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Mar 15 2013

We get some suggestions!

Melissa McEwan has some Advice to Atheist Men. The long list sounds very good, but I do have one reservation: none of it is exclusive to atheists or men. I think it’s more Advice for Decent Human Beings.

148 comments

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  1. 1
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I appreciated,

    Listen. Listen listen listen listen listen. Listen.

    and

    CHALLENGE OTHER ATHEIST MEN ON THEIR MISOGYNY. Silence is not good enough. It isn’t neutral: It signals tacit support.

    The first suggestion is what cracked my privilege-induced ignorance about misogyny in my culture.
    The second has given me a way to do something about it.

  2. 2
    SallyStrange

    May I just reiterate the absolute futility of “playing devil’s advocate”? Otherwise known as JAQing off, or mental masturbation? I really freakin’ hate that.

  3. 3
    Chuck

    I wonder if you can play devil’s advocate for playing devil’s advocate, or whether merely the attempt would make the universe fold in on itself.

  4. 4
    Asher Kay

    #1 It’s odd — for me, those two suggestions are in tension.

    I don’t know about other males, but I worry about “doing it wrong”. It can be a delicate situation when someone who has privilege wants to “help” those who don’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself in that respect — I just don’t want to help in an unwanted way.

    Also, I think disagreements and different approaches *within* feminism can be hard to navigate. Again — not cause for self-pity, but it makes me hesitant about my beliefs.

    It’s possible that the solution is just a whole lot more listening.

  5. 5
    carlie

    I think there’s room for both the Shakesville moderation model and the Pharyngula moderation model in combating misogyny. The Shakesville model is “if you say sexist shit, your comment will not even see the light of day, you asshole”. That keeps them from having a voice, and makes the space a very safe one for anyone who doesn’t want to have to deal with sexist shit in at least one part of the world.
    .
    The Pharyngula model is “if you say sexist shit, we will eviscerate your statements and hang their carcasses on a pike to warn others who might try to do the same, and if you then continue to make such statements, then your statements may be disallowed on the grounds that they are now boring and obsessive and we won’t allow them to take up any more of our time.” That is a good model to have to illustrate all of the weaknesses of the statements of sexist shit, gives a lot of people a template of how to combat such statements in their everyday lives, and lets lurkers see where the faults are in statements they might not consider to be all that bad. It’s by no means a safe space, but it’s a space where important things can happen. The downside is possible burnout in the commentariat, but it’s gotten big enough here that there always seems to be people who are up for the fight.

  6. 6
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    #4 Asher Kay,

    I don’t know about other males, but I worry about “doing it wrong”. It can be a delicate situation when someone who has privilege wants to “help” those who don’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself in that respect — I just don’t want to help in an unwanted way.

    Also, I think disagreements and different approaches *within* feminism can be hard to navigate. Again — not cause for self-pity, but it makes me hesitant about my beliefs.

    FWIW, I think worrying about “doing it wrong”, when one is doing activism of any sorts, is healthy. It shows that you are trying to be self-reflective and that you do actually care how your actions affect other people.

    I know that I am not as perceptive as I could be*, on account of my male privilege, and realizing this, I often force myself to consciously wonder if I am “doing it wrong”. Sometimes, I think back on previous interactions with people and conclude, yes, I could have done better. For example, I regret that in some conversations I’ve had about disagreements within feminism, I did more talking and less listening than was good for me. Now, I try to be more mindful of talking over people.

    That worry you/we feel about “doing it wrong” is not something to fret over. Feature, not a bug, and whatnot.

    *Though a few years’ worth of reading Pharyngula, the comments threads here, and links has helped greatly.

    It’s possible that the solution is just a whole lot more listening.

    I can’t think of a better way to understand other peoples’ lived experiences.

    When it comes to calling out sexist remarks/behavior in other males however, I don’t think there are any ways to “do it wrong”. Be civil, be snarky, be in-your-facey, whatever, just do something. Sexist shitweeds don’t deserve to have their vile opinions listened to**.

    ** Nobody start with any Freeze Peach nonsense.

  7. 7
    Inaji

    Asher Kay:

    I don’t know about other males, but I worry about “doing it wrong”. It can be a delicate situation when someone who has privilege wants to “help” those who don’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself in that respect — I just don’t want to help in an unwanted way.

    I don’t think you’re alone in that worry at all. However, I’ve recently been loudly agitating for more men to speak up, especially in discussions where there’s a tendency to think “oh, that’s better left for the women to deal with”, such as discussions of rape or harassment, etc.

    What’s important to keep in mind, I think, is that you are a crucial component in such discussions, because how is casual, every day, systemic sexism going to ever be addressed if men don’t ever talk to other men about it? How will people have their consciousness raised if every man is afraid to stand up and say certain behaviours are wrong? I know it’s very difficult and there’s a great deal of fear involved in doing so, with good reason, but it has to start somewhere. If more men speak up, it will encourage another man, and another, and another. That’s how change happens.

  8. 8
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    TLDR my previous comment:
    That worry is healthy, it means you have empathy, don’t let it immobilize you. And +1 to Caine’s point that speaking up is what is important, don’t lose sight of that.

  9. 9
    viajera

    carlie @#5

    I think there’s room for both the Shakesville moderation model and the Pharyngula moderation model in combating misogyny.

    Absolutely, I agree. I comment at both sites (moreso at Shakesville because I’ve been hanging around there longer and am more familiar with the culture). Some days you want a fight, and some days you just want to hide from the misogyny in the world. I’m glad to have both types of blog communities to hang out in; they each have their place. There’s no one right way to Internet, after all

  10. 10
    glodson

    I don’t know about other males, but I worry about “doing it wrong”. It can be a delicate situation when someone who has privilege wants to “help” those who don’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself in that respect — I just don’t want to help in an unwanted way.

    Well, I’m newish at speaking out myself. Here’s what I’ve learned: speak out but also read the criticisms carefully. Sometimes, we all trip over the sexism we were brought up with. It happens. It happens to everyone.

    When someone points it out, don’t kneejerk and take offense. We all know a person can say something sexist, and not be a misogynist. We understand the difference. You don’t have to agree with the criticism(nor should if it isn’t logical). But think about it. Think about what is being said to you if you make a mistake.

    If you’ve done your homework, been reading up, you’ll likely be fine. Being aware that you might have blindspots to your own privilege seems to be a great starting point.

  11. 11
    glodson

    May I just reiterate the absolute futility of “playing devil’s advocate”? Otherwise known as JAQing off, or mental masturbation? I really freakin’ hate that.

    Fuck, I hate that. It gets worse when the person doing so is purposefully obtuse, like they expect us to puzzle out what their entire fucking point is. Just fucking say it plainly.

  12. 12
    roro80

    On worrying about “doing it wrong”: as others have stated, it’s a healthy worry, always good to keep in mind. The real trick here is to avoid pretending to be the all-knowing expert on the lived experiences of women in whatever voicing against sexism that you do. As a long-time athiest and engineer who has ever been a terrible know-it-all about pretty much everything, I certainly can understand the temptation, particularly among those who are really accustomed to being right.

    Some ways to do this: center experiences of women instead of experiences of yourself; point out the sexism simply by calling things out as sexist; use statistics to make your point; link to articles written by women, or comments by women, as your examples; suppress the urge to “mansplain”, particularly when it comes to women’s lived experiences. Finally, and this is important: remember that you will fuck up at some point, probably multiple times. Everyone trying to be a good ally does. Instead of being defensive about it and digging yourself further into that hole, go back to the listen listen listen step, figure out what was wrong, and apologize. Nobody expects you to magically instantaneously be a perfect ally, but you should probably be expected to learn from your mistakes.

    By the way, I’m roro, and a looooong-time lurker that peeks her head out in comments only occasionally when feminism comes up as a topic.

  13. 13
    Jackie

    Thanks for sharing that. I’ll be checking out Shakersville sooo much from now on.

  14. 14
    Inaji

    Roro:

    By the way, I’m roro, and a looooong-time lurker that peeks her head out in comments only occasionally when feminism comes up as a topic.

    Hi there. Your voice is a good one, post more.

  15. 15
    SallyStrange

    I have a suggestion for doing it better: ask Michael Nugent if that fencepost isn’t starting to feel a bit uncomfortable all jammed up in his buttcheeks like that.

  16. 16
    irisvanderpluym

    I have a ton of admiration and respect for Melissa McEwan. Although I disagree with her on some issues, I very much appreciate that her blog (and comments section) is a truly safe haven for women (and others). It is a much-needed refuge on the web, and I stand in awe at the dedication and work she and the mods put in every single day to make it that way. That said, I am with Carlie on supporting both the Shakesville and Pharyngula models:

    That [Pharyngula] is a good model to have to illustrate all of the weaknesses of the statements of sexist shit, gives a lot of people a template of how to combat such statements in their everyday lives, and lets lurkers see where the faults are in statements they might not consider to be all that bad.

    Exactly. Further, even though I cannot comment here as much as I’d like, it gives me so much hope, joy and inspiration to watch the Horde rain down righteous reason and evidence on the deserving.

