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The American Atheists’ Code of Conduct

The right way to do it: I was just in a conference call with American Atheists, in which they announced a specific policy on harassment that they will be implementing at all of their future conferences, starting with the Minnesota regional conference in August. Here’s the template: every conference should be using something like this.

Conference Code of Conduct

American Atheists is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.

We expect participants to follow this code of conduct at all conference venues and conference-related social events.

Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.

We have many different folks attending this conference: sexualities, genders, races, ethnicities, abilities, beliefs—these are just a few. Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other stereotyping and harmful behaviors should be reported to conference staff immediately.

Please do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to scented products. No one will object to the smell of your clean body!

Please respect the sessions and the speakers. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices, take conversations and noisy children outside the session room, and move to the center of your row to make room for other attendees.

There are chairs and spaces at the front and back of the room that are marked “reserved.” The front row chairs are reserved for attendees with vision or hearing impairments. The back rows are reserved for attendees with mobility accommodation needs. Please leave these chairs and spaces free throughout the conference for those who may need them.

This conference welcomes families with children and expects all attendees to treat these families with courtesy and respect. Parents or guardians bringing children are responsible for the children’s behavior and are expected to remove disruptive children from the session. Parents or guardians should be aware not all language may be suitable for children.

American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified by t-shirts/special badges/other ID.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

  • [Email address for organizers]

  • [Phone number for conference security or organizers]

  • [Phone number for hotel/venue security]

  • [Local law enforcement]

  • [Local sexual assault hot line]

  • [Local emergency and non-emergency medical]

  • [Local taxi company]

It was very clear in the conversation that American Atheists will be taking this issue very seriously — I would hope that other organizations will be doing likewise. And if they’re not, what the hell is wrong with them?

And if you’re one of the people who has been whining about dealing with harassment, suck it — you’re on the wrong side of history.

Comments

  1. leighshryock says

    My only problem with it is that it has to exist in the first place.

    Seriously, is this Kindergarten? Do we have to go over how to interact with another human being again?

    I guess we do.

  2. Kilian Hekhuis says

    every conference should be using something like this

    Agreed, there’s no excuse for not having it.

  3. says

    Seriously, is this Kindergarten? Do we have to go over how to interact with another human being again?

    You don’t have a job, eh?

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    The Apostrophe Police want to know if there is more than one American Atheist.

    Me, I claim tl;dr – but that’s because I have no plans to attend any cons. I did, however, search for any mention of biting, legs, or bars; finding none, I will tell T’f00t it’s safe for him to go.

  5. says

    I like American Atheist’s code of conduct, esp the perfume/cologne rule. I had such a headache and sinus problem before Skepticon was finished on my first day and it didn’t go away until after the last day I attended. I didn’t say anything, because I don’t see it as much of a big deal as harassment, but it is nice that American Atheist included this.

  6. leighshryock says

    @Kamaka

    You don’t have a job, eh?

    I work at a small business with about half a dozen employees. One of them actually could take some business etiquette training.

  7. Brownian says

    I guess we do.

    leighshryock, I’d like you to meet the legal system. Legal system, meet leighshryock.

  8. Gregory in Seattle says

    I like it. As someone who will be involved in several conventions and conferences next year, I may be shamelessly stealing it.

  9. Stevarious says

    This is all anyone was asking for – this and that the policy be enforced. I don’t know why this is so hard, and I don’t understand why so many strawpeople had to die.

  10. Sili says

    Huh? Did they forget the thoughtpolice part? And the applications in triplicate to interact with females?

  11. says

    Kamaka, Brownian, I think you’re being unfair to leighshryock. I interpreted their comment as being pessimistic rather than dismissive.

  12. Matt Penfold says

    This is all anyone was asking for – this and that the policy be enforced. I don’t know why this is so hard, and I don’t understand why so many strawpeople had to die.

    And that the staff are aware of it and know what to do, but it seems as though they on top of that.

    So very good news.

  13. says

    The thought police part isn’t written down, of course. You’re supposed to know all the bits about tasing and waterboarding and solitary confinement through the power of your mind.

  14. leighshryock says

    @hyperdeath:

    Pretty much. Cynicism vs Idealism.

    I’d rather be idealistic, and believe that humans are generally good, and especially amongst my own pet groups, I’d like to think that we’re above the rabble.

    But then there’s the fact that we require rigid rules on how to interact with others because of all the assholes out there, which kind of puts a damper on my idealism.

    So, put another way: I wish that we didn’t have to have these rules in the first place (as in, I’d rather that sexual harassment didn’t take place, and thus the rules would just be needless).

  15. advancedatheist says

    Well, you know, christians promote the idea that atheists engage in swinging, promiscuous sex (“the works of the flesh,” in bible-speak). How many young men from christian homes hear this claim from their pastors and Sunday school teachers, but interpret it as a selling point for atheism? So they become atheists themselves, then go to these atheist gatherings to try to cash in on the promise of sexual fulfillment as advertised by their christian preceptors.

    Imagine their surprise when they meet atheist women at these events and discover that the women don’t want to act according to the script they learned in church about atheists’ sex lives.

  16. sisu says

    I don’t know why this is so hard, and I don’t understand why so many strawpeople had to die.

    Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. See you all in August! (or at least those of you in MN!)

  17. DLC says

    I for one welcome the new No-Handsies Overlords.

    but seriously folks: I agree that some kind of policy statement was needed, point with pride at American Atheists’ policy statement, and view with alarm the idea that such statements are so contentiously fought over.

  18. littlejohn says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no. My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

  19. Brownian says

    Kamaka, Brownian, I think you’re being unfair to leighshryock. I interpreted their comment as being pessimistic rather than dismissive.

    Sorry leighshryock. I did think you were being pessimistic, and I jumped on the opportunity for snark. I meant it to be funny, but it doesn’t look that way in hindsight.

    So, my apologies.

  20. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Imagine their surprise when they meet atheist women at these events and discover that the women don’t want to act according to the script they learned in church about atheists’ sex lives.

    Off topic:

    This is got to be why, when I was dumb enough to try my hand at online dating and my profile very clearly and specifically said “NO RELIGOUS PEOPLE”, every friggin message I got was from an uber religious dude, or “spirtual” dude, who either a) wanted to convert me or b) wanted me to be his personal sex toy, cuz hey atheist chicks have no morals and so will fuck anything anytime anyway, right?

    And now, I’m thinking that some of these dudes grew up to be atheist dudes who think the same exact thing.

  21. Brownian says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet?

    Earth, asshole. Where are you writing from?

    My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “no.”

    Checkmate, dumbshit.

  22. leighshryock says

    Maybe doesn’t mean yes. It means something other than yes (pointless squabbling over definitions aside).

    Maybe can *change* to a yes later on, but it most definitely does not ever mean yes.

  23. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    Then you live on a completely different planet than I do. From my mom right on down to my boss “maybe” almost always means no. Or, more specifically, “Forget about it”.

  24. rowanvt says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no. My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    That is correct. Maybe very often means ‘no’. It can be unwise for a woman to bluntly say ‘no’ to a man, especially if he’s already showing some subtle signs of aggression, such as leaning over, crowding, blocking escape routes, etc. “Maybe” is a way to reject without being rude, and thus potentially incurring the wrath of the offending male.

    Just as I used to smile, say thanks, and then extricate myself from the situation with the men who would pet my hair. I wasn’t thanking them for the compliment of “Your hair is so pretty”, I was trying to be disarming so that I could flee without repercussion!

  25. Brownian says

    Let’s play a little though experiment for littlejohn.

    littlejohn invites me to go to a party.

    I say “maybe”.

    Does he respond:

    a) Great! It starts around 9. (“maybe” means “yes”)
    b) Aww, c’mon. It’ll be fun. (“maybe” means “no”)

    Now, littlejohn invites me to go to a party.

    I say “yes”.

    Does he respond with a) or b)?

    Finally, littlejohn invites me to go to a party.

    I say “no”.

    Does he respond with a) or b)?

    So, even in a trivial instance where the consequences of being wrong aren’t nearly as dire, which of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is ‘maybe’ more alike in meaning to?

  26. says

    My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    Please let me know which conferences you’re going to be at so I can avoid them. Kthx.

    Honestly, are people that desperate that they can’t wait like, 5 seconds to get consent? Are there so many coquettish folks out there who are so terrified of their own bodies that they are unable to give a clear ‘yes’? Maybe y’all should stop fucking those people.

    While not a fuck-ninja, I’ve had a few casual hookups in my time. I’ve literally never had the problem where someone needed to be persuaded into sleeping with me. What the hell is going on in the rest of the world?

  27. Brownian says

    Sorry, a) should read

    a) Great! It starts around 9. Can you bring the chips?

    (Assuming an affirmative yes.)

  28. Brownian says

    Honestly, are people that desperate that they can’t wait like, 5 seconds to get consent? Are there so many coquettish folks out there who are so terrified of their own bodies that they are unable to give a clear ‘yes’? Maybe y’all should stop fucking those people.

    While not a fuck-ninja, I’ve had a few casual hookups in my time. I’ve literally never had the problem where someone needed to be persuaded into sleeping with me. What the hell is going on in the rest of the world?

    QFT.

    You’d think from some of these people that TAM is the only chance they’ll ever have to see a live pair of breasts before being sent back into solitary.

  29. Matt Penfold says

    Then you live on a completely different planet than I do. From my mom right on down to my boss “maybe” almost always means no. Or, more specifically, “Forget about it”.

    I have always thought that saying maybe was just a polite way of saying no. If the man knows it means no, and not been an arsehole then it is way of sparing his feelings. It can also given a woman a way of saying no without risking getting called a “frigid something”, which is what the likes of littlejohn probably do .

    So of course the fuckwits like littlejohn have to do their best to spoil that little social nicety.

  30. deidzoeb says

    That code of conduct sounds fairly reasonable. Is there someone I should notify about the unwelcome sexual advance in this blog post, inviting me to “suck it”?

  31. Brownian says

    Is there someone I should notify about the unwelcome sexual advance in this blog post, inviting me to “suck it”?

    Are you trolling, or are you actually that stupid?

    In either case, for the good of everyone around you, stay the fuck home.

  32. says

    littlejohn:

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no. My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    Listen, women are conditioned to be nice and polite and there are plenty of men who reinforce this “arrangement”*– where do you think a firm “no” gets most of us? At the very least we get called a bitch.

    Here’s a nice little rule of thumb from the fucking Thunderturd replies thread: If you can’t read social cues, then assume the answer is no until you’re told otherwise. In other words, if you can’t figure out how these here confusing lady brainz work, assume that everything other than a direct “yes” is a denial, no matter how much you want to get your dick wet.

    *Especially those that take “maybe” as an affirmative (that’s not setting off rapist!!! alarm bells or anything).

  33. consciousness razor says

    Cynicism vs Idealism

    This is sort of pedantry, but I don’t think either of those really express what you’re trying to say. The opposite of being cynical is expressing optimism about or trust in others. (It might also mean saying that openly and genuinely, without sarcasm, but that’s more about the method of expression rather than the content itself.) Idealism can mean a lot of things, but none of them are synonymous with wishful-thinking — that is, they’re not supposed to be. So the alternative (to what isn’t your idealism) isn’t cynicism, but … well, I don’t know, maybe realism and humanism. The reality is that we do need clearly-defined rules about how people should behave, because we ought to give a fuck about how people behave, since sometimes they behave poorly.

  34. leighshryock says

    So the alternative (to what isn’t your idealism) isn’t cynicism, but … well, I don’t know, maybe realism and humanism. The reality is that we do need clearly-defined rules about how people should behave, because we ought to give a fuck about how people behave, since sometimes they behave poorly.

    That’s probably a better way of putting it.

    To summarize: sad that one of the societal groups I am in requires rules on sexual harassment due to past incidents (and these people being unable to internalize such things), but satisfied with these rules as written (but not with the people causing them to be needed).

  35. knighttyme says

    “American Atheists is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.”

    Most of this is unsurprising and covers the expected demographic classifications.

    I am however somewhat surprised that the American Atheists would define harassment to include making comments about religion that a religious person would find offensive.

  36. croquetplayer says

    This is great news. While some people have a really hard time accepting it, sexual harassment has been a problem at conventions. I’ve experienced it personally, and I’ve seen it happen to people around me. This language both recognizes that it’s an issue and set forth a clear policy on expected standards of behavior. Congratulations to American Atheists for taking the lead.

  37. A. R says

    fuck-ninja

    Best. Word. Of. The. Day.

    littlejohn: Think about it this way:

    Enthusiastic Yes = Yes
    Yes = Probably a Yes (Better to go for Enthusiastic Yes, duress, alcohol etc. are factors here)
    Maybe = Assume No, though it could change to yes. But doesn’t it make sense to play it safe and assume no?
    No = No (unless in a prearranged situation where something else (a safe-word) means no. Example: role-playing)

    It it that hard?

  38. says

    @knighttyme:

    Harrassment over religion is different from offense over religion. While yes, criticism of a person’s religion can be an offense, there is no harrassment. I imagine the AA Conference would be happy to have religious people in the venue to talk to and to argue and debate with, but as long as it doesn’t rise above the level of civil discourse (perhaps to the level of angry civil discourse) there would be no problem.

  39. consciousness razor says

    I am however somewhat surprised that the American Atheists would define harassment to include making comments about religion that a religious person would find offensive.

    Offending and harassing are not the same thing. Including religion as a basis for harassment doesn’t imply one shouldn’t make offensive comments about religion. I am somewhat surprised AA seems to be taking that into consideration now. Someone must have put the message on an ugly fucking billboard, or I doubt they would’ve gotten it.

  40. Stevarious says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no. My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    That is correct. Maybe very often means ‘no’. It can be unwise for a woman to bluntly say ‘no’ to a man, especially if he’s already showing some subtle signs of aggression, such as leaning over, crowding, blocking escape routes, etc. “Maybe” is a way to reject without being rude, and thus potentially incurring the wrath of the offending male.

    Is it too off topic to note that ‘saying maybe when you mean no to deflect aggression’ is one of those sweet ‘rape avoidance tips’ that all women are supposed to obey to keep from being assaulted?

    These are some options. Just say no, and the rapist decides to assault her for being an uppity bitch that needs put in her place. Say maybe, and the rapist assaults her because he thinks that maybe means yes – and obviously, once she’s granted consent, she can’t retract it, that wouldn’t be fair!

    The clear answer – for rapists to stop raping people, and for society to stop treating rapists as ‘a think that inevitably happens’ – seems too obvious to mention, and yet…

  41. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

    And yeah, maybe does not mean yes. If maybe meant yes, the word used would be YES! There are a great many reasons why ‘maybe’ is used in sexual situations–just to note a few:

    1. Many survivors of sexual abuse/assault may use ‘maybe’ in sexual encounters primarily because, as a survivor, they fear reprisal. Saying ‘maybe’ gives them a way out and some space from the individual where they could then feel more comfortable providing a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

    2. Women are also socialized in many cultures to be polite and accommodating–to men in particular. ‘Maybe’ is a way to politely decline and still meet that particular cultural norm. (And yes, obviously, there are many women who have no problem saying no, who do NOT feel obligated to be polite or accommodating to anyone–wonderful. Good for them. But policies are designed to meet the needs of those less able, in whatever way, to speak up.)

    3. Sometimes ‘maybe’ really means ‘maybe’! Sometimes individuals need a little space or time to decide if they’re interested in pursuing interest from another individual. Sometimes ‘maybe’ is important because alcohol or other substances are involved, and the individual wants a little time to clear their heads before making a decision.

    Honestly, are people that desperate that they can’t wait like, 5 seconds to get consent?

    Seriously! I just don’t get it. If someone is engaging in flirtation, innuendo, or some other sexual interaction with another individual–WHY would they continue to pursue that interaction if it is clearly not desired? How can flirting be any fun if the person isn’t flirting back? For that matter, how can sex be any fun if both parties are not enthusiastically involved in the process?*

    *flail*

    Why is this so hard to understand??

    *not counting, of course, individuals for whom lack of consent is desired in the experience.

  42. F says

    Wow. So what did this cost American Atheists?

    Did they lose limbs, and millions of dollars? Did this take hundreds of hours? Did they have to imprison thousands of members? Did they have to shackle all men? Is this going to destroy their ability to be free, thinking human beings?

    I’m still trying to get a handle on the objections in the extreme of those fighting against such policies. There has got to be a downside other than having to check your privilege at the gate, right?

  43. knighttyme says

    @Katherine:

    While I agree with you that harassment and offense are not necessarily the same thing, the details of the policy do not seem to make that distinction. For example:

    “Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion…”

    So yes, according to this policy, if a religious individual attends the conference and is offended by the verbal comments made by other attendees that are related to religion, they have been subjected to harassment.

    The wording of the policy doesn’t leave much room for the interpretation you are trying to make.

  44. anotheratheist says

    Thank God! “Offensive verbal comments related to [..] religion” aren’t permitted anymore at AA meetings. That is kinda priceless.

  45. Beatrice says

    Oh, come on. I wanted to read all the comments before saying how very much I approve of this policy and there goes littlejohn and ruins my happy.

  46. says

    I think there’s a difference between saying disagreeing with a religious person and starting to harass them because they are religious. Take say a reasoned discussion about religion to say someone yelling at everyone who walks by that they are all immoral and going to burn in hell. Assuming its applied reasonably I don’t see a big problem with it.

  47. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    While not a fuck-ninja

    Crom, please accept this shiny new internets.

    Anyone got any paper towels? There’s diet pepsi with cherry alllll over my screen. . .

  48. dragon says

    Well done code of conduct. Well done.

    It isn’t onerous to understand or follow. It doesn’t stop you from flirting with someone who flirts back. It doesn’t impinge on your rights, rather it protects everyone.

    It tells you what to do if you are having concerns with others. And when it is an official policy, the conference staff know what to do when they receive concerns.

    Now, really, that wasn’t that tough. Every conference should have one!

  49. says

    littlejohn:

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no. My experience is that “maybe” almost always means “yes.”

    Are you for real? Little, tiny kids figure out maybe means no with no problem whatsoever. What’s your problem?

  50. corkscrew says

    I like it. It’s clean and simple, it clearly states boundaries, and it briefly alludes to why those boundaries are there.

    In fact, I was surprised by precisely how much I like it…

    On reflection, the main thing that’s been bothering me about the integration of feminism (and other forms of not being an asshole) into the skeptical community is the perception that there’s no end-game. Every time a post on the subject comes up, my instinctive reaction has been “oh [deity], we’re going to be bogged down in this crap forever. Can we please get back to debunking Bigfoot?”

    This has caused me to react negatively to the entire debate. I doubt anyone on here even remembers my last few contributions on the subject, but I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise anyway.

    Having a code of conduct like this gives me hope that the dust will eventually settle. It lets me see what the skeptical world will (hopefully) look like afterwards. And it looks good.

  51. ishkodewaaboo says

    I hesitate to even comment, but really…

    Yes = Probably a Yes (Better to go for Enthusiastic Yes, duress, alcohol etc. are factors here)

    So yes doesn’t really mean yes, only an Enthusiastic Yes does?

  52. Maarten says

    A sound and reasonable policy, although I feel it could be a little tighter in some places as the staff-only instructions are a little vague. For example, what are one-time gaffes or minor problems specifically? And how to reconcile taking seriously a complaint with avoid making specific promises what actions [will be taken]?

    A fragrance code of conduct should not be in here: I do not believe that people have allergic reactions to scents because most olfactory molecules come from sources which on their own do not provoke a response at all. What is meant is You nitwit, you’ve overapplied. You reek to high heaven, and it’s giving me a splitting headache. Go wash it off! Medicalising the sensation of agreeable fragrances is a step in the wrong direction, as I’m sure the organisers do not want Eau de BO wafting from the attendees instead. What’s next? Dress code of conduct (We expect all attendees to adhere to the smart casual standard of dressing)? Personal hygiene code of conduct (All attendees are required to brush their teeth and apply deodorant prior to entering any convention area)? No. What should have been there, if at all, is something along the lines of While we encourage expression of individuality amongst the attendees, we kindly request that you exercise restraint in your choices for this convention. This applies to clothing, fragrance, hair style, piercings, and so forth. Also please make sure you present a well-groomed appearance to other attendees.

    And finally, I regret that the word ‘maybe’ has again lost the philological battle to social convention. I would expect that in an atmosphere of atheistic reason and this code of conduct the word could be given back its ambiguous meaning of, well, ‘maybe’, especially since there is a perfect alternative for ‘no’, namely ‘no’. Surely if someone feels pressured to say ‘maybe’ when ‘no’ is meant there is already sufficient cause to file a complaint…? In any case, perhaps in some future time.

    But these are minor gripes, overall the code of conduct states what it should state. The real lithmus test is of course in the actual handling of complaints. Talk is cheap, action is expensive. I remember that last year after Elevatorgate TAM was quick to assure the public that harassment would not be tolerated, and the sad history of what ‘no tolerance’ turned out to mean there is known to any frequent visitor of this blog.

  53. says

    @63

    So yes doesn’t really mean yes, only an Enthusiastic Yes does?

    Sure cause yes is sometimes coerced. Just like you didn’t really agree to give the mugger your watch you’d like it back if the police catch him etc.

  54. rickschauer says

    I think that this Code of Conduct is clear and appropriate…and as some of us dig ourselves out of centuries of misogynistic and other misguided behaviors, this is a good guide or reminder to help us find our way forward successfully.

    But I still feel depressed so much mud-slinging and hurt occured for this Code to come about…it was a big price for some to pay. My thanks to all those who “ponied-up” and paid…I owe you my deepest, sincere gratitude.

    And if I see you at one of the Cons, I’ll have a nice libation waiting.

  55. anotheratheist says

    “Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to [..] religion…”

    I get it. This harassment policy is not literally true at least not all of it. Some of it has to be taken metaphorically. We atheists are not like the religionists that have their holly book and pick and choose the parts that they like. Their God really did a lousy job compiling this book with so many contradictions to reality. You can really see how little effort their God put into it.

  56. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    So yes doesn’t really mean yes, only an Enthusiastic Yes does?

    *Enthusiastically* Yes!

  57. karmakin says

    It’s the concept of reasonable offense. A well applies harassment policy isn’t going to kick someone out who isn’t doing anything just because he “looks” threatening. Likewise, what we’re talking about in terms of religion, is calling individual religious people who might be present terrorists or child-molesters or something.

    In mixed company debates, the bar I always set is the first commandment bar. That is, in our society it’s OK to say that if you don’t have the same religion, that means that you’re a evil/immoral person. Personally that’s above the bar for personal offensiveness that I would set, but it is what it is.

  58. KNessJM says

    It seems this leaves the decision on what is and isn’t “harassment” up to the purported victim, which in many ways makes sense. However, the inclusion of “religion” in the list of possible offensive topics seems a little ironic.

    If it’s up to each individual whether a comment is “offensive”, and whether that offensive comment constitutes “harassment”, I can only imagine how much havoc religious folks could wreak if they were so inclined. As we all know, the mere existence of atheists, much less a public discussion of our views, is “offensive” to plenty of fundies.

