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What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade?

I’m dyin’ here, people. It’s like people trust me or something.

So I’ve been given this rather…explosive…information. It’s a direct report of unethical behavior by a big name in the skeptical community (yeah, like that hasn’t been happening a lot lately), and it’s straight from the victim’s mouth. And it’s bad. Really bad.

She’s torn up about it. It’s been a few years, so no law agency is going to do anything about it now; she reported it to an organization at the time, and it was dismissed. Swept under the rug. Ignored. I can imagine her sense of futility. She’s also afraid that the person who assaulted her before could try to hurt her again.

But at the same time, she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else, so she’d like to get the word out there. So she hands the information to me. Oh, thanks.

Now I’ve been sitting here trying to resolve my dilemma — to reveal it or not — and goddamn it, what’s dominating my head isn’t the consequences, but the question of what is the right thing to do. Do I stand up for the one who has no recourse, no way out, no other option to help others, or do I shelter the powerful big name guy from an accusation I can’t personally vouch for, except to say that I know the author, and that she’s not trying to acquire notoriety (she wants her name kept out of it)?

I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, I can do no other. I will again emphasize, though, that I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described; all I can say is that the author is known to me, and she has also been vouched for by one other person I trust. The author is not threatening her putative assailant with any action, but is solely concerned that other women be aware of his behavior. The only reason she has given me this information is that she has no other way to act.

With that, I cast this grenade away from me…

At a conference, Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me. I can’t give more details than that, as it would reveal my identity, and I am very scared that he will come after me in some way. But I wanted to share this story in case it helps anyone else ward off a similar situation from happening. I reached out to one organization that was involved in the event at which I was raped, and they refused to take my concerns seriously. Ever since, I’ve heard stories about him doing things (5 different people have directly told me they did the same to them) and wanted to just say something and warn people, and I didn’t know how. I hope this protects someone.

Boom.


Further corroboration: a witness has come forward. This person has asked to remain anonymous too, but I will say they’re someone who doesn’t particularly like me — so no accusations of fannishness, OK?

The anonymous woman who wrote to you is known to me, and in fact I was in her presence immediately after said incident (she was extremely distraught), and when she told the management of the conference (some time later).


Women are still writing into me with their personal stories. This one isn’t so awful, but it’s mainly illustrative of his tactics…there’s nothing here that would form the basis of any kind of serious complaint, but most importantly, I think, it tells you exactly what kind of behavior to watch out for with him.

Michael Shermer was the guest of honor at an atheist event I attended in Fall 2006; I was on the Board of the group who hosted it. It’s a very short story: I got my book signed, then at the post-speech party, Shermer chatted with me at great length while refilling my wine glass repeatedly. I lost count of how many drinks I had. He was flirting with me and I am non-confrontational and unwilling to be rude, so I just laughed it off. He made sure my wine glass stayed full.

And that’s the entirety of my story: Michael Shermer helped get me drunker than I normally get, and was a bit flirty. I can’t recall the details because I was intoxicated. I don’t remember how I left, but I am told that a friend took me away from the situation and home from the party. Note, I’d never gotten drunk at any atheist event before; I was humiliated by having gotten so drunk and even more ashamed that my friends had to cart me off before anything happened to me.

But I had a bad taste in my mouth about Shermer’s flirtatiousness, because I’m married, and I thought he was kind of a pig. I didn’t even keep his signed book, I didn’t want it near me.

Over the years as rumors have flown about atheist women warning each other about a lecherous author/speaker, I thought of all the authors and speakers I had met during my time as an atheist activist, and I guessed that Shermer was the one being warned against.

Now there are tweets and blogs about his sexually inappropriate behavior as well as his fondness for getting chicks drunk, so I feel quite less alone. I don’t think he realizes he is doing anything wrong. Men who behave inappropriately sexually never think they are doing anything wrong.

I have mixed feelings about your grenade-dropping. I have heard arguments both for and against what you did. Whether or not I agree with it, I just want to say that the accusations against Shermer match up with my personal experience with him, insofar as he seemed hellbent on helping me get drunk, and was very flirty with me. Take it for what you will. I believe the accusers.

Comments

  1. maudell says

    This is so wrong.

    What the fuck are all those orgs thinking by not even acting like they give a shit?

  2. brx0 _ says

    If covering up for the big boys is the price of a career in this community, it was never a community.

  3. John Morales says

    PZ,

    I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, I can do no other. I will again emphasize, though, that I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described; all I can say is that the author is known to me, and she has also been vouched for by one other person I trust.

    You’ve made it clear it’s hearsay, but that you take it seriously. That means something.

    (You don’t exactly have a reputation for being credulous, you know)

  4. says

    PZ, this is damnable and damaging toxic waste, but the current situation can’t go on with people and organisations covering the toxically bad stuff up. The change is desperately needed. Thanks for your honesty and integrity by giving a voice to someone who’s been intimidated into silence.

  5. jaybee says

    Personally, I think I would have first taken it up with Shermer before coming out with this.

    On the other side of it, it isn’t a surprise that a certain percentage of people are shitbags. The Catholic church has hidden behind that defense: hey, of course there are pedophiles among priests, but no more as a percentage than any other profession. That is true, but what distinguishes right from wrong is that the Catholic church covered things up and enabled the abusers. I guess the Shermer incident(s) needed to be exposed to the light.

  6. says

    I would rather believe the claim and cost Shermer some paid speaking gigs, than to assume that his accuser is a liar who gains nothing but years of abuse for daring to make the claim.

    And bigger, I’m done with anyone who ever says “benefit of the doubt”. There are too many claims across too many years, and too much evidence to ever give more benefit of the doubt to the accused than to the accusers.

    These aren’t really anonymous claims. They’re claims from people who are well-known, that are being protected from the backlash from misogynists. And let’s not waste our time: anyone who is rejecting these claims at this point IS a misogynist, so let’s not allow them to derail the conversation. Let’s spend our time supporting victims and the people who speak out for their sake.

  7. says

    If covering up for the big boys is the price of a career in this community, it was never a community.

    of course it’s a community. an extremely sexist and misogynist one; an old boys club, if you will.

  8. anteprepro says

    At least six people. Fucking fuck. I can’t even find words to express the combination of rage, hatred, and despair I feel, while also feeling that I have no right to do so because I have never had to deal with of this kind of shit directly and will probably never have to. I just don’t know.

    Anyway, kudos for the e-mailer for coming forward. She may feel scared, but she is still far braver than I could ever be.

  9. says

    I’m actually almost crying and that doesn’t happen to me often. I got nothin’. I don’t understand how things got this bad. I don’t understand how we skeptics/atheists can claim to be “good without god” and “reasonable” and “rational” and yet allow this.

    My heart aches for all of the people who have been hurt by this, especially when I think about how terrified they are of speaking out and how sadly accurate their fears are.

  10. ekwhite says

    Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and now rape. If true, this is a huge problem that needs to be corrected now. You did the right thing by bringing this out.

  11. jaybee says

    It would also be good if the organization which the rape was reported to could be asked to explain what they did or didn’t do. If they covered up a rape, then it should also be known that they aren’t an organization to be trusted.

  12. MrFancyPants says

    Miri@17:

    I don’t understand how things got this bad.

    I guess they’ve just been this bad. We’re only now learning about how deep the sickness goes, probably.

  13. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    They’ve always been there magistramaria, the only thing that has changed is that wall of silence is crumbling.

    Thank you PZ. I for one think you did the right thing. Giving voice to those who cannot speak for themselves so that others can avoid that fate is more than just right, it’s fucking noble. And unfortunately there will be an inevitable backlash from people who cannot understand that this is an act of last recourse on the part of victim.

  14. says

    (You don’t exactly have a reputation for being credulous, you know)

    among the fuckweasel brigade, which includes a number of people with influence in skeptic/atheist/secularist organizations, he’s been quite sufficiently smeared as some sort of evil political mastermind plotting the destruction of the skeptic/atheist/secularist community. And that’s definitely the spin that will be put on this from at least some quarters: as a witch hunt/lynching/mccarthyism aimed to take out “political” opponents. guaranteed ppl will say he made this up.

  15. eigenperson says

    By the way, PZ, you need to be prepared for someone in the slimepit community to make a false accusation of misconduct (whether sexual or otherwise) against you in “retaliation” for publishing this.

  16. anteprepro says

    You’ve made it clear it’s hearsay, but that you take it seriously. That means something.

    (You don’t exactly have a reputation for being credulous, you know)

    Go fuck yourself. Stop while you are fucking ahead, Morales.

  17. Eric O says

    I know it’s easy for me to say, being a thousand miles away from the blast radius, but you did the right thing and I hope that I would have had the moral courage to do the same if I were put in that situation.

    Also, holy shit. I’ll never be able to look at the Skeptic articles in Scientific American the same way again.

  18. trinioler says

    What do you mean by your first comment PZ? Did you get some kind of threat or somthing?

  19. maudell says

    @jaybee

    CFI’s official policy is copied from the Catholic Church. Here it is:

    Shhhhhhhhh….

  20. PDX_Greg says

    Wow, my brain is so raw now. I so hope this is the last of them, but I fear not. It would be good to know the name of the organization that did nothing with this.

  21. says

    I would rather believe the claim and cost Shermer some paid speaking gigs, than to assume that his accuser is a liar who gains nothing but years of abuse for daring to make the claim.

    plus: you believe the claim and don’t invite him to your con, you at worst lose a speaker and his most devoted fans; you don’t believe the claim, and at worst you expose many women to a rapist.

    Of course, like I said, the fuckweasel brigade will simply dismiss this as a lie by PZ and consider only the part where Shermer will lose money by not being invited to cons

  22. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Read that again anteprepro, you’ve jumped the gun there. John’s statement was one of support.

  23. says

    What’s with all of the creeps in the skeptic community lately?

    It appears to me that the issue is that they’ve been there all along and only now we’re getting some air in the laundry bin.

  24. MrFancyPants says

    anteprepro@24:

    Morales’ comment seemed supportive to me. Am I missing some backstory context?

  25. Charlie Foxtrot says

    Like draining a festering pustule, this process may be painful now but will be ultimately beneficial for the organism (our community) – that’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

    Thanks PZ for another object lesson in ethics.

  26. says

    OH my god. That poor person. I feel sick that this could happen in our community and be handled so badly. This is just wrong.

    I hope the person to whom this happens know that there are people out here who do support them. I for one will not support any organization that invites Shermer to speak, nor will I attend any event where he is.

    It is time we took this shit seriously and did something about it or frankly, we might as well just call ourselves Vatican 2.0.

  27. Brian E says

    Wow. I think you did right PZ. Although I don’t understand your comment about consequences. It’s the consequences of an act that in large, or wholly, make the act right. (I know, there are gray areas, but basically, if you do something that has good consequences, you did good). I think you did good.

  28. says

    @26: This kills any chance of favorable coverage from Skeptic Magazine right out.

    As for false accusations, I’m sure those are coming if they haven’t already. Shutting down that Tumblr wa a smart move. There’s a big difference between anonymous accusations that could have been posted by anyone with a grudge or a bad sense of humor and ones that are coming from known members of the community or people vouched for by such.

    I think we should ignore the former. There are plenty of substantiated accusations and that lets us concentrate on the problem without looking like hypocrites if we dismiss a claim that Rebecca Watson touched RationalMale69 in the spacesuit area out of hand.

  29. anteprepro says

    Yes, wow, I did misread John’s comment. Apologies all around, and to John especially.

  30. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    So many women have told me about Shermer, and that they’ve warned others about him. For years. This has never been a secret among the women who have to travel in his circles.

  31. says

    #23: I thought about that, and I do kind of expect it. But you know, I’ll know the truth, and if it means women are more wary of me and I have a mored difficult time tricking them into my bed at conferences (which I don’t do!), I can live with that.

    #26: No. But exposing scandals involving some of the biggest names in the field and the biggest organizations isn’t exactly a way to become popular. At least I’ve got a full-time career as a scientist & educator to fall back on.

  32. says

    If the victim reported it, then a civil suit is still possible. But, that’s not really the point, is it. I hope what’s happened over the last few hours becomes an avalanche. I’d like to see the worst offenders–actual rapists (and I have a very low bar definition of that word)–punished. But, I believe I agree with most people here in that, I think the most important thing is to change the culture. The only thing that will change that is a lot of evidence. We simply have to overwhelm with evidence the majority who want to ignore the problem, or who aggressively want to deny the problem. They were able to make Rebecca into pinata, they mocked and commercially hurt Surly Amy, they temporarily drove Jen off the internet. Rebecca is still there, Amy’s business soldiers on, and Jen is back.

    Where am I going with this? It’s not just about numbers. Misogynistic scumbags have a lot of energy. Going after three women or going after thirty isn’t a big deal in the age of copy/paste. Making people aware of them and discrediting them within a community is a big deal. Skeptics and atheists like to think of themselves as evidence based. At a certain point, they either have to accept the accumulated evidence or march off into a schism. Doing so would be to admit that they are just a members club and not a society united by an ideal.

    Of course, they would never admit that. I could go on and on, but every step is followed by that same “they would never admit that.” At this point, half of your audience is within the movement and half is without. You may hate to admit it, but it’s all politics now. As of tonight. you’re winning.

  33. says

    @40: It hasn’t been a secret he’s persistent and attempts to pester women into sex. The predator thing is new, at least to me. There’s a big difference between obnoxious prat who should be invited to parties, much less lead a major skeptical org and guy who should be in prison and this puts him over it, at least in my mind.

  34. satanaugustine says

    Damn. And wow! I’ve heard some things about Shermer that shocked me at the time, but I’d no idea he’d gone this far (assuming that the information you received is accurate. Shermer is a much much bigger name than Radford. I don’t know that he has the power to boot you from the community, PZ, but I’ve no doubt that he wields considerable power because of his ‘star’ status within the skeptics community. The fallout will be…interesting?

  35. ravenred says

    I do hope it’s not true, and that there’s just some some godawful fuckup somewhere. I’m reluctant to pass judgement on Shermer at this point, just because I don’t know anything else about the complaint except the accuser’s extract, above. PZ knows her and gives her account enough credence to publish it (with the considerable consequences that entails).

    Having said that… it’s entirely possible (depending on jurisdiction) that law enforcement MIGHT be interested in this, especially if there’s contemporaneous evidence (the report to the con organisers). Whether or not the woman in question wants to go through that experience is another matter, and I can absolutely understand if she’s reluctant to.

  36. intron says

    Having known 2 victims of rape whose lives were devastated by the act (of course) and one person falsely accused of rape whose career was ruined because of it (although it was determined to be a false accusation the damage had been done and reputation took years to shake), I am torn here. I don’t know Shermer. At all. I know the name, nothing more. But I do know that accusations like this should not be taken lightly, nor thrown around lightly. I hope your source is very trustworthy, PZ. If the accusations are true, fuck him. If they are not………

  37. ChasCPeterson says

    It hasn’t been a secret he’s persistent and attempts to pester women into sex. The predator thing is new

    ?
    What’s new, that he’s sometimes successful or that he pestered more persistently than you previously perceived?
    Like Josh, I’ve heard his name bandied about before and therefore am not surprised.
    I admit to curiosity about what the phrase “coerced me into a position where I could not consent” really means.

  38. says

    The coercion involved a rather standard technique for this sort of thing: alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

    Next up: “well, it was her fault for getting drunk.” We all know the routine.

  39. says

    My heart goes out to the person. I hope “the organization” isn’t CFI again. :(

    Although, I have never been to a conference, how did a rape go unnoticed? [not to deny that it happened.] It’s almost unbelievable that Shermer, a big big name in skeptic community, is a rapist. I have enjoyed his thrashing of Deepak Chopra, for starters. Cognitive dissonance is what I’m going through, in short.

    I hope the misogyny ends.

  40. says

    Personally, I think I would have first taken it up with Shermer before coming out with this.

    Yeah? And what do you think he would have said if he were guilty?

  41. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    My sympathy goes to the woman who reported this to PZ, as well as the others she mentions.

  42. says

    Hey, folks, I know this is shocking to a lot of you, but can I ask you to keep something in mind? If this person trusted PZ with her story, she probably reads the blog. She may well read the comments on this thread, whether that’s good for her or not. So might any of those other five women, because they’re also invested in what’s happening.

    So, just try to remember your audience, please, as you comment?

  43. keiththenerd says

    I’m glad you posted this and no matter what you will be a even bigger hero for this. This week has been a big bombshell for the skeptical community and I am not sure that I can be a member of any of the named groups, they have all seem to have some pretty big issues. I wish i knew where to go, its seems like the only place left is here and Skepchic.

  44. notsont says

    I imagine there will be a lot of people telling you what you “should” have done, as for me, I haven’t a clue what the right thing to do would be, but I am fairly certain doing nothing would be the wrong answer.

  45. mx89 says

    Wow. This really makes me wonder how many organizations and institutions have been covering up sexual harassment, assault and rape from those in leadership positions. Catholics, boy scouts, skeptics, atheists, it seems to be all the same when it comes to protecting the reputation of the institution at the expense of the victims.

    Is it better to just burn these groups to the ground (metaphorically) and start over?

  46. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    My skeptical thought process on this:

    1 Sexual assault and rape happen, and happen often. Claims of such are not extraordinary
    2 Lack of action on the part of organisations when such claims are made is a demonstrated phenomenon.
    3 Dire repercussions to victims who speak out is a demonstrated phenomenon.
    4 Men in a position of power abusing that power in the service of obtaining sex, and in the service of covering up wrong doing is a demonstrated phenomenon.
    5 People with power, prestige and money can survive a false accusation better than those without it.
    6 Shermer has all those things.
    7 If the allegation is true then other people are at risk.

    Of course none of this proves that the claim made in the OP is true. But it does mean that choosing to believe this woman is the right thing to do and I would go so far as to say that it is the rational thing to do.

    But in the absence of credible evidence either way the rational position to hold is that the victim is telling the truth. Not only is it the compassionate stance, it’s the one that does the least harm. Should the accusation be false, Shermer has more than enough power, prestige and money to weather the storm. Especially since the victim is not planning on taking legal action.

    Should the accusation be true then other people can be spared being harmed. It could also embolden other victims to come forward with their experiences.

  47. Rey Fox says

    he’s been quite sufficiently smeared as some sort of evil political mastermind plotting the destruction of the skeptic/atheist/secularist community.

    Burn it to the ground, I say. Atheism and skepticism will remain, we can build a better community around them.

    Also, as a recent graduate facing the horrors of the job market, I have zero tears to cry about these big names losing some speaking engagements or whatever puny monetary/career setbacks they will most likely face.

  48. says

    I second the call for this to be taken to law enforcement – one report they might not be able to do anything with, but several, or a constantly growing number? That they can’t ignore, especially if the statute of limitations has not run out.

    If they ignored assaults that happened in the past then we wouldn’t be seeing the Catholic Church exposed after all – and not naming names is what allowed them to get away with it for, well, centuries. I get that reporting it to law enforcement is often an experience equal to or worse than the original assault, but merely naming names on the internet is not going to stop people like this. They can just say “Yeah well jealous people say all kinds of shit on the internet.”

    What is wrong with these fucking scumbags?

    And much respect to PZ and the person who went through this horrible ordeal for coming foward and saying “This far, no further.”

  49. didgen says

    I don’t think atheism is better than the average group of people, but it is beginning to look like organized atheism may be statistically worse when it comes to disrespect and abuse of women. This is so disturbing, and unbearably sad.

  50. says

    I can’t give more details than that, as it would reveal my identity, and I am very scared that he will come after me in some way.

    I hope the information divulged isn’t enough for Shermer to identify the person. The disturbing thing is that implies that he might have not just misbehaved but, I dare say, raped others too. If that wasn’t the case, why would there be any doubt in Shermer’s mind as to who this person is.

  51. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Fucking hell. I tried to incorporate the last two paragraphs into my numbered points to make it clearer and more concise. And of course I didn’t delete them or preview it. I hope it still makes sense.

  52. eigenperson says

    #52: These things “go unnoticed” surprisingly easily because people don’t want to hear them or believe them. Cognitive dissonance is part of it.

    Frequently, it goes like this: the accuser has far less clout than the rapist, has less experience interacting with the organization that is responsible for “noticing”, and is under a significant amount of stress at the time. The rapist is able to deny the claims calmly and convincingly. He may even have “practiced” this phase of the process, since he must have anticipated it.

    The organization realizes it can’t determine the truth. Because the accused has a lot of clout in the organization, they can’t fire him without serious repercussions. Either they decline to take any action or give him a “slap on the wrist,” like warning him to “be more careful”.

    Jerry Sandusky’s case is a textbook example: after a case of sexual abuse was reported by Mike McQueary, the school decided to handle it “in house”. They ended up forbidding Sandusky from bringing kids onto campus, but didn’t warn anyone. As a result, he was able to abuse many other people, despite having been caught at least once.

  53. says

    Just went to re-watch the Mr. Deity episode with this guy in it…feeling a little sick now. A lot sick, actually. I rarely post up here, and now when I finally do, I have no words.

  54. jonathancantwell says

    Holy fucking shit. :( You did the right thing, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sad and disgusted and rather glad now that I -didn’t- wind up getting closely involved in one of these organisations rather recently. This is a disease that’s killed by light and fresh air, though.

    Still, fuck. Nobody, ever, should have to deal with this shit. Ever. I’m so sorry that she had to go through this, to keep silent because of the identity issues involved. I’m so sorry that anyone, ever, has had to. Nothing I could possibly say could be enough.

  55. hjhornbeck says

    Stephanie Zvan @55:

    can I ask you to keep something in mind? If this person trusted PZ with her story, she probably reads the blog. She may well read the comments on this thread, whether that’s good for her or not.

    QFT. This woman has my support, and if a legal fund is ever set up I’ll contribute what little I have. You’ve done a brave thing by merely sharing your story. I hope others come forward and collaborate it; not because I doubt you, but because it’ll help convince the community as a whole that we have a problem in desperate need of fixing.

    keiththenerd @58:

    I wish i knew where to go, its seems like the only place left is here and Skepchic.

    Last I heard Secular Woman was scandal-free, and since they’re less than two years old there can’t be as much stagnation as in other organizations. I’ve tossed them some cash.

  56. says

    To the woman who chose to come forward: I admire your courage and I hope that you have a support network in place where ever you are. I believe you; getting someone drunk is a common, common tactic for serial rapists and abusers.

    Thank you for being willing to tell PZ. And PZ, thanks for throwing the grenade.

  57. says

    I am not surprised, but I am outraged. It’s beyond infuriating that Shermer has done this multiple times, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll stop assaulting women.

    To the person who wrote the e-mail, all my empathy. I know what it’s like. You have all my support and thank you for having the courage to write PZ, I also know just how difficult that can be, even if it appears to be a very small thing to the majority of people. It isn’t a small thing, it’s huge, and you will have helped many others. Thank you.

    PZ, I am so sorry this fell on your shoulders, but it’s up to all of us to do the right thing. I thank you for having the honesty, integrity and courage to do the right thing. It means a great deal to me, and I know it will mean a great deal to many others, who have no voice in such matters and live with too much fear. Thank you.

  58. anteprepro says

    So many women have told me about Shermer, and that they’ve warned others about him. For years. This has never been a secret among the women who have to travel in his circles.

    I’m glad that there was at least this much of a buffer, of a security net. What’s sad is that this has to be done in hushed whispers and in backrooms, a covert operation. This is stuff that should be in neon lights. Shit that should be highly visible to protect all women, instead of leaving women to get preyed upon by Shermer and his ilk because other women weren’t able to secretly inform every women that came along Shermer’s path. This is our fucking culture. A victim blaming culture, a culture that seems to take “No Snitching” as an unstated dogma, where the person who “names and shames” might suffer more shaming than the actual person who did something fucking wrong. A culture of crying crocodile tears over the poor people Accused of things. A culture shaking in fear about Lynch Mobs and False Accusations and other assorted fairy tales that do everything in their power to discourage victims from having the audacity of pointing out a victimizer. So many are so fucking concerned about “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” that they will use courtroom and legal jargon to just flat-out reject what a victim says has happened to them. To vigorously oppose people who commit the high crime of believing the victim and supporting them. To threaten libel and slander about being so defamed, and yet turning out to get a slap on the wrist at best for the crime. The crime that, supposedly, the mere accusation of which would completely ruin their livelihood. Every fucking part of our culture and legal system are consistently stacked against the victims and in favor of the sexual predator. It is fucking sickening.

    We definitely need to clean house in atheism. Obviously. That will be a tiresome enough of a battle. The real fucking war will be changing the culture at large. I don’t think I will live long enough to see that war won to my satisfaction, but I’ve been surprised before.

  59. jeroenmetselaar says

    Lance the boil, clean the open wound vigorously, cut out the cancer, remove the splinter… It hurts and the patient may even curse you while you help them but you know why you do it.

  60. Rebecca Parker says

    Well, if Yes Means Yes has taught me anything, if the average rapist is a multiple offender with about 7 victims… this is par for the course. Given any rapist, the likelihood is that he (just talking about he’s here) has a string of victims.

    Goddamnit. This is the worst.

    I’m glad it’s out there, though.

  61. mx89 says

    Just wondering. Are there cases of rampant sexual abuse and coverup in institutions NOT run by old white men? Since old white men seem to dominate powerful institutions, I’m not sure how you’d go about a good comparison.

    Disgusting, though. Krauss makes a big show of almost refusing to speak at the sex-segregated debate and then it turns out he’s very likely harassing or assaulting women. Shermer very likely using his big name and organization to cover up rape. I’ll prefer Deepak Chopra to listen to at a conference at this rate.

  62. hjhornbeck says

    Oops, how rude of me: thanks for publicizing this too, PZ. You’ve given me nearly a decade of good reading and thoughtful commentary, and through my support I hope I can partially return the favour.

  63. kitty says

    Holy fucking shit. I knew sexism and harassment (and rape, apparently) were rampant everywhere, but somehow I never expected this. I guess all I can say is I’m sorry this shit happened to the victim here.

    Whatever happens, I think PZ did the right thing here.

  64. didgen says

    What most people do when handed a grenade do is to throw it as fast and as far away from themselves as possible to avoid any danger to themselves. Thank you for not having done so, I’m sure this will have repercussions for you. She trusted the right person.

  65. says

    Jimmy Blue:

    I second the call for this to be taken to law enforcement

    Please, don’t do this. Not you, not anyone. Just don’t do it. None of you know the details, and unless you have been raped and reported to law enforcement, you have absolutely no fucking idea at all of what that is like.

    I do know what that is like, and the experience is often brutal. It tends to be exceptionally brutal in cases where alcohol was used to facilitate the assault. I know it’s often a reflex, to say “go to the cops!”, but seriously, it’s not that simple. Don’t turn this thread into yet another “I know better, she should have…” one. That’s not only not helping, it’s damaging.

  66. Lofty says

    PZ, this needs doing, people need to know that this kind of behaviour WILL lead to bad consequences for the perpetrators. Keep stirring up the skeptic tank, eventually the shit will be centrifuged out.
    .
    Thank you.

  67. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Well done, again, PZ.

    It’s a tough situation, but going public as you have puts the issue where the “big boys” won’t be able to either ignore it or subcontract the attacks: they’ll have to respond.

    The overwhelming advantage you have is that no one with the ability to both reason and speak honestly can claim YOU have anything to gain. You clearly do not, never have wanted, and never will want any of these people’s (men’s) fame and power. That’s what I’ve always most liked and trusted about you, even when our opinions have been at odds.

    You have the life you want. They can’t bribe you, and they really can’t do much to threaten you, either.

    And, if by some freak, you were wrong about doing this (and I DO NOT think that is the case), you’d instantly own up to it. You’re seeking what lots of us are – simple honesty and truth and knowledge.

    To the women who have suffered these ugly incidents: you have LOTS of support, and it can get very real if you need it – not just words on the Net or click-on petitions! It’s hard and ugly, but it’s a way to a better world for all of us.

  68. Amphiox says

    Lance the boil, clean the open wound vigorously, cut out the cancer, remove the splinter… It hurts and the patient may even curse you while you help them but you know why you do it.

    I wish we had some kind of anesthetic to use for these situations though.

    I second the call for commenters to do what Caine just said.

    Thirded.

  69. says

    This is an explosive accusation whether it’s true or not. It’s apparently one amidst a cloud of others from multiple sources about the same person, though I’d not personally heard those others before.

    This accusation, and the others, will require serious investigation in themselves. Quite apart from that, though, it’s obvious that this kind of predation has been possible and even easy. Even if the specific accusation isn’t true as presented, it certainly could have been, i.e. it’s not an extraordinary claim.

    We need to change things such that claims like these become extraordinary, and the very first step to doing that is to acknowledge how sadly credible they are now, and get passionate about fixing that.

  70. says

    PZ deserves a lot of credit for making himself a lightning rod for this sort of thing when he could have let stood by and let male privilege shield him from the shitstorm that’s been hitting the outspoken women in our community for years now. I don’t think you need to worry too much about your standing, though, PZ, since you already served skepticism your divorce papers. I just wouldn’t expect to see very positive reviews of The Happy Atheist in Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer.

    For my part, I stopped buying both of those magazines months ago, and preordered THA back in June.

    Shermer’s the name I’ve heard most when this topic comes up from people in the know, and he was named as the target of that “distasteful locker room banter” last year in a Friendly Atheist friend. I wonder how much of these stories DJ Grothe knew and was willing to so easily dismiss, but I suspect the answer is “enough.”

    Now would be a decent time for someone to link that study showing that ~6% of men admit to committing rape if you leave the r-word out of the question, and that most rapists have multiple victims (averaging 4-6, if I remember right). I would, but it’s late and it’s hard to do links on an iPad.

