Displacement behavior

I’ve been wondering how the Antis would respond, if at all. I couldn’t think of any way to do it – I have a terrible deficiency of imagination that way. I never can figure out how people are going to defend assholitude ahead of time, then when they do it it all seems so obvious. Stupid, banal, completely wrongheaded…but obvious.

A quick survey of Twitter shows some of how it’s going to go now. The vocabulary to be deployed includes

  • Drama
  • Blog hits
  • Due process
  • Slander
  • Lawsuits

There is complete silence about Carrie Poppy. Carrie Who? Never heard of her.

I also haven’t seen any response to Sasha Pixlee’s account of his encounter with DJ Grothe.

I actually first met DJ Grothe about a year before at Dragon*Con in 2010. I had admired his work on Point of Inquiry and when he became president of the JREF I thought it would be a great thing. When I got a chance to meet him that year I was excited. We encountered one another at a Skepchick party (one that had to be moved to the lobby because of noise complaints as soon as it started). He was drunk, but it was a social occasion and I’d had a couple cocktails as well. No big deal. I was fairly surprised though, when DJ turned to me and said that the reason everyone loved the Skepchicks was because they “want pussy”.

Sums it all up, doesn’t it. Ignore the substance of what a group of women does, and reduce all the women in the group to their genitalia, while reducing any possible reason for paying attention to them to the desire to put your penis (note that DJ’s “everybody” omits some people) into said genitalia. Remember what Carrie said?

The list of problems that I sent to the board was so long that my pasting it here would be comical at best, but it is relevant to note that although I didn’t list it, Mr. Grothe’s prejudice toward women was one undeniable factor. My predecessor, Sadie Crabtree, had warned me about D.J.’s misogyny and disrespect for women coworkers (she even advised me not to take the position, due to this issue), but I thought myself strong enough to endure it. I underestimated the degree to which such constant mistreatment can beat a person down. As I mentioned, I only lasted six months.

The two accounts are consistent with each other. That’s an issue. Misogyny is an issue. There are a lot of people who want to pretend it isn’t, but it is. If atheists and skeptics want a big, powerful movement, then misogyny is an issue. Blathering about “drama” and “blog hits” does absolutely nothing to change that fact.


  1. says

    Of course they’re ignoring the actual reports. You can’t force the status quo to stay the status quo if you have to deal with the substance of the problems, now can you? These people want to keep the status quo (the misogyny problem). They don’t want it to change. So they’re ignoring the actual evidence.

  2. says

    I don’t think all of them want to keep the misogynist status quo. But the ones who don’t want that want bizarre things like hanging on to their misogynist friends, and continuing to attend their misogynist social events.

  3. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    In Slymerland, ‘creating drama’ is infinitely more horrible an offense than sexual assault. Except when they create drama. Then it’s totes cool.

  4. PatrickG says

    Blog hits

    Shouldn’t that have been BLOG HITS!!!!!, possibly blinking red in giant letters? It’s clearly the most damning of the lot.


  5. Robert B. says

    ⟨tangent⟩AAAAAHHHH if you do it in writing it is LIBEL not SLANDER if people are going to make veiled lawsuit threats why can’t they get the TERMINOLOGY RIGHT and sound like they have SOME VAGUE IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT if they can’t keep it straight or want to talk about both they can even just say DEFAMATION which is a CATCHALL TERM this isn’t even HARD AAAAHHHHH⟨/tangent⟩

  6. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Took them an amazingly long time to start up with it though, didn’t it? And all of it is indirect or generalized (not that actually discussing the the central topic and facts are a strong suit of of the anti crowd to begin with).

  7. deepak shetty says

    I think you missed Tu Quoque (I recollect seeing Sara Mayhew’s response to Elyse’s Shermer episode was along the lines of you did it too..

  8. says

    There is complete silence about Carrie Poppy. Carrie Who? Never heard of her.

    not quite. while everything I’ve seen on twitter blames either PZ personally or FTB generally and ignores the existence of Sasha, Carrie, and Karen, there’s one line of “argument” that goes like this: Carrie left JREF and went to work for PETA, who are horrible, therefore she’s eminently dismissable.

