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The war of the smug

Michael Nugent is a humane and intelligent fellow, and he’s distressed by the rifts that have formed in the atheist community. So he’s written a good set of guidelines for how atheists and skeptics should interact. I have a small problem with one of his suggestions, but otherwise, it’s an excellent and idealistic plan…and unfortunately, one that has already struck the shoals of rabid misogyny.

As he notes, we’ve got a problem with people who are furious that atheists dare to consider sexism and racism to be serious issues that we should deal with now. He takes the side that I knew he would, that these are problems we should address, because secular thinkers should be best equipped to deal with them.

As skeptics we should objectively examine the impacts of social discrimination, and identify the best ways to promote diversity and inclusiveness. By definition, prejudice depends on not having all relevant information, and as skeptics we are ideally suited to develop and promote arguments for inclusiveness and human rights, based on the evidence of the benefits to individuals and society. We could use this research to tackle the emotional and irrational thinking behind racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices and discriminations. It’s at least as interesting a topic as many we discuss, and a more useful topic than most.

I am fully in agreement. This is the necessary job of this generation of atheists and skeptics, to extend our principles to embrace topics of wider social import. Michael is on our side; unfortunately, you can already see the rifts widening. The very first comment on his article is from someone raving about me and my (?) “horde of five-minute-hate skepchicks”, who then goes on to make up a bunch of lies about the recent disagreement with Rationalia. And of course a known slimepit denizen immediately chimes in. So one obstacle is that a contingent has dug in with illiberal, anti-social justice values, and they are quick to howl at any suggestion that they are less than flawless champions of truth and freedom.

Yes, there is a problem here. And the problem lies in people who are affronted at any extension of atheist values to embrace other social values. Which is why I have some reservations about Michael’s first suggestion, that we have to stay focused on atheism and skepticism. Those ideas should be omnipresent, they should inform what we do, but they need to be a foundation, not a final end result.

We’re in the midst of a little civil war, a war with the smug. For so long, it was an accomplishment to be an atheist — we had rejected the dogma of the majority. It’s really something important. And now we’re growing, and we gather in greater and greater numbers, and while it’s great to find ourselves in large groups of people where we don’t have to be defensive about our disbelief, it also becomes obvious that it is not enough. We are all people who have taken that first step towards real intellectual freedom, and some of us like to just stand in wonderment and demand applause for that one step…while others of us are saying, “good, now we can march forward.” And of course that opens up rifts between us, and of course the smug are sitting there incredulous, resentful that we aren’t content just to applaud those who made that first effort, and laud them as heroes. They want a cookie right now just for being atheists.

So on one side we have smug jerks who hate the idea of being progressive, but on the other, on my side, we’re quite ready to cut the troglodytes loose, and we’re quite ready to move on without them. We see the rift forming, and we actually see it as a good thing; as Natalie Reed said on twitter:

I don’t WANT to be allies with ppl who need to be dragged, kicking & screaming, into treating me like a human.

Michael has stepped into the no-man’s land between the raging forces, and it’s a gallant effort. But judging by the comments already on his article, he hasn’t convinced the smug anti-progressives that maybe they should embrace a wider scope for atheism, and he really hasn’t tried yet to convince the people on the other side that maybe the angry sexists and racists and sneering self-satisfied libertarians are worth bringing on board. I’m inclined to say they’re not, until they grow up and change.

But let me say here: Michael Nugent has put up a plea for civil discussion on these matters. Try it. If you comment over there, be polite to the smug reactionaries already commenting; and here on this thread, too, try to avoid being too vicious, as much as you feel the other guys deserve it. Address his suggestions in the same spirit he made them.

Comments

  1. exi5tentialist says

    @azathothblindidiotgod Thank you for putting me straight on that. If I ever get a job inspecting children’s homes, I will remember to remind the children that they must not exaggerate any complaints against staff. The little nuisances are perfectly capable of searching the internet for the term “sexual abuse” and coming up with the agreed definition from Dictionary.com which says the term only involves actual physical contact.

    So when a staff member tells them to fuck off, calls them a wanker, or a twat, or tells them to go and have a wank instead of bothering other residents with their opinions, or or any other of the examples of abuse that I have experienced at Rationalia under their ‘play nice’ rule, then I will have to tell them that it may be verbal abuse but it is not actually sexual abuse, and they should stop acting butthurt. Same goes for any old people’s homes I might come across. Or learning disabilities. Or just adults generally.

    I must admit though, in a children’s home, there will always be a risk that they will use their brains instead of parroting out and entry from Dictionary.com

    I can see how their twisted rationale might go – children can be so manipulative! Sexual is an adjective and abuse is a noun, they will say. And we are perfectly happy joining the first word to the second word and using the two to describe what we have experienced.

    At which point, I don’t know, I’ll just have to issue them with a warning, or a suspension or something, or maybe I’ll just be verbally abusive myself and tell them to fuck off (it won’t be sexual abuse though, oh no – no physical contact is involved, and it’s metaphorical anyway, so it’s ok)

    No, we can’t have those serial complainers at children’s homes bastardising the English language for future generations! Good God – if that’s allowed to happen then there will be no end to the freedom people will have to express themselves!

