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Apr 28 2013

Pre-emptive announcement

I’m going to be at Women in Secularism in a few weeks, which I expect to be great. However, certain nuisances are talking about approaching the people they’ve been harassing online for years, and trying to harass them in real life, getting them to be grist for their podcast mill. Ophelia has made a clear declaration:

Ok this is specifically for Vacula: do not approach me at WiS2. Stay away from me.

That goes for me, too. If you’ve been nattering away on twitter & podcasts & blogs about how evil I am, how useless feminism is, and how much you hate freethoughtblogs in general, we have no grounds for any conversation, so stay the hell away from me. I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me.

I won’t be exchanging a single word with Vacula, or any of his fellow travelers.

I think there’ll be more than enough intelligent, interesting people to have conversations with at this meeting, the dross can just stay away.

108 comments

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  1. 1
    Artor

    If your vocal detractors were decent people, this notice might serve, but I’m worried that you’ve just issued a challenge to the trolls. I hope there’s no confrontation, but I also hope you’ll be prepared for the almost certain eventuality. Anyway, I hope you have a good time at WiS2!

  2. 2
    Martin Wagner

    Hang on, you mean Vacula has announced that not only is he planning on attending Women in Secularism, but that he’s doing it expressly to troll and harass attendees?

  3. 3
    PZ Myers

    There will be no confrontation. They will stay away from me, and if they don’t, I’ll just turn to the conference organizers and report them, as Ophelia promises to do.

    I also intend to give them no grounds for complaint that I’m confronting them. I have zero interest in those assholes.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes – he made it explicit in a tweet @ me (even though I have him blocked, and vice versa). I messaged him on Facebook to tell him to stay away from me and that I’ll file an official complaint if he doesn’t. That’s grounds for getting removed, and he knows it.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Quite so about the zero interest. There are going to be a squillion people there I want to talk to for hours on end; fat chance I want to spend so much as a second telling Vacula to leave me alone!

    It’s not just the rifts, it’s also that he is not interesting.

  6. 6
    Eristae

    I’m sure that they will manage to make your refusal to talk to them into a giant kerfuffle about how you are bullying them. *rolls eyes at them*

  7. 7
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Funny how these anti-feminist folks can’t make their case with evidential arguments, and have to resort to methods of intimidation/bullying with arrogance and ignorance. They can speak at the park down the street. Nobody has to listen to them though…As the Mythies say, “there’s their problem”. They can’t stand being irrelevant and dismissed.

  8. 8
    Martin Wagner

    Well, I guess Vacula and his ilk have little other reason to go to that conference, as they’ve kind of made it clear they don’t like women much and don’t want them in secularism.

  9. 9
    SallyStrange

    I think the phrase is, “I don’t engage with dissenters.”

    (Vacula’s advice for not getting internet harassed.)

  10. 10
    raven

    Is there going to be some kind of security plan?

    Boston Marathon.

    We live in a time when large groups of people get targeted for various reasons. Sometimes just for being large groups of people.

    And atheist haters are dime a hundred. Women haters are ubiquitous, it being a central tenet of various oogedy boogedy religions. But unfortunately not limited to them.

    It’s better to have a security plan and not need it, then not have one…and need it.

  11. 11
    Eristae

    @SallyStrange

    I think the phrase is, “I don’t engage with dissenters.”

    (Vacula’s advice for not getting internet harassed.)

    Oooh, he said that, did he? Mwahaha!

  12. 12
    raven

    Stalking, harassment, and trespassing can be criminal offenses. And you don’t have to put up with that.

    If it gets to that point, just call the police. Sitting in a jail cell can be an educational experience for some people.

  13. 13
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    More censorship! Somehow. I’m sure of it! Yeah.

  14. 14
    Sili

    I won’t be exchanging a single word with Vacula, or any of his fellow travelers.

    WHY DO YOU HATE FREEZE PEACH?!

  15. 15
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    More censorship! Somehow. I’m sure of it! Yeah.

    Because Freeze Peach means that you HAVE to give them your attention and listen them. They are entitled to your time!!!

  16. 16
    Argle Bargle

    But FREEZE PEACH! Vacula has the absolute right to harass whomever he wants. Any attempts to shut off his harassment, especially preemptively, is denying this right. Even complaining about his harassment is denial of Vacula’s FREEZE PEACH!

    </slymepit mode>

  17. 17
    Argle Bargle

    Snap Sili and Giliell.

  18. 18
    atheist

    I hope those assholes do stay away from you and Ms. Benson. Have a great time!

  19. 19
    Konradius

    Oh, I thought this was the Dublin conference I will be attending, but I was wrong, it’s the Washington one.
    Just for people who do not want to engage with this person, here’s a link to his photograph (you could visit his site, but you might not want to)
    http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/files/2012/08/199538_4815541709815_288886665_n.jpg

  20. 20
    Karen Locke

    Wish I could go, but for the month of May I’m fully booked helping Best Beloved get our retirement home site ready for the contractor; We’re doing the basic grading and foundation digging. Well, he’s doing the hard work; I’m just pitching in with spousal support.

    Besides, it’s on the opposite coast from me, and I HATE airplanes.

    But Chris, we WILL meet someday.

  21. 21
    PZ Myers

    Jebus. Now Vacula is whining on his blog that Ophelia and I are trying to “intimidate” and threaten him. What’s the threat in “I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me”?

    It’s pretty straightforward, I would think. Vacula has been posturing about chatting with various people — the same people he’s been sniping at — and he is now informed that we don’t want to talk with him at all. His post at least demonstrates that he has received the message, so he knows better than to even try to start a conversation.

  22. 22
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    PZ hasn’t been talking to me for some time. In fact, he’s doing it right now! Oh Noes! I must take to twitter to complain of this intimidation.