    It’s by no means a safe space, but it’s a space where important things can happen.

    Well, it is certainly not a safe space for assholes and idiots. And aren’t we all assholes and idiots, sometimes? At least, I think it’s a very good thing for me to be called on it when I am: I keep learning and becoming a better human being. It’s a goddamn public service.

  17. 17
    Fionnabhair

    @Asher and men with similar worries:

    If you’re really, really nervous, you can start by doing a whoooooole lot of listening to the things women say. The next time a woman points out sexist shit, sometimes a simple, “I agree with her,” can go a long way. If you’re not sure how to advocate for women, you can help by supporting those already advocating.

    Now, obviously the best thing would be for you to advocate, yourself, since part of the problem is that this type of advocacy is often thought of as “women’s work”. Before you say anything, give it a quick once-over in your head: “is my privilege showing?” If the answer is yes, you may want to rethink the statement.

    You will probably fuck up. Everybody fucks up. When you have privilege, and you are trying to advocate on behave of marginalized persons, it’s very hard to get everything right. I feel the same sense of trepidation when I speak out about racial issues (seeing as I’m the whitest-looking white woman who ever did white), and I know that I’m going to fuck up at some point, and I probably have fucked up at some point in the past, but advocacy is important to me, so I keep with it, anyway. Here’s the thing: when you fuck up, your first reaction will probably be to go on the defensive. That is precisely the moment when you should shut up. You should not say anything else unless it is preceded by the words, “I’m sorry.” (But not, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” That is a non-pology, and also a fuck-up.) It’s very important to listen to criticism from the people you’re advocating for, as they’re the ones living it. Take your fuck-up and turn it into a learning experience. Then, don’t do it again.

    Don’t let the fear of fucking up stop you from saying anything, though. We need your voice. If you are putting forth a good-faith effort to try and advocate for marginalized persons, and you’re listening to their voices, you will probably be less likely to fuck up in the first place.

  18. 18
    Rob Grigjanis

    glodson @10:

    Being aware that you might have blindspots to your own privilege seems to be a great starting point.

    I’d only change ‘might’ to ‘almost certainly’.

  19. 19
    roro80

    Hi Caine — Thanks, maybe I will.

  20. 20
    glodson

    @Rob Grigjanis

    Yea. Maybe we should just drop the qualifier all together and just leave it as “certainly.”

  21. 21
    omnicrom

    I personally think that self-doubt is one of the keys to being a good person. If you don’t ever question if you’re doing it right then when (not if, when) you start doing it wrong you’ll be the last one to know. As a feminist who is male and an atheist and a lot of other things I really do worry that I’m wrong because I really work hard at being intellectually honest and reality based. I’m not perfect, but just by recognizing that I think I can muddle through and get it right nonetheless.

  22. 22
    yazikus

    I also enjoy both Shakesville & Pharyngula moderation models. Last night on Shakesville, after PZ linked Melissa’s post I was prepared for a comment shitstorm of readers from over here who would not be familiar with the house rules at Shakesville. What happened was that Edward Gemmer showed up, a few other trolls tried and the comment section closed. End of story. (There were IT issues as well). The thread over here is nearing 500 comments. I love seeing this conversation happening! And the Devil’s Advocate thing has to stop it is the worst.

  23. 23
    yazikus

    I think there is a fairly large intersection of readership- more so than I had imagined before the posts yesterday.

  24. 24
    cfieldb

    And in response to this post, the regular suspects are keeping it classy over at Shakesville.

    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/03/more-proving-point.html

  25. 25
  26. 26
    John Morales

    [meta]

    It is my perception that women are not under-represented in the comment section here at Pharyngula, robust and confrontational that it is. I like that.

  27. 27
    carlie

    Here at Pharyngula, we do have jellied eels. We just don’t let the assholes get any.

  28. 28
    mildlymagnificent

    That “women’s work” thing. My heart used to sink in meetings when something stupidly sexist came up – and all the men in the room would turn to me, the only woman, and give me the go-ahead to set things straight.

    Why? They all knew what was wrong. But it was my job to clean up. It’s the meeting room equivalent of expecting women to do the washing up.

  29. 29
    Inaji

    mildlymagnificent:

    Why? They all knew what was wrong.

    Because that’s how it’s been for thousands of years – women have been seen to be the arbiters of morality, making sure that everyone (men in particular) are properly moral. Now that’s been translated to “it’s up to women to state the proper ethics for ____.” It’s all part and parcel of the long history of misogyny, with very deep roots. It’s yet another reason it’s important for men to start speaking up.

    Along with that, the toxic concepts of masculinity, which includes the “manly men are stoic and silent” model is never going to change unless men themselves challenge that model.

  30. 30
    Fionnabhair

    John Morales:

    Just wondering, has anyone ever done a census of the readership/commenters? I mean, you could very well be right and women are not under-represented here, but considering how under-represented women are in the atheist community at large (why yes, I was looking at the Atheist Census data the other day!), I don’t know if this is a reasonable assumption to make. I mean, according to that data, women represent about a third of the self-identified atheist population (and in some countries including the UK, it’s a quarter, or less!) Furthermore, I recall reading about another study- and I’m sorry I don’t have a link to it handy, though I can dig it up if you want- that found that people, men in particular, might think women dominated a conversation, when actually women were only contributing about a third of it.

    I would be very, very interested in learning more about the demographics of the people who read and/or comment here.

  31. 31
    Inaji

    Just wondering, has anyone ever done a census of the readership/commenters? I mean, you could very well be right and women are not under-represented here,

    There’s a high level of women in the commentariat here. Came up a while ago with the ‘pit insisting that the majority of commenters here were male. There’s been no actual census, but going by Alexa stats (not the best, I know), it’s about 53% men, 47% women.

  32. 32
    John Morales

    Fionnabhair, no such census has been done AFAIK, though you might want to check out the “introductions” thread linked on the left-hand-bar profile.

    As to your point about perceptions being skewed, I am not unaware of the research on it; I can but restate that this is my perception only.

  33. 33
    PZ Myers

    Can’t do a census.

    How do you define who is a ‘member’? Do lurkers count? People who made one comment and left? Trolls posting here under pseudonyms?

    I suppose I could scan the comment database, extract the email addresses of everyone who had made, say, 10 or 100 comments, and email them a survey. Except a bunch of you people use fake or throwaway email addresses. And then I run into the problem that some trolls go on posting sprees here; do they still count?

    And finally there is a little ethical problem. The deal is that your email addresses are confidential, and you didn’t sign up so I could spam you. Also, many of the commenters (and especially among the women, I suspect), value their privacy and don’t want me pestering them about their sex or gender.

    So nope, no census planned.

  34. 34
    ladyatheist

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting. Ummmm, no thanks. Someone called me an asshole the first time I posted here, because I questioned why the comments were so off-topic. I don’t need 1) to be called an asshole and 2) to participate in a free-for-all where the off-topic topic becomes more important than the original post.

  35. 35
    Inaji

    ladyatheist:

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting.

    If you were all that much of a reader, you’d know Carlie is one of the calmest and nicest people here. She’ll take massive amounts of time and patience with people that others have written off.

    If you were all that much of a reader, you’d at least have a feel for the regulars of the commentariat. I remember you posted some mighty stupid shit in the cray-cray thread (about the school shooting). When you say stupid shit, you’ll get called on it here. This would be one of the things Carlie pointed out, along with the fact that there are spaces on the ‘net where that won’t happen at all. Everyone is free to find their comfort level.

  36. 36
    ladyatheist

    I mainly just read the blog posts, not the comments. My one venture into the comments thread (and now this one) aren’t making me want to be a part of this “community”

  37. 37
    ladyatheist

    p.s. the ad hominem is tantamount to saying “I am too stupid to counter your statement with a winning argument so I’ll call you an asshole” I don’t mind discussing points with people who disagree with me, but when you insult me you’ve eliminated yourself from the pool of people I waste internet time with

  38. 38
    rorschach

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting.

    Carlie? One of the most sedate and patient commenters here? You have got to be joking. Or did she maybe disagree with you somewhere and you didn’t like it?

  39. 39
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting.

    I am sorry, I really am laughing out loud. Carlie does not appear to be the nicest person here. She seems to be one one of the nicest persons period.

    I also have to be honest, I am not sure if Carlie will be amused by being seen as being a mean bully of mortified. Perhaps a bit of both.

  40. 40
    ladyatheist

    Seriously, I really do *not* know any of your personalities. I was responding to this statement: “The Pharyngula model is “if you say sexist shit, we will eviscerate your statements and hang their carcasses on a pike to warn others”

    I don’t remember who it was who called me an asshole for asking why nobody was responding to the original post, and I can’t find it, and I don’t really want to.

    I’m glad to see there are nice people here. I’ll take your word for it.

  41. 41
    ladyatheist

    … and I’ll take Carlie’s word for it re: this blog: “It’s by no means a safe space”

  42. 42
    The Mellow Monkey

    ladyatheist, if you’re not just going to lurk, would you consider changing your ‘nym? If this is truly only the second thread you’ve ever posted in, then you’re using the same name as someone else who has posted in several other threads here.

