How to logic

I don’t have Richard Reed’s phone number (nor do I know that Richard Reed is the real name of that particular harasser), so in lieu of picking up the phone and giving him a jingle, I’ll do a post about his argument for the legitimacy of photoshopping pictures of people’s faces onto goats post.

Where I “harass” Barack Obama and Ophelia Benson

There is still a lot of talk in the skeptic community about “harassment”, and what constitutes it. Ophelia Benson claims that people photoshopping her constitutes harassment. In this post, I will show how ridiculous that idea is!

Here is a goat. Lets call him Clive:


Now, lets say for sake of argument that I want to mock Barack Obama. I could do that by putting his head on Clive and putting a crude message on the picture:


Now, according to Ophelia Benson, photoshopping constitutes harassment, so does the above image harass Barack Obama? I don’t think so! :)  Let’s apply the same thing to a picture of Ophelia:


Now, who would consider either of the above pictures to be “harassing” of Barack Obama or Ophelia Benson? Only the hypersensitive or the histrionic I guess! :)


So his argument is: it’s ok to photoshop Obama’s face onto a goat, therefore it’s ok to photoshop my face onto a goat.

It’s my view that there are some steps missing between his premise and his conclusion. I also have grave doubts about his premise.


  1. says

    Kerching! More cookies for Ophelia.

    So what exactly is the point of photoshopping someone’s face onto a goat if not to sneer?

  2. unbound says

    I know the above is bad logic…but it isn’t any worse than Richard’s bad logic…

  3. mouse says

    “does the above image harass Barack Obama?” If John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were doing it, then yes I think so.

  4. mouse says

    I don’t mean to say that only prominent names can harass. Rather, that if Richard actually intended that photo to reach Obama (as he clearly intends it to reach Ophelia), and it was likely to reach him, then yes it’s harassment.

  5. Jean says

    Would he feel the same about a picture of Michael Shermer’s face on a pig’s body saying “I’m not sexist”?

  6. says

    If anyone fancies losing a few brain cells you could do worse than peruse Richards blog. I recommend the one where he managed to morph Paul Fidalgo’s post into bullying and the one that says feminism is incompatible with scepticism. Even his own “side” hand his arse to him on the feminism one.

  7. A. Noyd says

    Know what this reminds me of? The whining that conservatives get up to when you tell them it’s racist to compare Obama to a chimp but not racist to do the same to George W. It’s like they can’t see how the same act could possibly have a different impact depending on the context and circumstances.

  8. fastlane says

    Jean@7: Don’t forget the ‘lol’ on the end. otherwise, it’s not edgy enough, and you can’t use the ‘It was only a joke’ excuse.

    tactics…it’s all about tactics.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    … does the above image harass Barack Obama?

    No, but Clive is consulting his attorney as we speak…

  10. evilDoug says

    His mastery and finesse with logic is exceeded only by his mastery and finesse with photo editing. He is indeed an all ’round fine exemplar of the septic community.

  11. noastronomer says

    Mouse has it nailed. The picture itself is not harassment, what matters is what you do with the picture.


  12. says

    Okay, so, it’s fine if you want to photoshop Obama’s head onto a goat’s body. It’s even fine if you do the same with an image of Ophelia’s head. I mean, whatever–“It’s a free country!”

    So then, what comes next? The rest of us look at your puerile contributions and think, “Well, clearly this person doesn’t like Obama/Ophelia, but that’s about the extent of it. I guess you don’t have any interesting, fact-based objections to Obama/Ophelia, because if you did, you wouldn’t be resorting to crude photoshops to communicate your distaste.”

    Maybe you have the capacity to make actual arguments AND do crude photoshops. Okay, so then what have you added to your cogent, fact-based critique by making a silly photoshop? What is the point of the crude photoshop? Obama/Ophelia is so stupid, they’re like a goat. They’re smelly or something. In other words, nothing. And you’ve damaged your own credibility as a grown-up by acting like a child.

    By broadcasting this crude goat-person photoshop, all you’ve done is reveal that your thinking is childlike and you lack emotional maturity. And then you want to complain that people think poorly of you because of the juvenile, sneering tactics you use to broadcast your distaste for Obama/Ophelia? Yeah, that would be your own emotional immaturity at work again.

    Privilege creates Dunning-Kruger victims. They literally cannot perceive how fucking dumb that shit is.

  13. Kazim says

    Uh, yes, this might be one of those instances where context has a teeny little bit to do with it, no?

    * If I call a stranger at home and say “Oops, wrong number”… that is not harassment.
    * If I call a stranger at home and ask “Is your refrigerator running?” then giggle and hang up… that is annoying and juvenile, but it is not harassment.
    * If I pick a particular stranger and call him ten times a day to ask if his refrigerator is running… THAT’S HARASSMENT.

    See the difference here? Let’s try another one.

    * If I Photoshop my best friend’s head on a goat, then post the photo on his Facebook wall (where he is free to approve or delete it) and leave a comment saying “That’s all you, buddy!”… that is not harassment.
    * If I pick a stranger from Google images and photoshop THAT head onto a goat, and post it on Twitter with a link to their website… that’s pretty rude, but it is not harassment.
    * If I put a stranger’s head on a variety of barn animals, or on humans in various sexual poses, spamming them with links or telling people to go to their blog and compliment them on the pictures… yeah, it’s harassment.
    * If I only create ONE farm animal picture, but then also post to 4chan and say that they should ALL make farm animal pictures AND inform the person about it, that really the fuck is harassment.

