Association with a sex worker should not be a criminal charge


Adam Lee has a good take on the “believe women” trope.

The call to “believe women” isn’t an assertion that women’s claims ought to be held to a less rigorous standard of evidence. It’s a rejoinder to the sad reality that, for most of history, women were held to a more stringent standard than men and their claims were reflexively disbelieved.
Read more at

It’s also not a claim that women are incapable of lying. It’s just that, in general, you should trust that people are mostly telling the truth, unless you’ve got good reason to doubt them, and being female is not one of those reasons.

Which means that when a porn actress, Stormy Daniels, says she did not have sex with Donald Trump, you should believe her, barring any solid evidence to the contrary. It is a non-story. At its worst it might be a tale of consensual sexual interactions between two people, one of whom is sleazy and repellent (it’s not Daniels I’m talking about)…but as long as it’s consensual, it’s only their business.

This is nothing but an attempt to harm Donald Trump, an activity I might approve of, by associating him with the unfair disrepute of sex workers. All it can do is further damage the standing of sex workers in general and Stormy Daniels in particular, to no good end.

And really, in a single week in which we’ve got Trump flaunting unmitigated racism and another rambling, incoherent, arrogant interview in the Wall Street Journal, don’t we have better things to do?

Comments

  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    You’re correct the issue must not be her use of sex-for-payment as the issue to shame “45”.
    See it as another evidentiary piece of hypocrisy. Also an attempt to get the “family values” evangelicals to dissociate from “45”. (you know “those guys”) [scare quotes for emphasis].
    The F.V. camp is all ready so top heavy with hypocrites they will keep him as frat brother. So try futilely to wake them up

  2. says

    Good point. These revelations shouldn’t come at the expense of sex workers. The real issue should be his blackmailing people into silence.

  3. says

    Hm. There seems to be some evidence. Beyond reports of the payment, her friend described the encounter, and Daniels was in talks with ABC and the Daily Beast in 2016 about telling some story but backed out just before the election. This allegedly occurred at the same event at which Jessica Drake said Trump kissed her without her consent and offered her money for sex. The story concerns Daniels being paid to deny it, so it’s reasonable to assume that’s why she would deny it even if it were true.

    I honestly didn’t think this was about her being an adult-film star, but about it, if true, being more evidence of his and his cronies’ efforts to pay people off and lock them into NDAs to cover up his cheating, indiscretions, assaults and other sexual crimes, fraud, money-laundering, conspiracy, and so on. This is likely the tip of the iceberg.

  4. says

    Actually associating with sex workers can land people with sex trafficking charges. I specifically know of two cases were the state brought absurd charges against the romantic partner of a sex worker for doing things like answering text messages from perspective clients.

    If Trump hired Daniels in any capacity related to sex work even if he didn’t hire her for sex work it’s just one more example of power and wealth shielding people from harassment of the state.

    And given how the federal government just destroyed the major support structure for male and/or queer sex workers in rentboy (thanks Obama!) I’m not exactly in the mood to have that inequity thrown in my face by having Trump payoff sex workers for silence.

    If it was known that someone hired an escort for a romantic/erotic interaction sans sex they still can be hit with various charges. And given the amount of money likely involved here I mean substantial charges.

  5. Artor says

    I don’t give a flying fuck who Trumplethinskin sleeps with, but I want everyone to understand that these “value voters” who put him on a pedestal are hypocritical morons. I believe Daniels is denying this because she was paid to deny it.

  6. tomh says

    This is a confusing post. The story is not about her being a sex worker, or even Trump being with her. The story is about the bribe for her silence. You know, the kind of thing people like to know about their president.

  7. says

    PZ, you seem to be missing the point here. It’s not about condemning Stormy Daniels for her profession. Cheeto Benito was married and had a four month old infant at the time, and he paid her for her silence. It’s about him, not her. I agree that in one sense this is between him and Melania but on the other hand many of his ardent supporters feel otherwise, which is presumably the motive for the payment.

  8. says

    @4 Worse than that – in Alaska they actually charge women who share apartments for “trafficking each other”. Of course, not one of these charges, ever, involved exploitation by any other sort of business, or actual coercion, violence, etc., like the, “original freaking legislation”, which they warped into these stupid sex work witch hunts.