  43. 43
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m glad to see there are nice people here. I’ll take your word for it.

    Most of use respond in kind. From your posts ladyatheist, most of us would take off the sharks teeth and bear claws to respond like you post.

  44. 44
    ladyatheist

    I did a search and apparently I’ve posted in a few threads that I’d forgotten about, but I’m no regular and I’m certainly not cray-cray. I only responded to this post because it’s about why women don’t feel welcomed in atheist communities, so I volunteered why this woman doesn’t.

  45. 45
    Inaji

    MM:

    If this is truly only the second thread you’ve ever posted in, then you’re using the same name as someone else who has posted in several other threads here.

    Yes, such as this one, by ‘ladyatheist’ with the very same gravatar as the ‘ladyatheist’ in this thread.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/14/before-you-reach-for-the-its-not-guns-its-the-cray-cray-argument/comment-page-1/#comment-513744

  46. 46
    ladyatheist

    Yep, that was me. That’s when someone called me an asshole for staying on-topic

  47. 47
    Chris Clarke

    Someone called me an asshole the first time I posted here, because I questioned why the comments were so off-topic.

    No, actually, you were called an asshole because you were being an asshole.

  48. 48
    Inaji

    ladyatheist:

    That’s when someone called me an asshole for staying on-topic

    No, that’s not why. You were called an asshole because you were being a massive, willfully ignorant asshole. Everyone can go read your assholishness, you know.

  49. 49
    ChasCPeterson

    No, actually, you were called an asshole because you were being an asshole.

    They never seem to grok this straightforward conclusion..
    cf. “I was banned simply because I disagreed!”

  50. 50
    Chris Clarke

    Also, I’d stay on Carlie’s good side if I were you. We’re just finishing cleaning up after the last time she got “irritated.”

    BUT IT SURE WAS A GOOD THING SHE DID, SENDING THOSE PEOPLE TO THE CORNFIELD! WASN’T IT, EVERYONE?

  51. 51
    Crissa

    Honestly, I think she’s a great teacher and has good points, but her spaces are decidedly not safer. Knifes in the back with arbitrarily changing rules, lines drawn in the sand over language and throwing people away like garbage. Pecking orders and grudges held.

    Like Caine, above. All about pecking order and grudges, little about actually trying to share and interact.

  52. 52
    Inaji

    Chris:

    BUT IT SURE WAS A GOOD THING SHE DID, SENDING THOSE PEOPLE TO THE CORNFIELD! WASN’T IT, EVERYONE?

    Of course it was! Carlie always does good things. Always.

  53. 53
    Inaji

    Like Caine, above. All about pecking order and grudges, little about actually trying to share and interact.

    I’m not the one holding a grudge, Crissa.

  54. 54
    Deoridhe

    One of the things I love about Pharyngula is that even ableism – which ost people don’t know the term for – is regularly called out. Getting mad because people educated you on your ableism, Ladyatheist, and then portraying being ableist as “on topic” is kinda an asshole thing to do.

    I largely lurk, but when I’m feeling depressed or disheartened because the world is full of sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic pieces of shit who all cheer each other on, I come here or to Manboobz to watch the asshole arguments get eviscerated.

  55. 55
    Rey Fox

    And also, that’s not an ad hominem.

  56. 56
    Jessa

    Pointing out that someone is misrepresenting a situation is “pecking order and grudges”? How odd.

  57. 57
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Do we need another lesson in what is and what isn’t an ad hominem?

  58. 58
    ladyatheist

    Thank you all for proving my point. Ciao

  59. 59
    Chris Clarke
    Like Caine, above. All about pecking order and grudges, little about actually trying to share and interact.

    I’m not the one holding a grudge, Crissa.

    Caine, I didn’t know you worked as a server.

  60. 60
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting. Ummmm, no thanks. Someone called me an asshole the first time I posted here, because I questioned why the comments were so off-topic. I don’t need 1) to be called an asshole and 2) to participate in a free-for-all where the off-topic topic becomes more important than the original post.

    Somewhere someone long ago had a response to this. What was it…

    oh yes

    Welcome to the internet.

  61. 61
    Inaji

    Chris:

    Caine, I didn’t know you worked as a server.

    I don’t, I don’t! At least I don’t think I do…

  62. 62
    Inaji

    Jessa:

    Pointing out that someone is misrepresenting a situation is “pecking order and grudges”?

    It is if I do it.

  63. 63
    Inaji

    Me:

    I don’t, I don’t! At least I don’t think I do…

    :Thinks about the rats, dogs and cats, serving up salads, steamed veg, dog food, cat food, various drinks, bones and so on:

    It seems I am a server.

  64. 64
    Chris Clarke

    For the benefit of those who didn’t click through; ladyatheist whined about an off-topic thread on one of my posts. what she referred to as off-topic was a subthread that I started in discussion of the original post. So essentially she came in and lectured the blogger about taking part in an evolving conversation.

    That’s not the only reason she was called an asshole, but it didn’t help.

  65. 65
    Rey Fox

    ladyatheist’s point: If you don’t show proper deference to self-absorbed assholes, they’ll storm off in a huff.

  66. 66
    Inaji

    Rey:

    ladyatheist’s point: If you don’t show proper deference to self-absorbed assholes, they’ll storm off in a huff.

    A feature, not a bug, that.

  67. 67
    ChasCPeterson

    Do we need another lesson in what is and what isn’t an ad hominem?

    Well, one thing it definitely ain’t is a noun.
    It’s an adjective; and while the Corps of Pedantic Internet Logicians continues to insist tht it may only modify “argument” or “fallacy”, the vast majority of internet users have long ago evolved it into a modifier for “attack” or “insult” instead.

    I maintain that this horse is so far out of the barn that it’s halfway to Dodge by now and ain’t never coming back.
    Give it up, COPIL..

  68. 68
    Rey Fox

    Hey ladyatheist!

  69. 69
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Yes ok, ad hominem is an adjective, an ad hominem argument is a noun which is really what I was referring because that’s pretty much how it was being used, but if you feel the need to be pedantic then yes.

  70. 70
    Jessa

    Caine:

    It is if I do it.

    So INOKIYAC (It’s not OK if you are Caine)?

  71. 71
    Asher Kay

    Just wanted to say thanks for the ideas and suggestions. There were a lot of things I hadn’t thought about (I definitely saw it as a bug, not a feature, for one thing). Glad I spoke up about not speaking up.

  72. 72
    Inaji

    Jessa:

    So INOKIYAC (It’s not OK if you are Caine)?

    Yes. Crissa doesn’t like me and takes any handy opportunity to make that clear.

    Asher:

    Glad I spoke up about not speaking up.

    I’m very glad you did. It’s really appreciated, Asher.

  73. 73
    Jessa

    Give it up, COPIL

    Interesting choice of acronym.

  74. 74
    John Morales

    [meta]

    I hope that ladyatheist at least grasps that her ostensible sex is neither a disadvantage nor an advantage when commenting here.

    (A simple point)

  75. 75
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    Do we need another lesson in what is and what isn’t an ad hominem?

    Apparently so: ad hominem literally means “to the person”.

    (And argumentum ad hominem is an argument addressing the person rather than to the contention the person presents, and is therefore a fallacy of irrelevance)

  76. 76
    glodson

    @ John Morales

    That’s a great summary for those of us who understand what the fallacy is, but those who misuse the term probably will still count the insults as well.

  77. 77
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    [OT + Meta]

    ….

  78. 78
    chigau (違う)

    ....

  79. 79
    Ing

    ….

    *makes a mime wall*

  80. 80
    chigau (違う)

    pronounced “meem”

  81. 81
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ deoridhe

    FIFY: “Getting mad angry or perturbed because people educated you on your ableism…”

  82. 82
    Amphigorey

    I stopped reading Shakesville when I said, “I think Christopher Hitchens deserves credit for allowing himself to be waterboarded, and then agreeing that it was actually torture,” and Melissa told me that that kind of language wasn’t allowed, because it meant I was telling other people what to think. Even though I’d prefaced it with “I think.”

    Safe spaces are absolutely necessary and I’m glad they exist, but I’m more comfortable in the Pharyngula version of safe.

  83. 83
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    I really appreciate how Pharyngula works, as far as feeding trolls until they explode. Why? Because 1. I still feel I have a safe space, since most of the commenters are not going to be on the side of the troll and 2. because I learn *a ton* of stuff from reading the threads. It’s not wasted effort to me. If people don’t like the OT nature of the comments, or how things sometimes veer away then they don’t have to wade through the topics. When I’m not interested in a discussion, I stop reading it. What I don’t do is post a comment about how I’m sooooooo discontent that everyone else is not entertaining me.

