Yet another shitty morning

It turns out that Jerry Conlon didn’t threaten me when he said maybe a vial of acid would do me some good. No, it turns out I threatened him. A friend sent me this screen shot from the mildew pit.


I don’t know who it was who posted the comment with some biographical information about Jerry Conlon; it was someone who has never commented here before. The comment was a peculiar kind of “doxxing” since Jerry Conlon had used the name Jerry Conlon himself on that threat (or “joke”) and since there was no address or phone number.

Given the first-timeness of the commenter, I suspect the comment was a plant. At any rate, I haven’t threatened anyone. I haven’t even threatened to report him to the police, even though a lot of people have strongly urged me to report him, because Canadian law enforcement sees that kind of thing as a danger to people in general, not just to the recipient. (And he’s Canadian. Ooh I’m doxxing him!! Except that’s on his Facebook page. Visible to all.)

I haven’t threatened anyone. He did threaten me.

I’m very very very very very tired of this shit. My life is shit, thanks to these people. That’s what they want, and they get what they want. I’m a blogger and writer, so the work I do I do online. That means taking “a break” from online isn’t a happy little vacation, it’s being locked out of the work I do. Yes no doubt it’s pathetic contemptible nerdy “work” but I like doing it, and I don’t like being forced out of it by sadistic pseudonymous shits.

But some good does come out of it. Bjarte Foshaug was motivated by the acid threat to send $150 to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. He says a friend of his Sheila is also going to donate. So Jerry Conlon did some good after all!

But I want my life back. And I can’t have it. That makes me angry.



  1. melody says

    You don’t deserve this. None of us do. Just know that so many of us genuinely care about you and admire you.

  2. says

    Please know that for all the hate, and disgusting individuals out there, there are others who see your posts as inspiration and a way to keep themselves grounded and determined to help change the atheist movement for the better. They may look like the slimepit is winning now, but it won’t last. Change is coming.

    There are many out here who love you for what you say. And even if there weren’t no one deserves this.

  3. Stacy says

    As you say, there was nothing about Jerry C’s personal info in that comment. No address, no phone #, and we already knew his name because he used it.

    When idiots want to pretend they’ve been victimized, they shoot themselves in the fleshy part of the arm. Somewhere that really won’t do any damage.

    So, which honest little ‘pitter made this feeble attempt to stir up shit?

  4. jackiepaper says

    This has gone past the point of being bizarre. It has to stop. These delusional, hateful people need to wise up or just go away. Both would be nice. They have nothing positive to offer this or any community. You should not have to deal with this.

  5. Pteryxx says

    Thirded. I’m sorry you have to waste time on this gotcha crap, and I wish there were some way to help – we commenters couldn’t do a thing about it. Maybe consider turning on comment moderation during the night, or for first-time posters, even for just a short break?

  6. A Hermit says

    “Mildew Pit…” I’m so stealing that one….

    And “Commander Tuvok” who wrote that post is one of the moldiest of the lot.

    I’m confident that those of us who respect and admire the women in this movement far outnumber the goons and `pitters. I don’t know if it helps or not but you need to know we’re out here too, Ophelia, and we’re not going away.

    And thanks for the link; a good cause well worth supporting.

  7. laen says

    Gah…I’ve tried writing three different responses to this. Every time I fall into spitting anger. So I’ll say this instead.

    I support you Ophelia and I get sick when I see what you have to put up with.

  8. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yeah, totes got your back always, Ophelia. Fuck them. Fuck them.

    You might consider appointing a colleague to do moderation watch on your comments for a while to remove the hateful shit when you’re not around or don’t want to see it. I know some other women writers have done that.

  9. Bjarte Foshaug says

    Ophelia, as I said on Twitter, I’m a feminist in large parts because of you. You are making a difference, and I thank you. Your haters have to resort to harassment and bullying, because that’s the only thing they have, because ultimately you are right, and they are wrong. It sucks that you have to put up with all this crap, but at least know that you’re not alone in this. There are many of us who have witnessed exactly what’s been going on (and continues to do so), and it’s making us very, very angry.

    One minor correction: The other person who said she was going to make a donation was Sheila in the comments’ section of the origninal blogpost about the acid threat. I found her comment quite beautiful.

  10. says

    I do have some moderation turned on.

    Thanks all.

    Sorry this keeps turning up. But it’s not because I want it to! I would so love to stop talking about it. I would so love to go back to not talking about myself at all.

  11. says

    It is appalling that you are viewed as an appropriate target for abuse for merely speaking forthrightly in public spaces.

