Disengage and write about another topic (or stop writing)

Vacula also wanted attention from Stephanie, so like me, she obliged. Unlike me, she read the whole post, which I lacked the motivation or interest to do. It’s good that she did, because she looked at one passage that is quite sinister. Vacula wrote:

Whether we consider classrooms, internet forums/blogs, or the hostile climate against atheists, it should be understood that nasty people exist. The nastiness is, of course, unfortunate. We can work to change this nastiness and hope that people will be nice, but this just isn’t the case and likely won’t be in the near future. We should, then, make responsible decisions based on our environments. If you don’t get along with another student in class, avoid interactions with that student.

Ah but mere not getting along is not the issue. (How I do keep repeating that, don’t I. That’s because they keep misrepresenting what the issue is. It’s not disagreement, it’s not dissent, it’s not criticism, it’s not not getting along. It’s not. That’s not it.) Mere not getting along is not the issue. The issue is a determined campaign of persecution.

That’s different, you see. You can’t avoid it by simply avoiding interactions with that student. The student pursues you, to pursue the determined campaign of persecution. You can’t avoid it unless you leave the school altogether, and maybe not even then.

Also, we already know that what Vacula says is bad public policy. It’s a cowardly do-nothing failure. Teachers and principals who tell a persecuted student to just “avoid interactions” with the persecutor are not doing their jobs. Their job is to make the persecutor stop, not to make the persecuted hide.

It’s not “responsible” to decide that because you are being persecuted, it is your duty to stop doing what you were doing when the persecutor decided to target you. It’s responsible to stay off the road during a hurricane; it’s responsible to evacuate low-lying areas as a hurricane approaches; it is not responsible to decide not to say things because there are vicious people who will respond by calling you a fucking cunt.

Vacula went on:

If you can’t handle negative feedback online and have received it many times, disengage and write about another topic (or stop writing).

Ah well now that really is blunt. Thank you. Now we know where we are. If you “can’t handle” being called a fucking cunt, then stop writing.

Those are our choices. Be called a fucking cunt, and ugly, old, fat; be photoshopped; be misrepresented and lied about; be relentlessly harassed via Twitter and trolling; or stop writing.

That’s just how it is. We were irresponsible enough to decide to be women, so there it is. We can write, or we can avoid constant harassment; we can’t do both. As Stewart said yesterday (and Stephanie quoted him): The real message is “being a woman does not entitle you to protection from the extra hostility you get for being a woman.”



  1. A. Noyd says

    “We can work to change this nastiness and hope that people will be nice, but this just isn’t the case and likely won’t be in the near future.”

    Why is he saying “we” here? He’s part of the nastiness.

  2. gatoprecambriano says

    What strikes me was this: he’d make an analogy between the vitriol outspoken women have been recceiving, inclusive from him, with what atheists get when they ‘come out’. He went as far as to use himself as example :

    I was told that I will very likely receive death threats, threats of violence, and a great deal of nastiness.

    I’ve always thought this kind of thing is what’s in need of change. People should be abble to jump in any kind of controversy without having to fear death threats. That’s what civilization is all about, right? But then comes this guy and trivializes it. ‘Oh, it’s ok to get death threats you know? That’s the way it is. Get used to it or back off.’

  3. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    He could have just sent you a message that he and his friends will insult and harass you until you quit blogging. Save everyone some time.

  4. says

    Ew, gawd. Reading the CBC story on “The Dirty.” I heard a quick mention of the site on The Fifth Estate (or maybe The National) the other day and made a note to look it up, but hadn’t gotten to it.

    What a great idea – a website that invites people to post shit about other people. What could possibly go wrong?

  5. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    “My site is a form of entertainment.… It’s a business,” Richie said on the Dr. Phil show in 2010. “It’s a form of holding people accountable for their actions.

    Some of those actions may or may not be completely made up.


  6. Waffler, of the Waffler Institute says

    Why is he saying “we” here? He’s part of the nastiness.

    Because he lacks an iota of self-awareness? If he was aware of how bad his writing is, I assume he’d hide in shame.

  7. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    I somehow doubt shame is in his repertoire of emotions.

  8. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    You could write about only rainbows and puppies and he’d find a reason to call you a cunt. Because it’s women he hates, and not just those he can’t terrify into silence.

  9. amyjunker says

    Well, at least he’s acknowledging that his constant vitriol is a silencing technique. What’s sad is that he doesn’t see anything wrong with that. CREEPY.

  10. No Light says

    A. Noyd – he’s saying “We” because he is a terrified victim of the terrible FTBullies.

    Illuminata – +1 to everything you just said. She could write nothing but “Justin Vacula is amazeballs, and possibly the King of all Atheists”. He’d still find an excuse for abuse.

