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Feb 28 2013

I didn’t know I was signing up for a psychology experiment!

Jadehawk has an interesting post up on what psychology considers harassment — that is, when the pros assess effective harassment campaigns, what do they do?

Conclusion: Even mild interruption, ridicule, and criticism elicits stress responses, and all these mild stress-response-elicitors count as harassment in psychology. That doesn’t mean we should stop criticizing people, and it doesn’t mean that people who want to be skeptics, scientists and/or activists don’t need to learn to deal with a certain degree of both criticism and “trolling”. However, as with microaggressions, a constant barrage of aggression (some low-grade some decidedly less so) is typically more wearying/damaging than the occasional blatant, massive outburst. Consequently, telling a person who’s subjected for months to non-stop criticism, “satire”, parody, “trolling”, and plain old “as defined by every college campus everywhere” harassment* on multiple fronts that they aren’t being harassed is pure, unadulterated bullshit. Even the thickest skin will eventually be worn down** my months, or even years, of this sort of thing.

Yeah, years. But here’s the surprise from my perspective: what creationists and Christians did to me would not be considered harassment. They were not camping on my virtual doorstep greeting me first thing every morning with a flood of stupid videos and photoshopped images. They were not using twitter to masquerade as my friends under pseydonyms. They were not setting up blogs and forums with no other purpose than to malign me and a few other atheists personally. Even when I pissed off the Catholics, what would happen is that many individuals would fire off an angry letter or two, and then move on with their lives. It meant I got a deluge of email, but it wasn’t one or a few nuts going on a prolonged tear. Mabus was an exception. He isn’t anymore.

It wasn’t until I annoyed a subset of atheists that the real harassment began. Serious harassment. People who have no lives and think the most important thing to do every day is to pour out their hatred for me, or Rebecca Watson, or Ophelia Benson, or anyone on the Atheism+ forum. I’m not talking principled disagreement or even stupid disagreement: I mean commitment to do any dumbass thing they can to lash out, and being driven by hatred for a few people.

I do want to address one bizarre comment from some guy named Hunt, though, who is commenting on Jadehawk’s article.

A lot of these people deserve each other though. The Slymepit seems to be a perfect counterpart to PZ, who has trolled and harassed creationists, for instance, for a decade. He’s finally come up against people who are as willing to put the same energy into trolling back, irreverently and in a very similar way to what he’s done to others for years, and it’s pissing him off. What goes around comes around.

Nope. He doesn’t get it. I disagree strongly with creationists, and they disagree with me, but I don’t troll or harass. When I visited the Creation “Museum”, I informed them of my plans, I even signed an agreement to not cause trouble while I was there, not that I planned to; when I encourage my students to attend creationist talks, I also tell them to be polite and non-disruptive, and that the goal is to get information, not interrupt them. I don’t criticize creationists by sneering at their sexuality, defacing photographs of them, and getting up every day with cheery enthusiasm at the prospect of calling them fat, or ugly, or thinking of ways to tweak their names to make them sound like terms for genitalia.

I have a blog that ridicules creationism by dismantling their idiotic arguments, and that isn’t even obsessive about that…and definitely isn’t focused exclusively on just a few individuals.

What those jerks are doing isn’t in any way similar to what I’ve ever done. And what’s worse, it isn’t similar to what creationists have done: Eric Hovind may not be very bright, but he’s never sunk to the depths that the denizens of the Slymepit have.

But then, the false equivalence is one of the most common tools in use by the trolls. “He has criticized creationists, therefore he is fair game for me to draw him having sexual congress with a dog. It’s ‘dissent’!”

You know what’s most annoying to me, though? For years we’ve been trying to make the case to the public that you can be a decent human being while not believing in god. And then these slack-jawed, 4chan-lovin’, youtube-chatterin’ privileged gits come along and instead demonstrate that atheists can be the biggest assholes of them all.

107 comments

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  1. 1
    SallyStrange

    There are a couple of trends that strike me:

    First, that there’s a large overlap between the libertarians, the anti-feminists, and the harassers.

    Second, that a common element among these is willful denial of the truths about human behavior discovered by researchers in such “soft” sciences as psychology and sociology.

  2. 2
    hyperdeath

    You know what’s most annoying to me, though? For years we’ve been trying to make the case to the public that you can be a decent human being while not believing in god. And then these slack-jawed, 4chan-lovin’, youtube-chatterin’ privileged gits come along and instead demonstrate that atheists can be the biggest assholes of them all.

    Damn right. These people act like the straw atheists from a Chick tract. If I believed for a moment that they represented the movement, I’d stop referring to myself as an atheist. I’d be embarrassed to do so.

  3. 3
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    One thing that didn’t come across in Jadehawk’s excellent blogpost is that the test being administered requires creativity, risk-taking, and personal vulnerability – participants are asked to tell stories with a beginning, middle, and end about a series of black and white images, many of which generally elicit themes of loss, loneliness, or violence.

    Funny how the “how not to get harassed” advice offered by Vacula et al. basically comes down to “don’t express yourself creatively and in particular, never ever talk about loss, loneliness, or violence.” Harassment is an excellent way to shut down creativity when you don’t want to hear what someone has to say about their feelings and experiences.

  4. 4
    PZ Myers

    Yes. They call it ‘dissent’ and ‘criticism’, but it’s no such thing: it’s yelling loudly to intimidate people into silence. There is nothing in their words that suggests a different course of action other than simply shutting up.

  5. 5
    David Marjanović

    The one day I don’t visit Jadehawk’s blog because I don’t have time to catch up with the Twitter feed. The one time…

    brb

  6. 6
    Jadehawk

    oh, I’ve been linked to by pharyngula? And I just noted that I didn’t get much harassment because no one reads my blog. I guess that just changed, at least for a while :-p

  7. 7
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Thanks, Sally, for the comment on the overlap.

    Why does this exist? Well, my uncle is/was (we haven’t spoken in a while – not that things are bad, but all my life he’s lived at least a state away, so we just never became close) a libertarian. He’s the closest to me of that ideological stripe. When I was talking to him about his libertarianism, there seemed to be a clear lack of empathy.

