Pattern detection

There’s a pattern in the harassment that I want to point out for the sake of the record. The pattern is to harass and mock and monitor and taunt, and then to blame the target for reacting.

It’s so childish. It’s the kind of thing children do in the 3d grade, and then they grow out of it. It’s bizarre watching adults do it, as if no parent or teacher had ever sat them down and told them to stop.

Adam Lee tweeted the same thing to me earlier today:

The pitters’ MO is to say something rude and then call you too sensitive when you object. Do they think it’s not obvious?

Precisely. It’s the perennial bullies’ move: bully and then blame the bullied for objecting.

Skepticism. What a laugh, eh?



  1. Thetar says

    You’re like a broken record Ophelia. How about giving it a rest and blog about something else for a change.

  2. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    It’s something no-one with integrity would do, which tells you exactly what you need to know about the people doing it. But, when your goal is to bully people into silence because they threaten your privilege, you don’t let anything as irrelevant as integrity get in the way.

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

    Also, that you -made- them do it, apparently giving them justification for all future mistreatment.

    Victim-blaming, misrepresentation, false equivalencies, middle ground…

  4. stanbrooks says

    It is amazing to me, white male, 60+ years, hetero (not that it makes a frickin’ bit o’ difference), that these people still ply their trade, but I guess it’s been going on throughout history.

    One of my fondest recollections is hearing a talk you (OB) gave for Seattle Skeptics in a bar in Pioneer Square. As disheartening and as frightening as their comments and threats are they only go to show a the ramblings of those who are socially inept and intellectually challenged, regardless of their respective IQs. This in no way implies that you, or anyone, should take them lightly, as their counterparts in the taliban so aptly demonstrate. Funny, in the strange and not the humorous way, that they don’t seem to get the correlation.

  5. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I work with middle-school aged kids, and I see this pattern emerge almost daily. The same few kids, who regularly bully the other students (some more than others), will always respond to admonishments the same way. They will indignantly point out some minor misbehavior of the student(s) they are bullying.

    At first, I would promise to talk to the bullied student about what they did as well, and I would. I wouldn’t be harsh on them, but I would talk to them one-on-one about what their actions. You know, to be fair and all.

    Now that I have more experience, I have changed my response. I find it more effective to just call out their transparent ploy of justifying their bullying by appealing to the victim’s slight misbehavior. I tell them that I am aware of what they, the aggressor, is doing, and that I will put a stop to it. I will still sometimes take the other students aside, but now just to tell them the same thing.

    Sadly, we can’t send the adult bullies that are harassing our community home for the day when they step over the line.

  6. says

    Woo_Monster #3:

    Sadly, we can’t send the adult bullies that are harassing our community home for the day when they step over the line.

    No, but we can make them feel unwelcome by calling out their tactics and not giving their bullshit the time of day.

    And given that the bullies are affiliated with bad ideas, we can make those ideas feel as unwelcome as other bad ideas like creationism. That might make them go away on their own.

  7. Bjarte Foshaug says

    It’s funny how Ophelia, Stephanie, Rebecca, EllenBeth etc. never have a problem pointing to concrete examples of patently bullying behavior on the part of their detractors, backed up by link, screenshots, retweets etc., but when the “other side” complain about the evils of “radfems” it’s either some vague accusation of “labeling anyone who disagrees with them as misogynists, MRAs, gender-traitors and sister-punishers*” or a case of someone reacting to something they did (all context elided as usual).

    It’s almost as if they were opportunistically latching on to any excuse they could find to be a dick. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what it is. Nevermind.
    * As I wrote on Twitter, who are these feminists I keep hearing about who constantly refer to other women as “gender-traitors” or “sister-punishers”? I have only ever heard the term for the Mildew crowd?

  8. 'dirigible says

    “The pattern is to harass and mock and monitor and taunt, and then to blame the target for reacting.”

    I remember school.

  9. eucliwood says

    I’m sorry, but there’s also one very obvious observation to make – that FtB also monitors and taunts and mocks, except the cards they use differ – instead of saying someone was being sensitive, they might say they simply deserved it, or were in the right, and FtB will not call it “stalking” when they monitor someone (and I don’t think it should be. Yes, people from both sides are reading each other’s things, to see what they are saying, and I don’t think either side can try to deny that.), but they will when it happens to them. And FtB most certainly mocks and says “rude” things about the other side.

    But it’s called bullying and harassment when the others do it. I’m really surprised that anyone thinks they can point that out about the pit without also realizing that FtB is fully recognized as also doing it.

