Certain people, eh?

There was one guy who kind of ambushed me after the talk yesterday – by which I mean he came up to me afterward all friendly-like and had his picture taken with me, when actually he’s one of the “faction” there (and it apparently is quite organized) that hates me and all other…you know, Those Women and their Mangina Allies.

He probably got the picture for photoshopping purposes.

I took a quick look at his Facebook page just now (having been enlightened as to who he is and what he was up to) and saw a TAM 2012 album with this in it-

Uhhhh. Thanks a lot, Harriet Hall. I’m glad you think it’s so funny.

The reference is to vaccinations. My bad.


  1. says

    This was a signature on something about vaccinations, I hope?


    Tell me it’s a vaccination reference. Because otherwise I will be very depressed.

  2. Blondin says

    I hope you haven’t been completely put off posing for photos with people because I was kind of hoping to get a picture with you at Eschaton…

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Certain people need to be “SLoT”

    Watch out – the Second Law of Thermodynamics is relentless!

  4. jenniferphillips says

    Wow, that made me sick to my stomach (which is already clenched with dread over the impending US elections).

    It’s appalling. What in the hell can she be thinking? Sastra? Anyone? Help me out here.

  5. jb says

    somehow, not surprising

    there is a freak on a right wing canadian forum who is constantly talking about how ‘lefturds’ and ‘lieberals’ are ‘tired of living’ and now hes learning to use fully automatic weapons…’

    this fella has also gone into great detail about how he likes to ‘track’ his prey, and kill it when its not looking

    I fully expect him to go nuts some day and shoot a bunch of people.

  6. ~G~ says

    If I were to assume that Harriet Hall did know the exact nature of the emails you received, I’d next wonder if *this* were photoshopped. I don’t know how aware she would have been of how that could be misconstrued or what conversation she had been having with the book owner just before writing that. I certainly hope it was referring to vaccines.

  7. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Number 9, how does this sentence:

    “Certain people need to be sLot” make any sense?

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

    Look at the l in people. Totally different.

  9. Utakata says

    @ kosk11348, 9:

    It’s not a “H” actually, it’s a “h” and a badly chicken hatched one. As you can see from the photo sample, the “l” in “people” looks lke a “l” and the “H” in “Hall” looks like a “H” for example. So those letters are pretty much accounted for. /shrug

  10. rnilsson says

    Relax, the signatrix, Hi Hatt, can’t even spell her own title (shep dog). Although she might be suspected to be somewhat partial against “certain” cat food aficionados. Therefore, I jest bark out a beeg larf.

  11. F says

    Yes, weird capital L as the second letter. I was thinking the “o” might be a “u”, given the proclivities of this faction, but then the sentence would make less sense. Not that this has ever stopped anyone.

    “Mangina”, lol. I have a rough-and-tumble manly man’s vagina, and don’t you forget it. Or angina. Or something.

  12. says

    Hope this wasn’t Mykeru? He is getting quite animated on the Pit that we were ‘accusing’ him of being violent on twitter. He of course has a great way of dealing with false accusations of his violent nature…

    I did not, in fact threaten to stick an ice-pick in Oolon’s ear. Now that I think of it, what I originally wrote was the base of his skull, which is far more practical really.

    .. making it really easy for me to defend any such accusations, cheers Mykeru you little cutie!

    Who makes veiled threats like ‘Some people need to be “Shot”‘? I say veiled as the shot is in quotes… I deserve it and can take it (thick skull) but its not the done thing for Ophelias fellow professionals to be sinking to this level!

  13. mandrellian says

    Wow, what a b…loody unpleasant person.

    What the fuck exactly is it that turns nominally decent and rational people into such hateful (or, best case, oblivious) shits? What did Ophelia ever do to this woman that she feels justified making jocular references to threats?

    Certain people need to “fuck off”.

  14. Alice says

    Hey Ophelia – I looked at this, and it actually *is* a reference to vaccinations. She and other pro-vaxxers at TAM were signing a Jenny McCarthy poster. Check out the other pics in that album.

  15. Aratina Cage says

    This was a signature on something about vaccinations, I hope?

    Or maybe something about getting a photo taken? Because those people are popular? A military joke?

