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A conversation about TAM

A subset of Freethoughtbloggers and the Queen Skepchick got together on Google+ to discuss the recent contretemps. The people who participated were me, Al Stefanelli, Daniel Fincke, Greg Laden, Ian Cromwell, Jason Thibeault, Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson, and Stephanie Zvan.

Here’s how I introduced it:

The latest controversy to embroil freethoughtblogs is over the James Randi Educational Foundation’s big yearly meeting, The Amazing Meeting, or TAM for short. After DJ Grothe, the president of the JREF, announced his concern that, despite the fact that he’d done a fine job of making the roster of speakers well balanced, at roughly half and half men and women, the registration of women in the meeting was significantly down from last year. What to do?

Well, he could have asked big boosters of TAM, like Skepchick and Freethoughtblogs, to rally together and help get more women involved, as Skepchick has done every year. Instead, in a bizarre twist, he basically accused Rebecca Watson and a certain blog network, ours, of scaring women away with our horrible stories of sexual harassment. He also denied that sexual harassment had ever occurred, a story that has been steadily unraveling over the last few weeks.

Then, to make matters worse, a number of poorly informed people have been ranting that we, that is people like Rebecca Watson and Stephanie Zvan, want to “harm TAM” — another weird claim that ignores the history of our involvement with skeptical and atheist meetings.

So the point of our session today is to clear the air, get our position expressed, and maybe vent a little frustration.

Comments

  1. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    I just finished reading the transcript of the great penis debate. This video could not have come at a more welcome time. Off to watch!

  2. Erista (aka Eris) says

    I also have just slogged my way through “the Great Penisgate Debate,”* and I’m going to post here what I posted over at Almost Diamonds:

    You know what’s harming my view of TAM? Interviews like the one that Emery participated in [the Great Penisgate Debate]. Interviews like that make me say, “Holy fuck, I really don’t want to be treated like that or stand by while someone else is being treated like that,” and if people like are going to be the ones carrying the banner for TAM, I am not at all reassured that I or anyone else will be safe from that kind of behavior at TAM. Making jokes about how Rebecca isn’t too ugly to rape, frothing a year later that a woman dared to make a passing comment that hitting on women at 4am in an elevator is not a good thing to do, insisting that TAM shouldn’t do anything more than they are already doing to keep women safe, the insistence that women who are public figures should expect to be abused, that women don’t have the right to make general statements about how to treat women, the mocking of women who are afraid . . . to hell with that. I just don’t want to be involved in that.

    Now, I can practically taste the response that would come from the people who made the above statements, because I’ve been told it before: that I’m a feminazi bitch who should just stay away if I don’t like it. Well, fine. I will stay away. But when I stay away, don’t act like it’s some kind of shock that women aren’t going. I am a woman, and if I need to put with that kind of behavior to be welcome at TAM, I’m not going.

    I am incredibly disappointed with the skeptical community right now. I understand that not all skeptics are doing this kind of shit, but I truly thought that we, as a community, were better than this. Heaven knows we’ve been running around preaching that we are better than this whenever we want to whack on religion. But apparently we are not.

    *When I first read that title, I thought it was one Stephanie made up to mock them. No, they picked it themselves. *boggles*

  3. carlie says

    Oh shit, I’m an idiot! I was thrown by the scrolly pics at the bottom and thought it was some kind of weird google video player because the pics were covering the “watch on youtube” icon. Never mind, I’ll be over here in the corner writing “figure out your own media problems” a hundred times on the chalkboard.

  4. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Yes but Erista – they’re not the community. We are. We gotta not let them own it.

    Take back the community.

    See, but that’s the problem: I didn’t know that there was someone (or someones) that we needed to take the community back from. I knew the community wasn’t perfect (no group is), but I thought it was better than the shit that went down in that interview, and the shit that has been tossed at Rebecca, Jen, you, Stephanie, and women in general who are more anonymous (like me). I thought the skeptics community was a safe space, not a place that needed to be battled over. Coming to terms with the fact that I was incredibly wrong in my expectations of the community in general is not something that is going easily for me.

    I find myself wondering about all kinds of things. If I go to a skeptical meeting, how many of the people around me are saying, thinking, and perpetrating shit like the people in “The Great Penisgate Debate” are? If something bad happens to me, will I be able to find people to support me, or will I stagger into a group that’s going to traumatize me more? Just how safe am I? And if I’m not safe, if the people around me do end up being like the people in that debate, is it worth it, not for people in general, but for me personally? I’m dealing with all kinds of personal shit right now (graduate school, cycothymia, a history of childhood sexual abuse, etc); if I toss myself into this pool, will I be able to handle it, or will I crack under the strain? Does my mental and emotional health allow for dealing with what is going on in the community right now?

    So I don’t know, and that wounds me, because I didn’t realize these were questions I was going to be asking myself. I thought that the skeptical community was going to be a haven, if only I could get to it. I had already experienced inappropriate touching at the only skeptics conference I’ve ever been to, but I thought that was an exception. Seeing that it wasn’t as much as an exception as I want it to have been is painful.

  5. dexitroboper says

    IMPORTANT: I do hope that you all finally came up with a mission statement.

  6. says

    Erista – well boy do I ever know what you mean. I can’t begin to tell you how unappetizing TAM suddenly seems to me whenever I get hit in the face by some of this shit, and since the hits were all but non-stop for the past week or so…well I know what you mean.

    But they can’t have it, is all I mean. Not that you have to go anywhere! Godno. Just that it isn’t theirs. Whatever that thing they have is – it’s something else.

    (Those guys on the Penis Debate? Oh jeeeezis.)

  7. karmakin says

    For me, I think the resonant point of the discussion (that was very good all-around) was Cromm’s point about how there’s a very real divide and a whole list of issues to which there’s a very vocal minority simply don’t want skepticism/rationalism/atheism to touch with a ten-foot pole.

    There’s actually a good reason for this, as they’re in the minority, and these are often issues that generally come with a lot of “moral force” for a lot of people, they feel like they’ll be put down for having those views. (and justifiably so) Now, that doesn’t mean they’re RIGHT for feeling this way, however, it is something that the movement as a whole is going to have to deal with, and the unsteady truce between the majority progressive and the minority libertarian points of view simply can’t last forever.

    TAM, because of the more libertarian bent of that particular conference, I think, resulted in DJ jumping in front of some fire that he didn’t really have to take.

  8. says

    Thank you for that hangout. It is great to see a civilized discussion about a difficult topic. I am looking forward to more such hangouts in the future. And have you thought about doing a Freethoughtblogs Convention?

