In the mail

I went out to do some things, as one does, and when I came back I found an envelope from Free Inquiry in the mail. I thought it must be the check for my most recent column, although it was an odd envelope for that – brown, and larger than a letter envelope. I opened it and found another envelope, a letter one this time, addressed to me c/o Free Inquiry.

I opened that and found a sick little thing from Martin Wiesner, aka Pogsurf, who started trolling me a week or so ago, for reasons I don’t know.

At the top it says


Empowering Women Through Secularism,

Dublin 2013

Then it has the head shots of all the panelists except one.

Then it asks four questions.

  1. Who amongst you enjoys anal rape jokes?
  2. Who knows that making violent sexual threats are [sic] wrong, but has never apologised for doing this themselves, and for encouraging others to do the same?
  3. Who joked when the UK’s Astronomer Royal won the Templeton Prize in 2011 that he should be anally raped?

Bonus question

Which branch of feminism or skepticism endorses rape culture?

Then Martin Wiesner’s signature.





  1. says

    Jesus, he is seriously deranged… Hope you are ok as its no fun to start getting things in the mail from the harassing faction. Better get onto Free Inquiry to tell them not to forward anything else, at least he doesn’t know your address!

  2. says

    Wiesner is appalling. I banned him some time ago; he tried to bounce back under various aliases. And then he sent me this email:

    Hi PZ,

    Could you please give me a call on +44 1923 23xxxx. I’d like to discuss why you have banned me from your blog.


    Martin Wiesner

    I’m being nice in redacting his number. But to think after all the slimy shit he pulls there is a question about why he was banned or that I even want to talk to him about it…he’s a disingenuous git.

  3. smhll says

    I think this guy is flogging a dead porcupine.

    I wish you weren’t getting this kind of crap in your mailbox, Ms. Benson.

  4. Matt Penfold says

    Doesn’t Wiesner live in the UK, in the Watford area ? If so, it might be worth contacting his local police and making a complaint.

  5. Matt Penfold says

    I can let you have his address if you like. It is a matter of public record.

    Martin, if you are going to harass people, don’t act as election agent for the Green party! It means your address is public!

  6. says

    @Matt, he puts his postcode on his website, does it match? At least he is not doing this anonymously and complaints can be made to his local police force.

  7. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Grrr. Hulk smash patriarchy.*

    *I’m not the Hulk, nor can I smash patriarchy, but that’s the mood I’m in today.

  8. Matt Penfold says

    @Matt, he puts his postcode on his website, does it match? At least he is not doing this anonymously and complaints can be made to his local police force.

    Yeah, it matches. I can yell you his wife’s name if you like as well.

  9. Matt Penfold says

    It might be interesting to see what his party thinks of his activities. The Green Party does not have a reputation for tolerating men harassing women.

  10. says

    @ Matt – that’s what I thought as well. The Green Party’s one MP is a woman and I imagine party members would be totally disgusted at this. At least the Greens I know would be.

  11. says

    Hopefully he is just a harmless eccentric … But he needs to start some serious apologising as this is stalkery behaviour and then some. Some of the things described on that bloggerheads article linked by A.Hermit… Well I didn’t click on the link to the naked pic of himself he supposedly posted to prove how open he is O_o

  12. Matt Penfold says

    I don’t think he can be written off as harmless eccentric. He has clearly been harassing Ophelia, and causing her distress. That alone is enough for him to have committed a criminal offence in English law.

  13. Matt Penfold says

    “Local Green Activist Revealed As Internet Stalker” would be interesting it must be said!

  14. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Comment submitted:

    God fucking damn it. I don’t know what to say, Ophelia, other than that I’ve got your back and all you need to do is let me know if there’s *anything* I can for you. Were I in town the drinks would be on me. You know where to call, Skype, or find me if and when you need.


  15. says

    Not a reasonable hour for another 9hrs as 11:30pm here and I’m off to bed… Dunno if anyone else did but I tweeted the idiot to see if he’ll respond. Depends how late he stays up I guess.

  16. Matt Penfold says

    The partial telephone number posted by PZ matches up with the one I got from the BT website.

  17. hypatiasdaughter says

    So this was mailed to Free Inquiry, the magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism, who then forwarded it (unopened, I assume) to you?
    I cannot think that an organization like the Council for Secular Humanism would approve of being duped into being a party to this.

