Hoo boy, but the influence of its malignant editor is making itself felt this month with some utterly terrible articles. One is from Carol Tavris, which is incredibly disappointing — her talks were always a highlight at the old Amazing Meeting — but now she has decided that the #metoo movement is a “moralistic crusade” with bad consequences. To make that argument, she has to resort to the false dichotomy fallacy.
Whenever a movement is fueled by rage and revenge, it is more important than ever to tolerate complexity and ask questions that evoke dissonance. We can all imagine the ways in which “Me, too” might benefit women, but how might it backfire? Because it will. Moralistic crusades to censor “sexist” pornography, for example, led to suppression of lesbian books, sex-ed books, and plain old sexypleasure books that someone thought offensive. What might be the consequences of a moralistic crusade to root out any behavior that might be misconstrued—now, next week, in 10 years—including affectionate touches, supportive hugs, jokes? Do professional women really want a Mike Pence world where they cannot have a business dinner or go to a party without a chaperone? When feminists find themselves in bed with right-wing puritans, they are going to get screwed.
Hear that ladies? Quit complaining about the butt pats and the groping and the sexual demands to advance your career, or next thing you know it’s going to be Mike Pence ruling over the Republic of Gilead! Which would you prefer, a few Harvey Weinsteins going berserk in Hollywood, or Cotton Mather convening some new witch trials?
You know, #metoo isn’t about Puritans demanding all sex be suppressed. It’s about ordinary women demanding some professional respect and human dignity. There is a difference, and most of us can see it fairly clearly.
Also, Mike Pence is a poor example of a guy who will end all public displays of prurience. He’s the happy enabler of the Groper in Chief. He represents the status quo, the perpetuation of male sexual privilege in the workplace. I don’t think most of the #metoo women are anticipating jumping into bed with Pence.
If you want a lot more — I mean, a lot more — criticism of the Tavris piece, HJ Hornbeck has a multi-part beat-down. I’m just kind of appalled at the ongoing corruption of everyone associated with Michael Shermer.
But holy hell, the Tavris piece isn’t even the worst thing published! They’ve published a defense of Jerry Sandusky! Look, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. He’s a convicted pedophile. The prosecution brought in a long train of witnesses and evidence of criminal behavior spanning at least 15 years and 10 victims, and this case found him guilty in a community that was full of fanatical Paterno/Sandusky defenders. Anyone remember the riots and protests when the Paterno empire fell? You can’t have a witch hunt when the targets are regarded as holy saints — the evidence was just so overwhelming and undeniable that even angels by repute could be defrocked at last.
The article in question tries to argue that a) it was a conspiracy theory, with all these people conniving to railroad a beloved family man (wait, why?) and b) and then goes through each of the witnesses, disparaging their testimony and wondering why these boys would maintain an outwardly cordial relationship with an abuser. That never happens! There’s no such thing as a nurtured dependency or fear of reprisal. It sounds exactly like the smears made against the women who finally spoke out against Harvey Weinstein: all you have to do is find a photo of the woman smiling in Weinstein’s presence, and obviously she must have been lying about his abusive behavior.
The most shameful part of a shameful article is how it ends: with a picture of Bo, the beloved family dog. Bo died while Sandusky is in prison. Free Jerry so he can mourn for this lovely innocent dog!
I fwowed up. Fucking professional Skeptics™.
But then, lately, that’s all I can do when the stench of Shermer’s magazine wafts my way.