    If a speaker talked about, say, Native Americans or transgender folks in the same way they talked about religious people, there would be a pretty big uproar. I can see some people labeling it “harassment from the pulpit”, so to speak. So why is religion expected to be different? Isn’t part of the message of these functions that religion isn’t fundamentally off limits? That we can poke fun at, and talk shit about religion all we want?

    If “offensive comments” about religion can constitute harassment, I can only foresee trouble at these conferences in the future.

  59. leighshryock says

    So yes doesn’t really mean yes, only an Enthusiastic Yes does?

    Terminology used around here: enthusiastic yes (when referring to matters of sex) means an absolutely clear yes with no coercion.

    Remember, a ‘yes’ answer can be coerced, either physically or emotionally. The person you were responding to was making that distinction.

  60. simonsays says

    CFI has also created a harassment policy for conferences. The abridged version was included in the program for the Leadership Conference this weekend and we were told that the full version will be online within the next few days.

  61. says

    Maarten:

    A fragrance code of conduct should not be in here: I do not believe that people have allergic reactions to scents because most olfactory molecules come from sources which on their own do not provoke a response at all.

    That isn’t how it works.

    Inhalational challenges using perfume produced significant declines in FEV1 in asthmatic patients when compared with control subjects. No significant change in FEV1 was noted after saline (placebo) challenge in asthmatic patients. The percent decline in FEV1 was significantly greater after challenge in severely asthmatic patients as compared with those with mild asthma. Chest tightness and wheezing occurred in 20.7% of asthmatic patients after perfume challenges. Asthmatic exacerbations after perfume challenge occurred in 36%, 17%, and 8% of patients with severe, moderate, and mild asthma, respectively.

    The patients breathed through the mouth during the provocations, as they used a nasal clamp to prevent any smell of perfume. We found that the patients’ earlier symptoms could be verified by perfume provocation. Breathing through the carbon filter had no protective effect. The conclusion is that symptoms suggesting hyperreactivity of the respiratory tract and asthma can be provoked by perfume without the presence of bronchial obstruction, and that using a carbon filter mask has no preventive effect.

    Four patients with a history of worsening of asthma on exposure to cologne underwent challenge with a cologne, and their pulmonary function was tested before, during, and after the exposure. Forced expiratory volume in one second declined 18 to 58 percent below the baseline period during the 10-minute exposure and gradually increased in the next 20 minutes. Saline placebo pretreatment did not affect the response to subsequent challenge.

    Environmental risk factors associated with asthma were pets, medicine, plants, dust storm, physical exercise, humidity, and perfume. All other factors, such as foods, climate, and parental smoking, showed no apparent relation to the development of asthma. The logistic regression analysis showed that parental asthma, plants, perfume, dust storm, humidity, and pets were the only significant predictors after adjusting for sex and other confounding covariates in the model.

    We have earlier described a group of patients with asthma-like symptoms, but no bronchial obstruction or allergy (1[2-4]–5). These patients complain of airway symptoms after exposure to chemical trigger factors, such as petrol fumes, cigarette smoke, solvents, perfume, flower scents, and, in many cases, also cold air and exercise. Many are treated as asthmatics, but inhaled corticosteroids and β2-agonists have little, if any effect. In a previous study on such patients, we reported an increased sensitivity to inhaled capsaicin, compared to healthy subjects and asthmatic patients, indicating C-fiber-mediated hypersensitivity of the sensory nerves, a form of sensory hyperreactivity ( 5). In another study, we showed that bronchial provocation with perfume induces airway symptoms, even when the patients used a nose clip and smelled nothing ( 2). The results also indicated that the airways were not the only target organ and that one site of entry for the irritants may have been the eyes. A trigeminal reflex was postulated as a possible pathophysiologic mechanism.

    In this otherwise healthy woman, case history and clinical findings suggest obstructive airway disease as a result of occupational exposure to perfumes over a period of 26 years. The long-term exposure to perfumes in the workplace obviously initiated the manifestation of chronic asthma, which persisted even after the patient avoided further contact. The causative role of perfumes was confirmed by specific challenges when she showed immediate-type asthmatic reactions. However, it should be considered that perfumes are a complex mixture of natural and synthetic substances, including volatile oils, aldehydes, ethanol, and other ingredients, so that an exact identification of the asthma-triggering substance(s) cannot be made. Nevertheless, such hypersensitive reactions are relevant not only to workers’ claims of compensation but also to prevention, because an increasing number of air-fresheners used in homes and stores may also contain perfumes, making primary prevention quite difficult.

    They’re still investigating the specific trigger, but the relationship between perfume exposure and asthma-like symptoms is recognized and being studied.

  62. says

    @anotheratheist:

    Christmas are you dense?

    Criticism can be taken as offense, yes. But there’s a limit to the level of offense one can hurl when it becomes harrassment. I wouldn’t follow around a Christian calling them a hateful slime asshole bigot kiddy fucker, but I would be able to say ‘you’re wrong.’ If they get offended at my stating ‘you’re wrong’ then they can feel free to take it up with management just fine.

  63. says

    Umm what if we treat saw a catholic at the event as we do say a libertarian at the event. You can disagree with their political/religious ideas and not be harassing them about it.

  64. rowanvt says

    I regret that the word ‘maybe’ has again lost the philological battle to social convention. I would expect that in an atmosphere of atheistic reason and this code of conduct the word could be given back its ambiguous meaning of, well, ‘maybe’, especially since there is a perfect alternative for ‘no’, namely ‘no’. Surely if someone feels pressured to say ‘maybe’ when ‘no’ is meant there is already sufficient cause to file a complaint…? In any case, perhaps in some future time.

    Conversation:

    Man: Hey, I saw you at panel X. That was a pretty interesting panel wasn’t it? Want to go to the cafe over there and grab a sandwich? We could discuss panel X some more.

    Woman: Maybe some other time.

    Translation: No, but you weren’t being horribly rude so I’m not going to be rude either.

    Conversation:

    Man: Geez, do you think there’s anyone here willing to get laid?

    Woman: *shrugs* Maybe.

    Man: Oh well.

    Translation: I’m not here just to get laid but who knows. I’m off limits though.

    #1- No need to have that reported. Not awkward. Maybe is polite no.

    #2- Pretty awkward, but the male has not directly propositioned for sex. Maybe was not only a ‘no’, but also a ‘not interested in this topic of conversation’.

  65. mymjohnson says

    Disappointed that there’s no mention of gender identity. It seems that it would be explicitly covered, but it really would make a difference to have anti-trans* discrimination see the same consideration as others… too often we’re an afterthought, or outright thrown under the bus.

  66. Sili says

    a3kr0n

    The American Atheists’ Code of Conduct?
    That sounds like it came from a fucking church.
    PASS.

    Hey! It’s working already.

  67. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Re: harassment based on religion: think about how much religion, culture, and race blend into each other.

    Where does, for example, Islamophobia stop being about religion qua religion and become about race, or (usually Arab) culture?

    Fuck, imagine that you are at a Generic Atheist Meeting. A woman walks up to you, wearing generic clothing, and introduces herself to you as “Aisha.” What assumptions – as to her background, as to her relationship with her family, as to her views on [issue], as to her personal beliefs – do you instantly make, that you would not make about “Jane?” I’d argue quite a lot. What if “Aisha” was a man named “Mohammad?”

  68. dwasifarkaralahishipoor says

    “American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion…”

    You can’t say anything offensive to a religion at an atheist conference? Might as well pack up and go home.

  69. rowanvt says

    A fragrance code of conduct should not be in here: I do not believe that people have allergic reactions to scents because most olfactory molecules come from sources which on their own do not provoke a response at all.

    The term ‘allergic’ here tends to be of the ‘adverse reaction’ type rather than the ‘anaphylactic’ type.

    I have adverse reactions to marijuana smoke, and can have these reactions to someone’s clothing hours after their last joint. But a lot of people go “what do you mean, adverse reaction? Oh, you’re allergic!”

    I’m also one of the few people who can small something aside from the alcohol base in Feliway, a cat pheromone spray. It gives me a horrible headache and makes me nauseous. Isopropyl Alcohol does not give me such reactions.

    Strong perfumes also tend to make me nauseous/give me headaches/give me asthma. One should not bathe oneself in scent.

  70. yoav says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no.

    There are several version of maybe but in all of them it’s smarter to assume it mean no.
    1. Maybe mean maybe: you make a proposition and the answer is maybe as in not a yes at this moment but leaving it open to the possibility of that changing at a later time. While there is an implied possibility of the answer becoming a yes the important point is that it’s currently a no and you should act accordingly until you get a clear yes.
    2. As others have pointed sometime people are uncomfortable to say no clearly so if you’re unsure it’s safer to assume they meant no and walk away.
    3. Some attendees in these conferences may be foreign so there may be a language/culture barrier that will make it harder for you to be sure of their answer, like in 2 the path least likely to cause harm is to assume that they said no.

  71. says

    mymjohnson:

    Disappointed that there’s no mention of gender identity. It seems that it would be explicitly covered, but it really would make a difference to have anti-trans* discrimination see the same consideration as others… too often we’re an afterthought, or outright thrown under the bus.

    When I’d read it through the first time, I automatically filled in “gender identity” when there was the reference to gender and orientation, because it’s such boilerplate in LGBTQ oriented stuff now. But when I saw your comment I realized, no, just gender.

    That is unfortunate and I hope they’ll consider adding it. Perhaps it was just a simple oversight or they assumed gender would also cover gender identity, but it’s really best to have it explicitly spelled out, same as any other protection.

  72. dianne says

    So yes doesn’t really mean yes, only an Enthusiastic Yes does?

    Why would anyone want to have sex with someone who was not saying yes enthusiastically anyway? I can’t imagine getting anything positive out of an encounter with someone who said, “Well, ok, if it really means that much to you” after you’ve badgered them for hours or threatened to jump off a cliff if they said no or something. Does anyone really enjoy sex with a partner who said yes out of pity or a sense of duty or insecurity or whatever else leads to an unenthusiastic yes?

  73. says

    Do you even know who Dave Silverman is? Yes, you can say offensive things about religion. You may not, however, go up to a muslim attendee and put your hands on him. You may not get a circle of friends and surround a lone Christian and howl at him. You may not try to scare away the Jewish attendee by whispering lewd suggestions at him. Is that so hard to avoid?

    Mymjohnson: in the phone call, they explicitly said that this was not a static document, and they wanted it to evolve. They’re already planning changes to make sure it conforms to local laws on a state-by-state basis. Write to them! Tell them what they can do to improve it — really, they were extremely receptive to suggestions, and want to make it better.

    They had a wonderfully refreshing attitude.

  74. says

    They’ve said this is a living document open for revision so hopefully we can get them to fix their oversight in gender identity. I don’t think it was a deliberate slight on their part.

  75. says

    Fuck-ninja? Is that where they can’t hear you coming?

    Hmm. Disturbing. Perhaps I should have used “sack samurai” instead of “fuck ninja”. I was trying to conjure the image of someone whose skill in underpants removal is so masterful that it is seemingly accomplished without effort.

    Maybe “vulva virtuoso”? “Mack master”? “Fuckspert”? I’ll keep working on it…

  76. says

    Maybe means no? Really? On what planet? If you mean no, say no.

    In my world, “no” definitely means “no.” Unfortunately, in my world, “yes” also means “no,” and “maybe” means “run away.” Yeah, I have issues.
    On the other hand, I’ve yet to run afoul of anybody’s harassment policy, which I suspect would bother me a lot more than the relatively minor problem of not getting laid.
    As for “enthusiastic yes,” well, yes. If that “yes” comes from a compromised ability to say “no,” say a power imbalance or diminished capacity, then “yes” means very little.

  77. screechymonkey says

    But, but… surely there’s an exemption for awkward guys with Asperger’s?

    Seriously, though, one of the things I like about this policy is how it addresses many other issues as well. It’s a good illustration of how conventions adopt policies on all sorts of matters that go beyond just “obey the law.” There’s no law against having your cell phone on, or having misbehaving children, or many of the other things this policy addresses, but that doesn’t mean a convention shouldn’t address these things.

  78. A. R says

    Crom: You now owe me the glass of Talisker that is all over me keyboard. Oh, and you get an Internets too.

  79. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    Fuck-ninja? Is that where they can’t hear you coming?

    Beer. Nose. Ouch.

    It’s terrible, but I didn’t even get that until you commented. *sigh*

  80. consciousness razor says

    Maybe “vulva virtuoso”? “Mack master”? “Fuckspert”? I’ll keep working on it…

    How about “feckspurt”?

  81. Midnight Rambler says

    The most genuinely shocking thing about this, is American Atheists actually getting something right.

  82. says

    Maarten:

    A fragrance code of conduct should not be in here:

    Oh yes, it should be. Too many people simply don’t know how to properly wear scent. If I’m spending money and traveling to be somewhere, I’d appreciate it not being ruined by someone who decided to wear a vat of cheap cologne and triggers a migraine, thanks.

  83. knighttyme says

    @Katherine,

    I know that your latest response wasn’t specifically made to me, but it brought up a point that I’d like to address. You say the following:

    “Criticism can be taken as offense, yes. But there’s a limit to the level of offense one can hurl when it becomes harassment. I wouldn’t follow around a Christian calling them a hateful slime asshole bigot kiddy fucker, but I would be able to say ‘you’re wrong.’”

    So here you detail that simple disagreement with another person’s lifestyle does not constitute harassment until it crosses some ill defined “level” that is exemplified by following them around and calling them the equivalent of a pedophile.

    I can’t help but thinking though that you have somehow placed the bar for harassment of religious individuals on an entirely different level than the harassment of any of the other demographic groups detailed in the policy. Please remember that the policy itself does not draw this kind of distinction. It says the following:

    “Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion…”

    So here is my question.

    How many times does someone get to tell a homosexual attendee that they don’t agree with their lifestyle or that their lifestyle is “wrong” before it becomes harassment?

    Isn’t one time too many?… or does it only become harassment if someone follows them around and calls them a pedophile?

    Similarly, let’s say there is an attendee of larger body size that keeps snacking on candy between talks. How many times does someone get to tell them that they don’t agree with their “unhealthy” eating habits before it becomes harassment?

    Isn’t one time too many?… or does it only become harassment if you follow them around calling them a fatass?

    This notion of the “reasonable arbiter” that will determine when someone has gone too far when offending the religious is not the same type of argument anyone has proposed when dealing with other forms of harassment. For all of the other forms of harassment it is assumed that the victim and only the victim gets to determine when things have gone too far.

    A code of conduct cannot be taken seriously if it calls for entirely different ways of handling a harassment issue depending upon who is reporting the problem. If the bar for harassment of the religious is following them around and calling them a disgusting pedophile, how does that standard actually protect people who are being harassed on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size or race?

    If you or anyone else is okay with singling out religion for a different bar to constitute harassment, why even include it in the list with everything else?

    It just seems like a disingenuous inclusion to me because it simply isn’t going to be treated the same as the rest.

  84. Maarten says

    @75: Thanks for looking up that article, my access to such material is unfortunately somewhat restricted these days.

    While my background is in chemical engineering rather than biochemistry, I still find some things rather puzzling. First, the articles mostly study asthmathic people, not (for lack of a better word) healthy or otherwise allergy-prone people. I myself test positive for nearly everything you can shake a stick at (pollen, animals, mites, dust, …), but I have no response whatsoever to any kind of fragrance. In fact, I enjoy scent shopping. Personal experience does not count in a proper scientific study, but still, it does make me wonder considerably about the applicability of these research findings to the general population.

    Second, from scanning through a dozen of article abstracts I see almost no mention of a component analysis. The articles mention ‘perfume’ as if every perfume is the same. Well, duh, they aren’t. That’s a hole big enough to drive a truck through. (Again, perhaps the analysis is performed in the full articles to which I have no access as previously stated… But it would be something I’d write in an abstract.)

    Third, in the article you referenced it is mentioned that a carbon respiratory filter does not alleviate the symptoms. That to me is beginning to sound dangerously suspect, as my life literally depends on those filters to get me out of a chemical plant if a vessel containing something nasty springs a leak. Granted, those filters are not perfect and need to be tailored to specific chemicals, but activated carbon is a good universal absorbant nonetheless. That an asthmatic patient gets no relief to me suggests that we’re dealing with very, very low concentrations of irritants indeed; and then I cannot help but wonder why such an unfortunate person is not constantly wheezing for air while simply walking around outside, in a city, or store, or in the open nature. Perhaps he is, but it is of course not really possible to remove scent from the world. And, more specifically to this code of conduct: remnants of laundry fragrance, deodorant, shampoo, soap, aftershaves, … cannot be excluded, and should cause a response.

    I do not wish to belittle the nasty experience of having a respiratory disease, so in hindsight my previous contribution was too strongly phrased (as in, there is evidence of a response in some people, it’s not all between the ears). But still, I consider the banning of fragrances to be a step too far, especially since they cannot easily be avoided. Hence my suggestion to simply ask for restraint. Then again, it’s AA’s party, and not mine.

  85. says

    knighttyme:

    This notion of the “reasonable arbiter” that will determine when someone has gone too far when offending the religious is not the same type of argument anyone has proposed when dealing with other forms of harassment. For all of the other forms of harassment it is assumed that the victim and only the victim gets to determine when things have gone too far.

    But nothing occurs in a vacuum. There is a difference between saying “homosexuality is wrong” versus saying “Christianity is wrong” and it goes beyond religion or choice. Race is mentioned in there as well, but there is a very different response to “honky” versus “nigger.” The use of one is essentially meaningless and the use of the other would (hopefully) get you thrown out.

    Privilege, history and societal power are part of harassment and need to be taken into account.

  86. says

    Which again religion shouldn’t be treated like race etc it should be treated like politics. It can’t be wrong to be asian but you can be wrong about your political views.

  87. Maarten says

    @82: Precisely what I meant. Thank you for putting it into vernacular English.

    @104: I then also move that people are made to be aware of personal hygiene, oral and body in particular. I have spoken to people who reeked out of their mouths sufficiently strongly to stun a crazed bull. That I survived the ordeal is nothing short of a miracle. Hence my suggestion to transform the fragrance coc into a more general appearance-related coc.

  88. says

    michaeld:

    Which again religion shouldn’t be treated like race etc it should be treated like politics. It can’t be wrong to be asian but you can be wrong about your political views.

    Agreed. It’s possible to tell someone they’re wrong in their political beliefs without passing into harassment, but the same can’t be said for race, orientation, gender identity, etc. The bar for what constitutes harassment there is lower, because you’re attacking the person and not an idea. The same should be said for religion.

  89. knighttyme says

    @Caerie:

    If a policy isn’t present to protect everyone it purports to protect then it protects noone.

    The enforcement of the policy cannot be left to the subjective whims of the enforcer lest their own prejudices dictate who will be protected and who will be left out in the cold.

    If some group is not legitimately meant to be protected by the policy they should just be excluded from the policy such that they can know what they are getting themselves into.

    If certain groups do not have the same expectation of protection from the policy as other groups that needs to be spelled out very clearly as opposed to being hidden in concepts such as privilege, history, and societal power which are not discussed in the policy.

    If such things play a role in determining how the policy is to be enforced, that needs to be very explicit, not just something that is potentially inferred by the reader.

    People will attend these conferences assuming that the harassment policy is there to protect them as much as anyone else. If it’s real purpose is to protect only certain subsets of people then it is poorly worded.

  90. says

    Ok another example for Knighttyme

    You can say that radical feminism is wrong but you can’t say that being a woman is wrong. You can however harass someone about how you think radical feminism is wrong or have a civil conversation about radical feminism’s views. You can’t however have a civil conversation on why being a woman is wrong.

  91. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    The only time I see it as appropriate to swing at a theist, using insults about them as a person, is if they started it by trotting out the “you atheist, you are inherently immoral/dirty slut/going to hell/hated by everyone” bullshit.

    But even then, there are lines you don’t cross.

    Because – fun fact – we don’t win by stooping to their level.

  92. consciousness razor says

    For all of the other forms of harassment it is assumed that the victim and only the victim gets to determine when things have gone too far.

    What makes you think that isn’t the case when it comes to harassing the religious?

    If the bar for harassment of the religious is following them around and calling them a disgusting pedophile, how does that standard actually protect people who are being harassed on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size or race?

    What? It isn’t meant to protect the others, just like protecting people from harassment on the basis of sexual orientation does not protect people on the basis of race. If someone is being harassed on more than one basis at the same time, then any number of those standards are in effect (for one or multiple people in a given situation), since they don’t exclude one another. They are all separate possibilities, which couldn’t be responded to exactly the same way, so whether or not Katherine’s example is supposed to be definitive of what constitutes harassment, you’re not offering any reason why we should allow harassment of religions. Or if you think they shouldn’t be but that there is a better way of defining it, you’re not offering that either.

  93. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Also, re: radical feminism, it (1) is widely misunderstood as an ideology (2) is actually quite diverse and broad in beliefs and practice and (3) is widely denigrated as an ideology.

    So, if you’re going to run around disagreeing with an ideology/belief system/idea, make sure that you (1) actually know what it is you’re disagreeing with and (2) that the person you’re disagreeing with actually has the beliefs you think they do.

  94. Momo Elektra says

    If theists go to such an event they might possibly be the ones to bother others if they push their agenda onto other attendees.

    But they still have the same rights as every other attendee, or should, to not be bothered against their will.

    So a heated, consensual debate would be okay, but going after them and pushing a debate onto them would not.

    I cannot find anything wrong with that.

  95. says

    knighttyme:

    If a policy isn’t present to protect everyone it purports to protect then it protects noone.

    Not all groups need the same protection. That doesn’t mean that the religious would have no protection, but that the bar of what constitutes harassment is different than it is when dealing with oppressed minorities and those who may be harassed based on intrinsic qualities (race, gender identity, orientation, etc) versus a worldview. No one should be harassed for supporting supply side economics, but you can tell someone they’re wrong about economics without calling into question their worth as a human being. The same can’t be said when dealing with intrinsic qualities.

    Harassment of anyone is wrong and won’t be tolerated, but harassment takes different forms when it’s applied to different groups.

  96. says

    @ Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain

    Indeed I just wanted to use an example where an ideological position and a non ideological trait could be closely aligned.

  97. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    I get that, michaeld, but I’d point out that what I said can be extended to religion as well. The loudmouthed religious extremists have done an excellent job of making the popular image of their religion be their version. This has had the effect of driving out many believers, but it does behoove us, as nonbelievers, to recognize that the loudmouthers are not necessarily representative.
    I guess how I see the religious harassment clause being relevant is if a person who is an avowed secularist but a believer (i.e. a person who thinks that religion – including their own – should be as private a matter as possible) showing up and getting crapped on for being part of the same supergroup as [famous bigot].

  98. knighttyme says

    @michaeld,

    I agree with your distinction between what constitutes a belief system and what constitutes a component of ones identity. I also agree with you that religion is more akin to a set of political belief than to ones body size, skin color, etc…

    Here is the problem though. Someone who is deeply religious is unlikely to agree with that assessment. To someone who is deeply religious, their religion is a critical component of their identity. Attacking their religion is no different than attacking them because of their skin color. To such a person BOTH are critical components of their identity.