    Harass, Verb:
    1. Subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation.
    2. Make repeated small-scale attacks on (an enemy).

    These definitions acknowledge that the context of either intent (“aggressive pressure”) or frequency (“repeated”) is relevant to whether something is harassment or not. Richard has cutely neglected to mention the things that people are doing which DO rise to the level of harassment, and saying “That other thing I mentioned isn’t harassment, what’s the problem?”

  14. iknklast says

    So, Ophelia, does this mean you’ve officially been outed as the scapegoat for the anti-woman campaign? Seems a bit apt, if you ask me. They lay their disdain for all of us onto you and a few others, and now they’ve given us the symbolic message that you are, in fact, the scapegoat for all our “sins”.

  15. Brian E says

    One could make the case that the Obama shop is iconoclastic, he’s a powerful dude who reserves the right to kill anybody. Ophelia not so much.

  16. noxiousnan says

    Christ, can’t these people at the very least, look up the word skeptic? I’m all for identifying how one wants to identify, but shouldn’t one at least have a passing familiarity with what one is identifying as? Seems prudent to me.

  17. notsont says

    This seems to be an ongoing theme, context? what context? My comment is all alone in the universe nothing has come before it, it exists completely in a vacuum all by its lonesome.

  18. stewart says

    Apparently Ophelia is not only a bad writer, she is also the only one who is so bad that someone feels the need to have her say it about herself in a photoshop of her face on a goat’s body. I mean the reason for it has to be that she’s a bad writer. There is no other logical explanation. The possibility that someone would do something like that without the main reason being that she is a bad writer is simply too preposterous to consider. How could it be otherwise, when we all know exactly who Richard Reed is and how impeccable his credentials are? That’s why you won’t see his real face photoshopped onto a goat’s body saying something demeaning about himself. What other reason could there be?

  19. sharoncrawford says

    Since we now know that Ophelia=Obama, maybe she can unleash a few drone strikes on R. Reed. (Wasn’t that the name of the shoe-bomber?)

  20. Anthony K says

    Wasn’t that the name of the shoe-bomber?

    Richard Reid was the shoe-bomber.

    Richard Reed is just an incompetent.

  21. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Are we sure ‘Richard Reed’ isn’t Ray Comfort’s atheist sockpuppet? This is only marginally less stupid than thinking ‘bibliophile’ has anything to do with sexual deviancy.

  22. says

    One of the things that pisses me off about these jerks is that they are abusing what has become an important satirical tool in the internet age. Bloggers have been doing exactly what Mr. Reed is demonstrating as an editorial tool ever since the invention of the form. The ability to do a good satirical photoshop has been part of liberal blogging all through the last 13 years of war and misdeed.
    some great examples

    He’s using a good tool for evil. Shame.

  23. carlie says

    Gosh, I wonder why he used a picture of a goat instead of the actual picture of an elderly naked woman that was used in the original photoshop that actually happened? Little attempt to whitewash there?

  24. says

    I know a few things about making and assessing images too.

    Execution of technique matters. Not much to say here: we live in a mash-up culture and that’ Photoshop is as crude as simply spray painting an illegible tiny tag on a wall.

    Intent to create matters. What’s the message the artist is going for? So pretending it’s all just innocent and not harassment here is pretty much lying. Kazim #15 says it well with the fridge analogy.

    Intended audience matters. Even though the whole world sees what’s online, posting a nasty Photoshop of Obama on a mainstream news site will generate a different reaction then something posted in a scraps gallery on DeviantArt. The person who made the image knows this and placed it somewhere that Ophelia is more likely to find it than Barack Obama.

    Putting one Piss Christ in an art competition and then a fine art gallery is provocative. Putting the face of your local clergyman on one and mailing it to him over and over is harassment.

  25. carlie says

    Sorry, I’m corrected, of course. It’s just funny how they try to claim “free speech” and all, yet then seem totally reluctant to claim any of that actual speech.

  26. Jimmy Boy says

    I thought of an example too – and then saw Karim’s (@15 above) – which is the same idea.

    If someone pokes you in the arm in a crowd, it’s irritating but not harassment.

    If thousands of people poke you in the arm every time you go out, that’s harassment.

    If thousands of people conspire to ensure that everyone they know pokes you in the arm every time you go out, and laughingly suggests you are self obsessed for not being happy about all a poke in the arm, cunningly ignoring the fact that there is such a thing as context… Well…they are Justin Vacula. Or his followers.

    Actually. Karim’s are better. Still. Really sorry this is still going on Ophelia…

  27. Stacy says

    People. Obviously your lady or mangina (as the case may be) brains are unequipped to appreciate Richard Reed’s Swiftian satire.

    This isn’t harassment. It’s criticism! It’s commentary! It’s–well, it’s Ophelia’s head shopped onto a picture of a goat–how is that not genius?


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