  9. karmakin says

    Oh. One more thing. When they talk about these issues being “dogmatic” this is what they mean. They mean that we place so much moral importance behind them that, while you can disagree with how to get there, we have zero room for disagreeing with the eventual goals.

  10. says

    Well this crop of skeptics is the future. penis debate dudes are the fucking past, and they outright refuse to try and understand why folks are moving away from their privileged bullshit. The kind of people still attracted to TAM at this point confuse me.

  11. Cyranothe2nd says

    I understand your frustration, Erista, and I share it. The sense of entitlement dripping off the MRA arguments about why we should be at TAM is just appalling. It is literally like, “HEY, YOU OWN US YOUR ATTENDANCE/MONEY/TIME/SEXUAL ATTENTION!!!!1!” and now they’re whining like babies for being told, “Um, actually, no.”

    Ophelia–I feel like we’re fighting for the soul of our movement right now. In the 60s, when gay rights movements became A Thing, there were factions in the movements telling certain people (ie, the flamboyant queers, the butchy lesbians) to sit down, shut up, put on a suit/dress and present as gender binary, so as not to scare the “normal people.” That faction rightly told the conservatives to STFU, that understanding at the cost of purging individuality and expression and authenticity was not true understanding. Some people still complain that Pride represents the worst of gay culture or that it alienates straights. And the people who participate (me included) still say STFU to that. Because we ~are~ the movement, and we have the right to be who we are and to make these arguments, regardless of the appearance of Deep Rifts or Things that Will Make People With Unexamined Privilege Uncomfortable.

    [This analogy isn't perfect...there are more women in the world than there are GLTB people, more reason for men to WANT to make us feel comfortable. But I do think that the push back has been some variation of 1. bitches ain't shit and 2. STFU, you're scaring people, which is all about the privilege of certain people to do so/live within the status quo.]

  12. madscientist says

    I really don’t understand what DJ is doing. A simple “it’s a rare occurrence but we won’t tolerate any of it and this is what we have in place to address problems” was all that was necessary. However the evidence suggests that the TAM organizers did not address problems adequately in the past and their current denial of any problems and assertions that they can handle any problems is just screaming “amateur” to me.

  13. 'Tis Himself says

    I notice that after shooting himself in the foot several times, DJ Grothe has been conspicuous by his absence recently.

  14. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    Erista (aka Eris), Hi. I hear you. and how.

    I’m an escapee from some other skeptics forum. It got way too creepy and I got sick, literally ill at the thought of trying anymore. There is no room for me there, even though there are several people who have my utmost respect. It’s just not worth it. But I also feel like I’m letting the few sane people down. Now they have one less voice to be there with them against a blaring chorus of misogyny.

    There’s no way I’d go to TAM. All it takes is one dickhead who reads the trolls as permission & justification and I’m messed up for weeks. And where would I go if something happened? To DJ?

    Ian’s right, though. If the reports from TAM X are “There was a problem and we handled it without making the victim feel like an inconvenience.” I’ll feel more confident.

  15. Erista (aka Eris) says

    @Cyranothe2nd

    That’s really how it feels. It’s like this kind of saying that I used to encounter a lot on the internet, “Tits or GTFO.” I didn’t really feel the impact of that at first because the men who said it were “teasing.” But then, when women didn’t do what they wanted, out came the shrieks of “feminazi” and “oversensitive bitch” who was “only doing this for attention” and “making the feminist movement look bad.” It was then that I realized that the “GTFO” wasn’t so “teasing” after all. Unfortunately, even “GTFO” wouldn’t make them happy, because when there weren’t enough women present, the whole, “Why are women being so irrational as to cling to religion?” discussions started.

    *sigh*

  16. Mattir says

    At this point, especially having looked through the JREF forum space a bit, I really don’t give two shits whether TAM succeeds or not. There are plenty of other organizations and convention spaces that aren’t so filled with hostile privileged assholes. It would have been nice if JREF/TAM leadership had tried to actually LEAD their organization into a more diverse space in which a broad range of issues could be addressed with skepticism and critical thought, but apparently they’re not willing or able to do this, and the membership appears actively hostile to the prospect of organizational change.

  17. anthrosciguy says

    I think one of the issues specifically concerning TAM is the strong libertarian component to many of the JREF higher-ups, and this doesn’t get addressed. It creates, or rather exacerbates, problems like this.

  18. cag says

    So now that Rebecca has outed a certain Dr. Busso(sp.), can we start naming the harassers?

  19. Mattir says

    I should add that, although I’ve never been to TAM, I will have the financial means to travel to more conferences quite soon, and I donate fairly generously to skeptical organizations. There are probably plenty of other people like me. So it’s not just a membership/attendance issue, it’s also an issue of alienating prospective donors and driving funds towards CFI, American Atheists, Skepticon, FFRF, etc.

    This is as incompetent, in its way, as the American Cancer Society’s decision not to take any money from those icky atheist fundraising groups.

  20. oddree says

    This is exactly why I never get involved in “movements” or “organizations” or whatever the hell this is. Too much drama, bitching, neglecting issues, power struggles, neediness, inappropriateness, sexism, harassment, internal politics, and documented meeting minutes. Dealing with people in large groups is just totally annoying to me.

  21. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    Mattir @22. Don’t get me started on the JREF forum’s astounding resistance to even the concept of privilege. Teflon all the way down. Although to be fair, that forum seems to be the only “skeptical” involvement for many of the members. Only a small percent have anything to do with the wider free-thought community.

    I’ve had some very positive experiences with my local CFI. Their lecture series has had quite a few notable speakers from a terrific variety of backgrounds. If there’s one near you, it’s well worth checking the schedule.

  22. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Starting at @43:20

    Well, actually, I think there probably are some crucial answers, and one that I came up with fairly late in all this was that TAM last year was very soon after the explosion of bile that resulted from Rebecca’s post about the elevator incident, whereas this year it’s after a solid year of non-stop vitriol on that subject, and so some of the kind of women who would want to attend TAM are going to be aware of that, and think that maybe the kind of people who go to TAM are the kind of people who write that kind of thing, and they might just go . . . . maybe not this year, maybe things just haven’t calmed down enough. I think the reaction over this last year is very relevant to women attending things like TAM.”

    Yessssssss.

  23. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Also, Yesssss at what PZ said about organizations like JREF not jumping up and saying “We won’t allow this at our conferences.”

  24. 'Tis Himself says

    One thing to remember about TAM is that it’s a fundraising tool for JREF more than an educational conference. So why is Grothe doing his utmost to drive people away from TAM?

  25. gregorylynn says

    There was some talk in a previous thread about a podcast. If you got some of these folks together for a discussion of relevant topics every couple weeks, it would be well worth a listen.