    Also, there’s the “racism” argument: we’re talking about these cases but not the lawsuit against American Atheists, clearly because we only care about White Woman Drama™

  9. says

    oh! and i’ve seen these articles dismissed as “anecdotes”, which… misses the point. Anecdotally harassed is still harassed; we’re not trying to determine the distribution of harassment by a particular individual at a statistically significant level here; we’re trying to establish that harassment has happened, by a particular individual, with defense from particular organizations.

  10. Acolyte of Sagan says

    I don’t ‘do’ Twitter, and I don’t visit the Pit, but looking at the list in the OP, I couldn’t help but notice that ‘humour failure’ isn’t there, which surprises me greatly since ‘it was only mucking around’ or ‘someone can’t take a joke’ normally figure in cases such as this. I’ve had to deal with a few allegations of sexual harrassment (as a manager, not as an harrasser, I hasten to add), and the ‘messing around’ defence always figured quite strongly, as in ‘Well yes, I did ask her to show me her tits / commented whenever she bent over / sent inappropriate messages…….but I was only messing around. It’s not my fault if she can’t take a joke”.
    Needless to say, it never worked for them.

  11. Sassafras says

    Jadehawk @10 –

    Also, there’s the “racism” argument: we’re talking about these cases but not the lawsuit against American Atheists, clearly because we only care about White Woman Drama™

    What gets me about that is, what are we supposed to say about it? It’s an ongoing legal case so we’re not getting new info to discuss, and everyone who’s mentioned it says it’s disappointing and vile if true. I haven’t seen anyone treating it in the way the slimeballs treat women’s allegations of harrassment: with denial, lies, misdirection, accusations that she’s lying, etc.

    And what’s worse is that of course they won’t mention that the only reason they give a shit about it is because David Silverman schooled Vacula and they desperately want revenge. If it had been one of their “brave heros” being accused of racist harrassment they’d be doing the same denialist song and dance they always do.

  12. doubtthat says

    I was hoping someone would start cataloguing the responses. It’s odd, but I always enjoy (or can’t look away) when Ophelia or Stephanie gather up a bunch of the nonsense, but I have absolutely zero desire to go find it.

    The only thing I couldn’t resist, given Grothe’s prominence, was reading the JREF Forum. The thread was better than I expected, but there were two basic ways of dealing with it:

    1) Focus on some irrelevant, tangential issue — early on a bunch of them fixated on the fact that Dr. Stollznow didn’t name Radford, PZ Myers did (which I don’t think is technically true, at least Myers didn’t name him first). Somehow it’s “proper” for some person to release the name or something.

    Defenders of sexual harasses/abusers are like ancient baseball coaches: they have an endless list of unwritten rules that suddenly appear. Ok, we need to throw a fastball at this guy’s hip because he looked into left field for too long after turning that double play. What?

    It’s deeply improper for someone to give an account of repeated sexual harassment that culminated in assault while being conflicted about keeping the perpetrator anonymous, and even if a hundred other people know exactly who it is, the initial complainer must be the one to name the name. Huh? Does someone have a link to their rule book?

    2) Obviously, hyper skepticism–there are multiple people honestly arguing that the accounts weren’t specific enough. To their credit, a number of posters challenged this point as it seems the people want some prurient details about the actual assault, most likely so they can minimize and dismiss the allegations.

    As a sort of third, there’s the constant background noise of consistent, blatant factual errors that could easily be avoided by just reading the source material.

    I think this will quickly deteriorate into a jihad against the more vague, anonymous tumblr accusations and the more substantive complaints will be ignored.

  13. says

    Ah yes, the “due process” cry is one I’ve noticed a lot on this. I’m not sure why they think that a blog is the same as a court room. Maybe they need to get their eyes checked.

  14. CaitieCat says

    And besides which, the AA lawsuit has been discussed at FTB. I know Black Skeptics did a post on it, and I’m pretty sure it was covered in at least two others (though I don’t recall which). The posts all pointed out that since it was an ongoing lawsuit, there was little to be said but that we would be watching to see how it turned out, and that a priori we were inclined to believe the allegations.

    Hardly our fault if they obsessively focus on only three or four FTB bloggers, and ignore the existence of the rest.


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