problem with his remarks, was that to tell us that the official Atheist Foundation of Australia position is […]

  3. 129
    The Skeptic & Atheist Movements: A Word of Warning for Newcomers | Spirituality is No Excuse

    […] their victims. Instead, they are defending the “right” of famous people in positions of power and authority to get unsuspecting women drunk, and have sex with them without their consent. Obviously it’s the victim’s fault if […]

  4. 130
    If You’re Getting Discouraged… » Greta Christina's Blog

    […] cover their eyes and pretend the bullshit isn’t real, and by all the people who would rather blame the victims of the bullshit rather than consider the possibility that it might be real… I bring you this comment, […]

  5. 131
    Sexual harassment accusations in the skeptical and secular communities: a timeline of major events » Lousy Canuck

    […] K. Dalton, unnamed assailant, JREF In the comments on Ashley Paramore’s video, “Mr. Deity” corroborates Ashley’s story and regrets not doing anything at the […]

  6. 132
    On dealing with regret after sex » Lousy Canuck

    […] Paper left a great comment on my post about the Brian Dalton episode I’m informally titling Mr. Deity and the […]

  7. 133
    Dissecting the debate over PZ’s grenade | Chris Winstead

    […] Lousy Canuck — This post contains a transcript from a recent “Mr Deity” video purportedly about Mormonism, but which has a surprise ending directed toward the Myers accusations. Lousy Canuck offers a dissection and critique of that video as a victim-blaming message. […]

  8. 134
    Two Quick Tests » Almost Diamonds

    […] up in the U.S. I have friends who were very sheltered for religious or other reasons. Sometimes you say things that some across as condescendingly obvious for a good […]

  9. 135
    How to criticise the Shermer allegations without being a rape apologist » Oolon's Blog

    […] focus on why she was drinking with him, it’s her responsibility to not drink too much. As if a woman drinking with a man is […]

  10. 136
    Dissecting the debate over PZ’s grenade | Fair Coin Toss

    […] Lousy Canuck — This post contains a transcript from a recent “Mr Deity” video purportedly about Mormonism, but which has a surprise ending directed toward the Myers accusations. Lousy Canuck offers a dissection and critique of that video as a victim-blaming message. […]

  11. 137
    Conference anti-harassment campaigns do work: Three existence proofs from SF&F, atheism/skepticism, and open source | Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

    […] don’t want to get raped and comparing the reports to religious texts. Jason Thibeault provides a transcript of the video with these remarks and explains what is wrong with the idea that getting dru… or comparing the reports made directly to PZ Myers and others with religious […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>