    *Thought Bubble*

    I just realized that all over the world there are people not listening to me! Will no one think of my freezed peaches? This aggression will not stand!

  23. 23
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    PZ
    See comments 14, 15 & 16
    Do you think the three of us can collect Randi’s Million Dollars and share?

  24. 24
    Stacy

    @raven

    Is there going to be some kind of security plan?

    Don’t know the details, but, yes, there is.

    Now Vacula is whining on his blog that Ophelia and I are trying to “intimidate” and threaten him. What’s the threat in “I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me”?

    The threat is to his sense of self-esteem. He’s made a minor name for himself by opposing you and Ophelia and everybody on this side of the Deep Rift. His decision to attend this conference–where he is decidedly not wanted–was a publicity stunt.

    That’s all he’s got. As Ophelia says, he’s just not interesting. If you ignore the self-styled Brave Hero, he shrivels into insignificance. That’s the threat.

  25. 25
    Martin Wagner

    What’s the threat in “I won’t bother you, you won’t bother me”?

    He might be referring to the “or else I’ll report you and you might be thrown out” part. Typically, Vacula’s latching onto this as a “threat,” neglecting the fact that you’ve both made it clear you’ll only resort to this if he insists on not respecting your request to leave you alone.

  26. 26
    Stacy

    Typically, Vacula’s latching onto this as a “threat,”

    Yeah, some imaginations are working overtime.

    Oh, they’d just love it if that happened. More publicity for them.

  27. 27
    Louis

    Not wanting to talk to someone is intimidating and threatening? Hell! I’m tempted to go along to WiS2 now just so I can intimidate and threaten hundreds of people by the dint of them not knowing who I am and me not knowing who they are.

    I’m not talking to Mr Vacula right now. Booga booga booga.

    Scary, huh?

    Louis

  28. 28
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    I’m so excited to be going, albeit not thrilled about seeing Vacula and his ilk.

    And the stank of desperation on his part is…. stanky.

  29. 29
    Stacy

    Heads up: I’m hearing he’s bad at respecting personal boundaries in meat space. He’s reportedly on the spectrum, but there’s no reason for him to disrespect a clear, verbal request to be left alone.

    I hope he behaves himself. I don’t want to see him get ejected from the conference–I think he would try to milk that as him being discriminated against, a la Ben Stein’s “Expelled.”

  30. 30
    brive1987

    Completely agree about tellin JV to leave you alone. I can see why you wouldn’t want to spend time with him and he should respect your request to not talk to you. I an also understand your personal preference that he doesn’t attend the conference.

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation. Unless of course he has a history of real world conference intimidation that has set a precedent? Anti tone-trolling in the blog world has established a level of online conversation rarely replicated in real world discussions. Time to take the oxygen out of this fire.

  31. 31
    brive1987

    Completely agree about telling JV to leave you alone. I can see why you wouldn’t want to spend time with him and he should respect your request to not talk to you. I an also understand your personal preference that he doesn’t attend the conference.

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation. Unless of course he has a history of real world conference intimidation that has set a precedent? Anti tone-trolling in the blog world has established a level of online conversation rarely replicated in real world discussions. Time to take the oxygen out of this fire.

  32. 32
    brive1987

    Apologies for double post. You would think that when your 3G connection dies on the train before the operation completes ……

  33. 33
    kevinkirkpatrick

    This exhange is bringing up all sorts of long-buried memories. I remember how I used to be picked on in elementary school by this one awkward anti-social kid. It’d start on the bus ride: I’d walk onto the bus and point out to everyone how silly he looked in his huge goofy glasses; and as I tried to sit next to him to explain why I was being funny (not mean), he was like “hey, leave me alone” and “don’t sit next to me, or I’ll tell the bus driver”. Even then, even though I sat way back in the seat immediately behind him, there’d be the next 30 minutes of him literally doing NOTHING but complaining about ME (when I was simply explaining to kids around us how much his BO was bothering me). And things just got worse through the school day – it was like he just couldn’t stop talking about me and harassing me. He had this cruel professional-victim routine, through which I was actually threatened by teachers with detention (!!!) for even striking up simple speculative conversations about why his family was so poor. Detention, for just talking! The worst was when I ran for Student President, and he ran a smear campaign to tarnish my reputation, telling all my prospective voters about some “swirly” incident (when I wasn’t even the one who pushed his head into the toilet! Gah!)

    I could go on and on about all the abuse that kid (damned if I can’t remember ol’ Stinky-Doofy’s actual name) used to dish out my way. But I guess it’s just a fact of life – there are some bad seeds that we’re all just going to have to deal with.

  34. 34
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation.

    Actually, no. JV can speak all he wants at the park down the street. However, the point he continually misses is that NOBODY HAS TO LISTEN TO ANYTHING HE SAYS. Freedom of speech is also freedom to ignore said speech on the part of non-governmental peoples. The government must listen. Nobody else does.

  35. 35
    Stacy

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation. Unless of course he has a history of real world conference intimidation that has set a precedent?

    He has a reputation for being unable or unwilling to respect boundaries in meat space, yes.

  36. 36
    Eristae

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation. Unless of course he has a history of real world conference intimidation that has set a precedent? Anti tone-trolling in the blog world has established a level of online conversation rarely replicated in real world discussions. Time to take the oxygen out of this fire

    If I remember correctly, he raised money to attend and is attending this conference out of a stated desire to pester people whom he has been pestering online.

    I think that action speaks for itself.

  37. 37
    vaiyt

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation. Unless of course he has a history of real world conference intimidation that has set a precedent? Anti tone-trolling in the blog world has established a level of online conversation rarely replicated in real world discussions. Time to take the oxygen out of this fire

    And how do you expect that shutting up and letting him harass people will accomplish this?