    I have no idea if that is statistically true, but I can see that many of the objections to libertarianism come on the grounds of libertarian policies that seem lacking in empathy, so **if one did lack empathy** those grounds of objection would be less likely to exist, and thus any other appeal libertarianism might hold would not be countered as strongly for that person.

    Similarly, if one was going to trash talk an entire gender or race, empathy is one thing that might stop you, but only if you have it.

    So someone lacking in empathy originally may be more likely to do both of the things under discussion: support/espouse libertarianism and harass others.

    It’s at least an hypothesis worth a look.

  8. 8
    David Marjanović

    Second, that a common element among these is willful denial of the truths about human behavior discovered by researchers in such “soft” sciences as psychology and sociology.

    Much of that may be ignorance rather than denial; I don’t know much about them either. But then, I don’t go around barfing supposed eternal truths about those subjects all over the place.

    the “how not to get harassed” advice offered by Vacula et al. basically comes down to “don’t express yourself creatively and in particular, never ever talk about loss, loneliness, or violence.”

    You know what? Now I really think I know what it feels like to be told “don’t wear a short skirt, and I get to define what ‘short’ means”.

  9. 9
    erikthebassist

    I’ve pointed out the libertarian / MRA overlap before. I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all.

    It’s the sink or swim mentality, the personal responsibility trope at work. Most of the slymers hate the FTB brand of feminism because it implies that some personal sacrifice needs to be made by the privileged in order to bring about something approaching parity. (even if that sacrifice is simply not using gendered slurs as insults)

    Their brand of feminism states that women do not and should not need the protection of the law, or special consideration under any circumstances. Some women are successful under the status quo therefor no change is needed, they need not sacrifice a bit of their privilege, because if some women can do it, then they all can, if they try hard enough. Sink or swim, personal responsibility. That’s the mantra.

  10. 10
    David Marjanović

    So someone lacking in empathy originally may be more likely to do both of the things under discussion: support/espouse libertarianism and harass others.

    Of course.

    But I wonder why libertarianism is so much more common, at least as an openly espoused political ideology, in the US than elsewhere. Harrassment, I’m sure, isn’t.

  11. 11
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I found this earlier too, slightly relevant to comment policies, freezed peach (frozen speech in this case) and… well… look. This could have just as well been said here by PZ:

    A small group of trolls somehow confuse these sites for a town square. It is not. This blog is not a forum where I am obligated to give equal time to every crackpot conspiracy theorist, birther or intellectually lazy wanker out there. To be blunt, I don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about these jackhole’s opinions. These folk need to rapidly disabuse themselves from believing other people’s blog’s are an open invitation for whatever ignorance or ill thought out nonsense they are peddling.

    The trick, according to cognitive psychologists, is to undercut logical arguments by appealing to emotions. According to academic research, this takes advantage of the way the brain works. Emotions come to the forefront faster than “rational” thoughts. Daniel Kahnman divides the cognitive processes as either “thinking fast” (Emotions) versus “thinking slow” (Logic). Scathing, emotional, negative, knee jerk comments can actually nullify intelligent, coherent, logical, sourced, data driven arguments through this technique.

    Found here.

    Also, winning quote:

    To paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, life is short. I share his desire it need not be solitary, nasty and brutish. This manifests itself in my lack of patience for the negative, spiteful, annoying, dishonest, unproductive asshattery that is all too common online.

  12. 12
    eric

    However, as with microaggressions, a constant barrage of aggression (some low-grade some decidedly less so) is typically more wearying/damaging than the occasional blatant, massive outburst.

    I’d say this is just one instance of a general problem: our western societies have a difficult time legally dealing with ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ issues. Our laws tend to see behavior as legal no matter how much you do it, or illegal no matter how little you do it. Our system isn’t really designed for behaviors that are okay to do a little bit but not a lot. Bullying is one clear example, but drugs are another (it strikes many of us as fundamentally unfair that alcohol is legal but pot is not, even though both being legal would probably cause more social problems than only one of them being legal).

  13. 13
    glodson

    What the bastards don’t get is that there’s a point to dismantling a creationist’s belief, or even a Christian’s belief. It is a chance to educate people. It might get rude, or dismissive at times, but the point is to deal with what they said, not the qualities of the person who said it.

    Someone might actually learn something. Sometimes, theists deconvert. Sometimes you can get a little bit of science through the wall of ignorance, and you get a chance to educate any audience on the outside. It has been my take that there’s an underlying point: to get people to think more closely about their religion. It actually can help people escape religion, it can help people learn, it can help people live a better life by shedding needless superstition.

    What good does it do to come up with an epitaph meant to shame the person with a gendered slur based on that person’s name? What good does it do to question a person’s sexuality? What good does it do to constantly obsess over a person to the breaking point?

    We know why it is done.

    And they know it too.

    I know things can get rough, but by and large, people get insulted over arguing in bad faith. Dissent is fine. The bullies like to say it is dissent. The bullies like to say it is criticism. The bullies like to try and play nice in front of a neutral audience knowing their shit won’t fly otherwise. But when they think no one else is looking, they’ll let their true nature show.

    It is disgusting. I would rather be associated with a bunch of whack-job creationists than those anti-feminist bullies and thugs. Why? Because I might actually get through to a creationist.

  14. 14
    cfieldb

    Are the Slymepitters really libertarians, though? Or even MRAs? Seriously. As a group, they have no agenda aside from hating FtB, Skepchick and feminism more generally. I think it’s a mistake to identify them with any larger political group, and it sort of gives them more credence than they deserve.

  15. 15
    Jafafa Hots

    Libertarian atheists are atheists because they reject the idea of a supremer being.

    (no typo)

  16. 16
    Jadehawk

    Much of that may be ignorance rather than denial

    No, it’s denial. Somewhere on the pit is an exchange that concluded with the statement “Social science is the intelligent design of real science.”