  11. LeftSidePositive says

    Well, I didn’t vote for ‘im!

    I always thought atheism would be better as an anarcho-syndicalist commune, anyway.


  12. says

    Ha – not to be outdone, Maria Maltseva has a new post, asking why Rebecca gets so much sexist abuse on the Internet, and answering with a long and as-if-factual and very familiar List Of Evils. For good measure, she starts it off with

    While this post applies to several prominent and outspoken women in the atheist community, I’m going to focus on Rebecca Watson, because she seems to be the easiest target for most of the sexist online vitriol.

    That’s great, isn’t it? One, she’s smearing all of us oh hai, and two, she’ll focus on Rebecca because she gets the most shit so Maria will give her some more.

    So nice. So charming. So reasonable.

  13. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Fucking amazing. It’s the misogyny version of my high school principal telling me “That’s the price you pay for being so vocal about it” when I asked for help to stop getting beaten.

  14. says

    Exactly. That’s what I was thinking of when I wrote the bit about teachers and principals – along with Dan Savage’s husband Terry, whose principal told his mother there was nothing they could do ‘coz he just looked so faggy and all.

  15. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    because she seems to be the easiest target for most of the sexist online vitriol

    Pssst… Maria Maltseva, I think the standard is “it’s not sexist if I say I’m just joking or if she really is a cunt”. Now you’ve gone and ruined their clever cover.

  16. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Except the perpetrators here would recognize it as morally outrageous if this were applied to gays. The fuck is it with them not understanding women are sapient creatures too?

  17. Emily Isalwaysright says

    Has Justin actually been one of the abusers?

    Maybe there needs to be a distinction bw “misogynist” and “misogyny denialist” with recognition that both mindsets contribute to the perpetuation of misogyny.

    If we call misogyny denialists “misogynists”, it might reinforce their denialism, in the sense of “well they’re wrong about me so they’re probably wrong about everyone else.”

  18. Emily Isalwaysright says

    And I also wanted to say that universities take claims of bullying and harassment very seriously, and there is a culture which frowns on such behaviour. Given that atheists profess admiration for the intellect, you would think that they might be more inclined to model their community on the university rather than the soccer club or the local watering hole.

  19. LeftSidePositive says


    So, do you think posting someone’s HOME ADDRESS to a forum that is frothing with rape and death threats for them is not a misogynist action? Do you think writing a piece for A Voice For Men–which is a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate site–is not a misogynist action?! Do you think tweeting “So, Jen’s allegedly finished blogging…and this time it’s not her boyfriend who kicked her off the internet” in response to someone taking a hiatus from blogging because the harassment has exacerbated her depression is not a misogynist action?!

    Put another way, are you being willfully disingenuous or are you simply clueless about the basic nicety to ask for background information on matters of which you are ignorant before you moralize about them?

  20. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Has Justin actually been one of the abusers?

    Is this something you ask because you can’t be bothered to check why Ophelia is writing about him or are you questioning Ophelia’s judgement of Vacula?

    And I would like to know what exactly you mean by “abuser”.

    At some point, the line between a bully and that person who didn’t exactly help him but didn’t exactly help you either and actually told everyone how bully did a good number on you and then called you names blurs so much that I would just spare myself some typing and call them both bullies. In fact, they are both bullies, just with different modus operandi.

  21. says

    Well, also – me me me again, but there you go – lying about me in a podcast he did and then refusing to correct the lies when I objected – under the circumstances I consider that pretty misogynist behavior.

  22. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    … and then there is his post which is the topic of this one. Now that’s some serious minimizing of the abuse you and other women bloggers get. And excusing it. And using it to nudge you out of the blogosphere.

  23. No Light says

    Well Emily, LSP and Beatrice did the legwork, so I’ll leave it at this – time to get a new ‘nym.

    Ophelia – you know he’ll be quoting you on “King of Atheists”!

    As for Maria Maltseva… least said,

  24. says

    ~G~ made a great point on Stephanie’s post so I’ll just quote it here –


    Hey Jessica Ahlquist- Remember when you were bullied so badly for challenging the prayer banner you came home every day crying? And had to change schools? And had to be protected by body guards? You should have just shut the hell up about that bullying and withdrawn your lawsuit. Or so would say Justin.

    Nice to know any kids out there considering following in Jessica’s footsteps will be given this advice by at least one fellow atheist. Hey atheist kids who are given death threats for standing up for my constitutional rights, don’t complain about it or try to stop it, or call it out or try to get social support, get the hell out of the kitchen and STFU.

  25. LeftSidePositive says

    Well Emily, LSP and Beatrice did the legwork, so I’ll leave it at this – time to get a new ‘nym.

