The Atheist Community of Austin has drifted out of sync with FtB


Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples & Clare Wuellner got on YouTube to discuss the right-ward slide of the Atheist Community of Austin, and their experiences with the transphobic takeover of that organization.

You may have noticed that FtB hosts The Atheist Experience, the blog for the call-in show of the ACA. Although I’m sure the blog isn’t a major contributor to their popularity — it’s primarily driven by YouTube traffic — it does get a good number of comments each week.

We’re currently discussing dropping the blog from our network in our backchannel, because it has drifted into incompatibility with our mission statement, which I’ll remind you is:

Freethoughtblogs is an open platform for freethought writers. We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism, and in addition, we recognize that the nonexistence of deities entails a greater commitment to human values, and in particular, an appreciation of human diversity and equality.

We are for feminism, against racism, for diversity, against inequity. Our network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy — freethoughtblogs.com is a vehicle for giving vocal secularists a venue for discussion of their values and interests.

Transphobes do not belong here, since we stand for human diversity and equality, and the ACA has abandoned that principle. We’ve just begun the discussion with our bloggers, but we’d also welcome input from our readers, so leave comments here. Write fast because we’ll probably move fast!

Also, to Tracie, Jen, and Clare: it’s also been mentioned that you’d be fully compatible with our values, so if you were looking for a place to blog, let us know.

Comments

  1. microraptor says

    I haven’t paid attention to the Atheist Experience in years. I’m disappointed by this but not remotely surprised.

  2. PaulBC says

    It seems like a clear case for dropping them. My only suggestion is that to future-proof cases like this, there should be a more specific addendum that enumerates specific views, like transphobia, that are incompatible with “human diversity and equality” and keep it up to date with rightwing trends so it’s clear that a group has gone against the mission statement without having to explain why each time.

  3. PaulBC says

    I was in Austin for a conference about 25 years ago and liked it. I once thought that if I had to live in Texas I might at least be comfortable with Austin. Now I wonder.

  4. says

    I remember seeing some info on how Matt Dillahunty went on a full defense of a transphobe, but I did not personally look into it. I too have not paid any attention to Atheist Experience for years by now, fo almost a decade actually, purely for time reasons.

    That being said, I am still disappointed, but not surprised. I personally have no patience for transphobes.

  5. says

    Specifically, their transphobia, and more generally, a reasonable concern that the leadership of that organization has gone off the rails and who knows what crap they’ll be promoting next.

  6. Sastra says

    Sorry, I’m out of touch. I haven’t been following them. I meant transphobia how? What did they advocate? Or say?

  7. PaulBC says

    I’m well into middle age and have observed many cultural changes, mostly beneficial, but a view I internalized at a very young age is that people are free to do what they want if they’re not hurting anyone else in the process.

    This can get a tricky. For instance, someone who is not a cop walking into Starbucks with a holstered gun is probably going to claim that they’re not harming anyone and they’re really the “good guy with a gun” (someone who just wanted to rob the place wouldn’t be such a jackass about it). I would still consider them a public safety threat if I was a customer there. I don’t know them from Adam and they clearly could kill me very easily. I don’t want them in a public place. Restricting this behavior is violating their individual rights, but in aggregate, there is a compelling case that more guns result in more deaths. Law has never been there to guarantee everyone the free exercise of their rights, which is impossible, but to referee who wins when rights come into conflict. So (and did I mention I think the 2nd amendment is obsolete, stupid and should be repealed?) I have no problem with laws that restrict the presence of weapons where there is a great potential for harm.

    The main thing is that people are allowed to pursue happiness. If I feel harmed by the mere presence of a trans person, my bias is what’s harming me. Those who feel it’s incompatible with their happiness have a right to avoid these challenges to their bias in some reasonable way. E.g., nobody’s forcing you to go to the Castro in SF. Nobody is forcing you to watch TV or movies that offend you for these reasons. At some level, there is freedom of association and non-association (but some practices such as refusing business or refusing to lease apartments is clearly discriminatory). Though rights come into conflict. I expect trans people allowed into Starbucks I patronize (and to use whichever bathroom is appropriate if there’s a difference). I don’t want armed people unless they have a compelling reason for being there armed. It gets into some weaselly territory, but the main issue is the lack of any potential for material harm.

    What I really don’t get (and I don’t have the time to watch YouTube videos to find out) is why trans people are anybody else’s business, particularly atheists, who would at least agree that nobody is up there keeping score. If you are not harming other people, you should be allowed to pursue the life you find fulfilling.

    Anyway… sorry just a long screed for nothing, but I cannot even comprehend how you can be atheist, presumably not trans, and think trans people are any of your business.

  8. Muz says

    I’ve not seen any evidence that they are transphobes or even close to that. Only that they had Rationality Rules on the show and it caused some friction. They released one statement about it and then retracted it/amended it and my impression is the people responsible for the earlier statement felt upset by this massaging of the the message when they were given charge of putting it out in the first place (also some felt undermined by having their blog moderating decisions countermanded) so they left. And this might be good cause to do so for them, I couldn’t say. The decision making sounds like enough of a shambles that anyone would be pissed off.

    I stress this is only my impression without reading the lengthy back and forth in its entirety (that still goes on). I have zero insider knowledge and haven’t yet watched the video.(doing so now)

    Rationality Rules recanted, corrected and expanded on his original video, in ways that I think were still controversial (I haven’t paid close attention to the reaction there). People can still have their opinions about the guy and his research one way or another. The thing is I don’t think he’s insincere when he says he’s not transphobic or when other people say he’s not transphobic. The matters being talked about are still subjects of debate in the trans community itself as far as I can tell. I don’t think being absolutist about this is possible, let alone reasonable.

    The Right and “Centrist” obsession with trans subjects as a sort of a wedge issue is absurd and disgraceful, but the existence of that shouldn’t cause the sympathetic to cut one another off in an effort to not be that, if you follow me. Never mind that The ACA is not even a person. It’s an organisation with a lot of members with varied views. The recent leadership even stepped down. Concluding an organistion is wholly transphobic (without it saying “we are anti-trans” in the founding documents or something) after doing all it has done prior to this seems difficult to say the least.

  9. Mobius says

    IIRC, the brouhaha started with a post by Rationality Rules made shorty after RR appeared as a guest host on AXP. I believe the post concerned trans-women competing in the Olympics in women’s events. He was against that. There was a lot of push back from the trans community. He posted an apology that to me sounded pretty sincere.

    However, the leadership of the ACA posted support of RR BEFORE he made his apology. Many in the ACA, such as Jen and Tracie, complained strenuously, which eventually lead to Tracie, Jen and few others to leave the ACA and stop hosting AXP.

    Again, IIRC, Matt Dilahunty wrote his post supporting RR AFTER the apology. On AXP, Matt has consistently supported the LBGQT community, as have all the other hosts.

    Sadly, the ACA leadership does seem to have gone transphobic to some degree. I can’t say personally, since all of my information on that has come through watching AXP.

    I don’t think AXP itself is transphobic. Several of the hosts have said they disagree with the ACA leadership’s statements.

    I will continue to watch AXP. I will miss Tracie, Jen and the others. Tracie, in particular, was an excellent host.

    I don’t recall any of the AXP shows being transphobic. I am sure, though, that some of the AXP commenters are.

  10. says

    RR’s apology was a classic not-pology that spent most of its time claiming everyone else made mistakes. He also compared himself to Galileo. I didn’t see any sincerity in it at all.

  11. PaulBC says

    Muz@11

    I don’t plan to follow Atheist Community of Austin in sufficient detail to evaluate your take on it. I hope others do. One thing I have noticed (and this is certainly true with creationists) is that many organizations will insist on a lack of bias disingenuously in order to worm their way into a platform that gives them credibility or promotes their views more widely.

    I remember Scientific American’s decision to drop Forest Mims III as the writer of “The Amateur Scientist” after one or two columns because of his creationist beliefs. That was around 1990 I think. In a perfect world (and I was more of an idealist then) I could imagine allowing Mims to write columns as long as they presented competent science, which he was clearly capable of doing in areas that did not touch on biology. The problem, really, is creating the perception that you are endorsing these views. I’m long past the point where I agree that Scientific American exercised editorial judgment in an appropriate way. Mims was not even harmed and continues to publish as far as I know.

    It’s understandable if FtB sees the presence of ACA as creating a false appearance of official endorsement. This could be handled in a variety of ways, but going into the weeds on precisely how transphobic ACA happens to be seems counterproductive.

  12. says

    I highly recommend HJ Hornbeck’s blog for posts regarding RR’s transphobia.
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/reprobate
    I’ve been soaking in the community on the aexp blog/facebook group for a couple of weeks getting a feel for the situation and it’s not good at all.

    I need to collect my thoughts before I say more but a partial TL;DR is take the concept of “white fragility”, generalize it to “privilege fragility”, and a lot of this is a “cis fragility” reaction to talk of bigotry while they had their discussion about how trans women are a threat to women’s sports (nevermind that sexism is the threat to women’s sports, and none of these people were remotely interested in that, just their ability to “discuss” when, how, and where they wanted).