    Also–its not really my job to tell people how to spend their internet time. Its none of my business if people choose to go round and round with trolls, or do more “productive” things (wtf does that even mean, on the internet anyway?) in a comment thread. IT IS NOT MY CALL TO MAKE. And its damn infuriating to read these comments like “I wish you guys just wouldn’t respond…” because who fucking made you the boss of my time? And why shouldn’t I? When my rights or personhood is the subject of another round of mental masturbation, I don’t want to sit back and let that slide. I am damn well going to respond if I want to. And fuck you for having the privilege to not be made absolutely furious about it, and thinking you can tell me I shouldn’t respond. I LOVE that people stand up to that crap around here, instead of letting it slide. I wish that more people would do this irl.

    Politely turning away and pretending someone hasn’t taken a shit on the carpet is great for the shitter. Not so great for the rest of the people in the room.

  84. 84
    kate_waters: Not Your Father's Oldsmobile.

    I don’t comment here often due to weird working hours coupled with insomnia and a busy home life, but when I do I know that the regulars here will be welcoming and supportive as long as I’m not being a raging asshole and am doing my best to be a decent human being. I’ve made some mistakes, said some things that were unknowingly one of the various forms of “ist”s which are intolerable here and was quickly called on them. Unlike others upthread (ladyatheist and crissa) I did what decent people do: I apologized immediately, acknowledged my error and never engaged in that behaviour again. (Here and in meatspace) As far as this place not being a “safe space”, I would. Have to say that the comments section of Pharyngula is a space where I not only feel safe, but respected as long as I comport myself in a manner deserving of respect. Maybe that’s the trouble others are having? Could they possibly think that they don’t have to learn or earn the respect of others?

  85. 85
    Lofty

    @kate_waters
    Yes

  86. 86
    Ing

    Don’t want to derail on the waterboarding but I gave my thinking for why that’s not worthy of praise on the Hitch thread

  87. 87
    Emrysmyrddin

    I’ve lurked here and over at SciBorg for years. Years ‘n’ years. Y’all are the only place online that I really respect. For the most part, I know that any argument put forth will be turned around and about, licked, investimagated, shaken, bounced off the walls, nibbled, and stretched beyond all endurance – then accepted or rejected as needed. With no bullshit, no hyperbole, and hundreds of eagle eyes overseeing to pounce on any bad logic, assumptions, cultural baggage and other snarls and tangles in the process. We’re self-policing (I say we after calling myself a lurker because it feels like a family/social group even with minimal participation) and it bloody works. No quarter for nonsense, whether it be numerology, misogyny, political systems or anything else in between.
    .
    Specifically as a woman, this is a safe space for me – because of that rough-and-tumble, no bullshit approach, applied to everything. No one here’s going to pat me on the head and tell me I couldn’t possibly sit in because it’s logic stuff, and complicated, and that’ll be three coffees, three teas, and a mineral water, darlin’.

  88. 88
    carlie

    Went to bed early last night – now that I’m catching up I am blushing from all the nice comments. :) And the ones about the cornfield made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. THE GOOD KIND. Seriously, the last few weeks have left me feeling like (and actually being) a failure in multiple ways in many areas of my life, so this was an epic pick-me-up that couldn’t have come at a better time. And maybe I’ll add “cage fighter” to my nym. ;)

    Back on topic, I did use some graphic language, but I was careful to be sure that the violence was directed at statements, not at people. And that, ladyatheist, is one of the hallmarks of comments here that I really cherish. If you are saying stupid things, then yes, you may be insulted. You may be called names, although not slurs based on unchangeable characteristics. You may even be told suggestions on what you might go do with yourself, although those are on the wane and now rarely used (besides the relatively damage-less “fuck off”). But what you won’t see is threats of violence towards you. You won’t see anyone wishing harm to be done to you. You will still be respected as an autonomous person, even if we don’t respect your ideas. You won’t see anyone insulting your gender, or your size, or the strength of your body, or your attractiveness, or how you smell, or what you wear, or what social or economic class you’re in. All of the insults will have a sharp focus on the quality of what you say and whether they stand up to reason and reality. And yeah, there are people who can’t handle that, because the quality of what they say is crap, or because they’ve never been actually challenged on what they say before. Some of them get mad and stomp off and leave and call us meanies, and some shake it off, hang around, and start to challenge themselves and become better at argument and skepticism and critical thinking because of it. And some people just aren’t comfortable around it, and it’s not their cup of tea so they quietly stop reading this particular blog, and that’s ok too, because there are lots of places to go read about stuff.

    But all of those things contribute mightily to making this a feminist space. It’s a particular type of feminist space, but it is most definitely one. And PZ, and Chris, and the commenters are all continually working to keep making it even more of one.

  89. 89
    The Mellow Monkey

    I really appreciate how Pharyngula works, as far as feeding trolls until they explode. Why? Because 1. I still feel I have a safe space, since most of the commenters are not going to be on the side of the troll and 2. because I learn *a ton* of stuff from reading the threads.

    I feel the same way. As bad as some of the shit can be that a wandering misogynist might spew here, it’s still not as bad as when they say that stuff and it goes unchallenged. I need to see it challenged by others. I need to know people have got my back and that I can have their backs. Because it’s everywhere and just hiding from it doesn’t help me. But sharpening my claws and getting to see fantastic examples of how to take it down? That helps.

    And it helps with all the other forms of bigotry that show up here, too. We’ve all internalized some aspects of the kyriarchy from society. Seeing it taken down helps for identifying it in ourselves, too.

    Not everybody’s cut out for that and not everybody feels they’re going to be helped by this kind of environment, but for me? This is what I like.

  90. 90
    carlie

    (I say we after calling myself a lurker because it feels like a family/social group even with minimal participation)

    I definitely recognize your ‘nym*, and you’ve made great comments. :)

    *and that means you’ve made an impression, because I have a memory like a steel trap – a bit rusty with a huge hole in the middle.

  91. 91
    tccc

    How do you folks suggest handling a situation where, in mixed company, someone, usually a man, makes a sexist comment, and I, trying to be a good ally, make a polite point about the comment being sexist and it is a woman who raises an objection to my pointing out the sexist comment?

    Or alternately, what if a woman makes a sexist comment? I do not mean “sexist toward men” I mean sexist in the actual sense, like feeding into a stereotype about women being “hysterical” for example.

    Tangentially: I have a bit of an issue with women who call themselves bitches, for example the atheist podcast “Godless Bitches.” For me it feels like it makes the effort to get sexist language and ideas out of the culture that much more difficult. I speak up and say things like “Hey, it really isn’t cool to call women bitches,” and the response I get is “They call themselves that so it is ok.”

    I know I am missing something here, but I haven’t been able to figure it out.

  92. 92
    Pteryxx

    tccc:

    For background (in case you don’t know), women aren’t exempt from sexism either. Women can say or do sexist things anywhere from misgendering to rape apology. My interpretation is, as long as the male ally who speaks up is addressing the sexism issue in good faith and not, say, taking the opportunity to mansplain or socially out-status the woman, then pointing out the sexism is warranted. However, continuing to engage with a woman who objects may not be. (Personally I would probably just say ‘Not all women agree with you on that’ and stop there, depending on the comment made.)

    A couple of caveats to the above: first, it IS possible for an ally to mess up due to subtle misinterpretations. For instance, the ‘bitch’ issue is one of reclamation of slurs, which gets complicated (I recommend reading up on it). Reclamation has risks, doesn’t always work as intended, and members of the oppressed groups in question aren’t going to agree with each other on how and whether reclaiming should happen. However, marginalized people DO have the right to call themselves what they wish. It’s reasonable to say something like ‘proudly wearing a name including ‘bitch’ encourages jerks to call you that, so I don’t feel comfortable with it’. HOWEVER, it’s not okay to say ‘Those women should not call themselves Bitches’ because it’s telling the marginalized people how to deal with their own marginalization. So while you’re right that proudly reclaiming ‘bitch’ can be problematic, it’d be wrong to get in their faces and tell them not to use that name.

    The immediate problem, though is that someone calling *themselves* a bitch in a certain context (reclaiming, among friends, etc) doesn’t give permission for strangers or jerks to insult them with it, or get cutesy with it by claiming a familiarity to which they have no right. ‘Godless Bitches’ is a title, it’s not a get-out-of-insults-free card just because someone trying to be hurtful claims it as an excuse.

    Another example: http://skepchick.org/2012/09/please-stop-making-calendars/

    Right, after derailing myself. Second caveat: sometimes a woman in a mixed situation, especially in physical real life, says or goes along with sexist things *so that* she doesn’t get targeted by the jerks in the group. Sometimes the sexist jerk she has to get along with might be her boss, co-worker, or significant other, or she knows a group of valued friends will turn on her if she becomes one of those ‘uppity’ women. A well-meaning ally could really mess up her place in such a group by challenging her directly to either own or disavow whatever sexist thing she said. That’s why it’s really important to keep it about how YOU, the ally, don’t appreciate sexism in general, and not get into a one-on-one argument with her.

    Hope that helps a little bit. I’m still fairly new at this, but this being Pharyngula I’m sure someone’ll correct me if I screwed up. ;>

  93. 93
    irisvanderpluym

    tccc 91: First, good on ya for “trying to be a good ally.” The world needs more of them, and your efforts are very much appreciated.