    Its also one of a perfect example of a problem our side has when they decide they are fighting a good cause, which needs to be solved – deciding that the “problem” is so bad that it makes sense to find allies among people that would eat liberals alive, under and other circumstance. Basically, if there was a small village, with a single well, and a worry that it was drying up, the current right would be made up of people who a) didn’t believe it would ever dry up, and b) those convinced a shady conspiracy was stealing from it all along. The left would be made up of a mix of a) people convinced they have some wacky solution, which won’t actually work, b) those begging, without effect, for someone to just dig another damn well, and c) people convinced that, now that the well was in danger, they needed to make sure no one stole water.

    Liberal group C, in this case would immediately bloody hire the saner members of conservative group B, to guard the well, then be, “shocked, totally shocked!”, when a week later several people, who died of thirst, where found to have been turned away by the new guards, while obviously dying of thirst.

    Which people you pick as freaking allies matters, especially if you pick ones that spend nearly every waking moment trying to convince you that the issue is a “moral one”, or that the “best solution”, is to do things like these laws tend to do – redefine who the victims are, ignore the fact that, even if they are “victims” the self same conservative “allies” won’t fund shelters, aid programs, job training, higher education, or any other damn thing needed to help them, and everything about the laws is designed to screw over these newly defined “victims”, on the same sort of theory of scaring them from doing the work as “Say No To Drugs” programs where supposed end drug abuse, and other similar idiocies from the “authoritarianism and arresting people will solve every problem!”, side of the political system.

    Its funny, actually, they all hate big government, but they trust the legal system isn’t similarly bloated and corrupt? I suppose, since its can be bought so much easier, when you are rich, or important, this makes sense…

  9. Hj Hornbeck says

    I dunno, I think I can make a case.

    For one thing, the evidence that nothing happened consists of a letter being produced by Donald Trump’s lawyer. For decades, Trump has lied and openly defied the law; forging a letter wouldn’t be a big deal for him or his lawyer.

    Secondly, sex workers almost never talk about their clients. We live in a culture which heavily shames them for their work, so clients usually demand discretion to protect their reputations from splash damage. Coming forward about a client would pretty much kill a sex worker’s career. Nonetheless, Daniels was in negotiations with two separate news organizations to discuss one of her clients before mysteriously cutting off contact. She must have had a good reason to go that far.

    Thirdly, we have plausible reason to think something non-consensual happened. Trump has nineteen women claiming sexual harassment or worse against him. His time as owner of Miss Universe demonstrates his sub-human view of women, and those beliefs are correlated with likelihood of sexual assault. It’s quite plausible Daniels was forced into non-consensual acts, and even a sex-positive view of sex work would condemn that. It would also explain Daniels’ move to talk with news organizations, which came at a time when allegations of sexual assault against Trump were a news topic.

    There’s a chance Daniels was just in it for the money, of course. But I think there’s reason enough to report on this story, above and beyond our society’s taboo about sex.

  10. says

    The Daily Beast is now reporting that Jessica Drake signed an NDA (presumably as part of a settlement) after her October 2016 allegations about Trump’s behavior at that same event and can’t speak publicly about Trump.

    All of this provides more evidence of what Trump gets up to at these sorts of events, information about which could potentially be used against him by any number of people or regimes. It also makes the idea of kompromat stemming from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow even more plausible.

  11. says

    The DB article @ #14 notes:

    Around the time Drake came forward, then-candidate Trump issued a vow of revenge, threatening to sue every woman who came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump announced at a rally in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Oct. 22, 2016. “Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

    Thus far, he has not sued a single one.

    So not only did he not sue Drake, but he rushed to get her into an NDA.

  12. gijoel says

    His base doesn’t care. Remember that video where he bragged about ‘grabbing them by the pussy’. They voted for him anyway. Andy Savage more or less confessed to raping a girl twenty years ago and he got a fucking standing ovation. Roy Moore got banned from malls for harassing teenage girls and they bitterly stuck with him till the end.

    I swear there are all these mini-Jokers out there who just want to see the world burn.

  13. Ed Seedhouse says

    I agree that the story is, or should be, about the coverup rather than the action. I rather doubt, however, that the payoff didn’t come with a good measure of intimidation and threats on the side. Can’t prove that though.

  14. billyjoe says

    PZ: “Adam Lee has a good take on the “believe women” trope.”

    I read the link and this caught my eye:

    “If the comments on my last post about #MeToo are typical, the main source of resistance from men is fear that a false accusation will ruin their lives. (As usual, some male atheists are loudly echoing this sentiment, like Sam Harris promoting an op-ed that calls the #MeToo movement a “warlock hunt” and a “moral panic”)”

    Let me repeat that:
    AS USUAL some MALE ATHEISTS are LOUDLY echoing that sentiment, like SAM HARRIS!

