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.
[Read more...]

Splitting the difference between reality and mythology

Something I’ve noticed very prominently recently in these wars amongst atheists and secularists, wars waged over our daring to suggest that maybe us feminists might also want a say in how women in the community are generally treated, is that every time one particular section of our community dislikes something, they find it sufficient to build up mythologies around it in an attempt to destroy it, rather than challenging the ideas on their merits. This subset of our rationalist community invents things from whole cloth to demonize the people they want out of the movement.

It has happened with Freethought Blogs, Skepchick, Atheism Plus, and just about every person associated with both the ideas of secularism, skepticism or atheism, and the idea that maybe we need to sort our house out if we ever hope to be welcoming to people other than the stock-in-trade of the community, the semi-affluent cis white male. It has happened with me a number of times. It has happened with Ophelia more times than I can count, and Stephanie, and Rebecca Watson, and PZ Myers. To people who disagree with A+, like Natalie Reed. Even to people who had never heard of any of these fights before.

It has happened and will continue to happen to every person who dares to say “I disagree” to any “leader” in this so-called leaderless movement, on any topic approaching social justice. I mean, with that sort of temerity, surely they’re just asking for a river of shit to flow over them, amirite? Surely they’re dishing “it” out, so they can take it (never mind that we’re amplifying “it” by many orders of magnitude)?

And so it goes that an incident in which I was involved tangentially, and briefly, kicking around some anti-feminist goobers on Facebook until their break with reality became blatant and too overwhelming for me to deal with, was morphed by certain elements’ mythologizing into a concerted effort to shut down a forum and silence free speech.

BECAUSE FTBULLIES.

[Read more...]

Jay Smooth on feeding trolls

This actually makes an excellent companion piece to our Don’t Feed the Trolls panel in the SkepchickCON track at CONvergence.

Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To from ANIMALNewYork.com on Vimeo.

At Jay Smooth’s blog, he adds a few salient words:

One of the main reasons “Don’t Feed the Trolls” falls short as a universal pat answer is that it assumes one’s only possible goal in speaking up would be to induce a change of heart in the individuals doing the trolling. Many of the stories people have shared in response to this video illustrated how speaking up can be a net positive for your community as a whole, regardless of whether it inspires some epiphany in the trolls themselves. Gauging the usefulness of speaking out strictly by tracking whether a miraculous troll epiphany occurs is often missing the point IMO.

It’s almost like he knew the ins and outs of our specific fight! So uncanny!

Feeding the trolls almost never happens in isolation — if it’s a single person attacking you singly, you simply ignore that person and move on. But these attacks are often public, and include “pig-fucker” charges (by which I mean, charges designed to force you to rebut, rather than because they’re actually true) that the public gets to see.

Sometimes you need to counter spurious argumentation, to put that argument’s metaphorical head on a metaphorical pike to show others exactly how it fails and why you shouldn’t use those lines of argumentation in the future. It’s almost never about changing the troll’s mind, because their mind was often made up long before they ever deigned fit to visit your post; countering trolls is for the benefit of those who come afterward.

An apology, a mea culpa, and my stated opinion of DJ Grothe

yes, actually he SAID: "ALL OF THESE POSTS ABOUT SUPPOSED RAMPANT SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND UNNAMED LISTS OF CERTAIN SPEAKERS “VICTIMIZING” YOUNG WOMEN, AND THE LIKE. SO MUCH OF THAT FEELS TO ME MORE LIKE RUMOR AND DISTASTEFUL LOCKER ROOM BANTER"

So, I have this problem. A vacuous shitbag troll is running around telling everyone that I’m a homophobe based on a reading of my comment here:

DJ Grothe is not LITERALLY a douchebag, as he does not store vinegar or other potentially harmful chemicals in his person for the purposes of “cleansing” a woman’s vagina. In fact, I hear he wants little to do with women’s vaginas.

When people who have shown every intention of manufacturing controversy just happen to be right about something, I have this tendency to not believe them because of all the dross they’ve spat out before. I sometimes trust my pattern recognition all too much. The fact that this troll is presently spamming both DJ and all my compatriots, and has been for two days, is galling, but must not blind me to the fact that some people could find that offensive.
[Read more...]