    That you and I see a distinction is immaterial when they read a harassment policy and see that they are entitled to be free from offense related to their religion.

    If they show up at a conference expecting to be protected on the basis of this policy they will be in for a rude awakening when everyone tells them that they read things wrong and that religion is really different from things like gender, skin color and body size.

    It just feels like a potential bait and switch to me because we all know that religious beliefs will not be protected in the same way as the rest of the things on that list.

    If it isn’t going to be treated the same as the rest then it needs to be excluded from the list, or treated in a separate section detailing how it is different and where the line is since everyone appears to be saying that the line for religion resides in a VERY different place than for the rest of the list.

  99. Beatrice says

    Maarten,

    I then also move that people are made to be aware of personal hygiene, oral and body in particular.

    Well, there is a rather large hint about hygiene there:

    Please do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to scented products. No one will object to the smell of your clean body!

  100. says

    Brownian:

    You’d think from some of these people that TAM is the only chance they’ll ever have to see a live pair of breasts before being sent back into solitary.

    For many of the ERVites, that probably is the case.

  101. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Beatrice:

    clean body

    Coming as I do from the geek community, and big geek cons, many of them do put notices in their programs asking people to bathe and wear deodorant. Because (stereotypes be damned) there are some geeks that see attending the 15th C’thulu game as more important than bathing. Add con crud and a steady diet of pizza and soda (i.e. the food you eat while con-ing), and odors do in fact get bad. And some people have to be reminded of this.

    I have not been to enough skeptical/atheist cons to know if that is also a problem there.

  102. consciousness razor says

    A hypothetical example: a Muslim woman wearing a hijab comes to a conference. Some asshole harasses her, on the basis of her gender or ethnicity. That’s not acceptable. Or an asshole could harass her for wearing a hijab, on the basis of her religion (if that’s how she thinks she’s being harassed, if not also because of her gender or ethnicity). The latter form of harassment isn’t acceptable, not even because it’s about something religious and we’re atheists who criticize religion. That can be done without harassing people. I don’t think this is such a difficult concept.

  103. Moggie says

    Maarten:

    I then also move that people are made to be aware of personal hygiene, oral and body in particular. I have spoken to people who reeked out of their mouths sufficiently strongly to stun a crazed bull. That I survived the ordeal is nothing short of a miracle. Hence my suggestion to transform the fragrance coc into a more general appearance-related coc.

    I’m not a con-goer myself, so I can’t say how accurate this is, but I’ve heard complaints that certain cons attract a significant number of people with a relaxed approach to personal hygiene, which can be a big problem for a multi-day event. PAX has this reputation, for example, and here are the hygiene rules for Dragon*Con. When a con has to instruct people to bathe and clean their teeth, I have to wonder what variety of primates they’re getting through their doors, but there you go: apparently it’s necessary.

  104. Beatrice says

    I have never gone to any kind of convention, so I didn’t know lack of hygiene was that much of a problem.

    Although, having someone in the family who doesn’t believe in deodorant or tooth paste, I should have realized it could become rather… unpleasant at gatherings of so many people.

  105. mary lynneschuster says

    What does “maybe” mean debate: It reminded me of a conversation with my daughter. This did not strike me as odd until my sister, overhearing us, cracked up.

    Daughter: Mom, can we stop for ice cream?
    Me: I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe.
    Daugher: Yay!
    Me: And what does maybe mean?
    Daughter: Probably not.
    Me: Good girl.

  106. ishkodewaaboo says

    @leighshryock #73
    Okay, yeah I’ll admit right now I don’t read all of the comments on every post, so without that clarification, it sounded like the start of a slippery slope with the definition of “yes”. To me, any consent to any activity, sexual or otherwise, implies a lack of coercion as well as being of sound mind (sober, mature enough to make that sort of decision, etc.). So that’s why to me, a yes would be a yes, without the need for an extra category for “Enthusiastic Yes”. But then I’m not leading this discussion, so I can accept that terminology.

    And given the other reply in post 70, that does seem to indicate that maybe enthusiastic is merely an ordinary modifier of yes, not a specific term unto itself. And to that one:

    @Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort
    Sure, who wouldn’t? But a rule stating that anything less than absetively posolute enthusiasm for the sexy fun times is verboten seems a bit harsh. As long as both parties are willing (uncoerced and aware of what they’re doing), whose place is it to say they aren’t enthusiastic enough about it? Who knows, maybe I’m positively bursting with enthusiasm, but I’m shy and want to save it for when there’s more privacy, instead of in the middle of a crowded bar.

  107. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    ishkodewaaboo, you really should read the Yes Means Yes article that’s been posted about 10 times here.

    The issue is that many times, a woman who does not say yes, who does not say maybe, who pretty actively indicates her lack of consent to someone who has more than 3 brain cells is seen as consenting – by men, by courts, by juries, by police, by society – because she (1) wore those clothes (2) was in that place and (3) failed to scream, wail, thrash about, and tattoo “NO” on her forehead.

    That is the status quo. So people talking about “enthusiastic yes” are talking about actually having women’s “maybes” respected, of shifting the standard of what constitutes consent.

    Also – if a woman is browbeaten into passive submission, is that consent? That is quite common.

  108. Nentuaby says

    I have been in email contact with Amanda Knief, who confirms that the oversight has been corrected and Gender Identity has been added to the policy; it will be in the official document when it is posted later today.

  109. anotheratheist says

    @ Caine, Fleur du mal
    Yeah, we should ban _cheap_ cologne. Poor people suck anyway.

    Btw. what about offensive verbal comments related to somebody being a housewife or a houseman for that matter? Or are these currently allowed in progressive circles?

  110. ishkodewaaboo says

    Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain

    I’ll look that article up and have a look, thanks.

    As for the examples, yes that’s unfortunately the way our society tends to work. And also yes, I agree that all three of those are wrong. I’ve never understood the “she should have known better” or “she was asking for it” justifications. Same goes for browbeating, that’s coercion, even if it’s not as blatantly obvious as the violent or blackmail type. Saying yes because you are afraid isn’t consent, it’s self-preservation.

    And yeah, I don’t read all the comments here, there’s hundreds on any given post, I can’t keep up. So thanks for the clarification. Like I said, were this my blog, and were I guiding the discussion, I may have chosen a different way of making the clarification, but given the context here, it makes sense, so I’ll go with it.

  111. emburii says

    I was a little leery about that ‘religion’ clause, too, but on second thought I see its purpose.

    There is a difference between a religion and a person. There is a difference between telling someone ‘you’re a Catholic so that means you’re a kiddie raper’ and ‘I disagree with the Catholic Church and its supporters because they enable child abuse and cover-ups of same’. The first one could definitely count as harassment and is more likely to lead to someone closing down. The second is reasoned, rational, and can be a path to a potentially mind-changing conversation.

    (Or they can get defensive and walk off over it, but even so that second argument is mild enough that they’re less likely to make a complaint. If they do, it’s probably not going to go very far.)

    This is very pertinent, considering that not every atheist is in a relationship with another atheist. Justin Griffith had a guest post from someone who was married to a Christian, and more examples chimed in during the comments. If those people see abuse of themselves as individuals, hatred and vitriol of the sort they could find in any garden-variety bigot, they will quite rightly be reluctant to engage with other atheists in the future. On the other hand, if we keep it general (I don’t like this position or its consequences) as opposed to ‘you’re stupid and terrible!’, they have nowhere to go but their own minds.

    There is a place for vitriol but there is also a place for politeness, and I think the official position for conferences and gatherings needs to hew more towards the latter. It entices more people to the group and gives better PR, and all we lose is the people who are unwilling to extend any empathy to those they see as opponents. Win-win both ways.

  112. says

    Esteleth:

    *Depends* and *Pine-Sol* for Audley.

    I should have invested in these things months ago. Now you guys are ruining all of my furniture. ;)

    Beatrice:

    Although, having someone in the family who doesn’t believe in deodorant or tooth paste, I should have realized it could become rather… unpleasant at gatherings of so many people.

    Ugh. Thankfully, so far the wooish bit of my family still uses deo and toothpaste and whatnot– it’s the Tom’s of Maine crap (FLUORIDE WILL KILL YOU!), but it helps.

    On the stinkiness of con attendees: I’ve never been to a big nerd convention. However, having known nerds my entire life, I’m not surprised that there’s a certain subset that, um, takes cleanliness for granted.

    Remember years ago when Everquest came out? Yeah, I knew a guy who was kicked out of the dorms at the fancy-pants private university he attended because his hygiene was so bad– he spent every waking hour playing Evercrack and eating takeout. After his roommie complained several times, they booted him and he dropped out.

  113. chippanfire says

    Excellent work. Just one suggestion: they might want to consider including age as a protected characteristic along with the others.

    @65

    Fuck-ninja? Is that where they can’t hear you coming?

    A fuck-ninja is someone skilled in marital arts…

  114. says

    A firm negative is considered rude in lots of societies. Especially for women.

    Perhaps part of achieving equal rights is for negatives to carry equal weight across all the genders, whether “rude” or not.

  115. geraldmcgrew says

    My suggestions…

    First, the policy is a mixture of general suggestions and more strict guidelines, making it unclear which is which. I suggest having two distinct sections (e.g. “Rules and Policies” and “General Suggestions”).

    We expect participants to follow this code of conduct at all conference venues and conference-related social events.

    What exactly is a “conference-related social event”? I suggest if the “social event” isn’t on the agenda, it’s not part of the conference.

    Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference.

    Not enforceable, suggest deleting. “Please” and “you are encouraged” give wiggle room.

    Please do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to scented products. No one will object to the smell of your clean body!

    Suggest deleting, or moving to a separate section entitled “General Suggestions”.

    Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

    As others have noted, this is ripe for abuse. No indication is given for who determines what is or isn’t “offensive”. If it’s merely one person taking offense at something, you may end up with more problems than you can handle.

    Also, how does one determine what constitutes “unwelcome sexual attention”? Is it mere rejection of a sexual advance? If a attendee asks me to go up to her room, it could be argued that it’s not until I say “no” or “yes” that she knows whether her “sexual attention” is “unwanted” or not. I suggest adding a qualifier such as “persistent”. That way, merely asking someone out at the bar cannot be classified as “harassment” and thus be used to expel someone.

  116. megankelley says

    #64

    Bollocks! I’m *allergic* to a specific ingredient in some perfumes (anything made by Bath and Bodyworks!) used in soaps, colognes, etc — OF COURSE it’s worse when someone wears a fuckton of the product — but it is still uncomfortable at lower volumes with too much proximity. I was really impressed with including scents in this policy. Of course you can wear your deodorant, or not, but policing the folks who carry an unthinking cloud of scent is really a great move for those of us who get to spend our days with a headache and nausea otherwise.

  117. screechymonkey says

    geraldmcgrew@143:

    That way, merely asking someone out at the bar cannot be classified as “harassment” and thus be used to expel someone.

    Do you really believe that is likely? Do you really think the evil dictators at American Atheists are champing at the bit to expel someone for “merely asking someone out” politely?

    The problem with the kinds of changes you’re suggesting is that they leave gaps. If you require something to be “persistent” to qualify as “harassment,” then you’re saying that even the most vile and obnoxious behavior is allowed as long as you just do it once. (Once to each person?)

    Who determines what’s offensive? The people enforcing the policy. It’s an AA event, they’re the ones making the decisions. It’s impossible to come up with a laundry list that will cover every possible offensive behavior and capture every bit of nuance and context. At some point you have to trust the decision-makers with some discretion and authority. I’d certainly rather trust them than some rules-lawyering creep who scrutinizes the guidelines to try to figure out exactly how much he can get away with. (I’m not saying that you are that rules-lawyering creep, by the way.)

  118. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    (I’m not saying that you are that rules-lawyering creep, by the way.)

    I certainly can’t say for sure that he is, but he sure as hell comes across as one. Especially when he thinks “please” leaves wiggle-room.

    The important part of the document is of course this:

    Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

    It makes everything else enforceable, no matter how vauge.

    In fact, the only thing I find too vague is the hinting about hygiene. Is it too much to say that no matter what your regular preference is, daily showers during the conference will be greatly appreciated by your fellow humans?

  119. screechymonkey says

    “I wonder how an EG-like incident would be handled under this policy.”

    Assuming it was reported, and that he was identified, my guess is that, at worst, EG would be told, “Guy, don’t do that.” Which sounds kind of familiar….

  120. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    I wonder how an EG-like incident would be handled under this policy.

    “Don’t do that” seems likely if procedure is followed. And banning on a second offence of course.

    Any other silly questions that could easily be solved by reading the OP?

  121. geraldmcgrew says

    screechymonkey,

    Do you really believe that is likely?

    Given the nature of many of the comments on this issue, I think it’s quite likely (on the registering a complaint part). On this blog, PZ has referred to “being hit on” as unacceptable harassment.

    Of course, what AA mgm’t decides to do about it is another issue. My suggestion was merely to point out that the existing language makes it possible that they will end up dealing with a lot of unnecessary complaints.

    If you require something to be “persistent” to qualify as “harassment,” then you’re saying that even the most vile and obnoxious behavior is allowed as long as you just do it once. (Once to each person?)

    I meant that the phrase should read as “persistent unwanted sexual attention”. That way, a person hitting on someone and being rejected (thus making their attention “unwanted”) couldn’t be accused of harassment unless they persisted.

    Who determines what’s offensive? The people enforcing the policy. It’s an AA event, they’re the ones making the decisions. It’s impossible to come up with a laundry list that will cover every possible offensive behavior and capture every bit of nuance and context. At some point you have to trust the decision-makers with some discretion and authority. I’d certainly rather trust them than some rules-lawyering creep who scrutinizes the guidelines to try to figure out exactly how much he can get away with.

    Fair point.

  122. A. R says

    Gnumann: I read the OP about six hours ago. I was just asking for a group opinion. But yes, “don’t do that” seems appropriate.

  123. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Gnumann: I read the OP about six hours ago. I was just asking for a group opinion. But yes, “don’t do that” seems appropriate.

    I’m sorry! I misread you. It’s late here and I apparently put my JAQ’ing detection device in “overdrive”.

  124. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As others have noted, this is ripe for abuse. No indication is given for who determines what is or isn’t “offensive”.

    Anybody who has taken corporate anti-harassment training knows that answer, and it is obvious. It is ALWAYS the person receiving the unwanted attention that makes the initial determination. Which is why when in doubt, BACK OFF….

  125. earwig says

    @geraldmcgrew, exactly who do you imagine would be making all these frivolous and vexatious complaints? Don’t you think people would need some sort of reason to lodge a complaint? Or do you think they’d just be doing it in a trollish sort of way to make life difficult for American Atheists?

    A fuck-ninja is someone skilled in marital arts…

    LOL, chippanfire.

  126. Mym says

    I just wrote to them about including gender identity; after sending the message it put me back on the main page, with the policy announcement, and it has indeed been added!

  127. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I meant that the phrase should read as “persistent unwanted sexual attention”.

    It doesn’t need to be persistent to be harassment. That is what you are missing. ANY UNWANTED ATTENTION is harassment, even one incident, like EG, who harassed RW with unwanted attention in an inappropriate environment. NO EXCUSES FOR NOT BACKING OFF WHEN IN DOUBT…

  128. geraldmcgrew says

    Anybody who has taken corporate anti-harassment training knows that answer, and it is obvious. It is ALWAYS the person receiving the unwanted attention that makes the initial determination.

    Right, because you’re talking about a work setting. If AA truly want to set a standard of “Any time someone says something you find offensive, please complain” for their meetings, I suppose they’d better be prepared for the results.

    exactly who do you imagine would be making all these frivolous and vexatious complaints?

    Reading through the comments on this subject, especially since “elevatorgate”, is anyone really questioning whether there are some who feel being hit on constitutes real sexual harassment?

  129. geraldmcgrew says

    As if to illustrate my point…

    ANY UNWANTED ATTENTION is harassment, even one incident

    I’m at an AA conference, and later on that evening I go downstairs to the bar. An overweight, ugly woman comes up to me and says, “Hey, would you be interested in going out later?”

    On the above basis, I can now file a harassment complaint with AA management. I don’t want fat ugly women hitting on me.

  130. earwig says

    Reading through the comments on this subject, especially since “elevatorgate”, is anyone really questioning whether there are some who feel being hit on constitutes real sexual harassment?

    I’m not American, so not fully au fait with the nuances of “being hit on”. If it’s the unwanted attention of a PUA, then yes, I am not surprised that many people regard it as sexual harassment. How hard is it for people to read the signs of other people, and listen to what they say? By the time someone’s old enough to go to one of these events unaccompanied by a parent they should have learned something about social and personal boundaries. It’s pretty easy to avoid being obnoxious.

  131. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    On the above basis, I can now file a harassment complaint with AA management. I don’t want fat ugly women hitting on me.

    Of course. What part of “unwanted sexual attention” didn’t you get arsehole?

    Of course, a non-arsehole person would have been able to frame the question a bit less offensively. And from the loving personality you exhibit here there is a certain possibility that the staffer would forget about his professionality and ignored your complaint (obnoxious people are treated less favourably than other people for some strange reason).

    And of course if the complaint met the guidelines, applied reasonably with the well-trained staffer in question, they would have a chat with the woman in question that basically amounted to “don’t do that”.

  132. earwig says

    I mean, the nuances of the phrase “being hit on”, obviously!

    geraldmcgrew, it’s up to you. Why would you want to register a complaint in those circs? I am sure the conference staff would note your concern.

  133. rowanvt says

    @ Maarten 110:

    @82: Precisely what I meant. Thank you for putting it into vernacular English.

    … What? You lamented that maybe doesn’t mean “Might be yes, might be no, we’ll find out” anymore, but can instead mean ‘no’, which is silly since we have the word ‘no’… and then I pointed out ways in which ‘maybe’ IS used as a ‘no’ and *why* it’s used that way, and now you agree that ‘maybe’ oft means ‘no’ which was my point? Color me utterly confused.

    @geraldmcgrew 150

    I meant that the phrase should read as “persistent unwanted sexual attention”. That way, a person hitting on someone and being rejected (thus making their attention “unwanted”) couldn’t be accused of harassment unless they persisted.

    No, no no no no. Some random guy coming up to me at a convention and going “Hey baby, you’re hot. How about we head up to my room for some one on one fun time?” IS sexual harassment, especially if I’ve done NOTHING to indicate such a comment would be welcome. It’s boorish, it’s annoying, and it’s creepy as hell. Persistence is NOT required in this case.

  134. geraldmcgrew says

    If it’s the unwanted attention of a PUA, then yes, I am not surprised that many people regard it as sexual harassment.

    As in, real sexual harassment for which legal action needs to be taken?

  135. says

    geraldmcgrew: And what makes you think, with an attitude like that, that any woman would approach you? I’ve never even seen you, but your attitude makes you utterly repulsive and less likely to be approached.

  136. geraldmcgrew says

    Of course. What part of “unwanted sexual attention” didn’t you get

    And there we have it. My point has been demonstrated in spades.

  137. julian says

    I don’t want fat ugly women hitting on me.

    And I don’t want shallow jerks anywhere near me.

    And what makes you think, with an attitude like that, that any woman would approach you?

    Well there is Abbie Smith. She also seems fond of denigrating people because they’re “ugly.” Already the two of them have a lot in common.

  138. says

    geraldmcgrew

    Sure how hard is it for people to say have a conversation first before trying to get into your pants. Also even if you did report it that would probably be the level of response needed. Telling someone they should get to know someone before asking them if they want to hook up later.

    If you’re reading this as someone comes over and says hi and that was unwanted. Then seriously get a fucking grip and realize that we do filter these things through the metric of what reasonable people think is a reasonable response.

  139. geraldmcgrew says

    Again, based on the responses to my posts, it’s obvious that for many within the atheist/skeptic community, merely asking someone out on a date constitutes sexual harassment, for which legal action needs to be taken (unless the advance is successful).

    When I express this at other places, few people believe me and accuse me of arguing via straw man. “No one is saying just asking a person out is sexual harassment” they say.

    The clear answer is, oh yes they are. Very much so.

  140. julian says

    As in, real sexual harassment for which legal action needs to be taken?

    We’re not talking about lawsuits or criminal trials. We’re talking about preserving a safe work/social environment. Please stop trying to change the topic.

  141. rowanvt says

    @168

    If you’re reading this as someone comes over and says hi and that was unwanted. Then seriously get a fucking grip and realize that we do filter these things through the metric of what reasonable people think is a reasonable response.

    Exactly. If a guy started out with a “Hey, how you enjoying the conference so far? Did you see panel X? Yes? What did you think, pretty interesting hunh? What were your favorite parts? Wanna grab a bite to eat while we have this convo?” I would not find that harassing at all. It’s a nice lead up to showing interest, and I would probably attempt to point out that while yes, I might be hungry and would like to continue the conversation, I am also in a long-term relationship. But the food is still welcome, so let’s keep chatting while having some noms.

  142. geraldmcgrew says

    If you’re reading this as someone comes over and says hi and that was unwanted.

    Never said that.

    I go downstairs to the hotel bar after the conference. A gay man comes up and says, “Hi. I was just wondering if you were straight or gay, and if maybe you’d like to go out sometime?”

    Apparently I am now a victim of sexual harassment. I should contact the proper authorities immediately.

  143. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    And there we have it. My point has been demonstrated in spades.

    What point arsehole? I fail to see you making any point except that you are an arsehole.

    And one more thing: You don’t get to clip quotes arsehole. That’s a right only persons who haven’t demonstrated that they are incapable of common human decency have.

  144. julian says

    for which legal action needs to be taken

    no one is talking about legal action or criminal cases of sexual harassment. stop being such a twit.

  145. rowanvt says

    When I express this at other places, few people believe me and accuse me of arguing via straw man. “No one is saying just asking a person out is sexual harassment” they say.

    The clear answer is, oh yes they are. Very much so.

    Oh boohoo.

    It all depends on how the asking happens. If it’s a stranger out of the blue, it’s a little creepy and can be harassing. If there’s lead up, normal conversation, tentative overtures of future friendship, it is probably not creepy.

    Because, and here’s the important difference, the second option treats me like a human being instead of an inconvenient tagalong to a desired orifice or two.

  146. earwig says

    26 June 2012 at 6:16 pm
    If it’s the unwanted attention of a PUA, then yes, I am not surprised that many people regard it as sexual harassment.

    As in, real sexual harassment for which legal action needs to be taken?

    Oh good grief, there’s a whole lot of obnoxious behaviour that falls short of legal sanction. And that is the point of this anti-harassment policy: to set the bar a whole lot higher, to get clueless people to stop behaving like jerks. Most people don’t need a policy because they don’t behave like jerks anyway, but for the ones that do – it sure is needed. Listen: no one who isn’t a jerk, whether a footballer or the fictional woman in your example, would go up to someone and proposition them without any kind of prior conversation.