    To the people speaking out: thank you for standing up, thank you for having the courage to say uncomfortable & unpopular things, and thank you for blazing a trail that others are following.

  71. mh354 says

    I’m not surprised that Shermer is accused of coercing a woman (or several into sex). It’s depressing that men (who have garnered attention) believe it’s okay to use their fame as a way to get women. And not even *actually* “getting” women. Guess what? If the woman didn’t agree or outright say they wanted a casual encounter, chances are you shouldn’t be convincing OR forcing a woman into that position. I wanted to believe that people in the Skeptic community, that if they have been smart enough to see through lies and self-delusion, that they would KNOW HOW TO RESPECT a fellow human being. That includes women, not just other white males.

    I don’t know if these stories about Benjamin Radford and Shermer coming to the public light will make a difference from here on… But the least we can do, AS FELLOW WOMEN is to bring it out in the open. Just say it publicly that X and Y personalities are know lechers, harassers, who have little regard for their female audience, and to be WARY. Be open about what happened. Seriously, do not keep it bottled up.

  72. says

    Stop giving me any credit at all, you’re killing me. A woman was assaulted; I sit on my butt. My worst outcome so far was the mild feeling of nausea when I felt compelled to post this. And I had no choice at all — I was seriously considering hitting the delete key on that email, and my correspondents told me I had that choice…but how can you possibly turn your back on this situation? It was misery if I did, and greater misery if I didn’t.

  73. says

    I have said in the past that allowing misogyny to run rampant in our community will end up hurting everyone. I didn’t QUITE imagine the extent of the harm.

  74. aluchko says

    The thing that disturbs me is how hard it is for accusations to be dealt with.

    It’s clear that these assaults are extremely underreported. It seems to me as if women have 3 crappy options for dealing with it. Going to law enforcement which can be super traumatic and might involve outcomes they don’t want (ie maybe she didn’t report because she doesn’t want Shermer in jail). Reporting to organizations fails if the org is unqualified to deal with it. And reporting on the internet can be problematic in many ways.

    I guess a question for the women here is what we can do to make things better? Even if these accusations are false if Shermer was aggressively pestering women for sex as Ace of Sevens alleged in #45 people should have dealt with that socially. But when assaults occurred maybe there needs to be a level between the police and the conference organizations that can deal with it.

  75. says

    PZ:

    And I had no choice at all — I was seriously considering hitting the delete key on that email, and my correspondents told me I had that choice…but how can you possibly turn your back on this situation?

    This is why so many of us thanked you, though – there are an awful lot of men who would have deleted that email, and happily kept silent about it.

  76. says

    It’s a sad world when behaving with a bare minimum of human decency is enough to earn a man such gushing praise.

    Kind of like how my friend tells me that his lovers become gushily grateful to him for such small things as asking, “Do you like this? Do you want me to do this?” and stopping and asking if everything’s okay if, while making out or making love, his partner stops responding.

    Rape culture, friends. This is what standing by silently gets us.

  77. says

    mx89 #60

    This really makes me wonder how many organizations and institutions have been covering up sexual harassment, assault and rape from those in leadership positions. Catholics, boy scouts, skeptics, atheists, it seems to be all the same when it comes to protecting the reputation of the institution at the expense of the victims.

    I can add to your list, from experience and conversations with many victims, Christian denominations (Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, that I have certain knowledge of, at least), Christian missionary organizations, Christian fundamentalist schools, Christian colleges, Canadian residential schools for natives (also Christian). I have heard the same excuses and rationalizations, plus the inevitable, “The accusers are tools of Satan.” I have passed on those warnings; watch out for so-and-so; don’t let him get you alone. One of these so-and-sos is a professor in a Christian college, much in demand as a conference speaker, and was a great buddy of my Dad’s.

    Is it better to just burn these groups to the ground (metaphorically) and start over?

    I don’t know. I just don’t know. I wish it were that easy.

  78. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Oh hell, I should have said this first:

    To the woman who

    I believe you.

    You have done enough, no one has the right to ask more of you.

    I hope that the coming days bring you some measure of peace and healing.

    And please know that this privileged white male is all the more resolved on hearing of your experience to change his society so that it will never happen to anyone else.

  79. saramorris says

    PZ – I think you deserve credit for making the choice to speak out and air this. I know too many people who have been trusted with similar information and chose to ignore it or lash out at the victim. Siding with the privileged is far easier. It’s not often that an established white guy will rock the boat just because it’s the right thing to do. For your integrity: thank you.

    And for the writer of the email and the other people who’ve lived with this shit experience: I am so sorry this happened to you.

    I third/fourth/whatever Caine’s suggestions.

  80. says

    I second the idea that it’s disturbing that the idea that a woman is saying that Michael Shermer got her really drunk at a conference several years ago and raped her and that’s not enough info for him to figure out who accused him because that could be any number of people.

  81. jste says

    And I had no choice at all ……. It was misery if I did, and greater misery if I didn’t.

    You feel empathy. You have a conscience, and a sense of responsibility, and your personal comfort doesn’t interfere with either. The shit that shows up in the news feeds of so many of us lately seems to indicate that’s kind of rare among us humans. You bloody well deserve all the kudos you are getting right now.

    The women offering up their stories deserve enormous amounts of respect, and I don’t think there’s anything I can write in this comment box to do justice to that fact. Nothing in my experience can compare with the pain and torment you people have to live with, or the difficulty in deciding to share your stories like this.

  82. Muz says

    Jesus, what next?

    I wonder if there’s a foreseeable endgame to all this (which isn’t to say it shouldn’t come out if the stories are reliably confirmed).
    There’s probably no legal process going to take place, for the reasons already mentioned. But even the vague possibility makes everyone shut down.
    I almost feel like some sort of truth and reconciliation commission is about the only option in a lot of cases. Then again I’m optimistic enough to think that in some of these stories at least the perp had no idea the other party took it the way they did and everyone might learn and grow (, well, except for the people who don’t need that. I guess only really the Krauss allegations are vague enough for this right now, of the recent famous examples).
    I suspect I’m way too optimistic for most people there (and they’re probably right).
    So, what else? Fire?

  83. says

    Caine, Fleur du mal @ 82

    I’m sorry – you are right I absolutely do not know what it is like and will almost certainly never claim to know thanks to my priviliged position of being born a certain gender, I acknowledged how awful it is for the person assaulted to go to the often brutally insensitive cops and I am absolutely not trying to say that must be done, I’m sorry if I didn’t write that as sensitively as I should have – I really was not trying to say I know better because that would be patently absurd and just a scumbag move.

    I was just trying to say that accusations on the internet or within a community (as courageous and no doubt soon to be horrendous as the move is and is soon to be) aren’t enough to stop these people -they’re parctised at dealing with that.

    Again, I apologise if it seemed like I was claiming to know something I don’t or to be saying I know better, that was never my intent.

  84. Demythify says

    Nothing surprises me at this point.

    And this crap will continue because there aren’t consequences. The perpetrators malign their accusers as nuts or sluts, the powers-that-be shrug their shoulders with this feckless “it’s-your-word-against-his-so-whaddaya-spect-US-to-do?” responding to the victims, and the monsters go on pretending to themselves they are entitled to behave like this.

    One response would be to boycott events whenever these assholes are in attendance. But I’m not sure these powers-that-be would give a fig. And it shouldn’t have to be the WOMEN who are pushed out, who are further marginalized, by this–it should be these creeps and criminals who are pushed out. Maybe it’s time for some good old fashioned protesting…wherever they appear, these creeps should be met with hundreds of protesters marching out front and carrying protest signs and stirring up news coverage.

  85. says

    Shit bollocks arse, even my apology doesn’t sound right.

    Caine and any other people who have survived an ordeal like this, I’m sorry for earlier comments.

  86. says

    Jimmy Blue, thank you very much.

    I was just trying to say that accusations on the internet or within a community (as courageous and no doubt soon to be horrendous as the move is and is soon to be) aren’t enough to stop these people -they’re parctised at dealing with that.

    No, it’s not enough to stop them, but it will go a long damn way in stopping them the more people open their eyes to rape culture and the mass, systemic damage it does. It is up to us, each and every person, to do the right thing. That means speaking up when a buddy says something which shores up rape culture. That means speaking up when you see or hear rape “jokes”. That means speaking up whenever you see sexism rearing it’s ugly head. That means being willing, always, to examine your own thoughts, biases, privilege and behaviour. That means being willing, always, to change your own behaviour.

    We’re all sexist. It’s up to all of us to change the silence and tacit acceptance of rampant sexism and rape culture. It’s up to all of us to say that rape culture is not acceptable. Ever.

  87. philosophia says

    I think it’s shameful for an apparent victim not to face the accused, not to allow the accused to even know who is making the accusation. What we have here is second-hand info from PZ on one rape, and 5 other third-hand apparent accusations of rape. This promises to be a big mess without any satisfying resolution for anyone. Victims need to face the ones they accuse in order for the justice system to take its course and to have a sense that all the evidence as been brought forward, and society has reached as impartial a judgment as possible.

  88. says

    PZ: I’m thanking you for much the same reason as Caine mentioned. It has been my experience that even close friends fall all over themselves to minimize or distance themselves from a rape or sexual assault (let alone if you try and report it to an organization or the police, Jesus), so extending yourself to take it seriously is something for which I can be grateful.

    So I am grateful.

  89. says

    Demythify:

    and the monsters go on

    I understand the impulse to call these people monsters, but they are not monsters and othering doesn’t help. When you call someone who rapes or assaults someone a monster, you are removing them, distancing them from being human. That’s a mistake, because the people who commit rapes and assaults are indeed human. They are numbered in friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances. They have every appearance of being a regular, likeable person for the most part. One of the ways we blind ourselves to toxic sexism and rape culture is by labeling people as monsters. It implies that actual people wouldn’t do such a thing, making us more comfortable by allowing us the thought that no one I know would do such a thing. Chances are very good that you do know someone who would do such a thing.

  90. eigenperson says

    #107 philosophia:

    Get this through your thick skull: the victim reported the rape to legitimate authorities and was dismissed. This happens over and over again, in case after case. The justice system does not “take its course”. Society does not render “as impartial a judgment as possible”.

  91. says

    philosophia:

    I think it’s shameful for an apparent victim not to face the accused, not to allow the accused to even know who is making the accusation.

    I think it’s shameful that you sat down to write this and actually hit the submit button.

    Victims need to face the ones they accuse in order for the justice system to take its course and to have a sense that all the evidence as been brought forward, and society has reached as impartial a judgment as possible.

    You don’t have the slightest idea of what victims need, or what they go through. I’d say it’s pretty obvious you don’t know what it’s like to be raped. Those of us who have been raped, and believe me, we are legion, get an automatic life sentence. It’s also painfully obvious that you don’t have the slightest idea of how the justice system works when it comes to rape and sexual assault. I do, so I’ll thank you to save your wanking to do in private and to shut the fuck up.

  92. says

    Eigenperson:

    Society does not render “as impartial a judgment as possible”.

    QFT. That whole “render as impartial a judgment as possible” business reads as codespeak for “put the bitch in her place, being all mean to that man,” because after all, without a whole mountain range of evidence, you really, really shouldn’t say anything. Because reasons.

  93. Demythify says

    Caine, Fleur du mal:

    I get what you’re saying but to me, the only kind of monsters that are real are human, people who prey on others. They don’t do bad things because they’re monsters. They’re monsters because they do bad things.

  94. says

    @philosophia: I agree that this evidence is insufficient to convict Michael Shermer of rape in a court of law. Tell me who has suggested that so I can disagree with them.

  95. Amphiox says

    Victims need to face the ones they accuse in order for the justice system to take its course and to have a sense that all the evidence as been brought forward, and society has reached as impartial a judgment as possible.

    People like you need to educate themselves concerning the reality of what it is like for victims to “face” the ones they accuse before presuming that you are qualified to say anything at all about what victims “need” or need not to do.

  96. John Morales says

    philosophia:

    I think it’s shameful for an apparent victim not to face the accused, not to allow the accused to even know who is making the accusation.

    What’s shameful is that such a climate of fear exists that victims are scared to identify themselves, knowing that they will be disbelieved and punished for speaking out.

    (Power differential)

    What we have here is second-hand info from PZ on one rape, and 5 other third-hand apparent accusations of rape.

    From someone PZ trusts.

    (That’s relevant)

    This promises to be a big mess without any satisfying resolution for anyone.

    Forewarned is forearmed; as I read it, that’s what this woman who informed PZ seeks: to forewarn others.

    Victims need to face the ones they accuse in order for the justice system to take its course and to have a sense that all the evidence as been brought forward, and society has reached as impartial a judgment as possible.

    Even when doing so would result in needless further trauma to them?

    Again: this woman’s primary purpose is not to seek vengeance (or justice, if you will), but rather to make others aware: “But at the same time, she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else, so she’d like to get the word out there.”

  97. says

    Demythify:

    I get what you’re saying but to me, the only kind of monsters that are real are human, people who prey on others. They don’t do bad things because they’re monsters. They’re monsters because they do bad things.

    You didn’t get a single thing I was saying to you. Some people commit monstrous acts, yes. That does not make them monsters. All you are doing is othering. People do this to comfort themselves. When you other, you are not only doing a disservice in divorcing people from the acts they commit, you are actively enabling othering of all sorts, such as “hey, she’s a slut who likes to drink, so it’s not possible to for it to be rape.” Getting a bit of a clue now?

  98. says

    @PZ, #89:

    Yup, there really wasn’t anything else you could realistically do, given the constraints you mention — or if there is, nobody has suggested it, which is a strong circumstantial argument, on the Internet, for there being no such thing.

    But, of course, this is a second-hand anonymous accusation, which means no major action can be taken. We can — assuming that we believe you (which I think it’s safe to say most of us here do) — not support the guy’s career and/or organization (I had only barely heard of him, so clearly I’m not going to be much help there), but until/unless there’s more evidence we can’t so much as toss a custard pie in his general direction, ethically.

    Which leads to my question: as Caine has pointed out, trying to force the issue isn’t necessarily a good idea, so what positive steps can be taken? What can we little peons who are atheists but aren’t major figures do? I’d particularly like an answer from Caine, since she seems to know what she’s talking about, but any good ideas would be appreciated.

  99. says

    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs), see #106. Talk*, refuse to accept rape culture on any level, be sure you don’t enable it and when possible, vote with your wallet.

    *Those of us who can. It’s amazing, when you think about it, how much toxic sexism and rape culture any one person can let slide in the course of any given day.

  100. says

    Well, Mr. Myers, you sure have definitely been given something.

    You say that you have:
    “…no personal, direct evidence…”

    But, the difficulty of substantiation is reduced, since:
    “…[she] is known to me…[and] has also been vouched for by one other person I trust.”

    You report that she is “afraid that the person who assaulted her before could try to hurt her again”, but that “she wants her name kept out of it.”

    All of this is well enough: You have a reputation that is at least as good as those whom you trust.

    There are new questions, however. Do you really think that this condition of anonymity will persist for everyone? Surely she will be named soon, as will that “one other person” whom you trust? Shermer isn’t going to be silent for long.

  101. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    I’ll go further: Othering is a self-defense strategy who’s primary purpose is to reassure the person doing it. By labeling these acts as monstrous it removes any need to examine our own actions to see if we are in any way guilty of similar crimes. Because of course we’re one of the good ones, we’d never do anything monstrous!

    Othering is antithetical to skepticism and critical thinking because those things aren’t just about being skeptical of the claims of others. They aren’t even primarily about the claims of others. They’re about being aware and critical of our own beliefs and actions in light of all the ways our brains try to distort our perception reality.

  102. says

    PZ, you made the same call I probably would have made in said circumstance.

    For the victim’s sake, I hope that some form of justice is served. Eve n if it is just limited to reduced revenue from speaker’s fees and such.

    For justice’s sake, I hope that Shermer is given the opportunity to defend himself (I’m unpopular on here for defending those accused of such things–I was once falsely accused of sexual harassment, and it was quite costly to my career, hence my sympathy for the accused)…to a point (let’s not devolve into blaming the victim for lack of evidence against the most probable perpetrator).

    Shermer is a libertarian…misogynist is not that far of a leap. Unfortunately (for my own objectivity), the circumstantial evidence in this case does favour a conviction.

  103. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    FossilFishy@122

    Yes.
    We do this a lot too – especially with the word “criminal”. People speak of criminals or thieves or rapists as a class of person, a thing, rather than a descriptor for actions someone has chosen to take. We need to be reminded constantly that a criminal is simply someone who made the decision to perform a hurtful action, not some kind of evil creature that simply exists to commit crimes. Criminals are people just like you. They made a bad decision and hurt someone. That’s the only difference.

  104. Emrysmyrddin says

    Thank you Anonymous, and thank you PZ; it’s down to trust, and as Pharyngula and the Horde have consistently and ferociously done what’s right over the past few years my bridges with the ‘skeptical/atheist’ community I now consider burned. The attitude at large doesn’t just stink, it actively frightens and repels me. Why should I waste my time and energy on an unsafe and hostile movement?
    .
    Thank you both for reinforcing my trust in this place and my view that the atheoskeptical house needs burning to the ground.

  105. malenkov says

    How are we to take this and other such news? Misogyny is clearly a problem within and without the movement, but how do we apply that general observation to individual cases such as this? How are we, joined by our shared interest in evidence-based claims, to respond to cases in which evidence may be – understandably and unfortunately – scarce?

    It’s easy enough to say “to hell with ‘innocent until proven guilty’” in the face of these heinous accusations. Many of us clearly have already. But should we really automatically assume the guilt of all who are accused? Don’t mistake my intent here – I’m not actually discounting the suggestion. Doubting a claim may be tantamount to complete inaction and, as I understand it, false accusations of rape are far less frequent than is widely assumed. But on the other hand, someone suggested that PZ should be wary of a false, retaliatory accusation against him. I guess we’d have to carve out some exceptions for people we like?

    I honestly just don’t know how to evaluate a claim like this.

  106. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @Malenkov 126

    I think FossilFishy’s post at #61 explains it best. The position that causes the least harm overall is the one that assumes the victim is telling the truth.

  107. says

    Demythify: Actually, the really, REALLY horrible part is that Shermer is human. No more, no less. That humans can do this sort of thing to one another, cover it up, look for opportunities to do it again and be helped along by other humans because it is convenient for them to do so is the most horrifying thing I can imagine. And that they can do so without a trace of guilt, without any remorse or second thoughts is so far out the other side of horrifying that I can barely come up with words to talk about it.

    I’d prefer a nice, easy to identify monster instead of looking in the mirror (or my memory) and knowing that I, too, am a part of that culture and that the people who could do that sort of thing look like me.*

    *share my species and often my ethnicity

  108. says

    society has reached as impartial a judgment as possible.

    hello traveller from a parallel universe, let me explain something to you:

    in this universe, society does the opposite of reaching impartial judgments. It reinforces a status quo that protects perpetrators and punishes victims. The few victims who are able/willing to go through that system are made of fucking unobtainium to withstand the abuse along the way, and they virtually never see justice.

    Now, if you’re not gonna fuck right off back to your own universe, at least shut the fuck up about victims having to be subjected to their abusers over and over again just to have the right to speak out.

  109. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    malenkov

    Please see my #61 as to how I chose to believe this claim until such time as credible evidence is presented to the contrary.

  110. says

    Malenkov: It helps if you understand prevalence and the mechanisms by which rapists operate. Someone earlier linked to two blog posts on a blog called “Yes Means Yes”. The blog posts titled “Mythcommunication”, “Predator Theory” and “Predator Theory Redux” all discuss those issues. That may help you understand why some of us are quick to believe the victim.

    Well, that and years of rumors, apparently (and some of our experiences.)

  111. klatu says

    @mh354 #88

    [...]But the least we can do, AS FELLOW WOMEN is to bring it out in the open. Just say it publicly that X and Y personalities are know lechers, harassers, who have little regard for their female audience, and to be WARY. Be open about what happened. Seriously, do not keep it bottled up.

    I’m not a woman, but please don’t do this. Please don’t put the onus on women to prevent rape. There’s already too much of that shit going on.

    @FossilFishy #61
    You said a lot of what I wanted to say.

    Sadly, pretty much all those points you listed are features, not bugs, of the rape culture, all mechanisms by which it ensures its own survival. Coming forward as a survivor is an extra-ordinary act of courage. The unrelenting scrutiny, vile backlash, victim blaming and character-assassination makes rape accusations even less likely to be false. Why would anyone risk subjecting themselves to that, risk having to justify their own rape, if not for hope of getting justice or preventing harm to others?

    To PZ:
    Someone you trust confided in you. You took them seriously when others didn’t. You acted when others didn’t. If anything, you have proven trustworthy. If that isn’t welcome in skepticism, then fuck skepticism.

    To the person who confided in PZ and to all those who have come forward:
    You are ridiculously brave. I hope you have people in your live who support you. By coming forward you have likely prevented harm to other women. Thank you!

  112. says

    There’s been a completely different world just underneath the veneer of the world I’ve seen all these years. I don’t want to even entertain the thought that this story is true but I can’t imagine any reason for it to be a lie. The mere idea that this person doesn’t believe the accusation itself wouldn’t reveal her identity opens up a whole new dimension of revulsion because that means there have been enough incidents so as to offer some measure of anonymity. I share your nausea in this situation (though for different reasons).

  113. says

    PZ:
    I think you did the right thing here.

    I am glad this woman trusted you and asked for you to reveal this. I am glad you are seen as someone who *can* be trusted. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are rampant in society and victims need people who believe them and will support them. Moreover, as a community, we need to show that we believe victims of sexual harassment and assault. Their needs are too often ignored. Their rights are too often trampled. Their lives are too often irrevocably altered. All while the rapists get to continue their lives on their own terms, often with litle to no consequences for their horrific actions. Yes, and often they continue assaulting others. In situations like this, because there is a big name involved, many people will be quick to discount him as a rapist.
    “Oh, he could never do that”
    Why the ever loving fuck not?
    Take away the name and prestige, and whats left? Another guy.
    There is nothing special about another guy. There is no reason to grant him any special care or consideration.

    I sure as fuck don’t.

    To the women sexually assaulted by Shermer or anyone else…to any victims of sexual assault:

    I believe you.

    There are many people in this community who have your backs.

  114. aluchko says

    @Muz 102

    I love the truth and reconciliation idea. For instance when an assault occurs the victim has the option of reporting it to a special sexual assault branch of law enforcement.

    The accused is forced to attend a (joint?) counseling session where they’re confronted with their behaviour and why it was wrong. At any time during the process the victim has the option to pursue formal charges. Both the accused and accuser are kept anonymous but are remembered by the system. If the accuser shows up again past victims are notified and they all have the option of pursuing charges.

    Would women feel comfortable using a system like this? It should remove a lot of the trauma associated with reporting and hopefully stop serial predators.

  115. says

    Long time reader and lurker, exceedingly occasional comment.

    This made me cry. To the brave woman who has told her story: I am so very sorry that this horrible thing happened to you.

  116. says

    I haven’t got a lot to add to what others have already said, although I will repeat the salient points:
    To PZ:
    I am glad that someone as relatively bulletproof as you was available to make this type of thing public (metaphorically bulletproof, of course)
    To PZ’s anonymous correspondent:
    I am deeply sorry to hear of what was done to you. You have my unreserved support, and I wish that that meant more in terms of capacity to actually help.
    To philosophia
    You are an asshole of the first water; please do the Internet a favor by removing yourself from it. You might also consider moving to a remote location so as to inflict yourself on your fellow humans as little as possible. I understand that large portions of Siberia, Mongolia, Alaska, the Southwestern United States, western Colombia, and the several North African nations which encompass the Sahara, and an assortment of small islands in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are technically inhabitable, but do not, at present, have any human residents. I urge you to pick one of these places and remove yourself there forthwith.
    To Caine
    You continue to kick ass

    It’s amazing, when you think about it, how much toxic sexism and rape culture any one person can let slide in the course of any given day.

    Come to that, it’s amazing how much one more ore less has to let slide because it comes in the form of e.g. billboards pasted all over the place and the like. I can barely leave the damn house without seeing something like that.

  117. says

    @Emrysmyrddin, #125:

    Thank you Anonymous, and thank you PZ; it’s down to trust, and as Pharyngula and the Horde have consistently and ferociously done what’s right over the past few years my bridges with the ‘skeptical/atheist’ community I now consider burned. The attitude at large doesn’t just stink, it actively frightens and repels me. Why should I waste my time and energy on an unsafe and hostile movement?

    Well, strictly speaking, there’s probably no way to build a community which doesn’t have unsafe and hostile people in it. Humans are occasionally unsafe and hostile, and — with the exception of the hyperintelligent squid secretly manipulating the PZ Myers android — we’re all human. I have the uneasy feeling that if you gathered all of the people who regularly comment on this board together, you would still find one or two for whom the idea of, you know, not raping people is something to which they only pay lip service. And even if you managed to kick them out, sooner or later new ones would show up. The problem isn’t “how do we get rid of these people”, it’s “how do we make it so these people aren’t in charge?”

    @Caine, #120:

    Thank you. (And sorry for not having already read that comment earlier; I jumped around a bit in the comments section because I thought of a bunch of things to say, which I then did not actually say, and lost my place towards the end.)

    Anyone else have constructive suggestions? I try not to let sexism pass, but I have little confidence in my ability to recognize it when I see it — at least, fast enough to react meaningfully; reflecting five minutes later, when I’ve left the room/building/area, that that comment really wasn’t acceptable is hardly satisfactory — and so I’d like to find extra things to do as well.

  118. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    To the woman who: Thank you. I don’t know what else to say.

    Please, don’t do this. Not you, not anyone. Just don’t do it. None of you know the details, and unless you have been raped and reported to law enforcement, you have absolutely no fucking idea at all of what that is like.

    Caine is absolutely correct. Further, this woman DID take it to the authorities (the conference). THEY DID NOTHING. This is par for this fucked up course. Please understand that. They did nothing and that’s what usually happens.

    Like Eigenperson said:

    Get this through your thick skull: the victim reported the rape to legitimate authorities and was dismissed. This happens over and over again, in case after case. The justice system does not “take its course”. Society does not render “as impartial a judgment as possible”.

    ***

    It’s easy to make people who hurt us or others out as “monsters”. Easy and lazy and untrue.

    The banality of ‘evil’ is that it’s really ordinary, unremarkable people, people who may even do other things that are good, who also do hurtful things and they usually think they’re right/justified for doing what they did. By saying they’re “monsters”, it becomes too easy to go

    Premise A: “Monsters” do bad things
    Premise B: I am not a monster (no one knows me better than me! and I KNOW I’m not a monster!)
    Conclusion: Therefore the things I do are not that bad.

    Why am I posting only to basically repeat what others have said? Because SallyStrange hit it bang on the head:


    Rape culture, friends. This is what standing by silently gets us.

  119. chrislawson says

    philosophia@107:

    I understand the point you are trying to make, but let’s be clear about this: (1) the accuser has quite emphatically stated that she does NOT want to take this to the justice system, so your concerns about fair trials are utterly irrelevant, (2) even within the justice system there is recognition that some circumstances make it inappropriate for an accuser to directly face the accused…especially in cases of rape and child abuse.

  120. jefrir says

    Jason Stephens, fuck off.

    PZ, thank you. Not just for the decision to post this one post, but for the actions that led up to it; for previous posts that showed that you’d believe women who reported such experiences and wouldn’t try to defend the status quo, and for helping build a community on this blog that is supportive, and is willing to call out rape culture bullshit when it sees it. That shouldn’t be unusual, but sadly it is.

  121. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I have not taken part of this thread because I have nothing cogent to say. But I have to say this.

    Jason Stephens, you are not funny.

    Please, do not say an other word.

  122. says

    You don’t find it unethical to publicize an anonymous accusation of rape?

    Fuck all of you, you sanctimonious douchebags. You have just lowered yourself to the level of those you criticize for believing claims without evidence.

  123. chrislawson says

    malenkov:

    “Innocent until proven guilty” is a standard in criminal law intended to protect the accused from the enormous power differential between themselves and a fully resourced police force and public prosecutor’s office. It is not a good life strategy in general (or else “hey, I should give this pleasant Nigerian fellow my bank account details because he hasn’t ripped me off before”), and can be actively harmful when the power differential places a perpetrator above an accuser.

  124. mildlymagnificent says

    What’s with all of the creeps in the skeptic community lately?

    This incident was years ago. What we’re seeing now is the result of years of women trying to warn as many other women as they could in private about predatory behaviour and organisations and individual men making sure that any details that surfaced were dismissed as insignificant and unreliable gossip or rumours.

    A bit like some people discussing in their pubs how they don’t like the smell from that factory or the seven eyed fish they saw gasping on the surface of the river. All the while the town council and the local bigwigs ignored or dismissed any complaints from such sources.

    And then the Cuyahoga River caught fire.

    I think this week is the skeptic/ atheist movements’ Cuyahoga River moment. Everybody knew about the toxins and had heard about the sources. Now they have no option but to follow up properly.

  125. says

    Philosophia:
    You think THAT is shameful?

    I THINK IT IS SHAMEFUL THAT SHERMER RAPED THIS WOMAN.

    Seriously? You read the OP and your reaction was “she should have confronted Shermer”?
    Don’t you fucking dare tell a victim of sexual assault what they should or should not do.
    No one has that right. Unless you have been a victim of sexual assault, you do not get to speak about what victims need. Doing so puts your desires above the needs of victims. In fact, you are putting your wishes ahead of a victims, which can have a silencing effect.

    Moreover, victims of assault are not monolithic, responding to sexual assault exactly the same.
    Each person will respond differently.
    Thats why it is vital to believe them and offer support (and by support, I mean “if you need anything, I am here”, without badgering and pestering them)

  126. chrislawson says

    chaswarren: we do have evidence: it is the statement of a person known to PZ whom he trusts.