    There is no 1-size-fits-all answer to your questions, but FWIW here are my thoughts.

    Whether and how to respond to a woman’s objection to your calling out sexism (or to her own sexist comment) is very much dependent on the context. If you politely point out sexism and a woman objects, it may be wise to let it lie. You have made your point: the person who made the sexist comment knows that you object to sexism, as do others within earshot (including the woman). The goal is not to get everyone to agree with you — that is not realistic. It is to change the culture, and by clearly stating your objection you have done your part. In other situations, if a woman makes a sexist statement (or defends sexism), you might point it out with a dose of humor: “Okay, Sarah Palin! Whatever you say!” (I’ve used this one myself.) Or if you’re a d00d, “You’re so right! What was I thinking? Now, be a good girl and go make me a sammich.” I’m sure you can see how you would need to deploy such statements artfully and with humility, and with due consideration of the context. I’m also sure I don’t have to tell you that you probably should not say these things to, say, your female boss.

    One other thing: when you point out sexism, you are highly likely to make people feel uncomfortable. This is a good thing. Let that awkwardness hang in the air, and be perfectly okay with it. It will pass. Just remember that a woman’s reaction to that discomfort may take the form of knee-jerk defense, but you have no idea how she may process the conversation later on.

    Regarding the term “bitches,” consider that the term is being reclaimed by some feminists in much the same way the N-word has been reclaimed by African-Americans. (see also: Bitch Magazine.) Not all feminists are in agreement with this goal, mainly for the reasons you state. But as with the N-word, the identity of the speaker and the context are key, and it is generally easy to tell whether the word is being used as a slur or as a term of endearment. For example, my friend Darlene, who is black, can call me “my N-word,” but as I am white I cannot refer to her in the same way. But I can call her “my bee-yotch,” and these things are understood between us as terms of affection, not racism, sexism or any form of derision.

  94. 94
    Pteryxx

    By the way, the comments on “More proving the point” are well worth reading. For instance, Melissa McEwan about the ‘we’re not all like that’ majority:

    complaining that they are being painted as misogynists due to the actions of a few trolls

    But it’s not like there is an overwhelming roar of support from the silent majority who supposedly don’t agree with those trolls.

    When I highlight mistreatment, the members of the silent majority who do speak up don’t generally do it to offer me support. They do it to defend themselves.

    “Hey, the rest of us aren’t like those knuckleheads!” is not a comfort. It’s a way of obliging me to soothe their discomfort with not being my ally.

    This is a phenomenon I’ve previously described, not coincidentally in a piece on Christian privilege. The urge to distance oneself from the “small but vocal group” is not solidarity. It’s deflection of accountability.

    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/03/more-proving-point.html#comment-830561429

    Which dovetails with another common observation: that very often, the individuals who start out displaying cluelessness will show really sexist attitudes, even outright misogyny, when challenged. I think “small but vocal group” isn’t very accurate. The OVERT group is small. The non-vocal group, who silently (or not so silently) agree with and defend the overt group? Not so small at all. If the general rule of 10+ lurkers to every commenter also holds true for the anti-feminists and overt harassers, then atheism has a very big sexism problem, under the surface.

  95. 95
    Pteryxx

    see also this response to McEwan’s original essay:

    Race, Gender, and Connecting with Other Atheists

  96. 96
    tccc

    Thank you very much for the replies, they are helpful.

  97. 97
    Amphigorey

    “Don’t want to derail on the waterboarding but I gave my thinking for why that’s not worthy of praise on the Hitch thread”

    See, that’s totally fine and I’m perfectly prepared to accept whatever your argument is (although not here because massive derail). The problem I had with what Melissa told me is that she said “I think he deserves credit” was unacceptable language because it meant that I was somehow forcing other people to think it too.
    I found that nonsensical. That’s stretching the concept of “safe space” too far for me.

    I think she reacted like that because she doesn’t like Hitchens (I’m also not a fan), and I don’t think she would have policed my language if I’d said that someone she liked deserved credit.

  98. 98
    Emrysmyrddin

    Carlie @#90 – thanks for the happy moment :)

  99. 99
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @emrysmyrddin
    count me a less witty version of Carlie’s statement – I have seen you here and valued your comments for a while now, though I admit I can’t remember exactly when I first saw your name, I kinda feel like it’s been since last summer.

  100. 100
    pixelfish

    Like Carlie, I appreciate both forms of moderation. Each has benefits, each has drawbacks. Here at Pharyngula, I get to see the evolution (no pun intended but hey, happy coincidence) of arguments, because I’m allowed to see the shitty argument, I’m allowed to see all the anvils drop, I’m able to pick up ammo for Meatspace Interactions, and if I’m in the (rarer these days) mood to really go off on somebody because I haven’t been able to at work or other public situations, there’s always some privilege-grasping MRA to sharpen my sniny teefs on. Meanwhile, over at Shakesville, if I’m not up for another microaggression from dudes, I won’t have to deal with it. (Melissa does, to her own cost.)

    That said, both side have drawbacks too. I’ve not commented here for months because sometimes it can be exhausting to get into the middle of the free-for-all, and the troll vortex can suck hours away. And over at Shakesville, I have occasionally thought that the meat and substance of comments can be accidentally derailed over interpretative issues like the one Amphigorey describes. I do think it’s fair to be more thoughtful about my language and how it impacts people, and certainly I’ve fucked up using ableist terms when I didn’t mean to. (Or “bastard” which I think has obsolesced but doesn’t work that way for everyone.) But again, I appreciate the spectrum of choices provided by both AND realise that either might not be somebody’s cuppa.

    IrisVanderpluym: I like what you say about advice not being one size fits all. I’ve always been against the Life By Recipe/Formula, and I think that when examining our systemic prejudices, one has to remember that we attack the systems, but individuals experience the systems differently. That said, I did want to quibble with one aspect of your using light-hearted humor to diffuse a situation: The Sammich thing. I find one of the difficulties in using irony to point out an issue is that for people who don’t get it the first time (on one side, because they think you identify with them; on the other because they are dealing with microaggression fatigue) is that it’s hard to separate the well-intended from the disingenuous. So even when my husband does the “Make me a sammich” thing, it still strikes too close because I hear it so often non-ironically. If a woman does it, it seems more reclamatory than if a guy does it. That is my personal reaction, but I think it’s an illustration of the whole thing you were talking about with the No One Size Solution.

    ..

    Back to general discussion: I’ve really enjoyed seeing this cross-pollination of two of my favourite interwebs sites on an issue that strikes close to home.

  101. 101
    pixelfish

    Forgot to add: Sometimes I’m for conversations that sidetrack. I think there are profitable conversations to be had by following up on sidetracks. Which is another benefit to Pharyngula. At Shakesville, their benefit is that everything stays on track, and that’s fine, that’s how Melissa wants the space to be set up. But I think that making the choice to not hew strictly to Original Topic (with the caveat that they must still be productive and not rehashes of inane arguments debunked a thousand times before) has also provided some wonderfully organic conversations. Again, I think it’s fine, even great, that Melissa has a vision for her site/community. But I think it’s fine, even great, that PZ lets us have more leeway, topic-wise.

  102. 102
    carlie

    tccc, I’d offer advice but I’m too late – everything I’d say has already been said. I think as long as you don’t veer into white knight territory (“I’m just doing this for YOU, little lady, even if you don’t appreciate it”) you’ll be good. Thanks for trying to be such a good ally.

    The problem I had with what Melissa told me is that she said “I think he deserves credit” was unacceptable language because it meant that I was somehow forcing other people to think it too.

    Saying “I think he deserves credit” meaning deserves it from whom? That’s what makes it sound prescriptive, because there’s an implication that it’s referring to other people who should be giving him credit (who might not agree with you). My guess is that “I give him credit for” would have passed through.

  103. 103
    Inaji

    Carlie:

    My guess is that “I give him credit for” would have passed through.

    That was my thought too. I think at Shakesville, you need to be very aware of how you say things. If you’re speaking strictly for yourself, you’d say “I feel he deserves credit” or “I give him credit”. Most people aren’t terribly conscientious about such things, I know I’m not.

  104. 104
    yazikus

    Commenting over there has really helped me be mindful of my language in real life, which I very much appreciate. I think it is a good thing to be thoughtful of how our words impact others. That being said, I also agree with what Pixelfish said about evolving conversations.

  105. 105
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’ve got three(could be three and a half total) things to say about Shakesville:

    1) I’ve got problems with some of McEwan’s positions.

    2) That blog and its comments section are almost totally no place for me.

    2.5) …and I’m totally fine with that, and I get the motivation behind it. Not every space is for everyone, and the goal should be to provide the best space possible for the target audience.

    3) Sometimes really useful things come out of there, and I can appreciate that too.

    This “advice list” seems like one of those useful things.

  106. 106
    suzywinter

    The problem I had with what Melissa told me is that she said “I think he deserves credit” was unacceptable language because it meant that I was somehow forcing other people to think it too.

