FtBCon2: Sexual Harassment Law and You, with full transcript! #ftbcon

Ken White of Popehat gave a great presentation at FtBConscience 2 about sexual harassment law and anti-harassment policies at conventions. Surprise surprise, the troll narrative about sexual harassment is about as far from the legalities of the situation as you can get!

Here’s some of his supplementary material he originally posted here:

Some related links:

Here’s the link to where the conference will be.

Here’s a short quiz in preparation for the talk.

Here’s a great resource about the recent history of calls for anti-harassment policies in the skeptic, open-source, and science fiction and fantasy communities.

Here’s the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s publications on discrimination issues.

I’ve written before about how complaints about harassment provoke disproportionate outrage and further harassment; those posts are hereand here.

The full transcript, graciously provided by Josiah BibleName (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr), is below the fold. It was provided without paragraph breaks; for readability, I’ll be editing them in as time allows.
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The Hangouts I’m facilitating at #FtBCon 2

I’ve got the Google+ Events that I’ll be facilitating all set up for the convention this weekend! Check it out:

FtBCon2: Welcome / Orientation

FtBCon2: Evidence-Based Feminism

FtBCon2: When You Need a Hand, Not a Prayer: The State of the Secular Support Movement

FtBCon2: Between A Rock And…: Non-Binary Gender in Atheism

FtBCon2: Racism and the Zombie Apocalypse

FtBCon2: Women in STEM

FtBCon2: Trans* Representation in Video Games

FtBCon2: Godless Perverts Story Hour

FtBCon2: Secular Asian Community discussion

FtBCon2: Bible Study (or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along)

FtBCon2: Curtain Call

Okay, I’ll admit it, I made this post mostly as a to-do list for my own purposes. Why do something that only has one purpose, when it can have two by simply posting it at my blog as well?

FtBConscience 2 – schedule and speakers #ftbcon

So I’ve been really busy over the past two weeks wrangling as much tech as I can to facilitate Freethought Blogs’ second online Google Hangouts conference. Sorry it’s been so silent around these parts, but I felt that the con was slightly more important!

The full schedule is now available at Lanyrd. If you want to subscribe to the schedule in the calendar of your choice, go here and choose the appropriate calendar.

It should be in the correct time zone, though I’ve tried the Google one and it displays as though relative to UTC+0. I think that might just be a caching thing, but if not, you can always copy the events to your own calendar and move them all appropriately, though that’s not really easy. I did so myself, though that’s not going to be in sync with the final schedule. I’ll embed it below the fold.

The official con page is here: FtBCon.org.
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Skepticon video: Greta Christina – Avoiding Activist Burnout

I absolutely loved the shorter version of this speech that she did at another con a while back, and was pleased to get to see it live. Unfortunately for me, though, Dave Muscato of American Atheists had put out a call to the intertubes asking whether or not anyone had a flash card reader and the ability to transfer a movie file to him by email. I happened to be on my laptop with a flash card reader and an internet connection, so I swept out to be the big damn hero and ended up missing a significant chunk of this speech. I’m happy this video exists so I can fill in the missing bits.

At the moment, I am actively attempting to control my activist burnout by learning Java programming, learning LibGDX, and generally pursuing my pipe dream of building a rogue-like Castlevania-alike platform game with retraversal and RPG stats*. It seems like a more immediately attainable goal, to me, than expunging sexist sentiment from a community whose members often prioritize getting along in a big-tent fashion rather than actually fixing the systematic empathy failures entrenched in some quarters.

* If you don’t get this, and care, ask me. I’ll explain. At length.

Rage Blogging and Drama: The Elan Gale Story

It has come to my attention that there are some members of the various internet skeptical and secular communities, not to mention members of the greater internet “blogosphere”, who evidently do not know what “blogging” actually IS. I am obligated, therefore, to explain, because I happen to be a “blogger” on occasion myself. It behooves me that everyone understand exactly what it is I’m doing here.
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On not being completely free to curate

I just attended Skepticon 6, and had a number of excellent and thought-provoking conversations with some people I’ve admired, some people I’ve long since befriended, and some people I’d never met before but am glad to have met now. It was a great experience, a few issues aside which I’ll, naturally, have to talk more about soon.

On Wednesday night, immediately after work, Stephanie, Brianne and I piled into the car and undertook a ten-hour car ride south. We arrived at 5 am, and promptly hit our beds and crashed. The first night we were in Springfield, Missouri, folks were still filtering into town, and as we skeptics are wont to do, we sought one another out for the first of what promised to be many of those thought-provoking conversations. This conversation became the genesis for this post, which will hopefully serve as a follow-up to my recent post about curating your internet experience.
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The Truth Hurts

I’ve been feeling somewhat inured to the constant grind on the soul of people coming forward with tales of their having been sexually assaulted of late. Then along comes Pamela Gay, one of the kindest, smartest, funniest people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, however briefly, and her story has such a ring of familiarity and timeliness that people are speculating that she’s the one DJ Grothe and Barbara Drescher were talking about.