  38. 38
    Eristae

    PS: Please let me know if I’m remembering incorrectly. I seem to remembering him tweeting about how he should go to WIS to show those pro-harassment-policyers what-for (because they had banned him from their blogs but couldn’t ban him from WIS) by now allowing them to censor him and his views, but I don’t know how to search twitter that far back, if it’s even possible. So it’s possible I’m messing him up with someone else.

  39. 39
    A. Noyd

    brive1987 (#30)

    However the reference to the conference rules and implicit and explict warnings of expulsion are an un-necessary escalation.

    Vacula, whose only reason for going to WiS is to have in-person access to the targets of his harassment, tweeted speculation today that Ophelia Benson might chat with him at WiS. PZ’s post is echoing Ophelia’s post where she states Vacula needs to stay the fuck away from her. Still think that’s either unnecessary or an escalation?

  40. 40
    hyperdeath

    Does anyone else suspect he’s planning for a big martyrdom act?

  41. 41
    Aratina Cage

    I used to be picked on in elementary school by this one awkward anti-social kid. It’d start on the bus ride: I’d walk onto the bus and point out to everyone how silly he looked in his huge goofy glasses

    Obvious troll is obvious. You don’t walk onto a bus and laugh at a guy for wearing goofy glasses. That’s bullying.

  42. 42
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Aratina, I think you’ll find that entire comment is satire.

  43. 43
    mythbri

    @Aratina Cage

    I read kevinkirkpatrick’s comment as satirizing the #FTBullies’ position – he was writing from the perspective who was clearly the bully and instigator and yet lacked the self-awareness to recognize his actions for what they were.

    Perhaps kevinkirkpatrick could confirm this assessment.

  44. 44
    Aratina Cage

    Wowbagger, thanks for pointing out my mistake. Seems I need to readjust my gigantic goofy glasses when reading kevinkirkpatrick’s comments. Sorry, Kevin.

  45. 45
    brive1987

    #34 Stacy: If so (and I have no reason to doubt you) then his registration should be refunded. You have the right I assume “to refuse service” to people where you have the strong valid expectation they are coming to harass.

    If his rego is accepted and he is let through the door then he has the rights of any other delegate, disagreement with his views notwithstanding. So he can ask questions, but not badger, politely interact with delegates etc etc

    But I think the real problem here is not that he would “act up” on site – but that his very presence (given the strong feelings tied up with the conference subject and previous online exchanges) causes affront and is itself a form of passive harassment. If this is the case then we should just say so and disinvite. I think this is a far more reasonable (and honest) approach then the “don’t talk to me or I’ll report you with the expectation you will be banned” line.

  46. 46
    mythbri

    @brive 1987

    I think that’s up to the conference organizers, not PZ or Ophelia or anyone else that Vacula has expressed an interest in meeting while at the conference.

    By pre-emptively stating that they wish to have no contact with Vacula, in writing, in public forums, then there is no wiggle room for Vacula to claim that he wasn’t aware of their preferences in this case.

    If Vacula does end up making a nuisance of himself, then the conference organizers will take the actions prescribed by their policy. If Vacula does not end up making a nuisance of himself and actually approaches the conference with an open mind and willingness to learn, then he might actually learn something, and benefit from the conference in the way it’s intended to benefit people.

  47. 47
    Eristae

    @brive1987

    While I am not terribly familiar with WIS2, I am fairly certain that neither Benson no Myers are running it (because the the Center for Inquiry is running it). So it isn’t a choice between telling him to stay away or not accepting his registration because the one doing the first lacks the ability to do the second.

    And that’s assuming that one takes it as moral to ban someone for something you think they might do rather than telling them that you will not tolerate them doing it, which I think is a fairly significant stretch. My impression of the situation (which certainly could be wrong) is that neither Benson nor Myers want him banned; they just want him to leave them alone. I also think that Vacula would be even less okay with being banned than being warned (you’d have to ask him, though). So I don’t think anyone would be made happy by banning him.

  48. 48
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    mythbri wrote:

    If Vacula does not end up making a nuisance of himself and actually approaches the conference with an open mind and willingness to learn, then he might actually learn something, and benefit from the conference in the way it’s intended to benefit people.

    If Vacula had an open mind, he wouldn’t be the Vacula we know and disdain.

  49. 49
    PZ Myers

    Don’t forget: one of the ways Vacula raised money was by selling his back: he’s going to wear some t-shirts of the donor’s choice. I expect he’ll be wandering around with an announcement of his assholishness the whole weekend.

  50. 50
    mythbri

    @PZ

    I expect he’ll be wandering around with an announcement of his assholishness the whole weekend.

    I would say get pictures, but that would require both proximity and Vacula possessing the self-awareness to realize how foolish he is.

  51. 51
    Ophelia Benson

    mythbri, yes, that’s why I said it, in writing. (Vacula didn’t reply to my message, unfortunately, but instead posted it on his blog without asking me.) I think the whole point of a harassment policy is, at a minimum, that if X wants Y to leave her alone, Y has to leave her alone.

    That seems right, doesn’t it? Am I wrong? I say “there’s this guy, who’s been harassing me online for nearly a year, and is going to this conference. Please tell him to leave me alone.” That’s putting the policy to its intended use, right?

  52. 52
    smhll

    Don’t forget: one of the ways Vacula raised money was by selling his back: he’s going to wear some t-shirts of the donor’s choice

    I remember this, but I’m just a little bit sad. I was hoping his shirt would be marked #BraveHero on the front, and on the back, he’d sport a flowing cape (in defiance of the edicts of Edna).

    I’m smiling just picturing it.

