People didn’t properly listen

There is no such thing as sexual harassment. That’s all a creepy clown narrative dreamed up by crazyass feminists. It does not ever happen.

Or does it. Maybe this Lord Rennard fella did some sexual harassing after all?

Clegg defended his failure to launch a full investigation in 2008, saying his office was told the women making the claims did not wish to take the matter forward but “just wanted the inappropriate behaviour from Lord Rennard to stop, and that is why he was confronted and a few months later he left”.

He said: “You can only launch investigations into allegations when they’ve been made … That is not something that happened as far as I am concerned until last Thursday [when Channel 4 ran the story].”

He added: “We acted … as we could with what we were told at the time. The women have been let down, there have been some very serious mistakes.”

There always are.

“But clearly something went seriously wrong in the organisation as a whole, that people were not talking to each other in the way that they should, and most importantly the people who matter the most are these women who, I can only imagine the anguish, that you’ve been intimidated and bullied and threatened in the way that they say they were and that you then feel that no one, who should be looking after you, should be looking after your interests, should be protecting your dignity and respect, that people didn’t properly listen.”

They never do. They throw the women under the bus for the sake of their relationship with that important dude, because that’s what matters. [Read more…]

Something happened

Someone pointed out a very surprising thing to me. Only a little more than a year ago, Reap Paden did a post about sexist men. He sounded like a human being – that is, a mensch, that is, someone who gives a shit.

It has an ability to become almost invisible. Be assured…it’s almost always present, usually hiding just out of sight. You can even catch it peeking out between sentences, or as a dim shadow behind an innocent hand gesture. It can even disguise itself as a considerate comment or action.
While raising my daughter it was something I warned her to watch out for as she grew up. I warned her to keep an eye out because sooner or later she was going to come face to face with it, and she would need to know what to do because it would confront her throughout her life. [Read more…]

Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters

Stephanie discusses the “advice” Justin Vacula gives on how to deal with being harassed. I put “advice” in scare quotes because it’s not really advice in the ordinary understanding of the word; it’s more of a bullies’ formula than advice. “I’ll stop harassing you if you stop doing all the things that motivate me to harass you” is about the size of it.

Then Justin Vacula showed up, still trying to peddle the idea that the harassment is just the little price that some of us have to pay in order to have an opinion. Novella pointed out that he was both minimizing and mischaracterizing the situation. So Vacula (in a comment that included a couple of quotes for which he both seems to be the source and is demanding citations) tried again.

Here are some tips, anyway, for Rebecca and anyone who faces criticism/hate to reduce the criticism/hate:

Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters. [Read more…]

We are told we are respected, and yet

Feminism is resurging, says Ellie Mae O’Hagan at Comment is Free. It’s resurging because there is still so god damn much sexist shit going on. In that sense it would be nice if feminism could drop dead because it’s no longer needed.

O’Hagan recently read The Feminine Mystique for the first time.

To my mind, the most amazing and miserable aspect of The Feminine Mystique is how relevant it still is. Women of my generation are still being sold lies to keep us obedient. We are told that we are valued, until we accuse a revered man of rape. We are told we are equal, and yet we still do most of the low-paid and unpaid work. We are told we are respected, and yet we are harassed in the street, objectified and ridiculed in the media, and haunted by words like nag, harridan and hysteric in our personal relationships.

And not just those. Also bitch, cunt, twat, pussy, slut, whore, ho… [Read more…]

Everyone else seems afraid to say it

Meanwhile the Onion shows how it’s done, while live-tweeting the Oscars, by calling a nine-year-old girl a cunt. Well why not after all? She’s a girl. Hey if you object to that you must be a PROFESSIONAL VICTIM. Quit SCOURING THE INTERNET TO FIND SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?

And then of course the reporting misses the point quite thoroughly, as perhaps we should have expected. (By “we” I mean “I.”)

On the one hand, it’s a joke on playing on how utterly sweet, adorable and not-at-all C-word-like Wallis was at the Oscars. On the other hand, she’s 9, and words don’t come any worse than that one.

Uh, right, because there is such a thing as being cunt-like, and some people are like that, and they of course should be called cunts, because being cunt-like is so self-evidently terrible and awful.


Pax skepticana

So what do you know – Amy and Harriet Hall have made peace and gone back to being friends.