    In fact, Sam Harris’ LOUD echoing simply consists of a tweet linking to an op-Ed!

    So I followed Sam Harris’ link to the source…
    The op-Ed is written by…Claire Berlinski. In case it escaped your notice, Claire Berlinski is a woman.So I guess we have to believe what she says, unless and until there is evidence to the contrary.
    Here is the direct link.

    https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/12/06/the-warlock-hunt/

    It is a well thought out and, I think, prescient article that comes with a warning for both men and women. And it could only have been written by a woman. Even then, she had trouble getting it published such is the fear of saying anything or publishing anything that can be construed as being against the MeToo movement.

    (I’m not sure why she included the Freudian references. The article would have benefitted from leaving them out)

  15. says

    The op-Ed is written by…Claire Berlinski. In case it escaped your notice, Claire Berlinski is a woman.

    That killed some of my brain cells, I’ll have you know. A sample:

    …I dread the day I lose my power over men, which I have used to coax them to confide to me on the record secrets they would never have vouchsafed to a male journalist. I did not feel “demeaned” by the realization that some men esteemed my cleavage more than my talent; I felt damned lucky to have enough talent to exploit my cleavage.

    …Now, it is an embarrassing faux-pas to kiss a woman who does not wish to be kissed, but it happens all the time. Kissing a woman is an early stage of courtship. It is one way that men ask the question, “Would you like more?”

    …We appear now to be converging upon new rules for interaction between men and women—for example, “Never kiss a woman without explicitly asking her consent beforehand.” Such a rule is now the law on college campuses in some states. Whether we think the rule good or ridiculous, we can certainly agree that it is new. Those in doubt can may consult pre-2017 television and cinema, where men routinely kiss women without asking permission. Grandfathering or statutes of limitations can’t possibly be irrelevant to this, and only this, category of wrongdoing.

    …Nor does it make sense to hold all men to the same standards. Some of the accused have made entire careers out of their lewdness and exhibitionism. After revering them for decades for precisely those qualities, we are overnight scandalized to learn they are lewd and exhibitionistic.

    …I grew up around performing artists, so perhaps my view is jaundiced. But yeah, I could have told you: Stay out of his hotel room.

    … If the man has a delusional view of the appeal to women of watching a self-loathing man whack off, shouldn’t it be relevant to our moral assessment that we, the American public, are the ones who nourished this delusion with applause, laughter, money, and massive crowds at Madison Square Garden screaming his name? How can we suddenly be so censorious upon discovering that he took his onstage act to its logical extension in his hotel room?

    …They’re literally going to airbrush Spacey out of All The Money, like water commissar Nikolai Yezhov in that photo of the Moscow Canal. Comrade Spacey has been vaporized. He’s an unperson. Long live Comrade Ogilvy. Isn’t anyone a bit spooked by this?

    …We just can’t hold people like Louis CK and Leon Wieseltier to the same standards of probity and decorum we would—in a highly imaginary alternate universe—hold the President or a Senator from Alabama. Americans love these people precisely because they’re outrageous, lewd, and willing publicly to violate sexual and social norms.

    Very sad.

  16. says

    Claire Berlinkski’s father: “David Berlinski (born 1942) is an American author and academic who opposes the scientific consensus on the theory of evolution. He is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.”

  17. billyjoe says

    SC:

    I’m glad you think it is relevant who Claire Berlinski’s father is. Maybe you can explain it to me, because the relevance completely escapes me.
    Or may be you are performing a particularly ineffectual example of…

    https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/140/Poisoning-the-Well

    And that very long series of quotes and just a “very sad” in response?
    Your effort, sir, or madam, pales into insignificance compared with her effort.
    I’m glad you found it worthwhile to comment.

  18. says

    Hahahaha. She’s a rightwing hack.

    Apropos of nothing, she also appears to be an Erdoğan shill (maybe she worked with Flynn…):

    One thing is obvious: This epic folly has doomed Turkish aspirations for a decent democratic order for a very long time. It would have doomed them had it succeeded, and it has doomed them in failure. It’s unreasonable to expect a system as deeply and fundamentally flawed as Turkey’s to deal with the coup attempt in a manner palatable to liberal and democratic sensibilities. Whoever staged it has done terrible damage to Turkey. If the Turkish government can produce reasonable evidence linking Gülen to the plot, there is no reason we should feel compelled to protect him from the consequences. As one Turkish friend wrote to me early on Saturday morning, as the implications of these events sank in, “Whoever’s behind this needs to burn.”