  53. 53
    brive1987

    @mythbri 45 Totally agree with PZ and Ophelia expressing no desire to communicate.

    JV should have shown maturity by stating his intent to sit quietly at the back and absorbing info while being open to any approaches others may wish to extend.

    Having failed to do this, the Conf. organizers (imo) should have shown pragmatic maturity by understanding the extraordinary circumstances and disinviting JV.

    The fact that even a civil discourse between two delegates could be (legitimately) interpreted as harassment is exactly why it’s probably unfair to admit JV in the first place (unfair to both parties).

    @Eristae 46. I don’t think it is immoral to refuse service to a possible customer based on ongoing controversy – where said customer will bring disquiet to the broader clientele. This is all part of a bigger context.

  54. 54
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Eristae wrote:

    I also think that Vacula would be even less okay with being banned than being warned (you’d have to ask him, though). So I don’t think anyone would be made happy by banning him.

    I don’t know about that; I suspect that, as others have noted, his getting banned would give him and his fellow regressive scum-hole crapweasels something they can attempt to turn into publicity for their ’cause’ and use as a slur against the progressive side – as they’ve already been doing for months on end.

    Really, I think it’s just a question of what he’ll try to do to make that happen. And it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it may also be something he’s been ‘financially incentivized’ to do, given the lack of ethical character he’s already demonstrated.

  55. 55
    PZ Myers

    You know, if someone announced that they were going to be at a conference I was at, and that they did not want to talk to me at all, I’d just say “OK.” (Well, I wouldn’t say it, I’d just not say anything to them, as requested.) I wouldn’t get all huffy and announce that I was being intimidated and threatened. I wouldn’t write a long blog post saying, “How dare they not want to engage in conversation with me…I’m a PUBLIC FIGURE! I’m a LEADER! I’m IMPORTANT!”

    And I think Vacula’s pissiness about it all is very revealing. He has an inflated opinion of himself and his role, and deeply resents it when someone doesn’t share his esteem.

    So no, I certainly do not hope that he gets kicked out of the conference…and the only way he would is if he attempts something outrageous. My hope is that he sits quietly, listens to the talks, gets no opportunity to pretend he is a BraveHero, and goes home disappointed that we didn’t pay any attention to him.

  56. 56
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    My hope is that he sits quietly, listens to the talks, gets no opportunity to pretend he is a BraveHero, and goes home disappointed that we didn’t pay any attention to him.

    Gasp, being ignored and considered irrelevant? *Checks MRA ego level* Don’t see that happening PZ. There will most likely be an incident. His ego cannot/will not be ignored….

  57. 57
    brive1987

    #54 PZ Agreed. Just a pity he hasn’t the decency or astuteness to publicly play his cards close. I will take your advice now though and stop talking about the situation.

  58. 58
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    PZ wrote:

    My hope is that he sits quietly, listens to the talks, gets no opportunity to pretend he is a BraveHero, and goes home disappointed that we didn’t pay any attention to him.

    I can’t see that happening. He’s demonstrated already that he’s dumb enough to believe that all publicity is good publicity; combine that with his perception that there’s a big enough segment of the atheist community who supports that same regressive, anti-feminist agenda that he espouses that it won’t do him more harm than good to get slung out of there for pulling some stunt and the likelihood’s pretty high.

    That there are a bunch of even worse creepers out there egging him on certainly isn’t helping; he’s nowhere near secure enough to realise they’re just using him.

  59. 59
    PZ Myers

    Grrr. Vacula is being a real ass. Now he’s saying

    they shouldn’t be able to dictate what other conference attendees do and wield conference polcies fitting their personal agendas with aims to expel people they don’t like.

    I do not give a damn what Vacula does at the conference, as long as he doesn’t drag me into it. The idea that we’re aiming to get him expelled is just his ludicrous paranoia. We are setting boundaries so we can enjoy the conference, without having to fuss over some twit trying to force us into a conversation with him.

    And of course his fellow twit, Karla Porter, is joining in.

    I have to wonder exactly what they think would happen should you approach either one of them.

    Wonder no more. I would shake my head and walk away. It really is that simple.

    And then there’s another idiot, Dave Allen:

    Can declare here, on record, that (even though they don’t have a clue who I am) PZ and Ophelia will be harassing me should they ever follow, touch or talk to me at one of these conferences? Should they do so at any conference that promises to expel those who harass I hope the organisers will take any such infraction of my clearly stated wishes seriously.

    I am baffled that they find this so hard to understand. If I started talking to someone I didn’t know, and they said, “I’m Dave Allen, I announced that I wouldn’t want you to talk to me, stop now,” I would…stop talking to them. If I knew who he was ahead of time, I wouldn’t even start talking to him.

    Are these kooks totally lacking in any kind of social skills? I’m beginning to think so.

    Allen also tries to compare it to me getting kicked out of the Expelled movie premiere. You know what I did when the security guard came up and told me the producer was kicking me out? I said yes, sir, and I left without making any fuss at all. It was their movie, I did not argue that they had no right to eject me.

  60. 60
    brive1987

    That would be the comedian Dave Allen? :-)

    Love it at 50sec….

  61. 61
    marinerachel

    So, he raised money to attend a conference he isn’t contributing to with the expressed purpose of pestering people who don’t wish to interact with him.

    And he’s the victim of abuse? How does he rationalise that?

  62. 62
    rorschach

    There really isn’t any pretending anymore that there is one monolithic movement, is there?

    But it’s also not the case that there are now 2 movements for atheists or secularists, there is still only one, plus a large previously mostly unrecognized fringe of Neanderthals.
    As we get more creeps like Hoggle or Vacula announcing they will attend events and enter the personal space of those who have announced that such intrusion is unwelcome, conferences will have to find a way to deal with this situation, probably by adjusting their harassment policies rather than by filtering attendees.