    (just to note, I hardly lasted a month at the pit, and do not go there)

  10. eucliwood says

    Basically, both sides are saying negative things about each other, reading each other’s things deliberately, and mocking each other. Can we please admit this obvious fact before both sides decide to record every time the other does it and realize that the others’ book is also being filled? Not that it needs to be – hypocrisy is committed even if there’s ONE example in the metaphorical book.

  11. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    That’s a ludicrous false equivalence, and I think you know it. There is simply no parallel in FtB (or Atheism+) for the obsessive campaigns of abuse, harassment and threats to which Ophelia, Stephanie Zvan, Jen McCreight, and Rebecca Watson, to name the most prominent but not the only examples, have been and are being subjected. If you are being obsessively harassed, you are completely entitled to monitor your harassers.

    If you dispute that it is a false equivalence, then point to the evidence. I know, and you know, that you can’t.

  12. says

    Obviously up to Ophelia but I’d suggest a clean up on aisle 9 and 10…. No malice intended, for their own good.

    As for the usual pit excuse of FtBs do the same thing!!11!!! Well I think they were challenged to find anywhere on FtBs dedicated to ridiculing/attacking anyone disagreed with… Let alone dedicated to finding something bad in everything they ever say. I mean look at the latest “victims” of FtB “Bullying”
    1. Shermer, even if you don’t think what he said was sexist you have to admit there is a general lack of photoshopped images of the “Sherminator” fighting feminazis or some such.
    2. Ben Radford, only his articles on feminism are criticised. Apart from PZ who did have a go at one on blogging, but even in the comments of that he defended his “bigfoot” skepticism work… Again where is the equivalent of his PZ luuurves straw huh huh post. How would the haters react if any FtB’er created a hilarious post childishly ridiculing Radford with no substantive point!

    Once there is nothing to rebut or criticise, the bloggers and commenters move on with maybe the odd oblique reference to them being douches in the comments. Hardly a sustained campaign of harassment! The treatment pulls no punches but it moves on with no damage apart from a few hurt egos. In fact the targets usually gain a bunch of #braveheroes to defend all their future bullshit sans critical thinking.

    Anyway fallen into the tu quoque trap as usual… Is bullying and harassment wrong or not? What about fair criticism turns it into bullying or harassment? What lines need to be drawn to move this “conversation” away from the childish name calling and into anything productive?

  13. ischemgeek says

    No offense intended, but this?

    It’s the kind of thing children do in the 3d grade, and then they grow out of it.

    Tells me you had a much better schooling experience than I did. In my experience, they don’t grow out of it. Because this:

    … no parent or teacher had ever sat them down and told them to stop.

    is usually the case. If you had kids who bugged you get told to stop by the teacher or a parent, you were seriously lucky. Because for me, it was my fault. Always.

    The establishment blames victims. Even in elementary school. Even when a gang of seven other kids got together and beat the crap out of you in close to the most one-sided fight ever. The school will decide it’s your fault because getting your parents to blame you for being a weirdo that attracts this sort of behavior is a heck of a lot easier than getting seven sets of parents/guardians to admit that their little angels could possibly do anything wrong.

    And, oddly, the more one-sided the damage, the more one-sided the blame will be because what did you do to provoke it?

    That kind of victim-blaming you’re experiencing isn’t isolated to harrassment, it’s not isolated to “grown up” situations, and frankly if society would stop freaking assuming that parents and teachers get it right 100% of the time (and they obviously don’t, else we wouldn’t have cases like Amanda Todd’s), and start actually advocating for bullying victims, victim-blaming might not be so damn seared into our cultural mindsets.

    Ever ask yourself where people learn to blame the victim? I’m no social psychologist, but I’d guess they learn it in school, from how parents and teachers handle bullying situations.

  14. great1american1satan says


    Haha. Yes. It’s stalking. The FtB people keeping eyes out, trying to be aware of whatever slanderous horseshit is being cooked up in the boiler room is totally equivalent to haters scouring Ophelia’s facebook and twitter for false outrages to smear her with, every minute of the day.

    Didn’t last in the slyme? Not going to last very long here either. Well, unless you’re part of a continuum of sock puppets. In that case, to every identity you possess, I say get bent.

  15. carlie says

    I think what Ophelia did in the diminutives thread is a good way to cut this kind of thing off – when Karla came into the thread and said a bunch of bullshit, Ophelia didn’t try to take it apart bit by bit or discuss any specific point with her – she just called Karla on her bullshit and labeled it as such. Yes, we’re grown-up enough to see what you’re doing, and it won’t work. That kind of bullying followed by “y u mad” doesn’t work past the social skills level of middle school.

  16. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Where’s your proof, eucliwood ? Where’s the photoshopped harrassment coming from FTB? Where’s the posting of personal addresses with pictures? Where’s the bigotted slurs? Where’s the constant stream of harrassment?