  127. says

    For Christ’s sake, PZ, why didn’t you tell her the obvious? REPORT SHERMER TO THE POLICE.

    It’s plain old disingenuous of you to claim she had no other recourse.

    It’s moronic and devious of you to smear Shermer’s name on your blog when this is a criminal matter that should be handled by the police.

    How dare you!

  128. says

    malenkov:
    Sexual harassment and sexual assault occur with great frequency.
    Everywhere.
    None if us lives on a world where claims of either are extraordinary.

    They are all too ordinary.
    Given that, the rational thing to do is believe the victims.

  129. Robert B. says

    … shit. I suppose I should have expected something like this was happening somewhere, rape is not so much rarer than sexual harassment and there has apparently been plenty of the latter. But I didn’t expect it.

    To the victim, if you are reading this: I haven’t been exactly where you are, or were, but I’ve been close enough that I can begin to imagine. Hoping you don’t mind the presumption, I’d like to tell you – in case you need to hear it – don’t ever blame yourself for the authorities’ lack of action. It can happen in a room full of witnesses, who know the victim and know the perpetrator and are watching, where the nearest authorities have an explicit legal duty to protect against sexual abuse, and still nothing happens. Like it doesn’t even matter.

    I believe you, by the way.

    I second the idea that it’s disturbing that the idea that a woman is saying that Michael Shermer got her really drunk at a conference several years ago and raped her and that’s not enough info for him to figure out who accused him because that could be any number of people.

    Well, even if there was only one victim (unlikely, as I understand human nature and the relevant data) he could hardly call her out just from that. It would be very suspicious if Shermer knew exactly who it was that he didn’t rape, if you see what I mean.

  130. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Your ignorance about how rape is handled by the police is noted jimashby. Now fuck off.

  131. mildlymagnificent says

    Oh dear. Re-reading my post I realise it could be misconstrued.

    When I said “follow up properly”, I mean making the environment more conducive to good behaviour and more capable of dealing with violations of that environment. The one thing we can be sure of is that these women complaining about this one well-known man are, as likely as not, merely the tip of the iceberg drawing attention to the bulk of many more unknown men doing the same kinds of things to other women at these events.

    People who had any objection of any kind to organisations and venues establishing easily understood guidelines for acceptable behaviour and readily accessible avenues for reporting the unacceptable exceptions must now cede the ground to the proponents.

  132. rowanvt says

    Dear Chaswarren:

    The person is only anonymous to us, which serves to protect her from assholes like you.

    Dear Jimashby:

    Clearly you have never tried to deal with the police with regards to stalking/sexual assault/rape.

    When I was 17 I was stalked. One morning the guy tried to break in. I woke up to hear my dogs going crazy and saw a guy in the backyard trying to force open the sliding door. I was so terrified I hid in a closet with my bow and a quiver of hunting arrows. I hid there for 3 hours before I could summon up the courage to go to the room where the phone was, even though I knew he was long gone.

    I called my grandmother. I called the police.

    An officer came. I told him what happened. My mother relayed the creepy phone calls we’d been getting, including 2 from the group that registered me to vote 2 weeks prior.

    The officer looked at me and said “We can’t do anything, because you waited so long to call us. With that amount of time, how do I know that you weren’t just having an argument with your boyfriend?”

    I was stunned. This cop had just told me to my face he thought I was lying. I must have misunderstood. I told him that I had a great relationship with my boyfriend… and that my boyfriend was dorming, didn’t have a car, and was blonde (the would-be rapist had brown hair).

    The officer still declined to do anything, despite a good chance of fingerprints being found on the glass. The police department continued to decline to do anything even after mom found a great deal of circumstantial evidence linking the guy who registered me to vote to the stalking, including his supervisor/friend giving us 3 different stories of where he was that day.

    So FUCK YOU.

  133. says

    @chrislawson, SallyStrange:

    If testimony by trusted persons was sufficient evidence, then think of all of the shit that those of us in the skeptic community would be forced to believe in order to avoid hypocrisy.

  134. rq says

    Anonymous, thank you for being brave and for coming forward. Thank you. I’m sorry you’ve had to suffer through all of it.

    PZ, thank you for not sitting on this.

    The Horde, thank you for being such a decent, kind and wonderful group.

    Caine, you definitely kick ass, and every time I read your comments on threads like these, they’re a much-needed reminder to remember the victim’s (and, for that matter, the victimizer’s) humanity, and to do what is most important: to believe the victim. Thank you.

    Everyone who thinks ‘going to the police’ is the answer, read Caine’s comments on the matter.
    Anyone who thinks this is an anonymous, unevidenced claim, this is in the letter:

    I reached out to one organization that was involved in the event at which I was raped, and they refused to take my concerns seriously.

    There was a complaint, which means there is evidence. Plus, we have a victim’s statement. Which means y’all can fuck off now.

  135. aluchko says

    @jimashby 150

    Reporting the rape to the police means Shermer could be branded as a sex offender and face jail time. The woman may not feel comfortable with those outcomes.

    And even if she does feel they’re warranted they’re very severe, which means the police have to make sure she’s telling the truth and it’s a legit complaint. This would involve grilling her and going over the assault again and again. Then when charges are laid the defense will do everything possible to discredit her.

    Can you blame her for not wanting to go through that?

  136. says

    Jason Stephens:
    I suspect I know the point of your asinine, insensitive, sexist comment..and I do not like it OR you..
    Get stuffed.

    ****
    chaswarren:
    You know nothing about the ubiquity of sexual assault, otherwise you would–hopefully–switch your empathy on, rather than acting like an insensitive assclam like philosiphia, jimashby, and jason stephens.
    Yeah, you are in stellar company.
    ****
    Speaking of JIMASHBY:
    Get it through your thick fucking skull: the woman does not want to go public. Do not disrespect her by telling her to do what you want. You are not the victim here. Moreover, as many rape victims can and will attest (Caine has done so in this thread), going to the police is no guarantee of anything. Often, the victim is confronted by her rapist over and over if it even gets to court. Too fucking often victims are not believed by the authorities.

    This woman chose to come to PZ with this.

    Respect her choice.
    Respect her agency.
    Respect her, dammit.

  137. John Morales says

    jimashby:

    For Christ’s sake, PZ, why didn’t you tell her the obvious? REPORT SHERMER TO THE POLICE.

    It’s plain old disingenuous of you to claim she had no other recourse.

    It’s moronic and devious of you to smear Shermer’s name on your blog when this is a criminal matter that should be handled by the police.

    “She’s torn up about it. It’s been a few years, so no law agency is going to do anything about it now; she reported it to an organization at the time, and it was dismissed. Swept under the rug. Ignored. I can imagine her sense of futility. She’s also afraid that the person who assaulted her before could try to hurt her again.”

    How dare you!

    How? Read his words: “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, I can do no other.”

    (Such daring is incomprehensible to you?)

  138. Robert B. says

    @ 157: Professor Bayes to the comment thread. Professor Bayes, you are needed in the comment thread.

  139. klatu says

    @chaswarren
    Please do everyone a fucking favour and read the damn thread before positng. Your “concern” has been noted and addressed repeatedly.

  140. says

    LoL, you idiots really thing foul language and sneers bother me?

    Do you really think police can’t or won’t handle rape properly? Or that rape isn’t taken seriously? That’s bullpoopy. Rape is taken seriously, which is why it needs to be reported IMMEDIATELY, while evidence of the attack is fresh.

    Of course, if it’s legally a matter of “he said / she said” and no damning evidence is available, justice might not be served. But win or lose, the attacker (especially a famous one) will be publicly outed. The accuser’s reputation might also suffer, depending on revelations in the trial, but even if justice is not served, the attacker will be publicly associated with a rape allegation.

    And that is all she wanted to accomplish anyway, according to PZ.

  141. says

    *TRIGGER WARNING*

    You know what I love? People who think that the police listen to, care about or will even take the complaints of rape victims on a regular basis.

    Hey, here’s a funny little anecdote: I have a friend who was trying on clothing in a local boutique. A man pushed his way into the little curtained area she was in and tried to assault her (apparently, the person on duty to watch the dressing rooms was busy.) When she screamed and fought him off, the store kicked her out for being disruptive to the other shoppers. When she finally made it home, the first officer she got when she called refused to take the complaint because, get this, she was ‘unclothed in a public place (the dressing room, her underwear as she tried on a dress).’ The second finally took the complaint, and when they took her to the local examiner unit, the male nurse asked her out on a date during the exam.

    That was, as she put it, the last time she’ll ever say anything.

    In my case, I was told I inspire that sort of behavior because I “look dirty” and that I obviously misunderstood being choked and assaulted. Of course, it was a church, so feel free to fire up your ‘well that’s just religious people’. I can always counter with what it was like to report my advisor and how hard my university tried to make that disappear (including moving my office next to the person I reported after I filed and making us serve on the same panel together for a public event.)

    I know more than ten women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, myself included, who either reported it and where brushed off/ignored or decided not to report because they know women who have reported and what happened to them.

    But sure, absolutely, police officers care and organizations are always committed to the safety of women. Hey, while we’re at it, I have this bridge I’d like to sell you in Brooklyn. Cost you a cheap $3 million, checks payable to cash and mailed to me.

  142. rowanvt says

    #157-

    Have you personally seen pluto? Not just a photo, but the actual planetoid? Probably not. So how hypocritical of you to believe it exists! All you have is the word of individuals you trust, and some potentially ‘shopped pictures.

    Equally, I have never been to Italy. I have been told by people that they have been to Italy, but how do I know if they’re telling the truth? Clearly it might just be a smear campaign against the rest of Europe, so I shouldn’t believe their reports.

  143. rowanvt says

    So Jim, you are fine with the cop calling me a liar as I sat there in shock over what could have happened to me? You are fine with the cop calling me a liar and ignoring the handprints all over the glass doors?

  144. says

    Looking at the comments, some understandably, quite inflammatory, quite angry, I seem to have missed one point: Has the victim contacted the police?

    Obviously, there are allegations of a serious crime being committed against at least one individual. If she hasn’t why not? We should be encouraging all victims to have the courage to take the correct and appropriate legal action.Victims of crimes should not be made to feel guilty for being a victim.

    Also, PZ, is the naming and shaming that is happening on several blogs, the correct route to take? What do we want to happen? Do we just want ‘cons’ to change their policies? Or do we want perpetrators of crimes against individuals to be prosecuted?

    If all we want is the policy change, then the naming and shaming is suffice, the perpetrators, will hide behind whatever barrier of feigned innocence they can muster. Lawrence Krauss is threatening legal action on another blog. But in reality, nothing will have changed. The predators behaviour will have simply been modified. You might even get an un-humble apology. Once people start threatening lawsuits the victims will once again become afraid to come forward and speak out.

    However, if we want alleged sexual harassers, assaulters and rapists stopped and bought to justice, the naming and shaming is not the way. It first of all it names people, obviously. Sat behind our computers miles from the events, its easy to take the high ground. However, what if they are innocent? It will open the flood gates of potential libel action against FtB and PZ, in particular. Secondly, it takes away from due process. The FtB, or whatever, community has become judge and jury without hearing any evidence other than hearsay. Surely, lynch mobs died out in the 1800′s (expect in the Deep South), but this is what these blogs read like. A verbal lynch mob. Now this might be fun, but it is not a way of making a serious change. Serious change will come when perpetrators of crimes know they will be punished for their crimes, and victims believe they will have justice.

    Over the last year or so, in the UK there has been an ongoing police investigation into the actions of many celebrities. The crimes themselves span a time frame of nearly fifty years. This started people coming forward, but they came forward to the police (or in once case came forward anonymously to a journalist, who went to the police) with their allegations being investigated. The first, I think, was prosecuted and sentenced in the last few weeks.

    Surely, this is the best approach that all victims of crime should be taking, regardless of the context.

  145. rowanvt says

    Polaris… I’m not certain you’ve *actually* looked over the comments. Or the actual blog post because you initial questions have been answered multiple times.

  146. Robert B. says

    Rape is taken seriously

    O RLY? Please, do share the evidence, scientific or anecdotal, that supports this fascinating conclusion of yours. *chinhand*

  147. John Morales says

    jimashby:

    Of course, if it’s legally a matter of “he said / she said” and no damning evidence is available, justice might not be served. But win or lose, the attacker (especially a famous one) will be publicly outed. The accuser’s reputation might also suffer, depending on revelations in the trial, but even if justice is not served, the attacker will be publicly associated with a rape allegation.

    Do you deny that this post has accomplished that much already?

    And that is all she wanted to accomplish anyway, according to PZ.

    No. According to PZ: “But at the same time, she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else, so she’d like to get the word out there.”

    I find it hard to believe you sincerely imagine there’s a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting a conviction by going to the police; given that, and in light of your above, your initial accusation of disingenuousness towards PZ seems hypocritical.

  148. says

    Going public was step one. Going to an attorney is the next step, and everyone is going to need one. The person who confided in you needs legal advice because you’d have to be extraordinarily naive to believe that going public is the end of the story.

    PZ, I’m not in the habit of second guessing people. You obviously feel very strongly that the story is true. That doesn’t mean you don’t need protection as well. But then, you’re a smart guy, you are probably way ahead of me in that regard.

  149. rowanvt says

    SallyStrange… right now, I *really* wish there was a ‘like’ feature. With that lovely mental image of goal posts reaching warp speed via star trek special effects I will finally drag my read to bed and stop being aggravated in this thread.

  150. says

    I know this is the PZ fan club . . . but even a fan can be outraged at this abortion of justice.

    We’re accountable for our actions. If Shermer raped this woman (and, perhaps, others) he should spend a very long time in prison (assuming he’s found guilty). But the woman is also responsible for immediately report the rape to the police. Although she might fear that justice may not be served, she knows for certain that it won’t be if she doesn’t report the crime.

    But now that the accusation is public, Shermer may find himself facing charges anyway, if the woman comes forward. That would be the best potential scenario. The worst scenario would be if the woman continues to hide behind PZ and Shermer is crucified by the likes of you eggheads: people who assume the worst and convict without trial.

    The most salient question in this unfortunate affair is WHY DIDN’T SHE IMMEDIATELY REPORT THE RAPE TO THE POLICE. All your objections to the contrary ignores the FACT that this is what the justice system is for.

    For sure, this is not what PZ’s blog is for.

  151. MrFancyPants says

    This is proceeding rather predictably. Jason Stephens: fall off a pier and swim away. Polaris: mm hmm. PZ: I don’t envy you the next weeks.

  152. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Here we see the just world fallacy in its natural habitat.

    (*sanctimonious.sarcasm*) If a crime had occurred, we’d have seen justice by now, and if it wasn’t reported then it’s obviously the victim’s fault for not doing the right thing. (*/s.sarcasm*)

    Fuck off with your fallacy. The police don’t do anything about cases of sexual harrassment or rape in most cases. I was raped by someone I considered a friend. I didn’t report it because I didn’t think they’d believe me, care, or would blame me for going to his house, etc. A friend of mine was raped by the same person. She -did- report it, and experienced exactly the reasons I didn’t report in the first place. It was her word against his, he was a friend, he was giving her a (supposed to be non-sexual) massage so she might have given the wrong signals…
    Oh, and of course even if they did believe her, they couldn’t do anything unless she wanted to press charges. That, of course, means cross-examination with your rapist in the room, being humiliated by lawyers trying to portray you as some kind of disgusting slut who deserved it, wanted it, and/or is lying about the whole thing.

    Anyone who has the strength of will to go through that very real version of hell should be given a fucking MEDAL as well as a conviction. I didn’t do it. My friend tried. The guy is still around, consequence-free.

    Justice my ARSE.

  153. Ullrich Fischer says

    I don’t think it is a matter of “burning the organizations to the ground”, but it is a matter of cleaning out the predators. Not people who “don’t get it” or “aren’t sufficiently supportive of harrassed women” or who have without malice stepped over some invisible (to them) line of etiquette, or who like the guy in the IEI (Infamous Elevator Incident which hopefully has drastically reduced the number of such guys in the community) are just clueless about what might make a woman uncomfortable… but people who actually commit acts of rape or issue threats of rape or physical harm. No way should those be allowed at any public meeting or conference in any skeptical/atheist/humanist organization.

    I am shocked and saddened that Shermer stands accused of this crime. I much admire his writing, but the organizations in which he is involved now have to investigate this fully and if (as seems likely on the face of it) this is true, Shermer’s talents will no longer be worth more to those organizations than the damage his continued association with them would do to their reputations.

    I certainly don’t fault the victim in this case for not wanting to come forward, but if the rumors about Shermer are true, a thorough investigation will doubtless find many other victims whose combined testimony will provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt of his alleged predatory nature.

  154. says

    the attacker will be publicly associated with a rape allegation.

    And that is all she wanted to accomplish anyway, according to PZ.

    Foul deceiver. She wanted to warn other women, to help them avoid being raped. Up til now, that had been accomplished via a private network of warnings wherein publicly associating Shermer’s name with rape allegations was assiduously avoided. Evidence (there’s that word again) showed that this private network wasn’t up to the task. A certain privileged minority of people were made aware of the warnings. That’s not enough.

  155. MrFancyPants says

    jimashby: I don’t even know where to start with you, you sanctimonious shit

  156. rowanvt says

    Jim, thank you for continuing to ignore that my reporting my stalking/almost-rape 3 hours after it happened was considered “too late” by the cops who called me a liar to my face. With hand prints from the guy on the glass directly in front of him.

    Justice would not have been served either way as the moment alcohol was mentioned, the cops would have dropped the investigation. This is the real world. If a woman was drunk, per the status quo it wasn’t rape. She just had sex she “regretted”.

  157. mildlymagnificent says

    If all we want is the policy change, then the naming and shaming is suffice, the perpetrators, will hide behind whatever barrier of feigned innocence they can muster. Lawrence Krauss is threatening legal action on another blog. But in reality, nothing will have changed. The predators behaviour will have simply been modified.

    What is the matter with you? Can’t you read what you wrote?

    “Nothing will have changed” followed by “predators behaviour will have simply been modified”.

    That is what these women want. For the behaviour to change. And the reason the predators’ behaviour will change is because they will have been faced with explicit advice from organisations and venues that such behaviour is unacceptable and that they will take any complaints they receive seriously and act on them promptly and appropriately.

    That’s what we all want.

  158. says

    Surely, lynch mobs died out in the 1800′s (expect in the Deep South), but this is what these blogs read like. A verbal lynch mob.

    yes, we’re brutally murdering shermer. with words.

    do you ever fucking stop and think before typing such complete and utter bullshit?

  159. says

    @Jim Ashby,

    why didn’t she immediately report the rape to the police [CAPS removed for readability – SQB]

    Maybe because of this: “The Rape of Mr. Smith” (trigger warning, probably, although I’d guess you’ve never experienced anything like this, so not for you).

  160. Robert B. says

    All your objections to the contrary ignores the FACT that this is what the justice system is for.

    No one gives a shit what the justice system is theoretically “for.” We have been explaining and explaining about what the justice system (and other authorities with similar responsibility) are actually observed to do in real life. You are talking to the fucking victims. We know what happens because WE were there. Where were YOU?

  161. says

    lovely mental image of goal posts reaching warp speed via star trek special effects

    …These are the voyages of the starship Rape Culture Denialism. Its ongoing mission: to continue to ensure that rape victims bear either a portion or the entirety of the blame for their assault. To seek out new excuses and new justifications for predatory behavior. To boldly pretend that cops give a fuck about sexual assault!

  162. MrFancyPants says

    crucified by the likes of you eggheads

    Go take a leap, jimashby. Seriously, you’re not adding to the conversation AT ALL.

  163. says

    jimashby:
    You still have not educated yourself.
    This is not a JUST WORLD.
    The authorities far too often dismiss rape victims.
    That is a fact.

    Think otherwise? Prove it. Cite it…
    ************
    ANYONE ELSE WHO COMES INTO THIS THREAD WITH “ADVICE” ABOUT GOING TO THE AUTHORITIES NEEDS TO READ
    Stephanie @55
    Caine @82
    Rowanvt @156
    mouthyb @165
    ************

  164. rowanvt says

    Oh my flying spaghetti monster Sally…. I have not laughed that loud in ages. You are my favorite person for the rest of the day!

  165. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Jesus fuck. I’d normally only expect to see shit like jimashby’s comments as a hypothetical example of what constitutes rape culture, but here it is as what he actually thinks.

    Funny how it’s also people like him who claim to wonder why ‘genuine’ rape victims don’t come forward more often.

  166. says

    lynch mobs died out in the 1800′s (expect in the Deep South)

    I see you’re equally well informed about the history of racially motivated violence in the USA as you are about rape culture.

  167. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    @jimashby
     
    I am in the mood for a good news story about now. Please, if you could, share any first or secondhand accounts of how well the police have dealt with sexual assault reports. Don’t go looking up stories on the Internet – I mean actual events of you or those you know.

  168. says

    people who assume the worst and convict without trial.

    our words. they have put shermer in prison.

    do you ever fucking stop and think before typing such complete and utter bullshit?

  169. says

    If you’re truly interested in justice, then IF it turns out that these rape allegations are false and the mystery woman AND PZ have borne false witness . . . they you should be just as vocal about the two of them being arrest or sued for their defamation of the character of an innocent man.

    But I really don’t think you guys are interested in justice.

    Or else, you’d also give fair consideration to Shermer.

    The public armchair justice is sickening. Let the truth come out before judging.

  170. says

    Thanks, rowanvt. I dunno how the fuck I’m managing to joke about this shit, especially since a friend of mine was raped just a few weeks ago, but here I am. I have, in fact, been watching a lot of Star Trek lately, so maybe that’s what inspired it. Anyway, black humor is a coping mechanism, for sure. I got my taste for it from my mom, who was a nurse in the ER for many years. Glad I could lighten your mood for a bit.

  171. says

    All your objections to the contrary ignores the FACT that this is what the justice system is for.

    no, the justice system is for justifying and defending a social status quo. That needs to be changed before the system can become actually useful for convicting rapists.

  172. jefrir says

    jimashby

    The worst scenario would be if the woman continues to hide behind PZ and Shermer is crucified by the likes of you eggheads: people who assume the worst and convict without trial.

    No, I’d say the worst scenario would be if the allegations were disbelieved despite being true and he goes on to rape more women. But I see you’re more concerned about the consequences for the perpetrator.

  173. MrFancyPants says

    jimashby, how are we not giving “fair consideration” to Shermer? He’s free to respond at any time.

    And you know what? You suck. You really are a bad person. Your demand to know why the victim DIDN’T REPORT HER RAPE TO THE POLICE RIGHT AWAY IN ALL CAPS shows how confused you are.

  174. says

    Just wondering. Are there cases of rampant sexual abuse and coverup in institutions NOT run by old white men? Since old white men seem to dominate powerful institutions, I’m not sure how you’d go about a good comparison.

    Tibetan Buddhism did, at least before being thrown into exile.

    Fuck all of you, you sanctimonious douchebags. You have just lowered yourself to the level of those you criticize for believing claims without evidence.

    Fuck you, you piece of shit. An anonymous claim is evidence, but not the greatest. When it’s corroborated by multiiple independent accounts (See Josh, referring to women in Shermer’s circles), it gets a lot stronger.

    I know this is the PZ fan club . . . but even a fan can be outraged at this abortion of justice.

    Look, fuck, publicizing a name isn’t removing the chance for the accused’s justice – especially since nothing has happened to the accused, and if past experiences inform present, nothing WILL happen.

    Do you really think police can’t or won’t handle rape properly? Or that rape isn’t taken seriously? That’s bullpoopy.

    Uh, yeah, they don’t, and it isn’t. We know this because less than a quarter of all rapists charged actually go to jail. Do you know how low that is, in comparison to every other crime in the USA?

  175. says

    No, I’d say the worst scenario would be if the allegations were disbelieved despite being true and he goes on to rape more women.

    This is true if, and only if, you assume that women are people. However, if you assume that women are not people, then jimashby’s assessment of the worst case scenario is entirely correct.

  176. Crudely Wrott says

    The dam has been leaking for a long time. Small drips. Nothing alarming. Nothing to indicate that the dam is unsound.

    While accepted as inconsequential, explained as normal for dams or casually ignored, small cracks appear. Nothing to worry about. The dam is sound.
    .
    .
    .
    R U M B L E

    Oh . . .
    ___________

    To all who stand against the status quo, who refuse to accept the incredible capacity of blase dismissal of what is an endless crime against half of humanity and have had more than enough of the cavalier rationalization that allows it to continue . . . I stand with you.

    This shit must be met head on. It must be met with unity and resolve. The time has come. The dam is failing. A flood is coming.

  177. says

    Poor, poor guys who commit assault. Where will they go, what will they do if everyone doesn’t like and approve of them all the time?

    Really, it’s the valiant defenders of Shermer on this thread who are to be commended. It’s so unfair of women to talk about their experiences. It’s almost like they’re stealing from Shermer his right to look for victims.

    Who will think of the poor, oppressed perps?

    But really guys, how are we supposed to trust that you know something about assault and reporting it to the police. How do we know you’ve had that experience for yourself? After all, apparently, if it didn’t happen to you, it didn’t happen.

    Fuckers.

  178. mh354 says

    #91 Caine:

    You’re right. And I apologize if that’s what it sounded like. It’s not my intention to make anyone do something they are not prepared for. It is however, tremendously appreciated when brave women come out, talk about their experience and say who was responsible. I’m not trying to belittle this action.

    #133 Klatu:

    I didn’t mean it as a means to prevent rape. Please. Anyone who presumes that women have complete control over sexual harassment or rape is just making excuses. Plain and clear. I simply find it unfair that men rarely get any kind of notoriety for inappropriate and/or illegal sexual behavior. I have the vague hope that publishing and making everyone aware of the actions public figures, will not only warn unsuspecting women off, but also shame the MEN publicly (and maybe teach other men that it’s wrong). That these experiences don’t just remain private or gossip. Shermer’s untoward behavior to women was somewhat known, but only if you were talking in person with other active skeptics in the community. I wonder if there would be repercussions to Shermer and Radford personally, if these details keep being published on the internet.

    And for the women who have come out and exposed them (Stolznow and anonymous), you have my sincerest gratitude. I’ve had my personal experiences, and this is sincerely helping me deal with them and put some people into perspective.

  179. John Morales says

    polaris:

    However, what if they are innocent?

    This post is about a he, not about a they.

    And if Shermer is innocent, then he has been subject to an anonymous accusation that a credible person deems credible, and his reputation will be tarnished.

    So, I’ve answered your question.

    Care to answer this one?

    What if he’s guilty?

    jimashby:

    But now that the accusation is public, Shermer may find himself facing charges anyway, if the woman comes forward. That would be the best potential scenario.

    No. The best potential scenario is that some woman who may otherwise been sexually assaulted will not so be.

    The most salient question in this unfortunate affair is WHY DIDN’T SHE IMMEDIATELY REPORT THE RAPE TO THE POLICE. All your objections to the contrary ignores the FACT that this is what the justice system is for.

    Answer: years after the fact, she’s anonymous yet still afraid; how do you think she felt at the time?

    You seem to imagine not immediately going to the police after what is basically a ‘date rape’ is tantamount to admitting no rape occurred.

    (You imagine it’s uncommon? You certainly ignore how traumatic that action might be to a victim, and how near-impossible it would be to prove it occurred when it’s an abuse of trust rather than a forcible coercion)

    [meta]

    I know this is the PZ fan club . . . but even a fan can be outraged at this abortion of justice.

    I know you’re the opposite of a “PZ fan”… and that you claim that PZ reporting what he was told is an “abortion of justice”.

  180. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    @jimashby
     
    Still waiting for those real-world examples to back up your assertions. I am starting to suspect that you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. Could it be that you, yourself, are a bit of an armchair expert on these matters?

  181. Robert B. says

    @ 199: Uh. I knew you aren’t reading our comments, jim, but are you reading your comments? You’re the one advocating legal action. We’re making moral condemnations out of our own personal opinions. If we were “just as vocal” about legal action for libel, in some weird counterfactual where both the accuser and PZ were demonstrated to be telling defamatory lies (Both of them? How would that work? The accuser told defamatory lies, and PZ told… lies about the lies… that were still defamatory? to the same person?) that would mean we were actively arguing against such legal action.

  182. says

    As usual, political correctitude prevails here. Look at yourselves. Do you normally assume guilt without evidence? Do you think such vigilantism is fair or responsible?

    You’re wrongheaded if you do.

    I’m all for locking up rapists and throwing away the keys. Hell, I’d even be happy with castrating rapists. But I know that the rule of law — flawed as it sometimes is — must be respected. When cases go to trial, we’ll sometimes have O.J. Simpsons who thwart justice but most of the time the guilty are convicted. If Shermer really has raped multiple women, then don’t you think it’s about time he was prosecuted? Wouldn’t that be justice? If SOMEBODY would file an official complaint then, maybe, all those women can finally come forward.

    And if Shermer has been wrongly accused, the mystery woman AND PZ should be held responsible for their actions. And all of you idiots should admit that you’ve acted like a pack of hyenas.

  183. says

    After all, apparently, if it didn’t happen to you, it didn’t happen.

    not quite: if you didn’t report it to the police, it’s because it didn’t happen. if the stuff y’all told about were actually real and your reporting had really been dismissed by the police, you should have reported that to the police. since you haven’t, you’re not believable.

  184. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    *sigh*
    Could all the brave disenters please read at least the post if comments sre too much for them?
    It’s a nice catch-22: if you don’t report then you must be lying. If you do, you’re out to destroy a man by bringing such serious charges agsinst himMakes me hstate everything.