  17. 17
    Jadehawk

    Are the Slymepitters really libertarians, though?

    some are. some only subscribe to some libertarian concepts, notably libertarian feminism (and whatever the equivalent of that for race would be)

  18. 18
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @jadehawk

    What on earth is Libertarian Feminism? “Let them fight for themselves and it’ll all work out”?

  19. 19
    Kagehi

    Their brand of feminism states that women do not and should not need the protection of the law, or special consideration under any circumstances. Some women are successful under the status quo therefor no change is needed, they need not sacrifice a bit of their privilege, because if some women can do it, then they all can, if they try hard enough. Sink or swim, personal responsibility. That’s the mantra.

    Yeah, they seem to be fundamentally incapable of recognizing when the laws exist to either derail/prevent the creation of zero-sum gaming, where you can literally have most, or even all, of the people described in a situation where the ability to even express, never mind achieve, “personal responsibility”, is an virtual impossibility. A good example being the current insanity with voting laws, and article 5, where the Rethuglicans are redistricting, passing new laws, and doing just about everything they can to fight class warfare (a significant percentage of that class now being white, but which, in most places is still “perceived” to be all non-whites), while arguing that the very law that makes such gaming of the system illegal is no longer “necessary”. In reality, the real problem seems to be that the law fails to apply to all states and districts, so isn’t doing the job properly. But, the argument is exactly as you describe, “Because some people have succeeded, albeit *under* said law, even to the extent of them gaining the highest office in the country, the continued robbery of the rest of them, of their rights, isn’t a problem, and it somehow purely, ‘their own fault’”. But, don’t you know.. its always your own fault for the US brand of libertarians. Doesn’t matter what it was, struck by lightning, a meteor, eaten by the insane neighbors, denied the right to vote because you had to choose between standing in line for days, and paying money you didn’t have, to get some ID you never needed, or just to vote at all, instead of going to work, keeping your job, and feeding your kids.. Yep, its all ***your fault***, and we don’t need to say.. use lightning rods, waste time looking for rocks in space, hire cops to arrest the crazy neighbors, or, Zod forbid, make sure someone isn’t intentionally stacking the deck, or hiding cards up their sleeves, in politics, so that you are actually denied the choice to act, not merely failing to act when you should.

    The only thing more amazing that this very strange logic is how fast they claim someone else “prevented” them from getting what they want, when they *actually* fail themselves.

  20. 20
    Jadehawk

    What on earth is Libertarian Feminism?

    what they themselves describe as “equity feminism”. Basically, it’s “equality means no laws directly prohibiting women from doing things.”

  21. 21
    johnwoodford

    I have a blog that ridicules creationism….

    There’s the difference. You’re ridiculing a philosophy, not a person or group of people. The people who espouse that philosophy (I use the term loosely) are incidental targets to your dismantling of the philosophy. AFAICT the ‘pitters may want to ridicule a philosophy (feminism), but are doing so entirely by attacking its proponents rather than its proposals. As it were.

  22. 22
    glodson

    what they themselves describe as “equity feminism”. Basically, it’s “equality means no laws directly prohibiting women from doing things.”

    Hmmm. Correct me if I am wrong, but is that how they justify not wanting to deal with any of the social hurdles that impede women from doing things?

    Because it seems that the overlap of libertarian, anti-feminists and MRA’s stem from all sharing the quality of being quite selfish and egocentric. It all seems to be the same strain of “I’ve got mine, so I’m not worried about if you got yours” but sometimes expressed in different avenues. At least, that’s how I’ve come to understand this.

  23. 23
    WharGarbl

    @johnwoodford
    #21
    That and PZ doesn’t post/comment in creationist places (at least as far as I know). Those offended always have the options of, well, not reading it.

  24. 24
    Jadehawk

    is that how they justify not wanting to deal with any of the social hurdles that impede women from doing things?

    yes

  25. 25
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    glodson:

    Because it seems that the overlap of libertarian, anti-feminists and MRA’s stem from all sharing the quality of being quite selfish and egocentric.

    Yep. They basically deny the effects of society on freedom of action. That way, they can feel successful all on their own, rather than recognize their success is due in part to privilege.

  26. 26
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Are the Slymepitters really . . . . MRAs?

    Vacula writes for A Voice for Men, a misogynistic MRA (but I repeat myself) website.

    If people support him, cheer him on, etc., or if they do all the things PZ lists in the post, even if they don’t publically identify as MRAs, does it matter? The end result is the same – bigotry, harrassment, and lies.

  27. 27
    PZ Myers

    That and PZ doesn’t post/comment in creationist places (at least as far as I know).

    I have. I still do, very rarely. What I don’t do is charge in and dominate a thread, where every other post is mine, and campaign there every goddamned day. If I’ve got a point to make I’ll do it once; if I want to be emphatic I’ll make a post here and go at it at some length.

    I did make some more extensive arguments at that place where they joked about raping a skepchick…but even there, I left them to it after a while, and notice…you’re not seeing a daily “commenters at that forum are ugly” post here.

  28. 28
    glodson

    Yep. They basically deny the effects of society on freedom of action. That way, they can feel successful all on their own, rather than recognize their success is due in part to privilege.

    I think some of them have a problem with understanding privilege. I have a ton of privileges, and I wouldn’t mind losing them if it meant other people were treated the same way as I am. I like that I don’t worry about being beaten for my sexuality by bigots. I like that I don’t worry about being pulled over by a cop because my skin color. I like that I don’t have to be worried about being under paid because of my gender and race. I like that I don’t worry about people attacking me for finding out that my sex at birth and gender match. I like that I don’t worry about a bunch of people making laws over what goes on in my body. I like that I can speak out and not worry about being physically assaulted due to my size and gender.

    These are all types of privileges. And I think they are so great that I want to see them extended to everyone. That’s what equality means to me. That’s why feminism is important. That’s what it is important to talk about race and gay rights, and the effects of transphobia, and every bit of social justice. I don’t want to lose these protections I have, I want them to be extended to everyone else.

    And some of these are legal issues, like the racial profiling, gay rights, trans rights, a woman’s right to her own body. But many are social issues that can only be addressed by examining our society and taking action.