    Would you mind linking the conversation?

  107. 107
    mudpuddles

    I think Carlie got it in one with her first post here (#5).

    But I feel ladyatheist is getting a bit too much mud. She never said Carlie was a nasty or bad person, my understanding is that she doesn’t like this space because of sentiments such as those expressed by Carlie, which ladyatheist perceives as endorsing cage-fighting in comment threads. I think she misunderstand’s Carlie’s sentiment but does not attack Carlie, and I think a few other people misunderstood her reaction because she phrased it poorly.

    Carlie doesn’t think comment threads should be like cage-fighting. She thinks that in this space, where it is clearly stated time and again that ass-hattery will be called ass-hattery and that ass-hats will be spanked, such behaviour is a-ok, and she’s right – and it can be like a cage-fight. That’s the culture here, and some of us are regulars here because we like it that way. I’ve been called an ass-hat and worse here a couple of times and learned valuable lessons. I have called others ass-hats and worse here and on a couple of occasions a good debate ensued in which both sides learned something and earned goodwill. I will call MRAs and Glenn Beck-ites ass-hats and worse here as often as I like and don’t really care what they might have to say about it, but that’s another thing.

    ladyatheist doesn’t seem to like that – fair enough, but (and I’m sorry for the slight) she didn’t express it very well, and if she feels that way she’s in the wrong pub on St. Patrick’s Day. On the cray-cray thread, she made some solid points about serious mental illness, something horrendous that she has had personal experience of, but she did not do (from my reading) what she was accused of by some, which was to claim that mass shooters are by default mentally ill. I think a few of her points there were poorly considered and poorly phrased and so invited push-back, but none of what she said really contradicts Chris Clarke’s comment (#5) on that thread. In short, she could have learned something, but got ass-whipped. Misunderstanding. Both sides can park it, learn, and move on. I don’t think calling her an asshole was entirely justified, but neither is her reaction to it, or her shoot-down here.

    ladyatheist – as someone who has been torn a new one here before, I suggest you should stay around, and continue to comment. Maybe consider your comments as they appear in black and white for a little longer before you post here (always a good idea), and if it reads (which it did) like you are throwing a rock at someone undeservedly (someone like Carlie), then reconsider and rephrase. Otherwise, expect to be snarled at. And expect to be called an asshole. The vast majority of commenters here, by and large, reward willingness to learn and to engage with good humour and humility, and I reckon Carlie epitomises that.

    And as an aside, Ed Brayton’s recent post is worth reading http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2013/03/08/how-arguing-can-undermine-our-rationality.

  108. 108
    mudpuddles

    (After posting without re-reading, thereby doing exactly what I just suggested ladyatheist should avoid, I apologise to ladyatheist and Carlie if I misrepresent your positions! Correct me if I’m wrong. Or call me an asshole.)

  109. 109
    Amphigorey

    suzywinter:

    Conversation here:

    http://www.shakesville.com/2011/12/rip-christopher-hitchens.html

    Some of my posts are gone because I was irritated and deleted them, but you can see that I explicitly said “I think he deserves credit,” not “everyone should give him credit.” Putting it as “I give him credit” is fine if you want to write like that, but lecturing me for a casual turn of phrase when I prefaced it with “I think” rather put me off. It seemed like she was just going after me because she dislikes Hitchens. Which is fine! I don’t like him either, and wasn’t arguing that anyone should.

    I haven’t gone back to Shakesville since. I don’t think there’s any way Melissa would have called it “passive-aggressive bullshit” if I’d said that someone she liked deserved credit. That was going overboard for an incredibly minor offense, especially because it was after I said yes, I agree, I’m not saying anyone else should, that’s why I put “I think” in front of it.

    I don’t see stuff like that happening here, which is why I’m here and not at Shakesville.

  110. 110
    carlie

    Amphigorey – well, it’s whatever you’re comfortable with. I’ve been at Shakesville for the same amount of time (if not a bit longer than) I’ve been here, and I’ve been moderated at times. Heck, I’ve had my comments entirely deleted by mods, even. But that’s because they’re moderation-heavy, and you do have to sit and really think about what you’re saying before you say it, and take the risk that you will still be told what you’ve said isn’t appropriate. There’s nothing objectively wrong with that, it’s just a different way of dealing with a comment section.

  111. 111
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    And yet, carlie, according to the Slymies, this is a place of heavy censorship and deleted comments.

    (Sorry. Extremely OT.)

  112. 112
    ladyatheist

    mudpuddles, I appreciate your comments. It does seem that this group has its own culture with its own rules. Most internet spaces don’t appreciate off-topic subthreads, so I had no idea that pointing that out would be called “being an asshole.”

    It’s not really worth my time to try to get to know your rules or work my way into this clique. There are places on the internet that are more welcoming to newbies, where they operate by rules that are similar to other places, or at least have their TOS spelled out somewhere. In the old iidb/new frdb off-topic threads are split off, and calling people an asshole for merely pointing out that a thread is off-topic is not appreciated. If you look over my posts in that thread, you’ll see that they were informative and in no way asshatery. I replied to the post because mental illness is something I have experience with, and I have read quite a bit on mass murderers and spree killing.

    Now that I know what I’d be getting into. I will continue to lurk, reading PZ’s posts but not the comments, and I won’t post comments of my own.

  113. 113
    Emrysmyrddin

    That really is your loss – the comment section here is a major feature. You’re sort of sitting in for the trailers, then leaving before the movie begins. But it’s your choice *shrug*

  114. 114
    la tricoteuse

    Ladyatheist,

    If you joined a book group, or something, would you, at your first meeting, begin by lecturing the other members on how they should be conducting their discussions? And then, when they reacted negatively, would you reply that all the other book groups you’d been to did things your way, and gosh they were do cliquey to do things differently and react so badly to your uninvited criticism? Does that sound reasonable to you, or do you think you’d be more likely to sit and listen for a while to get a feel for the group dynamic and how things are done, since you were new to the group and all?

    If the first scenario sounds rude to you in the context of a book group, I wonder why you thought it wouldn’t be similarly rude here.

  115. 115
    carlie

    If you look over my posts in that thread, you’ll see that they were informative and in no way asshatery.

    Except how you kept insisting that autistic people are criminals.

  116. 116
    ladyatheist

    It never occurred to me that off-topic posts were not considered rude in this apparent culture. It also never occurred to me that a blog would have its own culture. Nor did it occur to me that posting on-topic would be ignored, or that one comment would be met with a rude retort rather than pointing to the TOS or standards for the site.

    Like I said, now that I understand that the comments section here is occupied by a clique with its own rules that are never posted anywhere, and which don’t conform to the typical expectations of other blogs, I don’t plan to post here again except possibly in this thread. If I want to post to a forum, I’ll post to a forum. I won’t post to a blog that behaves like a forum. There are plenty of fora for atheists that I rather enjoy.

    I also didn’t say that aspies are criminals. In fact if you re-read my posts you’ll see that I specifically said that autism is NOT linked to criminality. So call me an asshat if you want, and I’ll hold up a mirror for you.

  117. 117
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Really? It never occurred to you that a blog would have its own culture?

    By your own admission, you’re a regular over at Shakesville. Are you saying that Shakesville doesn’t have a culture?

    I am baffled.

  118. 118
    SallyStrange

    I’m wondering if ladyatheist is the same @LadyAtheist I follow on Twitter – if so, I’d really welcome her to stick around more, I think she’d find it quite simpatico. I haven’t read your comments on the other thread and can’t comment on those. If that’s not you then please disregard this message.

  119. 119
    ladyatheist

    Nope, not a regular at Shakesville and never heard of it until this stuff came up. Where did you say I admitted that? I never did.

    And no, I’m not on Twitter. Sorry!

  120. 120
    ladyatheist

    p.s. and no, I am not a denizen of the comments section of blogs to the point that I would twig to a culture. Most of the blogs I follow have few posters compared to this one, but they don’t have a specific culture though some of the people may get to know each other a little. When a blog I stumble upon has 100s of posts I generally don’t post or even read the comments. I don’t want to have to deal with a jillion responses any more than PZ does to his main post. I have made the mistake of commenting to a few that have long shelf-lives and I still get notifications that people reply to my posts. On my blog, comments are subject to moderation after two weeks, and I have closed replies to one post completely because rabid libertarians are sharing the link on Facebook and can’t resist commenting on a post that’s over a year old. I call that “thread necromancy.”