    As to what PZ and Ophelia have announced here, it’s a simple enough request to respect their personal space, but I don’t expect Neanderthals to honor or even be able to compute it.

  63. 63
    kevinkirkpatrick

    Satire confirmed. Yes, I know what actual bullying is, I just thought I’d have some fun trying to argue, from the perspective of those kids who picked on me (though it was my ginormous buck teeth that were primarily targeted) that they were the ones being bullied. Telling that the results was sufficiently indistinguishable from slymers actual read of the “bullying” they receive as to fool the casual reader – I honestly had taken it so over-the-top that I had zero expectation that I’d need “satire tags” around it.

  64. 64
    Argle Bargle

    There’s a person at work who doesn’t like me (he has reason for this dislike). He’s told me he wants nothing to do with me and wants us to talk only as business requires. So for the past four years he and I have had two conversations, both solely having to do with work. I understand why he doesn’t want me to even say “good morning” and I’m honoring his reasonable request. I don’t see it as causing any hardship or inconvenience to me.

  65. 65
    Stacy

    Allen also tries to compare it to me getting kicked out of the Expelled movie premiere.

    Quelle surprise! Brave Hero’s friends are fantasizing about how to spin things, and nothing’s happened yet.

    Vacula: Just don’t behave like an ass, and you’ll be fine. kthxbai.

  66. 66
    marinerachel

    Are these the same people who argue against “No means no”? The ones who claim it’s a personal violation to tell them to stay away from you?

  67. 67
    carlie

    Not wanting to talk to someone is intimidating and threatening? Hell! I’m tempted to go along to WiS2 now just so I can intimidate and threaten hundreds of people by the dint of them not knowing who I am and me not knowing who they are.

    I can do you one better – not only will I not go and not talk to him, I won’t even go! That must be the ultimate insult, right?

    I have to wonder exactly what they think would happen should you approach either one of them.

    Well, what would happen is that they would have been approached by someone they find loathsome. That’s a rotten thing all by itself. They don’t have to think that Vacula is going to do something awful, because just him standing in front of them trying to get their attention is distasteful.

    I wouldn’t put it past him to not wear whatever t-shirt he’s supposed to, or just wear it long enough to snap a quick picture and say “see? I’m wearing it!” and then switch it for something else.

  68. 68
    carlie

    He’s just dying to cause a scene. For Vacula, the worst possible outcome of him going to this conference is to be completely ignored. He wants there to be some huge confrontation where he can take video and pictures of the MEAN BULLIES throwing him out and harassing him, so that he can use it forever to show how feminism is wrong or whatever. A reaction like PZ’s, to shake his head and walk away, would destroy Vacula’s visions of martyrdom. A calm reaction like Ophelia states, to simply go alert the organizers to what he’s doing, entirely undercuts his mission. It would be interesting for someone to watch him the whole time and see if he gets more and more desperate to be noticed as the conference goes on.

  69. 69
    Eristae

    I don’t know about that; I suspect that, as others have noted, his getting banned would give him and his fellow regressive scum-hole crapweasels something they can attempt to turn into publicity for their ’cause’ and use as a slur against the progressive side – as they’ve already been doing for months on end.

    Really, I think it’s just a question of what he’ll try to do to make that happen. And it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it may also be something he’s been ‘financially incentivized’ to do, given the lack of ethical character he’s already demonstrated.

    Actually, you’re probably right, especially considering Vacula’s response. I stand corrected.

  70. 70
    Jadehawk

    If his rego is accepted and he is let through the door then he has the rights of any other delegate, disagreement with his views notwithstanding.

    which does not include talking to people who have explicitly stated they do not wish to be approached by that person.

    also, he’s not a delegate, he’s an attendee. you can argue with that hierarchal setup, but there it is.

    I think this is a far more reasonable (and honest) approach then the “don’t talk to me or I’ll report you with the expectation you will be banned” line.

    except that neither PZ nor Ophelia have the power to “ban” him from anything.

    The fact that even a civil discourse between two delegates

    still not a delegate.

    - – - – - -

    they shouldn’t be able to dictate what other conference attendees do

    pretty telling that he conflates “what attendees do” and “what attendees do to other attendees”. other than that… that’s exactly what anti-harassment policies are for: telling conference attendees not to harass, or there will be consequences. d’uh.

  71. 71
    Jadehawk

    @mouthyb

    I’m so excited to be going

    best news this week.

  72. 72
    brive1987

    #69 Jadehawk

    ‘pologies if ‘delegate’ sounded like I was elevating him somehow. I work at a Conf. based company and it’s the term we use for paid-up attendees. Nothing more than that.

    My post was of course arguing that given the controversy, his lack of a display of good faith and the subject/attendee mix it was not unreasonable for the Conf. organizers to speak with him to get assurances and if necessary disinvite him. (I’m guessing it’s not unique to my locale to be able to “exercise the right to refuse service” at a private event or function.)

    A pragmatic customer orientated approach, but I guess too closely aligned to a “ban” to find support here.

    However my concern is that telling someone not to approach you and then having them politely and civilly engage you in a forum environment while *very* *very* bad manners but may not strictly fit the definition of “abusive conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with another person’s ability to enjoy and participate in the conference”. Note the explicit use of the term “Abusive” in the policy.

    It’s the exceptional back story here that makes such a scenario inherently and especially unacceptable. And IMO I think that’s enough to justify not having that somebody there at all.

  73. 73
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    What kind of pathetic, egotistical pillock goes to a conference they explicitly disagree with the message of simply to be so obnoxious that they force a hostile situation? What a pratt. I think this may be one special case where DFTT might actually work… Done properly, WiS2 may end with Vacula curled up in a corner crying, having finally been forced to acknowledge his own irrelevance.