    It is one thing to be blind to it because of ignorance. It is another to attack people who point it out as a means to keep being blind.

  29. 29
    glodson

    @ 24

    I was kind of hoping I was wrong and they had(or at least professed) a slightly more…. fuck. I don’t even know what I was hoping expect that they had put more thought into this given the campaign of hate I’ve seen from them.

  30. 30
    David Marjanović

    what they themselves describe as “equity feminism”. Basically, it’s “equality means no laws directly prohibiting women from doing things.”

    So, it’s the emphasis on the “let” of “let them fight for themselves and it’ll all work out”.

    They basically deny the effects of society on freedom of action.

    More generally, they deny society – as Thatcher put it.

  31. 31
    jose

    Libertarianism is fine. Being right wing is fine. Being a follower of Christina Hoff Sommers is fine. Being a fundamentalist republican is fine. Being a gun nut is fine. Even being judge Scalia is fine.

    I mean you can be all of those things and still not obsessively stalk and harass a few individual targets. Watch the video. His justifications should sound familiar.

  32. 32
    WharGarbl

    @jose
    #31
    So the “You can be a dick as long as you don’t shove it down my throat” doctrine?

  33. 33
    glodson

    @ 31

    I wouldn’t call all those fine. I won’t say that they are worthy of respect either. But I will acknowledge a difference between being someone with a ideology that is toxic and someone who acts in a toxic manner directly by harassing and verbally assaulting and threatening people.

  34. 34
    ChasCPeterson

    a common element among these is willful denial of the truths about human behavior discovered by researchers in such “soft” sciences as psychology and sociology.

    would you mind listing a few such truths so we know what you’re talking about?

    Are the Slymepitters really libertarians, though? Or even MRAs? Seriously. As a group, they have no agenda aside from hating FtB, Skepchick and feminism more generally. I think it’s a mistake to identify them with any larger political group, and it sort of gives them more credence than they deserve.

    No, they are not. As a group, they are anti-FtB, anti-’radical/gender’-feminism, and nasty assholes; that’s about it. So while there’s certainly a large overlap betwen the harrassers and the anti-feminists, the overlap with libertarians is best regarded as it was presented: as a ‘trend’ that ‘struck’ SallyStrange, not as some sort of demonstrated correlation. It’s probably no more than intercorrelation with a third variable like not-giving-a-shit-about-other-people (as someone already suggested above, I think).

  35. 35
    daniellavine

    (it strikes many of us as fundamentally unfair that alcohol is legal but pot is not, even though both being legal would probably cause more social problems than only one of them being legal).

    This is arguable, and I think the arguments actually push it the other way: we’d have far fewer social problems if both marijuana and alcohol were legal.

    1. Prohibition of alcohol caused more social problems than it fixed — this is why it was shortly thereafter repealed. The failures of prohibition are well and often discussed, there’s no reason to go through it here.
    2. The same arguments apply to marijuana prohibition but with more force: the war on drugs is widely acknowledged to cause a great number of social problems while both scientific research and anecdotal experience of marijuana suggest that it has fewer negative social consequences than alcohol.
    3. Besides being safer and less habit-forming than alcohol, marijuana intoxication doesn’t seem to result in the same impulse control issues that make alcohol inebriation a social menace. While I strongly discourage anyone from driving cars while intoxicated in any way (in fact, I just strongly discourage people from driving cars if they can at all avoid it) it’s pretty clear to me that doing so is less dangerous than driving while impaired by alcohol.
    4. Besides the fact that marijuana is safer, less harmful, and has fewer negative social consequences, it also seems to have a lot of positive medicinal uses.

    Putting it all together, prohibition causes more social problems than does legalization, and besides that marijuana causes fewer social problems than alcohol. It seems rather clear to me that having legalized both alcohol and marijuana we would have fewer social problems than with a prohibition on either substance.

  36. 36
    daniellavine

    would you mind listing a few such truths so we know what you’re talking about?

    One truth which I’ve seen explicitly denied: we live in a culture than downplays the competence of women. I’ve seen this denied while at the same time the person repeated common cultural tropes about how frivolous and incompetent women are. I’ve seen it happen here in threads on Pharyngula.

  37. 37
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Yeah, I have had the misfortune of being their target for the past week. I woke up this morning to Vacula wondering if I could take a “lighthearted joke” Of course, a nasty photoshop of me was the butt of the joke.

  38. 38
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    ChasCPetersen: “Are the Slymepitters really libertarians, though? Or even MRAs? Seriously. As a group, they have no agenda aside from hating FtB, Skepchick and feminism more generally.”

    One could ask the same of the rape gangs in Tahrir square–and yet both groups ultimately seek to exclude women from any say in the major issues of the day. Their goal is to silence those who oppose them–especially if they don’t have a Y chromosome in their genetic makeup or if they have a brain in their head.

  39. 39
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    It is just lies and hate from top to bottom, left to right. There’s no “debate” or “discussion” or “disagreement” that is necessary to be had when it comes to harassment and stalking. We don’t need to have decades of feminist conversation from scratch every time some over-privileged assclown decides to be abusive towards women. We can’t and won’t accept that there’s any place in decent communities for people who treat other people so badly. And FFS there’s no goddamned comparison between blocking someone on Twitter or deleting blog comments, and the stalking and harassment… that is only coming from ONE SIDE.

  40. 40
    Anthony K

    Or even MRAs? Seriously. As a group, they have no agenda aside from hating FtB, Skepchick and feminism more generally.

    Objection, your honor. Asked and answered.

  41. 41
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    EllenBeth Wachs:

    I woke up this morning to Vacula wondering if I could take a “lighthearted joke”

    A “lighthearted joke” meaning, “Ha-ha, only serious.”

    As long as the joke denigrates another, as long as the joke is solely intended to silence dissent against the status quo, as long as it’s geared down the privilege gradient, it is a “lighthearted joke.”

    Or, if they were truthful, “I’d like you to believe I’m a nice guy with a sense of humor, in spite of the fact I act like a misogynist asshole. Also, fuck you. Only joking! But seriously.”