  13. harpermae says

    Not that my vote counts for anything, but as a Trans woman I vote for kicking them. I’ve been slowly getting more disillusioned with Matt Dillihunty over the last couple of years and how he handled the situation with rationality rules was just the last straw. I wasn’t completely aware of all the stuff going on with the boards not living in Texas, but, I did leave most any ACA discussion groups because of just the kind of behavior they described in this video. I also have a lot of respect for Jen and Tracie as well as some of the other people who’ve left, and what they are describing with the board is a shit show, and is also entirely consistent with the change in tenor around the ACA’s online presence.

  14. indianajones says

    Most of the AXP FTB trans discussion on their forum has happened on the “Open thread for episode 23.22: Matt & Don” thread. The one with 720 comments on it. Without commenting on the AXP’s position, that thread has largely been a shitshow of transphobia. Further more, since late last year, ie predating even the RR crap, the moderation on the AXP blog has been terrible.

    I would be sad to see them go from FTB, but can see why that would be so. I would hope you would allow them one more post pre-boot if only to know where they would (if they would) have a forum elsewhere. I don’t consider them irredeemable, and I must separate the AXP itself from the commenters they have allowed. But it has been pretty atrocious for a while forum wise.

  15. indianajones says

    Oh, I would like to add that the AXP forum was a fantastic one for a long long time pre the last 6 months or so.

  16. Muz says

    To add quickly before bed; Woodford does come across as a sort of a smug guy with that impregnable sheen of rationalist righteousness. This does him no favours. It’s also probably why a lot of his fans like him, unfortunately (what with the state of Youtube sketicism). I do get the sense of somone who is looking for the correct information though, ultimately. Youtube front can get in in the way of that though. But hes not Armored Skeptic or someone. Not yet anyway. If the facts are there I think he will be unable to ignore them eventually. If he says he’s not and has no wish to be a transphobe or spread transphobia I believe him, even if he has done a rather bad job of this and might have some unacknowedged biases
    I’m sure this will seem a faint and subjective defense. And it is. I’m not a big fan.

    The thing is we’re aked to judge the ACA. But the majority of the discussion around this by the people who left is about how terrible RR’s video was and how terrible his brigading fans are (and the even larger question seems to be, is somone responsible for their fan base? Kinda?).
    The ACA seems to have clearly faltered in the face of this. Did they falter because they were defending someone they personally liked or because they harbored secret transphobic tendencies? Many more well prepared organisations have fallen into foolish reactions to a large internet surge of that sort as well as in handling sensitive issues with multiple parties (watch Jamie Boone’s appearance on the Non sequitor show shortly after this and contrast it with his normal appearance on Talk Heathen, or anywhere. Clarity of position and diplomacy in leadership – not his strong suit.)

    I, from the other side of the world, cannot for a minute say the people’s statements are wrong about how they see the inside of the ACA when they worked there. All the same I do find this idea that the transphobes have taken over at a managerial level and the ACA represents the same kind of old white skeptic dudebros as everywhere else a bit hard to see. I feel it would be more obvious. It’s not as though the new direction was put in place and there have been controversial youtube et al guests appearing more often (or any for that matter). I also think that if the ACA had this crusty legacy population something would have come out before now, back in elevatorgate, CFI days and whatever else.

    The scene in the facebook group when the youtube skeptic tranphobe world descends sounds more like the end episode of Chernobyl than witting anti-trans activity. The system is running low and questionably managed, then it’s put under great stress, then the control system (the moderators) cannot cope so it is removed before it breaks entirely. The ensuing flood shatters any chance of reasserting control.
    This might give the impression that this was intentional to some. But it could just be a combination of incompetence, bloody-mindedness, confusion, bureacratic stodginess and face saving all at once.

  17. Akira MacKenzie says

    Never thought the day would come that I would have to count the ACA as a wallower in the Slymepit.

  18. harpermae says

    OK, but as a trans person I’m not sure whether I care much whether the transphobia there is driven by outright animus or bureaucratic stodginess and an unwillingness to listen or learn by certain leaders in the group. Either way the place isn’t one I can count on to be safe or comfortable for me to be a part of, and that’s a shame.

  19. says

    I haven’t been following the AXP drama, though I’ve read enough to know that it exists.

    But let’s just talk about the feminism for a minute: When men defend women’s rights from the threat of trans* folks participation in anything (in this case, sport), and they’re doing it in a way that is causing distress to the prominent women in your organization who fought for years to make your organization a better, more inclusive place for women… and did so successfully

    you should probably be listening and taking their arguments seriously.

    If those same women feel badly used and tell you that the response to their writing on how men’s advocacy for women to be safe from trans people playing sportsball has been so fucked that they’re considering leaving your organization after decades

    you should probably be listening and taking their arguments seriously.

    If you can’t keep things together enough to actually stop them leaving and you actually lose those feminists from your organization because of how you stuck up for a man who wanted to protect women from sportsball participation in the name of feminism, but did so so badly that he drove away all the feminists,

    you should probably be openly lamenting how anti-trans arguments have harmed feminism, feminists, and the cause of women’s opportunity & equality within your organization.

    Now, HJ Hornbeck has done a good job showing how specific arguments made by Rationality Rules don’t hold up. That’s fine. That’s good work. But the necessity of that work shows that people shouldn’t be expected to know in advance exactly how and why Rationality Rules statements were fucked up.

    As a trans person, I’m used to people fucking up around trans* issues. If you’re a person who pays attention to commenters’ names around here, you’ve probably noticed me and that I have an angry voice I use when people dig in and defend their fuck ups. But you may not have noticed that I’m actually slower to use that voice when the issue is how folks have fucked up around trans* people and/or in ways that support the oppression of trans* people (cissexism, to give it a name). That doesn’t mean I never use that angry voice, but because of widespread ignorance, I’ve found it effective to give education a shot first.

    With racism and sexism, however, there’s far less excuse. If you’re acting in racist or sexist ways, it’s not because you’ve never spent any time with people of color or women. It’s not because no one ever told you that racism was bad and what it looked like.

    There may be a reasonable and successful argument that AXP’s blog should be removed because of cissexism. It may be that that alone constitutes a sufficient reason to sever the relationship. But I rarely go out of my way to read anti-trans crap people are saying and I certainly don’t have any experience inside AXP, so I’m not one with the knowledge to make that argument, even assuming it can be made.

    However, the argument that the relationship with AXP’s blog should be ended because of sexism looks strong. Imagine you’ve got strong, smart feminists in your organization who have provided the backbone on which your organization built a somewhat more women-inclusive organization out of one that only had men on screen in its earliest days. They’re telling you that you’re doing it wrong, and your organization’s response is to spend what looks to outsiders to be more effort in maintaining your relationship with Rationality Rules than in maintaining your relationships with the women who have made your organization stronger, more feminist, more thoughtful, and just plain better. They tell you that your efforts to defend arguments for gender segregation are either substantively or procedurally (or both) driving women away – women including themselves. You do not change course and continue prioritizing defenses of gender segregation over the actual participation of women. The most prominent women, the longest serving women, the reliably feminist women in your organization then leave.

    Shouldn’t this series of events tell outsiders something about the organization? Are we, as outsiders, supposed to take more seriously protestations of undiminished feminism within the organization, scribed or voiced by those who took part in the series of actions that drove feminist women away? Or should we take more seriously the statements by reliably feminist women that these events have been anti-feminist, have had the effect of marginalizing women, have had the effect of making feminist women unwelcome to the point that they abandoned decades long investments of time and energy?

    I think that if you value feminism and if you’re uncertain about how you feel about the argument for severing the relationship based on cissexism alone, you’re not unmoored. You’re not lost. You’re not without a guide star.

    People tend to get so freaked out by their ignorance of trans* people and issues that they forget that all the other rules of their lives remain the same. If I support racists and racism, then criticize my racism or kick me off FtB because of it. The fact that I’m trans or the hypothetical fact that my support for racists and racism occurred during a discussion of trans* rights isn’t relevant.

    If feminists whose analysis you trust tell you that I support sexism and sexists, then criticize my sexism or kick me off FtB because of it. The fact that I’m trans or the hypothetical fact that my support for sexists & sexism occurred during a discussion of trans* rights isn’t relevant.

    If feminists whose analysis you trust tell you that AXP is ignoring feminism and feminists in the name of supporting a man who wants to engage in sub-segregation of women’s sport, and they’re doing so in substance or in process in a manner that causes feminist women to leave the organization, then the fact that the sub-segregation of women’s sport involves trans* people isn’t relevant.

    So the question really doesn’t have to be about trans* people or trans* rights at all. Why not, as we all go about our self-directed processes of becoming better educated on topics where we don’t have enough information, we first decide how we feel about decisions where we have more information and we have more experience.

    What if we simply changed the question to this: How is the ACA on feminism, and how do we as an FtB community feel about that? Maybe that won’t be enough. Maybe we’ll still have to struggle with the details of Rationality Rules cissexism and the ACA’s support for cissexist arguments where we’re less comfortable judging because we’re acutely aware of our own imperfect knowledge.

    But maybe that’s enough. Maybe we don’t have to reach the more difficult question, the question where we more seriously doubt ourselves and our judgements.