  2. John Morales says

    exi5tentialist, your diatribe does not change the fact that sexual abuse is a physical thing, not a verbal thing.

    (You might as well claim oral sex means talking about sex)

  3. exi5tentialist says

    @John Morales and I’m sure you’d tell them at children’s homes the same thing. A child who feels sexually abused just because a carer sat down at talked to them sexually but never actually touched them is just exaggerating, aren’t they John?

  4. John Morales says

    exi5tentialist, your snide hypothetical does not change the fact that sexual abuse is a physical thing, not a verbal thing.

    (You might as well claim aural sex means hearing about sex)

  5. says

    You were insulted exi, that many insults in the English language are of a sexual nature is incidental. To liken it to sexual abuse denigrates survivors of real abuse. As to your children’s home analogy it is completely flawed. An open internet forum is not a sheltered environment for vulnerable people. Even if it were telling a particularly annoying child to jam their trumpet up their arse sideways would not be considered sexual.

  6. echidna, acolyte of Hypatia says

    John Morales,

    exi5tentialist, your snide hypothetical does not change the fact that sexual abuse is a physical thing, not a verbal thing.

    I would not claim sexual abuse per se, but a skilled predator leads into physical abuse slowly. Fortunately, I escaped the Catholic priest who was grooming me (only because there was an observant, disobedient nun already suspicious of him). But the lack of physical contact does not mean I was unscathed.

  7. John Morales says

    echidna, good point, and thanks for it.

    I should have qualified that claim better; I have no intent to minimise this serious issue.

    That said, I do think that to claim that blog comments addressed to someone constitute sexual abuse really is denigrating the despicable reality, and minimising victims’ experience.

  8. Unsorted says

    PZ Myers
    29 July 2012 at 7:06 pm
    Rationality also has a new crop of vocal participants from the slimepit. It’s an infection they’ll just laugh at, while the rest of us look on them as diseased.

    “they”

    You know everyone there so well? There are those who are attached to an online community by friendship and family ties going back years. If you feel like taking the tack of naming and shaming from your blog so be it. I would rather have had a more knowledgeable and eloquent persoon than myself help make the case for why that joke was a horribly bad idea. But you chose the tactic you felt right and I respect that.

    But what you are doing here is gloating. It is shameful. It in no way supports those who spoke out, perhaps clumsily and feebly, but attempts none the less.

    The ones who came forward later and said they were ashamed that they didn’t speak out sooner: have you given them courage here? Or are you just expressing a feeling of superiority at having left a forum a less friendly place to your ideals and those that argue them than it was before you found it.

    I won’t say I’ve been perfect. far from it. I felt my little online home under assault. (ok, it was just some words in the internet, but at the time it felt threatening) I spoke in anger to people who deserved better.

    A lot of people snarked and joked and took the piss. Not much was accomplished and few, if any, minds were changed. Is that really the way to raise awareness?

    So: Next time something like that happens and I see it, I’ll have a better grasp of the issues and speak out sooner and louder.

    Will you take a second to consider that maybe there is someone already struggling who might just need a bit of back-up to make the situation come out better?

    I’m off to see if the new folks at Rationalia are as bad as their reputation. They might well be people who display decency without concern for their membership in the Decent People Club.

  9. says

    Yes, “they”. We’re not talking about behavior from a few interlopers, but 1) a post by an admin, 2) a very popular poster, 3) which was met with very little opposition (I give full credit to the few who spoke up) and 4) a lot of back-slapping agreement, and when it was pointed out that joking about raping some specific people is kinda ugly, a majority again decided that it was 5) more important to complain about the smudge on their reputation than rapey-ness.

    Complaining about the reality of that would be like me trying to deny that the commentariat here is aggressive, loud, and opinionated by saying it’s not fair, I can find some people who are meek and mild and conciliatory. Pharyngula is mean and fighty; Rationalia is rapey and jokey.

  10. Unsorted says

    Do you have an incident of rape or rape enabling apart from the cumulative effect of jokes like the one you brought attention to?

    We are jokey though. Perhaps too much so sometimes.

  11. Pteryxx says

    Do you have an incident of rape or rape enabling apart from the cumulative effect of jokes like the one you brought attention to?

    The cumulative effect of rapey jokes and comments IS the problem under discussion. If there were evidence of an actual incident of rape or contributing to the commission of a rape, that would be evidence of a crime.

  12. Unsorted says

    There was one rapey joke. Rationalia isn’t pure, but it is no bastion of rape jokes.

  13. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    There was one rapey joke. Rationalia isn’t pure, but it is no bastion of rape jokes.

    And then a whole lot of defense of said rape joke even after being pointed to the reasons that rape jokes were not only not-funny, but damaging.

  14. Beatrice says

    And then a whole lot of defense of said rape joke even after being pointed to the reasons that rape jokes were not only not-funny, but damaging.

    Not only that, but more rape jokes were made by some other commenters.