  19. says

    I’m glad you think it is relevant who Claire Berlinski’s father is. Maybe you can explain it to me, because the relevance completely escapes me.

    Christo-fascist apple, tree, etc.:

    Demographic trends are also a major concern in Europe. If present trends continue, much of Europe will be losing population in the near future. And this is closely tied in with a disillusioned collective psyche. A nation or a continent that has no reason to exist, has no hope for the future, has no firm set of values to cling to, is not going to want to have children. Only people of hope, as well as people with a sense of the past, have children. Nihilistic, centreless Europeans have no hope, have no vision, and therefore, have no future.

    Indeed, the only Western nation which is not suffering from population decline is the United States. Americans still have a sense of purpose and destiny, so they are still willing to have children. Europeans, by contrast, have been cast adrift, socially and spiritually, with no anchor and no rudder. Their childless nations offer brute testimony to this fact.

    Each nation Berlinski examines shows ominous signs of moral decay and political paralysis. Europeans have lost their way. They no longer have anything to believe in. Thus they no longer have anything to fight for, or to live for. “Without vision, a people perish,” we are told in the book of Proverbs. That truth is being played out before our eyes in Europe. Thus Europe as we know it may not long survive.

    For those who are alert and observant, this will come as no surprise. But too many people have been deaf and blind as to the looming fate of Europe. Will Europe arouse from its slumber, shake off its lethargy, and turn things around, or will it simply further decline into oblivion? Whether the warnings sounded in this book will be heeded, and heeded in time, remains to be seen.

    And that very long series of quotes and just a “very sad” in response?
    Your effort, sir, or madam, pales into insignificance compared with her effort.
    I’m glad you found it worthwhile to comment.

    *twirls* The readers can judge.

  20. says

    Gross, racist, stupid:

    The plage is no mere Paris peculiarity. It could serve as a model for other cities for many reasons. First, it’s what you might call “natalist.” Low birthrates are now such a concern in the West that every developed country needs to put the question “Will this boost birthrates?” at the forefront of public policy. The French are truly innovative at natalist urban planning, and they boast the West’s highest birthrate—though it’s still a hair below replacement rate. Shrewd urban planning likely plays a role in that, forming part of a winning combination: the Catholic revival, financial incentives to have kids (tax breaks, low-cost child care), and efforts to create a family-friendly culture.

    (See also.)

  21. billyjoe says

    Now get this:

    Claire Berlinski writes an op-Ed on the MeToo movement and somehow the following are supposed to be relevant.

    – Claire Berlinski’s father is David Berlinski
    – an article written by Alexandra Petri
    – an article Claire Berlinski wrote about the failed coup in Turkey
    – a review of Claire Berlinski’s book on what she sees as the looming crisis in Europe.

    You could not make this up if you tried.

    But I get it:
    She is not totally for you so she’s totally against you so any trash you can throw her way justifies the end.

    Very sad.

  22. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    In case it escaped your notice, Claire Berlinski is a woman.So I guess we have to believe what she says, unless and until there is evidence to the contrary.

    There is.

    Also, she’s making an extraordinary claim, not a far far too ordinary one.

    Glad we cleared that up, cupcake. :]

  23. says

    Claire Berlinski writes an op-Ed on the MeToo movement and somehow the following are supposed to be relevant.

    – Claire Berlinski’s father is David Berlinski
    – an article written by Alexandra Petri
    – an article Claire Berlinski wrote about the failed coup in Turkey
    – a review of Claire Berlinski’s book on what she sees as the looming crisis in Europe.

    Your only recommendation of her views was that she’s a woman. There’s nothing “well thought out” or “prescient” about that garbage oped. Quotes from it show her to be a rightwing tool, like Andrew Sullivan and others mocked beautifully by Petri. She also appears to be something of a political-religious shill and chaos agent, and, like her father, opposed to evidence. Her “natalist” views are racist and misogynist, and this misogyny, to round things out, is painfully evident in her oped.

    Good night.

  24. billyjoe says

    Askyroth,

    Do I really need to respond to this….um…okay….”there is”…what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed wthout evidence….um…”extraordinary claim”….she is a secular Jew ferchrissakes!…um…”cupcake”…nah, fruitcake, I’m a birthday cake!