  42. 42
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    The ‘pitters are libertarian in spirit and in behavior, even if not in explicit ideological declaration. Of course, in their minds they can only be defined as something if they make a formal statement “I am” followed by the dictionary definition of their choice. Their agenda is based on wanting to inflict themselves on others unfettered by any rules that would restrict them, while demanding that the whole world bend to THEIR privilege-based rules and restrictions.

    That’s libertarianism in a nutshell. “Do as I say, not as I do; you’re not the boss of me but what works for me is the way it should be for everyone”

  43. 43
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    DDMFM:

    More generally, they deny society – as Thatcher put it.

    Yeah. Or this. It’s almost as if they think society exists either because of them, or only to serve them, and not the other way ’round.

    But that would require an almost infinite supply of selfishness and ego.

  44. 44
    mythbri

    I think that there are specific individuals at the Slymepit that can be considered MRAs – Justin Vacula, for one, as he’s written for A Voice For Men. And a few people who have trolled here have brought out very specific “arguments” that are very popular among the MRAs.

    However, it’s possible for someone to be an anti-feminist asshole and not be an MRA. It bothers my sense of accuracy to see commenters that are obviously anti-feminist but also obviously very ignorant be characterized as MRAs. They barely know what feminism is, even straw-feminism – I find it hardly likely that they’ve done enough research in these kinds of issues to even be aware of the MRAs, let alone specifically identify with the “movement” or use their “arguments”.

    The Slymepit’s anti-feminist environment is obviously a comfortable place for the MRAs that post there, however, and probably a great place for them to push their agenda.

    I’m not saying that they’re not assholes. They absolutely are. I’m just not sure they all fit into one particular sub-set of assholes.

  45. 45
    glodson

    I’m not saying that they’re not assholes. They absolutely are. I’m just not sure they all fit into one particular sub-set of assholes.

    I don’t know why, but I really like the idea of trying to define the sub-sets of assholes, and then design a Venn Diagram for this purpose.

  46. 46
    A Hermit

    Vacula writes for A Voice for Men, a misogynistic MRA

    So does Mykeru, a regular at the slymepit, `pit regular Wooly Bumblebee is AVfM’s Canadian news director and I’ve noticed some crossover in the comments…some of the same names pop up on both sites; “Astrokid” for example…

    The `pitters may not all be MRA’s but they welcome them with open arms. It’s like inviting the Klan in.

  47. 47
    SallyStrange

    Truths from social sciences that the libertarian/MRA/misogynist contingent prefer to deny?

    Off the top of my head, stereotype threat. Implicit bias.

    I know you’ve been around long enough to know what I’m talking about, Chas.

    Is there some reason you couldn’t think of those yourself? It’s not like we haven’t talked about them a billion times.

    Do you agree or disagree that the effects of stereotype threat and implicit bias are real, observable, testable, and predictable?

  48. 48
    SallyStrange

    Re: Vacula:

    Over at Stephanie’s, I think, there was talk of making cards to hand out to Vacula if you encounter him while at WiS:

    “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with dissenters.”

  49. 49
    Amphigorey

    No, they demonstrably don’t understand the concept of privilege, even when they think they do. To them it means, “You have privilege. Therefore, I win the argument!” This was tried on me by one of the ‘pitters, I think during the recent Radford debacle – he tried to claim that I had “feminist privilege” and therefore he should win the argument.

  50. 50
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    (it strikes many of us as fundamentally unfair that alcohol is legal but pot is not, even though both being legal would probably cause more social problems than only one of them being legal).

    Citation needed.

  51. 51
    freemage

    Eric@12:

    I’d say this is just one instance of a general problem: our western societies have a difficult time legally dealing with ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ issues. Our laws tend to see behavior as legal no matter how much you do it, or illegal no matter how little you do it. Our system isn’t really designed for behaviors that are okay to do a little bit but not a lot. Bullying is one clear example, but drugs are another (it strikes many of us as fundamentally unfair that alcohol is legal but pot is not, even though both being legal would probably cause more social problems than only one of them being legal).

    Your example doesn’t quite match your rule, though (which I actually agree with). The problem isn’t “marijuana vs. alcohol”, it’s in attempting to find a way to deal with abusers without permitting legitimately harmless use, of either drug. In the case of alcohol, we wound up learning the hard way that the best approach is to permit use and educate, hard, about abuse, with punishments for those who abuse in a fashion that harms others (such as drunk drivers). We still haven’t learned that same lesson about marijuana, leading to the bizarre state of current law.

  52. 52
    leftwingfox

    When I think of “lighthearted kidding”, I think of a couple of friends who have respect and admiration for each other teasing in a way which both understand is not serious or sensitive. I might call my opponents terrible things in silly ways, but I wouldn’t dream of calling that “lighthearted kidding”.

  53. 53
    opposablethumbs

    xposted from Jadehawk’s blog (I commented there before seeing this post! Honest!). Not that it adds anything of substance to what has already been said here … but fuck it, I feel like saying it again:
    .

    Hunt, perhaps you could cite one single instance where PZ or any comparable individual has “trolled and harassed” creationists? For example, by sending them threats or flooding creationists’ blogs with expletives (as opposed to posting criticism of their speech or writing on his own blog)? By revealing or threatening to reveal personal information about creationists which is not already displayed on their own sites (such as RL address, RL identity etc.)? By signing creationists up for silly subscriptions? By photoshopping creationist’s heads onto pornographic images?
    Tsk tsk. I think you have forgotten the difference between criticising someone’s arguments and harassing them. Or are you perhaps so happy to think that someone you don’t like is being harassed that you don’t care about the fact that what you are saying is simply not true?

    Oh, and do you seriously think that PZ is on a par with creationists as far as legitimate criticism is concerned? Judging from your comment, I suppose you must do – which says a lot about you.

  54. 54
    EllenBeth Wachs

    #48 Sally Strange

    Re: Vacula:

    Over at Stephanie’s, I think, there was talk of making cards to hand out to Vacula if you encounter him while at WiS:

    “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with dissenters.”