  147. says

    I go downstairs to the hotel bar after the conference. A gay man comes up and says, “Hi. I was just wondering if you were straight or gay, and if maybe you’d like to go out sometime?”

    Apparently I am now a victim of sexual harassment. I should contact the proper authorities immediately.

    Sort of yes (the context is also important) if this really upset you and the proper response is to warn the guy and tell him to be maybe a little less direct. A reasonable response.

  148. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    I go downstairs to the hotel bar after the conference. A gay man comes up and says, “Hi. I was just wondering if you were straight or gay, and if maybe you’d like to go out sometime?”

    Comin out of nowhere, and demanding to know a strangers sexual orientation and at the same time propositioning someone? How on earth do you think that anyone thinks this is a decent way to behave?

    Your feeble attempts at “arguments” just shows how incapable you are at fucking decent human interaction, and clearly demonstrates the need for policies that help protect people from people like you arsehole.

  149. rowanvt says

    geraldmcgrew:

    What I’m getting out of your repeated attempts (and failures) at making sense is this:

    You are offended that someone might find your behaviour creepy and unwanted, so you’re trying to show that we are being over emotional and hysterical about it.

    The problem is, we’re not. We’re pointing out, sometimes passionately, sometimes calmly, that we *do* find such behaviour creepy and it is often unwanted.

    Do you find nothing wrong with the strangers who like to pet my hair?

  150. says

    When I express this at other places, few people believe me and accuse me of arguing via straw man. “No one is saying just asking a person out is sexual harassment” they say.

    Am I wrong, or does AA’s policy (and most of our explanations) define harassment as being judged by the person being harassed? As rowan pointed out, most reasonable people aren’t going to be skeeved out by normal conversation. And if they are, back off.

    Did you read the policy? It’s not declaring that every unwanted interaction is a criminal or civil offense, it just gives power to those who would rather not have the unwanted attention. For shit’s sake, how fucking stupid are you?

    And from a fat, ugly woman– fuck you. If you can’t handle yourself out in public, then you deserve to be kicked out of any con you attend.

    Here’s an easy solution! Stay the fuck home! It kills two birds with one stone: you don’t have to worry about any anti-harassment policies killing your *snerk!* chances with the laydeez and we don’t have to deal with your shitty ass behavior.

  151. says

    I’ve even just point blank asked someone I didn’t know out in the past. Looking back even I think that wasn’t a great thing to have done v.v

  152. geraldmcgrew says

    Ok, so now we all seem to agree that what we were previously describing as “sexual harassment” (unsuccessfully asking someone out), doesn’t warrant any legal action.

    However, the AA policy could be interpreted that way, or at the very least is fairly ambiguous on this front.

    A young female attendee is in the lobby in between sessions and an older man with whom she’s exchanged a few jokes says, “I was wondering if you’d be interested in going out later tonight?” She’s not the slightest bit attracted to him, so she says “No”.

    Previously, the overall view here was that since this was a sexual advance that was unwanted, it constituted sexual harassment. However, now the view seems to be that it doesn’t rise to the level of requiring any sort of sanction from AA. I agree fully with the latter.

    My initial point is that the AA policy as written, can be read as saying that the woman has a right to not only report the incident, but to expect AA mgm’t to do something about it. So the question is, does AA really want that? Do they want complaints every time someone asks someone out at their conference?

  153. consciousness razor says

    I go downstairs to the hotel bar after the conference. A gay man comes up and says, “Hi. I was just wondering if you were straight or gay, and if maybe you’d like to go out sometime?”

    Apparently I am now a victim of sexual harassment. I should contact the proper authorities immediately.

    For fuck’s sake, no one’s telling you that you should contact anyone if you don’t even feel like you’ve been harassed. If you could imagine a situation in which you actually have been harassed (this might be hard — try not to be a clueless dipshit for a minute), then just try to imagine that we’re saying there should be authorities who can be contacted, who have some idea how to respond to the situation appropriately (i.e., they won’t be dumbasses like you).

  154. Agent Silversmith, Vendor of +5 Vorpal Feather Dusters says

    geraldmcgrew

    An overweight, ugly woman comes up to me and says, “Hey, would you be interested in going out later?”

    Examples are so revealing, sometimes.

    Yes, you may complain to the management if you feel that the woman who approached you is of insufficient pulchritude to violate social norms. In reality, most people who complain do so because they need help in dealing with what’s happened, or believe that the harasser’s behavior is concerning enough to require attention. Complaining just because your nitpicky interpretation of the rules says you can is likely to place you firmly at the back of the priority queue.

  155. says

    So the question is, does AA really want that? Do they want complaints every time someone asks someone out at their conference?

    No the question is why do you think this is remotely likely.

  156. geraldmcgrew says

    rowanvt,

    You are offended that someone might find your behaviour creepy and unwanted,

    My behavior? Sheesh dude, I don’t hit on women at conferences, or anywhere else. I’m quite happily married.

    so you’re trying to show that we are being over emotional and hysterical about it.

    The problem is, we’re not. We’re pointing out, sometimes passionately, sometimes calmly, that we *do* find such behaviour creepy and it is often unwanted.

    I agree that such things are oftentimes creepy and unwanted. My question is, does “creepy and unwanted” equal “sexual harassment requiring legal action”?

    Do you find nothing wrong with the strangers who like to pet my hair?

    ??????? I never said anything about actual touching.

  157. earwig says

    geraldmcgrew, if we are to take you at your word, you seem merely to be expressing concern that the conference organisers will be inundated with trivial complaints. Perhaps you should forward your concern to the organisers so they can note it.

  158. geraldmcgrew says

    No the question is why do you think this is remotely likely.

    Threads like these.

  159. says

    Gerald, do you seriously not see the difference between a perfect stranger asking RW for a nightcap in a fucking elevator and some random dude asking a lady out after having talked for a few minutes? Seriously? Seriously.

    And that’s beside the point; if the dude ceases his propositioning in your hypothetical, voila, no harassment! And if he doesn’t, she has the ability to report some clueless fuck who won’t leave her alone. Goddamn, grow a fucking brain.

  160. says

    First we were infantilizing people for setting down some ground rules now we’re expecting people to be reasonable adults when they are really overly litigious tattling children.

  161. julian says

    I agree that such things are oftentimes creepy and unwanted. My question is, does “creepy and unwanted” equal “sexual harassment requiring legal action”?

    We’re not talking about legal action. Stop bringing it up.

  162. Beatrice says

    Right you are, geraldmcgrew. We might as well give up on atheist conferences. When these you’ll-never-have-sex-again-if-I-can-help-it-you-filthy-man policies start being enforced, men will soon start quietly disappearing from their hotel rooms. The rumor that someone reported them will spread, but no one will know what happened to them. They will eventually be found wandering somewhere close to their homes, whimpering and muttering that “yes means yes, no means no, maybe means no…”. And why? Why will all this come to be? Because women, that’s why. The first chance they get, they’ll start reporting men in dozens. A man standing next to you? Off with his head! Report! And since harassment reports are being handled by specially trained squadrons of feminazis, each and every one will be approved. Soon. Muahahaha!

    Khm. And that’s why sexual harassment policies will make women rule the world! ruin everything.

  163. rowanvt says

    @185… Wow, you’re pretty obtuse. It’s not JUST an unsuccessful asking out.

    If you can’t tell the difference between a conversation started and progressing into interest, and a stranger coming up out of the blue with “Let’s go hang out and maybe do some hanky panky” or even “Let’s go hang out” then I feel bad for any woman in your general vicinity.

    Let me restate this:

    I find it harassing for a random person to come up to me and ask me out if I have no idea who they are and we have not even shared names yet. Depending on what was said, I might report it or I might say “No thankyou. By the way…. don’t do that.”

    I do *not* find it harassing if a guy starts a conversation with me first, even if I suspect the convo is a lead up to asking me out.

    This is because, and I repeat: The FIRST option treats me as an inconvenient attachment to a desired orifice. The SECOND option treats me like a person, who may just happen to have such an orifice.

  164. geraldmcgrew says

    earwig,

    if we are to take you at your word, you seem merely to be expressing concern that the conference organisers will be inundated with trivial complaints. Perhaps you should forward your concern to the organisers so they can note it.

    Thank you for sticking to the topic and not resorting to playground name-calling. You are correct, which is why my first post in this thread was a series of suggestions. I will forward them on to AA.

    Thanks again.

  165. echidna says

    Geraldmccrew

    When I express this at other places, few people believe me and accuse me of arguing via straw man. “No one is saying just asking a person out is sexual harassment” they say.

    The clear answer is, oh yes they are. Very much so

    It’s all about context, as rowanvt says.
    I was walking down a California street one day (visiting from out of town), when total strangers hanging out on a street corner asked me to have sex with them. They laughed and waved money in my face, telling me how much I was worth.

    I think you would agree that this unwelcome proposition was harassment, but if you try hard, you could frame it as being asked out by a stranger.

    If the image you have of the phrase “ask someone out” is nice and friendly, the charge of sexual harassment seems ridiculous. They key idea here is that some approaches are “unwelcome”, way beyond a simple lack of interest on the part of the one being asked, and really ought to be recognised as not appropriate for a conference venue.

  166. julian says

    I never said anything about actual touching.

    No, no touching. Just harassing people in every other way possible.

  167. A. R says

    geraldmcgrew: You know what you could do instead of arguing like this? Act like a real skeptic and do an experiment. In fact, an experiment is about to happen in Minnesota. Why don’t you wait until the results are in to whine like this?

  168. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    geraldmcgrew, if we are to take you at your word, you seem merely to be expressing concern that the conference organisers will be inundated with trivial complaints. Perhaps you should forward your concern to the organisers so they can note it.

    Yes! I second this. Don’t forget to include your stellar examples that you have given us here, so that the organisers can give you all the consideration your concern is due. Don’t forget to warn tell them if you are attending too.

  169. rowanvt says

    @189-

    Sheesh dude,

    Why do people keep assuming I’m male? -_-

    ??????? I never said anything about actual touching.

    But they were paying me a compliment. The hair touching is typically accompanied by “Your hair is so pretty!”. How is that all that different from your “asking someone out = sexual harassment is silly!”? If asking someone to your room to have sex should not be considered sexual harassment, surely something as comparatively innocuous as touching hair and complimenting it shouldn’t be considered harassing either, right?

  170. screechymonkey says

    My question is, does “creepy and unwanted” equal “sexual harassment requiring legal action”?

    Seriously, how many times do people have to tell you that “violation of a convention’s policy” IS NOT LEGAL ACTION?

    Are you under the impression that American Atheists was somehow granted the ability to pass criminal laws?

  171. karlvonmox says

    gerald is actually arguing the exact point I’ve been highlighting the past several times I’ve commented here, and the rest of you are tripping over yourselves in an incoherent way to try to address it. Its funny to watch.

    To repeat: Nobody is a mindreader, and any initial proposition has a probability of being unwanted (even after conversation for x minutes). Is it the position of American Atheists that this is always harrassment?

    Collective answer from the Pharyngula acolytes: Depends on the perspective of the person being propositioned

    Well then, I declare anyone that asks me out to be a harrasser. Maybe I can extend it to anyone that looks at me funny.

    geraldmcgrew, if we are to take you at your word, you seem merely to be expressing concern that the conference organisers will be inundated with trivial complaints. Perhaps you should forward your concern to the organisers so they can note it.

    Who are YOU to decide what a trivial complaint is?

  172. rowanvt says

    To repeat: Nobody is a mindreader, and any initial proposition has a probability of being unwanted (even after conversation for x minutes). Is it the position of American Atheists that this is always harrassment?

    Collective answer from the Pharyngula acolytes: Depends on the perspective of the person being propositioned

    Yeah! How dare some people not want any sexual propositions when they are attending a con! It’s rude to the people who want to get laid! It’s rude of the person who feels uncomfortable to feel uncomfortable!

  173. geraldmcgrew says

    If the image you have of the phrase “ask someone out” is nice and friendly, the charge of sexual harassment seems ridiculous.

    I agree. Others here don’t seem to share our view.

    They key idea here is that some approaches are “unwelcome”, way beyond a simple lack of interest on the part of the one being asked, and really ought to be recognised as not appropriate for a conference venue.

    Agreed. The AA policy unfortunately does not make that distinction, which is an oversight IMO.

    rowan,

    But they were paying me a compliment. The hair touching is typically accompanied by “Your hair is so pretty!”. How is that all that different from your “asking someone out = sexual harassment is silly!”?

    Earlier, people were shouting at me saying I didn’t know the difference between an honest, friendly proposal and real, illegal sexual harassment. It seems you’re far more guilty of that than me.

  174. says

    My initial point is that the AA policy as written, can be read as saying that the woman has a right to not only report the incident, but to expect AA mgm’t to do something about it. So the question is, does AA really want that? Do they want complaints every time someone asks someone out at their conference?

    I refuse to believe any skeptic is that clueless. I conclude you are not arguing in good faith.

  175. geraldmcgrew says

    monkey,

    Seriously, how many times do people have to tell you that “violation of a convention’s policy” IS NOT LEGAL ACTION?

    Are you under the impression that American Atheists was somehow granted the ability to pass criminal laws?

    Good point. Change “legal action” to “formal action by AA management”.

  176. Anri says

    It seems clear to me that the ‘no harassment based on religion’ is so that anyone of any faith can say “I’m sorry, I don’t care to discuss that right now,” and expect to not be hounded about it. This seems perfectly reasonable, even at a conference explicitly about religion or the lack of it.

    Pretty simple, really.

  177. sqlrob says

    One suggestion for a change (well, meta change) is to put the final versions under some CC license or equivalent so that it can be shared without any potential legal issues.

  178. rowanvt says

    Mmmmn… tasty quote mining! And tasty tasty uncomprehension.

    Let me complete that quote for you:

    “If asking someone to your room to have sex should not be considered sexual harassment, surely something as comparatively innocuous as touching hair and complimenting it shouldn’t be considered harassing either, right?”

    If YOU do not consider propositions for sex, or a date, to be sexually harassing if they are unwanted, and especially if from a stranger why do you NOT think the same for the touching of the hair? The people who have done that have not made sexual advances and have never asked me out. They just complimented my hair. And touched it. Without my consent.

  179. 'Tis Himself says

    It’s obvious that geraldmcgrew’s points are silly if karlvonmarx agrees with them.

  180. julian says

    It seems you’re far more guilty of that than me.

    You could at least pretend there’s a drop of integrity in your body.

    You’re being called out on the arbritrary line you’re drawing for what constitutes harassment. You’e arguments for verbal forms of harassment also apply to physical forms.

  181. consciousness razor says

    Well then, I declare anyone that asks me out to be a harrasser. Maybe I can extend it to anyone that looks at me funny.

    You should try, since the latter seems much more likely. I doubt you’d get to use the feminazi’s super-weapon against them very often if you had to wait for someone to ask you out. So, sure, fuck it: you totally get what harassment is all about.

  182. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Is it the position of American Atheists that this is always harrassment?

    If it is an unwanted proposition, yes. What part of the recipient of the proposition makes that determination don’t you comprehend??? Or is the problem you and your fallaciously inflated ego aren’t in control???? When in doubt, back off….

  183. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The AA policy unfortunately does not make that distinction, which is an oversight IMO.

    Why should we give a shit about the opinion of someone who hasn’t learned how to shut the fuck up and listen to the women???? That is your problem. Like now, you cant’ learn with your mind closed and your mouth open. You need to open the mind and close the mouth…

  184. says

    Yes, please, Gerald McGrew. Take that complaint to the conference organizers — “I didn’t like her talking to me because she’s ugly” — and I’m sure they will act on it appropriately.

    Please use your real name next time so that all of us ugly people will know to avoid you everywhere, OK?

  185. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald,
    Here’s the thing:

    Walking up to someone you do not know, have not traded three words with, with a blatant proposition is not a good move. If the person you are approaching feels threatened – such as, if you are bigger/stronger/from a more powerful subgroup – by you, it goes from being “not cool” to actively becoming “bad.” If the person you are approaching has had negative experiences of too-pushy partners, it is now worse.

    For that reason, cold propositions are generally speaking a bad idea.

    Did you read the upthread discussions about women feeling social pressure to smile and not say “no?” This shit is very real.

    Women live with the constant knowledge that if they dismiss a man in a way that is construed as rude, then they get social shame. We also live with the constant knowledge of the very real risks of not escaping from a situation that feels off – that it will escalate.

    Many times, a woman being propositioned (overtly and subtly) by someone who makes them uncomfortable must weigh the relative benefits of either being socially punished for being rude or being assaulted. Of course, if she is assaulted but was earlier seen not actively loathing the presence of her attacker, then her attack is seen as at least partially – if not near-entirely – her fault.

    The equation looks like this: Man approaches woman. They do not know each other. She is not interested, for whatever reason.
    She can either (1) brush him off bluntly or (2) drop hints that she’s not interested. He is either (a) a decent guy who would handle being told “no” with grace and back off or (b) he is not.
    Four options:
    -He is type (a), she takes option (1). She over-reacted, he is potentially offended, people who know him to be a decent guy are offended on his behalf. She suffers social stigma.
    -He is type (a), she takes option (2). He, getting a vibe of “no” from her, backs off. No harm, no foul, for either party.
    -He is type (b), she takes option (1). He, receiving a blunt reply, is denied a wedge, and responds by calling her a “bitch.” Depending on the scene, one or the other of them suffers social stigma.
    -He is type (b), she takes option (2). He elects to ignore her hints, and keeps propositioning her. She can either then,
    (3) replace her hints with a blunt “no,” or
    (4) continue to drop hints and hope that he catches on.
    If she elects for (3), then she runs the risk of enduring social stigma for “leading him on” or being a “cock tease.”
    If she elects for (4), then she runs the risk of him still not catching on.
    This continues to cycle. At each cycle, the stakes rise.

    Do you see the problem? Even if we assume that the four initial scenarios are in equal probability (not a given), the woman only has a 25% of escaping without harm.

  186. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    In other words, go read the essay “Schrödinger’s Rapist.”

    Also, reflect on this quote:
    “A man’s greatest fear is that a woman will laugh at him. A woman’s greatest fear is that a man will kill her.”

  187. geraldmcgrew says

    You’re being called out on the arbritrary line you’re drawing for what constitutes harassment. You’e arguments for verbal forms of harassment also apply to physical forms.

    Please explain further.

  188. geraldmcgrew says

    Yes, please, Gerald McGrew. Take that complaint to the conference organizers — “I didn’t like her talking to me because she’s ugly” — and I’m sure they will act on it appropriately.

    Please use your real name next time so that all of us ugly people will know to avoid you everywhere, OK?

    Really PZ? Really?

    “Gerald wants to complain to AA mgm’t about ugly women hitting on him”

    That’s what you took from my posts? How. Extremely. Disappointing.

  189. rowanvt says

    Please explain further.

    You do NOT consider asking a stranger for a date, or casual sex, to be sexual harassment.

    You DO consider someone touching my hair and complimenting me on it to be sexual harassment.

    This is called an arbitrary line.

  190. says

    Really PZ? Really?

    “Gerald wants to complain to AA mgm’t about ugly women hitting on him”

    That’s what you took from my posts? How. Extremely. Disappointing.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/8-stupid-arguments-that-internet-debates-always-devolve-into/

    Not stooping to someone’s level works best when you actually do it, not when you announce it. Announcing it is just arguing back in a more sneaky, indirect way. Deciding to be the mature person in an argument is great, but if at any time you give in to a compulsion to demonstrate that you have decided to be the more mature person, you have blown it. Whether by saying it straight out, or by describing your physical reactions (“Your comment made me smile mildly”), or by implying it by speaking in language you imagine a supervillain might use to describe his plans.

    Read more: 8 Stupid Arguments That Internet Debates Always Devolve Into | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/blog/8-stupid-arguments-that-internet-debates-always-devolve-into/#ixzz1yx6hHIhd

  191. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Walking up to someone you do not know, have not traded three words with, with a blatant proposition is not a good move. If the person you are approaching feels threatened – such as, if you are bigger/stronger/from a more powerful subgroup – by you, it goes from being “not cool” to actively becoming “bad.” If the person you are approaching has had negative experiences of too-pushy partners, it is now worse.

    For that reason, cold propositions are generally speaking a bad idea.

    Agreed.

    And in general, I agree with the rest of your post as well.

  192. geraldmcgrew says

    You do NOT consider asking a stranger for a date, or casual sex, to be sexual harassment.

    You DO consider someone touching my hair and complimenting me on it to be sexual harassment.

    This is called an arbitrary line.

    Then what is your standard for actual sexual harassment that requires formal action by the appropriate authorities?

  193. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Then what is your standard for actual sexual harassment that requires formal action by the appropriate authorities?

    The person harassed complains, just like with any corporate policy. That starts an inquiry. There is no other reasonable standard. It isn’t in your hands, but rather the hands of the victim. What part of that can’t you understand????Right, the part where you aren’t in control…

  194. geraldmcgrew says

    The person harassed complains, just like with any corporate policy. That starts an inquiry.

    No, that’s a standard for reporting alleged sexual harassment.

  195. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald,

    Legally-speaking, for sexual harassment to rise to actionable levels – i.e. something worth going to court over – it has to be long-lasting, quite overt, and have had effects on the victim beyond just feeling uncomfortable.

    Surely you must be aware of that.

    __

    As for my earlier post – do you not realize that, given that women are seen by large segments of society as existing to provide sex to men, that women are propositioned, cold or not, overtly or subtly, dozens of times a day? That this is a pattern?

    I don’t give a shit about the one dude who says, “Hey baby” to me as we pass on the sidewalk.

    I give a shit about the fact that it happens five time a day, every day. And the guy at the store stares at my breasts. And the co-worker addresses me as “honey.” And the neighbor who stands in the laundry room watching me wash my bras with a smug smile on his face. And the co-workers and bosses and visiting experts who subtly don’t believe me and ask for more evidence and hold me to a higher standard.

    It is never one incident. It is thousands.

    So when a woman is carrying all this around, knowing that if she were to complain, then she’d suffer social stigma for being a “bitch” or “crazy” or “over-reacting,” the last thing she needs is YET ANOTHER guy to hit on her.

    Wait for a woman to signal interest before you make a move.

    Best case scenario? She so signals, you have a good time.

    Worst case for you? You don’t get laid.

    Worst case for her? She has to endure what I laid out @ 219.

  196. rowanvt says

    Gerald, I appreciate that you agree with what I wrote about what you do, and do not, consider harassment.

    I find it interesting that physical contact seems to be required in your view.

    Now please answer me this:

    WHY do you consider touching my hair and complimenting me on it, with no sexual inuendo involved, and not propositions involved to be sexual harassment but NOT someone explicitly asking me for sex?

    My *personal* standard is if a strange guy asks me to come to his room, or away to a restaurant, or to some situation that could potentially put me in danger that merits reporting to the conference authorities. Encouraging a woman to leave a populous area is step 1 of potential sexual assault.

    If strange guy asks me basically on a date, but the body language is threatening or seems ‘off’ to me, I would polite-no my way out of the situation, and report it.

