Pretty funny

Stephanie collected some of the nonsense from the distant watchers of Women in Secularism 3. It’s pretty pathetic, as usual.

I found this one amusing for its brazen…invention.

Photo: it's not.

Oh really? Who and where are all these women? I know of a handful on Twitter, but a handful is not “most” – there were far more than a handful right there at Women in Secularism, enjoying the hell out of it. I have a feeling Sara Mayhew is inventing that “most” out of thin air.

Whose job

PZ also marvels at this idea that internet bullying doesn’t count. (PZ is at the AA Convention; I wonder if he’s dropped in on the art show yet.)

He starts with the suicide of Amanda Todd and the arrest of the guy who harassed and extorted her.

I pointed out back then that some members of the atheist community have a vile lack of empathy. I will mention it again. Miri rages against the online idiots who insist that internet activity can’t really do psychological harm — they diagnose freely over the internet, and claim that you can’t possibly develop stress disorders from the bullying tactics of the usual slymey suspects — Miri tears that argument up with basic scientific facts from the field of psychology (remember the days when skeptics at least paid lip service to science?) [Read more…]

Everyday sadism

Another chapter in the annals of harassment, especially harassment of women. A guy called Hunter Moore posted a photo of a young woman that had been hacked from her computer on his Revenge Porn website. Her mother had worked as a private detective, and she got on his case.

I emailed the site owner, Hunter Moore, and asked him to take down the photo in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He refused.

I was not surprised. By this time, I’d perused Moore’s online TV and newspaper interviews. He called himself a “professional life ruiner” and described his website as “pure evil.” He threw legal letters in the trash, addressed his followers as “my children,” taking a page from the Charles Manson handbook; and regularly taunted victims, encouraging them to commit suicide. People claimed to be afraid of him. He had no fear of lawsuits; he knew a victim would be unlikely to sue because a civil suit would cost $60,000 (according to attorney Marc Randazza), and forever link a woman’s name with the image she hoped to hide.

Moore maintained that his victims were sluts, asked to be abused and deserved to lose their jobs, embarrass their families and find themselves forever ruined. Below photos on the site, his followers posted crude and mysogynistic remarks. Victims were taunted as “fat cows,” “creatures with nasty teeth,” “ugly whores,” “white trash sluts” and “whales.” One commenter said, “Jesus, someone call Greenpeace and get her back in the water.” The website was not about pornography; it was about ridiculing and hurting others. [Read more…]


A bookend for the Sara Mayhew item, because this one strikes me as peculiarly vicious and tiny-minded.


Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson     9 Nov

CFI combating superstition in Uganda [link to guest post here by Bill Cooke]

Skep tickle @Ellesun         9 Nov

@OpheliaBenson Might I suggest link to original post at CFI on campus, 3/2013? Also, how to earmark? Donation link doesn’t allow that option

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson        21 h

Bill sent me the article directly, w/o mention of link. I didn’t steal it.

Skep tickle @Ellesun

Sure, I get that, & I know he welcomed help spreading word. But as his employer, CFI may hold © on original 3/2013 post, 1/2

and AFAIK mentioning it’d been previously posted, w/ link back to original, would be standard even if permissions all ok. 2/2

Ok can anyone explain to me what on earth is the point of that other than to be an obnoxious officious meddling aka harassing ASSHOLE? Because I can’t. For the life of me, I can’t. [Read more…]

This is just what happens to women online

Laura Bates takes a look at online sexism. (Cue a rumble of outraged outrage in response.)

The internet is a fertile breeding ground for misogyny – you only have to look at the murky bottom waters of Reddit and 4Chan to see the true extent to which it allows violent attitudes towards women to proliferate. But, crucially, it also provides a conduit that enables many who hold those views to attack and abuse women and girls, from what they rightly perceive to be an incredibly secure position. Meanwhile, the police seem near-powerless to take action, social media sites shrug their shoulders, and women are left between a rock and a hard place – simply put up with the abuse as a part of online life, or get off the internet altogether. [Read more…]

There are far worse people out there

Mother Jones has a long article on “ElevatorGATE.”

Earlier this month, at least five women contacted Xavier Damman, the CEO of Storify, to complain that a user who goes by the handle “elevatorgate” was harassing female users via Damman’s popular social-media curation site.

I could have told them that two years ago, or any time between then and now. I did tell Twitter several times. Twitter yawned.

…the women who complained about him say he has a history of sending abusive and misogynistic messages on other social networks. Elevatorgate’s Twitter account is suspended, but his YouTube page includes a video of Rebecca Watson, a 32-year-old New Yorker who runs Skepchick, a site about feminism and atheism, edited to make it sound like she’s saying she “had sex with Richard Dawkins,” the famous evolutionary biologist and author. [Read more…]

One of these things is not like the other


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  1. It wasn’t year long. It was season long – summer 2009. It was about four months, June through September, while the promotion of Unscientific America was in high gear.
  2. It wasn’t incessant. It responded to articles Mooney, or Mooney and his co-author Sheryl Kirshenbaum, wrote attacking “new atheists.”
  3. It lacked a number of features of the harassment campaign that Stangroom is minimizing by tweeting this.

Still. I get that it probably felt like bullying and harassment to them, so in that sense perhaps it was. On the other hand Mooney was a Name at the time, in the wake of the success of his best-seller The Republican War on Science. He was able to get articles published in a lot of very visible mainstream outlets. He made new accusations about “new atheists” each time. I still don’t think it was particularly unfair for bloggers to respond to the accusations. I get that Mooney sees it differently though.

So I should be able to see the same thing about the people who harass me every day, right?

No. Because the two are not comparable. Thanks anyway.

A response

So there’s Nugent’s response to the shamelessly dishonest “Open Letters” demanding that he denounce me for doing something I didn’t in fact do. Let’s take a quick look at it.

Thank you for the various open letters and emails regarding the ongoing conflicts between some atheists and skeptics on an interacting range of issues including sexism and harassment, feminism and free speech, personal abuse and bullying, and the impact of these issues on the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference in Dublin on June 29 and 30.

No. He shouldn’t be saying thank you. This is just more harassment, ramped up to trying to get me denounced or disinvited from the conference. The “Open Letters” are thick with lies. He shouldn’t be taking them at face value, or as a favor, or as a good and legitimate thing to do. [Read more…]

Lazy blogging. Bad writing.

Sara Mayhew must have wanted more attention, because as tonyinbatavia pointed out in a comment, she posted another random tweet about Stephanie and me, apropos of nothing.


Learn to summarize someone else’s point instead of quoting huge blocks of text. Lazy blogging. Bad writing. Examples: @OpheliaBenson @szvan

She’s weirdly persistent about picking fights with me. I don’t know why, apart from wanting more attention (but then there are billions of people in the world, and I don’t know why she wants attention from me in particular). I don’t know her. I haven’t written about her here (except about these bizarre random fight-pickings). I haven’t interacted with her. But pick pick pick.

She did a more extended version (less lazy! less bad!) on Facebook, too. It’s a public post. [Read more…]