    I was going to suggest that Melody compile a list of those that don’t want to be approached by him and include it in his registration packet but this is SO much better, lololol.

  55. 55
    Rich Woods

    @glodson #45:

    I don’t know why, but I really like the idea of trying to define the sub-sets of assholes, and then design a Venn Diagram for this purpose.

    IANAP*, but I suspect your Venn diagram would be mostly concentric rings and highly reminiscent of a colonoscopy.

    *Proctologist, of course.

  56. 56
    w00dview

    Second, that a common element among these is willful denial of the truths about human behavior discovered by researchers in such “soft” sciences as psychology and sociology.

    Agreed with all that but I would also say that many libertarians engage in wilful denial of “hard” sciences e.g: Climate science or ecology. Hell, any scientific field that deals with the environment. If the free market can’t fix it, the problem obviously does not exist! And what kind of monster would trample on the FREEDOM of a company to make a profit regardless of the environmental consequences anyway?

    Sorry for going on a tangent there. Fuck the pitters.

  57. 57
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble
    Re: Vacula:
    Over at Stephanie’s, I think, there was talk of making cards to hand out to Vacula if you encounter him while at WiS:
    “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with dissenters.”

    I was going to suggest that Melody compile a list of those that don’t want to be approached by him and include it in his registration packet but this is SO much better, lololol.

    Dissenter isn’t strong enough. Denialist pretty much sums it up.

  58. 58
    jose

    I agree with ChasCPeterson. This is about anti FTB harassment, not a legitimate difference of ideals. That’s why I tried to make the distinction at #31.

  59. 59
    glodson

    @56

    I think this whole thing has been summed up nicely in this thread. The MRA’s, the Pitters, Randian Libertarians all will deny any problem when it doesn’t effect them directly, or if it might get in the way with their notion of freedom.

    Which is likely why it is easy to lump all them in the same boat, because they all pilot rather similar boats. They aren’t all the same. But it seems to be the same basic ideas expressed in different ways.

  60. 60
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with dissenters.”

    I agree with the sentiment, but I’m not too wild about the phrasing. Dissent is part and parcel to atheism (insert joke about herding cats). I would rather the card say something along the lines of: “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with those who would marginalize more than half of the world’s population.”

  61. 61
    Richard Smith

    @glodson (#45):

    I don’t know why, but I really like the idea of trying to define the sub-sets of assholes, and then design a Venn Diagram for this purpose.

    I think there’d be two main circles, lightly coloured and aligned horizontally, with a narrow, somewhat darker overlap, with a much smaller, very dark circle in the center of the overlap…

  62. 62
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    RichardH:
    That small, very dark center wouldn’t happen to be…the pit?

  63. 63
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Oops, someone wrangle the H out of my #62

  64. 64
    glodson

    I can’t help but think we have been unfair here. I can’t help but think we are smearing a group we shouldn’t be smearing, that we are undervaluing what this group can contribute. This group we are tarnishing actually has a vital role and we’ve attached a degree of shame to this group. We need this group, and we really must stop abusing it.

    I speak, of course, of assholes. We need our assholes. They are vital to our lives, do a job that needs be done, and even can bring us great pleasure.

    And here we are, tarnishing assholes by comparing them to the Slymepitt. I, for one, am ashamed.

  65. 65
    w00dview

    The MRA’s, the Pitters, Randian Libertarians all will deny any problem when it doesn’t effect them directly, or if it might get in the way with their notion of freedom.

    It is denial fuelled by entitled narcissism to think that you can do whatever the hell you like. That is what unites all three groups.

  66. 66
    cubist

    sez ogvorbis:

    I would rather the card say something along the lines of: “I do not engage, directly or indirectly, with those who would marginalize more than half of the world’s population.”

    Your version may be more accurate, but “Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.” is a direct, verbatim quote from the Vaculoid himself…

  67. 67
    SallyStrange

    I agree with the sentiment, but I’m not too wild about the phrasing.

    Background: the phrasing is drawn directly from Justin Vacula’s advice to FTB & feminist bloggers about how to forestall harassers and stalkers. See Stephanie Zvan’s post about Vacula’s latest video: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/02/26/vacula-talks/

  68. 68
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I speak, of course, of assholes. We need our assholes. They are vital to our lives, do a job that needs be done, and even can bring us great pleasure.

    And here we are, tarnishing assholes by comparing them to the Slymepitt. I, for one, am ashamed.

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  69. 69
    Uncle Ebeneezer

    A gal on a political forum the other day mentioned how her atheist boyfriend was unlikely to participate in atheist/skeptical events because he doesn’t want to be associated with the MRA/slymepitters. I told her that actually, if he cares about feminism, equality etc., there’s no better time with FTB, A+ etc., actively creating events with those considerations in mind. But still, the damage to public perception of atheism has been substantial due to the behavior of these a-holes.

  70. 70
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    At least part of why the Slymepitters act so much worse, from your perspective, than the creationists and whatnot may be that the ‘pitters have more investment in your views than the religious do. For Hovind or whoever, you’re someone from a different group, a different community, a different “tribe”, and your opinion isn’t that big of a deal. It’s shocking and annoying and offensive, to them, but it isn’t something that they view as deeply relevant to their lives. For the Slymepit, though, you are a member of the same community as them, and something of a leader of that community at that. A Catholic who finds out that the Pope has views that they find repugnant is more likely to obsess over it than is a Baptist, because the Pope’s opinion might actually matter to them. Your opinion is more likely to annoy shitty atheists than it is to annoy creationists, because you’re a major voice in the atheist community, and simply don’t actually matter to creationists.

    Now, I’m not saying that they’re RIGHT to think that way, but I think that’s likely part of it. It’s like how, say, Orthodox Jews or Mormons or the Amish will do much, much more to punish members of their own cults than they will outsiders. To their mind, you’re a part of their tribe, and you’re not following the tribal rules. Again, I think they’re wrong and stupid, but that seems to be the only real explanation I can think of. If it was just that they were shitty /b/-posters, well, then you’d be getting a lot of the same shit from all the religious people on /b/. Yet, religious ‘Channers and Redditeers and the like don’t have any sort of investment in your opinion, whereas the Slymepitters do.