 But as the months went past since TAM I had noticed that people dedicated to cyber stalking and harassing me and my peers were continuing to use the shirt and its message to attack us unfairly, but Harriet was not. She responded when it was brought to her attention, but she was not the one constantly bringing it up. I realized at this point that Harriet Hall’s intentions may not have been to attack me or this blog but instead she was indeed trying to send a message that spoke from her own experiences as a feminist.

I decided to do what I could to help end this controversy and to hopefully stop some of misinformation surrounding the incident. I realized that there was a lot of emotion involved, particularly on my side because that shirt has been waved like a flag in an attempt to belittle and drive a wedge between Skepchick and some other members of organized skepticism and of course the harassers displayed it like a prize. As you can imagine, that was upsetting to me. I realized Harriet had been constantly questioned about her actions as well. She may not want to to talk to me. I knew Harriet identified as a feminist and odds were we had more in common than not ideologically and so there was hope to find common ground. Steve assured us we could start a dialog.

And so they did, and you can read their email exchange on Amy’s post.

Steve Novella also posted about it.

I have not been a direct participant in the recent drama over sexism in the movement, but I have had a front row seat. It has struck me throughout that many of the people involved, steeped in critical thinking, firmly believe they are correct and are being reasonable and yet are in such heated conflict with other critical thinkers who also believe they are correct and being reasonable.

There are, it seems to me, three general sources of this conflict. One is sincere and real ideological differences. If you read the recent exchange between Harriet Hall on SBM and Will on Skepchick, and a sample of the comments to each, these differences become apparent. Where exactly to draw the line between free speech and the avoidance of offense is one recurrent theme. Still, this by itself should not be enough to cause such a rift, for our common ground dwarfs these differences.

A second source of conflict are those who have chosen cyberstalking and daily harassment as their chosen mechanism of activism. Rape threats, threats of violence, sexually charged and grossly offensive language have no place in this discussion, but have infiltrated our community. The result has been to raise the level of emotion and defensiveness and pushing all sides toward the more radical extreme. This is, unfortunately, part of the new social media world we have created. We have to find ways to marginalize and ignore these elements, and not confuse them for those who have reasonable and friendly disagreements.

That is very, very, very true. (That’s not good skeptic of me. True is like unique; intensifiers are silly. If it’s true it’s true, there is no “very.” But I don’t care.) I can’t begin to tell you how true it is. The cyberstalking daily harassers have scraped our nerves raw, those of us who are their targets, and raw nerves are an obstacle to cool reason. Raw nerves get in the way of slow thinking. Steve Novella (and Harriet Hall) probably saw that happen when Hall’s threads filled with comments by the cyberstalking daily harassers.

So huge props to Amy and Harriet for working it out and leaving the cyberstalking daily harassers coughing in their dust.

Secularist of the year

The NSS has a short list of candidates for secularist of the year.

Jacques Berlinerblau – for his book How to be secular: A call to arms for religious freedom and for broadening the appeal of secularism by dispelling the misconception that it synonymous with atheism.

British Muslims for a Secular Democracy – for raising awareness within British Muslims and the wider public, of democracy – particularly ‘secular democracy’, helping to contribute to a shared vision of citizenship.

Carlos Celdran – Performance artist and political/cultural activist in the Philippines, for his tireless challenges to the privileged Catholic Church there, particularly in his advocacy for gay health and freedom, and for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 which guarantees universal access to methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care – long opposed by the Catholic church.

The Dalai Lama – for his promotion of secular ethics beyond religion and respect for nonbelievers globally.

Oliver Kamm – Leader writer and columnist for The Times, for his regular and excellent defence of the separation of Church and State.

Malala Yousafzai – for campaigning for girls’ education in the face of violent and brutal Islamist opposition.

The Dalai Lama? Seriously? He’s done some dissing of nonbelievers. So has Berlinerblau, for that matter.

The bishops are devouring all the hospitals

PZ warns of Catholic takeovers of hospitals, and links to an article in The Stranger, so I’m reading that article, and oh what do you know, what happened to Savita Halappanavar could happen right here in Seattle, too. I knew that, I knew it could happen all over the US, but The Stranger gives particulars.