And to make matters worse, Dr. Gay is the one feeling guilty here, despite having personally done nothing wrong. She’s the one facing repercussions within the community for having spoken up last year about harassment. She’s the one being targeted for further harassment and abuse, and she’s the one whose career is on the line. Because she’s the one who has breasts. Because she’s the one who spoke up.

I am just fucking GUTTED now.

With ever increasing difficulty I’ve been dealing with issues of gender related to my career. Right now, I am struggling with hearing that an event I categorized as “A drunk ass tried to grab my boobs,” is now being discussed by witnesses as, “He tried to sexually assault her in a bar while intoxicated.” I had created a euphemism for myself, and having that euphemism striped away is making me realize that I have been hiding from myself the true degree to which I have been harmed.

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The Outrage Brigade

DJ Grothe, not content with his reputation and desperately lacking a communications director through which he can vet his random personal thoughts (any takers on that job?), posted to Facebook a terribly transphobic thought. Or, at least, so we Outrage Brigaders interpreted it!

No hyperbole: I just saw the worst-passing transsexual I’ve ever seen in the lounge here. It was so disruptive that I am forced to believe it was an intentional way to protest against rigid gender binaries. Or so I’d like to think.

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Carrie Poppy and the Nay-Sayers

In observing the way the skeptical and secular communities have melted down lately over the merest hint that some of its top members might have occasionally behaved in manners that are not beyond reproach, I’ve come to the realization that certain members of our community think that all this “rage blogging” about “drama” is about trying to steal power from other people; that the communities upper echelons are populated entirely by people who think they’re reliving a secular Game of Thrones. The political machinations, the people who are willing to sell out their principles, the people who have no such principles to begin with who rise to power, and all the toadies… toadies everywhere… who will swarm on anyone who dares scandalize someone’s scandalous behaviour. It’s all very tiresome to watch, especially when some players are willing to excuse every bad behaviour even while they’re admitting that behaviour actually happened as stated.

Carrie Poppy has been extraordinarily well-placed in some of the bigger scandals regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault recently, in having been employed as communications director for JREF and having resigned after six months due to, let’s say, philosophical differences with DJ Grothe, president of the organization. Well, if you can classify her stating her reasons for leaving as mere philosophy, being his “constant duplicity, dishonesty, and manipulation”.

So people rushed then to attack Carrie Poppy, to destroy her as an irrational harpy with a bone to grind and an axe to pick against Grothe. So when she recently decided to suggest that women should generally stay away from TAM because the JREF was unlikely to treat any incidents with any level of seriousness, people naturally resorted to the same trope — that she was trying to destroy TAM and JREF.

Only the strange thing is, the corroboration of her claims came from those very people that you’d least expect. The ones who have been trying to naysay the whole thing all along.

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Inaccessibility Checker plugin installed at FtB

A few times during FtBCon 1, I had complained that people who use screen readers often have a hard time of making sense of some bloggers’ tendency of putting up an image as the sum total of their post, without even the decency of alt text or a caption for people with vision disabilities. Worse yet, when I put up a post detailing our beta-testing a new subscription feature, one of the first comments I got was a request that something be done about that tendency, pointing to a plugin called the Inaccessibility Checker.

The interesting thing about that is, that plugin has actually been installed at Lousy Canuck for about a month, since it was programmed by our resident programmer friend, CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain. I was giving it a shake-down run before pushing it network-wide. This weekend, I have enabled it across all of Freethought Blogs, firing a warning shot across the bows of all those bloggers in our fold who are not accommodating the simple request for alt tags. From now on, when a blogger previews their posts and they’ve inserted images that don’t have alt text or captions, they will be informed by a helpful notice that their image is lacking in that tags.

This of course depends on people actually hitting Preview before they publish their posts. If you see someone who hasn’t done so, feel free to tell them to preview the post before publishing, as a reminder that not everyone is consuming this content as text on a screen. We can make this community better for everyone by all of us checking our privilege once in a damn while.

And that goes double for me — rake me over the coals if I slip up from now on, too, because I should damn well know better. I’m certain there’s a bunch of stuff in my old pre-FtB posts that aren’t properly linked (and many whose image links are actually broken, even, making them doubly useless for everyone).