  15. Pteryxx says

    And then a whole lot of defense of said rape joke even after being pointed to the reasons that rape jokes were not only not-funny, but damaging.

    *nod* Those reasons backed up with actual evidence: plenty of research papers demonstrating the harm.

    …Apparently all those citations, not to mention the commenters *on Rationalia* who decried the rape comments, weren’t polite enough to be worthy of consideration. *spits*

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There was one rapey joke. Rationalia isn’t pure, but it is no bastion of rape jokes.

    When any rape joke is used to try to silence other blogs, it is both a breach of expected adult behavior, and is prima facie evidence of harrassment, perhaps criminal, of the target. So, why wasn’t the joke jumped on and retracted in short order at the your blog? That tells us a lot about the character of the people posting there.

  17. Unsorted says

    Not really much defence of the joke between people first speaking out on Friday and the onset of people from this blog on Sunday.

    Not a lot of activity in that thread at all over the weekend.

  18. Unsorted says

    @ Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It is a forum, not a blog.

    It was out of character for the person and the forum in general.

    But it was not a popular thread, posted by a member who was described as popular here. It bombed. It took a nose dive.

    When people got defensive, it became a very popular thread. Then it became very ugly. It brought out the worst in a community that is often, though bumblingly, supportive of vulnerable people.

    My point is though, that describing Rationalia as “rapey” is really rather dishonest.

  19. smhll says

    There was one rapey joke. Rationalia isn’t pure, but it is no bastion of rape jokes.

    Because the one so-called joke was the title for the thread, it was automatically repeated over and over going down the thread, multiplying it’s impact. This was one thing that made it difficult to keep reading. (The large font footers on some posts were also tripping me up and slowing me down.)

  20. Pteryxx says

    Unsorted: if a majority response to criticism is becoming rapey that basically proves the point. It’s victim-blaming, denial of responsibility, and not incidentally, providing an example of the sort of rape-supportive culture referenced in the research papers. You know, those research papers that nobody from Rationalia apparently read or responded to?

  21. Beatrice says

    Not really much defence of the joke between people first speaking out on Friday and the onset of people from this blog on Sunday.

    Not a lot of activity in that thread at all over the weekend.

    What does that prove? Besides that that kind of thing is obviously normal there, since people haven’t exactly condemned it either.

    No one had to defend the joke because the joke wasn’t being attacked.

    Also, more rape jokes were made in response. That’s not just one joke any more.

  22. Beatrice says

    Sorry, misread the part I quoted. There were people condemning it on Friday.

    There were also people making more rape jokes! So no, it’s not about just one little jokey that somehow slipped under the radar.

  23. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It was out of character for the person and the forum in general.

    Irrelevant. It happened, and it happened in a way it should never have unfolded. And you know that, otherwise, you would be trying futily to mitigate the damgage caused by reckless and juvenile behavior that wasn’t immediately corrected.

    You haven’t said anything cogent, or presented any third party evidence. All you have is your biased OPINION. Which, presented without evidence, is *POOF* rejected without evidence.

  24. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, doing too much at once. My second sentence in recent #19 (#1019 total) should read

    And you know that, otherwise, you wouldn’t be trying futily to mitigate the damgage caused by reckless and juvenile behavior that wasn’t immediately corrected.

  25. Pteryxx says

    And this:

    It was out of character for the person and the forum in general.

    isn’t just irrelevant, but typical of rape-supportive culture. Assuming this sort of rapey comment should be discounted as an aberration instead of taken seriously gives cover to actual misogynistic beliefs: again, read the frickin’ research, people who call yerselves rational.

  26. Unsorted says

    Beatrice,

    It doesn’t prove much I admit. But it shows that there isn’t a huge enthusiasm for rape jokes aimed at specific groups of people.

    Yes, there was the “9 out of 10″ joke. I recognize that poster from a few threads I’ve read here more than at rationalia. She claims to be an engineer and expresses contempt for communications majors saying there should be more female engineers. The person who made that joke then went on to accuse a mod of having a stick up her ass for trying to diffuse that joke.

    Does this personae sound familiar?

    Nobody attacked the joke? 4 people objected before any outside attention came. Pappa was a little slow to come around, but he did explain that he thought it was too absurd to be taken seriously.

  27. Pteryxx says

    Here, let’s make it easy.

    from mouthyb:

    Here’s a research study on the effect of discriminatory jokes on prejudices. To spoil it a bit for the clueless, turns out discriminatory jokes have the effect of reinforcing prejudice and tolerance for prejudice, in addition to encouraging further prejudicial actions.

    http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Social%20Consequences.pdf

    So, you know, rape jokes can actually function to encourage sexual harassment, the creation of a hostile working/living environment (as in the legal definition) and, for some in the audience (see the first link), encourage them to continue to rape. Well, as long as you don’t say the word ‘rape’ when you ask about their behavior.

  28. Unsorted says

    So, I am to accept that Rationalia is rapey because we didn’t know how to handle a rape joke because we fuck-all experience handling rape jokes because we rarely have them and NEVER one targeted like this before.

    OK.