    We can but hope.

  74. 74
    Louis

    Carlie, #66,

    Not going AND not talking to people (or wanting to be talked to by them) is indeed very threatening and intimidating, and I’ll grant you, more insulting. But going is still better, that’s threatening and intimidating in person, which as ANI FUL NOZ is the sine qua non of harassment. We know this because the various antagonists like Vacula have told us that unless harassment take a form they approve of it’s not real harassment. Having photoshopped obscene pics of you, having twittered threats, rape threats etc on line just aren’t real enough.

    Tragically you and I both will have to merely content ourselves with harassing, threatening and intimidating people from afar by not speaking to them. Into each life a little rain must fall.

    _______

    Thumper1990, #72,

    Egotistical pillock is right. I just don’t get this…well intellectually/book larnin’ I do, but not personally, if you see the distinction. I go to a party, I meet someone I have fallen out with, that person tells me as I approach them to fuck most directly off, I do so. Where’s the problem? Right or wrong that person has made their desires clear. If I am desperate to bridge the gap or apologise for a gaff on my part, I’ll write them a letter, tops. After that the ball’s in their court.

    Ophelia and PZ are pre-telling Vacula et al to fuck off. Not to waste his or their time, and to enjoy the conference without the undeniable glory that is conversation with either of them (I overdid that didn’t I?). Come to the party, come to the conference, just don’t bother me. How hard is that? If he went to the conference and approached them and they told him to fuck off then, the result would be identical. They’re saving him the shoe leather burnt on approaching! Right or wrong, happy or sad, good, bad or indifferent, PZ and Ophelia don’t want to speak to Vacula et al in person. Why not respect their wishes and leave them alone?

    Either way, I am hoping the conference goes off without a hitch and everyone, Vacula included, has a lovely and informative time.

    Louis

  75. 75
    David Marjanović

    Are these kooks totally lacking in any kind of social skills? I’m beginning to think so.

    They’re worse than me in this department, and, trust me, that’s saying something. :-S

  76. 76
    Scr... Archivist

    Once again, Vacula has made this all about himself. But don’t forget to pay attention to the audience, not just the opponent.

    This clown wants to make the anti-harassment policy look bad. But whether it does or does not get used, will having it encourage more (decent) participants at atheist and skeptic conferences? Will it get more women involved in our events and organizations? I ask that people think strategically.

    Meanwhile, the best thing to do with your adversary is to give him exactly what he doesn’t want. Can we use Vacula’s presence to get more women to conferences?

    When the Westboro Baptist Lawsuit Circus shows up at funerals and such, their opponents sometimes hold fundraisers. The more hours the Phelps clan hang around, the more money they unwittingly end up raising for LGBTQA groups. Could someone do something like this with Vacula and the other pitters who show up? Raise money for Surly Women Grants, or Skepchick grants, or scholarships for junior-high and high-school girls, or something like that. Bonus donations if he wears an insulting shirt!

  77. 77
    crocoduck

    Women in Secularism sounds like a great discussion, if was closer to me my wife and I would go. I was wondering, is there is anything like a ‘Men in Secularism’ discussion?

  78. 78
    chigau (違う)

    Aren’t they all?

  79. 79
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @crocoduck

    Yep; all of the ones not hosted by Women in Secularism.

  80. 80
    rorschach

    Personally, I’m looking forward to one day going to a Women in Secularism conference with a Rugby player by my side. Hey, it could happen!

    Meanwhile on twitter, Blackford announces that while he sometimes disagrees with Vacula, “the witchhunt has to stop”. I wonder what Giordana Bruno would make of that turn of phrase.

  81. 81
    Pieter B, FCD

    carlie @67

    For Vacula, the worst possible outcome of him going to this conference is to be completely ignored.

    I intend to do my part to make it so, tempted as I am if approached to tell him that off is the direction in which I would like him to fuck.

  82. 82
    Argle Bargle

    rorschach @79

    Meanwhile on twitter, Blackford announces that while he sometimes disagrees with Vacula, “the witchhunt has to stop”.

    And we’re supposed to be the “professional victims.”

  83. 83
    PZ Myers

    What witchhunt? Read my post up top. All I threaten him with is a request to leave me alone.

    Now NOT having a conversation with someone is a witchhunt?

  84. 84
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Judging from Vacula’s reactions to ‘don’t talk to me’ (oddly reminiscent of Rebecca Watson’s “Guys, don’t do that,” ain’t it?), I expect that the best outcome for Vacula would be for him to be thrown out. That would give him the ultimate martyr’s cape. Sadly, when someone decides they want to get a reaction, any reaction will feed into the person’s desires. Even turning away from him and ignoring him will (I’d bet dollars to donuts on the one) be presented to Vacula’s True Believers as abuse of Vacula and His True Believers (sounds like a lounge band name).

    META

    Once again, I am reminded just how glad I am that I declined Vacula’s personal invitation, some years ago, to join his free thought group. That was pre-Pharyngula for me, back when I had an active blog, and was still quite sexist. Could have been bad. Very bad.

    /META

  85. 85
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Scr…Archivist #75

    This clown wants to make the anti-harassment policy look bad. But whether it does or does not get used, will having it encourage more (decent) participants at atheist and skeptic conferences? Will it get more women involved in our events and organizations? I ask that people think strategically.

    Meanwhile, the best thing to do with your adversary is to give him exactly what he doesn’t want. Can we use Vacula’s presence to get more women to conferences?