  18. says

    He included his address and a phone number on the letter.

    But also, on Facebook a new friend (on the Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub page) posted a link to a post where Wiesner says he’s sending this piece of crap to a whole slew of people, including most of the speakers at the Dublin conference.

    So at least I feel less singled out.

    No, I’m sure my friends at Free Inquiry would not be happy about that (but they asked early on about forwarding mail and I said by all means).

  19. Sorbus says

    A very open troll indeed, to match the ‘open letters’ posted online I guess. He’s not ex-directory and mobile numbers (probably Green Party ones) are listed in press releases. If I called him ‘a pain in the arse’ does that mean I support misuse of porcupines too?

  20. carlie says

    Wow. Physical letters. Holy fucking shit. Definitely something for his local police to know about, if nothing else just so it’s on record that someone complained. And I hope there’s some sort of “restraining order” that the Dublin organizers can put in place for you (not for arrest, but if he gets within so close he will be kicked out of the conference).

  21. says

    Well it would take a lot of restraining orders, because he’s sent the letter to most of the speakers:

    •Dan Barker, Freedom From Religion Foundation, USA
    •Ophelia Benson, author and commentator, USA
    •Ann Brusseel, Member of Flemish Parliament, Belgium
    •Mairin de Burca, writer and secularist, Ireland – no address located yet
    •Carlos Diaz, President Atheist Alliance International, Argentina
    •Jane Donnelly, Education Policy Officer Atheist Ireland
    •Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation, USA
    •Anthea McTiernan, reproductive rights activist and journalist
    •Maryam Namazie, Fitnah Movement for Women’s Liberation
    •Taslima Nasrin, novelist and activist, Bangladesh and India
    •Michael Nugent, Chairperson Atheist Ireland
    •Nina Sankari, Polish Rationalist Association
    •Farhana Shakir, lawyer and legal consultant, Pakistan
    •Kate Smurthwaite, comedian and activist, Britain
    •Anne Marie Waters, One Law for All Campaign, Britain
    •Rebecca Watson, Skepchick network, USA

  22. MrFancyPants says

    Well it would take a lot of restraining orders, because he’s sent the letter to most of the speakers

    Holy cow, this guy is unhinged.

  23. Sorbus says

    Almost everything he has written online has name, address, telephone and postcode in full. Mentions being sectioned for mental health issues (bipolar) on Twitter.

  24. Rawnaeris says

    Please go to their police with this.

    Escalation from internet to meatspace is not good.

    Fucking hell. You deserve so much better than this.

    Sorry if I’m a bit more incoherent than usual. This kind of crap scares the hell out of me–I’ve seen stalking and it’s side effects and it’s not pretty.

  25. says

    I would think bringing this to the immediate attention of Atheist Ireland has already happened; if they hadn’t had their memory jogged, it would be an opportune time for them to examine the Irish law concerning restraining orders, and other legalities concerning defamation, stalking, and other anti-social behaviour. As others have pointed out, Wiesner’s reputation precedes him; he has a long history of being an anti-social pest, and sadly pest control is necessary sometimes. This is something AI really can’t sit on their hands about.

  26. says

    Agree with Xanthe and Rawneris, the speed he went from #groan in a tweet to me to calling me arsehole and twit to threatening to dox is not indicative of a stable person.

  27. says

    Or Taslima or Maryam, perhaps, who are also on the recipient list?

    It really sounds like it will be an excellent conference, judging by the calibre of the list of speakers, and I wish I could make it. What is not merely frustrating but infuriating, is that the conference is seen as worthy of attack because of a stated goal like “Empowering Women”. I hope AI can do a better job than CfI have managed of supporting their own conference from unconscionable attacks (in the case of CfI, organisational necrosis seems to be a significant part of the problem).

  28. leftwingfox says

    This is not right. Not right at all.

    My deepest condolences Ophelia. Here’s hoping for action from the conference and the Green Party on this.

  29. Silentbob says

    @ 40 Rawnaeris

    Please go to their police with this.
    Escalation from internet to meatspace is not good.
    Fucking hell. You deserve so much better than this.