  26. pipenta says

    As disheartening as the incidents of sexual harassment and boys-will-be-apes at various atheist events and venues have been, this online meeting was quite encouraging. Yes indeedy, it cheered me right up. Not the least because you all seem like the kind of people one could sit back and have an enjoyable beer with and good conversation and pizza. Reasonable people and with a moral/spiritual compass that would understand the importance of pizza being GOOD pizza.

    At least one poster upthread remarked that it was heartbreaking to hear the reports of harassment, of the way Rebecca Watson has been hounded. We’ve all tasty the special flavor of that dish that is offered up to women and we know just how it hurts. Previously, we’d suffered all kinds of bullshit from theists and theist culture, but OUR people were supposed to better than that. Atheists don’t believe in toxic mythology. We value an accurate assessment of REALITY. We value HONESTY, even when it ain’t fun. So ow ow ow. It hurt to have to admit the screamingly obvious fact that the movement was full of people and that people are, um, people, well. Yeah. We want so much better for ourselves. And we have always figured that if humanity could just pitch the bullshit of murderous ridiculous gods, we all just could pull up our socks and be decent. We could all just get along. But jerks are everywhere.

    And for some of us quasi-lurker women atheists, it was a bouncy sleigh ride. So some of us drank too much beer. Some of us tried to comfort ourselves by watching Sapolsky lectures. Okay, okay, I’m not callin’ it the monkey mind, that’s a Buddhist deal. But what about examining primate behavior, hmmmm? Mightn’t that be a more comfortable vantage from which to face this spectacle that is life in 2011, 2012? The world felt like it’s falling to bits, so it was all “Et tu, Atheism?”

    Yes, it was another discouragement. But watching this video meeting I feel cheered, optimistic. Not only do none of you look like you’ve eaten BBQ baby, at least not recently (which will probably disappoint some fundies who tune in) but your responses cut quickly and effectively to the problems and even, GASP, offered useful solutions to the problem. Didn’t you get the memo? This is NOT how meetings are supposed to go. Meetings are supposed to circle endlessly over the same topic, again and again, until you bang your head against the table and consider the windows as a means of escape.

    Yes, y’all offered useful suggestions to conference organizers, while at the same time offering all kinds of encouragement to potential attendees. I had considered going to a couple of conferences this past year. But the tales of harassment and those trolling brats on the internet had a dampening effect on my enthusiasm in ways of which I was both aware and unaware.
    But now, having seen this response, I’m allowing myself some optimism. Thanks for having the meeting. Thanks for posting it.

  27. says

    Yeah, rorschach, we actually had planned this FtB convo a while back — but I’m still planning to do an exclusively Pharyngula podcast, too!

  28. Robert B. says

    I thought it was really cool to just hear all these voices – most of the people in this video are bloggers I really like to read, but aside from Rebecca, I’d never heard them talk before. It was a really cool mix of speaking and conversational styles. (And nobody interrupted anybody even once! *pointed glance at the Penis Debate*) I would totally like to hear more discussions from this group or a subset.

    Also, I learned today that one should pronounce the E in Dan Fincke’s name.

  29. echidna says

    PZ, I think Rorschach was responding to the comment about Pharyngula podcast referenced in the comment before his, not the FtB convo.

    Anyway, I”d like to point to a comment by psanity on Almost Diamonds that I think is a perspective on TAM that is really worth reading.

  30. swampfoot says

    #23 anthrosciguy has the right idea, I think.

    The more I read of this quagmire, the more I have come to realize that at the root of it are these juvenile Libertarian “ideals”. The MRA whiners have a fucking tantrum anytime someone suggests that they shouldn’t indulge their every childish whim, especially when their urges have an impact on others.

    They feel entitled, which I guess is the very definition of privilege.

    That sense of entitlement about being able to behave as louts has me very demoralized right now, and wondering what, if anything, can be done. It’s like realizing that a whole class of people you thought highly of (as a group) are nothing more than barbarians.

  31. Suido says

    I haven’t watched this yet (looking forward to doing so when I get home from work), but there is one name that I noticed as absent immediately: Chris Hallquist.

    I would have liked to see him discussing the comments he received on his blog post that addressed the topic – hopefully in a much less hostile/combative manner and environment than the penis debate.

  32. Utakata says

    I just want to say that was absolutely wonderful video conference. And to say, thanks for helping me realize you are folks…all 9 of you are the atheist community, in at least those I can now confidently look up to as inspiration. That is, a shining example of what skeptism and progressive thinking should be and about…without any of the stomach turning baggage. And in return sent the 4 Horseman (now 3) and the old TAM staples (ie. Penn fucking Jillette as Jafafa Hots just called him), way out to pasture.

    Thanks so much again!!

  33. patrick jlandis says

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t attended, nor expects to ever attend TAM, I think the coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.

    How many readers of this blog have ever or will ever likely attend TAM? I’m sure it’s important to the speakers and attendees, but it’s not a general relevance topic to most people and by this point the issue has been well publicized.

  34. says

    Great conversation and I think some strong messages came out of it, particularly about advertising where policies have been a success.

    I have to say that for me, the one bit of grit in the Vaseline was Greg pounding on his ‘DJ is doing what his masters want’ theory. Ian Cromwell demolished that quite gently. Like him, I think there are other explanations for DJ’s behaviour, one being simple incompetence; another, outlined by karmakin here, being that DJ may simply be more inline with the libertarian leanings of the JREF community and simply reflects those rather than a mandate from its wealthy backers. (Just to clarify: I think there is an important shading of difference between reflecting a libertarian community’s mores and Greg’s statement, which seems to paint DJ as a puppet of his wealthy masters.)

    So, Greg’s statement jars. It smacks of unsubstantiated conspiracy theorising, and I can see many critics who will move to dismiss the whole productive FTB discussion on the basis of that one section alone. It’s a chink in the FTB armour… just sayin’.

  35. says

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t attended, nor expects to ever attend TAM, I think the coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.

    Actually, I agree, but not for the reasons you think. This is something that should not have happened if DJ had:

    (1) Not conflated the skeptic community with TAM and made it all about TAM.
    (2) Had reiterated a harassment policy for this year.
    (3) Not tried to claim there had been no problems last year, or at least offered an ‘oops, my bad’ once evidence of trouble came to light.
    (4) Not tried to heap blame for low attendance of women on female bloggers.
    (5) Not compounded the problem with outrageous remarks about women making harassment claims to cover for (I paraphrase) their own slutty slut-slut behaviour.

    That we have this discussion of TAM, continuing like an open sore, is due to DJ and a lot of unpleasant folks who have allied with him.