    I, for one, will try to be another voice calling out harassment (and bullshit) wherever it springs up. I don’t know if it will succeed in wearing the harassers and bullshitters down, or in drawing some of their fire away from you to give you fewer shitty mornings. But at least it will serve as a show of solidarity, an indication that they can’t shut us all up.

  12. glodson says

    What a miserable bunch of bastards. No one deserves to be bullied like this, no one deserves this harassment. I am sorry that you face this crap, and here’s another voice in support.

  13. says

    Ah, “Commander Tuvok”. That’s one of the names I keep seeing from that side. He is so patently ridiculous that as soon as I see his name on a comment, the only question is just how much wrong that comment contains.

  14. machintelligence says

    Damn, this is unfortunate. Rest assured you have vastly more faithful readers who are sympathetic to your problems than shits like these who cause them. Perhaps you need to post a disclaimer like PZ does:

    I reserve the right to publicly post, with full identifying information about the source, any email sent to me that contains threats of violence.

  15. Martha says

    Very occasionally, I find myself wondering what the real story is behind some conflict or another with the Mildewed Ones. Fortunately, they are very good at making it clear that their relationship with reality makes Karl Rove’s look intimate. Do they not realize that every time they make something like this up, they only make their case less tenable?

    I think I disagree with many new atheists that belief in a god is itself the problem. At any rate, as many of you have pointed out, mere lack of belief in god is not the solution. As the Pitters continue to demonstrate, one need not believe in a supernatural being to adopt a delusional, in-group outlook on life.

  16. Colin says

    Surely that constitutes libel, particularly given the potential to affect your earnings. Perhaps you should take advantage of the rather lax laws in the UK before they are changed.

    This is the first time that I have posted on here but I have been a long time lurker. Believe me, we share your frustration at the sheer bloody-minded persistence of these idiots. I have no idea what can be done or, expecially, what I could do but count me as another supporter.

  17. cuervodecuero says

    Heck, it can’t be Conlon’s fault for opening his ‘mouth’ in the first place to put into print comedian headliner material about hideously vicious torture attacks.

    That sort of published material requires alternate universe rewrites to make it go away. Fortunately, he has a team of top-men-TOP-MEN to work through the night to make a script called ‘Gaslighting By the Book’. We have always been at war with the wicked witch of the ftbest and her doxxing minkeys.

    Ms. Ophelia, with all this minion power at your ‘stochastic terrorist’ command, you need to branch out. There’s got to be money in this rather than doing it for free.


    I applaud them for getting the sliver of religion out of their eye but they really need to go after the rest of the splintered beam still in there. Maybe it hurts less to leave it in then take an offered set of forceps and start plucking…but it’s going gangrenous.

  18. says

    The anonymity of people like Commander Tuvok (does Voyager really need anything more terrible associated with it?) contributes to not wanting to go to atheist and skeptic events. While it seems that most of those folks, like most atheists and skeptics, don’t go to conferences, I still don’t want to accidentally talk to such people and think they are decent because they hide their indecent behaviour behind online anonymity.

    If they went by their real names, like Jerry Conlon did, well, then they’d have to be accountable for what they say in some small measure.

  19. says

    Libel is the whole point, I think, or the main point apart from shits and giggles.

    Barry Pearson just reminded me on Twitter that the haters are loud and their opposites are not, so I get a distorted sense of what’s out there. True – it’s an availability heuristic type deal. And I wouldn’t want the non-haters to be as noisy as the haters – god can you imagine?!

    Jerry Conlon sent me a couple of messages on Facebook, to say he didn’t plant that comment. I didn’t particularly think he had. I figure it’s someone more regular and longstanding.

  20. says

    Commander Tuvok seems never to comment about anything but FtBs and its commenters. It is all he does. ElevatorGate level obsession but over a much longer period, and like him he has taken lies and distortion to an unbelievable level for a “skeptic”.

    Anyway FWIW I support you, anyone that says people being bullied should *just* grow a thicker skin can fuck right off. Even if I disagreed with you they could fuck right off and I’d like to think I wouldn’t associate with that bullies charter regardless. As @Aratina says #FTBullies = Fuck The Bullies…

  21. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh Miss Ophelia we love you so much you’re totally awesome and I’m gonna say so five times a day and all night on Twitter. Also you’re great!

    Hey Miss Ophelia how did you get so rad?

    I heart you so much!

    /loud minion

  22. highdudgeonaz says

    Ophelia, I’m a daily reader of your blog. You have my full and unqualified support. I’d also say you have my sympathies, but sympathy isn’t what’s called for here. More like righteous anger and effective (legal and nonviolent) action.