    So, back on topic… Pharyngula’s culture could stand a bit of self-reflection on the way it responds to newbies and reconsider whether it’s a welcoming atmosphere when “asshole” and “asshatery” are bandied about rather than responding to the substance of posts. It’s clear from the posts in this thread that:

    1. This “community” is a closed community. Newcomers are not welcomed. You know “Welcome, newbie, pull up a chair. We appreciate a new point of view here”
    2. This community has strange rules, like allowing topics to derail completely and insulting newcomers
    3. This community is proud of the way it runs off the people they don’t like and there seems to be an itchy trigger finger
    4. This community is quick to dislike people
    5. People don’t read posts very carefully, then post knee-jerk mis-reactions, and then are not called on that if they’re regulars, but minor infractions of unwritten rules are swiftly “handled” if a newcomer breaks them. For example, I was told that I lived in some kind of box and didn’t understand the mentally ill, when I had posted that mental illness runs in my family and that I have read up on it a lot.
    6. There are most likely a few queen bees here who can say whatever they want without being questioned. If an outsider questions them, they’re insulted because explaining why it was wrong to question them would require self-reflection and an admission of unfairness. For example, nobody took the person who accused me of not understanding the mentally ill to task for being 100% dead wrong, with the evidence right there in the thread. Was it a queen bee who said that? Is everybody afraid to look at a situation rationally when one of their own is misbehaving? (I have no idea – like I said I never read the comments except on rare occasions so I have no idea who’s who here)

    PZ wants atheism as a whole to be inclusive and welcoming. I don’t see that in the comments section here.

  121. 121
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    ladyatheist,

    You know what the probable reason you are not getting any answers is?
    One of the regulars has gone full asshole mode and has been triggering others, so now people are ripping him a new one. Yeah, queen bees indeed.

    Also, for someone who usually doesn’t read comments here, you sure don’t shy away from making sweeping accusations about people here. Even stating them as facts. But thanks for the lecture. I’m sure communities you’ve known just loved when someone popped in to teach them some manners.

  122. 122
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    PZ wants atheism as a whole to be inclusive and welcoming. I don’t see that in the comments section here.

    I don’t see us as chasing off newbies. But we do question everybody. If you are going to post here you will need to develop a thicker skin, one that can handle the challenges here. I lurked for several months reading the archives on the old SB version before posting. Gave me a good idea of the culture, who was who, and how to join in without upsetting everybody.

    Your continued whining about your treatment rather than you moving forward isn’t working in your behalf. Think about changing that.

  123. 123
    carlie

    Nope, not a regular at Shakesville and never heard of it until this stuff came up.

    So you’re saying that your first post at Shakesville was the one where you complain about how mean we are here? Boy, you’re really running quite a streak on how to enter into a new place and make a good first impression.

  124. 124
    Ichthyic

    1. This “community” is a closed community. Newcomers are not welcomed. You know “Welcome, newbie, pull up a chair. We appreciate a new point of view here”
    2. This community has strange rules, like allowing topics to derail completely and insulting newcomers
    3. This community is proud of the way it runs off the people they don’t like and there seems to be an itchy trigger finger
    4. This community is quick to dislike people
    5. People don’t read posts very carefully, then post knee-jerk mis-reactions, and then are not called on that if they’re regulars, but minor infractions of unwritten rules are swiftly “handled” if a newcomer breaks them. For example, I was told that I lived in some kind of box and didn’t understand the mentally ill, when I had posted that mental illness runs in my family and that I have read up on it a lot.
    6. There are most likely a few queen bees here who can say whatever they want without being questioned. If an outsider questions them, they’re insulted because explaining why it was wrong to question them would require self-reflection and an admission of unfairness. For example, nobody took the person who accused me of not understanding the mentally ill to task for being 100% dead wrong, with the evidence right there in the thread. Was it a queen bee who said that? Is everybody afraid to look at a situation rationally when one of their own is misbehaving? (I have no idea – like I said I never read the comments except on rare occasions so I have no idea who’s who here)

    got a publisher for that book yet?

  125. 125
    Inaji

    then are not called on that if they’re regulars

    This is complete bullshit. Regulars are called out all the time (there’s a prime example of that in one of the recent posts, too). Let’s go back to some of your earlier bullshit, though – upthread somewhere, you claimed you didn’t read the comment threads, just the posts. Which is it, dear? If that was the truth, how in the fuck would you know the slightest thing about how the commentariat behaves? If you’re claiming this current bit of bullshit is from observation, then you were lying about not reading threads.

    You have a major credibility problem here.

  126. 126
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Caine, it seems that this thread was enough for her. ’cause, you know, if ladyatheist didn’t like the treatment here, it must mean we string all the newcomers by the toes, shave their heads and steal their shoes.

  127. 127
    carlie

    1.Sure. That’s why we never, ever have people join in the conversation who haven’t been here before. If you go back and read a thread from a few years ago, it will be all the same commenters. No new ones. No new people posting ever… oh wait, that happens all the time.

    2. Newcomers are only insulted if they act like asshats. Thread derailmen isn’t strange, it happens all over the place. Given that you’ve admitted that you spend little time on blogs in comments, why do you think you have any idea what “normal” is?

    3. Proud of how we run asshats off, yes.

    4. Only if they’re asshats.

    5. Yeah, ask Matt Penfold how he was treated with kid gloves because he’s been around for so long.

    For example, I was told that I lived in some kind of box and didn’t understand the mentally ill, when I had posted that mental illness runs in my family and that I have read up on it a lot.

    You realize that some of the people telling you that admit to having mental illness themselves, yes? But oh, you’ve been around it, and you’ve “read up on it a lot”. All hail your knowledge!

    6. “Most likely”? Do you know, or don’t you?

    Was it a queen bee who said that? [...] (I have no idea – like I said I never read the comments except on rare occasions so I have no idea who’s who here.

    Oh, so you don’t know. But you’re willing to hang an entire analysis on your assumption that such people do exist, and then your assumption that the person who responded to you was one of those people, and that the lack of support you got was because said person was a member of a cadre you entirely made up. And you wonder why you’ve been treated like an asshat. Gee, I have no idea.

  128. 128
    Inaji

    Beatrice:

    Caine, it seems that this thread was enough for her. ’cause, you know, if ladyatheist didn’t like the treatment here, it must mean we string all the newcomers by the toes, shave their heads and steal their shoes.

    Oh yes, I forgot. :ahem: Well, ladyatheist was in the cray-cray thread, where she was most offended by people calling her on her bullshit, rather than taking her for the self-styled expert in mental illness she attempted to present herself as. Given the crap she wrote, she doesn’t have the first fucking clue about mental illness, but hey, she read up a lot! :eyeroll:

    She was also offended by the conversational style here, and had the nerve to take Chris to task for writing about something she felt was off topic in his own post/thread. Quite the pill, ladyatheist.

  129. 129
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Caine,

    She sounds like a delightful contributor. I can’t imagine why anyone would have anything bad to say about her.

    Ugh. And here I thought comments in this thread were bad.

  130. 130
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    carlie,

    I went over there to look.
    I don’t know while she felt it necessary to specify that the person who first called her an asshole here was a woman.

  131. 131
    carlie

    Beatrice,
    Probably because it was about whether this was a feminist space, so if even women were insulting her, it must be anti-feminist. or something.

  132. 132
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Ah. *shock horror* is certainly the most appropriate feminist reaction to women being disrespectful

  133. 133
    SallyStrange

    The @LadyAtheist who’s on Twitter is far cooler than this ladyatheist. If you’re on Twitter, she’s well worth following.

  134. 134
    ladyatheist

    Point taken about being a newbie and deducing there may be queen bees. I was guessing. I did browse through a few threads to see if I could make sense of the culture here, and it seems insular to me. If you call out regulars all the time, why didn’t anybody call out Carlie for this false accusation: “Except how you kept insisting that autistic people are criminals.” (I quoted the news reports that Lanza had autism, I said nothing about autistic people being criminals, let alone doing so repeatedly) How about the person who posted a patronizing lecture about ad hominems, incorrectly implying that insults are not ad homs? Of course, derailing into that topic rather addressing the fact that I was insulted rather than engaged in debate is a great way to … wait, I’m not sure what that was supposed to accomplish.

    I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped. Who gets to decide who is an asshat? Once the first insult is hurled, do the others pile on? What if the person won’t go away? Do you just jump down their throat every time they post no matter what they say once you’ve decided you don’t like them? Once the process of running off an “asshat” starts, does it only escalate and never de-escalate? Or if a person attempts to defend themselves is that just taken as further proof that the person deserves to go?

  135. 135
    Lofty

    ladyatheist.: the rules of this forum:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/06/the-new-rules/
    hopes this muddies the waters a bit… ;-)

  136. 136
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped.

    This is why you need to learn the culture. This is a shark tank, and you need to develop sharkskin to handle things. Don’t keep trying to transfer what happens elsewhere here. Either deal with this as it is, or move on. Quit complaining/’splaining. We don’t like whiners.

  137. 137
    vaiyt

    I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped.

    Of course. And far too often, people who lie, say ignorant bullshit or are just vile pieces of work get away scot-free because they are superficially polite, while the ones outraged at their behavior are punished.

    Not here.

  138. 138
    Rutee Katreya

    . I was guessing. I did browse through a few threads to see if I could make sense of the culture here, and it seems insular to me.
    So you assumed a conclusion, and chose to select evidence that confirms it. Not everyone’s cut out to be a scientist and all, but that’s just grade school there.

    It’s ‘insular’ in that it doesn’t generally tolerate flagrant assholery of common varieties.