    Makes about as much sense ;)

  25. billyjoe says

    SC,

    “Your only recommendation of her views was that she’s a woman”

    Did you deliberately miss the point or did you just not get it?
    Well, here’s the spoon-fed version then:

    Adam Lee gratuitously references “some MALE atheists” and gives Sam Harris as an example of a MALE atheist who loudly echoes a presumably negative sentiment regarding the MeToo movement. But, if we bother to follow the links, what we see is simply a tweet by that MALE atheist linking to an op-ed by a FEMALE journalist.

    I mean, without following the links, who would have guessed?

  26. billyjoe says

    …oh, and the rest of your comment is just opinion and a logical fallacy called “poisoning the well”.

  27. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Do I really need to respond to this….um…okay….”there is”…what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed wthout evidence….

    My employer pays me about $34 an hour. If you’ll match then, then I’ll do your homework for you.

    Didn’t think so.

    um…”extraordinary claim”….she is a secular Jew ferchrissakes!

    1) relevance? 2) you haven’t spoon-fed me evidence that she is a secular Jew, so by your aren’t-I-a-clever-freshmanism, I could dismiss that even if it were revelant.

    the rest of your comment is just opinion and a logical fallacy called “poisoning the well”.

    Oh, you mean like dismissing anything even you aren’t too stupid to realize you can’t refute as “just opinion?”

  28. says

    Did you deliberately miss the point or did you just not get it?
    Well, here’s the spoon-fed version then:…

    None of that is relevant to my argument. Your only silly point appears to be “Lee said a man said that we should believe women, but a man he criticizes cites an argument by a woman – gotcha!” It’s obvious this is facile and disingenuous, and says nothing about the quality of Berlinski’s contentions, which are reactionary bullshit. You explicitly and baselessly praised the article itself: “It is a well thought out and, I think, prescient article that comes with a warning for both men and women.” Which is nonsense – it’s just another example of work that promotes patriarchy and so would be expected to be promoted by patriarchal assholes.

    “If the comments on my last post about #MeToo are typical, the main source of resistance from men is fear that a false accusation will ruin their lives. (As usual, some male atheists are loudly echoing this sentiment, like Sam Harris promoting an op-ed that calls the #MeToo movement a “warlock hunt” and a “moral panic”)”

    Let me repeat that:
    AS USUAL some MALE ATHEISTS are LOUDLY echoing that sentiment, like SAM HARRIS!

    In fact, Sam Harris’ LOUD echoing simply consists of a tweet linking to an op-Ed!

    So I followed Sam Harris’ link to the source…
    The op-Ed is written by…Claire Berlinski. In case it escaped your notice, Claire Berlinski is a woman.

    I’m not sure what hypocrisy or distortion you think you caught Lee at here, but you’ve just repeated what he said and thrown in some caps. You’ve also avoided the point of his article.

  29. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    When did pointing out that the well is poisoned become “poisoning the well”?

  30. says

    The op-Ed is written by…Claire Berlinski. In case it escaped your notice, Claire Berlinski is a woman.So I guess we have to believe what she says, unless and until there is evidence to the contrary.

    This is just so moronic. Either you recognize the obvious difference between “I personally experienced X” and “This is my argument about X-like occurrences for all women and men” and are trolling, or you’re a fool and don’t recognize the obvious difference. Either way, you’re a waste of time. Out.

  31. billyjoe says

    The Very Reverend,

    No free pass reverend.
    I’ve got a thorny crown for you. :)

    “When did pointing out that the well is poisoned become “poisoning the well”?”

    Oh, well let me see…and let’s take this real slow shall we…you see, what you do is you “poison the well”! (yes, amazing isn’t it – that’s an essential part of the fallacy! Who would’ve thought!)….meaning that that you dig up negative stuff on your adversary (or what you think is negative stuff!)….AND then you totally ignore the argument this person has made on a topic unrelated to the negative stuff you think you’ve just dug up.

    Got it?

  32. billyjoe says

    PZ,

    You owe me one.
    This thread was dead at 17 posts, and now it’s at 42.
    Well, I mean it’s still dead but still….

  33. says

    I feel angry with the world for making me aware of the existence of Claire “I felt damned lucky to have enough talent to exploit my cleavage” Berlinski and her creepy rants. Of course Harris would be citing her poorly argued anti-feminist screed. Of course he would.