    Maybe we can say this: If you’re driving away women with your support of men who say they’re defending women, you’re doing something seriously wrong. If you’re driving away feminists in the name of hearing diverse feminists arguments, you’re doing something seriously wrong. If you’re driving away the iconic feminists of your own organization in the name of building a community where more diverse voices can be heard, you’re doing something seriously wrong.

    No, we don’t have perfect knowledge of what’s been going on inside the ACA. No, we can’t expect people to be perfect on issues of cissexism, at least not yet.

    But maybe what we do have is enough.

    Maybe, right now, we should be listening to the women.

  20. says

    The trans women in women’s sports is indeed a nasty mine field and bans or chemical treatments are definitely not any kind of solution. My girlfriend and I have discussed it when the topic comes up in the news.

    I’m sure an argument can be made that someone who doesn’t believe trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports could be trans-phobic especially if they use terms like “protecting women”.

    If there has been concerns about the ACA besides this one incident then the blog should be booted

  21. says

    Judging from PZ’s video in post #15 it looks like the organization is rotting from the top down. To me it looks like someone is more concerned with the size of the organization and the well-being of the leaders than their members and original function. Gee, doesn’t that sound eerily familiar?

  22. starfleetdude says

    As there is a legitimate debate to be had about the participation of transwomen in women’s sports, this seems to me to be stifling honest dissent, rather than acting against alleged transphobia. The ACA blog on FtB is a place where a lot of good discussion on a variety of topics related to atheism takes place and booting that does the atheist community a disservice.

  23. harpermae says

    In fact there is no “legitimate” debate to be had about transwomen participating in women’s sports. Women should be in women’s sports, as such there is no argument aimed at denying only trans women from participating in women’s sports that do not, on some level, deny that trans women are women. Tracy and Jen made this exact argument in the video posted above.

  24. says

    Here’s a horrifying point. Testosterone is also tied to moment to moment social behavior. Why are we dictating what someone’s levels of a social hormone should be? Is this related to how people want to shove women female people into certain social boxes and behavior? What does it look like when we look at these hormones and what we try to make the two birth boxes do?

    Ideally none of this stuff is divided

  25. says

    I think “trans women in sport” illustrate the problems with a strictly binary gender classification. You simply can’t cram a spectrum phenomena into two distinct groups without excluding people.

  26. specialffrog says

    @microraptor: maybe he has changed his position but I have seen AronRa describe himself as an “equity feminist” (i.e. Hoff-Summers nonsense term) so I can’t say I’m entirely shocked.

  27. says

    I’m a trans person that has been watching the AXP since 2012, and probably more than a thousand hours in total. Please throw them out, and fuck Matt Dillahunty specifically, he still defends a transphobic bigot, has doubled and tripled down on it.

    Please throw them out. What Jen, Tracie and Claire described in the linked video is absolutely horrifying. They had an election where every single person that did say anything against RR got voted out. As Jen (I think) said it: They’re beyond remedy.

    Sincerily – a heart-broken person. (I just cried for the first time in months.)

  28. mond says

    @35 Jundurg
    It is an absolute pisser.
    I am a cis man who has been enjoying the ACA content for over a decade and I can no longer in good conscience continue do so.
    Listening to Jen, Claire and Tracie describe what had gone on behind the scenes was pretty grim.

  29. jackable says

    I’m so disappointed with all of this. I only learned of people leaving today. I’d sure like to see how the ACA and the other hosts of AXP respond before they were booted from here.

    Having said that, if Tracie and Jen and Claire started blogging here… I’d visit every day.

  30. says

    I spent some time today bringing myself up to speed on this issue, and I thought I might share a few links that I found helpful. Essence of Thought has a video explaining the timeline of events. And for those who avoid videos, HJ Hornbeck has a brief post in text format. The more I learn about it, the more I agree that kicking off the AXP from FTB is warranted.

    I hope someone will write up further explanation, because I think it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to watch the two-hour video in the OP. I want to watch it, but maybe when I have more time later.

  31. erik333 says

    @29 Harpermae
    Well the general argument is that, post puberty, being born male builds in the equivalent of a regiment of performance enhancing drugs so severe so as to constitute an unfair advantage vs. women born female.

    @31 Brony
    Most sports don’t have weight classes. In some women can compete, in many they can not. I’m not sure if any proper trials have been made in sports with weight classes, e.g. wrestling or judo, post puberty. In some sports we do have results, e.g. football. In football women can no longer compete when we would expect, post puberty. At 15 years old elite regional boys teams are too fast, big and strong for even the national womens team to compete.

    @32 Erland
    Except for this division into male and female athletics, few sports would have female participation at a high level. Women play in the football world cup on TV, or play football professionally, exactly because they have their own divisions.

  32. lanir says

    @42 erik333
    Sports arguments about trans people are ridiculous. The variations among different individuals amount to far more than the difference in averages ever could and also nobody talks about the areas where women are superior to men. Very few sports are primarily about strength.

    By skipping these points, criticism of trans people over sports is just a backhanded, sneaky way of concern trolling the frail womenfolk. They don’t need it, they just need a fair shot. Concern trolling women in sports like this is the opposite of that; it’s part of the problem, not the solution.

  33. Chancellor says

    Yikes!

    I used to be a regular poster a couple years ago there but I stopped, not for any issues with them back then, I loved being there but this development doesn’t suprise me at all. Back then we had little flares with anti-trans people and trans posters that made that known did share sentiments of discomfort. I disassociated myself from that discomfort because I wasn’t causing it: which was base lack of empathy to them, that was shitty of me and if I had been a better person, I’d have been able to aid somehow.

    However, on the main topic, I do remember a rationalismrules poster and I thought this was about them but I see that it isn’t.

    I didn’t know anything about how things were going over there in the past 2 years, it wasn’t until I saw posts from Brony SJC in defense of trans women in a recent pharyngula thread that they made by mistake, lol. I just shook my head and thought that things were still the same over there. Come to find out that prominent hosts left and there being drama with “r@t10na|_ ;) ” yewtewbers involving even bigger fckups.

    Any enthusiasm I had to return to watching the show and the group related to it is dead. I don’t support anyone peddling the “think of the wominfolk” and the amusing sentiment that they need to be defended from the mythical super women coming to snatch their medals.

  34. psanity says

    Thanks, Crip Dyke @23. As usual, you get straight to the chewy center when everyone else is still licking around the outside of the analytical tootsie pop.

  35. lanir says

    As far as ACA goes, I haven’t been following. I’m not in one of the groups they’re treating poorly so I don’t need an apology. There are other people who should reasonably demand that. I do think it would be more useful to approach this pro-actively rather than re-actively and push them to do the same.

    For example, tell them what the accusations are and then tell them you’d like them to make a pro-active statement of support for trans people and outline the core points of what needs to be in that. Then they need to keep on that and enforce it or part ways.

    If things do go badly, the good news is every movement that goes out of it’s way to list people to exclude is also building a membership drive list for it’s own counter-movement.

  36. says

    It’s inspiring to see this surge in concern for women’s representation in sports. I guess the American women’s soccer team can expect mountains of support for their push for equal pay, since there are so many people who passionately care about this.

  37. says

    @erik333 42
    It’s still reasonable to investigate a claim about trans women being a problem in sports. Can you show that your concern in reasonable?

    Whatever a sport does to structure things to make things interesting or fair. Eliminate the bigotry.

  38. says

    @starfleetdude:

    this seems to me to be stifling honest dissent, rather than acting against alleged transphobia.

    That’s because you’re an idiot.

    You’re free to speak, you’re not free to speak in my living room.

    If I kick you out of my living room and you no longer debate whatever it was you wanted to debate in my living room, then it wasn’t honest debate in the first place.

    Insinuating the idea that AXP doesn’t have the knowledge and/or volunteers to start a blog someplace else if they’re not blogging here is the worse than any insult anyone upset about the Rationality Rules debacle has ever levied against them. Why do you assume that they’re so dishonest and/or incompetent that they wouldn’t be able and willing to discuss whatever the fuck if their URL changed?

    Really, if changing a URL was all that was required to stifle dissent, then Pharyngula has been a whole-lot-a-stifled since ScienceBlogs made PZ’s writing unwelcome almost a decade ago. And yet, Pharyngula continues.

    If you believe in your position, why not believe in it enough to think that there’s more than one single URL in all the internet at which your position can be successfully communicated?

    If you don’t, then maybe you never were interested in dissent or debate or communication. Maybe you were just interested in occupying someone else’s living room, and freeze peach! was just your dishonest excuse.

    In either case, you have no point.

  39. DanDare says

    I was a Patreon patron of Rationality Rules. He made 2 videos that demonstrated he has big flaws in his reasoning.
    First was one on Brexit where he claimed that democracy demands that a decision made, no matter how flawed, no matter how long it takes to learn new data, no matter how much circumstances have changed, must be followed through before new decisions are made.
    Then came the trans women in sport and I stopped being a Patron.
    The ACA is different. They are a valuable community resource. They not only interact well with the world they help people and they are primarily a real face to face community.
    The thing with RR as a guest is a cascading series of errors. Matt Dilahunty did his best to give the facts about it on the show itself. I was distressed that Tracy et al left because they are heroes to me.
    It should be possible to fix this but it probably needs a life conference call between principles at FfB, ACA, and those that left. You know, actual real discussion rather than commentariat time wasting.