    To the women who have been Shermer’s victims: I’m sorry you have to read stupid accusationd, even though i doubt they come as a surprise, unfortunately.

  185. says

    jimashby:
    At this point I think you cannot fucking read.
    People have given reasons why victims of sexual assault do not go to police. You can do a search…oh fuck it. You are not about to put in any damn work that could shatter your Just World bullshit and clearly others seem to think the police are the perfect answer.

    http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/rape-notification.htm

    The majority of sexual assaults are not reported to the authorities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the majority of rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated against women and girls in the United States between 1992 and 2000 were not reportedto the police. Only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults were reported. [3] Reasons for not reporting assault vary among individuals, but one study identified the following as common: [4] Self-blame or guilt. Shame, embarrassment,or desire to keep the assault a private matter. Humiliation or fear of the perpetrator or other individual’s perceptions. Fear of not being believed or of being accused of playing a role in the crime. Lack of trust in the criminal justice system.

    In the NIJ funded Sexual Assault Among Latinas Study(SALAS), it was found that victims did not commonly seek help from the criminal justice system, but did seek informal sources of help such as family and friends. However, one third of the women included in the study did not report their victimization to anyone.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9134799/Sexual-assault-survey-80-of-women-dont-report-rape-or-sexual-assault-survey-claims.html

    But most of those who had been raped or sexually assaulted (83 per cent) failed to report it to police, and 29 per cent did not even tell friends or family what had happened.

    Overall about half said they would be too embarrassed or ashamed of the incident to admit it but two-thirds said they would hesitate because of low conviction rates.

    More than half of the 1,609 female respondents to the survey said the legal system, the media and society at large is unsympathetic to rape victims.

    In response, Mumsnet is launching a campaign called ‘We Believe You’ in order to support victims, and also to dispel the myths that women invite rape by dressing provocatively and sexual assaults cannot take place within relationships.

    Here is an article discussing WHY police do not believe rape victims (I cannot seem to copy/paste from this Slate article, but the info is relevant):
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/why_cops_don_t_believe_rape_victims_and_how_brain_science_can_solve_the.html

    So now, to all you supporters of “tell the police”, here is evidence of why victims do not do that. In tbe face of evidence, are you going to amend your beliefs, or stick to your guns?

  186. Robert B. says

    So. Victim testimony isn’t evidence, speech is vigilantism, 25% is most of the time, and the victims are the ones who have to respect the rule of law. Glad we got all that cleared up.

  187. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    @jimashby
    “…but most of the time the guilty are convicted.”
     
    What percentage is this ‘most of the time’ that you speak of? For sexual assaults? Start backing up the shit you are spewing. Women do not go to the police because they have been shown time and time again that it gets them nowhere and the guilty are not convicted. Have you not read the comments here?

  188. says

    When cases go to trial, we’ll sometimes have O.J. Simpsons who thwart justice but most of the time the guilty are convicted.

    divorced from reality.

    “most of the time”, the outcome is whatever supports the social status quo. Convictions that go against that are rare and come at an incredibly high cost and require flawless prepwork, very favorable circumstances, and an “ideal” victim (example: Rosa Parks’ case being chosen over Claudette Corvin’s)

  189. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Yeah, my experience means nothing, my friend’s means nothing, none of the experiences of anyone else I know who has been the victim of sexual assault mean anything either. For the record, I know a lot of sexual assault victims. Most did not report. The ones that did secured not one conviction.

    That’s just the people I know, and I’m only a Very Small person.

  190. says

    Jadehawk: Oh, I don’t know. See, if they believe the world is just and reporting systems work, it will tend to be because they’ve never had to use those systems, but suppose that should they have to, things will turn out the way they want them to.

    Hence the whole: if it hasn’t happened to them…

  191. Daniel Archevis says

    Mr Myers,

    I understand that you have given this matter a great deal of thought, and I have no reason to doubt that you have been through some soul-searching before posting this information. I am sure you meant well, and also recognize that it is all too easy for someone like me to judge from afar.

    This being said, I would still like to ask for your thoughts on the following:

    You have publicly accused a named person of a serious sexual crime, alledgedly on behalf of someone whose identity you refuse to reveal, without presenting or even posessing any evidence of actual guilt.

    Please describe what it would be to live in a society where it is acceptable for people to publicly accuse named persons of serious sexual crimes, alledgedly on behalf of someone whose identity they refuse to reveal, without presenting or even posessing any evidence of actual guilt.

    I will be excited to read your reply.

    - DA

  192. John Morales says

    jimashby:

    Do you think such vigilantism is fair or responsible?

    “such vigilantism” here consists of an OP stating that someone told them something that they thought should be known, and a comment thread of people expressing their opinions on the OP and its relevance.

    (Exaggerating something can be hyperbole, but it falls flat when that something is a risible categorical error — expressing an opinion is not amateur law enforcement)

  193. raven says

    PZ Myers:

    Oh, hey, look — the explosion also took out my career within this community!

    Fuck.

    Don’t worry about it.

    It’s like being kicked out of the sleaziest bar in the worst part of town. You’ve lost something but so what and how valuable is it? I lost a flu bug once myself. It would be worse if you hadn’t been.

  194. anuran says

    Being “a big name in the skeptical community” shouldn’t inhibit you from doing what’s right. If anything leaders should be held to a higher standard.

    But keep in mind that at the moment all you have is hearsay. And libel and slander are very serious matters.

    I don’t know what to do. Wish I had a simple answer.

  195. says

    We have got to invent a fallacy for people who think online criticism of an individual must be held to the same standards as a court of law.

    This. Ain’t. No. Damn. Courtroom.

    Some of us have formed our opinions based on evidence.

    Others, like jimashby and philosophia look evidence in the eye and say “fuck you, the world is a fair place!”

  196. says

    Jimasshole,

    YOU are the only one banging on about the ‘rule of law’ and legal action. YOU!

    What we’re saying- that Shermer is very likely guilty of some pretty aweful shit and that it’s a good thing this information is out there now- will (sadly) most probably not have any serious consequences for Shermer. It just might, however, save some women from the potential threat he poses. There is no rational reason to object to people, such as the woman who came forward or PZ, trying to prevent that kind of shit, okay.

  197. rq says

    Whoever linked to the Rape of Mr Smith video (sorry, too lazy to scroll back up, the comments keep piling on), thank you.
    Also, thanks to SallyStrange for the Star-Trek-themed comic relief – unexpected, but much needed.

  198. B-Lar says

    jimashby, your lack of humanity is showing.

    You are failing to take into account the systemic failure of the authorities and institutions that cover this up and perpetuate it. If your precious system was so effective then these anonymous accusations would be unnecessary.

    As it is, they are absolutely required, because its the final recourse to protect other women, which has always been the number one objective.

    There was plenty of time for the authorities and various institutions to do things the right way, and the evidence suggests that each time the institutions have protected themselves from embarrassment rather than to clean their house out. What do you get when the people responsible for solving a problem fail to do so?. People will find their own ways to solve the problem. Suck it.

    This is not about apportioning guilt. It is about creating an environment where women can report abuse, insulated from your fucking disingenuous bullshit. You are part of the system that defends abusers every time you hit submit. Sort it out.

  199. says

    Justice would not have been served either way as the moment alcohol was mentioned, the cops would have dropped the investigation. This is the real world. If a woman was drunk, per the status quo it wasn’t rape. She just had sex she “regretted”.

    Fuck the Accords.

    As usual, political correctitude prevails here. Look at yourselves. Do you normally assume guilt without evidence? Do you think such vigilantism is fair or responsible?

    This is pretty fucking ironic in the same post as castigating OJ. You do know the evidence against OJ had to be thrown out because the police gathered it improperly (because they were fucking racists), right? I mean, yeah, he did it and all, but a Not Guilty verdict because evidence was thrown out after being tampered with by cops is exactly the sort of thing the criminal justice system is designed to have happen, and for good bloody reason in this case. Problem is, when a foundational cornerstone of evidence in law is used by a black man, it’s treated as a god damn loophole that he ‘abused’. Yeah, he ‘abused’ having evidence manufactured wholecloth by the police, alright.

  200. says

    @mildlymagnificent

    What is the matter with you? Can’t you read what you wrote?

    “Nothing will have changed” followed by “predators behaviour will have simply been modified”.

    I wasn’t very clear with that. What I meant was that the predator/creep/rapist/alleged rapist will have just changed tactics or behaviour at conferences. But is that all we want? A change of behaviour at a single event? Surely, if these people behave like this at conferences, they behave like it elsewhere. The post about Ben Radford, certainly points to that.

    If that is the case we need to be taking a stronger harder line and immediately involving the law. Now that might be easier here in the UK, as our police forces have become more equipped to deal with the victims needs in incidents of sexual assault and rape, but it should still be a goal to aspire to.

  201. Robert B. says

    @ 224: That world would look a lot like this one, except some of the men so targeted would be straight. I see where that would bother you.

    Do kindly fuck off sideways, into the sea.

  202. anuran says

    Let me expand a little:
    You did the right thing. There may be consequences including lawsuits. But if you didn’t have the moral courage to reject evil people you would be no better than them.

    As you said, you have a career. You won’t starve. It would be more difficult if your only income was speaking fees at atheist events.

    If people in “The Community” reject you for this, then they were lightweight assholes and you’re better off without them.

  203. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    I went to college in a large rural town – the population was under 100 thousand. The town, at that time, had the fourth highest rape rate in the country. This is against cities with millions of people. At the start of every academic year the student union used to broadcast messages in the refectory warning girls not to walk home alone. The local paper refused to report any incidences of sexual assault because it would ‘encourage more of the same’. The real reason was image. Not good for business. Most of the female students I knew had been sexually accosted in some way. Some of them had tried to go to the police. Responses like: ‘look at what you were wearing, you had it coming’ pretty much set the standard for police action.

  204. fmcp says

    I have so, so many things I want to say, but no way of articulating them. I will, however, respond to the question (way, way up thread) asking women what we think should be done.

    I want to make sure that the people who don’t believe PZ’s correspondent are able to listen to me, so I’m not going to focus on her story; I’m going to focus on my own experiences.

    First, if you really want to know how to help in a specific situation, then assume that victims know that rape is a crime, and that the police exist. Victims can choose what to do with that knowledge. If they do report, give whatever practical and/or emotional support is asked for. If they do not report, give whatever practical and/or emotional support is asked for. And maybe a cup of tea.

    I think, though, that the question was more about how to help change this incredibly toxic culture. There have been many suggestions, but I have one more: if you know or strongly suspect that your friend/colleague/partner/whatever is a sexual predator, don’t let your cognitive dissonance keep you from protecting potential victims. Do something. Tell someone. Refuse to be complicit. I don’t believe for one second that I was my rapist’s first victim. I don’t believe that his friends would have been completely shocked had I told them what happened. I believe his girlfriend had an icky feeling in the pit of her stomach that she ignored, because she loved him. Maybe one of them could have helped me stay safe.

    I’m sure that at least one of you reading these comments has an icky feeling about someone you like and respect. If you can, please do something.

    OK, I’m going to go wipe my eyes and have a cup of tea.

  205. raven says

    PZ Myers:

    Oh, hey, look — the explosion also took out my career within this community!

    Fuck.

    Who has something to worry about right now is Shermer.

    Rape is a serious crime, a felony.

    If this breaks the wrong way for him, he is going to prison.

    Besides which, I barely recognize the name Shermer. I do know who PZ Myers is though.

  206. says

    I will leave this here for the more rational in this thread:

    Why Will Only 3 Out of Every 100 Rapists Serve Time?

    The majority of sexual assault are not reported to the police (an average of 54% of assaults in the last five years were not reported). Those rapists, of course, will never spend a day in prison. But even when the crime is reported, it is unlike to lead to an arrest and prosecution. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 3% of rapists will ever serve a day in prison.

    http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

    Sooooo, no. Most rapists do not end up in jail.

  207. mesh says

    Rape allegations are indeed taken very seriously – as potential crimes women will commit against men in order to drag their reputations through the mud. Your compartmentalization has got to be working overtime in order to be shocked by the silence of victims while simultaneously holding their testimony as far more dangerous. After all, Shermer stands to be “verbally lynched”!

  208. Nick Gotts says

    Stop giving me any credit at all, you’re killing me. – PZ

    I don’t think we can oblige you there, PZ. I just started reading this thread 15 minutes ago, and one of my first thoughts was:
    “Would I have had the courage to do what PZ just did?”
    I doubt that I would, even taking into account that not doing it was, as you say, no easy option.

    Of course, your informant has shown great courage too, but – never having been raped or sexually assaulted – I find it much harder even to imagine facing the same situation.

    If past experience (Catholic Church and other religious organizations, Scouts, military…) is any guide, there will be a lot more vileness yet to come to light; and both those directly responsible, and those who have covered up for them or turned a blind eye, will do their best to discredit accusers and shift blame. We shouldn’t, of course, automatically credit just any anonymous, out-of-context accusation on Tumblr – indeed, we can expect false accusations against those speaking out, such as PZ – but again in the light of past experience, our default should be to believe those coming forward as victims.

  209. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Oh, I get it now- no bloody sheets to show, no crime. Fuck you, Daniel Archevis

  210. Bernard Bumner says

    I send my best wishes to all of those affected by this issue; to those who have shared their story, those who can not.

    I hope that the rest of us starting to make more noise on this issue is a source of some comfort.

    PZ Myers:
    It was misery if I did, and greater misery if I didn’t.

    Thanks for taking the burden. Thanks for placing care for others before care for yourself. If you were more of a selfish arsehole, then there would have been an easy course of action.

  211. says

    Mouthyb, read mesh’s comment again. I read it quite differently, although I did have to read it twice and my first reaction was like yours.

  212. Acolyte of Sagan says

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the victim should – if she is willing and able – make another official complaint to the police. Rape is rape, and it matters not one iota whether it occured yesterday or thirty, forty, or fifty years ago.
    As we have seen recently both with the RCC and British TV and radio personalities of the 1970′s, other victims who have kept quiet for years because the abuser was thought too powerful, too well known for claims against him (and in all the cases I’ve seen reported so far, these cases are always men doing the abusing) to be taken seriously can be encouraged to come forward if they see that others have not only taken the very brave step of making the complaint, but are being taken seriously.
    But the decision whether or not belongs to the victim, and nobody has the right to judge or condemn her for not coming forward if she is, for whatever reason, unwilling or unable to come forward.

    This all goes to show that a lack of religious belief does not automatically make one a decent person; an absolute bastard is an absolute bastard irrespective of religious belief as much as a good person is a good person irrespective of the same.

  213. says

    @John Morales

    What if he’s guilty?

    Then he should be prosecuted, spend a long time in prison, and then spend the rest of his life on the sex offenders register.

    Was there really no implication in what I was saying that that was my view?

    My point was that the ‘naming and shaming’ might be fun for some, but involving the law is preferable and essential.

  214. John Morales says

    polaris:

    Then he should be prosecuted, spend a long time in prison, and then spend the rest of his life on the sex offenders register.

    I see I was unspecific; I don’t mean what if he were proven in a court of law to be guilty, I meant what if he were guilty?

  215. julianmorrison says

    I believe her.

    I also assert that believing her is rational. Bear in mind people, the legal system does not try to be rational, because the definition of reason here is “Bayesian updates on a simplicity prior and all the available evidence”, and the legal system routinely excludes evidence, does non-Bayesian updates, and has a fixed prior of “innocent until proven guilty” which ignores the facts.

    Definition of Bayesian evidence: it’s some Q whose likelihood is dependent on proposition P. If its likelihood is independent, it’s not evidence.

    Contra the legal system, the actual measured facts are that rape accusers are lying in low single digit percentages. So accusation is very strong Bayesian evidence; it is much more likely to happen given “he actually did it” than given “he didn’t”.

    Denials and lawsuits are not Bayesian evidence. They’re equally likely given “did” and “didn’t”.

    Therefore given “he said, she said”, you should update strongly to favour “she said”.

    QED, A rationalist should believe her.

  216. says

    Jim Ashby, from what position of authority do you preach to rape victims about their responsibilities in the immediate aftermath of such a horrific experience? I suppose you’re a model of self-control and probity after suffering a life changing trauma?

  217. reinderdijkhuis says

    Over the last year or so, in the UK there has been an ongoing police investigation into the actions of many celebrities. The crimes themselves span a time frame of nearly fifty years. This started people coming forward, but they came forward to the police (or in once case came forward anonymously to a journalist, who went to the police) with their allegations being investigated. The first, I think, was prosecuted and sentenced in the last few weeks.

    Dude, you did NOT just cite the existence of the Yewtree investigation to support the argument that going to the cops immediately is the right course to take. Yewtree is happening now because for fifty years, the powerful perpetrators intimidated and threatened the victims out of pressing charges. People did go to the cops and were told they would not be believed, that they would be destroyed. Jimmy Saville and others used their fame, their charity work and their connections with the authorities to get away with raping (mostly but not exclusively) young girls in what was basically plain sight, and in fact specifically picked victims who they knew would not be able to speak (hospitalized, dying) or who would be reflectively disbelieved (“troubled” teens in care homes).
    Saville sexually assaulted one teenaged performer on live television. Do you really think going to the cops would have helped any?

    Don’t even go there, you dolt.

  218. klatu says

    @179

    I don’t think it is a matter of “burning the organizations to the ground”, but it is a matter of cleaning out the predators. Not people who “don’t get it” or “aren’t sufficiently supportive of harrassed women” or who have without malice stepped over some invisible (to them) line of etiquette, or who like the guy in the IEI (Infamous Elevator Incident which hopefully has drastically reduced the number of such guys in the community) are just clueless about what might make a woman uncomfortable… but people who actually commit acts of rape or issue threats of rape or physical harm. No way should those be allowed at any public meeting or conference in any skeptical/atheist/humanist organization.

    Here we go again… NO! Cornering and propositioning someone in an isolated, enclosed, hard-to-escape place, against that person’s publicly stated wishes is not just a matter of etiquette. It cannot be chalked up to naivete or social ineptitude. It’s a blatant display of hostility to consent, to known boundaries. Even if it was naivete, it would be undistinguishable from text-book predatory behaviour.
    What you are proposing is Not. Good. Enough.
    The person put in that position is being harassed, no matter if the harasser realizes it. The solution is to demand more, and not let it slide. Stop excusing harassment.

    #133 Klatu:

    [...] I simply find it unfair that men rarely get any kind of notoriety for inappropriate and/or illegal sexual behavior. I have the vague hope that publishing and making everyone aware of the actions public figures, will not only warn unsuspecting women off, but also shame the MEN publicly (and maybe teach other men that it’s wrong). [...]

    I understand. But you’re still demanding that the survivors do more. That they teach men (to teach men) not to rape. No. Men need to get off their asses and do this stuff on their own. Because they ALREADY know that rape is wrong, but our culture actively discourages us to do anything about it. You’re correct, anti-rape advocacy should be aimed at men. But it shouldn’t have to come from survivors.

  219. Johnny Oizys says

    polaris:

    My point was that the ‘naming and shaming’ might be fun for some, but involving the law is preferable and essential.

    You forgot to add “most of the time useless and often causing more harm to the victim as things are at the moment”

  220. says

    Do any of these fuckwits read links?

    PAGING THE ASSCLAM IN SMEGMARALADE SAUCE KNOWN AS MESH:

    no, rape allegations are NOT taken seriously. Scroll up to my comment @216 and click some links learn something. Stop supporting rape culture.

  221. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    *headdesk* FFS.

    For what it’s worth PZ, I think you did the right thing here, as did all those women who have come forward with their stories. People need to know about this behaviour, or who else would the perpetrators go on to hurt?

    Leading on from what John Morales alluded to earlier in the thread, you have made clear you can’t personally verify the accusations, which covers you from any charge of dishonesty. But if you trust the accuser, then that’s good enough for me. As John said, you aren’t known for being credulous. As I said, such behaviour needs to be made public. I think you handled this well.

  222. reinderdijkhuis says

    OK… now I’m thinking that I was perhaps being a bit uncharitable in my reading of Polaris’s comment. Apologies for that – I was posting in anger.

  223. mesh says

    No offense taken, mouthyb. I can see now how my first sentence may have given people the wrong impression. Indeed, I was responding to the various Just World proponents in this thread who assure us that justice will magically happen through the pains of a lawsuit in spite of the evidence and experience to the contrary.

  224. says

    I’m missing one particular piece of the puzzle here:

    I reached out to one organization that was involved in the event at which I was raped, and they refused to take my concerns seriously.

    How can this be possible? Why, and how was this complaint dismissed? And the most important question by far, by whom, and in which organisation?

    Because if the allegations made against Shermer are found to be true and there is no legal consequences, I would think making sure that that organisation changes its leadership and procedures should be the next important goal. That may also prevent future assaults from happening.

  225. Bernard Bumner says

    My point was that the ‘naming and shaming’ might be fun for some…

    Who the fuck is having fun? The need to protect people from predators hidden in their midst is not fun, it strips away the veneer of comfort and exposes us to very uncomfortable and unsettling truths.

    …but involving the law is preferable and essential.

    Preferable for who? Essential to who? You? Because that way you can assume that something is being done, whilst ignoring the shabby way that the legal system at large treats victims, along with the untold cost to victims of having to make those accusations?

    You conceited shit.

  226. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    …cont’d

    That said, although I think you handled it well, I think you’ll still be in for some serious flak. For what it’s worth, I’ll be doing my best to slam your detractors into the ground, as I’m sure others here will be.

  227. Robert B. says

    Respectfully, fmcp, I disagree with you on one point. One cannot assume that victims know that rape (or other sexual assault) is a crime – or rather, they likely know that rape and assault are crimes but not necessarily that what happened to them qualifies. The toxic culture you mention includes a widespread… I dunno, movement? Agreement? Status quo? … to minimize acts of sexual violence. Sometimes victims believe the lies. At the time I thought having my genitals non-consensually groped in public was “bullying,” not sexual assault. No one even had to tell me that in so many words, the room full of people who watched and said nothing got the message across loud and clear. Even as I type this I have to keep re-convincing myself that what happened to me was a real and serious violation and is worth talking about. I’ve read of people being made to believe that it’s not rape if you’re married, or dating, or drunk, or at a party, or a man.

    None of this argues against your point that someone saying they have been raped has probably already considered whether they should report it to the police. But if I had told someone back then what had happened to me, the best and most helpful first thing for them to say would have been “That was sexual assault, which is a serious crime.”

  228. says

    Polaris:
    Since involving the law often means being dismissed by law enforcement, forced to relive traumatic events, forced to face your rapist, and the all too real possibility that your rapist will not go to prison, why is reporting it essential?
    While it is something that CAN be done, if a victim chooses, it should not be something they are made to feel is necessary.

  229. mildlymagnificent says

    How can this be possible? Why, and how was this complaint dismissed? And the most important question by far, by whom, and in which organisation?

    Seeing as we have ample evidence, even several first hand reports right here on this thread, that the police very often dismiss such complaints, why are you surprised that others will do so?

  230. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    @tony!
    “While it is something that CAN be done, if a victim chooses, it should not be something they are made to feel is necessary.”
    That was succinct and very well put. Hopefully enough to get into the heads of some the commenters here.

  231. says

    Robert B:
    About marital rape:
    ” It was not until the late 1970s that anyone was convicted of raping his spouse in the United States. Before then, criminal codes typically included a “marital rape exemption,” or provision barring prosecution for the rape of one’s spouse. Such laws reflected then popularly held views that only stranger rape constituted “real rape” or that forced sex is a “wifely duty.”

    This thinking mirrored the common law presumption, in effect for hundreds of years, that spouses should be exempt from prosecution. It was based in a theory articulated by Matthew Hale, [Chief Justice in England in the 17th century, who] “wrote: “[t]he husband cannot be guilty of rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto the husband which she cannot retract.”

    In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous states adopted laws criminalizing marital rape, and by July 1993, it was illegal in every state to rape your spouse.”

    http://www.rainn.org/public-policy/sexual-assault-issues/marital-rape

  232. Ichthyic says

    Please describe what it would be to live in a society where it is acceptable for people to publicly accuse named persons of serious sexual crimes, alledgedly on behalf of someone whose identity they refuse to reveal, without presenting or even posessing any evidence of actual guilt.

    It would be the same society as one where the victim themselves made the claim, without all the fear and shame piled on them by morons like yourself, who feel so self righteous, but really are ignorant and actually antithetical to such a society.

    IOW, this IS the society we have now, with victims living in fear of even MORE harm being done to them, by deliberately confronting their attackers directly. In short, it’s folks like yourself that in not a small way, CONTRIBUTE to why this is happening this way.

    think about that.

    Or hell, don’t. Just shut the fuck up.

  233. B-Lar says

    Rorschach, I agree.

    The law doesn’t need to be involved for the organisation to be named too. Given the authorities woeful inability to tackle the problem, we need our organisations to pick up the slack, as they are the ones who provide the bulk of the cover for abusers.

    Take it seriously
    Follow it up
    Protect the victims
    Save the world

    I need to see rugs being lifted and greasy roaches squirming, stat.

  234. Robert B. says

    Tony: Yes, that’s the kind of agreement I was talking about. A bit less subtle than the other examples I mentioned, maybe.

    mildlymagnificent: I don’t thing rorschach was being incredulous, I think he was proposing agitation to get rid of the leaders and reform the policies that led to the report being ignored. I’m at least sympathetic to that proposal, though naming the organization to its members and donors probably has at least some of the same issues as reporting the rape itself to police. (Might be more likely to produce results, though, given the current zeitgeist.)

  235. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @jimashby

    Do you really think police can’t or won’t handle rape properly? Or that rape isn’t taken seriously?

    No, we don’t think that, we fucking well know that.

    We’re accountable for our actions. If Shermer raped this woman (and, perhaps, others) he should spend a very long time in prison (assuming he’s found guilty). But the woman is also responsible for immediately report the rape to the police.

    You realise you just made the victim responsible for the rapists actions, right? Why is it her “responsibility” to immediately report it?

    political correctitude

    … is not a word. While we’re at it, why don’t you go look up the definition of “vigilantism”?

    The most salient question in this unfortunate affair is WHY DIDN’T SHE IMMEDIATELY REPORT THE RAPE TO THE POLICE.

    Jesus fuck, reading comprehension is not your strong suit, is it? Try reading the rest of the fucking thread.

    Why don’t you take a long run off a short pier, you disingenuous, sanctimonious little shit?

    Polaris, you can fuck off too.

    Fucking hell.

  236. great1american1satan says

    OK, I was getting a lot of shadenfreude out of the sweating these guys must be doing, but the pain of the victims go lost in my head somewhere along the way. Going from harassment up to rape, suddenly I find my previous glee sliding away into the abyss. I’m sorry to all the victims that I forgot about you.

    And, of course, FFFFFFFFFFFFFF Rapists gotta go.

  237. klatu says

    I can’t give more details than that, as it would reveal my identity, and I am very scared that he will come after me in some way.

    Do you really require the org to be identified, despite this very good reason not to?

  238. says

    Do you really require the org to be identified, despite this very good reason not to?

    Look, this is all not easy for those closely involved, and a fucking minefield whichever way you look at it. But if we are arguing that naming Shermer is done to warn off potential future victims, than it is consistent to argue that naming the Org that refused to consider the original complaint, thereby applying pressure to improve complaint procedures, may also help to make conferences safer in the future. That’s what I think anyway.

  239. says

    By the way, the “Culture of Rape” is pure fantasy conjured by politically correct fascists to bolster their ridiculous militant feminism.

    I’ve been around a long time and have lived all over the U.S. and the world. I have never personally known a convicted rapist. There must have been some who were rapists but I never knew of their criminal history. I understand that rapists come from all walks of life. But I’ve never heard anybody speak glowingly of rape or wanting to rape. Of the men I’ve known well, there is no way they would ever rape anybody. Of course, there are those I don’t include in my social circles who might harbor thoughts of rape or who actually do rape.

    And then there’s common sense. If 1/3 to 1/2 of women in the U.S. are raped AND if the typical rapists is a serial offender, then it’s a small fraction (though, perhaps, still a significant fraction) of men who actually rape. It’s incredible that so many women are raped. Penalties are clearly not stringent enough to deter rapists and encourage victims to come forward. I’m all for increasing penalties to properly reflect the severity of the crime.

    But justice needs to be blind. We need to assume innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. This is not the proper forum to impugn the character of a man who hasn’t even been investigated.

  240. B-Lar says

    Klatu,

    You’re right. Safety first.

    I am hoping that the organisation is going to be proactive about this. Well… as proactive as you can be 2 years after the fact… They might need to be named in order to shake them up, but I wont demand it against the victims fear of reprisal.

    Thanks for setting me straight.

  241. says

    I drop a grenade on myself for this post I think, but to me really really important distinctions need to be clarified before I pass judgement.

    I don’t in any way intend to defend Shermer, however rape seems to have a very broad definition.

    It could mean:

    A guy who grabs a woman against her will while walking home alone, in a safe neighbourhood, late at night, and forces himself on her while she is fighting back and resisting and screaming no.

    Or the other extreme… A woman flirts with a man in a bar… gets herself really really drunk, wakes up, concluded that she has had sex with the guy next to her but doesn’t remember anything i.e did not remember giving her consent.

    I’m not referring to what happened here, and I’m specifically picking 2 very different situations for which we seem to have 1 word for, which also covers everything in between.

    Rape

    “Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me.”

    Coerced meaning what?

    Pz mentions:

    “The coercion involved a rather standard technique for this sort of thing: alcohol. Lots of alcohol.”

    What is the situation here.. It’s important. Is she/Pz saying Shermer secretly spiked her drink, or that he was buying her lots of drinks and encouraging her to drink these?

    Was she free at any stage to turn down to opportunity to get so drunk with Shermer if that is what happened?