  29. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Unsorted, you aren’t making the point you want to make. You are making the point you are a rape apolgist, which isn’t what you wish to make.

    We here know the response to the joke. Folks from here, including PZ, went and counted responses in real time, so we have factually data. So, your OPINION is impeached as being a lie, a lie by selective, not total, data. Which brings your whole word into question if you tell lies that get caught so easily.

    You want to change our minds? Take your OPINION and shove it where the sun don’t shine, and start showing us third party evidence that what was done was 1) in good taste, 2) adult, not juvenile behavior, 3) that the not-so-immediate apology was timely (no it wasn’t), and 4) such jokes aren’t harmful to those who are targetted, which is half the population, or Skepchicks in particular.

  30. Beatrice says

    Oh, sorry, there are apparently special instructions on how to handle rape jokes and you weren’t sent a copy.

    No matter then, everything forgiven and forgotten, it’s not like you guys could figure it out yourselves.

  31. Pteryxx says

    …we didn’t know how to handle a rape joke because we fuck-all experience handling rape jokes because we rarely have them …

    Right, so now y’all are going to do the research, acknowledge that your own few commenters who objected to the original joke were right all along, apologize to them, and from now on y’all will learn to refrain from making rape jokes or rape-supportive comments and you’ll call each other out when it happens.

    *nodnod* Glad to be of service.

  32. says

    Here’s a research study on the effect of discriminatory jokes on prejudices. To spoil it a bit for the clueless, turns out discriminatory jokes have the effect of reinforcing prejudice and tolerance for prejudice, in addition to encouraging further prejudicial actions.

    Fair enough apart from the fact that rape isn’t a prejudicial action.

  33. thunk (Фарингюловская Народная Республика) says

    azathoth:

    Fair enough apart from the fact that rape isn’t a prejudicial action.

    Do you know nothing about this?

  34. Pteryxx says

    Fair enough apart from the fact that rape isn’t a prejudicial action.

    brief youtube reaction

    *cough*

    Citing Lisak’s research:

    When compared to men who do not rape, these undetected rapists are measurably more angry at women, more motivated by the need to dominate and control women, more impulsive and disinhibited in their behavior, more hyper-masculine in their beliefs and attitudes, less empathic and more antisocial.

    Referenced in:

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/predator-redux/

    Original paper: “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence”

    http://www2.ucsc.edu/rape-prevention/pdfs/PredatoryNature.pdf

  35. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    So how do gay rape and paedophilia fit into your worldview if rape is all about men being prejudiced against women?

    Here’s a nice new shiny lighter for that strawman.

  36. mythbri says

    @azathothblindidiotgod

    Because rape is not about sex, it is not about gratification, and it is not about “mixed signals”. It is about power. It is about humiliation. It is about treating the victim, whether the victim is male, female, young, old, trans, cis, gay, straight – what have you, it is about treating the victim as a thing. An object. It is dehumanization – you can’t get much more prejudicial than dehumanization.

    And if by “gay rape” you mean the kind of rape that unfortunately is common in prison culture, you should know that very few of those rapists would self-identify as homosexual.

  37. Beatrice says

    Gay rape? I’m going to be generous and assume you didn’t include men who rape men, but are not gay, here. Which is not really rare, considering the prejudice against gay men, as well as the fact that rape has little to do with sexual desire and a lot to do with power.

  38. Pteryxx says

    yeah, male-on-male rape =/= “gay rape” though gay people aren’t exempt. All that prison rape and military rape happens out of power dynamics; but the victims get called “gay” as a backhanded way of saying they asked for it or deserved it.

    And there’s reading for that too, for instance:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/03/the-military-s-secret-shame.html

    While many might assume the perpetrators of such assaults are closeted gay soldiers, military experts and outside researchers say assailants usually are heterosexual. Like in prisons and other predominantly male environments, male-on-male assault in the military, experts say, is motivated not by homosexuality, but power, intimidation, and domination. Assault victims, both male and female, are typically young and low-ranking; they are targeted for their vulnerability. Often, in male-on-male cases, assailants go after those they assume are gay, even if they are not. “One of the reasons people commit sexual assault is to put people in their place, to drive them out,” says Mic Hunter, author of Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse in America’s Military. “Sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about violence.”

  39. Pteryxx says

    clarification: male victims get called “gay” as a backhanded way of saying they asked for it or deserved it, just like women supposedly asked for it or deserved it.

  40. mythbri says

    @azathothblindidiotgod

    It’s not an unreasonable hypothesis that some men who rape men are closeted and self-loathing, but again, rape is about power and violence. It’s used as a tool to put things (people) in their place. Sexual orientation does not necessarily have any bearing on a rapist’s intended target.

  41. Unsorted says

    @ Pteryxx

    I was one of those who who objected.

    Clumsily and without being properly versed in the research I confess. The person who came forward with her personal experience to have made a more eloquent point than I could have. I’m not going to defend Pappa’s words, nor am I going to defend those who continued to make jokes.

    I’m not going to defend at all what happened after page three.

    Few members were at their best. Not me for sure.