  40. John Morales says

    Well, it’s not like there are that many active blogs on this network, or the focus is on trans issues. It’s old-fashioned atheism advocacy.

    Brony @16:

    I highly recommend HJ Hornbeck’s blog for posts regarding RR’s transphobia.

    Why? It’s just his opinion, and nobody can comment on his posts.
    I gave up reading it after the second time I felt something was notably forced or wrong, but since I can’t comment on it, all it does is lead to frustration. Not my cup of tea.

    (Your own blog is not exactly active, is it? If it went, I could hardly miss it, whereas TAA is at least entertaining and actually has content)

  41. harpermae says

    @42 erik333

    Cool story bro. Did you think that as a trans person I’d never encounter that argument? Because I assure you that I have. The argument is badly flawed, and ultimately is just a cover for transphobia in my opinion. First, the HRT that many trans people undergo eliminates most, if not all, of the advantages conferred by testosterone.

    Further, cis-women in physical capability too, but no one suggest that two cis-women of different physical capabilities shouldn’t be allowed to compete. I mean let’s take height for instance. Cis-women occasionally grow taller than 6 feet, I went to high school with one who was at least 6:2. Should she not be allowed to play basketball because she had an unfair advantage over the other women who were only 5:8? That’s the thing, if you say that a 6:2 cis woman should be allowed to play basketball, but a 6:2 trans woman shouldn’t then as much as you might try to wiggle out of it what is really driving your “concern” is the belief that the trans woman isn’t really a woman, and that is transphobia.

  42. says

    @John Morales 51
    Opinions based on quotes from rationality rules, other critics, research…

    Your description of the contents was a little vague.

    I also don’t see the relevance of my blog activity. Issues involving percieved transphobia outside of my blog.

  43. John Morales says

    Brony,

    Opinions based on quotes from rationality rules, other critics, research…

    And which never need to be sustained, since no criticism is allowed.

    (Yeah, I know HJ says anyone can just email him with a response. FWTW)

    I also don’t see the relevance of my blog activity.

    The relevance is that if a non-active blog is gone, nothing much changes here.
    Just another placeholder gone.
    If a well-trafficked blog goes, things do change. It was not a placeholder.

    (“We’re currently discussing dropping the blog from our network”)

  44. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As a regular of the AXP blog comments here on FTB, and a general supporter of trans rights, it does seem that the ACA fucked this up big time. I still have very little idea of what actually happened. I think Crip Dyke explained my feelings best above, quoting for emphasis:

    But let’s just talk about the feminism for a minute: When men defend women’s rights from the threat of trans* folks participation in anything (in this case, sport), and they’re doing it in a way that is causing distress to the prominent women in your organization who fought for years to make your organization a better, more inclusive place for women… and did so successfully …

    you should probably be listening and taking their arguments seriously.

    If those same women feel badly used and tell you that the response to their writing on how men’s advocacy for women to be safe from trans people playing sportsball has been so fucked that they’re considering leaving your organization after decades

    you should probably be listening and taking their arguments seriously.

    If you can’t keep things together enough to actually stop them leaving and you actually lose those feminists from your organization because of how you stuck up for a man who wanted to protect women from sportsball participation in the name of feminism, but did so so badly that he drove away all the feminists,

    you should probably be openly lamenting how anti-trans arguments have harmed feminism, feminists, and the cause of women’s opportunity & equality within your organization.

    I don’t know what’s going on detail, but I don’t need to know that to be pretty sure that the ACA leadership fucked up bigtime, and Matt Dillahunty too. Based on everything I know right now, I’m going to side with Jenn, Tracie, and John over Matt. Again, I don’t know how exactly how Matt and the ACA leadership fucked up, but it appears that they have.

    Should the AXP blog be removed from FTB? I don’t know. I don’t know enough about what actually happened, and their plans for the future, and whether they can own up to whatever mistakes they have made, etc. I still know very little about what happened and is happening. Maybe this video in the OP will help me on that.

    PS: Thanks to PZ for posting that video in the OP. Time for me to watch it.

  45. Hj Hornbeck says

    I’ve been deliberately focusing on Rationality Rules instead of the ACA, but I’ve heard hints of these issues since May. I was hoping to get secondary confirmation from other sources, and, well, I now have it in abundance. The section on the ACA’s election broke my heart, in particular. The bigots have taken over, and the ACA is no longer the welcoming organization it once was.

    In the comments to the above video, I said I was fine with removing AXP from FtB. My mind hasn’t changed.

  46. Hj Hornbeck says

    Jundurg @35:

    Please throw them out, and fuck Matt Dillahunty specifically, he still defends a transphobic bigot, has doubled and tripled down on it.

    Honestly, I think we can safely call Dillahunty a transphobe at this point. Within hours of Rationality Rules posting his original video, the one RR himself declared as flawed, Dillahunty added this comment (emphasis mine):

    I’m not only “ok” with trans people, I love and support them and want a world where they’re equal, safe and not facing discrimination. That said, there’s nothing transphobic here, it’s about the science of athletic performance and the problem of how we make competitions fair. Perhaps EACH sport will need to change….weight classes, more accurate categories than just men/women x/y… maybe tiered categories based on past performance (like FM/IM/GM in chess) would be better.

    That said, Joe Rogan may make some valid points, but he repeatedly slips into misgendering. Even listening as charitably as possible, he’s killing his point with garbage like “he’s a GUY!”.

    I have seen other comments where he repeatedly defended RR and said he wasn’t being transphobic. He can’t play the “ignorance” card here, like AronRa, he must have had multiple people try to explain why that video was transphobic, and it has had no effect. Matt Dillahunty is A-OK with spreading misinformation about transgender people.

  47. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    One important clarification for a friend. If anyone goes reading the posts on the AXP blog on FTB, the regular poster in the AXP blog on FTB named “RationalityRules” is not the same person as “Rationality Rules” of Youtube. No relation.

  48. Hj Hornbeck says

    On top of that was his shameful performance during the linked video. He popped into the comment section calling everyone a liar, and directly accusing a longtime ACA member of lying and trying to evade responsibility. Yet he’s their current president! You better believe there will be more controversies if we keep the AXP blog here, simply through his bumbling reflexive actions.

  49. HawkAtreides says

    John Morales @56:

    And which never need to be sustained, since no criticism is allowed.
    (Yeah, I know HJ says anyone can just email him with a response. FWTW)

    Your entire dismissal of Reprobate Spreadsheet is “debate me you coward”. Do you have to go to a special room to get on the computers, or did they install WiFi in the sea lion tank?

  50. Hj Hornbeck says

    Siggy @41:

    I hope someone will write up further explanation, because I think it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to watch the two-hour video in the OP. I want to watch it, but maybe when I have more time later.

    Essence of Thought has text transcripts of every video, including their recent one where a dozen former members and people associated with the ACA spoke out. It’s not a timeline, but you’ll get the gist of it.

    John Morales @51:

    Why? It’s just his opinion, and nobody can comment on his posts.
    I gave up reading it after the second time I felt something was notably forced or wrong, but since I can’t comment on it, all it does is lead to frustration. Not my cup of tea.

    Fair enough. One of the reasons I restrict comments on my main blog posts is to encourage more thoughtful replies. People put a lot more effort into writing up blog posts than comments (usually). These get more visibility than
    any comment could ever hope, better limiting the damage if I am guilty of misinformation.

  51. Hj Hornbeck says

    John Morales @56:

    (Yeah, I know HJ says anyone can just email him with a response. FWTW)

    I don’t say that, and quite frankly that would be awful. Critique public speech in the public sphere, otherwise it’s trivial to evade responsibility for your words by dragging out or dismissing any private conversation.

  52. John Morales says

    Hj, out of topic as this is, I feel you deserve a response. So.

    <

    blockquote>Critique public speech in the public sphere […]

    <

    blockquote>

    I have, in this and in [Mano’s, Marcus’] blog.
    But I can’t do it on your blog as a comment, can I? You’ve disabled comments.

    […] otherwise it’s trivial to evade responsibility for your words by dragging out or dismissing any private conversation.

    Yeah, I get it. You’re more than happy with public conversation about your blog, so long as it’s not on your blog, but rather on another’s.

    (You think I’m being evasive?)

  53. John Morales says

    PS [for completeness]

    People put a lot more effort into writing up blog posts than comments (usually).

    I never, ever do, nor have I ever so done. Because I’ve never had a blog.

    You are basically saying the only responses you desire are either from existing bloggers in their own blogs or from people who create a blog merely to comment on one of your blog posts.

    Which is fine, but which is also why the only times I check your blog is when someone refers to you (whether on an OP or as a comment) and I want to verify the claim.

    (Not saying you don’t deserve your place here, or that you are not justified, I hope you get that)

  54. John Morales says

    [meta +OT]

    I don’t know whether it is the case that any FtB blogger can see my login email, rather than those in whose blogs I have commented.