    I’m not saying one instance is wrong and the other is ok, but if the drunk state is a factor in what happened, outright deception by spiking a drink is very different to a woman continually accepting drinks bought for her.

    There is also a big difference between “position where I could not consent” compared to “he forced himself on me against my consent”

    Ok I am a guy, it is different I know that. Taking away other all other factors as well, I have twice been so drunk at a house party I woke up next to a woman I had had sex with but don’t remember anything.

    By this definition could I also say I was “In position where I could not consent”

    What does that even mean?

    I don’t consider myself raped. If these girls had got pregnant or I had caught an STI I would have to take some responsibility for getting myself into that state, or in one case getting encouraged into that state by the woman who I ended up in bed with.

    Surely these are massive difference regarding the definition rape?

    “I didn’t give consent” to ” He forced himself on me against my consent”

    Whatever actually happened, I’m not saying that the woman brought this on herself, deserved it, that Shermer didn’t act inappropriately or illegally.

    Its just the vagaries of the language used in the post does matter.

    What about this scenario. Lets say I’m backpacking around and in a hostel playing drinking games with a group of people i just met … A woman and I are flirting with each other and we all push the game getting more and more drunk. She is completly wasted and so am I and we have later have sex. The next morning in bed… She asks “did we have sex last night”

    Would I have raped her?

    She could have been coerced with the drinking game, and by asking the question the next morning decide that she “was in a position where she could not give her consent”

    I’m not trying to be some kind of redneck jock guy if that is how it comes across. I discussed this post at length with a woman who is a teacher who read the post, and she also agrees that there is a really big scale of what seems to be termed rape, and it’s not really clear what happened from the language used.

    My instinct tells me that Shermer is a criminal here, but, differences matter and he must be afforded innocence until proven guilty.

    With the language used, if one was to give Shermer the ultimate benefit of the doubt, it is not certain that he ‘raped’ her.

    I feel I need to hedge this post many times.. I’m not saying she is not the victim of a terrible crime or situation. I just would like to know more about what happened. It’s a mighty charge to lay on someone. Of course if like is said, that there is 5 other instances of this, and this is true, then one can certainly conclude that Shermer is a dangerous sexual predator and should be locked away.

    An example that comes to mind is the word pedophile. There was a case in the UK media where something like a mid 30 year old guy had consensual sex with a girl who was a few weeks before her 16th birthday, and was brandished a pedophile all over the front pages.

    However clearly there is a massive difference between this, and a guy having sex with an 8 year old or a pre pubescent girl, yet we have 1 word that gets thrown around to describe the 2.

    Both men are guilty of a crime with the same word, yet clearly there is a massive difference.

  242. says

    PZ: I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re handling this the right way. Here is my advice:

    First, this post is so extremely vague that it is impossible to determine whether something bad happened or not. It seems to imply that she was drugged, but then again it’s not really saying that. Why not? It’s not believable that no more details could be given when she also says 5 others experienced ‘exactly the same thing’. Ok, then please explain what this ‘exact same thing’ was.

    Second, your source is mentioning these 5 other people. Can you verify that? Because you know what, if some of these would verify the claim, it would be so much stronger. One person can be confused or have a personal agenda. Six people.. not really. But as for now, the only source for the existence of these five other people is your anynomous source.

  243. says

    but doesn’t remember anything

    if you’re drunk enough to black out, you’re too drunk to be able to give consent.

    There is also a big difference between “position where I could not consent” compared to “he forced himself on me against my consent”

    no.

    what the fuck is it always with the fuckweasels and their “if I do X, is it rape yet?” scenarios

  244. says

    By the way, the “Culture of Rape” is pure fantasy conjured by politically correct fascists to bolster their ridiculous militant feminism.

    Oh, tell me he did not just state this… Oh, he did. Fuck, this guy’s an ass.

    I’ve been around a long time and have lived all over the U.S. and the world. I have never personally known a convicted rapist

    *Facepalm* Exactly what kind of assclown are you, Jimasshole? What hole in the ground did you crawl out of? (Does it start with ‘S’ and end with ‘lymepit’?)

  245. says

    A woman and I are flirting with each other and we all push the game getting more and more drunk. She is completly wasted and so am I and we have later have sex. The next morning in bed… She asks “did we have sex last night”

    Would I have raped her?

    You could have googled “false analogy” or “consent” before you wrote this turd. You could have googled “halo effect” or “position of power” before you wrote this turd. You could have googled “Catholic Church sexual abuse” before you wrote this turd. You didn’t and just cluelessly wrote this turd. Why should I respond to this turd with anything other that saying that you seem to be a clueless moron?

  246. B-Lar says

    still at it jimashby?

    Why are you talking about penalties when the problem is that reports are not taken seriously?

    Rape culture is a culture where rape happens, but the rapist is permitted to believe that what happened wasn’t rape, or where people protect the rapist. Ironically, this happens not because these people think rape is great, but because they don’t want to believe that this shit happens in their universe.

    Rape culture is a whole shitload of ostrich-people with their heads in the sand. You appear to be arguing for more people with their head in the sand, not less. Why would you do that?

    Ah yes… because feminists are militant fascists or something.

  247. says

    @286: My advice would be to take this to the Thunderdome. This is going to be a massive derail of the thread.

  248. says

    Correcting myself, sorry, I should’ve said @JamesWaller instead of @286. A habit carried over from a different (Dutch) forum.

  249. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    It seems jimashby has shown his cards.
     
    What an ignoranus…

  250. says

    Boy there’s nothing like a discussion of sexual assault to bring out guys explaining why it’s not a big deal, the victim should have behaved differently/known better, etc. The not quite funny thing is that it’s amazingly clear to those of us who have dealt with situations like these that the suggestions are:

    stupid
    repetitive, but every guy’s gotta give his (same) 2 cents because HIS is the voice that brings reason
    unlikely
    ignorant
    poorly advised
    already tried
    already dealt with
    misinformed
    malicious/hurtful

    But by god, it’s like a fucking bat signal goes off. Someone is talking about sexual assault: to the douche-mobile! (Batman theme plays here.)

  251. says

    By the way, the “Culture of Rape” is pure fantasy conjured by politically correct fascists to bolster their ridiculous militant feminism.

    totally. Steubenville etc. are myths fabricated entirely by Teh Ebil Millitant Femistasinazis

  252. klatu says

    But if we are arguing that naming Shermer is done to warn off potential future victims [..]

    That goal was defined by Jane Doe. And she revealead as much information as she was comfortable with, at the time. If she later feels ready to reveal more, let that be her decision.

  253. says

    Jadehawk: Two words: retroactive justification. Anyone who is trying to tease out exaaaaaaactly how far they can go yet is likely (I’d give it in the neighborhood of 86%) to be thinking about something they’ve done or thought of doing.

    “But it can’t be rape because she didn’t complain loud enough/got drunk/didn’t cry/we were on a date/seemed okay/I made her come/didn’t hit me/etc. And besides, everybody _______.”

    It’s some creepy ass shit.

  254. mildlymagnificent says

    My instinct tells me that Shermer is a criminal here, but, differences matter and he must be afforded innocence until proven guilty.

    Instincts about a particular man’s behaviour are a matter for personal judgement, but we’re looking at these particular women’s instincts here. And the instincts of all the other women around the place.

    Those instincts are …. regardless of legal or other possible actions or ramifications, the top priority is preventing more women from being in the same position. I can assure you, even when it’s “just” groping and grabbing, women in a group hearing of another being groped or grabbed by a known repeat offender in a workplace or other organisation always feel their hearts sink when they realise that the chorus of “oh, him again” means that yet another woman missed out on hearing what she needed to be wary of.

  255. says

    Dammit.
    I was going to bed, but jimashby’s denial of rape culture pisses me off. It is harmful and needs to be corrected. I know he will not challenge his views with trutj, but perhaps anyone lurking about or uncertain will. Rape Culture is very real and as with so much else, educating yourself is a click away.

    Rape culture. It’s a phrase you hear a lot. But, what exactly does it mean? Is there one general definition? Not necessarily. In many ways the phrase evokes the famous Supreme Court comment about obscenity from Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.”

    And, you don’t have to look far to see examples of rape culture these days. Whether it’sadvertising, movies, music videos or social media — images, words, concepts — it’s all out thereillustrating men dominating women.

    “Everywhere you turn there’s condoning, trivializing, and eroticizing rape, and collectively it sets a tone that says this is no big deal or this is what women deserve,” said Lynn Phillips, a Lecturer with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Communication Department
    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3368577

    http://www.policymic.com/mobile/articles/22035/steubenville-rape-case-does-america-have-an-unadmitted-rape-culture-problem

    When the word rape is used, what do we think of? Do we think of the person we know, the ones who we trust? No. We think of the masked offender, the violent offender. But this is not how the majority of people experience rape or sexual assault.

    In America:

    —Illinois is the only state that recognizes the right of an individual to rescind consent during the sex.

    —Only in 1993 did marital rape become illegal.

    —Out of every 100 rapes only 5 lead to felony convictions.

    What victims of assault are more likely to experience in terms of reaction to coming forward about their assault is articulated by this account of rape by a former Amherst College student.

    I challenge you to ask your friends what they do to “protect” themselves at night. Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs. Ways to protect ourselves from would-be attackers are virtually everywhere.

    In 2011 we saw the GOP introduce anti-abortion legislation that would also redefine rape. We also saw dangerous, misguided statements on rape and abortion at least eight other times by leaders of the Republican Party.

    After a 2012 report from the DOD released numbers saying that since 2006 there had been a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults, Fox News analyst Liz Trotta stated that women should “expect” to be raped working in such close proximity.

  256. klatu says

    @Jadehawk
    Because they want to know when exactly consent doesn’t matter anymore. Which is telling.

  257. Robert B. says

    By the way, the “Culture of Rape” is pure fantasy conjured by politically correct fascists to bolster their ridiculous militant feminism.

    Well, now I can ignore everything you say forever, you evil cretin, so that’s convenient. Ta!

    I don’t in any way intend to defend Shermer,

    Then don’t. Stop trying to parse different grades of rape as though some of them are excusable. Granted that some rapes are more horrifying than others, but rape means choosing to have sex without consent of the other person/people, and it is despicable.

    First, this post is so extremely vague that it is impossible to determine whether something bad happened or not.

    Yes, of course, because when she said “Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position in which I could not consent, and then had sex with me,” that could have meant anything, right? Maybe “coerced” means “showed me a cute kitten gif,” “consent” means “stop laughing”, and “sex” was their private name for cherry pie. It’s all so vague and ambiguous, how could we ever understand?

  258. rq says

    mouthyb @295
    Someone needs to write a DoucheTheme. I’m rather fond of the Batman one.
    It’s amazing, the repetition that gets written in these threads. Among these threads and within these threads. Yet they all proclaim ‘I read the OP and all the comments!’
    I call bullshit.

  259. says

    Jameswaller:
    No, rape is not a complicated concept–non-consensual sexual interaction.

    If your judgement is impaired bc of alcohol or others drugs–i.e. in this case, forced into a position where consent was not possible–it is rape. You will better understand this if you stop viewing things through your experiences. Listen to women. Do a google search. But dont be like Jim Ashby.

  260. kellym says

    Does anyone know if the incident described in this post is the one that DJ Grothe was referring to when he wrote:

    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

  261. says

    polaris #235

    Surely, if these people behave like this at conferences, they behave like it elsewhere. The post about Ben Radford, certainly points to that.

    Actually, the post about Radford indicates that he was a sexual harasser in the workplace, but he waited until he was at a con to escalate to sexual assault. There’s various well-observed group social phenomena that account for why predators have logically deduced that cons are where they’re most likely to have the requisite plausible deniability to get away with sexual assault.

    That is, of course, cons without well-publicised and robust anti-harassment policies which transparently prioritise the safety of all attendees over shoving complaints under the rug to protect the repution of the con (and one of the reasons these predators are more circumspect in the workplace is that nearly all workplaces now have anti-harassment policies of some sort, even if they’re not especially well enforced).

  262. playonwords says

    To PZ’s correspondent – hugs and condolences

    People are asking, “Why is this coming out in the skeptical community?” to which the answer must be, “Because it is a skeptical community and there is a better chance that victims will be trusted as much as their abusers”. This alone will make the reports of abuse be more common because, when victims are trusted, they are more likely to speak out. Because we are skeptics it would also be good to realise that we are not particularly different from any other group of people.

    The truth is that the problem is within the society as a whole; not just one community or another; and the root is not just sexism but also the privilege expected by more the favoured together with the near worship of celebrity by our society – no matter how slight that celebrity. These three roots together allow abuse and let the abuser play the victim.

    Sexism on its own is bad enough, the reports of this exact poison in the computer gaming community are well known. Additionally I am certain that the low involvement of women in the table top gaming can be traced to a similar cause and even the theoretically rational game of Chess still seems to regard women as second class citizens; this despite the brilliancies of the Polgars, Cramling and many more.

    Abuse, however, takes it to a whole new level and, as I said above, it is not just a skeptical problem; this is a problem within current society.

    Abusive behaviour was let pass with nothing more than a wink or a quiet “tut-tut” in the SF convention scene 30 years ago; Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison were frequently cited and Asimov was infamous. Expanding outward when I was late teens I played competitive Contract Bridge where more successful players and teachers took advantage of others; at that same time I was also a low level competitor in fencing (European sword play) where the teachers and the more skilled were known to be profligate both within clubs and at multi-day tournaments.

    If I could not read I might regard this sort of behaviour as exclusive to the activities and work of which I had personal experience but I can read and can see the same sort of behaviour and much more that is worse.

    ~ Priests and ministers seem to take their pick of their flocks and, no doubt, some even call it giving in to animal passion.
    ~ Celebrities treat their followers of whatever age or sex as “groupies” not humans;
    ~ Sports coaches use the aspirant as well the talented for pleasure and control;
    ~ Academia in all its disciplines has suffered from this (Asimov, again, as well as Einstein and Ted Hughes);
    ~ Executives and managers using their staff as toys and not just at conferences.

    No matter who does this the excuses are the same:

    ~ I couldn’t control myself;
    ~ they didn’t say no;
    ~ we were both drunk.

    None of this excuses or lessens the culpability of skeptical organisations and the individuals who acted in such unacceptable ways; they must all start to acknowledge that what happened was unethical and, in some cases, criminal. Once this is done we can start cleaning house and stopping the abuser before the abuse starts; if this happens early enough the abuser may even choose a different path when handling their relationships.

    With luck skeptics can begin the cleansing of the Augean stables within their own stall.

    I really hope this all makes sense.

  263. says

    Actually, Dr. Myers, you have only yourself to blame for this conundrum: when you put yourself out there as an advocate for women, women will expect you to advocate for them.

    On behalf of all the women I know, thank you.

    I hope that putting the information out there will help the next woman targeted stay safe, or at least give her the courage to step forward quickly enough and with enough credible evidence to make sure it cannot be swept under the rug yet again.

  264. AshPlant says

    I thought I’d go a little Cuttlefish here, since I don’t know how to respond other than sarcasm. I’m not good at detailed Horde-style takedowns, and I don’t have oh-so-many spoons. I am, however glad that the dam is finally breaking – I’ve seen this coming for a long time, as I guess have most of us.

    I hope this isn’t inappropriate.

    “Three cheers for the Terribly Skeptical!
    (Copyrighted trademark of Doubt Inc.)
    They’re always on hand to remind us all
    That we do not know, we only think!

    For claims ludicrous and unfounded!
    (Like the very existence of rape)*
    They remember how they are surrounded!
    By the credulous; slack-jaws-agape!

    It’s only a second hand rumour
    We would much rather do without!
    We can treat this fracas like a tumour
    By sceptically cutting it out!

    The accuser makes such wild impositions!
    You can see it in her unseen eyes!
    The zero position is that it’s her mission
    (Whoever she be) to tell lies!

    And why didn’t she go to the law of the land
    To do all the good things they do?
    Fear be damned, she put them out of hand
    Because, evidently, it’s not true!**

    While we’re at it, what even is a “Shermer”
    Or a “Radford”, or “Krauss” or “Stollznow”?
    We’ve seen pics, but I need something firmer
    (They could have been p-shopped, you know!)

    And I’ve never seen that “elevator” of yore
    And I don’t get tweeted death threats!
    If I had to establish that there’s something more
    To this world than myself – yeah, no bets.

    But for now, then, the least I can give you all
    Is to tell you what I would have done!
    After all, I’m so Terribly Skeptical
    My advice is at least Number 1!

    We really don’t know what has happened here
    Or where to begin with this mess!
    We don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t know, we don’t KNO-
    WE CAN FUCKING WELL TAKE A GOOD GUESS!

    *From a fellow on Greta’s facebook post about this post, claiming that the whole idea was “unimaginable”.
    **From like five people in this thread so far.

  265. fmcp says

    Robert B., that’s actually a really important nuance, so thank you. I should have said, “If a friend tells you that he or she was raped . . .”

    I would also add, though, that the conversation identifying sexual assault to a victim is fraught with land mines. It’s so incredibly important not to make the victim feel small or ignorant.

  266. Louis says

    I loathe all of this.

    I loathe the harm being down to women. I loathe the culture of apologetics.

    The “feet of clay” of certain “heroes” I can cope with though. Weird (or actually, not).

    I’ll come right out and say it: I loathe a culture of anonymous accusations in the absence of evidence. But is that really what we have in this instance? I don’t think so. I think the Tumblr accusation thing was way over the line, I get why such a thing is useful but it’s open to rampant abuse. And I agree with PZ about one thing for definite: diluting focus from concrete, well evidence cases to hearsay/distant source cases is a bad idea. Focus on the more definite cases (as outsiders) and hammer those home.

    But what about this case? A few points that strike me:

    1) Standard disclaimer: I can afford to be a bit aloof. I have that privilege. Not objective, aloof. Different. So if I appear “cold” it’s because I am by default. Outraged as I am over rape culture etc, it just doesn’t affect me to the same degree it does others. I’m also not sure it’s appropriate for me to “borrow their outrage”. I can have my own, but not theirs if that makes sense. So while I can’t pretend to a view from outside, I’m not outside, I can at least explain some of my ignorance by noting my view from a bit more comfortable a chair.

    2) This is NOT an evidence free case. My cousin was raped years ago. I knew nothing about it at the time, but she’d told me about it subsequently. I have no reason to doubt her. We’ve talked about it. I hope I didn’t fuck up too badly. If I had PZ’s platform, if my cousin’s rapist were a high profile figure, if my cousin’s rapist was accused of many similar crimes from independent sources, if my cousin had reported her rape to the relevant people at the time and been rebuffed, would I be silent now? No. I don’t think I would. And remember, as I said, evidence free claims, especially potentially damaging ones, scare the bejeesus out of me. I dislike that atmosphere extremely. I don’t think this is it.

    So PZ has:

    a) The testimony of someone he has good reason to trust.
    b) A strong suspicion that there are some official records/officials who know about this out there as this allegation was made to the relevant people at the time. Despite it being rebuffed.
    c) Several second/third party allegations of a similar nature.

    That’s a good enough basis for PZ to believe this allegation to be true, and thus act according to the diktats of his conscience. Would I act as PZ has done under these circumstances? I sincerely hope so, yes.

    3) This is NOT an evidence free case. Wait, didn’t I just do this one? Since I cannot imagine a non-controversial example, I’ll use myself. I have not been raped. I am a long term, but now infrequent, commenter on PZ’s blog. I’ve met him once. I bought him a beer. I am not in his inner circle of trust. Or if I am, the man has boundary issues! Imagine me being the anonymous person. Also imagine that my claim is an isolated one. Compare and contrast:

    So PZ has:

    a) The testimony of someone he has NO good reason to trust to this degree at all.
    b) Awareness that I have claimed that there are some official records/officials who know about this out there as this allegation was made to the relevant people at the time. Despite it being rebuffed.
    c) No second/third party allegations of a similar nature.

    A much weaker position. Would I act as PZ has done under these circumstances? No. I think THIS is precisely the sort of unfounded allegation I dislike.

    4) Women being raped or sexually assaulted or sexually harassed is not as uncommon as a bigfoot sighting. Unfortunately.

    We have umpteen streams of independent data, from the anecdotal/personal to the actual national rape statistics compiled by law enforcement that demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the varying degrees of sexual violation of women is a horribly common occurrence. If this thread were not so serious, Robert B’s comment #162 would have had me pissing myself with laughter. It wins the thread it is so fucking accurate.

    Of course extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That has not changed. Claims with serious consequences also require evidence to support them. That too has not changed. But even with the extraordinary seriousness of the possible consequences, this is not an extraordinary claim. Man rapes woman is commonplace. It is not Atlantis resurfaces with free unicorns for everyone.

    Since this case occurred years ago, the physical evidence will very likely be all gone (unless a pregnancy and then child resulted). The only major way forward evidentially is for the people this was reported to to retract their former rejection and unhelpful (mildly put) stance, and break cover. To come out and corroborate this claim. It can be done in such a way that the victim’s name is still withheld, i.e. “I am/was a member of/employee of X at the time a claim of this nature was made”.

    Granted that is still less than 100% satisfactory from a perfectionist, physical evidence point of view. So what? No one has been convicted of a crime. Which brings me to…

    5) PZ’s act is a first step. And not an easy one. I would not be happy to be in his position. This is the start of this sub-conversation in the ongoing conversation about various topics that touch on the treatment of women within the atheist/sceptic community. Not the end.

    When the Catholic Church covered up…sorry…covers up child abuse, this kind of public conversation does not happen. A name is out there, the chance to provide FURTHER evidence for or against this claim is now possible. It’s not pleasant, but it’s possible. Shermer can respond to his accuser, in the first instance this is PZ. Without more detail it’s hard to respond to a specific incident, but more detail is potentially damaging to the victim at this time. More victim support is needed.

    I for one hope the conversation continues. I hope it garners more and “better” (for given values of better) evidence for all cases and individuals (if only to silence as many deniers as possible). I hope that the sunlight of discussion can disinfect the sexism, misogyny and outright abuse rotting in the heart of the atheist/sceptical communities. In this way I think, actually, there’s HOPE.

    Yes I said it. I know it’s fashionable in some deluded minds to shit on the atheist/sceptical communities because they contain flawed, fallible, even outright disgusting human beings. I think, incidentally, this is fucking infantile. Anyone who claims atheism/scepticism puts them above their peers is already a demonstrable fuckwit. Atheism is a result of a certain type of evidence based reasoning, and scepticism is one application of that reasoning. Period. To paraphrase Buddha, there are only two mistakes in the world of scepticism, one is not being sceptical at all, the other is not being sceptical enough. High profile sceptics of the past ring fenced religion. They were wrong. High profile sceptics of the present have ring fenced certain social phenomena and politics. They are wrong. This is not hard.

    Shitheads and scumbags are everywhere. Only the most deluded expected atheist/sceptical communities to be free of that. What is a genuine, bona fide, GOOD is that there is a HUGE dust up about this. An outcry. A fight. Deep Rifts. If there are racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, ableists etc in my clubhouse, you bet your backside I want deep rifts. These people derive their views almost entirely from unexamined, un-scpetical approaches to sociology, psychology, anthropology and the like. Damn right that’s relevant to scepticism! I want to get in there, debate, exchange evidence and reasoning, ARGUE. May the best ideas win. (although I have to say I am cheating, because I know various bigotries won’t stand up to even mild scrutiny)

    So thus far, we are doing better than the Catholic Church. Go us. Okay, that is like saying we have a better attitude towards women than Ted Bundy, but you gotta start somewhere.

    I do have to ask though, what would those who are excoriating PZ prefer? This, or cover up? Perhaps a whispering campaign would suit you? Don’t tell me what you would do if you were the victim, or what you would like the victim to do, tell me what you want PZ to do.

    6) “PZ’s been hoodwinked, this is a moral panic, there was no rape, this is a false accusation!”.

    Okay, let’s examine this possibility a little. First, as mentioned above, this accusation has not been made by me, or some other relatively unknown person to PZ. It’s been made by a close friend, an intimate, someone whose judgement and honesty PZ has evidence for trusting.

    Second, false rape accusations are astoundingly rare. They happen, of course they happen, but IIRC regarding the available evidence, they happen no more frequently than the instance of false accusations of other serious crimes. Much of the sound and fury regarding false accusations seems to signify nothing.

    Yes, of course people must be protected against false claims, and yes of course this means examining what evidence we have. It also means taking things into context. PZ’s “naming and shaming” is unpleasant and serious for Shermer, but it’s not criminal conviction and incarceration, although, who knows it may (with further corroboration) lead there. It may also lead to exoneration for Shermer via a libel trial or similar. Again, who knows. Different standards of evidence apply, we don’t have the resources to apply the strictest possible standards in a blog conversation. And so far this is all this is. More serious consequences will require more substantial evidence. Remember, this is a beginning, not an end. This is shining a light on a dark corner, not the final judgement of a court of law.

    I don’t like this. I don’t like that our culture(s) place so much stress and burden on the victims of rape that they feel they are sufficiently threatened and unsupported and vulnerable that they cannot come forward. So what can be done to change this? I think what PZ has done is part of what needs to be done to change this. Speaking out when doing so will involve personal cost is part of tearing down those obstacles for victims. No one can decide for the victim what they should do, but more distant parties (like PZ) can take on some of that burden themselves because the cost is commensurately smaller. So as much as I don’t like the necessity for this, I have to confess I think it is vastly the lesser of many evils.

    Louis

  267. says

    Does anyone know if the incident described in this post is the one that DJ Grothe was referring to when

    Seriously, how many women who have been harassed/assaulted do you think would be likely to confide in DJ of all people? The one time I know of where a woman did that when he was actually in the same room, he was quite helpful right there in the moment, but only a few months later claimed that he’d never received a report of sexual harassment on his watch.

    That was just his way of trivialising reports of a backchannel amongst women on the speaker circuit where they shared information on who to avoid being alone with.

  268. wally says

    As I ‘m not an American, I’m a little bit confused as of what is ‘rape’. It appears to me that in US only women can get raped. And also, that, for example, if I and my girlfriend were both drunk and she wanted to have sex with me, I should decline because it could be called rape the next day? This sounds very weird to me. Where I am from it is very clear what is rape: When someone (male or female) forces another person (male or female) to have sex. So, can someone explain if I get this right?

  269. Robert B. says

    fmcp, I had no trouble seeing what you meant, only in the first instant did I have the wrong impression of what you were saying. It’s just that that instant made me think of something important to add.

    You’re right about the land mines, too, come to think of it. The same year as the other events I’ve mentioned, a very kind and supportive person stepped on a land mine by trying to start a conversation about me being gay. She thought I was closeted, when in fact I was still confused, and I reacted badly to her gentle offer of a listening ear. I can only imagine how badly a conversation of the even-more-fraught topic of sexual assault might have gone, especially since the assault was also related to me being gay.

  270. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Wally

    Firstly, where are you from? Because no English-speaking country I know of defines rape as only being by physical force, and judging by your written English and your ‘nym I would guess it is your first language.

    Secondly, no, that is not how rape by alcohol works. It is not merely being “drunk”, it is being “too drunk to consent”; i.e. if they are so drunk they pass out or if they are so drunk that their ability to knowingly consent could reasonably be called into question.

    Thirdly, I’m afraid I can’t answer your question on whether or not US law allows for men to be raped, as I’m also not American (I’m English, if you wanted to know).

  271. wally says

    @Jadehawk Yes it does, because laws in different countries are different.

    And before I forget: fuck you too!! Is it so hard to answer a simple question without being an asshole?

  272. wally says

    @Thumper Thank you for answering my question. It was this part that helped me understand what the fuss was about:

    ” It is not merely being “drunk”, it is being “too drunk to consent”; i.e. if they are so drunk they pass out or if they are so drunk that their ability to knowingly consent could reasonably be called into question”

    I’m Dutch, by the way.

  273. throwaway, gut-punched says

    It appears to me that in US only women can get raped

    No, that’s not the case. I don’t even know what gave you the indication of such. (It appears to me that this is a lede into JAQing, but I’ll presume you’re genuine for now.)

    And also, that, for example, if I and my girlfriend were both drunk and she wanted to have sex with me, I should decline because it could be called rape the next day?

    Alcohol is a dis-inhibitor, meaning people will do what they normally would not when they are inebriated. That includes sex, and consent while in a drunken stupor where the person clearly has little control of their selves is not full or even partial consent (which isn’t even a thing.) That goes for anyone you meet: from the stranger in the bar to your long-time partner. If they didn’t discuss with you before they got completely intoxicated that they would like to have sex with you, then your safest and best assumption is to think that no consent was ever given.

  274. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @jimashby #284

    All you’ve proven with that post is that you don’t understand what rape culture means, and implied that you don’t understand what feminism is, either.

  275. wally says

    And to be clear: ” if they are so drunk they pass out or if they are so drunk that their ability to knowingly consent could reasonably be called into question” I would call that rape too.

  276. AshPlant says

    Also, is it just me that thinks the time delay X anonymity adds to credibility rather than diminishes it? I think you’d have to a pretty awful, and thus unusual person, to think ‘hey, sexual harassment bandwagon, I think it’d be a brilliant idea to jump on Shermer for the lulz, using my stooge PZ as a proxy of course so I suffer no blowback’.
    But to be thinking – and I speculate heavily here, of course – “It looks like the atmosphere is finally changing to the point where I might just be believed. I still fear repercussions too much to come out and say it to the world, but it’s important that this be told, be known.”? I can relate to that a lot more.

  277. says

    @Jadehawk Yes it does, because laws in different countries are different.

    irrelevant. we’ve already established that the law in this regard sucks. And rape is “sex” without consent, regardless of where on the planet you are.

    Is it so hard to answer a simple question without being an asshole?