But cases like Halappanavar’s exist in Washington State. In fact, they’ve happened right here in Seattle. “I was past 24 weeks when doctors at Swedish told me I was miscarrying,” explains the woman sitting across from me at the coffee shop. We’ll call her Mary. She’s asked to remain anonymous to maintain her privacy, but like Halappanavar, Mary is a thirtysomething professional who was eager to start a family with her husband. So they got pregnant the old-fashioned, church- approved way: missionary style, after marriage. Life was swell, and the ultrasounds looked good. And then Mary awoke in pain last year; there was blood. She was checked into Swedish Medical Center, Seattle’s largest nonprofit health-care provider. But unbeknownst to Mary, last year the hospital formed an alliance with Providence, a Washington-based Catholic institution that operates 32 hospitals in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Per their new relationship, Swedish agreed to stop performing abortions except in emergency situations—you know, like when a woman’s life is at risk…

During Mary’s Swedish visit last year, “They said that they couldn’t save the fetus but it still had a heartbeat, so there was nothing they could do. They had to wait for the heartbeat to stop.” [Read more…]

A photo, taken from an up-skirt angle

Michael Nugent has a post about a joke posted on Facebook and illustrated with a sexist photo of a woman.

It’s an old joke that I first heard decades ago, although then it was about a drunk husband trying to avoid waking his wife. So why were the genders in this old joke reversed?

It might have been to enable the poster to illustrate the joke with a random photo, taken from an up-skirt angle, of an unconscious woman lying face down on the floor wearing a very short skirt.

The joke with the photo is a lot more popular than the joke without the photo. It also attracted a good many skeevy comments, which Nugent includes. A very few of them:

  • I would of kicked the crap out of her
  • I would of hit it!
  • She made it home with her panties on
  • She’s a hoe. I’d dump her!!! Plain and simple
  • I’d love to wake up with her on my living room floor…
  • Looks like its one of them” hunny I’m help yourself poses haaahaaa
  • An found a used codom in side of her [Read more…]

Libel reform? What libel reform?

From Nick Cohen I learn that Labour has shafted the libel reform bill.

The results of the cross-party consensus were not as liberal as I and my friends in the free speech movement wanted. But politics is compromise. The parties agreed on legislation that would have stopped London being “a town called sue” – the global capital of libel tourism – and would have made the British a little bit freer to speak and write. That was good enough for me.

But it went wrong.

Earlier this month and at the last minute, Labour peers in the House of Lords, led by David Puttnam and Charles Falconer, a barrister who has rarely exerted himself to defend our freedoms, spatchcocked proposals from a Leveson inquiry, which did not even consider libel reform, into the libel reform bill. They knew Cameron would drop the bill rather than accept their wholesale rewrites. It’s not just that he did not want to implement all of Leveson. Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had a deal on libel reform and Labour had broken it.

No matter. Labour carried on. It wanted judges to award punitive damages if a writer or publisher had “not first sought advice from a recognised independent regulatory board before publication”.

In other words, writers must submit their work to a quango of censors or face enormous fines. This is pre-publication censorship, the favoured tool of dictators the world over. John Milton argued against it in Areopagitica, the first great defence of free speech in the English language. By the end of last week, Labour was scrambling to abandon its position. I doubt shame at breaking with the best values of the English radical tradition forced it to retreat. Someone must have told Falconer and Puttnam that the European Court of Human Rights had specifically ruled against prior restraint in 2011 and what the peers were proposing was, on the face of it, unlawful.

Are you kidding? Punitive damages unless writers and publishers got permssion from a regulatory board first? Are they out of their minds?

However, Labour is still insisting on a clause that says a newspaper outside its quango will face punitive damages in court “even if it had been successful” in fighting and winning a case. This strikes many legal authorities as a breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act that protects free speech and Article 6 that protects a fair trial. The detail, horrendous though it is, matters less to me than Labour’s willingness to destroy libel reform. Be in no doubt that it exists. Lord Falconer and Harriet Harman’s “people” told me they would rather see reform die than back down.

If it dies, the bill’s proposed ban on corporations, following the example of McDonald’s, suing individual activists will die with it. If it dies, the proposed limits on the libel tourism racket that have allowed Russian, Ukrainian and Saudi billionaires, Icelandic bankers and African dictators to punish their critics in London will die with it. If it dies, the new public interest defence for contested speech, which is essential for bloggers and small publishers as well as investigative journalists, will die with it. If it dies, the planned defence of “honest opinion” that would have allowed the Simon Singhs of the future to criticise alternative health quacks without risking a £500,000 bill will die with it.

It’s horrifying.