    If strange guys basically asks me on a date, but is not displaying any threatening body language, I would polite-no my way out of the situation, and hint that maybe getting to know a person better first would lead to more positive answers. I would not report.

    If strange guys starts a conversation with me, but has threatening body language (looming, leaning in close, hard stare, etc) I would extricate and report.

    If strange guys starts a conversation with me, and does not have threatening body language I would either polite-extricate or continue talking if I desired conversation.

    Again, this is PERSONAL.

    What matters if if *I* feel harassed or not. That’s the whole point.

  197. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Legally-speaking, for sexual harassment to rise to actionable levels – i.e. something worth going to court over – it has to be long-lasting, quite overt, and have had effects on the victim beyond just feeling uncomfortable.

    Does the same hold true for actions taken by authorities at American Atheists?

    And again, I agree with the remainder of your post.

  198. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    No.

    Because the legal – i.e. the “going to court” – standard is much stricter than what AA is proposing.

    This has never been about legal standards. Lots of places have standards that are stricter than legal standards. Many gatherings, for example, have a zero-tolerance standard about racist epithets. Obviously, this is not a legal standard (a PoC cannot sue a white person for calling them a [racist epithet] once – unless said white person has considerable authority over them and/or there is a larger pattern of racism).

    These stricter standards are good.

  199. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Bah, I messed up the strict/not strict duality. I hope my meaning is clear, though.

    Legal standards have certain conditions that must be met.

    Societal standards also have conditions, but the acceptable bar is lower.

  200. Agent Silversmith, Vendor of +5 Vorpal Feather Dusters says

    Got a broken telepathic receiver? Don’t worry; you too can have rewarding interactions with others at AA events and anywhere else that adopts a version of their harassment policy!

    Just remember these two rules. Stick to reasonable requests, and the moment you know that someone doesn’t want your attention, back off.

    A reasonable request is one where you have good reasons to believe that the other person might say “yes”. For example, if you’ve been chatting a while and there’s a definite connection, asking them out is probably a reasonable request. If those reasons are insufficient or nonexistent, it’s an unreasonable request. Approaching someone for the first time and asking them out (or worse, for sex) might occasionally be accepted, but it’s always unreasonable. Expect a lot of “chats” with the management if that’s your standard approach.

    If your attention is unwanted, you are harassing them, and they have the power to report you. But they probably won’t if you leave them as soon as you get the message, and if the request was reasonable, they almost certainly won’t. Conversely, if you miss the memo because of your selective hearing or sense of entitlement, they probably WILL report you. A well trained pair of ears is your best friend.

  201. geraldmcgrew says

    rowan,

    I understand what you’re saying. Everyone has their own criteria for when the situation crosses the line from annoying to actual harassment worthy of reporting.

    My point here is that the AA policy could be read as saying that if a woman were to approach me in the lobby and ask me out, I could complain to AA mgm’t and expect them to take action. I think that can be fairly easily fixed.

  202. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald, since you say that you agree with my posts, and I’m explaining why the policy is necessary and properly written – or even too lax, could you explain your thought process?

    Because I’m now really confused by you.

  203. rowanvt says

    Why? If a strange woman asked you out and you felt uncomfortable about it, you SHOULD be able to complain about it to AA.

    Also thanks for NOT answering my question when I answered yours. That’s some real nice sidestepping and sidling you’re doing.

  204. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Legal standards have certain conditions that must be met.

    Societal standards also have conditions, but the acceptable bar is lower.

    I agree. But in this case, the AA policy can be read as saying that formal action can be taken against someone who unsuccessfully asks someone out. If the person ends up being expelled with no refund and ends up having their reputation damaged, they could potentially take legal action against AA.

  205. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Oh! I get it!

    Gerald, do you know who it is in a situation has the power to decide if it is harassment that warrants attention?

    The party that feels threatened.

    Party A can feel like the conversation is going swimmingly and that all is great.

    Party B can feel extremely uncomfortable and where the fuck is the door this is so painful HELP.

    Simultaneously.

    The solution? Some neutral third party come along and tells Party A that Party B was feeling uncomfortable, maybe take a step back?

    Problem solved, until there appears a pattern of Party A being a steamrollering asshat. Then it rises to the level of ejection/formal reprimands/etc.

    THAT is what the policy is proposing.

  206. rowanvt says

    @245-

    Clearly you missed the part where there is a scale of reaction to a complaint, that is at the discretion of the staff.

    Clearly you’ve also missed the point that by paying money to attend the event, you are thereby agreeing to abide by the rules they’ve set even if you are unaware of them. Ignorance is not an excuse.

  207. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Yeah, AA is not going to toss you out on your ass because you fumble a pickup line and a woman is affronted. They may caution you to be careful, unless 500 women approach them complaining about you.

    If you are caught using an upskirt camera, then they may toss you out immediately. Maybe.

  208. geraldmcgrew says

    rowan,

    My apologies for skipping your question. I’m trying to keep up with the non-personal responses, and it’s a little crazy.

    WHY do you consider touching my hair and complimenting me on it, with no sexual inuendo involved, and not propositions involved to be sexual harassment but NOT someone explicitly asking me for sex?

    Because IMO, actually touching a stranger in even a remotely sexual context (e.g. complementing your appearance) is socially quite different.

    It’s like the difference between a guy telling a married woman “You look nice today” and telling her “You look nice today” while stroking her hair. The former might get her husband to give you a dirty look or some other mildly confrontational response, whereas the latter is quite likely going to get you decked.

    If a strange woman asked you out and you felt uncomfortable about it, you SHOULD be able to complain about it to AA.

    Sure, but should I expect AA to expel her from the conference with no refund, and possibly damage her reputation?

  209. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald, read my 248.

    One (minor) incident, they may caution to ease back.

    Pattern of incidents, they may expel.

    One major incident, they may expel.

    Reading comprehension! It is good.

    Trufax.

  210. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But in this case, the AA policy can be read as saying that formal action can be taken against someone who unsuccessfully asks someone out.

    Where? All it says is no means no. Maybe means no. Why would you even be asking someone out if you aren’t reasonably sure of the positive answer? That is what the policy does. Makes you treat a woman like a person first, get to know her, so an informed unpressured decision can be made. PZ, TZT time for this bozo…

  211. rowanvt says

    Sidle sidle sidle. I did not say just complimenting me. I said explicitly asking me for sex. You do not consider a strange man coming up to me and asking me for sex to be harassment. WHY? Why is that NOT harassment?

    Sure, but should I expect AA to expel her from the conference with no refund, and possibly damage her reputation?

    No. And we’re not expecting that a single complaint from us should have the same result, for something as simple as “wanna go to dinner with me?”
    If she asked you, and every single guy for sex? Then yes. She agreed to the conduct policies by attending the event.

  212. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Ing:

    *constructs an Estelethbot to repeat @250*

    Hmm

    Needs more blond hair.

    Care to make a donation?

  213. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Again we agree, except IMO the AA policy doesn’t really say that at all. Instead, it says, “American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.” It then goes on to state that violators of this policy can expect to be kicked out without refund.

    That’s why my initial post here was a suggestion to clarify this. As it currently reads, it gives the impression that unsuccessfully asking someone out will get you thrown out, should that person decide to report it.

  214. says

    Gerald, read my 248.

    One (minor) incident, they may caution to ease back.

    Pattern of incidents, they may expel.

    One major incident, they may expel.

    Reading comprehension! It is good.

    Trufax.

    I’m just going to repeat it cause it’s not like the question changed

  215. cicely ("No-one of Consequence") says

    I don’t know why this is so hard, and I don’t understand why so many strawpeople had to die.

    Don’t mourn for the strawmen; they’ll be back.

    They’re like Undead, that way.

    I do not believe that people have allergic reactions to scents because most olfactory molecules come from sources which on their own do not provoke a response at all.

    Maarten, you are wrong, for practical purposes. Yeah, sure, it might be that the distinctive scent of patchouli (to pick a scent/substance completely at random) only hitches a ride with whatever the fuck chemical/s can cause my eyes to swell shut and my sinuses to block like there is no tomorrow; but the scent (of which it may take surprisingly little) is the warning/indicator.
    -

  216. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Let’s assume, for one second, that Gerald’s fears are accurate.

    What would happen?

    A person complains about a (relatively) innocuous incident.

    AA tosses the guilty party out.

    Guilty party complains. People, hearing the full story, are offended at the draconian rules.

    AA suffers.

    Now, tell me, AA knows this. Jebus, they are not that stupid.

  217. geraldmcgrew says

    Nerd,

    I’m the only one actually quoting the policy (this is like debating Bible thumpers and being the only one actually quoting the Bible).

    Where? All it says is no means no. Maybe means no.

    Look at #256 above.

    Why would you even be asking someone out if you aren’t reasonably sure of the positive answer? That is what the policy does.

    Actually, it states, “You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference.” So no, you can’t just be “reasonably sure”, you have to get unequivocal consent. Which of course begs the question, how does one get unequivocal consent without asking?

    Look, I tried to be helpful here. I support having a policy like this for these conferences. The problem is, the one by AA is so full of contradictions, ambiguities, subjective terminology, and loopholes, anyone with access to a decent lawyer would tear it to shreds.

  218. says

    Look, I tried to be helpful here. I support having a policy like this for these conferences. The problem is, the one by AA is so full of contradictions, ambiguities, subjective terminology, and loopholes, anyone with access to a decent lawyer would tear it to shreds.

    FFS, NO YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO “HELP”. You are trying to agitate.

  219. geraldmcgrew says

    rowan,

    I did not say just complimenting me. I said explicitly asking me for sex. You do not consider a strange man coming up to me and asking me for sex to be harassment. WHY? Why is that NOT harassment?

    Did I say that it wasn’t? I don’t remember saying so, so if you could point me to where I did….

  220. says

    Actually, it states, “You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference.” So no, you can’t just be “reasonably sure”, you have to get unequivocal consent. Which of course begs the question, how does one get unequivocal consent without asking?

    You’re a fucking idiot

  221. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Let’s assume, for one second, that Gerald’s fears are accurate.

    What would happen?

    A person complains about a (relatively) innocuous incident.

    AA tosses the guilty party out.

    Guilty party complains. People, hearing the full story, are offended at the draconian rules.

    AA suffers.

    Now, tell me, AA knows this. Jebus, they are not that stupid.

    I guess no organization has ever been reduced to rubble via lawsuit. Huh.

  222. says

    You’re a fucking idiot

    Agreed. Please email AA with your concerns and leave us alone. I’m sure they’ll get back to you soon as they did me.

  223. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald, it is also typical.

    Just for kicks, I dig in a box and found the program of a con I went to in April. Printed in the program is the following notice:

    “At [convention], while we wish to take over the known world, we are also dedicated to providing everyone with a comfortable and safe atmosphere. We expect all attendees of [convention] to behave courteously to one another at all times. Behavior including but not limited to sexual harassment, attending convention events while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, willful use of derogatory and/or hurtful language, and physical assault will not be tolerated. If you engage in such behavior, your badge will be confiscated and you will be asked to leave. Your money will not be returned, and we reserve the right to contact the police if necessary.”

    More or less the same language as AA’s policy. In the nine years of attending this con, I know of two cases of the con staff taking someone aside and asking them to tone something down, and zero cases of someone actually be ejected.

    Somehow, I don’t think that AA’s experience will be that different.

  224. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    I guess no organization has ever been reduced to rubble via lawsuit. Huh.

    Lawsuits also have to have merit.

    Judges get pissy about meritless lawsuits.

  225. says

    @Esteleth

    You’re ignoring the presumption! Bimbo or bitch! AA faces a real problem about this! Bimbos are going to flood them with nonsense drowning out real complaints in the noise and Bitches are going to make men carry them upon shoulder top using the threat of complaints as a sword of Damicles!

  226. Sophia Dodds says

    Right.

    Let’s get this perfectly clear. Any asking out/flirting/get-to-know-you interaction has, necessarily, more than one participant.
    That’s you and someone else. You know your own feelings and intentions, you don’t know the feelings or intentions of the other party/parties unless they are communicated to you.

    Clear so far?

    When you engage in conversation with anyone, they will react to this engagement, they will feel something. This could be positive, negative or anything in between. They may or may not be able to effectively communicate their feelings to you.

    In cases of harrassment, whether or not harrassment has occurred is NOT determined by the party who is purported to have instigated it. The very definition* of harrassment is dependent on FEELING as though you are in danger, disparaged or slighted. The victim of such behaviour is the one who decides on whether or not they are a victim of harrassment.
    The idea that all social interactions can be classed as harrassment is oddly true, but not in the way it is being presented; all situations can indeed be deemed harrassment if the recipient of communication feels they are being harrassed.

    It comes down to simple, effective communication. How do you prevent conversations you engage in from being perceived as harrassment? The old ‘don’t be an arsehole’ is a nice one. You know, basic politeness, being interested in a person for who they are rather than seeing them as a potential shag, that sort of thing.
    If you are having people call what you, your friends or your colleagues do harrassment, instead of simply denying there’s a problem, you might want to actually ask the concerned parties what the actual problems are. You might be surprised at how simple the solutions are.

  227. geraldmcgrew says

    Lawsuits also have to have merit.

    Judges get pissy about meritless lawsuits.

    There are no shortages of examples of successful wrongful sexual harassment charge suits resulting in rather larger settlements.

    My instincts tell me you’re likely right and little will ever amount from this.

  228. says

    I think you’re a raving dingleberry, McGrew.

    You ask.

    Maybe you ask someone who’s very thinskinned, and they run to report you. The conference organizer will wag a finger at you, and ask you to leave that person alone.

    That’s it.

    Unless you really are a raving dingleberry, you will then leave that person alone for the rest of the conference. That’s the totality of your ‘punishment’.

    I think you might live.

  229. Pteryxx says

    the AA policy can be read as saying that formal action can be taken against someone who unsuccessfully asks someone out.

    Who’s doing the reading? There is no absolute definition of harassment floating in the ether. Someone has to decide they’re going to interpret the written policy this way. Harassment depends on the perception of the individual people, with all their different preferences and comfort levels, who under this policy have the option to go to conference management for help if they feel such help is needed or warranted.

    A hypothetical person (*glares at Gerald*) who actually goes and reports being asked out as harassment just to see if they can get formal action out of the conference would be trolling the conference.

  230. Sophia Dodds says

    (ahem. danged asterisks.)

    * dictionary definition, not so much. Definition in practice for most policies, legal incidents and decent human beings, yes.

  231. says

    There are no shortages of examples of successful wrongful sexual harassment charge suits resulting in rather larger settlements.

    Considering your staggering level of “DEUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUR” how do you know they were wrongful if the suits were settled?. Were you there for everyone? Do you naturally assume bitches lie?

    Or is this a personal issue now?

  232. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    There are no shortages of examples of successful wrongful sexual harassment charge suits resulting in rather larger settlements.

    Citation. fucking. needed.

  233. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    In my little world (a sub-field of biology), we have about 4 meetings/conferences/symposia per year. At at least 2 of these the agenda includes “mixers” with an open bar. None of these conferences have any sort of policy like the AA one above that is given out to all attendees. And AFAIK, nothing has ever happened.

    So does that mean we don’t need a policy? Or if we write one, it won’t matter if it’s not very well done?

    I tend to think not. IMO, if you’re going to do one of these, do it as best you can, lest you make your organization vulnerable. IOW, a lack of incidents is no excuse for a poorly crafted policy.

  234. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Maybe, Gerald, that the conferences, being professional events, expect that attendees will behave in a professional manner?

    Just maybe?

    Maybe they do have a policy but don’t loudly trumpet it?

    In fact, I’d be startled if they don’t have at least an informal thing of “people keep complaining about so-and-so. Maybe someone take them aside for a chat?”

  235. geraldmcgrew says

    PZ,

    I think you’re a raving dingleberry, McGrew.

    That’s a shame. For an alleged leader of a rational movement, your penchant for name calling is striking.

    The conference organizer will wag a finger at you, and ask you to leave that person alone.

    That’s it.

    And can you show me where in the policy it says that? Again, I seem to be the only one quoting it.

  236. Pteryxx says

    Also, don’t forget that an incident HAS been handled under a simple harassment policy – Elyse’s sex-card incident. What happened? The couple was contacted by the conference organizer, told their action was inappropriate, given a warning, and the couple wrote an apology to Elyse. That is a policy working as intended.

  237. says

    OK, Mr McGrew, I’ll write to American Atheists right now and tell them that a commenter on my blog wants them to stop doing anything about harassment at conferences because if they annoy some guy they might get sued.

    I will tell this to Amanda Knief, an attorney, who has worked on these kinds of cases, that there is this important thing she hasn’t thought of, but Gerald McGrew has.

    Oh, wait, no…I’m not going to do that. Because Amanda Knief, in her conference call, patiently explained that they’d be looking into local requirements in all 50 states, and that they were aware that having a policy also instituted an obligation to conform to the law.

  238. says

    @Mcgrew

    Sure it was in the section for conference staff only detailing the kinds of actions to be taken that was accidentally posted here earlier.

  239. Pteryxx says

    In my little world (a sub-field of biology), we have about 4 meetings/conferences/symposia per year. At at least 2 of these the agenda includes “mixers” with an open bar. None of these conferences have any sort of policy like the AA one above that is given out to all attendees. And AFAIK, nothing has ever happened.

    How do you know nothing’s ever happened? I suggest contacting YOUR conference/symposia organizers and asking them if they have any sort of sexual harassment policy in place, and/or how they would handle a participant’s complaint. For all you know, either they’ve been handling such complaints all along, or they have had harassment incidents go unaddressed that never became anecdotes on your radar.

  240. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    Really? Just Google “settlement wrongful sexual harassment charges”. You get about 1.4 million hits.

    Maybe, Gerald, that the conferences, being professional events, expect that attendees will behave in a professional manner?

    Of course we do. Don’t the atheist organizations?

    Maybe they do have a policy but don’t loudly trumpet it?

    Nope, that would be counter-productive. What’s the point of having a policy for a conference that you don’t show to anyone? Any transgressors can rightfully say, “I wasn’t aware of any policy against what I did”.

    So again, do we need a policy? Is a lack of incidents an excuse for us to adopt a poorly-written one?

  241. marilove says

    Huh.

    A sexy costume may help you, but please do be aware of what sorts of definitions of ‘sexy’ are appropriate for your body type. This isn’t to say ‘no fatties allowed’, but a 400 pound woman in a Slave Leia costume will rarely do it for a guy. (Admittedly, some men are into that sort of thing, but it’s best to know your audience a bit before breaking out that sort of getup).

    Is this official? Some of this stuff is kind of … bleh.

    If you have to preface your sentence with “This isn’t to say ‘no fatties allowed'”, I think it’s safe to say … you probably shouldn’t say it. Yikes.

  242. marilove says

    That above comment was in relation to Drag*Con … and it’s wildly off-topic … so never mind … carry on :)

  243. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Also, how good a job does it do at weeding out blogposts about how that bitch won even though all I did was tell her 10 times a day for 5 years that I wanted to bone her?

  244. geraldmcgrew says

    PZ,

    I’ll write to American Atheists right now and tell them that a commenter on my blog wants them to stop doing anything about harassment at conferences because if they annoy some guy they might get sued.

    Again, I’m sorely disappointed in your response. I truly thought that if you commented, you would address what I actually said rather than ridiculous straw men.

    When debating creationists, I always take such responses as an indication that they are unable to counter what I actually said. I’m currently having trouble not doing the same with you.

    Amanda Knief, in her conference call, patiently explained that they’d be looking into local requirements in all 50 states, and that they were aware that having a policy also instituted an obligation to conform to the law.

    Exactly. And actually, you have to conform to state law whether you have a policy or not. So does the AA policy on sexual harassment go above and beyond state law?

  245. geraldmcgrew says

    michaeld,

    Of course. I’m counting on people to be able to pick out the relevant examples. They’re not exactly rare.

  246. says

    @ Esteleth

    Not a clue I got a lot of noise from wrongful dismissals where there was a sexual harassment component. I hate when people list number of googles search hits cause sooner or later in the list google will include a lot of the noise.

  247. says

    Oh look he’s just repeating the question again.

    In my little world (a sub-field of biology), we have about 4 meetings/conferences/symposia per year. At at least 2 of these the agenda includes “mixers” with an open bar. None of these conferences have any sort of policy like the AA one above that is given out to all attendees. And AFAIK, nothing has ever happened.

    AFAIK is not an acceptable standard. Because it has to break the impenetrable denseness of your skull and the surrounding gluteous maximus tissue

  248. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    So does the AA policy on sexual harassment go above and beyond state law?

    For the 5000th time:

    YES.

    AA will scold or eject you for conduct that is insufficient to go to court over. As will just about every single fucking event ever, from bars to sports games to professional events to BDSM dungeons.

    And they are correct in doing so.

  249. geraldmcgrew says

    So wait….are you guys actually disputing that there are settlements of wrongful sexual harassment charge suits?

  250. says

    No.

    And you are making no sense at all.

    The code of conduct was compiled from multiple sources that are actively using these documents right now, and was vetted by a lawyer. Yet for some reason you are raising a succession of poorly informed arguments against it. Why? Do you just like kibitzing pointlessly? Are you opposed to meetings having sensible policies to govern their operation?

  251. geraldmcgrew says

    Esteleth,

    YES.

    So do you think the policy that goes beyond state law should be written better than, or worse than the relevant state laws?

  252. screechymonkey says

    Ok Gerald, Mr. “I’m the only one quoting the policy!”, now I know you’re lying piece of shit. You wrote:

    except IMO the AA policy doesn’t really say that at all. Instead, it says, “American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.” It then goes on to state that violators of this policy can expect to be kicked out without refund.

    That’s why my initial post here was a suggestion to clarify this. As it currently reads, it gives the impression that unsuccessfully asking someone out will get you thrown out, should that person decide to report it.

    I note you opted not to quote the very next fucking paragraph, which says: “Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.”

    Do you understand what the words “may” and “at the discretion” mean?

    And as to your fantasy scenario of AA being brought low by a lawsuit from some poor “victim” of this policy: bullshit.

    First of all, unless AA is completely idiot, they’re not going to publicize every action they take. They’re not going to issue a press release saying “John Q. Public is a sexual harasser and we kicked him out.” So there isn’t going to be any “reputation” damage.

    And if someone wants to sue over their registration fee of a few hundred bucks? So what?

    But don’t worry: your concerns have been noted.

  253. says

    So wait….are you guys actually disputing that there are settlements of wrongful sexual harassment charge suits?

    They’re disputing that they “abound”.

    You’re repeating the classic douche “bitches lie yo” argument people use in response to harassment, rape, assault etc.

    You betray a presumption that suits you are not privy to are false because they were settled.

  254. says

    It sets expectations for behavior that are not regulated by the law, but it cannot and does not set legal penalties for those behaviors. The organization cannot, for instance, sentence you to 30 days in jail for playing grab-ass.

    That’s the kind of thing Amanda was talking about negotiating on a state-by-state basis — they cannot demand penalties that the state government does not allow local organizations to administer.