    We’ll wait while you produce the huge amounts of evidence you have for your accusations.

    Or are you saying that keeping an eye on those who have repeatedly proven to be the worst sort of people, focused solely on harrassing, stalking, and attempting to humiliate you on a near daily basis the equivalent of DOING it?

    Bitches bring it on themsevles, right, because they didn’t just shut up and sit down like good girls.

  17. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    What the pitters are pretending they don’t understand – and are hoping that other people also don’t understand; sadly, people like eucliwood appear to be falling for it – is that when you refer to a woman as a cunt and get a called a misogynist for it, those two things aren’t both equally bad.

    I honestly don’t know how anyone capable of putting a moment’s thought into it could actually think that they were.

  18. A Hermit says

    I offered a challenge in the comments at <a href=";Michael Nugent’s recent blog:

    I’d really like to see if you can find anything on FtB directed at Libertarians, creationists, Sam Harris or anyone else that comes close to this…

    That’s a whole forum directory dedicated specifically to mocking and verbally abusing people identified by the `pit as “baboolies”…including this thread……dedicated to making photoshop images of said “baboolies. It has over 200 entries and 20,000 views.

    OK, your turn…show us a similar page at FtB…

    You will all be shocked to hear that no one, 250 comments later, has yet to meet that challenge. Or even attempt to.


    Michael Nugent, by the way, is impressing the hell out of me on this stuff…he’s cutting apart Vacula’s nonsense calmly and dispassionately. And it’s driving the `pitters mad…

  19. jackiepaper says

    You will all be shocked to hear that no one, 250 comments later, has yet to meet that challenge. Or even attempt to.

    Shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

  20. says

    Avicenna’s got a typically excellent blog entry regarding the “quantity over quality” issue.

    So that donation that just landed in your cookie jar? It’s to get the Whaaaaaambulance to come a little faster for the poor quantity-quality-troll.

    Perhaps we could call this “tu quoque trolling”?

  21. says

    eucliwood – that’s complete bullshit. I pay attention to them only when and because they harass me. I have zero interest in them otherwise. And when I do pay attention to them and criticize their actions and words, I do that, I don’t photoshop them or taunt them or call them epithets or shorten their names.

    ischemgeek @ 14 – you’re right, I did. I went to a tiny school that was all-girl after the 3d grade. My claim was over-optimistic. 🙁

  22. carlie says

    eucliwood, can you provide even a single example that supports what you’re accusing bloggers at FtB of?

  23. says

    Looks to me like eucliwood is trying to present us with a real-time demonstration of bullying techniques:

    1) Show up and post a dishonest, insulting lie about the bullying.
    2) Pretend that there’s never been any evidence that what you’re saying is a lie.
    3) Stick to your guns with the lie.
    4) Eventually get called a liar and/or an idiot for lying and playing dumb about it.
    5) Claim that as evidence that your lie is true.

  24. carlie says

    I think there should also be a guideline that anyone who says “both sides are bad” has to provide evidence that they said the exact same thing at the slymepit and then stuck around long enough to engage people there about it (not a drop and run comment). Otherwise they should expect to be gnored as hypocrites.

  25. says

    I’m currently listening to Barchester Towers and yesterday came across this passage, which seemed relevant:

    Wise people, when they are in the wrong, always put themselves right by finding fault with the people against whom they have sinned. Lady De Courcy was a wise woman, and therefore, having treated Miss Thorne very badly by staying away till three o’clock, she assumed the offensive and attacked Mr. Thorne’s roads. Her daughter, not less wise, attacked Miss Thorne’s early hours. The art of doing this is among the most precious of those usually cultivated by persons who know how to live. There is no withstanding it. Who can go systematically to work and, having done battle with the primary accusation and settled that, then bring forward a countercharge and support that also? Life is not long enough for such labours. A man in the right relies easily on his rectitude and therefore goes about unarmed. His very strength is his weakness. A man in the wrong knows that he must look to his weapons; his very weakness is his strength. The one is never prepared for combat, the other is always ready. Therefore it is that in this world the man that is in the wrong almost invariably conquers the man that is in the right, and invariably despises him.

  26. ischemgeek says

    Sorry for snapping at you, Ophelia – I’m a little on-edge because there’s yet another story in the news right now about a kid bullied to death, and that sort of thing hits close to home because I came way too close to being one of those news stories.

    But, yeah. The folks harassing you are definitely overgrown bullies. And like in bullying cases, it’s not your fault you’re being victimized.

  27. glodson says

    And we see another thread to this pattern in this thread. A centrist apologist will come out and attempt a Tu quoque style argument, or otherwise try to balance the scales by suggesting both sides are not so different.

