You are free to choose how to use the internet

I’d like remind everyone that you are free to curate your internet experience however you please. When your internet experience starts to suck because people are trying to make your life miserable, you are free to deal with that as you see fit.

You are free to withdraw from a space. You are free to ban and block. You are free to call on friends for help. You are free to dig in and argue with every entitled douchebag who comes along trying to win a war of attrition in order to force you out of that space. You are free to be pseudonymous; you are free to use your real name. You are free to publicly disagree with them, even via a blog post if you so choose; or you can privately disagree with them amongst a small tight-knit circle of friends and allies. You can use any number of block-list services like Akismet, RBL, the A+ Block Bot, or even a whitelist-only setup like making your Twitter account Private. You can engage with everyone who thinks the internet is a debate club, or you can ignore those people, or you can block them.

And be damned anyone who says that this is “fascist”.
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More foot-gunning in the Shermer debacle

John Loftus, ex Freethought Blogger who left because not enough Christians were engaging with his posts so he could convert them, who subsequently founded and then left Skeptic Ink for the same reason, is now blogging at his original Blogspot blog about PZ Myers and Michael Shermer. (A hint, good sir — you may want to actually target your intended audience with your posts.) In his post, wherein the only possible reasons he proffers that PZ Myers might have published the rape allegation — made against Michael Shermer by an unnamed source whom he trusts — involve either naivety or malice, Loftus published the following addendum:

In a personal email to me Shermer categorically denies these accusations. If what he said about his accuser gets out, it will be apparent to most all reasonable people that PZ Myers published a bold-faced lie. He recklessly tried to destroy another person’s reputation without regard for fact-checking.

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The Ada Initiative recognizes the feminist fight in the skeptical and secular communities

Two days ago, I was pleasantly surprised on Twitter (a rarity, to be sure) when The Ada Initiative tweeted the following:

 

Until then, I had no idea The Ada Initiative knew this parallel fight was happening in the skeptical and secular movements, where I’ve only seen them talk about the problems in technology, the open source world and geek culture.
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Dearest JT Eberhard

Hi JT,

You’re doing a bang-up job of telling all these various social justice causes how to do things better, by being nicer, by being more generous to people who say things that are coded specifically to hurt them. And you’re further doing a bang-up job listening to all your friends and peers and those people more experienced in various causes than you when they tell you that you’re fucking up, monumentally.
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On people believing the extraordinary claims about rape

If I had known the story of my false rape allegation would be held up by so many dudebros as the reason why you can’t take rape allegations seriously, I almost certainly would have thought again about posting the story I told primarily for catharsis’ sake back in 2009, before the shit started hitting the fan in the secular community when people dared suggest maybe we should try not to chase out women so much.

Another comment today has hit my first-post moderation wall, as so many others have since the allegations had been made against Shermer, on that old post. My linking it in the Web of Trust post probably didn’t help matters, but neither did having a shitload of people who hate FtB latching onto it and deciding this meant that we at FtB, monolith that we are, are lying hypocrites and/or rapists and/or something something evil something something blog hits something take over the world.

This comment seems more reasonable than most of them, at first glance. It’s decidedly not, though.

Trigger warnings due to frank discussion of rape and rape-apologetics.
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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.
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Is the Skeptic Empire dying?

A new employee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State has already started receiving death threats and harassment just for mentioning feminism.

A quote from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that’s relevant to what we’re seeing right now. We call ourselves rationalists but we devolve into hyperskepticism and denialism about real, demonstrable problems in our community. Problems like irrational hatred of feminism to the point of excusing harassment, death threats, rape threats et cetera as “trolling”. To the point of being unable to criticize our leaders for their well-evidenced transgressions.

Ezri Dax: I think that the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying; and I think it deserves to die. I tend to look at the Empire with a little more skepticism than Curzon and Jadzia did. I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We’re talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries-old traditions of honor and integrity. But in reality, it’s willing to accept corruption at the highest levels.

Worf: You are overstating your case.

Dax: Am I? Who was the last leader of the High Council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told that it was for the good of the Empire? I… I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron’s just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I’ve ever met. And if *you* are willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?

What kinds of rationalists are we? What claim do we have to being decent human beings without our dogmas if we act like this?How can anyone take us as a movement seriously if we can’t clean our houses? How the hell do we even drain this swamp?

Sexual harassment accusations in the skeptical and secular communities: a timeline of major events

In the vein of the harassment policies campaign timeline, wherein the major players in the movement fought hard for harassment policies at secular events and largely won the day despite monumental pushback, I felt it prudent to get ahead of people trying to misinterpret the timeline of events and twist the timeline to their own ends. That harassment policies campaign actually contains a significant amount of back-story for a lot of these issues. It also includes a number of charges with regard to assaults that had been reported but not dealt with by the organizations in question. Take a moment to re-familiarize yourself with that timeline before returning here, please.

As a result of the community reaching a tipping point, with many prominent voices having been subjected to harassment for years on end, these past few weeks have become something of a watershed moment for our movements. It is important that the actions are documented, even where legal threats have removed the original claims. I will be updating this on the fly, as a living document, much as I did with the previous timeline. At the bottom is a list of links I’m already planning on including, that will be put into their proper positions as I go.

Please feel free to add important events in the comments, though I am not going back as far as WiS2 and documenting the controversy surrounding it unless it’s extremely relevant to this timeline. I am also not linking every single blog commentary unless it has important or unique events or pieces of context, though I am not against comments containing links to said less-directly-relevant commentary even if it doesn’t make it into the body of the post.
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Ben Radford and CFI: A point of contention

Center For Inquiry’s Ben Radford, whom you might remember as the skeptic who took on a four year old over evolutionary reasons little girls might like pink, among numerous other terrible bits of skepticism and anti-science, has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting Karen Stollznow serially over a period of four years. The story was told anonymously, but a number of independent sources on Twitter and elsewhere blew the whistle and named Radford. PZ received many emails to that effect. And Stollznow has since given her blessing to the people naming him.

An investigation was apparently undertaken by CFI, hiring a third party contractor; the investigators may or may not have found him guilty. That appears to be a point of contention presently in the narrative. From Stollznow’s post:

Five months after I lodged my complaint I received a letter that was riddled with legalese but acknowledged the guilt of this individual. They had found evidence of “inappropriate communications” and “inappropriate” conduct at conferences. However, they greatly reduced the severity of my claims. When I asked for clarification and a copy of the report they treated me like a nuisance. In response to my unanswered phone calls they sent a second letter that refused to allow me to view the report because they couldn’t release it to “the public”. They assured me they were disciplining the harasser but this turned out to be a mere slap on the wrist. He was suspended, while he was on vacation overseas. They offered no apology, that would be an admission of guilt, but they thanked me for bringing this serious matter to their attention. Then they asked me to not discuss this with anyone. This confidentiality served me at first; I wanted to retain my dignity and remain professional. Then I realized that they are trying to silence me, and this silence only keeps up appearances for them and protects the harasser.

Emphasis mine.

They had enough evidence that he was serially harassing someone in order to “suspend” him — while he was already on vacation overseas. When it would have no impact on his job, and would serve as nothing but a note in his file.
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