    When the Westboro Baptist Lawsuit Circus shows up at funerals and such, their opponents sometimes hold fundraisers. The more hours the Phelps clan hang around, the more money they unwittingly end up raising for LGBTQA groups. Could someone do something like this with Vacula and the other pitters who show up? Raise money for Surly Women Grants, or Skepchick grants, or scholarships for junior-high and high-school girls, or something like that. Bonus donations if he wears an insulting shirt!

    My 2 cents: to the first question: the discussions and subsequent implementation of anti-harrassment policies gave me the courage to sign up to go to WIS2. I’ve never attended a conference like this before, but after reading about last year’s WIS conference and the support for anti-harrasssment policies from PZ and the Pharyngula commentariat, I have been so excited to attend this one!

    Your idea about a fund raiser for every assholey thing these people try to pull is appealing as an online thing (ie the way people donate to Ophelia when this crap starts up again is a great response, IMO), but I am less enthusiastic about it in real life. A lot of people could really be triggered by these hateful people and I’d rather see nothing at all happen, than any sort of confrontation even if it might also have a benefit. I just don’t know if the thought of inadvertently raising money for the causes they hate would be enough of a disincentive for the jerks.

    However, since it looks like there is no way to totally eliminate the risk of something unpleasant like they threaten happening at an open conference, I’d love for there to be a benefit to good causes.

    Hmmm, muddled thinking there.

  86. 86
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Ogvorbic #83

    Judging from Vacula’s reactions to ‘don’t talk to me’ (oddly reminiscent of Rebecca Watson’s “Guys, don’t do that,” ain’t it?), I expect that the best outcome for Vacula would be for him to be thrown out. That would give him the ultimate martyr’s cape. Sadly, when someone decides they want to get a reaction, any reaction will feed into the person’s desires. Even turning away from him and ignoring him will (I’d bet dollars to donuts on the one) be presented to Vacula’s True Believers as abuse of Vacula and His True Believers (sounds like a lounge band name).

    Everything here, exactly my fear. Some days, the sheer implacability of misogynist rage is exhausting.

  87. 87
    carlie

    Now NOT having a conversation with someone is a witchhunt?

    It’s homeopathic.

  88. 88
    Louis

    Who had Carlie down for winning today’s internet?

    Louis

  89. 89
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Who is the hell Vacula?

  90. 90
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Carlie:

    That means that I am on a witch-hunt against literally billions of people. Damn, I’m evil.

    AE:

    Justin Vacula is an MRAtheist from Northeastern Pennsylvania (my neck of the woods) who is bound and determined to become the Eternal Leader of Atheism by attacking the FreeThoughtBlogs bullies and the evil feminists who actually expect us men to modify our behaviour to make the world a better place.

  91. 91
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Brother O: Then we must stop this Justin Vacula at all costs.

    (I tried reading his blog to figure out who he was, but it is short on backstory and long on everything else.)

  92. 92
    Nick Gotts

    Now NOT having a conversation with someone is a witchhunt? – PZ

    Didn’t you know? Matthew Hopkins was notorious for turning his back and walking away when witches tried to talk to him.

  93. 93
    Scr... Archivist

    niftyatheist @84,

    Thanks for the feedback. And I’m glad to hear that you are going to WiS2. I hope you have a great time!

  94. 94
    Chris Clarke

    Justin Vacula is an MRAtheist from Northeastern Pennsylvania

    So if the atheist movement is the office paper business, Vacula is Dwight Schrute?

  95. 95
    PZ Myers

    The Dwight Schrute of atheism? Yeah, I could see that.

  96. 96
    Eurasian magpie

    Sometimes during my darkest moments my mind starts thinking very strange thoughts. Once it came up with “What would happen if Dwight Schrute would adopt Eric Cartman?”

    I have to curl up in a corner now…

  97. 97
    heicart

    If memory serves the entire meltdown that caused the divide, all happened over Elevator Gate, when two sorts of people became apparent:

    1. Those who believe you should not assume people are interested in engaging you, and that your unsolicited advances could constitute an annoyance to another party, and you should approach them only with humility in situations where you are requesting their time, attention, association, and they have not actively solicited your engagement, and…

    2. Those who believe that if you want to engage another person, it’s fine to approach anyone, anytime, anywhere (you’re legally allowed to be), and if they don’t want you to engage them, they need to make it clear, and then you must go away–because only THEN would it be harassment if you kept bothering them, AFTER they told you to stop. But there is no obligation on your part to assess the appropriateness of your approach or give an ounce of consideration to how the other person might perceive your advance BEFORE you make it.

    I could be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time, actually), but I’ve always suspected that the #2 group really doesn’t take “no,” as well as they claim to take it, despite their assurances they would see themselves as harassers if they kept advancing AFTER you told them to stop. I have thought in the back of my mind, that these are the types of people feel *entitled* to the time, attention, and engagement of others—regardless of what “others” might want. Only *they* matter. Only what *they* want, is important. And other people, who don’t matter, don’t have the “right” to refuse them if they want something from “others.”

    It seems to me that this is a golden opportunity for me to see how wrong (or right) I am. I would say that a few people now have clearly expressed a statement that they wish to be left alone by certain others. Now, those others can walk their walk and show that they’re honest when they say that they agree it’s harassment only if you’ve been told to stop, but keep going. If they do walk that walk, that will be the end of that. I still won’t agree with them on 1 and 2, but I’ll see they at least aren’t the harassers I suspected they could be. Are they being honest when they say that the aggressor in a social situation has no obligation to consider the person they approach, but *does* have absolute obligation to cease once told? (After all, that’s the ONLY time, they repeatedly stated across the Internet, when even they acknowledge it’s harassment.) Well, the object of their attention has now expressed as clearly as crystal, that they expect to be left alone—and so, will they respect it or harass?