    Actually my only big beef here is PZ’s bit of gloating.

    My smaller beef, which I think I think might still be worthwhile is that some people were in there trying to do the right thing, but all that got lost in an inter-atheist-website war of words drama fest.

    For what it’s worth though, I’ve done some poking around on the web and I think the Skepchick folks are getting some pretty shitty misrepresentations.

  42. Beatrice says

    Oh please, some may be closeted, but frankly, this hypothesis that they are all just self-loathing closeted gay men should be considered insulting to gay men.

  43. says

    Unsorted:

    For what it’s worth though, I’ve done some poking around on the web and I think the Skepchick folks are getting some pretty shitty misrepresentations.

    <snark>Really? I hadn’t noticed.</snark>

    I bet that might account for some of the drama.

  44. says

    So if rape is all about power and dominance and dehumanisation wouldn’t you say it is a sociopathic act?

    Sociopathy is rather more complex than your comment would suggest, but even if “sociopathic act” was an appropriate label for rape, then what point are you trying to make by attaching that label?

  45. Unsorted says

    @ nigelTheBold, Venomous Demonic Hater

    I thought it was only mildly shitty misrepresentations.

  46. says

    Unsorted:

    I thought it was only mildly shitty misrepresentations.

    It’s been pretty rancid since Rebecca Watson first said, “Guys, don’t do that.”

    But even without all the rancor, they still use a strawman version of the argument in their arguments. It’s as if they don’t understand the difference between saying, “Don’t hit on women who don’t know you in an elevator at 4am” and, “Don’t flirt with women at all.”

    Either that, or they defend their right to hit on whomever they wish, whenever they wish. I’ve seen some evidence this is true for at least some of them.

    It’s this strawman version of Skepchicks that produces these “mildly shitty misrepresentations.”

  47. Pteryxx says

    Unsorted: then I think your “we” owe you an apology, too. Thanks for objecting, even if you didn’t do it as well as you’d have liked.

    That claim of inter-atheist blog drama would have more weight, I think, if the Rationalia folks had “merely” gotten defensive about the actual criticism, or even if they’d just called PZ and the commenters here nasty names. Because they responded to the specific criticism – not to joke about rape – not by examining the criticism or trying to justify counterarguments (as if…) but by making more and more rape comments, it’s clear it wasn’t about who happened to do the criticizing.

    For consideration of the Skepchick side: I suggest reading this post from Rebecca, last year.

    http://skepchick.org/2011/09/mom-dont-read-this/

  48. Unsorted says

    Pteryxx,

    Thank you, but it ain’t me I’m mainly trying to defend. Ok, a little I suppose. I aimed a little bit of fire at undeserving targets too. I have an apology to make to Hotshoe. She was cool to me, but I said something I shouldn’t have. Then three people repeated it.

    I’m really ashamed of that. Sorry Hotshoe. I got no excuse to make.

    I’ll be reading the link.

  49. Pteryxx says

    Unsorted, speaking just for myself here, I don’t consider thanking you any sort of defense of you. I thank you for speaking up because *I* think speaking up in that environment deserves my basic thanks, that’s all. (So does being willing to read and reconsider.) ;>

  50. exi5tentialist says

    I’m out for a few days – I’ll be on the beach.

    Before I go, here’s another update on the problems at Rationalia. Fresh from their criticism that I used the term “sexual abuse” when what I should have said was “verbal abuse of a sexual nature to an unconsenting person” (everyone happy?), it seems Rationalia has been suffering from a bout of collective amnesia over whether any actual verbal abuse from their mods took place at all.

    The query comes from the warm matrimonial environs of Pappa’s life, apparently, where his loyal wife has queried my recollections of the abusive behaviour from their moderators last year. So convinced is rachelbean that I never suffered any such abuse from moderators she is prepared to publicly call me a troll and say it never happened.

    So in order to be helpful to you guys over there (is my megaphone at full volume? I’m certainly not coming over there to be on the receiving end of the kind of treatment you gave one of your other members last week), one relevant thread you might want to check out is http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1020619#p1020619 from late last year.

    Those of you here who retain privileged access will be able to see the abuse straight away but for those of you who don’t here’s a flavour of the conversation:-

    by Exi5tentialist » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:15 pm

    No it’s not about dramaz, but I’ve been increasingly pissed off with the way that open abusiveness on this forum comes straight from moderators and I want to use my constitutional rights to assert my status as a human being who would prefer to be respected as such. Today, moderators and executives of Rationalia have told me to fuck off, called me a twat and troll and now you are swearing at me and posting tit-graphics. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to prevent any members expressing such things – but I don’t want them to think that on top of receiving the systematic abuse, I’m going to vote for them to be execs or have the power to appoint moderators. I’d rather vote for people who say their aim is allow free speech within the existing rules, but recognise that moderators / execs have a special role not to encourage the abuse of members. That’s a reasonable personal view to have isn’t it? Why shouldn’t I be able to express it in the form of a vote?