    DJ has sensibly shut up to the extent of not making things worse for himself. (To Ophelia, I think this is the reason why he is so quiet at present.) However, he could and should begin to defuse the problem by walking things back. That’s the next step he needs to take. Reiterating the TAM harassment policy, or instituting a better one from the many on offer would, as Stephanie suggests, be a good start.

  36. says

    One of the gentlemen in the video said something that touches on a subject I think is rather important: the atheist/skeptic community does not live in a vacuum. Granted, the majority of its members may be comfortably off upper-middle class, but that does not make one impervious to the social and political turmoil that has really chewed up the working class and the poor, especially poor women who are the most harmed and hardest hit by the War on Women. Atheism does not mean the godless community should not discuss broader social issues, or take a stand for social justice because poverty is a problem, or because discrimination against women is a problem, etc., and these issues do not leave the real lives of people — regardless if they believe in a god or not — untouched and unaffected (unless one is in the top 1%).

    The evisceration of the miserably stingy and inadequate social safety net that we used to have (AFDC) in conjunction with the increase in taxpayer dollars funneled into the “faith based initiatives” (those lovely folks that brought us the fake crisis pregnancy centers where women are lied to about the risks of pregnancy vs. abortion and denied referrals to abortion providers) have helped increase the stranglehold that religious institutions have over the entire public because if the ONLY crisis pregnancy centers left standing after the de-funding and closing of several states’ Planned Parenthood clinics, and the ONLY places for destitute women and children to go for food and sparse material assistance are the churches, this makes it all that much harder for people to leave the churches. Now that is just one example, but it is a significant one and it has had a snowball effect.

  37. Shoe says

    I enjoyed this a lot and wish this sort google hangout happened more regularly.

  38. says

    I am utterly dissapointed.
    There were no calls for mandated castration before attending cons and you even disagreed with each other on issues. Hell, people even disagreed with the chief poopyhead! What’s next? Evolution true and cats living with dogs?

    Getting back to the discussion:
    My hypothesis (in the colloquial sense) is that DJ Grothe made some stupid mistakes first (like the Kraus-debate, like defending that asshole who threatened Greta) and he noticed that there’s one group who’ll not let that bullshit slide, and one group who heavily pushes back, who does not only want the staus quo, but who wants to roll back things. And he has noticed that he can’t satisfy both groups. Hell, Emery Emery thinks that such a basic thing like saying “yes, there will be a harassment policy at this year’s TAM” would be wrong because it would mean giving in to the very nasty Stephanie Zwan who’s only goal in life is to ruin TAM.
    So he has decided to throw women and feminists under the bus and go with the ol’ white boys saussage fest.
    I don’t think that anybody will get an explenation soon about how come he could claim there were no reports of harassment when people came forward to say that they both told him in person and made a written report.
    By now he has given harassers and creeps a wild-card because now he’s set the bar for victims to report incredibly high: they’re not going to be taken serious and they’re putting themselves at even more risk by doing so.

    As for meetings: I’m usually sad that I’m stuck on the other side of the atlantic when I hear people here getting to meet each other at a con. Hell, I didn’t even make it to the one at a few hundred km distance. By now I’m not so sad anymore. Because ugh, that may not be worth it even if I lived next door.

  39. says

    Jaqueline’s point is highly relevant. If the atheist community wants to bash religion, they need to attack the patriarchal foundations that feed authoritarian structures like religion. This puts social issues on the table at atheist and also skeptic events. Anyone who tries to avoid them is running away from a key front in the battle against religion and woo.

  40. says

    If the atheist community wants to bash religion, they need to attack the patriarchal foundations that feed authoritarian structures like religion.

    yeah, but those guys don’t want to, seriously.
    They just want one more excuse as why they are oh so skeptically justified in feeling superior to the women and the blacks who’re stuck in their stupid religiosity.

  41. Louis says

    I may be wrong about this, I was half listening to the vodcast whilst working, so if I have screwed up, forgive me, but early-ish on in the conversation I got the impression that there was almost a de Botton-esque “atheism as moral system” comment from someone.

    I don’t think this is as tangential to the issue of harassment etc as it first might appear, mainly because I think this is a sceptical issue.

    One of the complaints we get when social/feminist/etc topics are raised is “herp derp no bigfoot no scepticism” or the equivalent. Obviously I think this is wronger than sideways ironed flares and socks with sandals.

    Why is this relevant to the first paragraph? Well without going into a vast amount of detail I don’t think that atheism or scepticism should lead one to a specific set of moral values, I see that as being backwards, and conceding far too much ground to the “X as a religion” drivellers. Atheism and scepticism are outgrowths of a rationalist approach to the world, not the philosophical underpinnings of it. Atheism, for example, is a conclusion, null hypothesis aside for a second, not a foundational assumption.

    I’m an atheist and a sceptic precisely because I’m trying to figure out how the world works by using reason. It’s the same thing that makes me sceptical of social mores and systems that makes me sceptical of bigfoot and aliens. I’m sceptical of the status quo and of challenges to it. I’m as sceptical of the claims of the feminists and the MRAs not because I’ve XKCD-like found a way to be superior to both, far from it, but because like anything in life they are claims about which scepticism is possible. Why am I a feminist? Because the claims of the feminists have thus far stood the test of my scepticism. And I expect them to continue doing so given the evidence I’ve seen so far. Is that really so shocking?

    So not only should we have anti-harassment policies etc because they create (feminist definition) “safe(r) spaces” but because they are the natural result of a very valid scepticism about the status quo and the machinations of our social systems. Those are as good a topic for scepticism, in fact I’d argue better topics for scepticism, than bigfoot and alien abductions etc.

    Why?

    Well bigfoot etc are great window dressing, they’re fun distractions. If bigfoot exists, unlikely but bear with me, the ramifications will be intellectually huge, perhaps eventually socially huge, but the number of people dying worldwide because of bigfoot is about zero as far as I can tell. How many people are harmed by homeopathy? Or the pseudoscientific/cargo cultish ideologies that underpin it? What about chiropractic? Or religion? These systems and the ideas in them are very worthy of our sceptical treatment precisely because they are so influential, they are not merely benign. The stratification and operation of various societies is no less serious a topic. It’s a topic open to rational exploration, within the limits of observation etc, as any other.

    So again, my atheism, my bigfoot-scepticism and most especially my “social” scepticism are outgrowths of a pre-existing philosophical bent towards rationally investigating the universe around and within me. I’m not a scientist because I’m an atheist, I’m an atheist because I’m a scientist. I think we should emphasise this direction of flow and the methodology that leads to it. I realise it’s a relatively higher intellectual bar than presenting people with a prepackaged ideology, but that’s where I think the value of what we are doing lies. So, yes, whilst I share the ideals and goals, I think the emphasis is wrong (if I heard it right). I think emphasising that feminism (patriarchy-scepticism) is as natural an outgrowth of scepticism as bigfoot-scepticism is is a vital counter to the false claims of the vocal sexists within scepticism.