  34. says

    It is certainly appropriate to point out that Claire Berlinski is not a credible source. If we can’t use their past history of lying as part of the story, than Alex Jones is a credible source.

    #42:

    1) I don’t count comments to justify an article. What the fuck is wrong with you?
    2) I owe you nothing. That you’re one of those trolling obsessives who fills up comment threads with noise is not a win. I owe more to your opponents for slapping you down.

  35. Vivec says

    I like how supporting the brutal despot that is slowly grinding down my secular democratic homeland into an islamic dictatorship is only an “imagined” smear.

  36. jazzlet says

    Vivec, s/he doesn’t seem to have mature standards of judgement. Although I would question your ‘slowly’ Erdogan seems to be doing it damn fast to me, which just makes me sad. I can’t imagine how it makes you feel.

  37. Vivec says

    @46
    Erdogan’s current soon-to-be autocracy has been in the works for decades – his first attempts at party politics in the 90’s were shut down for trying to erode turkey’s secularism. So not slow on a global scale, but faster than people would think just looking at his current presidential “term”

  38. says

    In fairness, I’ve now read a couple of her pieces on Turkey and she seems extremely critical of Erdogan, so my characterization of her as an “Erdoğan shill” was very wrong. Honestly, her writing on Turkey doesn’t seem terrible on balance, but she seems to attack every political force in the country so in the end I’m not sure what her position is.

  39. Vivec says

    @49
    Even in that work, they seem to have bought into this weird “both sides are bad” nonsense where a power-mad dictator who routinely jails journalists and orders police to beat students to death is just as bad as an Islamic reformer who preaches private worship and religious tolerance because he like, is interested in politics.

  40. says

    @49 Hmm. One possibility is – “Pro-American Right Wing”. The trend for such people is to claim that *everyone else*, in every other country, is, “doing it wrong and corrupt”, even when their own BS has either been cribbed from those sources of corruption, or caused by their own interference in those places (by exporting their own BS to those countries). Its entirely unnecessary to be consistent, and thus completely reasonable to attack everyone, if your side is always 100% right, all the time, after all…

    That is, as Vivec comments, kind of the point of the, “both sides are wrong”, rhetoric being pushed by people who want to nod to the public about how, “Some of the people on our side are bad too.” – its purpose is to discredit everyone except yourself, and your own allies, by suggesting that only you and yours have, “got it right”.

  41. says

    Further to #49, she has been a strong and consistent critic of Erdogan’s.

    Even in that work, they seem to have bought into this weird “both sides are bad” nonsense where a power-mad dictator who routinely jails journalists and orders police to beat students to death is just as bad as an Islamic reformer who preaches private worship and religious tolerance because he like, is interested in politics.

    That her view of Turkish politics (and politics in general) seems so jaundiced undercuts any positive program she might have (and if her book about Europe and natalist article are any indication, her positive program is substantially warped to begin with), as does the fact that her political role model is the authoritarian Pinochet apologist Margaret Thatcher.

  42. gnokgnoh says

    I very much disagree with Claire Berlinski. I did not know who she is, but I read the whole article, in part because I’m hearing a lot about “hysteria” and “witch hunts,” all of a sudden.

    Yes, we’re in a moment of awareness, and yes, it is likely that men who did stupid, but not criminal, things are being caught up in it. Those decisions are being made by their organizations, and they must account for what they are willing to tolerate. But, her descriptions of her own encounters are much, much worse than she her commentary even begins to allow.

    1) They’re almost all the result of men becoming drunk (e.g. her professor). This is exactly why the behavior is inexcusable. Behavior is behavior, it starts with getting drunk around your colleagues. Saying that they had sexual tension between them during the class made it fun and okay is exactly the opposite interpretation I would have had. Good grief.

    2) She survives, because that is who she is, and because the professor did not punish her for her response, whatever that was. She does not tell us. The point is that his behavior, as her professor, is repugnant, and he deserved dismissal for it. Her waxing eloquent about attraction and procreation (this is evolutionary psychology at it’s best – we must, or we would not procreate) do not cut it. Her skill at using her “assets” are exactly what our cultural history has nurtured, and does not make it right. Sheesh.

    3) Her comments about the difference between comedians and presidents enabling a different set of standards are also disingenuous, at best. Taken to its logical extreme, women must all act like roadies for rock stars, except for presidents (see use of assets, above)? Berlinski thinks that the standards are stricter for presidents and CEOs? Not for Trump, Clinton, and Kennedy …or the tolerance for CEO behavior, until there are embarrassing recordings (Kalanick). Also, for regular folks, what are their standards? Who is required to ask permission?