    Then pretty much straight away I get this response:-

    by stripes4 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 8:49 pm
    Exi. Go and have a wank. It’ll do you the world of good. x

    Quickly followed by posts from two mods, not moderating stripes4′s comment but instead saying how justified the verbal abuse is.

    Later on in the thread we get another moderator not giving a “flying fuck”, followed by a third moderator posting in response to the thread just to say that she wants to say “fuck”, a helpful contribution in the context of Rationalia’s “Play Nice” culture.

    There’s a limit to how much of Rationalia’s moderators’ sexualised abuse I want to re-post on another website, so please don’t get the impression that what I’ve posted is the sum total of their misdemeanours.

    I do think it’s quite interesting though the way their high ideals of “Play Nice” and no “Personal Attacks” have shifted to a situation where such behaviour is now seen as “mild” or “a joke.” It’s not irrelevant that the maximum verbally sexualised abuse is reserved for someone who was seeking to initiate their existing procedures. As Pappa says in his rape joke, abuse is about power.

    Needless to say, I was the one that got the official warning for posting the thread about six staff vacancies on the Executive. Apparently I was responsible for their behaviour, you see.

    Rationalia is an abuse website. Most of the abuse is sexualised. Their lead admin abuses people, their mods abuse people, their members abuse people. Their severest warnings are reserved for people who post politely. So let’s not pretend Rationalia are capable of rehabilitating themselves without a radical shake-up of the mod team.

    Anyway, I can’t stick around – I’ve got packing to do.

  51. says

    What Exi5 fails to mention is that from the moment it dragged its stinking carcass into ratz it began expressing “concerns”. I think its first suggestion was to change the donation system of the forum to paid subscription only. After that was laughed out it began playing word games with the rules and decided that the forum needed a restructure. It was an impressive bit of trollery. The place went nuts for a while while Exi5 capered around stirring the pot. In normal circumstances people dont get banned over there(with one notable exception of a real sexual harrassment case) so it ran it’s course and Exi5 moved on. It is obviously bored again so it is back.

  52. exi5tentialist says

    What azathoth fails to mention is that I argued for the implementation of the existing structure, but it was Pappa who decided to impose a new constitution on you all when I did. That really was the problem: Pappa decided that existing rules that he invented made mods too accountable – obviously not something he wanted.

    Besides which – what do you mean by a “real sexual harassment” case? Does that mean sexualised verbal abuse is not harassment at Rationalia now? I mean, apparently not, it’s just that regardless of what I proposed or how I proposed it I didn’t deserve to be abused – you lot seem now to be going into overdrive denying that I was.

    Now stop interrupting my packing with irrelevant silliness. I’m going on holiday.

  53. exi5tentialist says

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking. I used to champion free speech but as a result of this debacle I’ve changed my mind.

    I’m all for free speech where the abuser shows their face so we know who they are, and thus takes responsibility. But where people all over the internet hide behind pseudonyms to deliver the abuse, I’m all for moderation to stop it. I did think that was the idea at Rationalia – but obviously it is no longer the case. And now, it seems, moderation has been been withdrawn here too. So apart from one or two more spats that you will no doubt draw me into in the next couple of hours, I’m going to moving on to better things, so in case I don’t get to talk again – bye everyone, and have a nice life.

  54. says

    #48 nigelTheBold, Venomous Demonic Hater

    tigtog:

    Sociopathy is rather more complex than your comment would suggest…

    As is rape.

    azathoth presented a genetic fallacy.

    Exactly, that’s where I was heading towards with my “even if “sociopathic act” was an appropriate label for rape” clause which you snipped. I was interested to see whether xe would ask me for clarification or not, and where the discussion might lead if xe did.

  55. says

    OK, sociopathic was a bad choice of word but if rape isn’t sexual there is obviously something abnormal in someone’s brain if they can become aroused in a rape situation. If they are abnormal then do studies on normal psychology apply?

  56. says

    Since it’s always a good time to quote Chris Clarke:

    If you hit someone over the head with a banjo that’s violence, not bluegrass. Using a sexual organ as a weapon doesn’t make the violence “sex.”

    Violence is very much part of normal human psychology.

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Still doesn’t address my point. You can perform violence with a banjo but not with a rubber eukelele.

    That isn’t a point, but rather an idiocy.

  58. says

    You can perform violence with a banjo but not with a rubber eukelele.

    You have both an insufficient imagination and a clear unfamiliarity with the literature on what rapists actually do beyond the act of penetration (which is very often actually committed with an object rather than a penis).

    Violence is generally about enforcing conformity to dominance/submission expectations (*you* will do what *I* want you to do), up to and including war between nations. Violent interactions are generally considered expressions of normal, not abnormal, psychology (remember that normal does not mean ideal, it just means what is most common).

    Sexual assault is just one sliver of the violence spectrum.

  59. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Well, I drop in here and find that Rationalia et al. are still slithering away.

    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, I opine to myself, and pop over to surf the website and see what I can find. And looky here: http://rationalia.com/z/NSFW.html

    Have fun surfin’ the selections; they are completely consistent with the sleazy/rapey nature of the Rationalia forums.