    It seems clear to me that the target here is PZ. He’s the “missing” speaker, and the answer to the questions is supposed to be PZ. The same letter is being sent to (almost) all the other speakers at the conference. Weisner seems to have a grudge against PZ for banning him from Pharyngula.

    I’m not saying Ophelia shouldn’t be concerned about this, um, irrational person being at the conference. But I suggest the one being stalked here is actually PZ.

  30. says

    Ugh. Gurdur. Sleazy slime of the worst sort…nice to know he’s helping dangerously delusional people like Wiesner out.

  31. Stacy says

    Silentbob is right I think. For background (cross-posted from Facebook):

    …The “answer” is PZ Myers. The pit are big on doing a tu quoque because there used to be a meme on Pharyngula about dead porcupines and what people could do with them. See, a vivid variant on “go fuck yourself” is JUST AS BAD as rape jokes, calling people cunts, spreading lies, mocking photoshops, etc. etc

  32. says

    According to this very odd man, the real problem in this instance is PZ. I just received the following by email:


    Dear Humanists,

    I thought I should bring to your attention the increasingly irrational behaviour of PZ Myers who is an IHEU Award winner of 2011 .

    In comment 5 he uses the ad hominem fallacy against me.

    In comment 25 he suggests his ‘horde’ should harass me by telephone. He will supply the number, even though it is freely available from my blog. Presumably he is too cowardly to contact me in person.

    In comment 50 he uses guilt by association, and the ad hominem fallacy against Gurdur (Tim Skellett).

    This is a man who has been rewarded with speaking engagements and awards by the international atheist and skeptical movements, and someone who self-describes as a feminist.

    Yours in humanism,

    Martin Wiesner

  33. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Dave W wrote:

    Thus proving Martin Wiesner doesn’t know what “ad hominem fallacy” means.

    Hmm, if we’re going to list the things that Martin Wiesner doesn’t know the meaning of but uses nonetheless, we’re going to need a bigger boat. However, one word he has clearly misunderstood is ‘harassment’, and I expect the legal repercussions of that misunderstanding are going to come crashing down on him in the very near future.

  34. says

    But also, on Facebook a new friend (on the Vancouver Skeptics in the Pub page) posted a link to a post where Wiesner says he’s sending this piece of crap to a whole slew of people, including most of the speakers at the Dublin conference.

    I received this letter from Wiesner as an email a week or so ago.

  35. Kilian Hekhuis says

    Is it “doxxing” if the records are public for anyone to search? It seems there’s a single M Wiesner living in Watford, with a phone number that matches the part PZ posted.

  36. says

    Wiesner needs to read my blog post about PitchGuest, he clearly indicated he and the Slymepit don’t really think a porcupine up the bot “threat” is a “rape threat” .. They think the Pharyngulites are hypocritical because by “their” own standards they are “rape threat”. Because who is better at determining another groups standards than an outside group that hate them with a passion? That’s ignoring the obvious argument in bad faith that this admission opens the Slymepit to… Not really news but I’ve never seen a pitter admit it quite so brazenly as young Pitchy.

  37. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Hey supposedly rational skeptic Slymepitters… these are the scumbags you’re consorting with. Are they really the people you want “representing” you? No? Then stop enabling them.

  38. noxiousnan says

    Ophelia@58 – I had seen quite a few listed on his blog yesterday, at least 20…I think the list you show upthread received mail, but there were two more lists that perhaps were the email lists. I can’t tell now, because Pogsurf has interestingly shut his blog down to invited guests only.

  39. chrislawson says

    Can I recommend *against* calling his phone number? There is nothing to be gained that a call to the Greens and/or the local police won’t achieve and I can’t see it as anything other than harassment (which is not justified even in the case of harassers).

    Also, if he has bipolar disorder as suggested earlier in the thread, it’s quite possible that he is currently not mentally well. This is not to excuse or downplay the behaviour, but he might be non compos mentis…in which case calling the police/Greens may well be good for him, too, if it makes him seek treatment.

  40. carlie says

    In comment 25 he suggests his ‘horde’ should harass me by telephone.

    It’s pretty clear he was talking to Ophelia.

    In any case, the readers of Butterflies and Wheels are not PZ’s horde. What is it with people thinking every website about atheism+social justice belongs to PZ?

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