    Sastra should find out and let us know. This is unreal.

  16. Aratina Cage says

    She and other pro-vaxxers at TAM were signing a Jenny McCarthy poster.

    So the “shooting” is directed at Jenny McCarthy?

  17. says

    Vaccination. That didn’t even occur to me. Are these people making me a little paranoid? Looks that way.

    I’ll amend the post. I apologize to HH.

    oolon, don’t keep telling me what the slyme pitters are up to, ok? I avoid them for a reason; I don’t need you bringing them here.

  18. Utakata says

    Well, I am glad that worked out. Enlight of good evidence instead of false accusations can go a long way.

    Though I am certainly not surprised at our host’s reaction…OB’s opponents have said and done some pretty extremist things in the name of their ideas of “rationalism”. Eluding to threats of violence would not likely be beyond them.

    And also confidential to oolon: Playing in the middle of the road will get you hit from both sides. Just saying.

  19. julian says

    even re: vaccination it’s not funny.


    It’s crass but better people have made cruder jokes. Depending on the venue, context and audience the pun would have been really funny.

    That said, I think it’s generally a good idea to not joke abut things you can actually do.

  20. Sastra says

    My guess would have been a reference to vaccinations, and this apparently turned out to be correct. The science-based medicine bloggers usually have either a fundraiser or clinic at TAM. The alternative doesn’t seem to me like something Harriet would do. (We’re casual friends, ie friendly acquaintances who usually have a once-a-year meal or two at TAM, so no, my personal knowledge isn’t at all deep. But I think even someone who only reads her work or autobiography would find that out of character.)

    I’m going to make a weird suggestion that the guy who ambushed you and represented himself as a fan might very well consider himself a fan of yours. The way he’d put it would be that he likes some things you write and do, but not others. He loves the debate, thinks you should too, just as much as him, ‘cuz we’re skeptics and freethinkers! It wouldn’t surprise me … much. Maybe some genuine admiration with a passive aggressive veneer?

    I’ve noticed that when people get together in ‘meatspace’ they’re often more generous and friendly to erstwhile opponents — probably because we’re used to considering Real People as complex entities and people. That’s a habit which can get lost on the internet.

    It’s also a habit which can be over-estimated in real life. “We got along great — so the issue must have resolved itself!”

  21. raymoscow says

    I don’t think one can ‘joke’ that someone needs to ‘be shot’ and later complain that others misunderstand you. The ‘joke’ was a veiled threat to begin with.

  22. says

    Sastra – I don’t think so. He didn’t say he was, for one thing. He’s never commented here that I know of. He didn’t say anything along those lines. It was all sort of arbitrary, which in hindsight makes it seem fake. But I don’t know; maybe it wasn’t.

    Would you have thought wearing that T shirt was the kind of thing HH would do?

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


    There are conversations about two different people going on here. One is the guy who had his picture taken with Ophelia at the conference, and the other is Harriet Hall (not a guy).

  24. screechymonkey says


    It’s also a habit which can be over-estimated in real life. “We got along great — so the issue must have resolved itself!”

    Or the preemptive version: “oh, stop getting bothered by all the nasty things I’ve said about you online. Just sit down with me and have a beer/do my podcast, and what great friends we’ll be!”

  25. Sastra says

    Ophelia Benson #30 wrote:

    Would you have thought wearing that T shirt was the kind of thing HH would do?

    Yes — but only knowing how she was “framing” the issue from what she considered a pro-feminist, pro-skeptic stance. She told me several times that the message wasn’t a personal attack on anyone, including Watson, Amy, Skepchiks — she supports them. Critics failed to understand that.

    I was surprised she wore it for several days, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t planned. That was probably her reaction to being condemned (as she saw it.) The online reaction apparently surprised her, though I warned her first night.

    She stepped into a very complicated argument – for a complicated reason — with a slogan. I think she is generally meticulous and cautious, but she does find controversy interesting. She expected to provoke .. but not hurt. My guess.

  26. latsot says


    I don’t think one can ‘joke’ that someone needs to ‘be shot’ and later complain that others misunderstand you. The ‘joke’ was a veiled threat to begin with.