    Have fun!

  60. says

    Rationalia isn’t
    July 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm PZ Myers
    Ho hum. Another purportedly rational forum that thinks rape is a joke.
    Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?
    Post by Pappa » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:46 am
    Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.
    I’m really torn on this one. :dunno:
    You know what’s really funny? The guy posting that crap apparently has some admin role there, and every one of his posts has this little postscript:
    For information on ways to help support Rationalia financially, see our funding page.
    Because professional fundraisers everywhere like to encourage people to contribute by joking about how they want to rape someone.
    http://www.rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=38391&start=15#p1226853
    Why Pappa’s rape joke wasn’t funny
    Dear PZ,
    While it’s tricky and acceptable to tell a rape joke, there are instances where they are absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate.
    http://www.rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=38391&start=15#p1226853So I can only imagine what you must been thinking when you saw his post, and a couple of other people joining in the joking. A couple of others spoke out against the joke itself, without denouncing papa for his joke. The rest of the community didn’t say a word.
    You may have visited some of our threads about the Skepchicks, reading quite a bit of derision and mockery towards them. And finally, the controversy surrounding the Skepchicks made this joke even more threatening. You had no way of knowing that Pappa wasn’t someone who would never do that by reading a few of posts of his. And frankly I would not expected you to go through the due diligence. If I had just read something that elicited the same his role anger and disgust that Pappa had to this post:http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37574&start=30#p1196689.
    Given the choice of protecting someone’s safety, over someone’s reputation I would take the former.
    What you did was the right thing to do, and your readers reaction was perfectly justified, given what they knew. You and your readers were not responsible for the shitstorm that hit Rationalia.
    Sincerely,
    Mai Dao-Horton
    I just wanted to make a connection to the person that you characterized as part of:
    http://www.raticnalia.com/foForum/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=38391&start=15#p1226853
    A nest of cockroaches isn’t filthy and unhygienic. Turning on the light and exposing a nest of cockroaches…now that’s evil and disgusting. There, see. I said the same thing you did, only with more brevity and panache.
    Pappa’s INTENTION was to tell a rape joke. He told the wrong kind in his ignorance (which by the way I shared too – I only agreed that it wasn’t because I wasn’t exactly sure so I decided to err on the side of caution). It was only because of your blog post that I did a little reading about it and confirmed exactly which ones were not.
    On the other hand you deliberately characterize an entire forum as a nest of cockroaches.
    Your INTENTION is to humiliate, shame, and anger a forum community. Exactly what did I do to deserve such verbal abuse? Read only the best intentions in what you did when you posted a blog? What did Pappa do, make a bad rape joke?
    And violent verbal abuse of an entire community is acceptable, but a bad rape joke is not?
    I am sad that you would actually boast about being better at verbal abuse than someone else – to be so hate filled, you must have had a pretty hurtful past. There is still time to heal that you know. And time to learn how to communicate without resorting to verbal abuse. What do you think a person hears when most logical well- reasoned argument is laced with shaming, mockery and derision? How rational is that?
    As for rape jokes – not all rape jokes are unacceptable and offensive. They may in poor taste perhaps but what’s offensive about this one?
    I was driving home and this woman was wandering around in the road, and I was worried that I might kill her. Thank goodness I didn’t though, I only raped her.
    Josh Gay Spokesperson: I was hurt that you made the broad sweeping generalizations that you did about me. It’s been maybe five or six years since we’ve spoken? How much do you think a person would change in that amount of time at my age? And, how would you expect my relationship to be with a friend that I have known for over three years, moderated on a forum through the RD exodus and a flame war, met several times, on two continents, and whose wedding I attended? Two other members, who met at Ratz, I performed their wedding ceremony for. For the past three years we spend a week celebrating their anniversary, and they accompany me, on a six hour roundtrip drive to visit my sister in a nursing home who has advanced A/D, and the remaining part of the year, act as co-guardians doing that same trip three more times? Doing volunteer work at a Wolf center, and caring for dozens of feral cats out of their humble home?
    I can tell you story after story like that, of kind, loving, caring people that I have met in real life. My brother I haven’t seen in years. My sister is here in body only.
    These people I call family now.
    PZ, you violated our community for no reason at all.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PZ, you violated our community for no reason at all.

    No, he violated you community to show abject misogyny and fuckwitted thinking on the part of Pappa and those who didn’t repudiate and condemn that “joke” (it wasn’t a joke, as it wasn’t funny). And exposed your juvenile behavior in doing so. Grow up and take responsibility for your actions, and those who you associate with. You aren’t doing that.

  62. John Morales says

    maidao-horton:

    As for rape jokes – not all rape jokes are unacceptable and offensive. They may in poor taste perhaps but what’s offensive about this one?
    I was driving home and this woman was wandering around in the road, and I was worried that I might kill her. Thank goodness I didn’t though, I only raped her.

    o_O

    (Unbe-fucking-lievable!)

    PZ, you violated our community for no reason at all.

    Such angst! Such indignation!

    (Such bullshit!)