  23. Aratina Cage says

    Seems like fairly standard mildewing tactics: make a mountain out of a molehill. Some anonymous numbskull googled Conlon and compiled the information, put into one location, and linked to it? It’s a witch hunt! If we were truly going to live up to their freeze-peach standards, such incidents would not be moderated at all and left plain as day for all to see. Isn’t that what they wanted yesterday? So you see, this isn’t about principles. They simply want an excuse to attack you as nastily as possible.

    Thank you, Informed Consent, you genius whoever you are (and really, fuck you–next time take some personal responsibility and put that shit on your own blog).

  24. says


    Barry Pearson just reminded me on Twitter that the haters are loud and their opposites are not, so I get a distorted sense of what’s out there. True – it’s an availability heuristic type deal.

    True, however, that does not diminish just how wearing it is to be harassed and hounded on a regular (let alone daily) basis. That’s what they count on, the noise they make is incidental to what they wish to accomplish – the silencing of people they don’t agree with or like.

  25. thetalkingstove says

    It’s very telling that all these chumps have to complain about is tenuous examples of ‘doxxing’ and a person buying shoes with their own money. It’s utterly pathetic. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen ‘CommanderTuvok’ post anything that wasn’t a distorted belch of excrement.

  26. Sastra says

    Here’s another minion sending some positive energy your way…

    … because, in addition to you being the treasure you are, I know that you hate the phrase “sending some positive energy your way” almost as much as I do.

  27. says

    (Lawls at Josh/#26)

    Now that you mention it, I’m trying to imagine what would be more annoying than minions consistently as loud and obsessed as the haters…

    Oooo! How about a bad boy-band type pop song, with a hilariously synthy backing arrangement, with that comment as the lyrics?

    I’ll get right on it.

  28. jenniferphillips says

    Caine @29–yes, quite. Moreover, the steady state of these attacks can lower one’s threshold for tolerating the bullshit, so the pitters appear to have found a winning strategy to irritate to the point of distress.

    Sastra@31–well played, madam. I can only add ‘Blessings’.

    Seriously, Ophelia, I hope you know that I am a staunch supporter, but I’ll say it again as many times as necessary to offset the haters. And if there’s anything I can ever do to help besides tell you how awesome you are, please just say the word.


  29. cuervodecuero says

    So, Commander Tuvok is engaging the straw Vulcan? I guess all I can ask is the role of logical commentarian being done from the pov of Tuvok pre- or post Vulcan dementia?

  30. Bjarte Foshaug says

    On a (hopefully) brighter note, the petition to Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community has now passed 2000 signatures (If you haven’t signed yet, please do) while non of the anti-feminist ones to my knowledge have even gotten off the ground. And on Twitter Amanda Marcotte has invited her followers to share their “favorite jokes made at the expense of angry sexist atheists”. I let her use my old cartoon about cognitive dissonance, then I had another moment of inspiration which resulted in this: 😛

  31. says

    This is starting to piss me off. I’m sitting here on the sidelines with no idea how I can help and I don’t like that. Are there positive ways to get involved in this fight? I hate having my options limited to posting, “chin up! tally ho!”

    This whole fight has moved (for me) from “interesting” to “polarizing” to “now I know which side I am on” and now I’m at “what can I do?” I suspect as the battle continues, more people will feel that way. Should we stay on the sidelines or are there productive things we can do? (Unfortunately, I’m a kind of negative person and I’m not very good at thinking of positive solutions to problems involving people) but I’m tired of sitting on my hands and I’ve got a lot more resources than just internet snark. I am sure others feel the same way.

    How can people like me help? I bet there are a lot of resources watching from the sidelines.

  32. says

    Marcus Ranum @36, some folks who have been troll-beset on account of blogging or using social media while female have made strategic use of the #trollerderby hashtag on Twitter to call in reinforcements and not have to respond to nonsense all by themselves.

    If Ophelia felt that this hashtag (or another custom-composed for her use) were a useful way to rally her troops, I suspect many here would be happy to be so rallied.

  33. ckitching says

    Just another random reader making a little noise to remind you that we support you. However, I just want to quote something Aratina Cage wrote to repeat it:

    So you see, this isn’t about principles. They simply want an excuse to attack you as nastily as possible.</

    That sums up the anti-FtB and MRA crowd nicely. It’s never been about principles, reducing harm, or any other lofty goal. These are merely weapons to be used against their enemies.

  34. athyco says

    *putting a weight on the better side of the availability heuristic scale for a moment*

    Somewhere in the world, there is someone who reads Butterflies and Wheels every day that there is computer access. Sometimes this person goes on vacation to a cabin on a mountainside, but there are trips into town for supplies, and each trip is planned for an hour longer than it normally takes because there’s a public library that doesn’t mind if you’re using a relative’s card. The computers are available for an hour. Yes, the personal communications are taken care of first, but usually more quickly than usual since there is that pesky time limit. Then, Ophelia Benson’s Butterflies and Wheels is found.