    She’s been completely undeserving of that ‘nym since she insistedon stomping her foot and insisting we all be nice to Ian “there is no such thing as rape culture” Macdougall because apparently commenting on a site long enough means you get a free pass to mansplain about rape and since Emily takes precautions none of us could possibly have any reason to object to Ian’s condescending bullshit about how we should protect ourselves more and how rapes are totes taken seriously by the legal system, y’know.

  26. callistacat says

    @Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It took The Southern Poverty Law Center until 2012 to actually recognize these hate sites against women. They’ve campaigned against racism and homophobia, but only until this year did they start taking misogyny seriously.

  27. says

    I think it’s very nice of Vacula to admit that their entire agenda is a silencing tactic. Of course, we all already knew that all along.

  28. Emily Isalwaysright says

    Um, Lsp, Beatrice (and No light): I ASKED A SIMPLE FUCKING QUESTION. Because I did not know the answer. Kicking me for not knowing that which I am asking about is crazy.

    Try re-reading what I said in the light of my question being A SIMPLE FUCKING QUESTION.

    But thanks for the info. Based on that, Vacula is clearly an anti-feminist and misogyny-denier. But I don’t think I would call his behaviour “abusive.” I think Stephanie’s distinction bw abusive and critical is spot on.

  29. says

    I don’t think I would call his behaviour “abusive.” I think Stephanie’s distinction bw abusive and critical is spot on.

    Pick one of those two, please. I wouldn’t petition to get someone out of a leadership role just because they criticized me.

  30. Emily Isalwaysright says

    Hang on: I thought you petitioned to have Vacula removed from a leadership role because he a) did not recognise abusive behaviour; and b) has demonstrated affiliation to MRAs?

    I would agree that someone who is incapable of recognising abusive behaviour is unfit for leadership, and I would certainly oppose the appointment of an MRA to a leadership position within a group I was part of.

  31. LeftSidePositive says

    No, Emily, you disingenuous fool, you did not just ask a simple question. You asked a plainly misleading question and then proceeded to lecture us based on the blatantly incorrect assumptions embedded in your misleading approach to it. Even after we’ve corrected you, you’re still clinging to your bullshit idea that Vacula is not an abuser DESPITE OUR PROVIDING EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. You think you can just issue a blanket statement that he’s not an abuser in your exalted opinion? Why the fuck should we take anything you have to say seriously? You couldn’t even see that Ian is a blatant rape-culture denier and was engaging in some highly sexist and demeaning behavior, so I think your talents for identifying problematic behavior are absolute shit. Oh, and by the way, READ THE FUCKING PETITION to learn about what Vacula ACTUALLY DID, instead of acting like what you *thought* it was about should be taken seriously, when it is plainly wrong. The petition clearly showed instances of Vacula PERPETRATING abusive behavior. It was entirely about his own behavior, not that of others.

  32. Bernard Bumner says

    Hang on: I thought you petitioned to have Vacula removed from a leadership role because he a) did not recognise abusive behaviour; and b) has demonstrated affiliation to MRAs?

    Take the advice of LSP and actually read this.

    The link has been provided because you seem to be too keen to form opinions without bothering to do enough of the necessary research. This is a type of charity; I’m offering you the benefit of the doubt that you are acting like a brat rather than being deliberately provocative. You may find it useful to hone your Google skills and put some effort into background reading.

  33. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    LeftSidePositive—I can’t stop thinking “Lumpy Space Princess” when I see your ‘nym acronym-ized. :)) [For those who don’t get the reference, Google please. I’m not slamming LSP].

  34. says

    Maybe there needs to be a distinction bw “misogynist” and “misogyny denialist”…

    Why bother? There’s so much overlap between those two that the distinction pretty much doesn’t exist. The only meaningful distinction I can see here is between misogynists with a sense of shame, and those without.

  35. callistcat says

    To be fair to Emily, she made that comment about Ian early in the thread. It wasn’t until after women gave him example after example after example of people not caring about rape victims and blaming them and excusing their rapist that it became clear that he’s in major denial about the culture around him.

    Justin posted a woman’s home address on a site that was trashing her. That’s some pretty messed up stuff, don’t you think? Who would want someone capable of that in a leadership postition with access to the personal information of its members?

  36. katenrala says

    Don’t be fair to Emily. They are JAQing off and playing the role of post-modern pedant in the bad-bastard method and this atheist misogyny has gone on too long for people to play that shit still.

    I don’t have the energy tonight to go over how angry I just got reading this thread and how I had a nice flashback about my rape/sexual assault, fucking violation, something I was just talking about earlier elsewhere which included a discussion about the dismissive, minimizing, questioning jizz-socks who come as a no-prize accessory with it when talking with other survivors.

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