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    maidao-horton, you need to use third party evidence, not forum links, to make your point. Like rape jokes aren’t a silencing tactic used against women, and was in this case. The burden of evidence is upon you to show it was innocuous outside of your forum. Try here, and leave the forum’s OPINION out of it, as that is irrelevant.

  64. Don Quijote says

    So, the punchline of a joke is, “I only raped her.” I’m so fucking angry, I don’t know what to write.

  65. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Your INTENTION is to humiliate, shame, and anger a forum community.

    And you think that this helps your cause?

    As for rape jokes – not all rape jokes are unacceptable and offensive. They may in poor taste perhaps but what’s offensive about this one?
    I was driving home and this woman was wandering around in the road, and I was worried that I might kill her. Thank goodness I didn’t though, I only raped her.

    You people are hilarious in your inability to grasp a fucking clue.

  66. says

    but what’s offensive about this one?

    just how many times do we have to link to the research about the effects of rape jokes before any of you clueless dolts finally gets the nerve and brainpower up to fucking read them?

  67. says

    there is obviously something abnormal in someone’s brain if they can become aroused in a rape situation

    you’re under the false impression that rape requires a boner. You can rape people completely without the use of a penis. FFs, have you ever even bothered to look at, for example, the FBI’s definition of rape?

    “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

    aside from that, physical stimulation can result in arousal regardless of whether the person’s brain is finding what’s going on “sexy” or not.

    you know nothing about rape. why are you voicing this ignorant opinion on this topic, as if it were of any value?

  68. John Morales says

    Maybe this will get through:

    maidao-horton, try telling that “joke” to someone this way:
    I was driving home and your [mother|sister|wife|daughter|friend] was wandering around in the road, and I was worried that I might kill her. Thank goodness I didn’t though, I only raped her.

    Can you perhaps imagine how they might find it offensive, when you think of it that way?

    (Still find it funny?)

  69. says

    maidao-horton:

    PZ, you violated our community for no reason at all.

    Emphasis mine.

    Really? You’re going to defend rape jokes, and then complain that your community has been violated?

    Here’s a nickel, Kid. Get yourself some real perspective.

  70. says

    PZ, you violated our community for no reason at all.

    it’s evident that you do not know the meaning of the word “violated”

  71. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So, the punchline of a joke is, “I only raped her.” I’m so fucking angry, I don’t know what to write.

    *deep breath* Agreed.

    Kinda makes me reconsider the societal structure in The Gates to Women’s Country.

  72. David Marjanović says

    …In that same thread, though, several commenters, including all that are identifiable as women, express discomfort with rape jokes and “can’t wait” to “move on” to another topic.

  73. says

    In that same thread, though, several commenters, including all that are identifiable as women, express discomfort with rape jokes and “can’t wait” to “move on” to another topic.

    and yet, they’re calling a letter including yet another rape joke “nice”, and are admitting to “laughing at jokes that I NEVER would have found funny before”, meaning apparently rape jokes.

    And if any of them had bothered to read the papers, they’d know that telling rape jokes “amongst friends that are comfortable with each others beliefs and sensibilities” isn’t a harmless thing either, if only because why the fuck are you friends with people who are cool with being harmful?

  74. David Marjanović says

    aside from that, physical stimulation can result in arousal regardless of whether the person’s brain is finding what’s going on “sexy” or not.

    Let me just confirm that from my own experience. I can orgasm in my sleep* from just lying in a slightly stupid position; no dream at all is required.

    * Well, it wakes me up.

  75. David Marjanović says

    So, what, it’s like, “Let’s just be patient while the menz have their little male bonding ritual”?

    Yes. They’re desperately trying to plaster over a Deep Rift. If this goes on, they’ll wake up sometime.

    Baby steps.

  76. David Marjanović says

    Yes, “they”. We’re not talking about behavior from a few interlopers, but 1) a post by an admin, 2) a very popular poster, 3) which was met with very little opposition (I give full credit to the few who spoke up) and 4) a lot of back-slapping agreement, and when it was pointed out that joking about raping some specific people is kinda ugly, a majority again decided that it was 5) more important to complain about the smudge on their reputation than rapey-ness.

    Complaining about the reality of that would be like me trying to deny that the commentariat here is aggressive, loud, and opinionated by saying it’s not fair, I can find some people who are meek and mild and conciliatory. Pharyngula is mean and fighty; Rationalia is rapey and jokey.

    All QFT. So far, the members of Rationalia value community above more important things.

    I wonder how much longer this is going to hold. The Deep Rifts are there.

  77. John Morales says

    Call me cynical, but as I recall there were reports of talk there that trolling here was a good way to get hits — and that seems to be exactly what maidao-horton has done via the drive-by above.

  78. David Marjanović says

    Don’t worry. I, for one, have seen enough of Rationalia. I’ll discuss with them if they come here.

  79. says

    Wait, “I only raped her” is the inoffensive punch line? Now I’m wondering what the offensive joke would be.

    How many pages you got? I could start with this one.

    Why do Japanese Sumo wrestlers shave their legs?

    So you can tell them apart from feminists.