    Louis

  42. Tony... therefore God says

    patrick:

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t attended, nor expects to ever attend TAM, I think the coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.

    How many readers of this blog have ever or will ever likely attend TAM? I’m sure it’s important to the speakers and attendees, but it’s not a general relevance topic to most people and by this point the issue has been well publicized.

    Let me tell you how this translates to me:
    “You’re talking about sexism too much. Sexism is not that big a deal. Stop talking about sexism.”

    My response to you:
    STFU.
    Sexism is a huge problem across the planet. In all walks of life. Most definitely in the atheist/skeptic movement. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed and eliminated because it negatively affects the lives of women all over the world! Go learn a thing about privilege before you spew more stupidity (that is if you think women and men should be afforded the same respect and dignity)

  43. Momo Elektra says

    @patrick jlandis

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t attended, nor expects to ever attend TAM, I think the coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.

    How many readers of this blog have ever or will ever likely attend TAM? I’m sure it’s important to the speakers and attendees, but it’s not a general relevance topic to most people and by this point the issue has been well publicized.

    I remember when, last year I think, the scandal about catholic priests raping and abusing children became public in Germany (and other places before and after as well), the Catholic Church had the very same reaction:

    They complained the media were talking about it to much (excessively) and thus creating the problem.

    But you’d agree, hopefully, that not the media reporting the cases was the problem, but the CC hiding them and refusing to solve the problems.

    Right? So, why have a different point of view here? Oh, because it doesn’t concern YOU, my bad.

  44. rickschauer says

    First, I think the video conference format is a great tool for problem solving within our community.

    Second, most of us, me included, were raised in the “christian vacuum” which is very misogynist, racist, homophobic, etc…so being polite and graceful, etc…to others are way biased and stupid. And as we grope (not “that” kind of grope!)along trying to reprograme our behaviors, knowing how others feel about behaviors and treatment is vital to ours/mine successful reprogamming to becoming a more polite, respectful and graceful non-believing rational thinker.

    Third, with that being said, I think it is important to say that we need to treat issues like this not as “sins” or “guilt” or “bad” or “shameful” but as not desirable and disrespectful then move to find better ways to interact more appropriately and respectfully which I think this video goes a long way toward doing. Kudos to all involved!

    Fourth, not apologising for DJ Grothe but I think all should cut him a bit of slack and help him create a truly respectful, balanced TAM which has done a lot to help “The Cause.” And the only way I can see that slack happening is to love one another and continue to apply the golden rule to all we do. IMHO, simply leave the slash and burn methods for the irrational egos…we have to demonstrate trying to be better than that. And this video is a good first step to that demonstration.

    (Sheesh, I hope that came out right ’cause sometimes my brain doesn’t let me think right.)

  45. dantalion says

    TAM is not the atheist community. This is the atheist community right here. TAM is one meeting. It’s a meeting that has had some good talks, that people have had some fun at. But it’s one meeting. Not a cornerstone. Not irreplacable. If enough of us want to have better meetings, we can.

  46. says

    Third, with that being said, I think it is important to say that we need to treat issues like this not as “sins” or “guilt” or “bad” or “shameful” but as not desirable and disrespectful then move to find better ways to interact more appropriately and respectfully which I think this video goes a long way toward doing. Kudos to all involved!

    Oh dear, is it never going to stop?
    Is there never an end to people who claim that the most important thing is not to hurt their poor manly fee-fees?
    Here’s the update:
    Lying is bad
    Harassing women is bad.
    If you did them you’re guilty of them.
    And you should be ashamed of yourself.
    You’ve written some sensible stuff and you’ve all undone it with that bit of utmost stupidity. Stop telling the victims that they have to be nice and respectfull to their opressors

  47. says

    Third, with that being said, I think it is important to say that we need to treat issues like this not as “sins” or “guilt” or “bad” or “shameful” but as not desirable and disrespectful then move to find better ways to interact more appropriately and respectfully which I think this video goes a long way toward doing. Kudos to all involved!

    Fourth, not apologising for DJ Grothe but I think all should cut him a bit of slack and help him create a truly respectful, balanced TAM which has done a lot to help “The Cause.” And the only way I can see that slack happening is to love one another and continue to apply the golden rule to all we do. IMHO, simply leave the slash and burn methods for the irrational egos…we have to demonstrate trying to be better than that. And this video is a good first step to that demonstration.

    Managed to fold the condescending scolding into the faux-”we” in true Stedmanesque fashion. Well done.

    “A note to those who say they oppose sexism and misogyny in the atheist-skeptical movement”

  48. rickschauer says

    Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg and SC OM

    Just trying to politely say: can we please learn from this and all the other “bad” and move on more learned, respectful and supportive of each other without more damage to the overall cause of rational living?

    (FWIW, please excuse me while I attempt to contribute in a small way…I suffer from puglistic dementia and sometimes what I write just doesn’t come out the way I mean inspite of repeated edits)

  49. says

    (FWIW, please excuse me while I attempt to contribute in a small way…I suffer from puglistic dementia and sometimes what I write just doesn’t come out the way I mean inspite of repeated edits)

    I’m sorry to hear that. I think you’ve been quite lucid, but I have a problem with what you’re saying.

    Just trying to politely say: can we please learn from this and all the other “bad” and move on more learned, respectful and supportive of each other without more damage to the overall cause of rational living?

    And I’m trying to say (did you read the post at my link?) that telling women how they should or shouldn’t conduct their struggles is arrogant, presumptuous, and controlling, whether you frame it in terms of that fake “we” or not. If you genuinely care more about getting along or “the overall cause of rational living” as you understand it than you do about women or social justice, then I don’t consider you an ally, notwithstanding any claims to the contrary. If you genuinely care more about the latter, then you should stop this condescending scolding and offering unsolicited advice for feminists immediately. I don’t think you should be supportive of people who engage in sexist or misogynistic speech or behavior, and I find that disrespectful to me and other women. But however you want to attempt to move them away from their harmful and shameful actions, just do it, and stop advising feminists on how we should conduct ourselves. I think you do mean well, and if you really do support this struggle, that’s how you can contribute productively.

    Please don’t respond by “just” reiterating your “polite” call for a change in behavior as though I haven’t understood it.

  50. rickschauer says

    Also, FWIW…I’ve witnessed the concepts of sin, guilt judge, atone do incredible damage in the world. Right or wrong, they are not part of the intellectual standards I try to apply to my life which you can find here: http://criticalthinking.org.