  71. 71
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    Sorry if someone already said something similar, I didn’t really read the comments on this.

  72. 72
    glodson

    I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Even after reading that post?

  73. 73
    ChasCPeterson

    oops, sorry, looks like I forgot to add the blockquote tags to my previous comment. As a result some people have attributed to me things that I didn’t say, but rather was responding to, though mostly in agreement. Specifically this was supposed to be quoted, and are not my words (though I pretty much agree with it):

    Are the Slymepitters really libertarians, though? Or even MRAs? Seriously. As a group, they have no agenda aside from hating FtB, Skepchick and feminism more generally. I think it’s a mistake to identify them with any larger political group, and it sort of gives them more credence than they deserve.

    Is there some reason you couldn’t think of those yourself?

    Apparently, yes, since I really didn’t know what you meant. But now I do; thanks.

  74. 74
    ChasCPeterson

    fucked up anouther blockquote. I guess it’s obvious.

    [OT: You know why I never preview anymore? because it fucks it up so bad when you have a link or two in there. I wish the ECO would lean on the codemonkeys or cheetohslaves or whoever they got over there in Brayton's basement to fix that, sincerely.]

  75. 75
    daniellavine

    @ChasCPeterson:

    I didn’t realize Brayton was in the executive suite at WordPress.

  76. 76
    Ichthyic

    What on earth is Libertarian Feminism?

    It’s the mentality that arises from priveledge, that gives certain people the idea that since they themselves don’t experience discrimination, it must not exist, and has the history of it has no impact on the present.

    it indeed is exactly the same mentality that drove the anti-affirmative action initiatives in the 1990s.

    people who don’t view themselves as racist because they never directly saw any racism growing up, and so decided in their own ignorance that thus there was no need for affirmative action programs.

    see it all the time.

    might as well call it what it is:

    privilege.

  77. 77
    Ichthyic

    …btw, it’s the exact same thing that is driving Scalia and conservatives on the current SCOTUS in their arguments against amendment 5.

    seriously, listen to what they are asking the DOJ representative.

    “Do you think these states are more racist than other states?”

    that, is a question borne of pure ignorance and privilege.

  78. 78
    ChasCPeterson

    [continued OT: Really? Do all WordPress-fired blogs fuck up links like that in preview? Because if so, that's fucking bushleague.]

  79. 79
    Ichthyic

    Do all WordPress-fired blogs fuck up links like that in preview?

    no.

    and this one didn’t used to; that happened after the big “style change” and whoever was responsible is an insufficient code monkey to fix their own errors evidently.

  80. 80
    Ichthyic

    Over at Stephanie’s, I think, there was talk of making cards to hand out to Vacula if you encounter him while at WiS:

    or maybe wear a tshirt!

    …wait…

  81. 81
  82. 82
    daniellavine

    and this one didn’t used to; that happened after the big “style change” and whoever was responsible is an insufficient code monkey to fix their own errors evidently.

    Still OT: Well, let’s be fair.
    1. Web 2.0 is some of the most broken technology in the technosphere. Changing styles should not have a drastic effect on functionality but the way CSS and javascript are integrated in every single major-market browser it inevitably does.
    2. Whoever made the “style change” in question probably does not have access to WordPress’s QA team to do a full regression on the CMS suite every time a style change is made.
    3. Have you checked the functionality in all four of the big browsers? IE still intentionally goes off-standard on their CSS and javascript implementations under the delusion that they’ll somehow become a monopoly again. And while FF and Chrome are both pretty much on-standard they still often interpret javascript and CSS subtly differently. Safari I can’t say as I pretty much never use it.

    Ideally changing the visual design of a site won’t break any functionality. It’s not the fault of FTB style guy that it almost inevitably does here in the real world.

  83. 83
    Ichthyic

    sorry, but I witnessed how the site changes were rolled out.

    It certainly looks like whoever was modifying the code was not testing it on an offline version ahead of time.

    mistake number one.

    mistake number two…

    modifying style sheets and breaking primary navigational links.

    this issue with the preview box not working correctly is similar across all browsers I have tried (currently using FF), and has existed since the very first day of the changeover.

    it IS the fault of the FtB style guy. I understand you wanting to not scapegoat someone who is obviously trying to improve the site, but I too used to do this stuff for a living, and my old boss would have fired me for the things that happened here.

    just to be fair.

  84. 84
    erikthebassist

    hey guise, I’m arguing with the shitstains over at the pit, partly because I have nothing better to do for about another hour, and partly because my name was brought up there as a result of the Neurologica thread.

    They say I’m now auto-banned from here, any one concur?

    Anyone? or are they full of shit once again?

  85. 85
    ChasCPeterson

    They say I’m now auto-banned from here

    Quoth teh ECO:

    Lately, some people with a notorious history of repulsive behavior and an association with a place of ill-repute called the Slymepit have taken to blatantly trolling here to get recognition of their vile behavior. They are thrown into the dungeon all right, but I’m not going to grant them any notoriety by mentioning them — they just get namelessly blocked without acknowledgment.

    So I think you’re safe if you don’t maintain an association, don’t notoriously behave repulsively, and are not seeking noteriety. Argue away.

  86. 86
    Ichthyic

    They say I’m now auto-banned from here, any one concur?

    sorry, but your post was automatically disemvoweled, and I had to use a re-emvoweler to be able to read it.

  87. 87
    Jadehawk

    lol.

    The pit is throwing a lovely shitfit over this post, and over the fact that Ophelia didn’t consult Pinker or Blackford on psychology, but simply linked to a post by a “horrible cunt”, AKA me.

    And more shitting on the social sciences, because why not.

  88. 88
    Jadehawk

    oh, and I just noticed that I forgot one more definition of harassment I ran across why reading this stuff: it applied to cyberbullying/internet harassment, and it included both direct abusive communication, but also abusive communication and images to third parties about the target, as long as it was online.