    Oh I don’t think so. I think it was just a pun on three meanings of ‘shot’: in the photographic sense (it was written on a poster); in the vaccine sense; and in the ironic sense of gunplay in the context of frustration at vaccine denial.

    I think it was playful rather than threatening. I hardly think it implies an intention that anyone be shot or that it would be funny if anyone were. I think it’s more about Harriet shaking her fists and wishing she could do more about an intolerable situation. In that context, I think the pun is cute, smart and funny.

    However, before I knew about the context, I provisionally jumped to the same conclusion Ophelia did. That would have been a nasty comment, although still not a threat.

    Not for the first time I wonder why Harriet hasn’t spoken in public about her motivations for wearing that shirt. If it wasn’t an attack on individuals, she has only to say so (and explain why she wore it for 3 days, especially after Amy said she felt it was an attack). I think we might give her the benefit of the doubt, wouldn’t we? Or at least, we’d listen.

    Harriet clearly knew that continuing to wear that shirt was making some kind of statement. I don’t understand why she doesn’t explain what statement it was. If everyone is confused, isn’t that more or less the opposite of a statement?

  27. Pieter B, FCD says

    The shirt confused me as well. I’ve considered Dr Hall a friendly acquaintance for several TAMs, and when I saw the shirt the first night I was quite uncomfortable, more so because she was standing with a group of people I am also friendly with. When someone walked up to her and started verbally attacking Rebecca Watson, I walked away. I’m still confused.

  28. says

    Urgh. That happened, eh? I kind of figured it must have, but didn’t know.

    It did happen at the lunch after my talk at CFI-LA on Sunday – one end of the big table had “skeptics” ranting about “elevatorgate” again. Fortunately I was blissfully unware of any of it.

    But because of that kind of thing I still wonder if HH could have had both meanings in mind. I’m sure there was plenty of verbal abuse of me at TAM too, and if HH drew Rebecca-abuse with that T shirt, she could have drawn me-abuse too. And then…why “certain people”? Surely it ought to be all people, if vaccination is the only meaning.

    Oh well.

  29. says

    Sastra – I think you hit the proverbial ‘nail on the head.’

    Ophelia – I do dig some of what you write, but some of it turns my stomach. I really enjoyed your speech on Sunday. Thought I’d get a picture. It is posted without ANY photoshopping. I actually don’t do the ‘photoshop’ thing… ever.

    In regards to HH. This was her signature on a poster of Jenny McCarthy. This poster also has the signatures of Richard Saunders, Dr. Rachel, Penn & Teller, Michael Goudeau, Brian Dunning, and Steven Novella. I tried to get as many people who have created projects in opposition of the anti-vax movement. No one mentioned you when signing the poster.
    As far as my “faction” (I call them my ‘crew’) are concerned. Yes, some of them hate your guts… hard. Some of them are actually friends with you. Some of my crew that I frequently exchange messages with actually work on Freethought Blogs. But most of them are like me; we love all of the skeptics some of the time, we love some of the skeptics all the time…

    Why don’t I post here more often or at all? I have a firm rule that unless a blog explicitly talks about me, I don’t take part. It keeps me sane. Also, the last time I tried to post on a blog here to explain that I haven’t harassed or assaulted anyone at TAM, it was deleted. I didn’t feel very welcome.

    I wasn’t trying to ‘fool you’ or ‘razz’ you or even ‘pwn’ you. I just wanted to say hello and that I enjoyed the speech. (I also walked back to let Amy know that my invitation to coffee is still open, but she already knew that)

  30. says

    Hi John

    Ok, fair enough. It was probably a bit mean of me to post this…but at the same time, I felt as if I’d been pwned a little.

    Thanks about the HH item. I’m relieved to know that.

    Good that you don’t ever photoshop. I’m naive enough to be amazed that anyone ostensibly reasonable does – it seems so incredibly schoolyardish.

    I quite understand about the people in your crew who hate my guts hard. It’s because of all the photoshopping type activities I engage in.


  31. says

    Mean? Well, I will say that as much as I’ve seen other people ‘named and shamed’ in public; I’m VERY surprised that everyone who has written critically about me has chosen not to use my name. So it wasn’t ‘too’ mean 🙂

    Glad we hashed it out, yo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *