TAM’s harassment policy was secret. Why?

One of the biggest victories I was really, truly hoping for in the harassment policies campaign came to pass. But rather than crowing about it like I did with the American Atheists and CFI policies, I can barely fathom what’s going on and can’t bring myself to celebrate at all. TAM’s harassment policy appears to have come to pass in one of those strange “but you won’t like it” sort of ways, like we’d all been wishing on a Monkey’s Paw instead of making cogent arguments for these policies.

I honestly hoped that DJ Grothe and/or other powers-that-be at JREF would realize that the people DJ claimed are trying to hurt The Amazing Meeting by discussing the harassment they’d experienced, and proposing countermeasures, were instead trying to help TAM, and him, rectify the situation. I had hoped that DJ et al would come to understand that it was not about painting his specific convention as an “unsafe space“, but rather as a place that SHOULD be better than background levels of harassment but WASN’T.

But, until now, nobody has shown any indication that harassment was being taken seriously. In fact, it looked quite a bit like they’d decided harassment policies themselves were the problem, when they removed all mention of the weak-tea and toothless policy that had existed the year prior.

Then a tweet tipped us off.
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Digital archaeology of Elevatorgate – a timeline

Oh, the huge manatee! Suirauqa has taken it upon xirself to chronicle the origin of the DEEEEP RIIIIIIFT that the community has found itself in, between people who think Rebecca Watson magically ruins everything by her mere presence, and people who think she’s just another human being. Xir googling efforts are chronicled here, and the proceedings of the event now known as “elevatorgate” make a sort of prequel to the harassment policies campaign in how major forces in the skeptical and atheist movements decided to align for and against female bodily autonomy.

A friend of mine was curious about the ‘Deep Rift’ that has been cooking in the atheist-skeptic blogosphere for about a year now, culminating in the Twitter storm over the FTBullies hashtag. I offered to make a timeline with bullet points. Little did I know that chronicling those cataclysmic events was going to be such a monumental task, requiring the last drop of my Google-Fu and reading/listening comprehension. Anyhoo, I must admit it was eeriely fun revisiting those events, and consequently, wondering anew how, atheist-skeptic or not, we all are subject to the very human foibles and frailties of ego, prejudice, presumptions, and sadly, blind irrationality. Vraiment, the humanity of it all!

Well worth the read, if you’re unsure why people deluge Watson with hate for otherwise completely unobjectionable statements.

In case you missed the link the first time through, click here.

People say nice things about FtB, mean things about Paula Kirby’s vitriol

I’m sure you’ve seen all the sturm und drang over Freethought Blogs being a cesspool of bullying and thought-policing hive-mindery. Despite this, a few people outside the network have voiced their support of people inside the network, and are picking off the worst lines of argumentation that people are using to try claim that we’re dogmatic bullies who do not tolerate dissent. What catalyzed this show of support? Why no less than Paula Kirby calling us all Feminazis and Femistasi (Ophelia’s take on that nonsense).

And where the hell is Orac to shout down this particular Godwinning?

Anyway.

It’s really great to know that some fantastic writers are not letting this slide, even though they’re not personally the ones being targeted. Several of them below the fold.
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Crashing the #FTBullies Hashtag

Like the bullies we are, we FtB bloggers (and our friends and readers) crashed a hashtag originally started by a few people who just absolutely hate that we talk about social justice so much and dare to moderate the comments sections on those posts. Hilarity ensued.

This is a snapshot of some of the funniest tweets from when I was participating yesterday. It is probably not representative of all the best tweets, so much as the ones that caught my eye (or that I said and therefore think are hilarious).

Adam Lee@DaylightAtheism

Sometimes some of those bloggers write posts about stuff I’m not personally interested in. The nerve of some people. #FTBullies

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HUGE news from American Atheists re harassment (now with link to press release)

David Silverman, Amanda Knief, and the rest of the crew at American Atheists have put together what I feel exceedingly comfortable in saying is absolutely the strongest anti-harassment policy implemented in this entire campaign. AA just closed a conference call (to which I was invited, though my day job impeded my participation). They have gone above and beyond my wildest expectations for delineating what actions are objectionable, and what might happen if you engage in those actions regardless. The policy hasn’t yet gone live but here’s what was apparently sent around to the conference bridge participants. In the event that this policy is significantly altered after I’ve posted this, I’ll amend.
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Bullying the bullies into stopping bullying

As I mentioned in my essay on safe spaces, sometimes bullies win.

Sometimes the bullies wear at a person’s resolve enough so that one little weird and probably innocuous incident from an unrelated source is enough to rattle that person. Enough to change the calculus used to determine whether something is worth doing, such that suddenly something that they were gung-ho to do (like Ophelia Benson speaking at TAM) becomes a headache just not worth undertaking.
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Let’s play harassment bingo

Time for some more crowdsourcing. Here’s my first bunch of squares for a harassment bingo card. Need a minimum of 24. I have 16.

Y u no name names?
Witch-hunts
Taliban
“hysterical” / “histrionic”
“feminazi”
Leave it to the cops
A policy would ruin our convention
Mistaking TAM for the entire community
“Leave DJ alone!”
Too ugly to be harassed
“dogmatic feminism”
“rumors” / “innuendo”
Denialism that harassment happens
mistaking “not a safe space” for “unsafe”
A pox on both houses!
“you’re being tribalistic”

The free square will be “10+ CONVENTIONS HAVE POLICIES IN PLACE”. Because that’s our current state of affairs.

Ideas?

The FtB Conversation about TAM: Transcript Pt. 1

Here’s the first half hour of the transcript for the big FtB Conversation from yesterday, done once again by the indefatiguable Kate Donovan. She’s the poor soul who did the transcript for the “PenisGate Debate”, who volunteered for this as I guess a sort of palate-cleanser.

If you’re just joining in, read these two posts first:

In Medias Res: how to find the plot if you’re just tuning in
The harassment policy campaign timeline

Transcript below the fold. Part two as soon as she’s done.
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FtB and Rebecca Watson want TAM to succeed

A Google+ Hangout with ten of us uppity feminists whose irresponsible messaging have been destroying the secular movement. The takeaway is that we want TAM and the secular movement to improve. We want us all to be better.

I’ll tell you the truth, I was nervous the entire time. If I’m chattery or stupid, I’m sorry.

The harassment policy campaign timeline
In Medias Res: how to find the plot if you’re just tuning in

Same video on Pharyngula.