    (Best practice would be that it would not be the case, in my estimation)

  55. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To HJ
    If I could ask you some questions here. I ask sincerely because I still don’t understand how I am wrong, and I want to know if I’m wrong, and I have just re-read all of your blog posts on this matter.

    Disclaimer: I consider myself to be a supporter of trans-rights, and I have no intention to propose any changes to sports policies because 1- I don’t know enough, and 2- I’d rather real stakeholders, the women, figure it out, and I don’t want to mansplain to them.

    Here:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/reprobate/2019/04/07/essenceofthought-on-trans-athletes/
    You said:
    “If anything, we seem justified in concluding birth sex has little-to-no effect on athletic ability.”

    I don’t know how to square that with the facts as I understand them, which are:
    1- Olympic records for men for almost every sport are better by a huge margin compared to women.
    2- Every year, plenty of men athletes beat the women’s Olympic record for most sports
    3- Every year, plenty of high school men athletes beat the adult women’s Olympic records for many sports.

    I don’t see how this could be a cultural phenomenon. Based on everything I know, I strongly lean towards the position that there is a large biological component that explains the difference in performance at the elite level in almost every sport between assigned-male-at-birth athletes and assigned-female-at-birth athletes. I don’t know underlying biological mechanisms for it, but I don’t need to know the specific mechanics in order to conclude that they must exist, whatever they are.

    I know that you cited a counter-example, a man boxer who was assigned female at birth, and who won professional fight. However, it was a single fight, and I don’t even know the quality of the opponent. I am not saying that a women can never beat a man in a sport, but I am saying at the very top level, it seems that cis-men enjoy a gigantic advantage over cis-women. You seem to doubt this. How can you doubt this on the basis of the facts that I cited above? Are my facts wrong? Do need I find citations for these facts? I admit that I might be wrong, but some summary websites that I found said these are the facts, and I have not found anyone saying that these fact claims are wrong concerning Olympic records and the high frequency of high school cis-male athletes who regularly outperform the Olympic records of adult women.

    I hope to take it as given that trans-women without medical or surgical changes have the same athletic capability and competences as cis-men.

    Therefore, if I’m right on the above points, it seems inevitable that with a large enough population of trans-women competing in sports at a high level in womens-only divisions, without a hormone therapy rule, that almost all of the winners at the elite level of womens-only competitions would be trans-women. I don’t like this hypothetical outcome for an unusual reason. I don’t like this outcome because of the message that young cis-women would receive when they see that almost every winner of womens competitions was a trans-women. It would discourage them from sports, exactly like young cis-women were discouraged by seeing only male winners before the creation of gender-segregated sports. And again, even if all of this were true, I don’t know what to do about it, and even if I did, I’d prefer that the women figure it out, because I don’t want to be mansplaining to women how they should handle their stuff that doesn’t affect me.

    The big remaining question for me is whether standard hormone replacement therapy rules are enough to reduce the competence of trans-women to that of cis-women levels. On that, for this moment, I’ll default to trusting the international sports organizations who say that standard hormone replacement therapy is enough.

    I have one other question regarding this post:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/reprobate/2019/06/27/special-pleading/

    I just had a semi-troll ask a related question to me on Ed Brayton’s blog, and now I will ask it to you, because I’m curious of your reaction. Does the 14th amendment and “Brown V Board” mean that gender-segregation of sports is itself unconstitutional? It seems to me to be special pleading to say otherwise. Yet, my official position right now concerning gender-segregation of sports and bathrooms is “I don’t see any noticable portion of people on any side of the issue who want to do away with this gender-segregation, and I think that doing away with the gender-segregation here would produce worse outcomes for almost everyone, and so I don’t advocate for removing these cases of gender-segregation. However, it does seem that my legal understanding of the 14th amendment and human rights would forbid gender-segregation of bathrooms, and HJ, it seems that your understanding of human rights would also require to forbid gender-segregation in sports.”

    I’m really curious if you have any response.

    Thanks for your time!

  56. John Morales says

    [OT, because I reckon this is not the time or place to debate transgender issues, this is a pretty specific post. And I know I have been remiss, so after this I shall shut up]

    So, EL:

    I don’t know how to square that with the facts as I understand them, which are:

    Because your perspective is limited.

    Is sport about getting the best score under artificial conditions?
    Is it about besting your peers? In your category, stage, league, format, division?
    Is it about extracting the best of yourself?

    Clearly, you take the Olympic motto a bit too literally.

    (In contrast to the body itself, which is as cynical and hypocritical and corrupt as it can possibly be… but that’s another story)

    Maybe try to see other perspectives; hell, did you consider harpermae’s comments?

    (I did)

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To John
    I did read harpermae comments, and to be sure, I just reread them again. I agree on most points, and I disagree that my concerns are just cover for transphopbia. I think I’m not lying to myself. Meh. I also already said that I accept the governing international sports bodies’s assessment that standard hormone replacement therapy is enough to reduce the athletic competence of trans-women to match their cis-women peers, and so I don’t think harpermae should have any problem with anything that I’ve written. If they do, then I’m even more clueless than I thought previously, and I can be really clueless sometimes.

    Regarding the rest of your post, it seems to be to be targeted towards a person who has concerns other than my own. I carefully explained my single concern (the social effect on young cis-women that would result in a hypothetical world where trans-women won practically every womens-only sports competition), and your questions here don’t seem to be addressing my concern. I’m not talking about “what sports is about” at all – I’m talking about the broader cultural effects that might maybe happen. To answer your specific questions:

    “Is sport about getting the best score under artificial conditions?’ – Uhh, there doesn’t seem to be an objective answer to that. Different people will have different answers, and no position is special. Sports is a cultural construct, and we create it, and we assign its goals. Sports is (ought to be) here to serve humanity, and not the other way around.

    “Is it about besting your peers? In your category, stage, league, format, division?” – Ditto.

    “Is it about extracting the best of yourself?” – Ditto.

  58. John Morales says

    [sigh. Not about sports, either. Just about whether commenters want to express a view on the circumstances applicable, which is nice of FtB to do]

  59. harpermae says

    @ 71

    “I agree on most points, and I disagree that my concerns are just cover for transphopbia.”

    OK, but my statement was less about intent and more about effect. I can’t see inside your (or anyone’s elses) head to know what you are thinking, but the effect of double standards for trans women is transphobia whether you intend that or not. If you aren’t arguing for double standards fair enough, but I do take issue with a couple of things you wrote.

    In particular you argue that unless we are careful trans women will come to dominate women’s sports, and this seems rather absurd. There aren’t that many of us to begin with, and given the normal variation of athletic talent and drive among all humans the very small percentage of people who are 1. trans women, 2. naturally athletic to a level that no cis woman could achieve, and 3. actually have a desire to be a professional athlete, has to be incredibly small, though I couldn’t venture to guess at the exact numbers.

    On top of that you correctly note that long term HRT mostly removes any advantage that we get from the testosterone we got when we were younger, even more, the earlier someone starts HRT the more pronounced it’s effect on a person’s body and sports are mostly a young person’s game anyway. In any case, you state a concern specifically for trans individuals who aren’t on HRT coming to dominate women’s sports. (Thankfully you don’t seem to veer into the conspiracy I sometimes hear about cis men pretending to be trans to compete since there is no evidence of that ever happening) but I would add that this is just another qualifier to add to the 3 I’ve already mentioned. So how many people do you think there are who, in addition to the 3 points I mentioned in the previous paragraph, have no desire to take any kind of HRT? I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I do suggest that the number is so vanishingly small that it seems rather laughable that they could come to dominate all women’s sports so utterly that cis women would stop competing all together, I doubt they could even make a major dent in woman’s sports, particularly given that they would go into it knowing that most people would dismiss them as simply taking advantage of their biology. I just do not share any sort of fear that trans women are going to destroy the participation of cis-women in sports.

  60. anat says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @69 Re: bathrooms

    I have seen the best solution at a swimming pool I visited in Italy several years ago. The changing area was a long series of lockable stalls, each with a door leasing to the main entrance and a door leading to the pool area. They were large enough to contain an adult and a couple of young children. There were open-space showers that allowed rinsing oneself off while wearing a bathing suit, but also some individual stalls with lockable doors for those who wanted to shower once they changed out of their bathing suits. Toilet seats were obviously also in individual, lockable stalls. None of the lockable stalls of any kind was gendered. This arrangement supports not only transgender folk but also anyone who prefers privacy while changing, regardless of reason.

  61. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To harpermae
    I should know but I don’t know current estimates for transgender people in the population. It may be that the overall population is small enough that it’s not going to lead to the outcome of almost every winner of womens-only sports without a HRT rule being a trans-woman. However, if it was a few percent, then that might be enough for trans-women to dominate womens-only sports without a HRT rule.

    You are totally right that many trans-women would take standard hormone replacement therapy anyway. However, I suspect that you underestimate the competitive drive that many people have, especially with fame and large amounts of prize money on the line.

    Furthermore

    Thankfully you don’t seem to veer into the conspiracy I sometimes hear about cis men pretending to be trans to compete since there is no evidence of that ever happening

    I might have to disappoint you here. Sorry.