    Friends and family of this person have seen the screen over shoulders. The librarian made a comment once. There is evidence.

  35. says

    I can only hope that these types of actions make more and more people aware of just exactly what kind of people are in the Slymepit and a few other places around the web. I cannot image how difficult it must be for you, Jen, Rebecca, Stephanie, Natalie and others who are being attacked by these assholes. With my history of depression, I shudder to think of where I would go if I faced such vitriol.

  36. says

    I’m sorry for all the things you have to deal with. Thank you for continuing on despite it all, and please know that there are those of us here among your readers, myself included, who are greatly appreciative for the way you’ve made us think and motivated us to be more outspoken about equal rights.

  37. Paschal Wagner says

    Lurker here. Just want to add my voice to those expressing support for you, Ophelia, and the others here doing their best in the face of cowardice and hatred. I’m so sorry you have to put up with this, and thank you for doing what you do; it’s very much appreciated.

    Also, I’ve taken Ophelia’s suggestion the other day and donated a sum to Glöm aldrig Pela och Fadime.

  38. Lyanna says

    I am so very sorry. I find your site heartening and inspiring as well as educational. Thank you for working on it.

  39. says

    Aw, athyco, that’s nice.

    Thanks all. I’ve calmed down some. I have to learn to plan better – encountering the fresh load of bile first thing is a bad way of scheduling.

  40. Rodney Nelson says

    Ophelia, along with your many other friends and admirers, I appreciate what you write.

  41. sheila says

    There’s a couple of things that the Mildew pit don’t seem to realise.

    One is that although every attack like this wears Ophelia out a little more, it also makes it ever clearer that the two sides are NOT equal here, and it recruits more supports for Ophelia and FTB and encourages existing supporters to become more active.

    Secondly, they’re blithely assuming that not one of us will ever retaliate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not advocating retaliation. I don’t want escalation, I don’t want to sink to their level, and I’m quite sure that Ophelia wouldn’t approve. But how many people are they pissing off here? Hundreds? Thousands? And they apparently think they can poke and poke and poke at the nest without one hornet flying out.

    I suppose in a weird way it works out as a compliment to us – they obviously have a very high opinion of our morals (although I’m damn sure they don’t use those words!). I also suspect that they’ve been picking on people who are too good to retaliate ever since their school days. But it worries me. It only takes one person to lose it.

  42. says

    Another supporter chiming in to say that I appriciate all the work you do.

    Also, I like the idea @ 38. Not quite sure how to organize something like that (and I barely understand how to use twitter) but I’d be willing to sign on and pounce (with words! not a threat! and not words that harass, belittle a person’s appearence or past tragedies, or give out personal information, either!) when needed.

  43. says

    I applaud them for getting the sliver of religion out of their eye but they really need to go after the rest of the splintered beam still in there. Maybe it hurts less to leave it in then take an offered set of forceps and start plucking…but it’s going gangrenous.

    I find this a wonderfully succinct and apt illustration of what I think is the general situation.

    And seconding what others have said, Ophelia. I very much appreciate your work. That you’re keeping at it, in the teeth of this crap, this is just above and beyond.

    (/And that you have to put up with it at all, I’m going to leave that at ‘that ain’t right’. Lacking sufficient profanities suitably to impress upon those responsible just how not right we’re talking, it’s going to have to do for now.)

  44. Aratina Cage says

    Just realized I wrote “Informed Consent” up there. Of course, I meant “Informed Citizen”. Thanks for making everyone’s day pleasant. (Think before you post that kind of thing on someone else’s blog! How about getting some permission next time?)

  45. says

    I just wrote something to Stephanie at Almost Diamonds and it occurs to me that every bit of it applies to you too, Ophelia, so:

    Thank you, Ophelia. Thank you for every day. Thank you for your voice. Thank you for hanging on and writing. Thank you for sharing, the good, the bad, the worse and the best. Thank you for your refusal to be silenced. You provide strength and support and shelter, even when you aren’t aware of doing so. Thank you for educating us all, thank you for providing opportunities for learning and growth.

  46. Fizzing thru da Fizzics says

    Unlurking to add my support. Like I said to Natalie, you make me think, and reconsider my stance on several issues, for that I thank you. Because of you and your blogging colleagues I get the guts and the tools to be an agent of change in my little kiwi corner too. Illegitimi non carborundum.