    “a simple question”, my ass. you’re JAQing off and question-begging

  278. polymath says

    As perverse as it sounds, I look forward to the time when everyone is running around with a Google Glass or similar permanent personal recording device. Personally, I prefer losing privacy, to having these predators continue using ambiguity and intransparence as their cover.

  279. says

    Thirdly, I’m afraid I can’t answer your question on whether or not US law allows for men to be raped, as I’m also not American (I’m English, if you wanted to know).

    It does, but justice for a man raped by a woman, as a practical matter, is about as unlikely as it is for a woman. Men raped by men can sometimes fall back on homophobia to make the case more likely to be brought to trial.

    This sounds very weird to me. Where I am from it is very clear what is rape: When someone (male or female) forces another person (male or female) to have sex. So, can someone explain if I get this right?

    It’s pretty slimy if only one of you is drunk (not tipsy, drunk), even if you’re not black out drunk.

    @Jadehawk Yes it does, because laws in different countries are different.

    Law’s got nothing to do with it. It wouldn’t matter if it was legalized or not – marital rape was still rape, even if a country has left it legalized, for instance.

    And before I forget: fuck you too!! Is it so hard to answer a simple question without being an asshole?

    You are sincerely underinformed if you think this kind of equivocation over ‘what is rape, it’s so damn hard to figure out’ is either uncommon, or not typically used as a smoke screen by assholes to try to figure out when consent is no longer needed.

  280. wally says

    @throwaway, gut-punched

    My question to you would be: what if after me and my girlfriend got drunk, had sex and then the next day I would say she had raped me… would I have any chance of getting my accusation heard by anyone as sincere? That is what I meant by ‘only women can get raped’.

    Thank you for answering my questions.

  281. says

    Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison were frequently cited and Asimov was infamous.

    Fuck. Now that shatters some images for me.
    I’m searching for more information on this, but I’m having difficulty finding much. Can anyone here point me in the right direction?

  282. playonwords says

    Dear Wally, rape is non-consensual sex and the example you give is the sort of foolishness MRAs cry out.

    Firstly, if the woman is already a sexual partner and you get drunk together then it is likely you are both consenting. However If she complains to you afterwards she did not want sex then it is likely you have committed rape. If she reports it then you certainly were a rapist. The “we were both drunk” excuse is no more than self justification.

    Secondly, if you are drunk – don’t have sex, it’s not nearly as much fun fun and your partner may not consent. If you need to get drunk to have sex, then see a therapist.

  283. says

    TW: a fictional scene of non-sexual assault

    wally:

    So, can someone explain if I get this right?

    Wrong on almost every point.

    Rape can also happen to men. It’s just not as commonplace. In your example, I’d hope you’d trust your girlfriend not to do that, making the assumption the consent was mutual and enthusiastic; but if you have any questions in your own mind, don’t have sex while she’s drunk.

    Rape is sex without consent. Period.

    Consider the case of a boxer. He’s a good boxer. He enjoys the fight. He often ends up with various bruises and contusions as part of his career. But he likes his career.

    This pugilist has a friend. This friend is not good at boxing, but he really wants the chance to beat up the boxer. He knows the boxer would never consent to a match with a non-boxer. So one night after a round of heavy drinking, while the boxer is too incapacitated to really do much, to even refuse the fight, the friend beats the living daylights out of the boxer. The next morning, the boxer wakes up shaken and bruised and maybe even bleeding, but no more so than after many of his other boxing matches — but with a memory of being helpless while his friend beat him.

    So, was this a boxing match? Or was it assault?

  284. says

    Personally, I prefer losing privacy, to having these predators continue using ambiguity and intransparence as their cover.

    Pretty sure we’d just see the elements of rape formally become ‘committed by weapon-wielding stranger on a pure maiden’ rather than informally be ‘caught a weapon-wielding stranger forcing himself on a pure maiden on video’.

  285. says

    I’m Dutch, by the way.

    figures. The “oh, you strange backward Americans” vibe is distinctly Continental Europe. I dread the thought that once I might have been like that, too.

  286. embertine says

    wally, rape laws in the Netherlands define rape as any sexual act (including open-mouthed kissing, which is interesting) that involves someone who is unable for what ever reason to give consent:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_rape#Netherlands

    That includes violence, lack of clear consciousness, or any other means of coercion. Just like it does in the US, or in the UK where I am from. It also includes assaults perpetrated on men, by any gender.

  287. says

    Personally, I prefer losing privacy, to having these predators continue using ambiguity and intransparence as their cover.

    because that’s totally never going to be abused by predators. ever. unpossible.

  288. Robert B. says

    If this thread were not so serious, Robert B’s comment #162 would have had me pissing myself with laughter. It wins the thread it is so fucking accurate.

    Aw, thanks! And don’t hold back the laughter on my account. As far as I’ve concerned, cracking wise about dark and serious topics is a source of strength, as long as you’re making fun of bad guys not victims.

    My favorite for the thread is SallyStrange @ 174. Extended silliness a la 190 is great, but sometimes it’s the really simple jokes that get you.

  289. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @wally

    Well, your English is impeccable.

    Before you get too angry at Jadehawk, you have to understand the concept of JAQing off, and also understand that it is a common tactic of misogynist, rape enabling arseholes. It’s a tactic experienced very often here,and some of the longer-term commenters are so sick of it that they tend to assume anything that could be interpreted as JAQing off is JAQing off. And having been here a while now and experienced a lot of it myself, I don’t think they can be blamed in the slightest. I was suspicious at first, but decided the three-comment rule was the way forward here.

    I don’t know much about the Dutch legal system, but it being a generally Liberal and enlightened country, at least in regards to the law, I am willing to bet that if you are able to find and read a copy of Dutch Law as relates to rape, you will find that the definition is a lot broader than simply using physical force to have sex with someone against their will.

  290. B-Lar says

    Nothing wrong with being under-informed if you are trying to not be. We all have to start somewhere.

    Also, JAQ’ers tend to keep “just asking questions” without clarifying their position or accepting answers.

    Considering that for a LOT of people, rape is primarily a legal issue, asking a question about the legal situation in a country that is not your own is not unreasonable. Of course we know that the legality of what constitutes rape is a red herring in this case, but you have to have some background.

    If anyone can point to a thread in the past where Wally has been disingenuous on this topic, I will cease my defence. He doesn’t sound like a jimashby to me though.

  291. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Rutee Katreya #326

    Thanks; I thought it technically took woman-on-man rape into account, but wasn’t sure. Presumably it varies from state to stae too, or is rape considered a federal crime?

    @Jadehawk #324

    Do the Three-Post Rule, Jadehawk. I was easily as ignorant of rape as Wally when I first came here, and I learned by you guys being good enough to teach me.

  292. wally says

    Thanks to all those who answered my sincere questions. Learned a few things. Especially that knowing a bit of English doesn’t mean you can easilly step into a conversation that has sensitive semantics to some words.

    @Jadehawk:

    And it is especially difficault because of @Jadehawk — Fuck you big time!! You’re a fucking prejudice asshole. So once again; FUCK YOU!!

  293. throwaway, gut-punched says

    My question to you would be: what if after me and my girlfriend got drunk, had sex and then the next day I would say she had raped me… would I have any chance of getting my accusation heard by anyone as sincere?

    If she were a long time partner whom you had given consent to in the past that doesn’t necessarily mean that all future consent is given. Your prior relationship status does play a role, but only a minor one in that if you had been on excellent terms, were actively sexual, et cetera, then your claim of being rape, while still valid, would have at least an extenuating circumstance where consent was presumed the most likely state by the other person. I may be way off base here and hope a pharyngulite will correct me on that.

    Personally, I think ultimately what it boils down to is if you wouldn’t give consent to her while sober, then it was indeed rape. Drunkenness absolves nobody since drinks can be socially pressured onto you for that explicit purpose.

  294. says

    @331: Sadly no. Most cases of rape are NOT the cliche “raped by an armed stranger in the park at night”.

    not what rutee claimed

  295. wally says

    @Thumper; Atheist mate

    Just read you explanation about JAQing off. Thnx. I’m going to think twice before jumping in again too soon ;)

  296. says

    Do the Three-Post Rule, Jadehawk.

    no. no three-comments-rule for Europeans coming in doing the “oh, you Americans” shtick. I was wrong on the JAQing off, but not on the arrogant anti-American BS.

  297. David Morgan says

    Geeeze, maybe Atheism really has become a religion. Look how many people dove on this third party “revelation” like fishes and loaves. What happened to extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? I have little use for victims that will not stand on their own and I haven’t had any for Myers for years.

  298. says

    What happened to extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

    it’s not an extraordinary claim

    I have little use for victims that will not stand on their own

    you’re toxic waste

  299. polymath says

    @Jadehawk(334): I’m not saying it would be an end all solution, but if hidden or open personal surveillance devices become more widespread and thus more accepted in daily interactions, it might make it harder for predators to find places they feel safe.

  300. says

    Louis, #343, see playonwords, #307

    Abusive behaviour was let pass with nothing more than a wink or a quiet “tut-tut” in the SF convention scene 30 years ago; Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison were frequently cited and Asimov was infamous.

  301. says

    I have little use for victims that will not stand on their own…

    And I have very little use for self-obsessed assholes who have no sympathy or understanding.

    …and I haven’t had any for Myers for years.

    Oh! So I imagine we should feel privileged you dropped by the gutter to shower us with your golden opinion.

  302. says

    @ 327,

    what if after me and my girlfriend got drunk, had sex and then the next day I would say she had raped me… would I have any chance of getting my accusation heard by anyone as sincere?

    Nice exercise in hyperskepticism, but fucking pointless. Any casual Google will reveal as many examples as you like of rape of men by women, and when we’re done with that please remind me what point that is supposed to make in the first place. Hint: Tu quoque does not count.

  303. Louis says

    SQB,

    Thanks…bugger knows how I missed THAT. Need more coffee obviously.

    Douglas Adams, eh? Well I never. I had no idea he was a lecherous fucker. Major disappointment.

    Louis

  304. B-Lar says

    David Morgan,

    Its not an extraordinary claim. What you are seeing is trust and empathy, not blind faith.

    Its not a scare quotes revelation when it is verifying and confirming the lived experiences of other victims.

    Drop it like its hot.

  305. says

    @331: Sadly no. Most cases of rape are NOT the cliche “raped by an armed stranger in the park at night”. Most are acquainted with their rapist and are led into an intoxicated state by him. Very much like the case we are discussing right now.

    That’s rather the point. As it stands we can, within the law, say a lot of things that are rape, are rape. But without video evidence of a weapon-wielding stranger assaulting a pure maiden, it’s probably not going to get very far unless the ‘stranger’ isn’t white. In a theoretical ‘we are all wired’ future, I’m pretty sure we’d make the formal elements of rape once again be ‘weapon-wielding stranger assaulting a pure maiden’, and we could no longer say that legally, anything else was rape (Even though they are). Because you know, once it becomes possible to catch middle class white men, we’ll have to change things to make that no longer be possible.

    What happened to extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

    What, do you think rape is a thing that doesn’t happen to 1 in 6 women in the general population? That dudes abusing power for sexual favors is an extraordinary claim?

  306. polymath says

    @Rutee(356): Ok sorry, I misread you. But you are taking quite the jaded perspective on it.

  307. madscientist says

    @MX89: I suspect it’s just the usual monkey behavior. Some people believe they’re special and will abuse people so long as they believe they can get away with it. It’s still shocking how much of this crap goes on in the CFI and I just can’t believe how they’ve blown off Karen as if she were some crazy person who’d just walked in off the street. Then there’s the JREF which I found utterly disappointing in how they managed women’s concerns about harrassment – and then DJ Grothe blowing off Karen was way too much. It’s pretty disgusting monkey behavior, trying to make the victims feel bad as though they were the villains. I think society in general has grown to turn a blind eye more than it has in the past – but maybe I just have an age addled memory of history.

  308. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Whoever you are, where ever you are, thank you for coming forward, Anonymous.

    Thanks also to PZ for posting this revelation and to the horde for not letting the assholes go unanswered.

  309. sharkjack says

    @Wally. The problem we have here is that you’re translating rape directly to the dutch word verkrachting. It is true that verkrachting necissarily involves force, but that doesn’t mean the lack of consent part isn’t covered in our law system.

    from http://www.wetrecht.nl/verkrachting/

    Het seksueel binnendringen bij iemand die in staat van bewusteloosheid, verminderd bewustzijn of lichamelijke onmacht verkeert óf het seksueel binnendringen bij iemand die een gebrekkige ontwikkeling of een ziekelijke stoornis van zijn of haar geestesvermogens heeft (en daardoor zijn wil niet kan bepalen of geen weerstand kan bieden) is ook strafbaar, al schaart de wetgever het niet onder hetzelfde wetsartikel als verkrachting. Seks met iemand die dusdanig dronken of onder invloed is kan dus ook strafbaar zijn, net als seks met bijvoorbeeld iemand die verstandelijk beperkt is.

    For everyone else here who doesn’t speak Dutch, this paragraph covers cases that don’t technically fall under verkrachting but are still illegal, including sex with people with lowered awareness. It explicitely statest that sex with someone who is drunk can be punishable under our law. It seems we Dutch people aren’t that different in our definitions after all.

    Also french kissing doesn’t fall under verkrachting but under aanrading, which is analogous to assault.

    I’m afraid the anti-American smugness is pretty pervasive in the Netherlands. It’s pretty sad because those areas I consider the Netherlands to do better in than America are those we’re tearing down because they’re ‘too expensive’.

  310. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    I don’t know if it’s “monkey behaviour” so much as our weird perception that being in a position of power makes one less susceptible to corruption. As if any person in that position must have earned it by being wonderful, so therefore we should give them the benefit of the doubt in any situation.

    In short, we’ve got it backwards. People in lofty positions are MORE likely to be tempted to do nasty things, through a combination of a sense of entitlement likely bolstered by legions of adoring plebs, and the knowledge that those same plebs will defend them in a case of them being accused of anything. Like… we’re seeing everywhere now. Power differentials. They’re insidious wherever they occur, and we see the same patterns of privilege.

  311. Who Cares says

    Might be a bit late but for those people advocating going to the police years after this happened, unless there is already an investigation going on about the person you are reporting, will result in a letter saying they can’t do anything and will close the case. And that is when you go to the police before the statute of limitations (if there is one, some states/nations don’t have one for rape) kicks in.

    Next is not about the rapist who jumps out of the bushes (so to speak) and drag a victim there.
    Reporting while the rape just happened? The victim just went through a trauma that stands a good chance, around 30%, of giving her (or him, about 5% to 10% of rape victims are male) PTSD. Then you want to get them to relive it with a good chance of it being dismissed, with the dismissal being in one of the many forms of your asked for it. And the perpetrator (usually) being in a position of power over the victim and now knowing about the report filed. Then if they manage to overcome the hurdle of being dismissed and a serious investigation is started the victims life will be combed over with a very fine comb while the perpetrator is being described as someone of high moral character. That is before the perpetrators lawyers get their day in court trying to absolutely destroy the victim and all the while the perpetrator can further attack the victim due to the power differential. After all that the perpetrator still has an better then even chance of not getting convicted.

    So to all those people saying just go to the police you are a bunch of sadists. Piling trauma upon trauma upon trauma for the victim while only having a small chance of actually getting the perpetrator to justice and a lot bigger chance of the victim being retaliated against. If you can handle that good for you but most people break during this process.

  312. wally says

    @sharkjack: Dank!

    I don’t identify with anti-American smugness. I was just trying to understand what the legal definion of ‘rape’ is in the US. Thanks to you I now understand I was comparing it to a Dutch word that doesn’t cover it. I wasn’t prepared for the hostilly of some people here. It seems to me that doesn’t help the case that’s being made.

  313. truthseeker says

    Again, I feel what #286 said needs to be discussed. In detail. Many questions unanswered here.

  314. says

    Two people can both be equally drunk and have sex which they come to regret. I don’t think there is really enough given information here to be sure that this is not what happened.

    However, it is ridiculous to believe this would happen six times to the same man, with different women.

    So I think it would be helpful here to either get some more information about what happened, if the above scenario is really not what happened. Or to get some confirmation of some of the other alleged cases.

    This would be enough for me to conclude that Shermer has behaved badly enough that he should not be invited to conferences or be given any official positions in skeptics societies. I don’t agree with those saying this needs to be absolutely proven in a court of law for action to be taken. But I would want a little bit more than what is currently given.

  315. says

    Sharkjack,

    You just said everything I was going to say…

    I’m afraid the anti-American smugness is pretty pervasive in the Netherlands. It’s pretty sad because those areas I consider the Netherlands to do better in than America are those we’re tearing down because they’re ‘too expensive’.

    Same goes for my own country (Belgium), and I suspect many other european countries as well.

  316. hyoid says

    (Sorry I’m late. Did I miss anything important?) @#1 Well, maybe this community ain’t “all that” then. ? Fuck!

  317. Louis says

    Rev,

    I was making things clear for our very, very sceptical chums who think that claims of rape somehow resembles a completely rare and extraordinary thing that requires completely extraordinary evidence.

    Louis

  318. unbound says

    Sadly, considering Shermer’s substantial arrogance and unwillingness to accept his own flaws (including logical), I can’t say that this is beyond the realm of possibilities. It really doesn’t matter what group you below to, once you obtain a high enough level of power (whether via money, popularity, etc), these people just don’t seem to consider that not everything they do is right. I have little doubt that Shermer rationalized the event as either no big deal or happening in a wildly different way.

    I’ve seen at least one comment where someone mentioned “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. These people really, really need a reality check. There is nothing extraordinary about the claim, rape is, unfortunately, all to common. And if you think that people in higher positions of power don’t commit rape, you clearly have had your head buried in the sand for all of your adult life.

  319. says

    wally: Yeah. I actually came here to try and sort out the various allegations flying around, and I was on the verge of concluding that these FtB bloggers are on some sort of weird personal crusade for no good reason, because of all the foul language, petty fights (not this one! others!), and general groupthink behaviour.

    However, I’ve concluded that they are in fact fighting a good fight, even though they are doing it badly, and really doing their best to repel anyone who isn’t already 100% aligned to their cause.

    Maybe they should study Shermer. He always seems to express himself well, doesn’t throw tantrums, doesn’t throw around insults, and offers validly structured arguments. He gives the appearance of being a serious person. Appearances matter. And they can be deceptive.

  320. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    To take a stab at the “I don’t feel raped” thing, consider that you can be the victim of a crime without knowing, or without caring. The crime exists whether or not you recognise it.
    If you dropped your wallet, someone nearby sees it and picks it up and absconds with the contents, you have been the victim of theft whether or not you recognise it as theft, or feel like the victim of a theft. You may even deny it happened. The fact remains someone took something of yours without your consent.
    If you have woken up in a compromising position, having had sex without consenting or having been able to consent, you have been the victim of rape. If you don’t feel bad about it, then good for you – but it doesn’t change the fact that what happened was nonconsensual sex.

    A crime isn’t a crime because someone feels as though they have been wronged, it’s a crime because someone has committed a criminal act. Crime is crime because of the presence of a criminal. In fact, that makes being an oblivious victim even worse, as the perpetrator isn’t even recognised to exist – and gets off scott free so long as their victim doesn’t notice, doesn’t believe they were wronged or feels that they were somehow to blame.

  321. Taemon says

    I would like to point out that rape culture is far less prevalent in The Netherlands, probably most of Northern Europe. Not out of smug anti-Americanism but to cheer on the good fight; it IS possible to change a society for the better and I think the people here are going on the right way of doing it. Thank you, Anonymous. Thank you, PZ. Not only for this one instance but for all the years of standing up for those not like you. You provide an ongoing inspiration to keep on dragging out and exposing the filth.

  322. Acolyte of Sagan says

    jameswaller @286 said

    I don’t in any way intend to defend Shermer, however rape seems to have a very broad definition.

    Having sex with somebody either by force or without informed consent. Not that broad, really.

    What is the situation here.. It’s important. Is she/Pz saying Shermer secretly spiked her drink, or that he was buying her lots of drinks and encouraging her to drink these?

    There’s no difference between the two; if he was plying her with drink (including such acts as spiking a beer with spirits, buying double measures instead of singles) whilst remaining steadfastly sober, and then used her drunkenness to get her where he wanted, that’s a pre-meditated action; if he slipped something stronger into her drink to enhance the effect of alcohol, it’s exactly the same.

    Was she free at any stage to turn down to opportunity to get so drunk with Shermer if that is what happened?

    Irrelevant, unless you’re insinuating that women should refuse drinks from men – even men who they probably admire and trust – in case it’s a rape ploy, and that if they do accept the drinks they are disqualified from complaining about anything that happens as a result, because that would make your statement not only irrelevant but fucking idiotic to boot. Please tell me that’s not what you meant it to mean.

    A woman and I are flirting with each other and we all push the game getting more and more drunk. She is completly wasted and so am I and we have later have sex. The next morning in bed… She asks “did we have sex last night”

    Putting aside the fact that most men, if so inebriated they honestly do not remember a thing the next morning, are generally physically incapable of achieving or maintaining an erection and so are unlikely to be able to have penetrative sex, I would say no, not if you were both in the same state of inebriation and neither knew what they were doing, and that neither party deliberately plied the other with drink and/or drugs with the intention of getting them into bed. If however the woman was plying you with drink until you were insensible whilst she remained relatively sober and in control of her faculties, then takes you to bed and has sex with you whilst you’re in no fit state to either consent or refuse, then yes, you would have a case.
    It’s really very easy; if person A plies person B with drink and/or drugs with the intention of having sex with person B, and person B becomes so insensible that s(h)e cannot give informed consent to sex but person A goes ahead regardless, that’s rape. It’s no different really to coming across somebody in an alcohol-induced sleep in a bedroom at a party, or a hospital patient in a coma, and taking advantage of their comatose state by having sex with that person (because Hey, she’s unconscious right, it’s not like she’ll ever know. IT’S RAPE.

  323. throwaway, gut-punched says

    It seems to me that doesn’t help the case that’s being made.

    What case are you talking about? Why is tone a concern with relation to that case? Are you saying that the tone doesn’t help the case that someone is accused of being raped, and that the “hostility” towards you specifically diminishes the case? I seriously hope not.

    I guess maybe if you can’t get ‘em with JAQing you can pin ‘em on tone! *eyeroll*

  324. throwaway, gut-punched says

    accused of being raped raping,

    Damn the faux pas, it sometimes does feel that way though, and is pretty indicative of the way things go in these cases…

  325. learninglate says

    To those saying how the victims need to go to the police, here’s my knowledge of how that works in a nearly ideal situation. An immediate family member was raped some years ago. The man was her date, considerably older, she hadn’t known him long. He was a wealthy man who worked in finance, she was a very poor college student. The city was a very liberal California city. She had no vehicle so she let him take her home after the date, except he said he needed to go to his house briefly first. There he forced her to have sex a couple of times and also forced her to perform oral sex on him. He sent her off in a taxi. When she got home she showered because usually that’s what a woman wants to do. She went to the police later that day or maybe the next day, after talking to me and wondering if it was really rape, because she went to his house without being forced and because, though she told him no many times, though she cried and begged him to stop, she didn’t physically fight him off. She’s tiny, he was large. Ah, it makes me so sad to think of. When she went to the police she took her underwear that had DNA evidence. She was assigned a sympathetic female officer to take her statement and to investigate. The police treated her well, which is not what happens in many, many places. She was fortunate in that it was a liberal college town, I guess. The police went to talk to the man who of course said it was consensual. The kind officer advised this girl to drop the charges, that there was no way to get a conviction. The girl knew that going in but wanted to go so that there would be a record of this man if some other girl had it happen to them. I don’t know if that’s actually true. Once she dropped the charges, maybe there’s no official record of him? You know what? I’d MUCH rather some woman before her had made his name public, had made it harder for him to get away with doing this. I’m so proud of her for going to the police, but it didn’t do any good.

    I’m so full of appreciation for the woman who wrote PZ and for PZ for publishing it. It’s what is needed.

    Oh and to the asshat who says he knows no convicted rapists so there’s no rape culture. Every woman I am close to has been raped. Every one. Myself. My immediate family members. My close friends. It’s so common. No rape culture? I wish.

  326. Daniel Archevis says

    Just a quick question (bring on the JAQ-off accusations!):

    Given the remarkably complete lack of evidence of any kind, it is in principle a possibility that every single aspect of this story was made up by PZ and that his next blog post will reveal that this was all a scam (if so: Hopefully agreed with Shermer upfront) to demonstrate just how frighteningly trivial it has become to destroy a man socially. Note that I am NOT calling this a particularly likely scenario, only that we do not even know for sure that the woman in question even exists in the real world.

    My question: Does this startling lack of even the tiniest shread of substantiation not give anyone even a moment’s pause before espousing their certainty with near religious fervor? Not at all, even amongst “skeptics”…?

    - DA.

  327. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I was making things clear for our very, very sceptical chums who think that claims of rape somehow resembles a completely rare and extraordinary thing that requires completely extraordinary evidence.

    I’m doubting they got it.

  328. nerok says

    @376 Acolyte of Sagan

    Putting aside the fact that most men, if so inebriated they honestly do not remember a thing the next morning, are generally physically incapable of achieving or maintaining an erection and so are unlikely to be able to have penetrative sex

    This is a close relative to the argument “you can’t make a guy have an erection” in the vein of “men can’t be raped unless you penetrate them”.

    Which is an interesting position to take.

    But I’m sure you think you’ve covered your ass by including the word “most”. Good job.

  329. wally says

    @throwaway, gut-punched

    I ‘m done here. It’s no use. You’re just looking for any tiny little hook to point your accusing finger to. This is not the open minded environment I hoped for where people can talk about an important subject without the constant threat of ad hominems and false assumptions.

    Best regards to all those who do try.

  330. throwaway, gut-punched says

    My question: Does this startling lack of even the tiniest shread of substantiation not give anyone even a moment’s pause before espousing their certainty with near religious fervor?

    Can you cite any such instance of espousing the certainty with near religious fervor?

  331. says

    But the least we can do, AS FELLOW WOMEN is to bring it out in the open.

    Uh, the least anyone can do is not use alcohol and social pressure to coerce sex. If we don’t do that, then the problem goes away completely – otherwise, anything else is damage control.

    In ( http://www.michaelshermer.com/tag/morality/ ) Michael Shermer writes:

    Rape, for example, is wrong whether or not God says it is wrong (in the Bible, in fact, God offers no prohibition against rape, and in fact seems to encourage it in many instances as a perquisite of war for victors). Adultery, which is prohibited in the Bible, would still be wrong even if it were not listed in the Decalogue.

    How do we know that rape and adultery are wrong? We don’t need to ask God. We need to ask the affected moral agent—the rape victim in question, or our spouse or romantic partner who is being cuckolded. They will let you know instantly and forcefully precisely how they feel morally about that behavior.

    Here we see that the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) has a severe limitation to it: What if the moral receiver thinks differently from the moral doer? What if you would not mind having action X done unto you, but someone else would mind it? Most men, for example, are much more receptive toward unsolicited offers of sex than are women. Most men, then, in considering whether to approach a woman with an offer of unsolicited sex, should not ask themselves how they would feel as a test. This is why in my book The Science of Good and Evil I introduced the Ask-First Principle:

    To find out whether an action is right or wrong, ask first.

  332. throwaway, gut-punched says

    I ‘m done here. It’s no use. You’re just looking for any tiny little hook to point your accusing finger to. This is not the open minded environment I hoped for where people can talk about an important subject without the constant threat of ad hominems and false assumptions.

    I’m not looking for anything other than your explanation of how hostility towards you diminishes “the case”, where “the case” is unknown. It’s not my fault that you aren’t choosing to clarify what you meant, instead accusing me of accusing you. What you have done is tone troll, just a bit, though maybe justified, I can’t get into your head and determine your intent. Maybe I was wrong to presume you were simply tone trolling (using “hostility” as a means to disregard non-related evidence or claims, as it seemed you had done.) Consider it instead a warning and get off your fucking cross.

  333. says

    Archevis:

    Please describe what it would be to live in a society where it is acceptable for people to publicly accuse named persons of serious sexual crimes, alledgedly on behalf of someone whose identity they refuse to reveal, without presenting or even posessing any evidence of actual guilt.

    I did think about that. I live there already.

    Women get this all the time: if they’re raped, anonymous strangers everywhere will speculate that they are sexually depraved. Look at the young woman in the Steubenville case, just as one example.

    For me, it’s already started. People on twitter are already making up stories about my sexual crimes, and I knew that would happen.

    And I thought about that — I’m going to get tarred as the evil guy who publicized sexual misconduct charges against one of the biggest names in the business, and I’m about to get thoroughly slimed by a lot of people who are in denial about rape culture. I’m going to get blacklisted by a couple of orgs and I’ll probably be sending more weekends at home (which isn’t so bad), and I might get some lawyers buzzing around.

    And I thought…none of that is anywhere near as bad as being raped and your cries for justice being ignored. If just one woman is spared that, it’s all worth it.

    Shermer isn’t going to suffer, except in one way. He’ll still be invited to events as a Big Name, his books will still sell, bros will still love him and buy him a beer, but maybe women will be more cautious around him and he’ll have a harder time getting women at cons drunk. Maybe his pickup lines will be a little less effective.

    I think he’s getting off easy.

  334. sharkjack says

    I don’t believe for a second that more cameras are going to be the solution to this problem. I imagine people will just go ‘see, that’s where I touched your shoulder and you didn’t tell me off, and there you could’ve said something, leading to more intensive scrutiny of the traumatic events and all the things that ‘could’ve been done to avoid getting raped’ (which is BS but that won’t stop it from happening). Without tearing down rape culture to the point where this victim blaming mentality stops being acceptable as excuses for assaulting someone, recording the events isn’t going to fix anything.