    Sure, we don’t see it yet, but to suppose that we would never see it in a world without hormone therapy rules seems to me to be silly. There are plenty of people for whom winning is all that matters, and when you add large amounts of cash. It seems that the only thing that would stop them is social pressure and shaming, or personal integrity, or the great inconvenience of a mandatory rule for hormone replacement therapy. When there’s fame, glory, and large amounts of cash on the line, it seems to be quite obvious that eventually there will be a lot of cis-male athletes who would lie and compete as women if there was no HRT rule for competing as a woman just because of the prize money.

    I am really puzzled why you call this a conspiracy. This is the part that confuses me the most. You’re underestimating the greed and proclivity to cheat among elite level athletes, and I don’t know why you would do that. Persons who reach elite level competitions of sports are like one of the first groups of people that I would suspect of cheating and having weaker integrity.

    Again, thanks for your time!

  62. kkehno says

    I was not personally that impressed with rational debate on the axp blog. Asked a clear question about the dogma Jen and Tracie was claimed to have and ended up having to hear what was this months the one true woman making thing. Still, there was point raised that still puzzles me and has even expanded a little to think labels so it was not all time wasted.

  63. harpermae says

    @ 76

    “You are totally right that many trans-women would take standard hormone replacement therapy anyway. However, I suspect that you underestimate the competitive drive that many people have, especially with fame and large amounts of prize money on the line.”

    I think you are underestimating the desire to transition that most trans people have. I can’t imagine going off HRT to grant myself a small edge in a competition, and no mater how competitive a trans woman is I very much doubt you are going to find a lot of us willing to give up HRT for any reason. Going on/off HRT is not easy and sometimes comes will wild mood swings, and the main reason we go on HRT is because it makes us feel better, psychologically speaking.

    “I might have to disappoint you here. Sorry.”

    OK, that’s unfortunate.

    “Sure, we don’t see it yet, but to suppose that we would never see it in a world without hormone therapy rules seems to me to be silly.”

    OK, so your argument is that cis people are going to pretend to be a member of a group that are often straight up killed, beat, and otherwise mocked and mistreated to give them what would probably only amount to a slight increase in their chance of winning. Particularly considering that female athletes are generally paid far less, and famous trans people are generally mocked and mistreated, even when the pass fairly well….yeah I find your position weird and frankly silly, and it makes me think you aren’t terribly aware of how badly trans people are treated. Personally I think any cis person who tried this wouldn’t last more than a week.

    “I am really puzzled why you call this a conspiracy.”

    I call it a conspiracy theory because it isn’t actually happening right now, so building an argument around the idea that it might become common place and might cause problems. I’ll add that quite frankly, despite your statement of good intentions your position IS transphobic particularly here, since you are essentially arguing that the rights of trans people should be curtailed because non-trans people might abuse the law in some way. That someone else might do something unethical with the rights I deserve is not a justification for taking my rights away. I mean the argument is essentially no different than the argument oft made by the GOP that I shouldn’t be allowed in the women’s room because some pedophile might pretend to be a trans woman to abuse children.

    It’s your choice how to take this chastisement, I’ve tried to be polite in my delivery of it, but this is a trans person explaining that your position is transphobic whether you mean it to be or not. It singles trans women out for discrimination based on the mere possibility that a cis person might do something unethical.

  64. says

    @Enlightenment Liberal:

    You are totally right that many trans-women would take standard hormone replacement therapy anyway. However, I suspect that you underestimate the competitive drive that many people have, especially with fame and large amounts of prize money on the line.

    This, if I understand you correctly, is an argument that because some people will break some reasonable rule, all people belonging to a particular minority class will assumed to be rule breakers and banned from competition.

    We know, for instance, that the USSR had an active doping program, and that the Russian Federation has continued it. Not only does this involve doping many of their athletes, they actively engaged in research on how to beat tests designed to detect cheating.

    Knowing that persons from certain countries have a history of excessive cheating that has continued unevenly to the present day, and knowing that they have often gone undetected for years – long enough to make it impossible for would-be-winners to profit from such things as endorsement deals, etc., which would make mere retroactive prize-money payments entirely insufficient to create fairness – a fair analog of your question might be,

    Would you be willing to ban all persons who hold citizenship in the countries of the former USSR from international competition to prevent some persons in that class of athletes from cheating? Why or why not?

    Separately, although the question wasn’t for me, I noticed this:

    Does the 14th amendment and “Brown V Board” mean that gender-segregation of sports is itself unconstitutional? It seems to me to be special pleading to say otherwise. …[I]t does seem that my legal understanding of the 14th amendment and human rights would forbid gender-segregation of bathrooms

    The 14th amendment to the constitution cannot restrict behavior to which the government is not a party. Since the vast majority of sport is overseen by governing bodies that are private, non-profit corporations (like the NCAA or its K-12 school equivalent in Oregon, the OSAA) or private, for-profit corporations (e.g. the NBA or the NHL). Thus gender-segregation of sports itself is not unconstitutional, though gender segregation of sport by direct government action might be. In how many cases of gender segregation we find the government acting directly to create it, I don’t know. I wonder if other states have non-profits running K-12 competitions the way Oregon does, or if other states have government-chartered organizations (similar to special boards created to regulate industries) that are created by law and whose members are nominated by an executive official (or even directly elected, like state utility regulatory commissions sometimes, but not always, acquire their directors).

    This wouldn’t be creating a distinction between racial and gender segregations, but rather maintaining the long-established constitutional understanding of what the constitution regulates, why, and how.

    But since we’re here, you might as well know that per SCOTUS the constitution does distinguish between racial segregation and gender segregation. Part of this is that SCOTUS Justices have determined that the particular purpose of the 14th can only be understood in the context of the end of the civil war and the enactment of the Constitution’s coincident Reconstruction amendments. Therefore, racial segregation – or disparate legal treatment on the basis of race – is subject to what is called Strict Scrutiny. Disparate legal treatment on the basis of gender or sex is subject to a lesser level of scrutiny.

    In fact, this is the point of the ERA: if we finally passed that amendment, strict scrutiny would apply to gender/sex distinct treatment under law. Until then, however, proper understanding of the constitution is that disparate legal treatment based on race and based on gender/sex are subject to different tests, differing levels of scrutiny, and will be sustained under different factual circumstances, with gender/sex distinctions being upheld far more often than race distinctions.

    Now, all that only goes to your question of whether its constitutional. As to whether international human rights treaties allow for situational gender segregation, that’s a factual question and the answer is yes, including in sport. As to whether someone’s personal conception of human rights allows for situational gender segregation, that question is very different and very personal. Since you directed that question at someone else, and since I’ve written enough already, I won’t bore you with my answer.

  65. PaulBC says

    It seems like the question of sports is kind of a red herring. They can work it out themselves. E.g., my kids used to swim, and I remember reading that butterfly was initially developed as a form of breaststroke. Since it’s faster, they soon decided to call it a separate event. Whether it’s weight classes or some other things, I kind of trust sporting organizations to figure it out. They deal with rule challenges constantly. Seriously, this is supposed to be a showstopper?

  66. harpermae says

    @ 78

    “We know, for instance, that the USSR had an active doping program”

    It’s also worth noting that despite this Russian Athletes have not come to totally dominate international sports, and I very much doubt that naturally occurring testosterone in a trans woman’s body is going to grant any more advantage than carefully designed doping programs would. If people who don’t dope still manage to win competitions despite cheaters it seems hard to believe that trans people are going to destroy the whole system.

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    OK, so your argument is that cis people are going to pretend to be a member of a group that are often straight up killed, beat, and otherwise mocked and mistreated to give them what would probably only amount to a slight increase in their chance of winning.

    Yea. People in sports do things all the time that are dangerous in order to slightly increase their chances of winning paltry prize pools. If there’s a prize pool, and if they think that they’re better than the women athletes, some men would try.

    I also think it’s more than “slight increase”, because I believe that the difference in athletic competence between cis-men and cis-women at the elite level is gigantic, not small.

    position is transphobic

    For it to be transphobic, that must mean that it’s at least factually wrong (or born out of malice), right? I guess I just don’t see it as factually wrong. What you see as patently false, I see as patently true (some men would lie about being a woman for a short time in order to compete in a women’s only event in order to potentially win prize money).

    And again, with the typical hormone therapy rule, I think that the number of men who would like to do this are basically zero. This is only a problem without a hormone therapy rule for participation by trans-women, and so this problem doesn’t exist in the real world because most (all?) sporting organizations have a hormone therapy rule.

    To Crip Dyke

    Would you be willing to ban all persons who hold citizenship in the countries of the former USSR from international competition to prevent some persons in that class of athletes from cheating? Why or why not?

    A ban limited to affected sports, for such time as is necessary, in order to protect the health and safety of the athletes from Russia and other places, yes.

    Thank you for your detailed breakdown of existing case law. I was aware of most of that, but it was a good refresher and it was good for othe readers. In particular, I was aware that the public accommodations provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was upheld under the Commerce Clause and not as the 14th amendment, as intended. I guess sometimes I pretend that it was otherwise because that’s how it should have happened. C’est la vie.

    As to whether international human rights treaties allow for situational gender segregation, that’s a factual question and the answer is yes, including in sport.