    Which has been pointed out as complete bullshit.

  28. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Yes, I may sometimes try to deflect criticism of my harassment by blaming my victims for making me do it… but you were rude when you called me out, so it is all even. Nana nana boo boo.

  29. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    Do they think it’s not obvious?

    Thing is, a lot of obvious bullshit flies, which is a major reason the world is the way it is. Of course it is obvious.

  30. says

    ischemgeek – well I didn’t really take you to be snapping at me. (Am I thick-skinned or what! R U impressed?) Anyway you were quite right. I was kind of marginal and slightly excluded at that school (until 10th grade when all the preppy girls went off to boarding school and suddenly the dorks weren’t dorks any more) but that was it – never anything remotely like real bullying. I have no experience of it. Talk about privilege…

  31. monkeymind says

    The Trollope quote is great. Sometimes we don’t treat people badly because we hate them, we hate people because we treat them badly.

  32. jenniferphillips says

    Anthony K, to be fair, I don’t think that Eucliwood’s creepy Jason Fanfic belongs to any ‘side’. She shopped it at the ‘pit first, in the same time period in which she was sending her…work to Jason. They weren’t buying.

    All available evidence indicates that she is an independent (definitely young, probably underaged) entity making bad choices on the internet. Based on this, I don’t think she has much to contribute to this discussion, but I’d vote for leaving her off the list of people who contribute to the bulk of the harassment. I should point out, though, that Jason’s opinion on this would certainly trump mine, as he was (afaik) the only target of her attention.

  33. stewart says

    Bjarte (#9),

    a couple of months ago, when in a comment here I mentioned some of the unpleasant things engaged in at the pit that “our” side was not doing at all, one of the reactions over there was:

    “Since Ophie dislikes ‘obscene’ photoshopping, maybe she should cut out the obscene mental photoshopping of what she reads.”

    Neither a denial that the pitters were doing it nor a claim that Ophelia (or anyone associated with FTB) was, but mention of something completely different (and unsubstantiated, but that’s not the point – this time) with the strong suggestion it was somehow equivalent. Does one need to know any more than that?

  34. says

    Ew – I’d forgotten that that’s who eucliwood is. I knew once, because I see I commented on Jason’s thread.

    “Since Ophie dislikes ‘obscene’ photoshopping, maybe she should cut out the obscene mental photoshopping of what she reads.”



  35. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “Is that which is justified, justified because it’s moral, or moral because it’s justified? You have to be pious don’t you Michael? Because piety is beloved of the gods. Piety and slightly burned chips. And feminism. Don’t diss feminism. Feminism is beloved too, like apple piety with double cream served by a virgin. Don’t diss God, his noodlyness will be cross. Nor feminism, it is so written. You must obey. All the feminists are at the pit and we eat the pieties with our all powerful, all knowing vaginas. The rest is just dogmatism. That’s just a light mid morning snack to us with a nice glass of hemlock.”

    See, you’ve got it all wrong, Ophelia. They’re just brave dissenters, dissenting against this religious dogma known as “fem-in-ism.” They are preventing femtheists like yourself from trying to hijack the skeptical movement with your dogmatic nonsense. They’re just like Socrates, and you’re the Evil Femstablishment forcing him to drink the hemlock, I mean femlock.

  36. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Yes, it’s a comment from Michael Nugent’s post.
    When you have no real argument, just lump feminism in with religious fundamentalism or the Nazis.Like people who say “Atheist fundamentalists!” or “Hitler and Stalin were atheists, too!”
    If that fails, whine about your freeze peach, which no one has the power to take away, or is even trying to.
    Then bring up starving children in Africa.

  37. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    The ‘pitters have presumably spent more than a few hours learning the best intellectually dishonest techniques from religious apologists to use for their own purposes – this is the sort of equivocation, goalpost shifting, rhetorical handwaving-and-tapdancing we used to see a great deal of from bloviating godbots trying to avoid questions they couldn’t answer.

  38. sawells says

    @49: as far as I can tell, they picked up the “no amount of microevolution can make macroevolution” and turned it into “no number of small acts of harrassment can ever add up to actual harrassment”.

  39. fastlane says

    It’s the kind of thing children do in the 3d grade, and then they grow out of it.

    Apparently not.

  40. says

    This is so frustrating. I hate dishonesty and baseless hostility.

    I’d say you have enough examples of their tactics on your blog for a lifetime. I’ve never had your volume, but… all new posters go into the Pending file. If their comment is OK, I let it appear. Subsequent comments get posted but I can still review them. If they veer off into lies, attacks, or insults, the comment get marked as spam. I never have to deal with them there again except to empty the Spam bucket once in a while.

    *hugs for Ophelia*

Leave a Reply

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