    If they don’t respect it, then what we have is akin to a tantrum. When a child wants something, they will make a show of wanting it—maybe just asking “can I have that?” If they’re told “no,” they may begin to whine. If this gets ignored, they begin to wail. If this gets ignored, they flail on the ground. And I’ve even seen them escalate to attacking the parent—literally kicking and hitting, because the parent is ignoring their desires. “IGNORE THIS!!!” is the message. The child WANTS the thing. The child WILL NOT be ignored. And, if they can’t get your attention by using acceptable methods, then they become frustrated and escalate it to unacceptable methods–any methods that force you to PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!. I mean, this is the reason for restraining orders no? Adults who don’t understand “leave me alone”? “You don’t tell ME when our association is over, I tell YOU! Don’t you DARE ignore (not associate with/communicate with) ME! If I want your attention, you get NO say in the matter, I WILL have your attention!” That’s the message, pretty loud and clear.

    These are the sorts of people, from which “other people” need to be protected. But in this case, as I read the dialogs over EG, I took away that they seemed clear among themselves that it only becomes harassment if you do it AFTER you’ve been told it’s an unwanted advance. Well, they’ve been told it’s an unwanted advance. If they engage now—they’re not only harassers by other people’s standards, but by their own. Which would make them hypocrites as well. All that huffing and puffing about how they’re not harassers, because, by golly, when someone TELLS THEM go away–then they will…let’s see if they’ll put their money where their mouths are. I would say “put up or shut up,” but I think even if they fail to put up, they still won’t shut up…but hey, here’s their chance to prove me wrong. And all they have to do, is not harass…is it too much for them to achieve?

    I’ll be very interested to see.

  98. 98
    carlie

    Well, they’ve been told it’s an unwanted advance. If they engage now—they’re not only harassers by other people’s standards, but by their own. Which would make them hypocrites as well. All that huffing and puffing about how they’re not harassers, because, by golly, when someone TELLS THEM go away–then they will…let’s see if they’ll put their money where their mouths are. I would say “put up or shut up,” but I think even if they fail to put up, they still won’t shut up…but hey, here’s their chance to prove me wrong. And all they have to do, is not harass…is it too much for them to achieve?

    Exactly. And the interesting “I can’t even believe they went there” angle is that they are now saying that simply being told it’s an unwanted advance is harassing them. “You’re harassing me by politely telling me not to harass you”. It’s a page plagiarized straight from the Fundamentalist playbook.

  99. 99
    heicart

    Yeah, over at the TAE Blog awhile back, there was a guy named Yomin Postelnik who had written an article. Martin Wagner dissected it, and criticized it. Yomin showed up to defend his piece in comments, which was fine. But he slowly started melting down. Eventually he was going to other theist blogs and community sites claiming that he was being persecuted by nasty atheists for his beliefs. What was funny is that you’d think that would be an easy sell to a theist crowd, right? But it took even these other Christians zero time to assess that all Yomin had to do, if he was not having a good time at our blog comments section, was to stop posting. I am pretty sure Yomin really did have a persecution complex going–that he didn’t get he was doing it to himself. But it’s almost like holding a hot brand in your hand, howling in pain, and refusing to just let it go. At that point, you’re doing this to yourself. If I plan to go and bother someone, proactively, and they tell me not to, and I start escalating it when just dropping it would make it end…well, that’s what Martin started calling “Pulling a Yomin.”

  100. 100
    heicart

    Isn’t this exactly what Mabus did? When he got locked out of blog comments and e-mail lists and couldn’t use those “easy” methods to get his communication to his targets anymore, who didn’t want to communicate with him–didn’t he decided to escalate it to stalking people at conventions he knew they’d be at?

  101. 101
    Jadehawk

    Can we use Vacula’s presence to get more women to conferences?

    Already happened; that’s how my trip to WIS2 is being funded.

    Now NOT having a conversation with someone is a witchhunt?

    what do you mean, “now”? Being denied an audience is what this has always been about, starting at “guys, don’t do that” and continuing with every instance of whining about being banned from a blog/blocked on twitter/etc. blah blah.

  102. 102
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.
    Justin Vacula is an MRAtheist from Northeastern Pennsylvania

    So if the atheist movement is the office paper business, Vacula is Dwight Schrute?

    No, that’d be Scranton. I think Vacula is based out of small city about 20 miles southwest of Scranton. Where I am.

    META:

    I tried watching The Office, and all I could think was, “Wow, these people are so lucky to get to work with normal people.”

  103. 103
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I tried watching The Office and all I could think was that there were a lot more fig trees growing in tree lawns than one generally would expect from any part of Pennsylvania.

  104. 104
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Well, A.E., to be fair, other than a few shots of the old Penn Paper building, none of it looks right. The Banshee is a very nice pub and restaurant, not the dive that is portrayed on the show. And substitute fucking red maples dumping their fucking pollen all over people who are allergic to red maples for the figs, and its about right.

  105. 105
    michaelblayney

    Whenever I see that simpering lackwit’s name written out in full my mind autocorrects it to Just Vacuous. I can’t unsee it.

  106. 106
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Retrospectivly we should have sponsored Vacula and made him wear a tshirt saying “I am sorry for having been a sexist asshole and a total douchenozzle”

  107. 107
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Retrospectivly we should have sponsored Vacula and made him wear a tshirt saying “I am sorry for having been a sexist asshole and a total douchenozzle”

    Damn you hindsight! Damn you!

  108. 108
    Brad Emery

    I, for one, owe my initial realization (there have been plenty of breakthroughs, since) of the importance of feminism primarily to Jen, Greta, and yourself, PZ. I hope to get to meet you at the conference, but if not, I’m sure it’ll be an awesome experience, anyway :)

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