  47. Morgan says

    I don’t say or do near as much as I should about all this sort of thing, but for what it’s worth, I support you and you don’t deserve this kind of bullshit.

  48. Bjarni says

    I don’t post a lot, but I need to add my voice to this. Love your work, you don’t deserve this crap, but I’m glad you’re there shining light on this.


  49. hypatiasdaughter says

    Ophelia, thank you for all you do. Thank you for your blog, your speeches and your book. And, especially, thank you for your courage. You are an inspiration.
    (Everyone – buy Ophelia’s book! I just got it and It is good. Maybe she can retire to a desert island with no wifi and live on the royalties.)

  50. musubk says

    Ophelia, I want to say, not just that I support you, but you are one of the main impetus’ behind me examining my male privilege these last two years, and have led me to make a conscious effort to change for the better. You are making a difference.

  51. says

    Another friend of the blog here. I don’t seem to have time to get involved in comment threads much anymore (here or elsewhere), but I wanted to let you know I’m still reading.

  52. 'dirigible says

    “The comment was a peculiar kind of “doxxing””

    It was an incredibly dilute form of doxxing.

    And therefore MUCH MORE POWERFUL!!1

  53. Bill Openthalt says

    You have my sympathy. I’ve never managed to grok the mindset of people who apparently enjoy making other people unhappy. Keep up the good work!

  54. Southern Cross says


    I agree with all the support expressed by commentors above, so will take a different approach.

    Consider your work, real genuine productive work – which is absolutely invaluable. I have been a regular visitor since about 2002 and have lost track of the number of activists you have helped introduce to a wider reading public – Maryam Namazie, Leo Igwe, Marie Therese O’Loughlin etc.

    The blog is a superb clearinghouse for well selected humanist news of all stripes and thus an echo chamber for important issues that may be otherwise buried in national media. Not a day passes without some value-add, even for a news junkie like me.

    From that specific perspective – what’s the worst possible outcome from all this wretched filthy abuse? That your work be derailed and compromised, that your time and energy be sucked from the various tilts against injustice and ignorance to swatting at these nasty stinging flies. Moral and intellectual pygmies whose sole claim to status is to goad a mighty ox!

    The above does not quite express what I mean to say. I don’t suggest ignoring it when the thing is understandably getting you down and is indicative of wider issues also. Perhaps I mean that you might draw some pride from the bloody important and high quality contribution you make daily to the exposure of injustice everywhere. Now *that* really does matter.

    Bet you have been called many things, but never a mighty ox… 🙂

    With my true regard,

    Southern Cross.

  55. stakkalee says

    Yet another occasional commenter here adding my appreciation for what you do – you make a difference.

  56. hjhornbeck says

    Thanks for keeping it up, Benson. You and Zvan have become my favorite things about FtB. Cultural shifts, unfortunately, are never painless, the old guard will always go out kicking and screaming. If anything, we’ve all become more aware of sexism in our lives, more likely to combat it, and it’s all thanks to you.

  57. Krasnaya Koshka says

    I have the utmost respect for you, Ophelia (if I may be so familiar), as a writer and a person. The crap you have to put up with is horrifying to me but you do make a huge difference to so many people. I love your writing style and you are an inspiration. I hope the positive voices overtake the (juvenile, in my opinion) negative ones.

    Just wanted to lend my support.

  58. says

    Southern Cross – thank you. I do think that’s one solid thing I’ve done, getting more attention to people like Maryam and Leo and Marie Therese. And I agree about the problem of getting dragged away from doing that kind of thing, and had resolved to get back to it.

    Thanks all of yous!

  59. carlie says

    Ophelia, I second the notion of adding more mods if you think that would decrease your mental load a bit to have someone else clear the debris once in awhile. I’m sure there are a lot of us who would be willing to take shifts, and if the assholes knew that there was a very low chance of you actually seeing any of it maybe it would lessen a bit.

  60. medivh says

    I should just repost this whole page of comments every time I get whacked by the hayterz, and save you peeps the trouble.

    I’m kind of serious.

    Please don’t. You’ll miss the occasional de-lurker coming out of the woodwork.

    I’ve been mainly coming over here from Pharyngula when PZ links something, and I’ll usually stay around to catch up on your posts since I last came. I’ve just put B&W into my usual reading queue because I’m just going to end up reading everything here sooner or later. Unfortunately for me, the comment threads both here and at Pharyngula move too quickly for me, and I don’t usually comment. But I’m doing so now to say just this:

    Thank you for all your hard work in B&W, and for putting up with these terrible wastes of carbon. You’ve made an impact in my life and, I can tell from so many comments here, so many other lives.

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