  335. Maureen Brian says

    Sorry to diabuse you of your comfortable pretence, Taemon @ 375, but you are clearly not keeping up with the news.

    England, also in Northern Europe, is currently agog at the idea that a 13-year-old sexually abused by a 41 year old could somehow be described as a predator and sexually experienced. As the age of consent is 16 that can only mean that she has been abused before. Why were none of those instances brought to trial?

    You see? Rape culture is alive and well in Europe. It’s just seen, sometimes, in a slightly different form.

    The story is here – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/judge-calls-victim-13-a-sexual-predator-outcry-as-41yearold-man-walks-free-after-admitting-sex-with-girl-8748494.html

  336. Nick Gotts says

    It appears to me that in US only women can get raped.

    What makes it appear to you like that? Because there sure as fuck isn’t any justification for it in this thread.

    And also, that, for example, if I and my girlfriend were both drunk and she wanted to have sex with me, I should decline because it could be called rape the next day? This sounds very weird to me.

    See above. Either your understanding of English is much worse than appears likely from your ability to write it, or you’re a disingenuous arsehole.

    Where I am from it is very clear what is rape: When someone (male or female) forces another person (male or female) to have sex.

    Or where one person takes advantage of another being asleep, mistaken about their (the rapist’s) identity, underage, severely mentally incapacitated, drunk or drugged enough not to be able to give valid consent… But I’m inclined to think that really, you know all this perfectly well, and are just making your modest personal contribution to the perpetuation of rape culture. What, really, is your problem? If you really don’t want to be a rapist, or to be accused of rape, then if you think your girlfriend is drunk enough that she or someone else might call the sex she’s appearing to consent to rape next day, don’t have sex with her. If you think she might be prone to making false accusations of rape, break off the relationship.

  337. brianpansky says

    @380 Daniel Archevis

    you can come up with unreasonable or imaginary scenarios all day. any god believer can do that to dodge the problem of evil.

    but what has been shown to be likely?

  338. nerok says

    @388 PZ Myers

    For me, it’s already started. People on twitter are already making up stories about my sexual crimes, and I knew that would happen.

    How are you going to respond to this?

    Are you just going to let the accusations hang in the air and hope the timeline of events is enough that people should dismiss those claims? Will you sue for defamation?

  339. mildlymagnificent says

    Does this startling lack of even the tiniest shread of substantiation not give anyone even a moment’s pause before espousing their certainty with near religious fervor? Not at all, even amongst “skeptics”…?

    Well, it would give me a moment’s pause if PZ reported that a reliable friend had patted a unicorn and got blisters because it was so hot, and wanted to let all of us know about this previously unheard of event.

    A report of a powerful man using alcohol to set the scene for non-consensual sex? Heard of all too often. Had it tried on me a couple of times (not this man, not recently). Knowing lots of women who’ve found themselves in the anonymous reporter’s position. It’s not quite meh, but it’s hardly surprising.

  340. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”
    PZ, you didn’t ask for this but you sure as hell didn’t walk past it either. I think that is a gold standard for the conduct of men everywhere.

  341. doublereed says

    You probably want to put the alcohol part in the main post. Seems pretty relevant if you’re trying to prevent other women being put in the same situation. And it also just clarifies the the whole ‘coercion’ part of it.

  342. says

    if so inebriated they honestly do not remember a thing the next morning

    I have some experience with inebriation, though I hardly can claim to be an expert. Memories are not clear, but they’re still there. I bet that the only way to be so drunk that you don’t remember a sexual encounter is to be so drunk you’re dead. If you have a functioning memory at all, you’re going to remember the situation leading up to it, and you’re going to eventually come down from it and you’ll remember that, too. We’re not talking about someone who’s a blackout drunk, anyway – we’re talking about someone who appears to have adopted an immoral and illegal technique of seduction. The whole point is to remember what happened.

  343. nerok says

    @ 391 Maureen Brian

    As the age of consent is 16 that can only mean that she has been abused before.

    Ignoring the case itself, this statement isn’t true, is it? Or have people below the age of consent stopped having sex with each other?

    Alternatively; who abuses who in such a case?

  344. says

    Here’s a comment I read on another venue which seems apropos:

    I’ve never seen anything that implies that people who are very wealthy, very powerful, and very unaccountable for their decisions will suddenly become more rational than the rank-and-file of humanity.

    We were actually talking about the evils of capitalism, but it seems to apply equally well to famous-in-their-own-circles men getting away with shit like sexual assault and rape.

  345. says

    And if Shermer has been wrongly accused, the mystery woman AND PZ should be held responsible for their actions.

    Except, it’s been several hours since this post went up and Shermer still hasn’t reported it to the police, so clearly we can assume that the accusation against him is true.

    That’s how it works, right?

  346. Taemon says

    @391, Maureen Brian

    I didn’t say there’s no injustice in the UK with regard to sexual crimes. I said we have seen that it can be better than this and we’re not fighting this fight for nothing.

  347. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Can quite a few people here please READ the comments of others, MAKE SURE they actually understand what that person means to say, and ASK FOR CLARIFICATION if they think the person is posting something they really do object to?

    Too many mistakes of this sort already, and the power of the topic isn’t an excuse. It isn’t. Why embarrass all of us by flaming each other first? (We’ll get to see, here and later, if I can take my own advice.)

    Let’s use this to pull together – pretty much everybody is on board, and those we disagree with aren’t yet involved. If someone is being ignorant (the suggestions about reporting the rape being somehow “easy” certainly come to mind), then educate. Does shaking someone by the throat the first time do any good, for anyone?

    One thing about this group: we need no practice in expressing outrage.

    I do not say this feeling smug, or at all superior to any of you. I waited some time before even chancing it. Here’s hoping.

    Again, many valuable comments made, too, and I’m a reasonably informed (for a male, anyway) person about this. I want to see changes. Now.

  348. says

    Regardless of how one views police officers and case law – in order for there to be some semblance of law and order, free from mere hyperbole and gossip – there has to be a complaint filed and a participating complainant to bring the charge.

    If such a complainant doesn’t report the crime in order to provide investigators the opportunity to collect witness statements and any empirical and testable evidence to support the notion that a crime was committed and that a particular person committed it, then there is no way to investigate.

    In order for an arrest warrant or even a grand jury review identifying a defendant, there needs to be a complainant making the allegation, identifying the alleged perpetrator – and one that will be available to testify at all potential hearings and trial.

    The defendant has a right to respond to the allegation and confront their accuser.

    That said, there is civil recourse that complainants to similar allegations against the same alleged perpetrator can pursue as an alternative way to seek punitive remedy.

  349. Daniel Archevis says

    @385 : Are you even serious? Have you read the comments? People are told to “fuck off” and are called “toxic waste”, “rape enablers” and worse stuff that I’m not even comfortable citing. If anything, religious fervor still tends to behave significantly more sivilized than this.

    @393 : Do you not realize that the level of corroborating evidence for this story, as currently presented, is such that it is not specific to anything and could have targetted anyone – including you! – instead? Does this not modulate your certainty even the slightest? Have we reached the point where credicility is completely disconnected from evidence?

    @397 : Yes, but people are hit by cars even more often. Does that suggest that an otherwise arbitrary (in terms if evidence) accusation of hit-and-run against YOU is probably true…?

  350. says

    Wow. This is quite the grenade. I am only what you might call a ‘casual skeptic’, I read Pharyngula, listen to SGU, I don’t go to conferences. This might be only the second time I have commented here.

    Although male, I like to think of myself as pro-feminist and anti discrimination of any kind. My mother became a member of a male dominated profession back in the 1960s and has some terrible tales to tell about the discrimination she faced. I have two young daughters and I hope they will grow up in a better environment and will never have to face discrimination, harassment or outright assault as described above. I hope they will be valued by society as people, not objects. I hope the men (or women) who will seek to have relationships with them will treat them with respect and decency.

    My first reaction on reading this post was that Shermer isn’t really being given much opportunity to defend himself. The allegations are anonymous. If false, a man’s reputation is being trashed. I think this is something we can all agree is undesirable?

    But then the discussion thread sent me to other posts

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2013/08/covering-my-ass/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/07/carrie-poppy-tells-all/

    This has been an enlightening process for me and has forced me to reexamine my initial gut reaction. To me, the way in which Carry Poppy and Dr. Karen Stollznow have spoken out– on the record, after trying to make headway with the relevant institutions — is admirable.

    However, in this case case the woman in question remains anonymous and understandably so. The gravity of the experience is that much greater.

    Although I am still uncomfortable with the anonymous allegations, I don’t honestly see what else the victim could have done. She tried to take the matter up with the conference organizer and going to the police would appear to be futile and ultimately counterproductive, especially so long after the event. No-one should second guess what a rape victim should and shouldn’t do by the way. Nobody should be judged with how they deal with such a terrible experience.

    But right now this remains anonymous internet accusations and innuendo. And sadly, even with PZ’s endorsement that is a position that will be accepted by many — including those who commission articles for magazines and book conference speakers.

    What can be done? It seems that MS may have some ‘form’ also when it comes to harassment? Would one of those victims be prepared to go on the record?

  351. says

    And can I just highlight comments like #255 which makes a very important point: Apriori, it’s overwhelmingly likely that an accusation is true. Sure, it’s a preliminary conclusion and it may be changed depending on what evidence comes forward, but before all the facts are in, the rational person believes the accusation.

    We don’t lynch people, we don’t throw them in jail without a trial (and the evidential standards of a trial are of course different), but we take the accusation seriously and until we have good reason to reject it, we tentatively accept it as true.

  352. brianpansky says

    @407 Daniel Archevis

    my point wasn’t that we have 100% or even 20% certainty that it did happen. i’m comparing it to the likely hood of your scenario, but also to other false accusation scenarios.

    it could be 2% VS 13% and one could still be picked.

    however i think most of what is happening here is attempts to support victims and potential victims, and push for better justice. part of the problem we are fighting is how little trust the leaders have left us with.

  353. says

    Nerok, IANAL, but as I recall in the UK we don’t have a get-out clause in statute if both parties are below the age of consent. In practice, the Prosecution Service may decide there’s no case to bring in such circumstance if there’s no clear coercion or obvious harm done. So, by statute, the statement would still be true.

    On the other hand, as regards this particular case, I think we can take the statement as using certain values of “only” close to unity, if not actually unity. That is, there may be circumstances where it wouldn’t be true, but with a reasonable grasp of human nature we can see that they are vanishingly small.

  354. says

    Are you just going to let the accusations hang in the air and hope the timeline of events is enough that people should dismiss those claims? Will you sue for defamation?

    I will not sue for defamation. I will let the accusations hang there.

    Like I’ve said a couple of times now, if the cost of that accusation — if I even get a reputation as a predator on women — is that I’ll have a much harder time picking up hot young chicks at conferences, that’s a price I can very easily pay.

    I guess I’m unsurprised that so many people are concerned about the men involved, me and Shermer, but how about thinking more about the women at these events, and the price they have had to pay?

  355. trinioler says

    [Cross-posted from another forum]
    It is not an extraordinary claim that some big name you respect assaulted or harassed someone.

    Let me explain why: Everyone one of us is human. We have a tendency to separate abusers, rapists, etc into a separate class, an “Other”, so we don’t have to think of them as being as human as us. We do this for criminals, for immigrants(“illegal aliens” anyone?), and so on

    Being human means being flawed. It means selfishness, greed, cruelty, violence and more.

    So the distinction we have to make is that of better or worse humans. Everyone is human, still deserves basic human rights. But some people are abusive human beings. Some people are generally excellent human beings who do what they can to right injustice.

    This is the distinction we draw. So when some big name you like and respect is accused of doing something horrible, I am not calling them a monster. It is not an extraordinary thing to believe someone human and flawed could treated other people selfishly, callously, and abusively. We see it every fucking day, and “knowing” someone does not change the likelihood of them doing so.

    Then we get into a weird cognitive trait people have, that the people they have picked to like and respect are therefore good people, because no one wants to feel like they have bad judgement in people.

    But again, human beings are flawed. You can make mistakes, and associating with someone reprehensible before you find out about them is not to your detriment. It says nothing about you or your judgement. You were fooled along with many other people.

    So when someone big is accused of raping someone, there are a lot of subconscious responses going on that will make you think such a claim is an extraordinary claim. Its not. Be aware of your cognitive biases, respect them, and work to consciously deny them.

    Someone big, famous, and powerful(relatively speaking) raping someone is not an extraordinary claim. It does not require extraordinary proof to listen and take action to protect other people from being exploited. At the worst, they are a rapist, and you’ve helped protect a bunch of people from being exploited. On the flip side, if they’re innocent they could face… a worse reputation? Not getting invited to speak at conferences?

    I fail to see how one side is equal to the other. I fail to see why one person should be protected over potential victims.

    So, a rape accusation is not an extraordinary claim, not anyone human. It can be hard to believe depending on how much we’ve grown to like, trust, and respect someone, but it is not an extraordinary claim.

    If a woman tomorrow said through anonymous means that Patrick Stewart raped her and others, I would be inclined to believe her, even if it meant thinking Patrick Stewart is probably a rapist. It would break my heart, but I cannot, and will not, ignore those who are at great risk of being harassed, abused, and victimized further for making a claim.

  356. embertine says

    Although I am still uncomfortable with the anonymous allegations, I don’t honestly see what else the victim could have done.

    My reaction exactly, PBoF. I hate that the accusations are anonymous and that there is no way to know if they are false. I hate more that they are statistically likely to be true and that the victim’s initial reporting was dismissed, leaving her no other recourse.

    Sucky and dispiriting all round, and sadly nothing new.

  357. Maureen Brian says

    Nerok and Taemon,

    We do not pay the judge or the barrister in this case (paid out of public funds) to engage in victim blaming or to develop their own fantasies in the courtroom.

    Of course people under 16 have sex. Where they are close in age and both appear to know what they are doing (i.e use contraception, be in a real relationship) then it is most unlikely that there will be a prosecution. Either or both of them may be ticked off, nothing more.

    If, though, there is an age difference of more than a couple of years, if they are not in a relationship, if there there is any hint of coercion or abuse of authority then it will and should go to court.

    There has been a crime committed in both cases. Please to not confuse the questions of “was this illegal?” and “would it be wise to prosecute?”

    You don’t “fight this fight” effectively if you need to pretend things are better in any place than they actually are.

  358. says

    What happened to extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

    What happened is that you memorized the buzzwords, but failed to grasp their meaning. People have already picked on this, but I’ll pick on it again because I feel like this attitude is underlying much of the hyper-skeptical bullshit we’re seeing here, even if not everyone states it so clearly.

    These yahoos actually think it’s an extraordinary claim to say that someone sexually assaulted you. They think this is an occurrence so rare that it can reasonably be compared with multiplying loaves and fishes. They consider it downright miraculous. They’re looking for every available excuse to deny that it happened.

    They’re either ignorant, in denial or lying.

  359. left0ver1under says

    What I’m about to say probably isn’t much of a solution, but I’ll throw it out anyway.

    The best short term solution I can think of is to cut ties with, to disavow and disassociate from all who engage in such actions. Clean out the atheist community of those who have committed horrendous acts, and properly vet others before letting them into high-profile groups. Organize and attend events only within the FtB or other trusted communities, and make people show their track records or have trusted others who will speak on their behalf. And maybe set up a clearinghouse, a place for people to name abusers and have trusted third parties investigate the claims. It’s probably not the answer, but it might be a place to start.

    I’m of two minds about the naming and shaming of Shermer – if it’s true, it’s necessary, but there’s also the risk of backlash is possible if the accusations can’t be legally proven. That’s not to defend the guilty, but the guilty can fight back harder than the accuser (libel and slander laws) if not proven guilty in a court of law, even when the accusation is true.

    You can bet the farm that religious hypocrites will take glee and sick schadenfreude in the outing of harassers, abusers and rapists in the atheist community. Nobody is denying that those like thunderfoot and Shermer are atheists, and nobody ever said being an atheist makes you more moral than being religious, but you can be sure the slime in the religious community will use this to paint all atheists in the same way. Meanwhile, whenever one of theirs gets caught raping women or children, you’ll hear the inevitable denial of “not a true christian/jew/muslim/hindu/whatever”.

  360. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @Jadehawk

    I read his comment as him being confused and assuming his confusion was due to cultural/legal differences.

    @David Morgan.

    This is not an extraordinary claim; it’s a perfectly ordinary occurrence. Fuck off. Just fuck off.

  361. says

    Daniel Archevis, I see you’re using a definition of “civilised” which includes speaking civilly and yet excludes, oh, just about everything else.

    This is a foul-mouthed board where you will be mauled if you’re careless with expressing your ideas, so if you’re sensitive you’re not going to last long. You’ll last even less time if you try to upbraid the commenters for their language, as we’ll see it as a weak attempt to distract from the flaws in your argument, and only attract more opprobrium.

    In other words, your concern is noted, but the note will probably get lost in the scuffle.

  362. nerok says

    @411 NelC

    Nerok, IANAL, but as I recall in the UK we don’t have a get-out clause in statute if both parties are below the age of consent. In practice, the Prosecution Service may decide there’s no case to bring in such circumstance if there’s no clear coercion or obvious harm done

    I guess I stand corrected. It’s not (to my knowledge) the way it goes over here, but then the law is a strange thing. That stance (even though you say the practice is different) makes about as much sense to me as prosecuting kids for producing child porn when they take nude pictures of themselves.

    On the other hand, as regards this particular case

    Everything about that case stinks to the upper layers of the atmosphere. I don’t doubt there’s even more crap attached.

  363. Julie says

    Obviously, I wasn’t there so I can’t know for sure what happened. What I do know is that multiple women have warned me about Mr Shermer, too. Nobody straight up said (to me) she had been assaulted or raped by him but I have been sternly warned by women I trust who had nothing to gain or lose to be vary of him. As a person, the incident seems more than plausible to me.
    On the whole, maybe it’s not that rape and sexual assault is more common in our community, maybe it’s just that while we’re still quite a boys’ club, the women involved are somewhat braver, more educated about consent (and thus more likely to recognize assault and rape and speak up?) and we’re less likely to venerate authorities as much as some other communities? I mean, we’re talking about some pretty big names, and I can tell you in some other communities, people this influential would effectively have immunity and not many people would dare speak up against them.

  364. nerok says

    @412 PZ Myers

    if the cost of that accusation — if I even get a reputation as a predator on women — is that I’ll have a much harder time picking up hot young chicks at conferences

    I would think the consequences of being known as a predator on women would be higher than having trouble picking people up.

    Indeed, around here, you would get your face bashed in if you came anywhere near women ever again. And kiss your chances of getting employed goodbye. But then I live in a smaller community in another country. (And no, I don’t assume there are no rapists who are getting away with it around here – but if they are, it’s by staying hidden).

  365. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @NelC #411

    Nerok, IANAL, but as I recall in the UK we don’t have a get-out clause in statute if both parties are below the age of consent.

    Correct, but it’s never prosecuted.

    It is a criminal offence for someone of either sex to take part in sexual activity with someone under the age of 16, unless it is reasonable to believe that that person is 16 or older. Sexual activity includes sexual intercourse and intentional sexual touching. The penalties for an offence of this type are more severe if it is committed by someone who is 18 or over rather than someone who is under 18.

    It is legal for two people of the opposite sex or the same sex to have a sexual relationship if you are both 16 or over and you both consent to the sexual activity.

    Where both people are under 16, each will be committing an offence if they have a sexual relationship. However, it is unlikely that there will be any prosecution if both people agreed to have sex and one person was not taking advantage of the other. If someone under the age of 16 is sexually involved with someone else aged 16 or over, the younger person will not be committing an offence. However, the person over 16 could be charged.

    The law is clear that anyone who has sex (or other sexual activity) with someone aged 12 or under will automatically be committing rape, sexual assault or causing sexual activity without consent. This is sometimes known as ‘statutory rape’, although this term does not exist in the UK legal system.

    http://www.sarcplymouth.co.uk/default/index.cfm/historic/consent/

    Nb/ In the final paragraph they state “someone aged 12 or under”; as of 2003 it is a child of 13 or under. I do not know what age was specified before that.

  366. klatu says

    @Who Cares #364
    Can you provide a source for your figures, please? 5-10% sounds like a case of under-reporting to me, in contrast to 30%.

    @373
    Be more like Shermer? I’ll pass…

    @380
    Shermer is destroyed now? Let me guess: It’s a witch-hunt! Oh, wait a minute…

    ***

    Where do all these Google-impaired people come from? And why does this particular topic always make them crawl out the woodwork? Whence cometh this insistence to have it explained to them by another person in lieu of looking up a definition? Is it because you can’t argue with a definition, perchance? Can’t poke holes in it? Can’t try and undermine it with exceedingly unlikely scenarios? Questions, questions… /blather

    ***

    re consent under influence:
    Consent cannot be alloted. It is not a unit. There are no coupons for consent.
    Even if people plan to get stupid drunk and fuck, consent still has to exist throughout the entire act. Not prior to it, not in intervals. But throughout the duration of it. If at any point an involved party is unable or unwilling to give or maintain consent, it is rape.
    Not to mention that alcohol disinhibits people, making them more likely to ignore boundaries.
    At least, that’s my understanding, and why I no longer get stupid drunk unless I’m by myself.
    Plus, whiskey-dick is an overrated phenomenon. Correct me if I’m wrong^^

    ***

    PZ:

    I guess I’m unsurprised that so many people are concerned about the men involved, me and Shermer, but how about thinking more about the women at these events, and the price they have had to pay?

    Oh no! The jig is up! Quickly now: “But what about the menz?!1!”

  367. mildlymagnificent says

    The best short term solution I can think of is to cut ties with, to disavow and disassociate from all who engage in such actions. Clean out the atheist community of those who have committed horrendous acts, and properly vet others before letting them into high-profile groups.

    I’m not so sure. In my view, the best way is not to worry too much about who’s got how many ugly things festering in their personal history. I’m afraid that starting on this process will reveal a lot more things that nobody suspected. Just make it very clear that harassment policies and practices at conferences are not the limit of how appropriate behaviour will be judged and managed within this community, it’s only the beginning.

    So everyone from now on will be asking questions of organisations about their policies and practices and deconstructing the responses in exhaustive detail – and publicly suggesting improvements and modifications to make those policies more in line with this community’s expectations. And so on and so on in more and more places and activities.

    At which point, people with an unsavoury personal history will have to make a few decisions about what they do and don’t say within their organisations and in public. They will also have to decide whether they will up their game to meet the apparently onerous new standards or go off to find places and people who are willing to tolerate their nastiness.

  368. throwaway, gut-punched says

    @385 : Are you even serious? Have you read the comments? People are told to “fuck off” and are called “toxic waste”, “rape enablers” and worse stuff that I’m not even comfortable citing. If anything, religious fervor still tends to behave significantly more sivilized than this.

    I do note your inability to cite anything in context as it related to your original claim. I’m also finding the false equivocation with “religion” as a term of disparagement repulsive in it’s pedestrian typicality.

  369. Maureen Brian says

    For goodness sake, Nerok, read the thread.

    This whole thread is about the behaviour of someone who has been known / considered / suspected of being a sexual predator for years. Far from being punched in the nose or denied employment he has been lionised above his worth as a speaker or intellectual, protected from investigation and been able to rely upon his friends to attack the bona fides and even the sanity of anyone who might suggest that his is a less than god-like perfection.

    Do, please, keep up.

  370. says

    Things that we do not know exist:
    *Bigfoot
    *Alien spacecraft with a habit of abducting people
    *Gods
    *Centaurs
    *Etc.

    Things we know exist, but are rare
    *The endangered Amur Leopard
    *The transit of Venus
    *Rape arrests and convictions
    *False rape accusations
    *Etc.

    Things we know exist and are common
    *Cute fluffy bunnies
    *Protons
    *Movie sequels
    *Rape
    *Etc.

    So here’s a skepticism 101 quiz:
    1. Which kinds of claims require extraordinary evidence? Which of the groups above correspond to that?
    2. If someone claims that they heard something rustling in the bushes, is it more likely to be Bigfoot, an Amur Leopard, or a cute fluffy bunny? Explain your answer.
    3. If someone claims that they were raped, which of the following scenarios is most likely:
    A. They were abducted by aliens
    B. They are making a false allegation
    C. Making this claim will result in an arrest and conviction
    D. They were actually raped

    Please put your pencils down and turn your papers over when finished.

  371. says

    I don’t know whether PZ has done the right thing or not, but I do know that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I kept quiet in a similar situation.

  372. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Just a quick question (bring on the JAQ-off accusations!):

    I’m a total asshole! Don’t bother honestly answering me because I don’t actually give a rat’s ass about truth!

    Does this startling lack of even the tiniest shread of substantiation not give anyone even a moment’s pause before espousing their certainty with near religious fervor? Not at all, even amongst “skeptics”…?

    bitches ain’t shit and lie a lot. They’re definitely not people, and you definitely can’t believe anything they say, because . . . . uh. . . . . I say so. Rape IS just like bigfoot because I’m an ignorant, arrogant dude who can’t be assed to read this thread of any of the multiple links provided that prove me wrong.

    Message received, pumpkin.

  373. Bernard Bumner says

    Nerok, IANAL, but as I recall in the UK we don’t have a get-out clause in statute if both parties are below the age of consent.

    The Sexual Offences Act 2003 make a distinction between those over or under the age of 18 years for the purposes of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, but this only affects the possible length of the sentence.

    However, the CPS guidelines on prosecution set out that,

    …where both parties to sexual activity are under 16, then they may both have committed a criminal offence. However, the overriding purpose of the legislation is to protect children and it was not Parliaments intention to punish children unnecessarily or for the criminal law to intervene where it was wholly in appropriate. Consensual sexual activity between, for example, a 14 or 15 year-old and a teenage partner would not normally require criminal proceedings in the absence of aggravating features.

  374. gussnarp says

    There are so many things I could say about this, but the regulars have surely said them all better than me, so, after first saying that the victim has my sincerest sympathies and support, whoever she is, I’m now going to make this all about me.

    My son is almost old enough to attend Camp Quest. And I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for him for some time now. And now I don’t know if I want to send him. Any camp situation entails some risk of abuse. It happens, but hopefully with a well run camp the odds aren’t really any worse than spending the night with an apparently trustworthy uncle. But while all this makes me feel a bit less safe about that particular camp, even though it’s only connected to all this in the most tangential of ways, that’s not really my concern.

    My concern is that my only association with movement skepticism and atheism thus far has been on the internet. I’m just not the convention going sort, so that’s never really interested me. But now I don’t know if I want my kids going to a place where they’re going to get steeped in the skepticism movement. I want them to learn to think critically for themselves, I want them to enjoy a camp experience without any Bible thumping and Christ whoring. But if that camp may be staffed by people who are supporters of the abusers in the movement, or if it produces people who use their skepticism in a twisted fashion to support sexism, harassment, and worse, then I don’t think I really want my kids in that environment.

    And that’s just me. But that’s what all of this is going to do to skepticism. And it’s the abusers who are doing it, not the victims, not those who release the information. Because even if not everything is true, even if there are some spurious reports, the overall picture is still one in which there is a serious problem with major skeptical organizations dismissing serious allegations against big name skeptics based entirely on the notion that those big names “wouldn’t possibly do anything like that”.

  375. Rick Mueller says

    The Cult of Personality is strong in the activist internet atheist community. So many commenters here are shocked, dismayed, disgusted. One should assume that power corrupts and expect that male predatory behavior is the norm. Refuse to attend conferences, buy books, and otherwise support male, heterosexual, white, academics until such time that these attributes no longer are privileged. Stop enabling.

  376. Nina Sankari says

    Thank you, PZ, for this grenade. It has been waiting a long time for this bum. I do not mean here just the Shermer’s case but some broader questions, which beg the answers.
    1. Atheists rightfully claim that they do not need god to be good. Does it mean that an atheist by definition IS good? Atheism doesn’t mean a nihilism as like to think believers. But on the other hand, disbelief in god does not give an automatic pass to ethical conduct.
    2. The argument of the reputation damage of a renowned skeptic or the whole skeptics community is unfounded. No authority or community is entitled to get a discount tariff in case of committing unethical acts. Just the opposite.
    3. Today, men prevail in freethinker, rationalist, atheist, skeptics, etc. communities. Not surprisingly, despite the widely declared (and increasingly implemented) principle of equality, it is still a long way to have it really done.
    4. The rape culture is only an extreme manifestation of violence against women in patriarchal society. Religion is a very important factor for the transmission and the perpetuation of patriarchal patterns, but not the only one. And it’s not just about the dominance of men over women, but about the system which is based on dominance.
    5. Voices in support of rape culture (she asked for it being drunk, wearing such clothes, etc.) appear always on such occasions; this kind of arguments are currently running on our rationalist forum as well. As we know the overwhelming majority of rape victims are female, and overwhelming majority of rapists are men. Since it is a woman who has to prove that the sexual act took place without her explicit consent, this means that the woman is seen as somebody always willing to have a sexual intercourse, so a man by definition is always allowed to have it, unless she proves the opposite. The number of false accusations of rape is very low in relation to the number of rapes. In such a case, wouldn’t it be more rational to assume that any man who does not have an explicit proof of woman’s consent is a rapist?

  377. nerok says

    @428 Maureen Brian

    This whole thread is about the behaviour of someone who has been known / considered / suspected of being a sexual predator for years. Far from being punched in the nose or denied employment he has been lionised above his worth as a speaker or intellectual, protected from investigation and been able to rely upon his friends to attack the bona fides and even the sanity of anyone who might suggest that his is a less than god-like perfection.