    I think we can do without those concepts and be much more effective, understanding and rational in what we do.

    - But then, I have brain damage so what do I know.

  51. Tyrant of Skepsis says

    rickschauer,

    But then, I have brain damage so what do I know.

    did you mean that to sound as passive-aggressive as it does?

    Also, FWIW…I’ve witnessed the concepts of sin, guilt judge, atone do incredible damage in the world. Right or wrong, they are not part of the intellectual standards I try to apply to my life which you can find here

    Real smooth, explain to the hot-headed women fighting back against harassment how they don’t meet your emotionally detached intellectual standards of reasoned discourse whilst doing so. Maybe they should shut up and let you handle it.

  52. says

    rickschauer
    I’m sorry to hear about you illness

    I think we can do without those concepts and be much more effective, understanding and rational in what we do.

    I understand what they do. They’re hurting me, they’re hurting other women. They want to put me in a place where I’m only an adornement, fuckhole, or without legitimate reason to exist. Those people are not poor misguided folks, they’re vile misogynists.
    You can apply whatever standards you want to your life, but unless you can convince me of a good reason to do so, too, they have no bearing with me.
    You can walk away from this, I can’t.
    BTW, I don’t think people have evoked the concept of sin.

  53. says

    Also, FWIW…I’ve witnessed the concepts of sin, guilt judge, atone do incredible damage in the world.

    Are you referring to any statements or blog posts concretely?

    I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. I repeat: You are not helping. You’re doing harm. You mean well, but you’re not appreciating the effects of your intended contributions. This suggests that you care more about your abstract vision of a rational world and ideas about how others should do things than you care about them or their struggles. You’re not being an ally.

    I urge you once again to do what I suggest at the beginning of my post and step back, pause, and think about how you could go about supporting this social justice movement (it might be by recognizing what you think are the best contributions from others, or by taking up some of the fight yourself however politely you wish), and then do that. Stop the scolding of the feminists you think are doing it wrong, because that is harmful.

  54. rickschauer says

    SC OM Yes, I read your link and think it goes a long way to helping folks like me understand feminist issues better.

    As I said above, I’m coming from a pretty irrational religious worldview and beg all forgiveness for past trangressions but think it well “I” attempt to learn and move on without trashing and bashing myself anymore than I already have via ski-racing wrecks and the angst-filled-depression I live with as a result…again, don’t really know if this is getting my point across but simply know, I learn better if I’m not feeling berated and part of the cause…did that make sense?

    And I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to make your points clear and concise…it really helps me better understand! And through that understanding, I hope to demonstrate better (i.e. less misogynistic) behavior in the future.

  55. Tyrant of Skepsis says

    BTW, I don’t think people have evoked the concept of sin.

    It rather seems that “the accused” are still engaging in the harmful activity that is being discussed as we speak. The question whether it will be seen as a sin (unlikely in an atheistic community) in retrospect is not even relevant yet.

  56. says

    rickschauer
    I think I have an idea about where you’re coming from:
    You grew up in a world where the concepts of gilt and sin and shame and bad were used to make you feel bad about perfectly normal and good things like sexuality and such. And this caused you harm.
    But I think that you’re throwing the baby out with the water: youthink the problem is calling something bad and shamefull because that was done to you for bad reasons when people are doing it for good reasons.

  57. RahXephon, worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, the Antichrist, Stalin, and Mao combined says

    Two questions:

    1. How much does that shithead Greg Laden talk in this?
    and
    2. Can I safely skip past his Vurry Important Dood Points since I’m fairly positive he’ll bring nothing new to the table other than his massively oversized ego?

  58. rickschauer says

    I’m deeply sorry to have offended anyone. It was never my intention. I understand that women have, for centuries, been abused and deeply wish it weren’t so. I will try my best to never offend anyone, especially women.

    Please, excuse me.

  59. rickschauer says

    And I deeply appreciate the comments back to me for otherwise I would not have learned how much this affects you all and the enormity of the problem.

    Many, many thanks to those who provided feedback.

    Additionally, reading Pharyngula and occasionally responding here is suppossed to be GOOD therapy for my beleaguered brain…I truly appreciate all of your patience with me.

  60. Tyrant of Skepsis says

    rickschauer,,

    I’ve done it too in the past in similar circumstances (the Elevator incident possibly), coming rather late to a problematic discussion that has been going on for a long while and in much detail. As a outsider one is quite ignorant about the depth in which the subject matter has been argued, and who the players are (some of them actively malicious). It is easy to then be surprised by the harsh words that are flung and equally tempting to proclaim “why aren’t you all please reasonable and nice and think this through in a rational fashion with me, I’m sure we’ll find a very reasonable conclusion and no one has to yell”. This is as condescending as it is enfuriating to those in the argument that have been bullied into shutting up by dishonest appeals to civility. (those who argue from a privileged position can first opress others and then dismiss the voices of the oppressed by invoking standards of tone).

  61. rickschauer says

    Tyrant @81

    Sincere thanks, you are very insightful and correct on every level.

  62. RahXephon, worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, the Antichrist, Stalin, and Mao combined says

    When Rebecca started talking about the guy with the camera (“Dr. Buzzo” or whatever) and said that he’d been to several TAMs and was well known as a sexual harasser yet was still allowed in, it pretty much confirmed for me that TAM is not something I would want to attend. If the organizers can’t be bothered to take reports of sexual harassment seriously, investigate them, and take meaningful action, then their event isn’t worthy of my ass warming a chair, let alone my money.

  63. rickschauer says

    We @86
    OK…I won’t.

    I do politely ask, however, please note my condition and attempt to keep your toes from under my embarrassed and extremely clumsy feet.

  64. rickschauer says

    (scratching head)

    Could be the case I can’t write any longer without being misinterpreted.

    (big fukken sigh)

  65. Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @rickschauer

    Maybe it’s not your illness keeping you from communicating clearly, maybe you actually do display some convictions and behaviors that others here find offensive. I wouldn’t rule out this more difficult possibility too quickly. For example, do you know why you angered Ing?

  66. Gnumann says

    Freethought Blogs – the haven of bullies, bully-enablers, and witch hunters. I’m sick to death of this. #bullies

    So, Russel Bradford’s journey to the dark side is complete then?

  67. rickschauer says

    Tyrant

    No, I honestly do not. I do know I feel terrible and very much embarrassed. Any light you can shed on the issue would be much appreciated. And that goes for the rest of what I wrote here as well. As I said above, I never intended to cause yet more problems OR be the source of any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

    And I do have to ask, am I making any sense at all?

    (embarrassed, fukking face-palm)

  68. says

    So, Russel Bradford’s journey to the dark side is complete then?