    Would international law also allow gender-segregation in the workplace? Presumably not. What makes sports special? To use the same phrase as Hj Hornbeck in the linked-to blog post that I was responding to,
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/reprobate/2019/06/27/special-pleading/
    it seems to me to be a form of “special pleading” to say that gender-segregation is allowed for sports but not in the workplace, in the context of the worldview of some of my conversation partners. The only way that it makes sense to me to allow gender-segregation in sports but not the workplace is to say that there is relevant and substantial difference between the genders and/or sexes as it relates to sports but not the workplace, and it seems that Hj Hornbeck in particular denies that there is a substantial relevant difference with regard to sports between the sexes and/or genders. Thus, I attempted to query him to explain himself, because it seems that in their world view, the solution should be obvious: abolish the gender-segregation of sports.

    Whereas, in my world view, I don’t see that as obviously the best solution, because I believe that there is a vast difference in athletic competence at the elite level between “assigned-male-at-birth” persons and “assigned-female-at-birth” persons, and I worry about the social effect that it would have on young cis-women to see practically zero cis-women winning at very high levels of sports competitions.

  68. says

    Dear cis people,
    please stop talking about trans people in sports. The whole discussion is completely unnecessary, as there are almost no trans people in sports, and no trans women winning something with whatever unfair advantage someone claims they have. It’s just plain old bigotry.

    Dear cis people,
    you need to listen, when trans people tell you that something is transphobic. Blatantly transphobic. You’re not entitled to an hours long debate before you can accept that. There is 100 times more of you than of us, so even if we spend all day to explain why something is transphobic, there will always be five more people to drop in to say “huh, I can’t see any transphobia at all! Please have a debate! Please explain!”

    It’s so fucking exhausting.

    And it makes me sick, honestly, that a blog post on how the ACA has fucked up and is being overtaken by transphobes is flooded with comments about the same kind of fake-sports-discussion (y’all aren’t involved in sports, are you?) that has already made the ACA forums so toxic.

    There hasn’t been any account of trans women winning unfairly. Trans people are UNDERREPRESENTED in sports. Until that changes, this discussion is just a way to make trans people´s daily life yet a bit harder, whether you intend it or not. This is transphobia. Please stop. If you continue to have discussions on something so completely irrelevant to your life (but harmful and dangerous to ours) you are moving the discussions away from REAL problems like trans people being openly discriminated basically everywhere, having extremely high suicide rates, getting killed, etc.

    If you want to make trans peoples life better, if you actually care about us, then stop engaging in this pointless sports discussion. The only thing that accomplishes is to boost your ego, but it harms us.

  69. oddie says

    Closeted trans person here, and this comment section is exactly why I haven’t come out yet. People who are claiming to be “on my side” shitting all over me and not even educated / empathetic enough to understand/ care that that is what you are doing.

  70. says

    “and I worry about the social effect that it would have on young cis-women to see practically zero cis-women winning at very high levels of sports competitions.”

    I’d like to point to this as a prime example of using a baseless fear to promote bigotry. And I don’t accuse you of any bad intentions, but you really have to reconsider what the effects of such ideas are.

  71. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Jundurg.
    Meh. I didn’t even bring up that scenario initially. Someone else did bring it up, and I responded with something that included something like “and the odds of this happening in reality is basically zero because of the standard hormone replacement therapy rules”. So, I think I deserve a little slack. Meh.

    I am trying to learn, to challenge my beliefs. If that sort of discussion is not welcome here at this time, then I’ll stop. I want to be supportive. However, I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable and accepting about being told by others (approx) “you’re just going to have to trust us that it’s transphobic, now shut up about it, and you must never talk about it again”.

  72. John Morales says

    I don’t usually breach my own determinations, but in this case…

    EL:

    However, I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable and accepting about being told by others (approx) “you’re just going to have to trust us that it’s transphobic, now shut up about it, and you must never talk about it again”.

    Perspective. It ain’t about you, it’s whether FtB can tolerate a blogs thas encourage more-or-less transphobic discussions. PZ has made no bones about this.

    You may or may not think it transphobic, by your own evaluation. But sure as hell multiple acknowledged trans people have told you that it (effectively, if not intentionally) is.

    (I’ve argued in the past about the expression ‘intent ain’t magic’, but here is is not an inapplicable concept; your well-meaning is in tension with what acknowledged trans people are telling you outright)

    In any case, this post is clear. Are you or are you not in favour of the proposed action?

  73. says

    @EL

    Fine. gives a little slack

    If disengaging is not your style (It’s not mine either.^^) I recommend listening to trans people discussing an issue. They’ll on average be much better informed and have a more interesting conversation. I’ve learned a lot of things that way.

    I’ve personally stopped to have any longer discussions on racism. I recognize that my opinions on that are kind of irrelevant, as I don’t bring any expertise to the table. And no first-hand experience, because I’m white and grew up in a very very white region. So … what I want to do is to just promote PoC speaking for themselves.

    If I don’t manage to do that, I’d of course be a huge hypocrite if I demanded the same from cis people. ;-)

  74. John Morales says

    [Quietude? OK. Putting it as bluntly as I can: If you punch someone and they say “Ouch! You’re hurting me!”, then objecting that you are not doing so in your estimation is… well, the same as you are doing right now. Empiricism]

  75. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To PZ
    Thanks for the link again. Just finished watching all of it. I feel like I’m closer now to understanding the complaints against me. I still don’t really understand it all, but Tracie’s comments in the video help me understand at least partially.

    Sorry for bothering everyone. I’ll just be on my way again, unless someone addresses me directly.

  76. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think it’s finally time for a new change. My old name was foolish and miscommunicated who I want to be. I don’t want to be associated with “rationality” or “logical” atheists, nor with “classical liberals” aka libertarians. the name change is long overdue. Here’s my name name. I’ll drop the suffix after a while.

  77. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And one selfish post. Sorry. If any of the regulars from the AXP blog want to contact me, use johnsmith1048578@gmail.com . I’ll try to check it more regularly if anyone wants to contact me. However, a much better approach would be to reply to one of my comments on Ed Brayton’s blog at patheos.

  78. says

    @ EnlightenmentLiberal

    Like several other people, I also perceived your words as transphobic or at least harmful for transgender people. Personally, I’m genderqueer rather than transgender, but I still experience the same forms of discrimination.

    In itself, suggesting that trans women athletes should be required to use hormone replacement therapy wouldn’t be that bad. It’s not the worst thing I have heard, and, frankly, most MTF athletes would probably want to use hormones anyway. Nonetheless, there are still huge problems with your suggestion:
    1) it perfectly fits in the wider context of trans discrimination and furthers all the other ongoing forms of discrimination;
    2) the arguments you proposed in favor of hormone policing among MTF athletes ooze of transphobia.

    Let’s start with the first problem. As a queer person, I don’t want cis people telling me what I can or cannot do with my body. It’s up to me to decide. All the existing legal regulations are already really nasty. They abuse and hurt us. In many countries, trans people must get themselves surgically sterilized before they are allowed to legally change their gender. In some countries, it’s impossible to change your gender if you already are a parent. Most countries place restrictions upon who can get their legal gender and name changed. Some say that hormone replacement therapy is enough, but many others demand that a person must also get one or more surgeries. And this is just the legal tip of the iceberg. Let’s assume some trans person actually wants to get all the possible medical interventions. Some countries require them to obtain a psychiatrist’s permission to get started with the gender change. Here’s one FTM person’s experience with the obligatory psychiatric evaluation— http://ftmguide.rassaku.net/me/psych.htm After leaving the doctor’s office, he was crying. Having to prove to a panel of transphobic doctors that you truly need the medical interventions you want is just immensely humiliating and uncomfortable.

    Personally, I have spent over a year trying to obtain a hysterectomy. I have visited multiple transphobic doctors who all kicked me out of their offices saying that I should stop pretending to be a guy and instead live as a woman and make some babies. Incidentally, in my country I am legally entitled to the surgery. Doctors discriminated me despite the fact that it’s illegal to discriminate queer patients.

    Whenever cis people start writing laws about what we can or cannot do with our bodies, it’s bound to turn nasty. A state should just allow anybody to pick whatever letter they want to see in their passport. We should be free to change our names to whatever we like. We should be free to obtain surgeries and hormone replacement therapy if we want to, but it must be our own free choice (a trans person should not be punished for choosing not to get some medical intervention). We should be free to have biological children if we so choose (theoretically, trans women could freeze their sperm and trans men can sometimes have a pregnancy even after transitioning, yet laws often forbid us from doing so). Cis people should just stop policing our bodies. They should stop policing our restroom usage. They should finally realize that every person ought to be legally allowed to do with their body whatever they want.

    Even though majority of trans athletes probably would want to get hormones anyway, it is still better not to pass laws and regulations that enforce what they can or cannot do. This kind of policing is abusive.