  255. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Gerald,

    You are a moron. Read for comprehension.

  256. rowanvt says

    Did I say that it wasn’t? I don’t remember saying so, so if you could point me to where I did….

    Okay! :D Happy to oblige!

    You @228-

    You do NOT consider asking a stranger for a date, or casual sex, to be sexual harassment.

    You DO consider someone touching my hair and complimenting me on it to be sexual harassment.

    This is called an arbitrary line.

    Then what is your standard for actual sexual harassment that requires formal action by the appropriate authorities?

    Me @ 234-

    Gerald, I appreciate that you agree with what I wrote about what you do, and do not, consider harassment.

    I find it interesting that physical contact seems to be required in your view.

    You @ 241, failing yet again to claim that what I said was an inaccurate version of your view.

    rowan,

    I understand what you’re saying. Everyone has their own criteria for when the situation crosses the line from annoying to actual harassment worthy of reporting.

    You @ 249, quoting what I said and failing to say anything with that statement was wrong:

    rowan,

    My apologies for skipping your question. I’m trying to keep up with the non-personal responses, and it’s a little crazy.

    WHY do you consider touching my hair and complimenting me on it, with no sexual inuendo involved, and not propositions involved to be sexual harassment but NOT someone explicitly asking me for sex?

    Because IMO, actually touching a stranger in even a remotely sexual context (e.g. complementing your appearance) is socially quite different.

  257. Pteryxx says

    You’re repeating the classic douche “bitches lie yo” argument people use in response to harassment, rape, assault etc.

    Now with bonus gold-digging, i.e. “false harassment settlements”.

  258. Sophia Dodds says

    That ‘standard for behaviour’ that you seem to be grappling for Gerald?

    As I was trying to say before with my rather stupidly verbose comment above – it’s simple. The standard is whether or not someone feels threatened by your behaviour.

  259. says

    McGrew: You’re done now. I can see what you’re doing: you’re someone who appeared out of the blue and is pulling the old creationist trick of endlessly nit-picking irrelevant or misinterpreted details out of a point of argument with no intent of achieving resolution, but only to continue the argument. I could have a lawyer show up here and cite precedent and utility of this sort of document, and you’d find something to whine about. The thread would go on endlessly.

    You are a classic troll.

    I’m serious: no more posting in this thread (the only thread you’ve ever participated in, strangely enough), because I don’t want to wake up to a 500-comment thread consisting entirely of you maundering on endlessly. Post again, you will be banned.

  260. rowanvt says

    @PZ… awwwww…. I was so looking forward to his response to my quoting where he agreed that someone explicitly asking me for sex is NOT harassment according to him.

  261. Sophia Dodds says

    @Ing

    SURE SURE Go on, gimme your best line. I’ve got the castration knives, weiner vice and a few pre-signed cease-and-desist orders ready. Go!

  262. Sophia Dodds says

    @Ing

    Oh, I forgot to ask – what’s your annual income and what kind of investment capital do you own? Shares? Seriously, I need a full financial report before I can even decide whether or not it’s worth calling harrassment here. :p

  263. geraldmcgrew says

    PZ,

    “No” to what?

    The code of conduct was compiled from multiple sources that are actively using these documents right now, and was vetted by a lawyer.

    Really? A lawyer actually agreed to language like, “You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference.” What is the legal definition of “unequivocal consent”? And “all activities”? Absolutely everything?

    As someone whose documents are regularly poured over by lawyers and every word is parsed for potential interpretations, I find it shocking that a lawyer took too hard a look at the AA policy. The reactions I seem to be getting from you and others are along the lines of, “Meh, we all know what they mean”, which in the legal world is discouraged harshly.

    Yet for some reason you are raising a succession of poorly informed arguments against it. Why? Do you just like kibitzing pointlessly?

    My first post was merely a series of suggestions, nothing more. Of course after that, it turned into a cluster of insults, name calling, and some actual, thoughtful responses and questions. I’ve tried to focus on the thoughtful responses for the most part.

    Are you opposed to meetings having sensible policies to govern their operation?

    Of course not. I fully support these organizations doing what they can to minimize these sorts of incidents, protect themselves, and provide their members with a positive conference experience. That’s why I offered suggestions.

    And now in hindsight, perhaps I’m just imposing my experiences with legal review onto your organizations. Maybe this policy will never be subject to the sorts of legal dissection I’m used to, and nothing will ever come of any of this. I certainly hope so.

  264. Sophia Dodds says

    And now we shall join in a solemn hymn to celebrate the holy trinity of definition quibbling, tone trolling and JAQing off that call forth the Holiest of Holies, Our Saviour and squisher of nits, the Banhammer.

    *terrible chanting*

  265. says

    I will assume you did not see my previous warning this time. Do not reply, do not add any more of your just-a-question routine, do not continue this game, or yes, you will be banned.

  266. rg57 says

    “maybe means no”. Actually, maybe means maybe. We have a word for no. It’s called no.

  267. Sophia Dodds says

    or perhaps I should get in the tea chest and sing until Gerald here takes the bucket off of his head.

    ‘And did those feeeet in ancient tiiimes… Walk upon England’s pastures greeeeen…’

  268. says

    I will just note that, in the only instance where Gerald actually tries to empathize with the experience of a person being harassed, it’s from the perspective of a man who views his wife as his possession.

    It’s like the difference between a guy telling a married woman “You look nice today” and telling her “You look nice today” while stroking her hair. The former might get her husband to give you a dirty look or some other mildly confrontational response, whereas the latter is quite likely going to get you decked.

  269. says

    @Esteleth

    I predict you will get a response of “glad we agree but what if…” and/or “I hope you are right”

    Of course not. I fully support these organizations doing what they can to minimize these sorts of incidents, protect themselves, and provide their members with a positive conference experience. That’s why I offered suggestions.

    And now in hindsight, perhaps I’m just imposing my experiences with legal review onto your organizations. Maybe this policy will never be subject to the sorts of legal dissection I’m used to, and nothing will ever come of any of this. I certainly hope so.

    Called it.

  270. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The reactions I seem to be getting from you and others are along the lines of, “Meh, we all know what they mean”, which in the legal world is discouraged harshly.

    Fuckwittery. Plain English is plain English. Get permission, or get out of here…Only a fuckwitted idjit would try to argue otherwise, or one who does prey upon women as a PUA. You have no legitimate concerns. Just bullshit masquerading as concerns.

    Bye-bye loser. *moves out of the banhammer splat range*

  271. says

    You are supposed to get unequivocal consent. “Maybe” is not unequivocal. Therefore, you are supposed to interpret it as a no.

    Does that help, O Slow One, rg57?

  272. adamgordon says

    bitches lie yo

    This is totally a thing! If you google ‘bitches lie yo’ you get 1.79 MILLION HITS

  273. rowanvt says

    @326, rg57

    … Gerald?

    To recap for you, oh person who cannot be bothered to read the comments, “maybe” is often used as a polite version of no, so as to minimise potential retaliation by the person being rejected. Often employed by women not only because we’ve been trained by society to be polite but because we also have to worry about how well a male will take our rejection, and if there is a risk of harm from being blunt.

    kthxbai.

  274. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    1.79 MILLION HITS

    That few? I just tried and got 179 million. You’re off by two orders of magnitude.

  275. Amphiox says

    Actually, it states, “You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference.” So no, you can’t just be “reasonably sure”, you have to get unequivocal consent.

    Encouraged to ask for” =/= “you have to get”

    Reading comprehension. It’s not just a catchphrase.

  276. rg57 says

    “move to the center of your row”

    Nonsense like this undermines the rest of the document. For some attendees, there are quite good reasons for both getting an early seat, and ensuring that seat is an end seat. The main point is to allow people to pass to get into the middle. One might also suggest that conference organizers select venues with seating that permits people to walk past seated people without having to climb over them.

  277. Amphiox says

    Actually, maybe means maybe. We have a word for no. It’s called no.

    “Maybe” means “Maybe NO.”
    “Maybe” means “Maybe I don’t want to say no because I am afraid of being hurt if I say no.”

    “Maybe” means “NOT YES“.

  278. says

    “move to the center of your row”

    Nonsense like this undermines the rest of the document. For some attendees, there are quite good reasons for both getting an early seat, and ensuring that seat is an end seat. The main point is to allow people to pass to get into the middle. One might also suggest that conference organizers select venues with seating that permits people to walk past seated people without having to climb over them.

    Really? You don’t want to walk that one back?

    You people are idiots.

  279. Amphiox says

    “move to the center of your row”

    Nonsense like this undermines the rest of the document.

    Only a lunatic would think something as trivial as this “undermines” the rest of the document.

  280. says

    OK, the banhammer is really itching to be let loose now.

    “move to the center of your row” Nonsense like this undermines the rest of the document.

    HOLY FUCKING CRAP, YOU ARE STUPID.

  281. Agent Silversmith, Vendor of +5 Vorpal Feather Dusters says

    rg57

    There are a wide range of responses which convey “no” without actually saying the word, which anyone with the most rudimentary grasp of social interaction understands. “Maybe” is one of them.

    There are people who have no problem understanding this and abiding by this convention, except where sexual requests are involved. I hope you’re not one of these clowns.

  282. says

    A hypothetical person (*glares at Gerald*) who actually goes and reports being asked out as harassment just to see if they can get formal action out of the conference would be trolling the conference.

    Don’t give the slimepitters any ideas.

  283. A. R says

    Sophia: “And was the holy Lamb of God, On Englands pleasant pastures seen!” You know you aren’t allowed to sing that song alone, right?

  284. Amphiox says

    Also, in face to face communication, “maybe” accompanied by a certain set of body language = “no” as definitively as it gets.

  285. says

    Really? Just Google “settlement wrongful sexual harassment charges”. You get about 1.4 million hits.

    And if you google “hostile work environment” you get 14 million hits.
    I don’t know much about conferences or conventions, but a few years ago I gained some familiarity with state laws regarding harassment in the workplace.
    I worked for a cooperative that for years only terminated members upon vote of the full membership. Then we had a case of harassment, and though the termination happened, it became clear that our system needed serious tweaking. Finally we gave the general manager the power to terminate in any case where our attorney advised him that there was potential legal liability if we kept the person in question around. Allowing a hostile work environment is certainly grounds for a lawsuit in the U.S.
    And again, 14 million hits. For whatever that’s worth.

  286. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    In my little world (a sub-field of biology), we have about 4 meetings/conferences/symposia per year. At at least 2 of these the agenda includes “mixers” with an open bar.

    What’s the odds of this sub-field being evo-psych?

  287. Rick says

    Harassment includes offensive verbal comments …, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption …, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

    In another blog it was posted,
    “Folks who are afraid the policy will make everyone turn into terrified mannequins can relax.”

    Really? The definition covers a whole lot of territory and is ambiguous at best. Let me relate story. I attended a company wide meeting regarding sexual harassment. During the course of the meeting it became apparent that ANYTHING could be construed by another as harassment. That included a third party observing a “consensual” exchange, but being offended. Everyone in the meeting poo-poo’d the idea that it could ever get so far off base. Of course, it was argued common sense would rule.

    Three weeks after that meeting a fellow male co-worker & friend, was called to the boss’s office. It seems that his innocent compliment (“I like the dress you’re wearing”)of a female co-worker was reported by a third party as inappropriate. He was reprimanded, and shortly thereafter left the company because he no longer felt comfortable interacting with some of his co-workers. Nicest guy in the world.
    The environment at work became very strained because we all felt we had to walk on egg shells after that.

    Common sense plays no part in policies regarding harassment. The point I’m making is that the definition above leaves it open for ANY comment, ANY joke, ANY advance, etc., to be regarded as harassment because a person perceived or felt it to be harassment, no mater how innocent or unintended it may be.

    The other problem is the use of such policies to by individuals to extract revenge, inflict harm, or otherwise harass, for ulterior motives. And again, “it can’t happen here” just doesn’t hold. If it can, it will.

    The “Code of Conduct” if that’s the complete version needs a “False Allegations” clause. Here’s a sample

    It is a violation of this policy for anyone to knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth make false accusations of sexual harassment. Failure to prove a claim of
    sexual harassment is not equivalent to a false allegation. Sanctions may be imposed on individuals who knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth make false accusations of sexual harassment.

    It may not happen tomorrow, but there will arise an incident where gratuitous accusations are made, then you can kiss the “good times” good-bye. To prevent such an occurrence organizers need to protect everybody from harassment, which includes those who would misuse such policies. I won’t participate if I see eggshells.

  288. says

    He was reprimanded, and shortly thereafter left the company because he no longer felt comfortable interacting with some of his co-workers.

    So nobody forced him to leave, eh? He just felt like if there was someone there who didn’t want to have her clothing complimented, he didn’t want to work there.

    Sorry, I’m not seeing the problem here. Except for the one your co-worker created for himself.

  289. says

    Really? The definition covers a whole lot of territory and is ambiguous at best. Let me relate story. I attended a company wide meeting regarding sexual harassment. During the course of the meeting it became apparent that ANYTHING could be construed by another as harassment. That included a third party observing a “consensual” exchange, but being offended. Everyone in the meeting poo-poo’d the idea that it could ever get so far off base. Of course, it was argued common sense would rule.

    Three weeks after that meeting a fellow male co-worker & friend, was called to the boss’s office. It seems that his innocent compliment (“I like the dress you’re wearing”)of a female co-worker was reported by a third party as inappropriate. He was reprimanded, and shortly thereafter left the company because he no longer felt comfortable interacting with some of his co-workers. Nicest guy in the world.
    The environment at work became very strained because we all felt we had to walk on egg shells after that.

    I don’t believe you.

  290. says

    It may not happen tomorrow, but there will arise an incident where gratuitous accusations are made, then you can kiss the “good times” good-bye. To prevent such an occurrence organizers need to protect everybody from harassment, which includes those who would misuse such policies. I won’t participate if I see eggshells.

    Bitches lie

  291. consciousness razor says

    Don’t give the slimepitters any ideas.

    It’d be better than having none, wouldn’t it? And seriously, think about it: no matter what kind of shitty idea it is, how likely is it that they’ll actually get it?

  292. Agent Silversmith, Vendor of +5 Vorpal Feather Dusters says

    And the complimentee never spoke up in defense of her colleague? It’s a Rashomon tale, to be sure.

    My spidey-sense whispers that you may have overrated your friend’s niceness.

  293. consciousness razor says

    It may not happen tomorrow, but there will arise an incident where gratuitous accusations are made, then you can kiss the “good times” good-bye.

    That sure sounds threatening. It’s as if fuckwits like you simply cannot comprehend that not everyone, not even the fucking AA leadership which to be honest has had a pretty shitty record, is as stupid as you are.

  294. says

    Three weeks after that meeting a fellow male co-worker & friend, was called to the boss’s office. It seems that his innocent compliment (“I like the dress you’re wearing”)of a female co-worker was reported by a third party as inappropriate. He was reprimanded, and shortly thereafter left the company because he no longer felt comfortable interacting with some of his co-workers. Nicest guy in the world.

    Oh yes, the poor, put upon Nice Guy™*. So, if your story is to be believed, the company has a meeting about sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour, however, Nicest Guy™ just can’t help his little ol’ innocent self and just *has* to comment on a co-worker’s apparel. And of course, none of this is Nicest Guy’s™ fault, eh?

    As Nicest Guy™ supposedly quit over this, my spidey-sense is telling me that Nicest Guy™ was quite the creep and upset at having his inappropriate creeping reigned in.

    Nice Guy™ 101.

  295. Amphiox says

    Of course, it was argued common sense would rule.

    Three weeks after that meeting a fellow male co-worker & friend, was called to the boss’s office. It seems that his innocent compliment (“I like the dress you’re wearing”)of a female co-worker was reported by a third party as inappropriate. He was reprimanded, and shortly thereafter left the company because he no longer felt comfortable interacting with some of his co-workers.

    Common sense would be this “nice” guy not being such a fool as to quit a good paying job over something a trivial as a little reprimand over something like this.

    No one forced him out. He was given just a verbal slap on the wrist. HE chose to leave.

  296. Amphiox says

    but there will arise an incident where gratuitous accusations are made, then you can kiss the “good times” good-bye.

    Don’t presume to define what “good times” means for everybody else, or presume to assume that the current situation as it now stands counts as “good times” for everybody.

  297. says

    Sally Strange:

    Countdown to someone yelling that not caring about the Nice Guy™ in the story, or not believing it, is evidence of misandry. 5… 4…

    Just once, I’d love to see a tiny variation on the Nice Guy™ story – instead of being reprimanded over complimenting a co-worker on their dress, they get reprimanded over complimenting a co-worker on their suit.

  298. adhoc says

    Specifically putting “maybe means no” is an attempt to explain to dense people that there are circumstances where it isn’t safe to just outright say no, and that maybe does not mean yes. There isn’t a yes until there’s a yes, and yes can be retracted at anytime.

    If you do not understand this or have issues with “maybe means no” being in the harassment policy, it is in the harassment policy specifically because of you and your kind, and you should probably take a close look at yourself, because you have potentially dangerous social issues.
     
    If you do not understand how an Atheist conference can legitimately have and enforce a no harassment policy when it comes to religion, once again, you need to take a close look at yourself, because you have social issues.

  299. Aquaria says

    During the course of the meeting it became apparent that ANYTHING could be construed by another as harassment. That included a third party observing a “consensual” exchange, but being offended

    You know what’s funny about this?

    We had one of those handy-dandy films that the USPS used to show us about sexual harassment/discrimination and so forth, and it specifically stated that consensual activity in front of other co-workers, could indeed be harassment and create a hostile work environment. One of the examples used was of a man and woman who were kinda touchy-feely with each other in a way they weren’t with other people.

    And the other example–are you ready for it–was of a man complimenting a woman on her looks in front of another employee, and the employee was the one who filed the complaint. And was successful in having that sort of behavior deemed inappropriate for a workplace.

    You want to try again, fuckturd?

  300. crysti says

    You know what? Even if the AA code of conduct does mean that no man can ask a woman out without getting tossed out on his ass – it soooo doesn’t, but just for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that it does – so what? Really?

    I seem to be missing the part where AA is the only place in the whole wide universe where said man can come into contact with women.

    Or – I’ve never been to one of these cons, so please be patient with me – do attendees actually get locked in for the duration?

    You want to get laid while attending a conference? Every town I’ve ever been to has a couple of bars/clubs that are recognised meat markets. Go to one of those. And quit fucking whining that you don’t get to bother anyone you please whenever & wherever you please.

    Also, can I just add that I don’t exist to provdie anyone but myself with “good times.” And anyone who thinks any differently can fuck right off.

  301. Aquaria says

    Both people were employees in the second example. The other employee who didn’t receive the compliment filed the complaint.

    Anyway, the point was that you don’t act that way in a professional setting. Don’t compliment someone else’s appearance in front of other employees–it’s unprofessional, and it isn’t tolerated in federal workplaces.

    That film was from at least 2008, Rick. Way to show that you’re way behind the curveball on that one!

  302. Kriss says

    I say NO to going to a conference which needs thoses rules.

    I’d rather go to a church (hear hear) where children are not shut out.

    PZ, in all of those hugging photos, did you ask beforehand? Were you asked?

  303. Aquaria says

    Crysti:

    I hereby bestow you with one shiny internets.

    That really is the crucial point in all of this.

    Unfortunately, too many scumbags think that if their dick wants, every woman should care about it.

    We don’t.

    That’s what we’re trying to get you idiots to realize: Most women don’t give a shit about your dick, so keep it and everything it wants to yourself. Act like we don’t want it or even to hear anything remotely related to it until you’ve known us at least a few hours. And live with having it ignored forever, if we show anything less than enthusiastic interest in learning more.

    There are other fish in the sea. There are other things to do than follow your stupid dick.

    Sheesh.

  304. Aquaria says

    <isay NO to going to a conference which needs thoses rules.

    Good riddance to selfish, misogynistic shits like you.

  305. Beatrice says

    Oh, the smell of troll in the morning.

    I say NO to going to a conference which needs thoses rules.

    I suspect you will not be missed.

    I’d rather go to a church (hear hear) where children are not shut out.

    Did you even read the policy? People with children are welcome, they are just asked to take care that their children don’t disrupt the talks and bother other people.
    But I’m sure that in your church no one minds if children run down the central aisle, playing tag or scream when they get bored.

  306. Kriss says

    Aquaria, you’re a perfect example of a polite person, respecting others, waiting at least a few hours before calling them shits. I admire you and your perfect way to communicate. Why don’t you make a pettition that we all call ourselfes shits all the time, wouldn’t that make your world a little bit brighter ?

    Mine not.

  307. Kriss says

    Beatrice, yes, I even read them, that’s why I mention children. Thanks for being so negative to me. Hope it makes your day. You may like it or not, but children are disruptive by their very nature. And yes, in the few churches I was forced to visit, disruptive children or their parents were not shut out or even rediculed.

  308. Beatrice says

    Kriss,

    I’m positively delighted to tell you to go and read it again because nowhere in there does it shut out or ridicule children.

    Why yes, this is making my day. Thank you!

  309. Kriss says

    “Parents or guardians bringing children are responsible for the children’s behavior and are expected to remove disruptive children from the session.”

  310. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    Jeez Kriss if you didn’t want to be called a shit, you could’ve tried not acting like one.

  311. sebloom says

    I really tried to read all the comments but the ADHD kicked in and I couldn’t get past #90 something. So I’ll just put in my 2 cents and assume that it was heard.

    When my children were little and they asked for something they couldn’t have (e.g. A pony, BB gun, another stuffed animal, a bag of twizlers for their very own, etc.) my wife and I would often answer “maybe someday.” This had two results. 1) it let them know that they couldn’t have whatever it was right now, and 2) that they needed to quite whining about it and STFU. Eventually they learned that “maybe someday” meant “no.”

    I agree with the text above…”maybe = no”

  312. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    Also I wasn’t overly disruptive as a kid. On the whole I’m probably more disruptive now, because of occasional drunkenness.

  313. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    Yeah, sebloom, it’s hard to believe someone could have gone through life without learning this very basic lesson.

  314. Beatrice says

    “Parents or guardians bringing children are responsible for the children’s behavior and are expected to remove disruptive children from the session.”

    What? I had no idea this was there. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible!

    Parents, responsible for their children? I had no idea that in this day and time someone would dare suggest such a thing. And expecting sweet little angels to let other people listen to speeches in piece? I mean, really. That just takes it too far. And calling children being children disruptive? It’s going to stunt them for life. They will never be able to grow and flourish if their parents teach them proper behavior in public and consideration of other people.

  315. Kriss says

    So saying “I say NO to going to that conference” is acting like shit? Are you really sure?

    Welcome to the brave new world we atheists are going to create. It will be a lot better than the one the religious people have built. You just have to do one small step: turn all people into robots. Like all religions are trying to do(but they are succeeding better so far).

  316. Kriss says

    Beatrice, might there be the small chance that you just don’t get it? Parents of course are responsible for the children. Children have the tendency to be disruptive. So if I as a parent read that and a completly normal thing (taking care of your children) is put at the same harassment level as a sexual harassment then I know I’m not welcome with my children. Or that someone mixes up things.