    You tell me. What would make someone spout nonsense like this ?

  69. says

    I will try my best to never offend anyone, especially women.

    a: “never offending anyone” is at best a incoherent and poorly thought out ideal and at worst blatant ethical cowardice. It’s impossible to appease both holocaust survivors and holocaust deniers. You have to prioritize whose feelings you care about and who is actually doing harm. The only option is staying silent…and frankly I think some survivors would find that offensive as well that you’d care so much about not offending a blatant asshole you won’t even speak up. Some issues are gray, some are more gray than others, and some have one side that is just wrong and needs to be told they’re wrong and pretending otherwise is offensive

    b: especially women. We don’t need chivalry in this world, we need decency. A consideration should not be given to women because they’re women and need some protecting or hand holding but because they’re people.

  70. CT says

    can we please learn from this and all the other “bad” and move on more learned, respectful and supportive of each other without more damage to the overall cause of rational living?

    This nicey nice stuff is what asshats use to get women to STFU since nicey nice shit is drilled into the core of our being from birth. “let’s just all calm down and let me talk”

    Does that help?

  71. rickschauer says

    Dear, We Are Ing and Giliel and Tyrant and SC OM

    First, a big, kindred-spirited, -Thank You- for all the help you given me today to understand the complexities involved with this issue…my dim bulb IS getting somewhat brighter by these exchanges.

    Second, I really can’t express in words how much I appreciate your patience with me, I am humbled and touched by you all as I grapple with this brain-bashed world I find myself in.

    All the Best, -R

    PS…So, let me just plainly ask, any suggestions on how do I or can I be more helpful or courteous as I move forward?

  72. says

    Gnumann: I just want to make sure his actions are associated with his proper name for better Google results. :)

    rickschauer: I made a 101-level post about the harassment debacle in specific, but these conversations in general, right here. If it helps.

  73. rickschauer says

    Jason

    Yes, that was a VERY helpful link and I’m following up on the links Pteryxx provided in the comments.

    (Embarrassed as hell)

    OMFSM, I never, ever intented to splash all the water from the pool.

    (sheepish lowering of head)

  74. says

    Holy crap – Russell Blackford said that today (or yesterday)? (I can’t see for myself, because he blocked me weeks ago – I guess because I’m a witch-hunter and #bully.)

  75. says

    omigod – here’s another one.

    Jeremy Stangroom‏@PhilosophyExp

    …the bullies at FreeThought Blogs run the risk of precipitating a tragedy. Bullying ruins – and sometimes ends – lives. #bullies

  76. says

    Wait, someone’s going to commit suicide over us talking about DJ Grothe’s irresponsible messaging and fighting to get conventions to implement strong harassment policies!?

  77. says

    Russell will probably block me next, because I replied to that tweet.

    And I’m sick to death of Russel Blackford’s hypocrisy. RT @Metamagician: FtB – haven of bullies… & witch hunters. I’m sick to death of this.

    I would like to see him name who is being bullied here, though. If it’s DJ, he can’t have listened to the conversation very carefully.

  78. Louis says

    I disagree with DJ’s stance over this harassment thing.

    Guess that makes me, a total nobody in the sceptical movement, a terrible bully of the bloke in charge of one of the biggest and best sceptical organisations in the world.

    Louis

  79. says

    I would like to see him name who is being bullied here, though. If it’s DJ, he can’t have listened to the conversation very carefully.

    It is. He’s named him specifically in at least one tweet as being “witch-hunted.”

    If Jeremy Stangroom has reason to believe someone he knows is in that kind of shape, he needs to get the hell off Twitter and get them some help right now.

  80. says

    If Jeremy Stangroom has reason to believe someone he knows is in that kind of shape, he needs to get the hell off Twitter and get them some help right now.

    No kiddin’.

    DJ! Me calling you a douchebag is absolutely no reason to commit seppuku! There are better ways to restore your honour, like, say, apologizing for the things that form the reason why I called you a douchebag! Please don’t kill yourself on my account!!!

  81. rickschauer says

    Whoa Shit, I’ve been to Japan…because of head bangs know seppuku feeling well, so did Junior Seau.

    Louis’s “suspicious lettuce” seems to help me when I turn those darkest shades of blue.

    Also helps me with my (gastly) ghastly nightmares and fukken sleeping disorder.

    Please get help Bro! Or before doing anything rash, try a big “suspicious lettuce” salad!

    (hope I’m not being a big idiot, really hard for me to tell)

  82. says

    Giliell:

    “They just want one more excuse as why they are oh so skeptically justified in feeling superior to the women and the blacks who’re stuck in their stupid religiosity.”

    They do that even to the women like me who were atheists since childhood! It would be laughable if not for the fact that so many women have been, and are being, seriously harmed in multiple dimensions by the rationalization for maintaining a status quo of male privilege. This is precisely why I devote all my time and efforts to the cause for women’s human rights rather than the atheist/skeptic movement, even though I myself have been an atheist since age 8 when I out-debated an orthodox rabbi on the immorality of god. (Yes, I always was a pain in the ass — even after I went to college as a non-traditional aged, first generation student and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a physics minor.)

    One of the most common arguments for ignoring the realities of poverty, discrimination, sexism, and misogyny I have heard from upper-middle class white maledom in the skeptics community is the specious claim that feminists aren’t real atheists because “feminism is a dogma like religion.”

    And that’s where I call bullshit.

    Feminism is a movement that is a collection of movements over time of women agitating for our basic human rights against male oppression under patriarchy. Out of this movement feminist theory developed. So feminism is a movement and a feminist is one who subscribes to the legitimacy of feminist theory. Feminism can be most accurately be likened to a theory, not a “dogma” — just like germs are not a dogma, gravity is not a dogma, the differentiability of functions is a theory and not a dogma, electromagnetism is a theory and not a dogma, and so on. So I really must question the rationality and “reasonableness” of anyone who adamantly insists that “feminist issues” don’t belong at the table.

    Whatever one’s occupation and station is in this society, poverty and injustice affects you. Discrimination affects you. Misogyny, sexism and male privilege affects you. A deliberate lack of opportunities affects you. The mounting resentment of losers that were artificially created by an unfair system (patriarchy) in order to engineer a class of winners affects you. All these affect you whether you believe in God, Bigfoot, reincarnation, evo psych (more appropriately dubbed bullshit cooked up by professional bullshit chefs) — or not.

    And in order for there to be comfortably off scientists, lawyers, engineers, doctors, journalists, and other “important” people, the society that produced them had to be built and maintained by a whole hell of a lot of people (mostly women) that had to be (often resentfully) kept at the bottom doing all the menial, “unimportant” (and often unpaid) work to make everything else possible. You don’t have empires without imperialists, and you don’t have patriarchy without patriarchs.