    If you call out regulars all the time, why didn’t anybody call out Carlie for this false accusation:
    Because you were saying stupid shit that marked you as an insensate and ablist prick in that thread, and I didn’t care much about the particulars after 6 months.

    How about the person who posted a patronizing lecture about ad hominems, incorrectly implying that insults are not ad homs?
    because you’re stupid and wrong. Insult isn’t ad hominem. I’ll demonstrate the difference. An ad hominem would be ‘Why would anyone do that? You’re stupid and wrong, your argument is by default meaningless.” Instead, I am contrasting an ad hominem (an attack on character in place of an argument) with an attack on your character side by side with an argument.

    You probably should have read the original explanation of this more carefully than you read about mental illness, because I’d put donuts against dollars (…a donut’s worth more than a dollar nowadays, shutup) that the original explained this in detail. The internet has chosen to try to make “ZOMG INSULT, EREGO AD HOMINEM AND YOU ARE WRONG” as much a tenet of discourse as ‘zomg you showed emotion, I win and am rational’ is.

    of course, derailing into that topic rather addressing the fact that I was insulted rather than engaged in debate is a great way to …
    You know, conversations aren’t meetings with minutes. Topics drift – it’s one thing to say ‘HEY YOU ARE TRYING TO MOVE US AWAY FROM IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE FIGHTING MISOGYNY’, and another to unintentionally demonstrate the truth of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of an egotist – especially since YOU’RE the one trying to make the conversation about you being insulted.
    I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped.
    Today, you learned that not everyone who despises misogyny stays in a moderated forum then.

    Or if a person attempts to defend themselves is that just taken as further proof that the person deserves to go?
    If they defend themselves like assholes…

  139. 139
    Rutee Katreya

    …rassin frackin….

    Of course. And far too often, people who lie, say ignorant bullshit or are just vile pieces of work get away scot-free because they are superficially polite, while the ones outraged at their behavior are punished.

    don’t fuckin’ remind me. My girlfriend’s getting shit for getting angry that someone suggested the holocaust had some positive effects on Germany, on another moderated forum that worships niceness over not being an asshole.

  140. 140
    Rutee Katreya

    Corrected 138

    I was guessing. I did browse through a few threads to see if I could make sense of the culture here, and it seems insular to me.

    So you assumed a conclusion, and chose to select evidence that confirms it. Not everyone’s cut out to be a scientist and all, but that’s just grade school there.

    It’s ‘insular’ in that it doesn’t generally tolerate flagrant assholery of common varieties.

    If you call out regulars all the time, why didn’t anybody call out Carlie for this false accusation:

    Because you were saying stupid shit that marked you as an insensate and ablist prick in that thread, and I didn’t care much about the particulars after 6 months.

    How about the person who posted a patronizing lecture about ad hominems, incorrectly implying that insults are not ad homs?

    because you’re stupid and wrong. Insult isn’t ad hominem. I’ll demonstrate the difference. An ad hominem would be ‘Why would anyone do that? You’re stupid and wrong, your argument is by default meaningless.” Instead, I am contrasting an ad hominem (an attack on character in place of an argument) with an attack on your character side by side with an argument.

    You probably should have read the original explanation of this more carefully than you read about mental illness, because I’d put donuts against dollars (…a donut’s worth more than a dollar nowadays, shutup) that the original explained this in detail. The internet has chosen to try to make “ZOMG INSULT, EREGO AD HOMINEM AND YOU ARE WRONG”* as much a tenet of discourse as ‘zomg you showed emotion, I win and am rational’ is.

    of course, derailing into that topic rather addressing the fact that I was insulted rather than engaged in debate is a great way to …

    You know, conversations aren’t meetings with minutes. Topics drift – it’s one thing to say ‘HEY YOU ARE TRYING TO MOVE US AWAY FROM IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE FIGHTING MISOGYNY’, and another to unintentionally demonstrate the truth of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of an egotist – especially since YOU’RE the one trying to make the conversation about you being insulted.

    I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped.

    Today, you learned that not everyone who despises misogyny stays in a moderated forum then.

    Or if a person attempts to defend themselves is that just taken as further proof that the person deserves to go?

    If they defend themselves like assholes…

  141. 141
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ladyatheist:

    [1] I’m used to moderated forums, where the person who hurls the insult is the one who gets slapped. [2] Who gets to decide who is an asshat? [3] Once the first insult is hurled, do the others pile on? [4] What if the person won’t go away? [5] Do you just jump down their throat every time they post no matter what they say once you’ve decided you don’t like them? [6] Once the process of running off an “asshat” starts, does it only escalate and never de-escalate? [7] Or if a person attempts to defend themselves is that just taken as further proof that the person deserves to go?

    1. Perhaps so, but this is PZ’s blog; his personal soapbox which Chris Clarke shares, and it is at their pleasure we comment on their opinion pieces.

    That means commenting here is a privilege, not a right.

    2. Everyone gets to decide for themselves, of course.

    3. That’s up to each individual, of course.

    4. Heh. This is Pharyngula; if they won’t go away, then here they remain, unless they annoy PZ or Chris enough (they’re the bloggers, as noted above) so that they revoke that commenter’s commenting privilege.

    5. That’s up to each individual, of course.

    6. Depends on the circumstances and the people involved.

    7. Everyone gets to decide for themselves, of course.

  142. 142
    carlie

    Ladyatheist, you kept saying things that could be interpreted that way, and when it was repeatedly pointed out to you, you kept repeatedly still doing it.

    Rutee! ***confetti showers*** (Oh I’ve missed you!!)

  143. 143
    carlie

    And that’s another good example of your faulty thought process in this, ladyatheist:

    1. I say something you don’t agree with.

    2. You notice that, in a 12 hour period, you’re the only one who disagrees with me.

    3. Your conclusion: I have some magical status force field that prevents anyone from making comments contrary to mine.

    Things you didn’t consider as possible alternate explanations:

    A. Nobody really saw what I wrote in that 12 hour period, and anyone who did comment was skimming and missed it.

    B. Anyone who did see it didn’t really care, because that’s not the part of the conversation they were following.

    C. Anyone who did read it didn’t care enough to go back and read an old several hundred comment long thread to see exactly what happened.

    D. Anyone who did read it agreed with my recollection of the event.

    E. Anyone who did read it didn’t agree with me, but didn’t want to take the time to parse out a complex comment of their own pointing out exactly which nuances of all of the previous interactions were miscited, or didn’t have the time to do that since it was only 12 hours of time inclusive of overnight sleeping hours for a large part of the world.

    Nope, you went straight for “they like her better”. That’s middle-school level social dynamics. Yes, there are people here who do tend to give the benefit of the doubt to other commenters they feel have a long track record of reasonable statements. There are others here who will cut you right down and make you cut that shit out immediately even if they’ve spent the last several years bonding with you at conferences over crappy shared hotel rooms. And that’s how the culture here works – you will get taken to task by people you care about, and if you want to stick around, you’ll take what they say to heart and correct whatever you did, or if it’s an honestly bad interaction all around you’ll figure out how to apologize to each other and move on. So no, as a general rule, punches aren’t pulled for anybody. Even the blog owner has been subject to some pretty harsh criticism several times.

  144. 144
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Ladyatheist

    I am a lurker because of people like Carlie who believe that comments threads should be the verbal equivalent cage-fighting. Ummmm, no thanks. Someone called me an asshole the first time I posted here, because I questioned why the comments were so off-topic. I don’t need 1) to be called an asshole and 2) to participate in a free-for-all where the off-topic topic becomes more important than the original post

    That’s the first comment I remember ever seeing from you, and you’ve bowled straight in, picked on one commenter (who I personally think is one of the less confrontational commenters) and whined about incivility… I would not mind at all if it was the last.

  145. 145
    ladyatheist

    @thumper, read on. I was replying to one particular post of hers, and I explained that.

  146. 146
    ladyatheist

    re: post 135 Lofty, thank you for the link. I found these parts interesting:

    “Everyone gets three chances. If a new person shows up, give them three comments to make a case before you unlimber the artillery. I don’t care how stupid their arguments are, try the gentle art of persuasion first before you switch to the flamethrower of rhetorical annihilation” and “Treat each comment as an argument unto itself. ”

    There are monitors but I had no idea until you sent me that link.

    Unfortunately there is also this: ” have no problem with insults ” which hardly makes for a welcoming environment for newcomers. PZ may want you to give a newcomer three strikes but how many newcomers will forgive an insult?

    re: post 136: ” This is a shark tank, and you need to develop sharkskin to handle things.”

    which brings me back to my original point, that if PZ wants the atheist community to be more inclusive and welcoming he could start by changing a few things in this little corner of the community.

  147. 147
    ladyatheist

    re: every other post

    I’m not reading any other posts in this thread. Goodbye. You didn’t run me off. I decided that I don’t like this place. I said my piece and I’m finished.

  148. 148
    charlessoto

    I finally got to this and think the problem WRT the word “reservations” could have been avoided with the use of a colon rather than a period after it :)

    Good advise, though.

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