    4) Finally, read the comments. The first ten are all asshole men. That’s enough to disgust me.

  43. billyjoe says

    PZ Myers,

    My apologies.

    I got a little carried away yesterday, but that comment was intended as a joke. The joke being that, although we have boosted that comment count, we haven’t really achieved anything (“dead thread” I called it). I don’t seriously think you are concerned about quantity over quality or that you owe me anything for boosting your comment count.

    “It is certainly appropriate to point out that Claire Berlinski is not a credible source. If we can’t use their past history of lying…”

    Firstly, I’m not aware that she has a history of lying, but that aside…
    I agree that whether she is a credible source on topics she has written about before is relevant.
    But I see a few problems:

    1) If you think a source is not credible on one (or even several) topics doesn’t mean you can then summarily dismiss that source on an entirely different topic.
    2) We are going to derail numerous threads if the discussion reduces to arguments back and forth as to the whether the source is credible.
    3) We are going to be spending very little time evaluating actual arguments.

    In the case of Claire Berlinski, it seems nobody really knew who she was, and the only response I ever got from linking to her article was several commenters trawling the internet for dirt on her. They didn’t like what she had to say but, instead of criticising what she did say, they spent their time digging up dirt on her. Some of it was not even sensible – her father is David Berlinski, the creationist from the discovery institute! Do you really think that’s a valid argument or tactic? Apart from comment #53 above – and remember this all started at comment #18 – there has been no criticism at all of her actual article.

  44. billyjoe says

    Salty Current.

    “In fairness, I’ve now read a couple of her pieces on Turkey and she seems extremely critical of Erdogan, so my characterization of her as an “Erdoğan shill” was very wrong”

    Thanks for that. :)

  45. KG says

    The joke being that, although we have boosted that comment count, we haven’t really achieved anything – billyjoe@55

    Oh I don’t know – at least anyone who didn’t know it before can now see what a complete numpty you are.

    Claire Berlinski is a woman.So I guess we have to believe what she says, unless and until there is evidence to the contrary.

    Said nobody, ever, except for right-wing trolls either completely failing in comprehension, or pretending to.

  46. says

    …3) We are going to be spending very little time evaluating actual arguments.

    It appears not to have occurred to you that you’re not considered a credible interlocutor. You’re not helping your case any with your so-called attempts at humor which suggest that your intent is to troll and annoy.

    I addressed what appears to be your only point @ #s 36, 37, and 39 above. I addressed your claims about the Berlinski article by quoting passages from the article itself @ #20 which should demonstrate to any reasonable and non-misogynistic person that it was neither well thought out nor prescient. Criticism of the article and others like it came in the form of the brilliant Petri piece @ #19. That Berlinski writes books bemoaning low European birth rates and articles celebrating natalist policy based on a “winning combination” that includes a “Catholic revival” puts her remarks about feminist movements in context – her views on related issues are creepy and reactionary. Her father is a rightwing anti-science kook who’s done a great deal of harm; doesn’t necessarily mean she shares his views or habits of thought, but I haven’t found anything in which she distances herself from them. Her article about Me Too is transparently, laughably bad, but beyond it I was interested in just who people like Sam Harris are citing, and now I have more information. (As to her Turkey analysis, I ever suggested it was relevant to the piece being promoted by Harris.)

    Thanks for that. :)

    Fuck off. I won’t be responding to you further.

  47. billyjoe says

    gnokgnoh,

    First of all, thank you for addressing Claire Berlinski’s actual article. :)

    “I did not know who she is, but I read the whole article, in part because I’m hearing a lot about “hysteria” and “witch hunts,” all of a sudden”

    I had never heard of her either, which is an advantage in some ways, because you don’t come to the table with pre-conceived ideas about her which are likely to cloud your judgement about what she says. I was drawn to reading the article because I was interested in a woman’s take on the negative side of the MeToo movement when it devolves into hysteria and, what she calls, “wizard hunts”.

    “I very much disagree with Claire Berlinski.”