    To put it to easily understandable words: Where is the rule about poking your nose ?

  317. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    No, saying no to a conference because it is against harassment is acting like shit.

    Not harassing people = Being a robot? WTF?

    Robots are perfectly capable of harassment and worse. For example, GladOS.

  318. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    Where does it say children being disruptive is as bad as sexual harassment?

  319. Kriss says

    “No, saying no to a conference because it is against harassment is acting like shit.”

    I did not say that, just for the record

  320. earwig says

    Where does it say children being disruptive is as bad as sexual harassment?

    In the same place it tells people to turn off their cell phones, move along the row and not wear strong perfume. IOW, it doesn’t, as Kriss well knows. It’s just telling people to be considerate. Decent men don’t need to be told not to act like jerks; decent parents don’t need to be told to keep their children from being disruptive. The rules are needed for the clueless. It’s mildly annoying to be lumped together with the clueless for being just another man, parent or cell phone user, but really it’s not worth getting upset about. It’s not personal, it’s about creating a hassle-free environment for everyone by trying to clue up the clueless.

  321. i601 says

    I suggest instead (omit the list of classes):

    American Atheists is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless.

    Certain combinations of intent, words/actions, and target-sensitivity become harassment no matter what the topic. Misunderstandings about intent and/or sensitivity may only require a warning (although some words/actions are just not reasonable).

    I assume that any harassment of anybody for any reason is obviously wrong. But maybe include an appendix with culturally current examples for the socially challenged.

    Further, I suggest adding a separate category for sexual harassment. Due to the intimate nature of courtship, this type of harassment is fundamentally different.

  322. Kriss says

    Ok, earwig, it “really it’s not worth getting upset about”, you are right. I just tells me to not go there, which might be not your impression you get but it is mine, because I expect the movement to better other movements, even or especially when dealing with these problems.
    If I go to a church there’s no sign telling me not to hug people without asking. I expect our movement to better this.

  323. 'Tis Himself says

    If you’re not going to a conference because they insist you control your kids then you need to tell that to the conference organizers, not to a group of people discussing sexual harassment.

  324. earwig says

    You know, Kriss, when you come into the UK at Heathrow, there are big signs up everywhere telling incomers that assaults on Border Agency staff will be prosecuted. At first I found these signs insulting, as no one I know of would ever dream of assaulting Border Agency staff, however annoying they might be. Then it dawned on me that the signs weren’t specifically aimed at us, but to remind other people who might be more inclined to assault. The signs are there to protect Border Agency staff. The policy about children is a bit the same. Believe me, there are some parents so clueless that they let their children disrupt films, lectures, poetry readings so that other people can’t hear. You are obviously not one of those people, so I’d have thought your children would be welcome.

  325. N.P. says

    If I go to a church there’s no sign telling me not to hug people without asking.

    Where in this document does it state that there will be signs posted to this effect?

  326. crysti says

    How exactly does it “tell you not to go there”? Unless you’re planning or hoping to engage in the activities it specifically prohibits, that is.

    Or are you implying that these things are common sense and that it’s patronising of AA to explicitly state them?

    If so, I think you’re sadly mistaken: if the past year or so has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us that many, many people NEED to have these things spelled out for them, because they don’t get that their right to act out their desires does not override another person’s right to feel safe or be left in peace.

  327. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I expect our movement to better this.

    Every time I see this fuckwittery I feel someone needs a clue-by-four. What gives you the idea that atheists should be better than average people, which they are? Ideally yes, but in reality no. There are people like you present. You bring us down by idealizing something that shouldn’t be idealized.

  328. Beatrice says

    Kriss,

    I’m getting it, don’t worry about me. Worry about those poor children who are being discriminated against. Yeah, I call it by its rightful name. Those rules single out children together with people who don’t wash and harassers. It’s despicable.

  329. Kriss says

    Beatrice, like I said: I don’t go there.

    And I have to admit: I sometimes stink after a long day. Wouldn’t want to be harassed by some woman pointing out the rules to me, would I?

  330. Kriss says

    Yes, Nerd, I really think that Atheist’s rules should be better than religious rules. Not individual people (you might have mixed that), but rules which many people have been thinking about and put into place.

    We already have such rules, which thankfully are not religious, and we call them law. We don’t we apply them ?

  331. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yes, Nerd, I really think that Atheist’s rules should be better than religious rules.

    You are confused. They aren’t atheist rules versus religious rules. They are social rules. You think atheists act better than the general public, when they are part of the general public?

    The rules aren’t just for atheists, they are for convention goers, but adopted for an atheist meeting. They are rules used by many organizations, most of them secular. So, what is your real problem? Don’t like bathing regularly, or taking other people into account? I have no problem with said universal rules of behavior. They shouldn’t have to be spelled out, as they should be used by everybody without reminders, but people are people. But there is always the egotistical people who ignore context for selfish reasons.

    We already have such rules, which thankfully are not religious, and we call them law. We don’t we apply them ?

    Why the the law be involved in a private meeting? That is the context you are ignoring, and it makes you look less than cogent, and sounding like a selfish liberturd.

  332. Kriss says

    Well cysti, you might be right about that: “many people NEED to have these things spelled out for them”. The question is, where to put the line? Mentioning harassing seems ok for me, although I still think the better way would be not to write it down as a rule (it is in the law anyway) but to act it (like having a polite but firm security). But going so low as hugging and parfume? I’m not impressed about that.

  333. ImaginesABeach says

    Kriss –

    People, including atheists, shouldn’t need to be told to respect the rights of others. Unfortunately, if you only go places and do things where everyone respects the rights of others without a reminder, I suspect you will spend most of your time alone.

    What, exactly, is the problem with reminding people to respect the rights of others?

  334. ImaginesABeach says

    Frankly, I like that the Code of Conduct includes don’t grab people and squeeze them without consent. You call it hugging, I call it battery (the offensive touching of another).

  335. Beatrice says

    Kriss,

    All kinds of people exist. Some don’t realize that going up to some stranger and hugging them is creepy or that a child having a screaming fit is a tad disruptive. If you don’t fit the bill then those rules and suggestions have nothing to do with you. You’ll have read them this once and forget about them (at least unless someone harasses you and you want to report them, but hopefully that won’t happen).

    Mentioning harassing seems ok for me, although I still think the better way would be not to write it down as a rule (it is in the law anyway) but to act it (like having a polite but firm security).

    And on what basis would that security act on if there were no rules written?! Those doing the harassment could claim that they are being harassed by security people who are acting on their own wishes instead of any given rules.

    I’m not impressed about that.

    Your whining has not been impressive either. Or convincing. Or remotely intelligent.

  336. Crys T says

    “But going so low as hugging and parfume? I’m not impressed about that.”

    It may shock you, but a LOT of people find hugging really, really intrusive. Especially when it’s somebody they’ve only just met or know very little. It can be unpleasant for anyone, but we women get people who try to invade our personal space all the damn time. We want that to stop. And if you need to be told that, well, then you can’t complain that it’s been codified and set out in black and white.

    As for perfume, I’m another allergy/asthma sufferer, and while light fragrances often don’t bother me, I’ve hideous headaches and felt my airway begin to close up when faced with really strong scents. Again, your right to smell how you like does not trump my right to, y’know, breathe.

  337. Beatrice says

    You call it hugging, I call it battery (the offensive touching of another).

    Strangers hugging me… *shudder*

  338. says

    You know, people tend to be unfailingly polite to me at these meetings — they always ask if they can get a picture with me, they ask if they can get a hug. That’s fine. I don’t mind at all, and we both feel good about doing the right thing.

    The problem is that a lot of women don’t get asked nicely. Some people, big guys who can be intimidating, think nothing of giving a lady an affectionate squeeze. And many of the women don’t like the discourtesy, the assumption of permission, and some don’t like the physical contact at all.

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect everyone to treat the women at the conference with the same courtesy they give to me.

    By the way, I am really astounded that a common document, one of the sort that workplaces everywhere use, is getting all this whiny, nitpicky complaint. One moment everyone is saying that of course they don’t object to an ordinary anti-harassment policy, and when one appears, suddenly all these people show up to gripe about it.

  339. Kriss says

    PZ, that makes me rethink my habbits about hugging. I think I will completely refrain from it from now on since asking takes the spirit out of it (at least for me). Like “We are glad to see / meet each other and I’m emotionally so touched that I want to hug you” vs. “we are so much strangers that I even have to ask you about hugging”.
    Maybe it varies from country to country, at my place nobody asks and nobody complains.
    Or maybe it’s about an altogether different thing: Strangers misusing a hug to get their greasy hands onto fine young ladies (or worse). If that’s the case it should better be listed as “unwanted/unmotivated approach”.

  340. i601 says

    @195 Beatrice

    Right you are, geraldmcgrew. …And that’s why sexual harassment policies will make women rule the world! ruin everything.

    Despite being very funny, I believe this is the essence of the problem.

    The predator-privilege in our culture will not be surrendered without a fight. The heretical idea that a woman be empowered to defend herself (even if only with a report subject to formal review) is taken as an existential threat. That many are concerned only with hypothetical “unjust” reports, and never that they might be at fault, is telling.

  341. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But going so low as hugging and parfume? I’m not impressed about that.

    Why should we care what you think? You don’t seem to have a good grasp of how to behave in crowded situations. You idealize that which shouldn’t be idealized. Hugging is assault. Hurting someone by squeezing to hard while hugging is battery. Think about that, as both are crimes…

  342. ChasCPeterson says

    first no leg-chewing in bars and now no children-hugging?!
    Fucking fascists. This is not True Freethought!!!

  343. ChasCPeterson says

    As someone whose documents are regularly poured over by lawyers and every word is parsed for potential interpretations

    how about copy editors?
    (or janitors, I guess)

  344. Crys T says

    “PZ, that makes me rethink my habbits about hugging. I think I will completely refrain from it from now on since asking takes the spirit out of it (at least for me).”

    My god, do you even realise how creepy saying that is?

  345. Kriss says

    ImaginesABeach, consent is the right word.

    I don’t like to be reminded of obvious things because those rules tend to be interpreted differently be different people. I do not know how far these rules are taken. Some rules are even stated twice (children and hugs). That really makes me wonder of what to expect there.
    Take for example some of the replies I get here from a certain kind of people. If they would do the same (“offensive verbal comments”) thing at a conference they would need to be kicked out (being called a shit qualifies? yes!). You should have read the replies I got from my defending of Strauss Kahn. And I was right as it later turned out.

  346. Beatrice says

    You should have read the replies I got from my defending of Strauss Kahn. And I was right as it later turned out.

    ?!??!??!?!
    (that’s me screaming on the inside)

    Kriss, hand back your “decent human being” card on your way out. Which should be right now. Thank you.

  347. earwig says

    Jolly decent of you to defend DSK considering he had his own well-paid lawyers on the case. Which particular aspect of his behaviour were you defending?

    Or were you just saying “innocent until proved guilty”?

    BTW, as for the language on here, anyone who spends a moment on the site knows what they are letting themselves in for so there’s no point complaining about it. We’re all consenting adults who know there’s always a rusty porcupine somewhere.

  348. Matt Penfold says

    ImaginesABeach, consent is the right word.

    Well in your case it is the wrong word, seeing as how you so object to it.

  349. Kriss says

    Crys T, yes, for me too. But since asking is not for me (might be ok for you, though), there is no other way as to only hug people I know for a long time and when I have the feeling that I have their implicit consent.
    This reminds me of a story that happened some time ago: I met the girlfriend of a friend’s friend and she had a habit of given a French kiss to all of her friends. After letting that happen to me for some time I decided to do likewise, not just politely complying. That made her really wonder.

  350. KG says

    You should have read the replies I got from my defending of Strauss Kahn. And I was right as it later turned out. – Kriss

    Er, no. Enough has come out since about Strauss-Kahn’s sexual behaviour over a long period to make the charge against him all too plausible. Rather than you, it was those who said that whatever the facts of the case, Strauss-Kahn would not be convicted because he is a rich and powerful white man and his alleged victim a black female hotel room cleaner, were right.

  351. Kriss says

    Ernst Hot, OJ was very clearly a very different case where everybody could see he was guilty. I think it was the fault of the police to not gather evidence according to the law.

  352. Crys T says

    “since asking is not for me (might be ok for you, though)”

    No, no, no: you do not get to reframe this as merely a question of personal preference. Respect for consent is a basic, bottom-line requirement.

    But, if you’re true to your word, then at least you won’t be inflicting yourself on the unsuspecting any longer. I think that somehow they’ll all manage to live with that.

    Also, btw, by refusing to ask for permission, the only one you’re screwing out of contact & affection is yourself. You know what?: whatever.

  353. Matt Penfold says

    Crys T, yes, for me too. But since asking is not for me (might be ok for you, though), there is no other way as to only hug people I know for a long time and when I have the feeling that I have their implicit consent.

    Fine. So what is the problem ? You don’t want to ask, don’t ask. So long as your realise that limits you to only getting hugs from people who you know well enough that an explicit request is not needed I really do fail to see why you are so upset. Unless what you really want to be able to do is hug people against their wishes, which seems quite possible with you.

  354. Kriss says

    Matt Penfold, no, I do not object to the rules. I object to them written out that way. I for myself have even stronger rules (except until now the hugging rule).
    For me two rules would be enough:
    1. Go along the rules of the law.
    2. If someone tells you of some problem with you, try to sort it out in a friendly manner otherwise the security will solve it according to the law.

    I don’t think Atheists need different law then other people.

  355. ImaginesABeach says

    Kriss –

    I suspect you have either misread the policy or my comment. The policy does not forbid hugging. It forbids hugging and other touching without consent. I fully support the policy.

    People DO have to be reminded of things that I think are obvious (like don’t hug me unless I say it’s ok).

    And calling you a shit would not get me thrown out of the conference. Following you around and reminding you that you are a shit after you have told me to stop might get me thrown out of the conference.

    Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Conference participants violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

    I just don’t see where your confusion lies.

  356. earwig says

    I met the girlfriend of a friend’s friend and she had a habit of given a French kiss to all of her friends. After letting that happen to me for some time I decided to do likewise, not just politely complying. That made her really wonder.

    A French kiss?
    =:O

    Surely you mean the mwah-mwah sort, which is OK in France between friends as it’s considered consensual but quite boorish when inflicted on the unconsenting. That’s the sort of behaviour that would get people reported under this harassment policy, and rightly so. Especially as it’s technically an assault under common law.

    English isn’t your first language, is it? That might account for some of your difficulty in understanding what people are telling you here.

  357. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I object to them written out that way

    They shouldn’t have to be written out, but folks like you abuse curtsey an make it about them, to the detriment of others. That is why it needs to be in place.

    Go along the rules of the law.

    The law is an ass, and the last resort for those who won’t play nice.

    If someone tells you of some problem with you, try to sort it out in a friendly manner otherwise the security will solve it according to the law.

    Where do you think (obviously you aren’t) that private security is the police with powers? You appear to have a problem, not us. So you go away and solve it on your own. Which is how to play nice in crowded situations without offending/hurting other people.

  358. Kriss says

    KG, did you hear about that story the woman who accused Strass Kahn told about the rape of her as she fled her country? How she was emotionally so distressed while telling it later in the USA?
    The story was a complete fabrication, she admitted.
    Is is not always as easy as black or white.

  359. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    What, so a woman cannot believed in any matter if she has ever fudged the truth in any matter?

    Do you realize what you’re saying – that women who are of less-that-perfect character are fair game?!

    Also, look at Strauss Khan himself. The man, by increasing numbers of reports is a sexual predator. Does that matter at all to you?

  360. Beatrice says

    Kriss,

    If I hadn’t been sure before, I am now, with your mentioning Strauss Khan – you are trolling for attention. Fuck off already.

  361. trevordavel says

    The phrase “unwelcome sexual attention” is vague and subjective; in most jurisdictions such a phrase would be unenforceable if found in a legal document or contract.

    Having legally unambiguous conference rules is important: a paying participant who feels unfairly treated has recourse to civil courts if his/her access to the conference is restricted, and conference organisers as well as the victim of harassment must be able to defend themselves in such a situation.

    Moreover a vague phrase like “unwelcome sexual attention” does little to clarify what behaviour is unacceptable, or to dissuade those people who don’t understand what is reasonably considered “unwelcome” in a particular social setting.

    A better approach (imho) is to apply the well-developed legal concepts of a hostile environment created by sexual harassment. In particular: the unwelcome behaviour must be persistent OR grossly inappropriate (i.e. would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same sex as the victim).

    The course of action for both the victim and the conference organisers is then clear: if the behaviour would attract an immediate dismissal in a work environment, or the participant has already been cautioned against the behaviour, then take severe action (such as banning from the conference); otherwise caution against the behaviour (either a general caution, or a caution to desist from the behaviour in relation to a specific person, as appropriate).

    Explaining expected behaviour to participants is also easier: treat a conference and its participants as you would your own workplace, colleagues and customers. Sadly this will probably require some elaboration to educate those who don’t know that their workplace behaviour is inappropriate.

    Aside: since I was watching this just last night, I thought I’d mention that popular geek culture expects this problem to be around for some time: (snip from) Timescape, Star Trek S06E25.

  362. earwig says

    No earwig, I mean a French kiss. Really.

    That’s repulsive. And you just let her? And then after a few times, you did it back?

    *shakes head in disbelief* It is for people such as this that a written policy is necessary, both to discourage such behaviour and to reassure people on the receiving end of it that this sort of thing will not be tolerated. It seems that you are in need of the policy on both counts.

  363. Kriss says

    Beatrice, “decent human being”, that is cool !
    The biggest achievement the Atheists did is the law, so imperfect it sometimes seems. Think about that !

  364. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    No earwig, I mean a French kiss. Really.

    Please, prettyprettyprettyplease! Let this be a misguided attempt at satire or trolling. If not I might have to go with Louis on his killing spree – and I’m not sure I’m ready for jail or death.

  365. Matt Penfold says

    Matt Penfold, no, I do not object to the rules. I object to them written out that way.

    So in fact you do object to them. Why not just say so, rather than go to all the pretence of saying you don’t. You would still look an idiot, but not such a dishonest one.

    For me two rules would be enough:
    1. Go along the rules of the law.
    2. If someone tells you of some problem with you, try to sort it out in a friendly manner otherwise the security will solve it according to the law.

    I don’t think Atheists need different law then other people.

    We are not talking about the law, we are talking about a code of conduct. They are different things. To have confused the two as you have, and to carry on confusing them after being corrected so many times suggests you are being wilfully ignorant. Or you so fucking stupid you should not be allowed out without being accompanied by a responsible adult.

  366. Beatrice says

    The biggest achievement the Atheists did is the law, so imperfect it sometimes seems. Think about that !

    What the fuck does this sentence even mean, you stupid fucker?

    (There goes my calm disposition)

    You have spouted your idiocy all over this thread. Knock it off already.

  367. Matt Penfold says

    Holy fucking Dodo shit, Thunderfoot has another post up, telling PZ to learn to read this time.

  368. Kriss says

    earwig, yes I let her. The only thing embarrassing was that I didn’t know the reaction of her boyfriend. Why would I need a written policy for that? I for think myself and although I’m quite shy when it comes to stangers I am also tolerant and forgiving.

    The thing I wanted to say is this: different people are different and you can’t expect the same level of mutual understanding. Respect and tolerance are the solution.

  369. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The biggest achievement the Atheists did is the law,

    *cues theme music to the twilight zone*

    It knows not about history…

  370. Kriss says

    Beatrice, I have the distinct feeling you are harassing me. What do you think and how can we solve that?

  371. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why would I need a written policy for that?

    You wouldn’t, but others would. This is getting too much about ewe, ewe, ewe. Who gives a shit about ewe and your inane OPINIONS? I don’t.

  372. Matt Penfold says

    Beatrice, I have the distinct feeling you are harassing me. What do you think and how can we solve that?

    Point out the flaws in your “arguments” does not constitute harassment. Given how obtuse and unpleasant you are, nor does calling you names. After all, it is not polite for you to be inflicting your stupidity on us.

    As to what you can do about, have you tried fucking off ?

  373. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Beatrice, I have the distinct feeling you are harassing me. What do you think and how can we solve that?

    The easiest solution is for you to go luddite. Never touch a computer again. People might bring technology with them, so you better stay clear of people too. I hear Bouvet Island is nice this time of year – relocate there.

    Alternatively – you could try sticking you head in a bucket of water for at least 10 minutes – but there’s some severe side-effects to that technique.

  374. Beatrice says

    The thing I wanted to say is this: different people are different and you can’t expect the same level of mutual understanding. Respect and tolerance are the solution.

    Also, anti-harassment policies.

    You are being extremely stupid on the internet, probably deliberately so. I’ve been reading your stupid shit for a good part of the day (I blame my SIWOTI syndrome), I think I have good reason to be a bit annoyed by you.

    Again, fuck off. If you consider that harassment, you are still welcome to fuck off.

  375. Kriss says

    Gnumann, no, this a real story which happened to me. Does it shock you? Sorry for that.

  376. Matt Penfold says

    And Kriss,

    Have you had a look at the code of conduct PZ has for this blog, You might want to read it and reflect on how many times you have violated it, and then explain to us how, given what a nice person you, you could possibly have done.

  377. Anri says

    PZ, that makes me rethink my habbits about hugging. I think I will completely refrain from it from now on since asking takes the spirit out of it (at least for me).

    Interestingly, most other here don’t seem to find it overly restrictive. As such, can we agree that this issue lies solely with you, rather than with the policy?

    Can we further surmise that a number of your issues with the stated policy lie with you, rather than with the policy?

    And beyond that, is there any chance you can learn the distinction between “I don’t like…” and “This is bad…”?

  378. KG says

    KG, did you hear about that story the woman who accused Strass Kahn told about the rape of her as she fled her country? How she was emotionally so distressed while telling it later in the USA?
    The story was a complete fabrication, she admitted.
    Is is not always as easy as black or white. – Kriss

    Yes, you vile misogynist arsehole, I did hear it. Guess what, even people who are not morally perfect get raped.

  379. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, Kriss, where is any evidence to show your OPINIONS should be taken seriously? I see nothing link to as evidence to support your idiocy. Just me, me, me, me, me, me, its all about me….

  380. says

    Who the fucking fuck is this shithead Kriss and what the fuck is he talking about?!?

    Getting consent takes the fun out of hugging?? DSK was a stand-up guy who was falsely accused? When French-kissed against your will, accept it passively several times then do it back??!?

    You’re a fucking creepy creeper. Stay the fuck away from me and any other human beings. Even if you’re just making this up for kicks, it takes a seriously fucked up mind to invent that kind of shit.

    Also, fuck you.

  381. says

    Beatrice, I have the distinct feeling you are harassing me. What do you think and how can we solve that?

    Beatrice may or may not be harassing you, but I certainly plan to, you disgusting little pissant creep. As long as you are posting on this blog, I will show up to remind you what a complete failure of a human being you are.