  83. Brisvegan says

    Please DJ don’t do it! Also, sorry about the Aussie douche content. Can we send him to the US with Ken Ham? Please? We don’t want him any more. You have a bigger population to better dilute the douchiness.

    Total meta comment:

    One thing struck me when watching the interaction in this video. Several times a couple of people started to talk at once. However, when someone stopped talking and someone kept talking, it was not always the white dudes who kept talking. It was almost like Ian and the women were real people worthy of respect! /sarcasm. (And how sad is it that I noticed and realised that as a women, I would have expected men to keep on speaking over me in most places I exist.) These little things are is how we know that the men of FTB really truly mean it about feminism and are not just in it for cookies.

    This is why the other side don’t get you. FTB folks actually think women are people! Male FTB bloggers act like women are respected colleagues! No wonder you confuse the douchcanoes.

    Thanks PZ for hosting.

  84. says

    We don’t need chivalry in this world, we need decency.

    I would add that we need justice.

    can we please learn from this and all the other “bad” and move on more learned, respectful and supportive of each other without more damage to the overall cause of rational living?

    Telling women in so many words to shut up about our oppression and what we suffer due to discrimination under patriarchy after we’ve always been told time and time again to just take it on the chin and get over it is not “moving on to a more learned, respectful and supportive” approach to rational living. The oppressor forfeits the right to demand that of the oppressed.

  85. says

    Brisvegan:

    “Can we send him to the US with Ken Ham? Please? We don’t want him any more. You have a bigger population to better dilute the douchiness.”

    Fuck NO!!!!!!!!! The US is already full of way too many douchecanoes as it is. The War on Women and the Tea Party ring a bell? And with the heightened calls for socally-approved violence against women here with the recent Twittered “suggestion” by wealthy PR political spin doctor CEO Jay Townsend telling his rich white male conservative buddies and supporters to “hurl acid” in the faces of Democrat women and the rest of the “Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites”, the LAST thing American women need is more douchenozzle rejects from First World countries!

  86. patrick jlandis says

    Tony… therefore God…You accused me of saying something I didn’t and then insulted me for it, class act. I sincerely hope next time you get that urge you STFU.

  87. Gnumann says

    Patrick: That “reading”-ting is not really your strong suit is it?

    Tony did nothing of the sort. Tony explained how it read to him. Instead of throwing a hissy fit you should reflect on why he did that.

  88. Tony... therefore God says

    patrick:

    Tony… therefore God…You accused me of saying something I didn’t and then insulted me for it, class act. I sincerely hope next time you get that urge you STFU.

    Perhaps if you explained what it is that I’ve accused you of that you didn’t say, I would STFU. You didn’t do that. As for insults, telling you that you have privilege (men do; it’s part of {at the very least, American, though it’s probably everywhere else too} life) isn’t an insult. It’s a fact. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you benefit in ways that women do not, simply b/c you’re a man. I do as well, being a man. I do my best to recognize my privilege and STFU when I feel it is necessary. Again, give me a good reason, and I will. The only other thing I see as close to insulting you is my comment about ‘spewing stupidity’. I guess that could be an insult, but y’know, so what? You insult women by trying to minimize the coverage of harassment and sexism at atheist/skeptic conventions (and yes, I went 12 year old there; “you did it, so I can too”)
    Since you didn’t respond to the contents of my post, I can only guess at what you think is misquoting you.

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t attended, nor expects to ever attend TAM, I think the coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.

    How many readers of this blog have ever or will ever likely attend TAM? I’m sure it’s important to the speakers and attendees, but it’s not a general relevance topic to most people and by this point the issue has been well publicized.

    Let me tell you how this translates to me:
    “You’re talking about sexism too much. Sexism is not that big a deal. Stop talking about sexism.”

    My response to you:
    STFU.
    Sexism is a huge problem across the planet. In all walks of life. Most definitely in the atheist/skeptic movement. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed and eliminated because it negatively affects the lives of women all over the world! Go learn a thing about privilege before you spew more stupidity (that is if you think women and men should be afforded the same respect and dignity)

    You say: “…coverage of sexism issues at this conference is excessive.”
    My understanding of this is that you feel the coverage is excessive. Hence my parsing of your words, “You’re talking about sexism too much.”
    If I’m wrong, explain why I’m wrong.
    Then you say “…it’s not a general relevance topic to most people…”.
    That sure looks to me like you’re saying “Sexism is not that big a deal.” Unless you know “most” people, you’re speaking in generalities that I suspect you have no way of knowing. Sexism/misogyny in the atheist/skeptic community may be something that’s not relevant to you, or even some people you know, but that doesn’t translate to not being relevant to most people. This issue could be hugely important to a lot of people. It reads as you projecting your opinion onto a lot of other people when you say “most people”.
    Your last comment “…by this point the issue is well publicized.” reads to me like “stop talking about sexism. I’m tired of hearing about it and enough people have discussed it.”.
    Again, if I’m wrong correct me.
    Whining that I put words in your mouth (which I didn’t even do, as I included “This is how it translates to me”; I never said “the following is exactly what you said”; I left open the possibility that I misread you, in which case, you’d have the perfect opportunity to correct me) and that I insulted you (you may not want to venture much more into PHARYNGULA if you think my mild comments were insulting) do nothing to refute my comments.
    Care to try again?
    This time, respond to the substance of my post, as I did with yours.

  89. Tony... therefore God says

    Gnumann:
    Exactly right.
    If I read his post wrong, he’s got the opportunity to correct me.

  90. neilschipper says

    #65 by SC (Salty Current), OM

    [T]elling women how they should or shouldn’t conduct their struggles is arrogant, presumptuous, and controlling, whether you frame it in terms of that fake “we” or not.

    I don’t think you should be supportive of people who engage in sexist or misogynistic speech or behavior, and I find that disrespectful to me and other women.

    To the seventh caller who can identify how the the author of the above has cooked her own goose — the expression fake “we” is a sumptuous spice — two free tickets to Saturday’s Flaming Sphincters concert at the Skulls ‘n’ Meth Lounge.

  91. jacklewis says

    Great conversation, a lot more civil, well stated than most of what has been seen on the comment areas of most blogs that have dealt with this issue.
    I have a question however, did anyone try to contact DJ Grothe and get him to participate in this 1 hour discussion? If not, why? Hopefully he will actually watch this and maybe get the constructive criticism in it but it might have been even more productive to have him involved in the discussion.

  92. life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ says

    neilschipper, stop acting like you get to decide how women should do feminism.