    I don’t agree with everything she says (I already mentioned her unfortunate use of Freudian interpretations), but I think she has an interesting view. More interesting for me personally because my wife actually has a similar view. She accepts that there are sexual predators out there who have been in a position of power over women, and that they have exploited that power for their own sexual gratification and to the detriment of those they exploit. They deserve the ultimate. But she also feels that the “hunt’ has gone much too far and now the innocent, the unfortunate, and the minor misdemeanors are being swept up in the “hysteria” and they are paying an extraordinarly high price.

    “Saying that they had sexual tension between them during the class made it fun and okay is exactly the opposite interpretation I would have had. Good grief.”

    Firstly, just to correct you: If I remember correctly, the sexual tension on was in their one-on-one tutorials.
    Obviously your outlook on life is very different from hers. And these are her experiences, so you have to see them from her perspective. It is obviously true that the professor is in a position of power over his student. It is also true that a professor can feel sexually attracted to one of his students. Human nature and all that. It is also true that he should not act on these feelings. And the first thing he needs to do in order to avoid acting on his feelings is to accept that he actually has these feelings.
    But she was also sexually attracted to the professor. What ever you think of her views, I think you would agree that she seems to be an attractive, intelligent, and headstrong woman. She realised that, as a result of her attributes, she actually wielded power over him. But the sexual tension was reciprocal. They both apparently enjoyed it, and it made their interactions all the more interesting and satisfying.
    Then they both got drunk at a party. With his normal control lowered, he transgressed the accepted boundaries between professors and students. He put his hand on her buttock while they were dancing. Talk about risky behaviour! But it seems this did not upset her at all. In fact, she acquiesced in this and enjoyed the experience. The upshot was that neither was hurt and both had an agreeable experience over an extended period of time. Is this wrong? I know of a doctor who courted one of his patients. On the surface, that was wrong. They are now happily married with a couple of children. Is that wrong?
    But her greater point is that, if the situation had have turned sour later on, and she felt so inclined, she could have outed him, and he would have paid an enormous penalty. Without a trial, and at the alter of public opinion (or hysteria), his personal and professional life would been ruined – simply as a result of her accusing him of something which, at the time, harmed no one and which created a lot of enjoyment for them both.

    “The point is that his behavior, as her professor, is repugnant, and he deserved dismissal for it”

    I’m not sure that it was “repugnant”. He was certainly taking a big risk. If it all turned sour – and there would have been a high probability of that outcome – he would have been dismissed from his job at the very least. But he was drunk, remember, with his normal control lowered. Certainly he would have been wise to guard against this situation developing in the first place by deciding not to get drunk. But, again, human nature and all that. We are not perfect and we all make mistakes. And sometimes things happen that we don’t intend

    “Her waxing eloquent about attraction and procreation (this is evolutionary psychology at it’s best – we must, or we would not procreate) do not cut it. Her skill at using her “assets” are exactly what our cultural history has nurtured, and does not make it right. Sheesh.”

    Why do women wear low cut dresses? What other reason but to show some cleavage? Why do they want to show some cleavage? I guess there are many reasons, including that they just like to look good, or they want to look attractive, or even, heaven forbid, that they want to attract the attentions of the opposite sex. It’s not about evolutionary psychology. It’s about psychology and hormones. So, yes, she uses her assets. Why is that necessarily wrong? Surely it’s only wrong if she uses her assets to harm others. By all accounts, she used her assets for mutual benefit. How is this wrong? Sure it’s risky, but all behaviour is risky. You can’t foresee the future.

    “Finally, read the comments. The first ten are all asshole men. That’s enough to disgust me”

    That’s not a criticism of her. It’s a criticism of those men. I didn’t read the comments though.

  48. billyjoe says

    SC,
    “I addressed your claims about the Berlinski article by quoting passages from the article itself”

    I cannot imagine why you would think that cherry picking quotes, especially without any comment about why you disagree with them in the context out of which they were picked, constitutes addressing my claims.

    “Fuck off. I won’t be responding to you further”

    I’m sorry you feel that way.
    I’m not sure why you are upset that I expressed my appreciation for your acknowledgment that you were wrong about Claire Berlinski being an Ergodan Shill.
    I meant that most sincerely. You looked further into it. You discovered you were wrong. And you said so. You didn’t have to do that. I hope I can do likewise whenever the situation arises.

  49. daffodil says

    One other thing that takes away from the credibility of the statement that the Stable Genius’s lawyer put out was that it was signed “Stormy Daniels”, not Stephanie Clifford. You’d think that she wouldn’t sign her stage name to a “legal document.” Considering Trump’s history of producing fraudulent documentation for things, I would not put it past him to do this.

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