    Thanks for providing me the perfect target on which to vent some of the anger and frustration that has been building up for the past couple days. You deserve every iota of my animosity.

    Here’s how to solve the “harassment problem” here: go away and never come back. There’s a whole internet full of misogynists who think Strauss-Khan was a fucking hero out there, why don’t you go tell them about how horribly you were treated on Pharyngula.

  382. Kriss says

    Gnumann, are you harassing me too? Would not be good at any conference, no matter what rules. Or is it different for you since it’s the internet ?

    To summarize what I have said here:

    I think the law and a good security are enough.
    I think the Atheists should do better than recreating the same minute step by step rules of dos and donts the religous people did.
    I will not attend a conference where they try to teach me beforehand about behaviour.
    I will not hug anyone anymore whom I do not know a long time.
    I do not want to be harassed.
    I think Straus Kahn was rightly spoken innocent in New York.

  383. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    To summarize what I have said here:

    Who cares what you have said. You are not an authority we would trust. Your own words show that. All you have is me me me me me me me. We don’t give a flying fuck about your evidenceless me….

    PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE YOU ARE A FOOL:

    I think Straus Kahn was rightly spoken innocent in New York.

  384. Matt Penfold says

    I think the law and a good security are enough.

    Yet experience and evidence shows they are not.

    So you are simply lying, you lying sack of shit.

    I think the Atheists should do better than recreating the same minute step by step rules of dos and donts the religous people did.

    That is not what atheists are doing, so you are lying, you lying sack of shit.

    I will not attend a conference where they try to teach me beforehand about behaviour.

    Good. You not being there would not be a loss to anyone, you lying sack of shit.

    I will not hug anyone anymore whom I do not know a long time.

    No, you should not hug anyone who you do not know is happy for you to hug them. I imagine there a lot of people who have known you a long time and would not want to be touched by you.

    So again, you fail to understand, you lying sack of shit.

    I do not want to be harassed.

    Not do other people, but unlike you, most of them act like they mean it. Again, you have failed to understand, you lying sack of shit.

    I think Straus Kahn was rightly spoken innocent in New York.

    IS that even in English ?

  385. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Gnumann, are you harassing me too? Would not be good at any conference, no matter what rules. Or is it different for you since it’s the internet?

    No, this is ridicule, with a side order of a well-deserved verbal beating and a special little piece of pleading for desserts.

    You see, it’s kinda hard to build a meaningful dialogue when the other party is a nitwit who makes Chauvin look like a real feminist.

    I don’t care if you are trolling or not – either way you’re seriously the worst excuse for a human being I’ve encountered in a long time.

    Just go the fuck away – pretty please with sugar on top!

  386. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    @ Sally: Are you sure you don’t want to add “dangerous” too? After all, we don’t want the lackwit to feel mischaracterized.

  387. Beatrice says

    I think the law and a good security are enough.

    You are wrong.

    I think the Atheists should do better than recreating the same minute step by step rules of dos and donts the religous people did.

    You are wrong. This has nothing to do with religion, but with people having trouble being decent human beings. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but that’s how it is. And these rules are here to protect people as well as establish guidelines for those who might becomes decent with the right push.

    I will not attend a conference where they try to teach me beforehand about behaviour.

    That’s a good decision. I also advise you against having a job or attending school/university. All sorts of rules about behavior exist in these places. Also – theaters, cinemas, shops, etc. Most public places, really. Maybe you should just stay at home where you can act any way you want.

    I will not hug anyone anymore whom I do not know a long time.

    Good.

    I do not want to be harassed.

    Harassment policies are there for you too.

    I think Straus Kahn was rightly spoken innocent in New York.

    You are wrong.

  388. Matt Penfold says

    Maybe you should just stay at home where you can act any way you want.

    Bit unfair on his neighbours!

  389. Beatrice says

    Maybe you should just stay at home where you can act any way you want as long as it doesn’t disturb your neighbors and involves only consensual activities.

    FTFM
    Thanks, Matt Penfold.

  390. Kriss says

    Anri, yes, I hopefully made it clear this are my personal opinion, but I need to explain: hugging is a two way thing, which needs two persons to want it and it expresses emotions the two have for each other. If I have a doubt about the other persons emotions, I do not feel good and the hugging becomes useless. A handshake is better. Asking is having a doubt. That doubt cannot go away by a “yes”, as I do not know if that’s sincerely.
    So I prefer not to have doubts and then I also don’t need to ask. Of course that assumes I am aware of reality.
    Well, of cource I am not saying the policy is bad and I am having difficulties with it. Only I think the law is the better place for that and some wording makes me not feel good at all. If I attent an event I don’t expect to be micromanaged and educated about my behaviour.
    Yes I know the distinction and I’m trying to express it.

  391. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Bit unfair on his neighbours!

    Not if he takes up on my suggestion and relocates to Bouvet Island.

  392. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Only I think[fart nonsense]

    FTFY. Nobody here will listen to a delusional fool like you. Your OPINION is fuckwitted and worthless, nothing but rancid flatulence. You are Heinlein’s “well meaning fool”. So mosey along and take your idiocy elsewhere.

  393. Kriss says

    SallyStrange, “When French-kissed against your will, accept it passively several times then do it back”, I did not say that, if you read carefully. I just told a story to show the difference between formally doing something and emotionally doing something. If the story troubles you, then sorry. Of course I do not advocate to do it like me and I fully agree to someone who clearly states that he does not like that.

  394. rowanvt says

    Kriss, in social interactions I tend to come off as bubbly happy. This has led to a lot of hugs without my consent.

    Here’s a funny thing: Many times, if someone (a mostly-stranger) asked me for a hug, I’d say “YES!” and happily hug, especially if we’ve been conversing for a while.

    But the moment the hug occurs without asking me first, it becomes a bad touch, stranger danger!

    And if a complete stranger hugs me I am hard pressed to not bite them. In fact, my usual statement is “Let go before I bite you.”

    You don’t like asking for consent for a hug? I don’t like being entirely restrained by strange men, especially without prior knowledge.

  395. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Why do you hate seals and penguins so, Gnumann?

    No hate really, it’s just that it’s them or me…

    And the place is the most decrepit, people-less piece of land where the dolt actually stand a chance at surviving.

  396. Kriss says

    So what exactly is it you disapprove: that I think a good security is better then rules about anything including washing?

    Or is it that I mentioned that the law is a big Atheist achievement and rightfully applied on Strass Kahn ?

    Say it to me and I will never mention it again

  397. rowanvt says

    So what exactly is it you disapprove: that I think a good security is better then rules about anything including washing?

    So, you’d be fine then with a stranger coming up and straight up asking me for sex, especially if the person accepts my ‘no’. Because it’s not repeated. Which means under the law, it’s not harassment. Which means security wouldn’t get involved.

    So instead I get to be creeped out the entire convention, wondering when the next guy is going to show up and ask the same thing. Because it’s so much better for me to be creeped out and never want to return than it is for you to ASK for a hug? Being required to ask before physical contact is a terrible thing for you?

    You’re probably one of the guys who like to randomly pet my hair in the grocery store.

    Creep.

  398. Kriss says

    rowanvt, I do understand you. I never hug strangers first. And I now not even hug people first I already know or who are friends of friends.

    Wish that you are always bubbly happy!

  399. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Both, Kriss.

    Because just about every single group-gathering has a code of conduct that is stricter than the law: conventions, bars, professional events (including workplaces), BDSM dungeons.

    Your idiotic assertions to the contrary, such policies are (1) widespread and (2) necessary. If you are a decent person surrounded by decent people, and the policy is well-designed, you will never hear of it after the initial announcements/orientation/reading.

    Secondly, Strauss-Khan is a predator. There are way too many allegations, too many substantiated allegations, to ignore. The Manhattan DA said that the reason they stopped prosecuting is because of the ridiculous standards of purity that rape victims are held to – standards that you appear to hold – not because they disbelieve Diallo’s account. Get your fucking facts straight.

    Also: your assertion that Diallo, because of [unrelated incident] must be a liar in this matter is (1) stupid, (2) flagrantly offensive, and (3) a major part of the reason why rape convictions are so fucking low.

    In conclusion, you are an awful person and need to fuck off.

  400. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So what exactly is it you disapprove:

    All your unevidenced OPINIONS. Which is all you have. Meaning anything everything you say…Your OPINION won’t change our minds. That requires evidence you don’t have. You argue like a liberturd, who thinks they are the greatest thinker in the room. If they were, they wouldn’t be liberturds….

  401. Beatrice says

    I’m sorry to say that I’ll have to leave for a couple of hours and won’t be able to participate in any further harassment of Kriss.

  402. rowanvt says

    . And I now not even hug people first I already know or who are friends of friends.

    We never said you can’t hug people whom you already know, and know are okay with hugs.

    But yes, hugging the friend of a friend without permission is rude, because you don’t know if they’re like me and have had multiple close calls with sexual assault and thus do not like physical contact.

  403. Kriss says

    rowanvt, of course not. A no is a no, a maybe is a no, even a yes is a no most of the time in such a situation. That’s why I think asking is not the solution. Security is not bound to the law. They can kick you out any time without an explanation (please correct me if I’m wrong because I’m not an expert in the law).

    No, asking is not a terrible thing. I think it would be better to do it. Only the process of asking is messed up. Questions count as harassment, answers don’t count, words are mixed up.
    “Ehh he hugged me, yes he asked and I said yes but only because of that frightening look in his eyes” What do we gain? Nothing.

    My personal tactic is to let the other party do the first step. But that’s not an universal solution because then noboby would do the first step.

    I only broke that rule once when I asked my then to be wife out for lunch. Three times. But she since has forgiven me.

  404. Kriss says

    rowanvt, the problem is that not hugging a friend of a friend comes close to an insult where I live. Asking in such a situation would be considered as wierd. But for me it will still be easy, just let the others do the first step.

  405. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Hmm, is anyone else noticing that Kriss has yet to address me? Maybe because my nym reads as female?

  406. earwig says

    Kriss is so busy typing ze doesn’t notice the comments that have come in meantime.

  407. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, Kriss still fallacious thinks we care what it thinks. We don’t, as it is obvious its mind doesn’t work well. Typical of self-centered delusional fools, who make a lot of sound, fury, and flatuence on the internet, that means nothing due to terminal insipidity.

  408. says

    I just told a story to show the difference between formally doing something and emotionally doing something. If the story troubles you, then sorry.

    Goddamn you are an incoherent babbling idiot.

    Now it sounds like you made the story up. Which makes more sense, actually, since it was so incoherent and implausible in the first place.

    I repeat: you are a fucking creepy asshole. Stop posting here. Go away.

  409. Kriss says

    Esteleth, sorry for that.

    Policies are ok. But you can go very far until you find a policy about hugging or washing. Ok, maybe in a Swinger Club, but mostly they only have one rule: a no is a no. Could be so easy.

    That was not the only thing to stop the investigations: the money was another big hint. The law is not about who is a liar, it is about proving that someone is guilty. That is a wonderful thing and should not be discarded so easily.

  410. rowanvt says

    Security is not bound to the law. They can kick you out any time without an explanation (please correct me if I’m wrong because I’m not an expert in the law).

    First, the part in bold. You are not an expert in the law, but think the law is better than convention rules? When the convention is technically a private function? That’s like saying I can’t have rules for conduct in my own house that are different from state rules.

    And have you not thought about how people will howl about being kicked out without an explanation (translation: for no reason whatsoever)? Talk about a future smear campaign and death of a conference! “They’ll kick you out if they feel like it! No reasons given! It’s not like I broke any… rules….”

    Questions count as harassment, answers don’t count, words are mixed up.

    For one moment, please stop being defensive. Don’t read this while being flustered, frustrated, or unsure about things. Please take the following at full face value.

    Questions do not count as harassment. The type of question, the manner in which it is said, and the location in which it is said all have a huge effect on whether or not it is harassing.

    All the following examples are using complete strangers as the person asking.

    Example: “Do you happen to know what time it is?” is not harassing content. If said in normal conversational tones, it is not harassing. Thought if said with a sneer/leer/aggression it could be. Provided that it is said in conversational tones, asking the time is non-harassing in pretty much all locations.

    Example: “Hi! What did you think of panel X?” is not harassing content. If the other person wants to talk, a conversation will follow. If they don’t want to talk, the non-committal, few word answers will follow like “meh, it was okay” or there will be a more clear “I don’t feel like talking right now” or some similar piece.

    Example: “Hi! Wanna go have lunch?” Complete stranger, rather creepy. Common replies for not wanting to go: Maybe later (no), Sorry I just ate (no), Sorry I’m meeting some friends for lunch elsewhere (no), Thanks, but no thanks.

    Example: “Hey, wanna go have some alone time in my room/have sex?” Always harassing, creepy as hell. ESPECIALLY if guy is being aggressive about it, “yes” is not an answer uttered if the real feeling is ‘no, oh help!”. Prevaricate maybe, extricate as soon as possible, run to the nearest security/populous area.

  411. Kriss says

    No StallyStrange, the story is real. I will not go away. Please just ignore me or, even better, first get to know my arguments. I will be replying to those who want to discuss things with me. Maybe you rethink your position and we can discuss things a little bit more decently.

  412. rowanvt says

    Forgot to add:

    Why “no means no so use no” doesn’t always work.

    I’m 5’6″. Not particularly tall. Say an aggressive guy comes by and asks me to the bar for a drink. Say this guy thinks he’s entitled to all female attention. And now I tell him a blunt “no”. I run the risk of being cussed at, physically assaulted, stalked and generally further harassed and my safety is now completely compromised.

    That is why “maybe means no”. It’s because women in general have been well taught that making men angry can be dangerous.

  413. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Kriss, have you read the rest of this thread or the other ones talking about this general issue?

    Like, at all?

    Because people have said that there are people who randomly hug, and there are also people who – for whatever reason – are seriously not okay with this. The policy comes down solidly on the side of people feeling non-threatened and comfortable in their own skin. And yes, there are people who NEED to be told this. The same goes for bathing! I go to geek cons, and noticing about bathing and deodorant are more common than not. Because people forget to bathe or don’t realize how bad their BO has gotten.

    Also, you really need to pay attention. Vance – the Manhattan DA – said that he and his office believe that Diallo’s account is true, but that because of people’s offensively stupid standards of rape victims, he would have trouble getting a conviction. He has also expressed support of Diallo’s civil suit.

  414. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Funny how fuckwits like Kriss don’t understand the concept that they are their own worst enemy. We don’t have to show their idiocy. They post their idiocy for all to see. They cause the lurkers to disbelieve everything thing they say.

  415. Kriss says

    Yes, I’m not an export in law, but I think the company doing the conference / the hotel can kick anybody out.

    I don’t know what’s cause more problems: discussing conferences like they are full of offenders (they are not), or managing some (rare) real situations. In addition: do you really think the offenders go like this: OMG, there is a rule I must stick to? I didn’t know that beforehand! Of course they do know that it is wrong. I think the whole discussion is hurting more than helping.

    “Questions do not count as harassment”. Ok, I am calm :-) Of course they do. :-) You just proved it yourself. Any question involving any activity which is totally private to the other party is counted as harassment. This is very relative to 1. who asks 2. who is asked. There is no rule for that. Everybody has a different feeling about that. Very different. For example, you could ask me anything, as long as it is clear that is is a real question and no statement. I would answer to you, or decline the answer. But I never would count any question as harassment. Of course, repeated insitive questions would count.

  416. Kriss says

    rowanvt, I think you should say NO, loud and clear.

    I once was in a subway train and a very big, druken man was harassing a woman (sexually insulting her because of her impure skin). All other passengers listened and did nothing. I am a no sports kind of guy, but I stood up, walked to him and told him to stop. He could have beaten me to the ground with one stroke. But he did not and stopped.

  417. rowanvt says

    . But I never would count any question as harassment.

    So you don’t think random stranger A coming up to me and asking me explicitly for sex is not harassment. Good to know. I’m done with you as you clearly don’t *want* to understand.

    And no, we don’t expect offenders to listen to the rules, but average men who may not always ‘get it’ can have a better idea. Like you and hugging strangers. Now you are aware that SOME of us don’t like it at all! And you wouldn’t know we don’t like it… unless you ASK us.

    Before you had *assumed* that hugs given to anyone was okay. We’ve told you it’s not, and now you have a sad. But *we* have a feeling safer. And feeling safer is more important than your sad.

  418. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Kriss,
    Do you not understand that in a lot of situations, a woman saying “no” gets her socially shamed? Do you not understand that girls are taught, from a very early age, to not say “no,” because it’s rude?

    Seriously, are you that dense?

    As for policies: I really don’t think that there are a lot of people who go “OMG I have to obey the rules!” I do think, however, that the knowledge that the rules are there does two things:
    (1) enable people to speak up when something is bothering them (the rates of people swallowing harassment because they know that reporting it won’t accomplish anything are VERY HIGH) and
    (2) set the standard for a non-threatening meetup. Don’t neglect the importance of this.

  419. says

    Kriss:

    I don’t know what’s cause more problems: discussing conferences like they are full of offenders (they are not)

    Nobody has done this. Nor does this matter when creating an anti-harassment policy.

    In addition: do you really think the offenders go like this: OMG, there is a rule I must stick to? I didn’t know that beforehand! Of course they do know that it is wrong.

    So, since you feel that policies aren’t a deterrent, is there a point to workplace anti-harassment policies? After all, according to you they don’t set a minimum standard of behavior, so why bother?

    I think the whole discussion is hurting more than helping.

    Yeah screw those women/LGBT people/disabled people/whatever! Since there are so few harassers*, we can just forget about their concerns.

    *But policies like this won’t change behavior. So, which is it, Kriss? Are there so few harasser as to not worry about or are you concerned that policies won’t change the level of harassment?

    “Questions do not count as harassment”. Ok, I am calm :-) Of course they do. :-) You just proved it yourself. Any question involving any activity which is totally private to the other party is counted as harassment. This is very relative to 1. who asks 2. who is asked. There is no rule for that. Everybody has a different feeling about that. Very different. For example, you could ask me anything, as long as it is clear that is is a real question and no statement. I would answer to you, or decline the answer. But I never would count any question as harassment. Of course, repeated insitive questions would count.

    Is it just me, or does this gibberish (which looks like it contradicts itself) not make any sense?

  420. festersixohsixonethree says

    I’ve been following the threads about harassment at various atheist conferences / meetings / events with interest. I was on the board of the 2010 International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs annual convention, and we on the board saw no reason at all to even mention the possibility of harassment – sexual or otherwise. It’s never come up before at any IAGSDC convention – to my knowledge.

    I suppose that since almost all of we gays have had more than our share of bullying and harassment and other, bitter, pills of exclusion, we do not ever expect harassment from our gay brothers and sisters.

    This is not to say that enmity between groups within the community does not exist. For example, some (some, not all) lesbians occasionally (some more frequently than others) allow themselves to vent their displeasure or aversion to the male sex in general.

    Those less religious gays tend to look down on other gays who have maintained solid connections with their “dogmatic” church, but seem more tolerant of gays who belong to a Metropolitan Community Church or, say, the Unitarian Universalist church.

    And the continuing / continual animosity between “straight acting” gay men and their “flaming nelly” brothers sometimes creates waves in the pond.

    But when these differences do surface, they are expressed usually between individuals, usually at a bar or a party after imbibing a cocktail or two.

    I’m sorry that this lesser level of animosity within a specified group of people does not apply to the atheist community, and that organizers feel the need to memorialize a code in writing. I find it kind of sad.

  421. earwig says

    Kriss, I no longer know what your arguments are. First you were concerned that your children were not welcome. We seem to have sorted that one out, after a fashion. Then you were concerned about hugging, which you used to do without establishing consent. At least you have accepted a bit of re-education on that point. Then you suggested that the law should be enough, along with a policy of just sorting things out if there were difficulties. Then you raised the French kissing issue – such a clear example of the sort of behaviour covered by the policy that I cannot imagine why you didn’t mention it earlier. Then this nonsense about the Atheist law and DSK’s alleged innocence. You say you support the policy but don’t like the way it’s written down.

    What is the point you are making? Are you just changing the subject and making it up as you go along?

    I don’t know what’s cause more problems: discussing conferences like they are full of offenders (they are not), or managing some (rare) real situations. In addition: do you really think the offenders go like this: OMG, there is a rule I must stick to? I didn’t know that beforehand! Of course they do know that it is wrong. I think the whole discussion is hurting more than helping.

    This is nonsense. No one is suggesting that conference will be full of creeps. The policy enables offenders to be warned or excluded as appropriate. It will reassure everyone else that if they feel harassed then their complaint will be taken seriously. Obviously for most people the policy will be irrelevant as they wouldn’t behave in a boorish manner anyway, and it won’t impinge on their enjoyment. For the few boors and otherwise clueless people present there, it will help to guide them towards better behaviour (or get them removed if they won’t mend their ways). Can you not see how a zero-tolerance policy towards boorish behaviour will begin to raise overall standards?

  422. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    festersixohsixonethree,
    (1) Your concern is noted.
    (2) Your ignorance, willful or not, of the nasty internal divisions of the LGBT community is also noted. I wonder how many people who are not cis white men come to your events and feel comfortable?

    There is a reason why LBT people (and LGBT people of color, and LGBT disabled people, and poor LGBT people…) have split off. Because cis white gay men have a history of talking over everyone else, of insisting that their issues be addressed first, of dismissing everyone else’s concerns and issues.

    Seriously.

  423. Kriss says

    Esteleth, well, I have read the threads. I have noticed that we are of the same opinion of how to tread other people at conferences and other places, but we are not of the same opinion of how to achieve this. We totally agree on the hugging, and I have stated my view on it, that now it is even more restrictive as it was before. But I believe that conference rules are not the right place to teach people common stuff. I still say: if I consider going to a conference and read this rule, I’m not going. To state that rule means: a) there are people attending who need this. I do not need these people. b) somone might mistake my actions in that way (see what just talking about Strauss Kahn have brought me here). I do not need this.

    About Strauss Kahn, I think I first have to read anything about it. What I know now is only from the news.

  424. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    But I believe that conference rules are not the right place to teach people common stuff.

    If the whole point of the event is for a subgroup of society to get together for reasons explicitly related to their subgroupness, then why the fuck should we not have standards?

    Also, I really, really fucking dispute your assertion that this shit is “common.” Notice that most people have said that atheist events – including TAM -are no worse, or even better, than society at large? No one is saying that they are FULL of creepers.

    What this is about is setting stricter standards than society at large.

  425. Kriss says

    earwig, my concerns about children have not been sorted out. There are two places where children are mentioned and for me, personally, this would have been a clear signal to leave the children at home. Doesn’t hurt, I would have done this anyways. But that peaceful picture of people including all ages and crying babys does not materialize.

    I have not accepted education about hugging, which I never did against our place’s conventions anyhow, but I have realized that hugging without the emotional involvemnt of both sides is useless.

    My point is to have a good security. One person would be enough, I think. :-)

    The minor questions could be answered by a Q/A at the website in a friendly manner, like how to make friends, what to expect, dos and donts, but more like an advice from a friend.