    He’s certainly not been lionized by the people who thought him a sexual predator. A major reason for this post is changing the perception that he is beyond reproach and a good guy. The fact that people are starting to have their stories told is the reason more stories are being told.

    Your suggestion reads rather like this entire thread being pointless.

    Further, I think the consequences for PZ acquiring that reputation would be different, don’t you?

  378. says

    There is also a big difference between “position where I could not consent” compared to “he forced himself on me against my consent”

    Not really, but it’s very telling that you think there is.

    Consent is consent. Either it’s there or it isn’t; no middle ground. Either you’ve got active, ongoing consent from your partner or you’re engaged in rape. If there’s any doubt in your mind, stop and ask.

  379. says

    My head asplode. Is organized atheism trying to outdo the Catholic Church?

    Some people believe they’re special and will abuse people so long as they believe they can get away with it.

    This has always perplexed me? Is it that sociopaths gravitate toward positions of power or that power warps ordinary people so much they start thinking they can get away with shit like this? If I didn’t already want to stay indoors and not engage with anybody, this would make me. I want there to be community, but it must be one we can be proud of, and at this point I’d be ready to set the whole artifice on fire and rebuild it from the ground up.

    I sincerely hope the victim finds some peace. PZ, you say not to give you any credit, but you did do a brave thing. It’s easy to sit by and let the status quo persist, but you did what I hope I’d have the courage to do if I’m ever in that situation. Hopefully this is a step toward some real justice being served.

    First Lawrence Krauss and now this — maybe I’ll stick to only reading books by dead authors. At least that way if they turn out to be creeps they won’t be abusing anyone anymore.

  380. throwaway, gut-punched says

    The Cult of Personality is strong in the activist internet atheist community. So many commenters here are shocked, dismayed, disgusted.

    That claim of ‘personality cultists’ isn’t the only conclusion to be gleaned from the latter. Hey, whatever helps you rise above the fray! Go for it!

  381. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    nerok,
    You think there are harsher consequences there. I seriously doubt you know the first thing about how often rape and other abuse goes on around you unpunished while you remain blissfully unaware of what the people around you really go through. Everybody assumes their part of the world is different, better, special. I bet that even if it is better than here, it’s still pretty fucking bad.

  382. nerok says

    Has anyone compiled a master list of the accusations so far?

    Let me start it out and please correct any mistakes, or things I left out. I’m especially uncertain about the assault/harassment division so let everything in here be provisionary.

    People:
    Lawrence Krauss – Sexual assault.
    Michael Shermer (Skeptic Magazine) – Rape, sexual assault, harassment.
    DJ Groethe (JREF) – Did not act on reports of sexual assault. Tried to sweep it under the rug.
    James Randi (JREF) – Lied about taking action against DJ Grothe.
    Ben Radford (Skeptical Inquirer)- Sexual assault.
    Bill Nye – Sexual harassment.

    Organizations:
    JREF – Ignored or covered up multiple cases of sexual assault at TAM.
    CFI – Ignored or swept under the rug multiple cases of harassment/assault.

  383. doublereed says

    There is also a big difference between “position where I could not consent” compared to “he forced himself on me against my consent”

    You do realize that the reason that these look different is because you took out the most important word. The line was “Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent.”

    Sounds to me like someone’s practicing hard for his lying and deceitful tricks exam.

  384. carlie says

    Wow. I don’t think my voice can add any information because others have already done it more and better than I could have, but wanted to add in my thanks, YES, thanks, for not walking by this and not saying anything, PZ. Or worse, explaining to the woman all of the reasons why you couldn’t do anything about it. You exposed it to the light, and I know you feel like you couldn’t have done otherwise, but it’s that moral compass that I appreciate that you have. Thank you.

  385. nerok says

    @441 Jackie

    You think there are harsher consequences there. I seriously doubt you know the first thing about how often rape and other abuse goes on around you unpunished while you remain blissfully unaware of what the people around you really go through.

    I specifically said:

    And no, I don’t assume there are no rapists who are getting away with it around here – but if they are, it’s by staying hidden

    As to what the culture is around here, with regards to the consequences of being a known rapist, I am the better judge of us two.

  386. WharGarbl says

    @Nina Sankari
    #436

    Does it mean that an atheist by definition IS good?

    Whether one is atheist or theist doesn’t imply whether one is good or not. It’s just a label to differentiate those who don’t believe in the supernatural entity from others.

    Religion is a very important factor for the transmission and the perpetuation of patriarchal patterns, but not the only one.

    I’m starting to believe that, without a serious push against it, the skeptic movement will become just like some religions: An apparatus to perpetuate a patriarchal institution. All it takes is time for those ideas/practices to cement in.

  387. daniellavine says

    nerok, could you please take your bullshit to thunderdome and stop derailing this thread?

  388. says

    @kellym #305:

    Does anyone know if the incident described in this post is the one that DJ Grothe was referring to when he wrote:
    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

    It may not be the same incident, but Shermer was identified in this Friendly Atheist thread as the subject of the “distasteful locker room story” about a woman having sex with a speaker who left his book on the nightstand. For what it’s worth, I’d heard a similar story about the same guy third- or fourth-hand.

    Sorry if this has already been addressed; still working my way through the comments.

  389. nerok says

    @447 danellavine

    nerok, could you please take your bullshit to thunderdome and stop derailing this thread?

    It helps if you are more specific. Unless you mean everything I’ve written here has been a derail. In which case you are wrong.

  390. says

    Hey guys, take a look around the Internet and see how people are responding outside your insulated little politically correct forum. It’s time for a reality check.

  391. WharGarbl says

    @nkrishna
    #439

    Is it that sociopaths gravitate toward positions of power or that power warps ordinary people so much they start thinking they can get away with shit like this?

    First, a disclaimer. I’m not sure how trust worthy the first source is, nor am I sure how trust worthy the sources the second source points are.
    The answer seems to be “Both”. Sociopath seek positions of power, and giving someone power nudges them toward being sociopath.

    Organisational sociopaths: rarely challenged, often promoted. Why?
    Cracked.com: 5 Scientific Reasons Powerful People Will Always Suck

  392. says

    Nerok – I feel that some of these issues are not related and so there is no real point in keeping a master list of them. They are just “sexual assault/rape” that came out at the same time.

    Then again, I am a bit woozy on the whole situation. I was out for a good 3 days with illness and deliveries (Obs/Gynae support at the moment and I had a doozie of a delivery on thursday…) so finally getting in touch with things.

  393. throwaway, gut-punched says

    Hey guys, take a look around the Internet and see how people are responding outside your insulated little politically correct forum. It’s time for a reality check.

    You mean a status-quo update? Pray, tell, what is the quorum for alleged rape having validity? Nah, just fuck off.

  394. congenital cynic says

    Surprised I am, but shocked I am not.

    I’ve always enjoyed Shermer’s trashing of woomeisters and religious quacks, but in spite of his being an entertaining speaker, it’s not hard to see that he has an ego the size of Montreal, and is pretty damned cocky. I can easily imagine that he sees himself as a hot ladies man. One would have hoped that he would be more respectful of women, but I guess every community has its pushy, overbearing asshats.

    It’ll be interesting to watch the fireworks on this one. I think it will be very difficult for anyone to assail your integrity PZ.

  395. says

    @gussnarp at 434. My oldest Hellion went to her first Camp Quest Ohio. It was a wonderful experience and she’s already planning for her return trip. As a parent I can completely empathize with your concern in this matter however. The only advice I can give is that Camp Quest has a reputation as being a very responsive organization. Bring your concerns to them when you consider sending your child into their care. If its possible to get further personally involved (i know it isn’t always), Camp Quest is a largely volunteer organization. Those of us with concerns like yours can definitely make a difference in such an organizartion. The same goes for all of our skepti-athe-humanist orgs. We are definitely in a position here to “be the change you ant to see in the world.”

  396. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    hey, jimmashby, Argumentum ad populum is not a valid argument. You’ve totally failed to make a single true or valid point. You’ve been repeatedly proven wrong just on this thread alone. Take a long look in the mirror and try to figure out why you’re so gung-ho at dismissing, denying and excusing rape.

    Time for a reality check, jimmiepoo. You’re a rape apologist.

  397. Bernard Bumner says

    Hey guys, take a look around the Internet and see how people are responding outside your insulated little politically correct forum.

    A quick survey of the Internet tells me that most people are looking for porn, cat pictures, and information on Beyonce’s haircut.

    Do you have anything useful to say?

  398. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Re: the accusations against shermer. I’m not at all surprised. This would explain why his went so overboard with the testerical whining and unhinged ranting about imaginary ‘witch hunts’ etc, when he was mildly called out for his sexist language. There were much worse skeletons in his closet. Perhaps he knew it was just a matter of time before someone opened that door.

  399. nerok says

    @453 Avicenna

    I feel that some of these issues are not related and so there is no real point in keeping a master list of them. They are just “sexual assault/rape” that came out at the same time.

    Considering that all these revelations have come one after the other, in a short space of time, likely because the issue of these assholes infesting the most prominent of atheists and skeptics has been out in force, it seems highly relevant to keep track of all the people and organizations named. Permanently.
    They are all related by the fact that they all involve people in said communities and the culture of the convention / speaking gigs.

    Having the previous incidents be overshadowed by higher profile ones would be terrible.

  400. daniellavine says

    nerok@450:

    I must admit I haven’t done an in-depth investigation of everything you’ve posted in this thread.

    Why, you ask?

    Because you’re tedious. No one needs lectures on how backwards the US is relative to “northern Europe” with respect to sex crimes. If you really feel the need to mouth off about it take it to thunderdome.

  401. Pteryxx says

    I’m not at all surprised. This would explain why his went so overboard with the testerical whining and unhinged ranting about imaginary ‘witch hunts’ etc, when he was mildly called out for his sexist language. There were much worse skeletons in his closet.

    “The wicked flee when no [one] pursueth…”

  402. notsont says

    I would like to point out that rape culture is far less prevalent in The Netherlands, probably most of Northern Europe.

    LOL , Oh your serious, let me laugh even harder.

    This is not the first time I have seen this claim, usually its also accompanied by the ridiculous claim that rape is far less a problem in Europe than the US. Its a problem everywhere, Europe is certainly not ahead of the US in this area, actually considering Berlusconi, is known to have paid for the privilege to rape children and is STILL a hero in Europe I am inclined to think the problem may be a tad bit worse there.

  403. daniellavine says

    nerok@461:

    As far as I know, no one nominated you Keeper of the List either.

  404. says

    Wow… just… wow! This is doing wonders for my social anxiety. You really can’t trust anyone! I think you’re doing the right thing PZ. I’m so sick of the current system we have in place that clearly doesn’t work and allow these cockroaches to keep on scurrying in the brushes. I’m so tired of these high profile characters getting carte blanche! This needed to come out. Thank you!

  405. maronoff says

    OK, I agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and the community should self-police but this type of accusation with no evidence in unfair.

    Not only that but it reeks of hypocrisy. We demand evidence of the simplest scientific ideas but are willing to air this type of accusation with a single ambiguous sentence? That is wrong.

    We need to make sure that women feel comfortable coming forward and then they will be willing to give full details.

  406. says

    @nkrishna
    #439

    Is it that sociopaths gravitate toward positions of power or that power warps ordinary people so much they start thinking they can get away with shit like this? If I didn’t already want to stay indoors and not engage with anybody, this would make me.

    I spend a lot of time wondering about this and I mostly stay indoors !!

    @WharGarbl
    #452
    thanks for the links.

    @Everybody else

    What are your takes?????

  407. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    and information on Beyonce’s haircut.

    wait

    WHAT

    Beyonce got a haircut?

  408. don1 says

    I suspect that the reason we are seeing a lot of disclosures of sexual misconduct among the skeptic community, some of them going back years, is that a minority of people in the ‘community’ have made serious and sustained efforts to make it clear that this is not ok and will be called out. PZ, OB, Greta and others have become hate figures, as we well know, and have been subjected to stunning levels of vitriol and abuse all stemming from one simple request; guys, don’t do that.

    It’s been rough on them (well, PZ probably doesn’t give a damn but the rape/acid-throwing/sexual degradation shit-storm visited on the women who have spoken out is nauseating) but if the result is a sense that, yes, there are people who know about this and are not going to shut up about it or look to preserve the reputation of the ‘movement’ over simple decent behaviour and they will listen and do more than listen then it was worth it.

    Thirty years ago when I was starting of as an educator a student disclosed to me that a very senior colleague was using his position to not only abuse vulnerable students but then blackmailing them into having sex with his ‘friends’. I felt sick. Sick at what was happening but also sick that I, a foreigner and probably the most junior teacher at the institution, had to take this on. I didn’t sleep that night, but the next day I reported it and also confided in a couple of senior people I rtusted. It got messy, but I had trusted the right people. The upshot was that the guy took early retirement and I was ‘invited’ to transfer to an institution at the other end of the country (partly for my own safety). I took that as the best result we were going to get.

    PZ, as someone mentioned earlier, you stuck your head over the parapet when it came to supporting the targets of casual and not-so-casual misogyny. Who else is going to be handed the grenade?

  409. daniellavine says

    maronoff@467:

    OK, I agree that this type of behavior is unacceptable and the community should self-police but this type of accusation with no evidence in unfair.

    How so?

    Not only that but it reeks of hypocrisy. We demand evidence of the simplest scientific ideas but are willing to air this type of accusation with a single ambiguous sentence? That is wrong.

    We’re not trying to determine the truth or falsehood of a scientific principle, we’re trying to make women more safe.

    We need to make sure that women feel comfortable coming forward and then they will be willing to give full details.

    How can that ever happen when women’s complaints, rather than taken seriously, are hushed up, swept under the rug, and then described as “unfair” or “hypocrisy”?

  410. nerok says

    @462 danellavine

    I must admit I haven’t done an in-depth investigation of everything you’ve posted in this thread.
    Why, you ask?
    Because you’re tedious. No one needs lectures on how backwards the US is relative to “northern Europe” with respect to sex crimes.

    Please quote me as saying that. It seems to me you aren’t capable of doing a cursory reading of the thread, never mind any “investigation” (which is your way of saying that you have no fucking clue about what incident you were referring to originally).

    Your general displeasure with me is noted. Fuck off.

    @465 daneiellavine

    As far as I know, no one nominated you Keeper of the List either.

    Another stunningly useful contribution. Thanks for taking the time out to reply, asshole.

  411. helenaconstantine says

    I guess this is the end for me reading Myer’s blog. he’s just running a witch hunt now.

  412. Rey Fox says

    Where do I remember this Jim Ashby guy? Oh, that’s right, from one of the recent abortion threads. Yeah, he’s a known misogynist, fuck him.

  413. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Yeah, as PZ said, at least one cretin has tweeted accusations of rape and murder in retaliation. It has been insinuated that embarrassing “drunk” stories could be told on alot of people, so those coming forward about rape/assault /harassment better watch their backs. Some have requested stories of the people speaking up for those who can’t come forward in the community behaving badly. There have been accusations of racism and cronyism. Misogynists are poisoning the well as fast as they can. I’m sure they will make a mountain of every mole hill they find, if not just make stories up on the spot. They’re retaliating on behalf of the perpetrator, because they consider those men the real victims here. They are either unable to see how their sexism colors that belief, or they don’t mind that it does. I believe that the fact that they are harming actual victims in that process to be a feature, rather than a bug.
    So…that’s happening.

    Now, is anyone still unclear about why victims might not want to come forward to publicly accuse a perpetrator?

    Unless you’ve been in their position, you do not know how terrifying it is to consider coming forward and how awful the results often are when you do.

    These people have been brave enough to take this step and I applaud them.
    Please stop telling them they need to do more. WE are the ones who need to do more.

  414. daniellavine says

    nerok@473:

    Another stunningly useful contribution.

    And if you’d stop making your own similarly “useful” contributions I could stop talking to you and we’ll all be happier. Please get on topic or stop commenting.

  415. cubist says

    New, from Mattel: MRA Ken! Says 36 different male-supportive phrases, including:
    “I’m going my own way.”
    “What about the men?”
    “You must have been imagining things.”
    “Misandry hurts women, too!”
    “Come to my room for some coffee.”
    “Consent is hard!”

  416. daniellavine says

    helenaconstantine@474:

    I doubt you’ll be missed considering the quality of your commentary.

  417. Ariadnethread says

    As someone outside the community who’s been directed to this post, I want to thank you PZ Meyer for posting this and I want to thank the anonymous woman who wanted to warm away others from a similar fate. It’s a brave and dangerous thing to try and speak out against entrenched immoral behavior like this, especially when you are from within the community and risking your personal connections. I hope the woman who e-mailed you is able to retain her anonymity for as long as she needs or wants it. If Rebecca Watson’s continued harassment is anything to go by, these kinds of accusations are not forgotten easily or gently.

    As someone who identifies as queer, as trans, as a woman, this so called ‘skeptical community’ has always appeared to me to be unbearably toxic and hateful. A look through redditt, one of the most popular discussion forums for skepticism and atheism these days shows a hive of misogyny, bigotry, and dogmatic devotion to supposed community leaders indistinguishable from the religious communities they so sneeringly consider themselves superior to. I would love to consider myself a part of a skeptical community, but it’s been made very clear that there is no place for people like me there.
    In a way, whether this woman’s story is ‘true’ or not doesn’t even matter, the ensuing discussion around it will quickly reveal the true nature of the community, if it hasn’t already.

    That you are willing to give this woman who was brave enough to e-mail you the benefit of the doubt and to share her story, and that there are people in this comment chain who are also willing to give the benefit of the doubt does give me some hope that it is possible, someday, for this community to change.

    For now, I’ve little doubt Shermer will come out of this not much worse for wear baring some near-sucidal burst of bravery of all of his victims coming forward. But at least it will promote discussion of the issue, anything to hammer in that this community is not some magic exception to the hate and ignorance that permeate the greater culture at large. Being ‘logical, skeptical thinkers’ means nothing if you continue to willfully remain blind to your own inborn prejudices’ and privileges.

  418. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Jim,
    We know that rape culture is alive and thriving. The world, as you’ve been told already, is not a just place. You are the one in denial.

  419. Parse says

    I know that most everything I’m going to say has already been said before, but I still want to say it.
    1) Thank you, anonymous, for coming forward about this, even anonymously. From the shit that’s been thrown your way, even in a supportive environment like this, I support your choice to stay anonymous.
    2) Thank you, PZ, for posting this. Simply because something is the right thing to do, doesn’t make it an easy thing to do. Frankly, I don’t think I could have done it, and I’d hate myself for my cowardice.
    3) I feel sick that ‘get somebody drunk, rape them, be reported to the organization involved’ isn’t enough information to identify the reporter. It’s not that I want the reporter to be outed; it’s that this has happened multiple times, to multiple victims, and nothing has been done.
    4) I trust anonymous on this because I trust PZ, and PZ trusts anonymous enough to accept the consequences of speaking out.

  420. ButchKitties says

    It’s been my experience that people who use the phrase “politically correct” as a pejorative strongly correlate with people who never have anything of value to contribute to a discussion.

    And now for something completely different, I am reminded of my time as a juror for a rape trial. The prosecutor had to spend as much time stressing to the jury, over and over again, that the witness’s testimony was in fact evidence as she spent going over the actual facts of the case.

  421. Taemon says

    notsont@464

    … yeah, whatever. My point is, people, don’t despair. It’ll take long but our efforts are not in vain. Not completely, at least. People like Anonymus and PZ and Karen Stollznow, they are making a difference.

    That thing about Douglas Adams, though. I’m not sure I dare to tell my love about it.

  422. nerok says

    @477 daniellavine

    And if you’d stop making your own similarly “useful” contributions I could stop talking to you and we’ll all be happier. Please get on topic or stop commenting.

    I’ll take this as you admitting you were wrong about what I said, agree you had nothing to back up the first shitpost you made (that initiated the whole exchange) and that you won’t be making any more replies to me since they were all off topic to begin with.

    Good.

  423. left0ver1under says

    mildlymagnificent (#426)

    I’m not so sure. In my view, the best way is not to worry too much about who’s got how many ugly things festering in their personal history.

    I knew it wasn’t a perfect idea, it was just an attempt to start discussion on what to do, to offer an idea many might agree with.

    At which point, people with an unsavoury personal history will have to make a few decisions about what they do and don’t say within their organisations and in public.

    You can’t change what’s happened, but you might be able to change what will happen. With any luck, it will make some think twice. If people start thinking about consequences, some might not do it in the first place. An ounce of prevention, and all that.

  424. naomibaker says

    I enter this community about 7 years ago, and within a few months was warned about Shermer. This is nothing new.

    Several years ago, on a now defunct blog, I wrote about a man I briefly dated, who I found out was dating four other women at the same time (which is OK in principle) and was separated from his wife. But, he kept each of the women secret from each other and from his estranged wife. My blog was bout how he considered himself moral because he treated each individual woman very well; my point was that the women had a right to know that they were one of many.

    Since the blog was taken down, I have nothing in the way of evidence, but…I was sent a comment by a woman who thought the post was about Shermer, and said that he had confessed several ‘affairs’ and listed names. I recognized two of the names! After examining the email address and consulting with a friend who knows IT stuff, I responded with “Mrs.Shermer: ” and assured the person that I was not another one of those women, and that the person I wrote about was indeed a guy I had dated and in no way involved with any skeptic community. The person ‘fessed up and admitted to being Mrs.Shermer and apologized for bothering me.

    I didn’t own the blog, and I contacted the person who did, but he deleted everything. Yes, only my word. One person can verify that he saw and read the comments, helped me identify the sender. But it speaks to a continued pattern. I also know one woman who was harrassed by Shermer – first person, not my neighbor’s brother’s wife. But she is afraid.

  425. maronoff says

    daniellavine@472

    How so?

    Really?!? An accusation without any supporting evidence is unfair. As “Skeptics” we should expect more on all subjects not just where it suits our world view.

    We’re not trying to determine the truth or falsehood of a scientific principle, we’re trying to make women more safe.

    So you admit you have different standards of evidence based on the subject? That is a slippery slope.

    How can that ever happen when women’s complaints, rather than taken seriously, are hushed up, swept under the rug, and then described as “unfair” or “hypocrisy”?

    You will notice that my comment did not question the accuser at all. What I am uncomfortable with is airing this type of serious accusation in such a manner. I would rather see PZ try and get the woman to tell her own story in full. That would serve the community best.

  426. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    It looks like Why People Believe Weird Things was missing the chapter, “Why People Believe It’s Okay to Have Sex With Someone Incapable of Giving Consent (Especially When You Got Them That Way)”.

    Good on you, PZ, for tossing a grenade that needed tossing. And for the victim: I’d do anything if I could take away your fear. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with that on top of everything else.

  427. says

    Avicenna made a very cogent comment at Blag Hag (I hope its ok to borrow it Avi) that has clicked some of the same mental buttons I have been toying with this morning.

    Now the longer a case takes between assault and trial the more likely the case is to not succeed. Why? Evidence goes away, stories change and people forget. As for sexual harassment? Well one person’s claim is an anecdote. Two people though? That is collaborative. The more evidence you collaborate like that the more stronger your case gets.

    It’s how the Catholic Church Child Abuse scandals were tried.

    The Catholic Church Child Abuse scandals are one of the Atheist/Skeptic movements SIGNATURE ISSUES. How many people’s first exposure to the modern atheist movement came from reporters and bloggers and famous skeptic celebrities?(http://trueslant.com/michaelshermer/2010/03/29/the-priestly-pedophilia-program-ppp/)

    If anyone had wandered into the PZ’s den when we were talking about “that” scandal with the kind of denialism we are seeing in this thread we would have justly laughed them out of the room. What happened to hyperskepticism then? I’m serious as a fucking heart attack here. If you are here demanding that victims of sexual assault in our community be treated the same way the Catholic apologists have treated their accusers, if you have a different standard of evidence when it comes to cleaning our own house than the one you use when accusing “approved enemies” of misconduct, then you are not only acting hypocritically, you are actively undermining the credibility of the entire atheist/skeptic enterprise.

    There is massive amounts of available evidence that the reporting of sexual assaults against adults is fraught with problems inherent in our society and our criminal justice system. These problems are almost perfectly parallel with the problems reporting clergy sexual abuse, in that case problems that the atheist/skeptic community have been incredibly vocal and energetic about. The clergy sex abuse case is one of the issues we have used as a rallying cry to increase awareness of the harms of religion. If we are not willing to apply the same kind of energy to cleaning our own house then that rallying cry becomes hypocritical self serving bullshit

  428. Who Cares says

    @Klatu(#425): Oh yes, underreporting is almost guaranteed. The social stigma and disbelieve of getting raped as a male is even worse then what gets heaped on female victims.
    But I see I forgot to add a very important distinction to the sentence in parentheses. It should read:

    (or him, about 5% to 10% of rape victims,for which a perpetrator is sentenced, are male)

    About the underreporting; Where it is estimated that around 50% of (attempted) rapes/assaults are not reported, the guess is that less then 10% of the ones involving a male victim are reported.
    Since this is from/for a (self)help group I don’t have direct links. I’ll have find and dig in the reports released by the national office/department of statistics.

  429. says

    @Polymath #348:

    I’m not saying it would be an end all solution, but if hidden or open personal surveillance devices become more widespread and thus more accepted in daily interactions, it might make it harder for predators to find places they feel safe.

    Again, Steubenville. These people recorded themselves sexually assaulting a young woman and posted it to their social media. I don’t think Google Glass is going to have the effect you think, and (like the Steubenville stuff) will likely lead to brave new worlds of slut-shaming.

    As to the famous sci-fi authors, Asimov was a notorious ass-grabber, the subject of a similar female convention backchannel in the day, and the subject of a truly depressing and revealing post by Stephanie Zvan last year. I don’t know about Adams, but Harlan Ellison deserves a place on that list.

    @Johan #373:

    Maybe they should study Shermer. He always seems to express himself well, doesn’t throw tantrums, doesn’t throw around insults, and offers validly structured arguments.

    Thanks for my morning belly laugh. You’re kidding, right?

    @cubist #478: Very nice. It can be a part of Mattel’s right-winger collection, along with “abortion Barbie.”

    One thing that keeps occurring to me as I read comments like jimashby’s is that the law works exactly as it’s intended to protect and serve the wealthy straight white cis men it’s designed to protect and serve. As a middle-class straight white cis man, I can be relatively confident that my complaints to the police (which I’ve made in the past over some relatively minor things–”there was a strange guy taking pictures of my house” and “there’s a strange dog guarding our apartment complex that won’t let us out”) will be followed-up and taken seriously. If you’re a comparatively-wealthy white male, it’s quite likely that all your experiences with the police–including negative ones like speeding tickets–have been in the context of police doing exactly what you were told as a kid that they were supposed to do.

    That’s not true for the non-wealthy, the non-straight, non-cis, non-white, and/or the non-male. Assuming otherwise is baseless, and ignores the wealth of evidence–evidence that’s been national news for over a year–that police across this country at least have serious problems with treating women, racial minorities, poor people, and LGBT people the same as those wealthy straight cis white men. The cases are not difficult to find; in fact, they’re hard to avoid. Instead of assuming that everyone has it as easy as you do, maybe educate yourself about what the world is actually like.

    (And look, I did it all without using that dreaded p-word that the MRA brigade hate so much.)

    But then I see that jimashby, who has pulled certainties out of his nether regions and has never considered that life for minorities might be different from his, is lecturing us on getting out of our bubble. Pots and kettles, I suppose.

  430. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    nerok,
    Exactly why would you be better at knowing what it is like to be accused of rape in your area?
    Because you’re there or because you are familiar with the stats in your area and work a rape crisis hotline? Because you once punched a guy for being accused of rape? In what way do you see yourself as more qualified to speak to the subject?
    Alot of people (mostly guys) here think they know what it is like here too. You can see them above claiming there is no rape culture and that harassment and rape are rare, because they don’t know. They just think they do.

    What do you mean “unless” it is hidden? Have you been reading anything here?

    Seriously, just go to the thunderdome.

  431. daniellavine says

    nerok@

    I’ll take this as you admitting you were wrong about what I said,

    Why would you do that? I made no such admission. Are you delusional?

    agree you had nothing to back up the first shitpost you made (that initiated the whole exchange)

    I don’t need anything to back up the claim that you were not contributing to the conversation in the first place. I can’t prove a negative. And you’re irritating enough that I’m certainly not going to re-read anything you’ve written here.

    and that you won’t be making any more replies to me since they were all off topic to begin with.

    So much for that. Also, “it’s off-topic to point out that I’m being off-topic” is a singularly stupid argument. Feel free to stop attention-seeking and actually contribute to the conversation (or not, I’d prefer you stop trying at this point myself) at any point.

  432. WharGarbl says

    @ButchKitties
    #484

    And now for something completely different, I am reminded of my time as a juror for a rape trial. The prosecutor had to spend as much time stressing to the jury, over and over again, that the witness’s testimony was in fact evidence as she spent going over the actual facts of the case.

    Sadly, human memory sucks, which make eyewitness testimony fairly weak evidences in many, many cases (not just rape).
    http://www.livescience.com/16194-crime-eyewitnesses-mistakes.html
    http://www.innocenceproject.org/understand/Eyewitness-Misidentification.php

  433. says

    You have nothing but hearsay, but based on that alone you’re willing to smear a man’s name? What’s wrong with you people? You should be ashamed.

  434. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not only that but it reeks of hypocrisy. We demand evidence of the simplest scientific ideas but are willing to air this type of accusation with a single ambiguous sentence? That is wrong.

    This isn’t a scientific problem. And by your attitude, you sound like a predator yourself trying to excuse the behavior of another predator. Think about that, then lose the attitude. Let me say I’m not surprised. A liberturd like MS is morally bankrupt.