    Don’t know if they’d apply this definition to adults, because unfortunately all the studies about internet harassment/cyberbullying I found were done on youth or even children. I guess psychologists also think that all cyberbullies are 14-year-olds in their parents basement O.o

  89. 89
    PZ Myers

    They are always full of shit.

    But please leave the arguments you make there there. Don’t bring them back here. And in particular, don’t be an agent for delivering semi-sanitized slymepit toxins here.

  90. 90
    Ichthyic

    linked to a post by a “horrible cunt”, AKA me.

    yeesh.

  91. 91
    Owlglass

    37, EllenBeth Wachs
    Yeah, I have had the misfortune of being their target for the past week. I woke up this morning to Vacula wondering if I could take a “lighthearted joke” Of course, a nasty photoshop of me was the butt of the joke.

    EllenBeth Wachs (tweet/facebook): MT @justinvacula: Justin Vacula is a privileged white dude. Don’t be fooled by his game when he rapes your daughter” lolwut
    source/conversation

    :rolleyes:

  92. 92
    Owlglass

    Source, fixed

  93. 93
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Still, it does say something to the people who think that verbal abuse can’t possibly be domestic abuse because it’s “just name-calling.”

  94. 94
    erikthebassist

    Would never dream of it PZ

  95. 95
    EllenBeth Wachs

    91 Owlglass
    quotemined , quelle surprise! Get some glasses to help with that eye problem.

  96. 96
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Owlglass, why don’t you be a good audience member and let the show play out on its own? You after all see the conflict as the height of recurring entertainment. Interfering through interaction with the actors usually gets you kicked out of theaters…

  97. 97
    Great American Satan

    Last paragraph of post, as I’m sure other commenters have said (haven’t read comments yet, will),

    That is the best summation of what’s going wrong right now that I’ve seen. All my life I’ve thought that atheism made me ethically superior to theists, and now … I’m obviously not ditching atheism, but I’ve been awakened to an ugly reality. Many many atheists are scumbags of the first water.

    Man, fuck you guys for shitting on my ice cream.

  98. 98
    EllenBeth Wachs

    You know what’s most annoying to me, though? For years we’ve been trying to make the case to the public that you can be a decent human being while not believing in god. And then these slack-jawed, 4chan-lovin’, youtube-chatterin’ privileged gits come along and instead demonstrate that atheists can be the biggest assholes of them all.

    Three or four days ago I tweeted, ” I am coming to the conclusion that a good percentage of atheists simply cannot be good without a god looking over their shoulder” What was Vacula’s response? To demand I resign my position as head of a humanist organization.

  99. 99
    =8)-DX

    And then these slack-jawed, 4chan-lovin’, youtube-chatterin’ privileged gits.

    I’m pretty much on your side PZ, rape threats, constant trolling and other harassment are terrible and incomparable to even scathing criticism of religion or creationism. But this does smack a little of flustered old dude shouting “get off my lawn, yer goldarned varmits!”

    =8)-DX
    - youtube-chatterin’ privileged git

  100. 100
    Owlglass

    95, EllenBeth Wachs claimed: quotemined , quelle surprise! Get some glasses to help with that eye problem.

    Give me a tip, what went wrong, and where?

    It’s your whole tweet, and in case of doubt, there is the link to the original source. Is this correct? Then let’s establish what quote-mining is. Charles Darwin has this infamous sentence where he writes that an eye seems to be too complex to evolve, which is often ripped out of context. The text before and afterwards makes clear he merely used a rhetorical statement to express the opposite (that it only seems so, but isn’t that way). That’s classic quote-mining.

    If you would be so kind and point out where I am wrong, and what you actually meant (without the alleged “quotemining”), that would be terrific.

  101. 101
    Ichthyic

    . But this does smack a little of flustered old dude shouting “get off my lawn, yer goldarned varmits!”

    sometimes grumpy old guy is right.

  102. 102
    Great American Satan

    @100, Tweets are so short they usually come in the context of a twitter exchange. What was said by both sides leading up to that? It’s disingenuous to suggest quotemining isn’t possible on twitter.

    @101, Hell yes. I’d also say the grumpy old women have a perspective that can allow them to be even more right on certain issues.

  103. 103
    kevinsolway

    From what I’ve seen, people like Justin Vacula and Al Stefanelli are typical “slymepitters”.

    Show me where they have posted pictures of PZ Myers having sexual congress with a dog, or anything remotely similar.

    I think PZ is speaking bullshit.

    By contrast what I have seen is people from FTB liberally calling other people misogynist, sexists, and racists, which is bound to create long-term devoted enemies.

  104. 104
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I think PZ is speaking bullshit.

    Then present evidence to back up your idiotic claims. But the, I don’t expect you to know the difference between your OPINION and REAL EVIDENCE. Which is why your word is worthless….

  105. 105
    Owlglass

    102, great1american1satan wrote:
    @100, Tweets are so short they usually come in the context of a twitter exchange. What was said by both sides leading up to that? It’s disingenuous to suggest quotemining isn’t possible on twitter.

    That wasn’t stated at all. I just have a hard time imaging how a tweet like that can somehow become acceptable with a proper context. For the very least, in the most fair sense, it is extremely misleading and will be understood by most people in the way it was written. I might also be socialized differently. In my country, libel like that is considered a crime punishable with up to five years in jail. Justifiably, people making such claims while demanding moral high ground leave me puzzled.

  106. 106
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Jadehawk, David Marjanović and Icthyic

    Oh, so I was nearly there :) Cool, so basically people who believe that a meritocracy is the way forward and pay lip service to feminism while having convinced themselves that legal equality is the same as actual equality, and cultural sexism doesn’t exist because it’s never affected them so they haven’t noticed it.

    Aw man, I used to be one of those :(

  107. 107
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Great1American1Satan #97

    All my life I’ve thought that atheism made me ethically superior to theists, and now … I’m obviously not ditching atheism, but I’ve been awakened to an ugly reality. Many many atheists are scumbags of the first water.

    Man, fuck you guys for shitting on my ice cream.

    QFT :( Man, I am so with you there.

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