    Now, on to the second problem with your position—the arguments you proposed in favor of hormone policing among MTF athletes ooze of transphobia. I dislike your reasoning for why such regulations are necessary. You started by trying to imagine what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen if cis people stopped policing trans people and just allowed them to do with their bodies whatever they want to do. This is exactly what the restroom enforcers do: “What could possibly go wrong if trans women were allowed to use women’s restrooms? Well, a trans woman might rape a cis woman in a restroom. Even worse, a cis male pedophile might put on a wig and pretend to be a trans woman in order to rape girls inside a women’s restroom.” Never mind that there is no evidence of trans women raping somebody in a restroom. It has never happened, but transphobes still use this extremely unlikely imaginary scenario as a justification for why trans people should be abused. Incidentally, cis people fearing that trans women might abuse them is silly considering the status quo—right now trans women are the victims who get routinely abused by cis people.

    You are using the same argument structure here. So far, no cis male athlete has ever pretended to be a woman in order to win in some women’s competition. So far, trans women who are competing in women’s sporting events haven’t flooded them thus forcing cis women out of competition. Nonetheless, you are imagining this highly unlikely worst case scenario and using your imaginary worries as an excuse for why trans women athletes ought to be abused.

    Firstly, I believe that if restrictions for trans women athletes got removed, the apocalypse you predicted simply would not happen. You see your imaginary worst case scenario as likely to happen, but trans people themselves see it as laughable and near impossible. Gender is serious business for people. For me even something as comparatively minor as simply switching to male wardrobe required several months of self doubts and agonizing over it. In order to successfully lie about being a trans woman, a cis guy would have to spend several years living as a woman. And after winning some competition, the athlete would have to keep on living as a woman for the rest of their life or else somebody would suggest taking away their medal. Cis men participating in women’s athletic competitions en masse is extremely unlikely to happen.

    Secondly, if someday your worst fears really came true and trans women actually flooded women’s athletic competitions, only then it would be justifiable for people who are into sports to figure out how to solve the problem after it has already started to happen. It’s just wrong to abuse some group of people out of fear that giving them freedom and equal rights might lead to some imaginary (and highly unlikely) apocalypse.

    I have gotten the impression that you lack education about trans issues. You also seem to not be that much into women’s sports. Yet you are scaremongering about this topic. By doing so, you are essentially spreading prejudice against trans people, you are contributing to normalizing a discourse that is abusive towards us. Trans people already disproportionally suffer from violence and discrimination. You shouldn’t further spread all the prejudices against us.

    I try to focus my own blog on art rather than complaining about everyday discrimination. Still, I have written a few times about all the shit that a gender nonconforming person has to experience on a daily basis. In case you are interested and really want to learn more about discrimination, here are the links:

    https://andreasavester.com/why-businesses-should-not-be-allowed-to-deny-service-to-customers-based-on-personal-religious-beliefs/
    https://andreasavester.com/dont-patronize-the-minorities/
    https://andreasavester.com/facebook-hates-transgender-people-or-why-i-got-forbidden-from-having-a-facebook-account/

    By the way, as an agender or genderqueer person, I have decided not to get the bottom surgery. For now I don’t have enough money anyway, but I might someday in the future get a top surgery (namely getting rid of my breasts). For now I’m also not using male hormones. As you can notice, I’m not neatly fitting into the category defined as a “trans male.” Still, I’m definitely not a cis woman either. Since I have chosen to forego specific medical interventions, I’m not legally allowed to change my name. Whenever cis people tell me that I must get a list of medical interventions before I’m allowed to use male pronouns, that’s abusive. With their regulations, cis people are attempting to deny me the right to live as I see fit. What I do with my body ought to be my choice. How I call myself also ought to be my choice. (By the way, you don’t have to worry about genderqueer, agender or genderfluid athletes flooding women’s sporting events. We wouldn’t call ourselves “women.”)

  79. fledanow says

    So testosterone levels determine who is a real woman? I’m reminded of the “one drop of blood” rule used by racists to determine who was a true white person and whom to exclude.

  80. harpermae says

    @81

    I went to bed so I missed a lot of this conversation but I did want to respond to several things in your response directed towards me.

    “I also think it’s more than “slight increase”, because I believe that the difference in athletic competence between cis-men and cis-women at the elite level is gigantic, not small.”

    OK, perhaps we have a very different standard for “gigantic” but from what I understand the largest gaps in records for women hover around 90% of the men’s world records, and less in a lot of situations. In fact there are several Olympic sports where the women’s division had a higher record than the men’s for a while. And again world records are on the outer edge of those bell curves, and very few men or women are going to come close to those numbers in practice. Add that to the fact that hormonal differences between cis woman and cis men are only one of potentially thousands of factors that can affect a person’s performance and pushing transphobic rules would do nothing to stop cis men from doing things to manipulate those factors which would be much more invisible than pretending to be a woman would be. There are also lots of sports where raw strength isn’t particularly helpful.

    I’d also point out that people who dope or do other things to get an edge in athletic competitions usually try to hide what they are doing, and coming out as trans to compete on women’s teams is not remotely hidden, it’s also worth noting that if more than a handful of men actually did this then their supposed advantage over cis-women would disappear. I suspect that there are other ways of improving performance, that won’t require that the athlete pretend, potentially for the rest of their lives, that they are a trans woman.

    “For it to be transphobic, that must mean that it’s at least factually wrong (or born out of malice), right? ”

    OK, let me address each of these questions separately.
    1. “born out of malice?”
    This is the easiest one to answer and the answer is an emphatic no. Honestly I’m not sure why so many people have trouble understanding this. It is entirely posible to do/say things that are homophobic/transpohbic/racist/sexist or just about any other flavor of bigotry without any malicious intent, because it’s not about intent it’s about effect. One of the reasons it’s important to talk about it this way is that we cannot actually see people’s intent, and most people with actual malice towards a group of people will deny that they have such malice, but effect is something we can, more or less, objectively measure. The question is not whether you intend to be transphobic, but whether the effect of your actions/statements results in discrimination towards trans people.

    has to be “at least factually wrong?”

    OK, the answer here is also no, but with a few caveats. First let’s ask, what exactly are you claiming you are factually accurate about? That people might lie to win a competition, sure you are right about this, but it isn’t really directly relevant to the discussion, that they will lie about this specific thing to win a competition? Well you admit that this isn’t even happening right now, but argue that it might? OK, that’s not a statement that can even be examined for factual accuracy because it’s a guess about future events so you can’t really claim factual accuracy here. But here is the thing, even if it were absolutely true that some cis men would try to pretend to be trans to win competitions, it still wouldn’t be acceptable to discriminate against trans women in order to prevent this. Perhaps there should be some kinds of protections to prevent this, but I think we’d need more evidence that this was an actual problem, and taking the voices of trans athletes seriously when implementing it, before we did this. I mean, we didn’t start testing for drugs until doping was an actual issue, not just because someone said “hey this might be an issue someday.”

  81. consciousness razor says

    I think we would simply be better off without gender segregation in sports. It may be a long time before that could be fully implemented, and I’m sure many are adamantly opposed to the idea. Anyway, I’m not saying it would be quick or easy.
    Chess is something I pay attention to sometimes (unlike “physical” sports). I suppose a similar kind of point might be made about gaming or “e-sports”…. Gender is an arbitrary boundary we’ve decided to draw, and we could draw others (still somewhat arbitrary) that would serve a similar purpose with fewer drawbacks. The internal conflict [ * ] such segregationist policies create would go away, which is what everybody ought to want.
    In chess, there are tournaments/matches/etc. and whole rating/title systems, which are only for women/girls, to encourage their participation, to recognize (and reward) the best players in that more limited field. But at the same time, there are games and categories which are “open” to everyone. Well-defined rating systems are used, and particularly in the top tiers of competition that may be used to restrict who can play in which events, how players are chosen (by a country, etc.) for team events, and so forth. There are some women grandmasters who compete at the highest levels — not like it was decades ago — but they are few and far between (predominantly or entirely for cultural/economic reasons). But in general, if somebody has a similar rating to yours, that is all you need to know. If your rating is much higher (or lower), you probably won’t and shouldn’t play against them (in a competitive setting — casual games are casual). It may not be a perfect approach, but it’s miles ahead of the approach taken in most ordinary sports, which is reason enough to take it seriously.
    People are already familiar with distinctions like “varsity” and “junior varsity” in most sports (or teams A, B, C, etc.), in addition to various leagues as in major and minor league baseball. Those at least purport to be based on how well the players can compete with one another, to make for an interesting and fair competition at all levels. Whether those are really merit-based is another question…. I bet many people can tell a story of someone getting on the varsity team in school, not the JV team or no team, because of their family’s connections or wealth or whatever.
    But the types of rating systems I’m talking about, in chess and elsewhere, are calculated only from your past performance against other players (who also have their own ratings, obviously). In addition to that way of assessing individual performance, you can be fully inclusive to women (or any group) who may not be the top competitors in the world (at least not yet) but will fit into the picture somewhere, and you can allow anyone in that group into those top tiers (with the same pay, fame, etc., that goes with it) if in fact they perform at that level, with no other questions asked. (Obviously, questions like “are you cheating?” are still asked, but you get the point.) I can’t think of a single reason why that is not a better approach for everybody.
    [ * ] That is, regarding the way sports organizations/institutions themselves create such conflict with this particular arbitrary division. I’m not making the absurd claim that this would end gender discrimination in the society at large, or end all such conflict within sports. But there’s certainly no need to add to it, with bad institutions and policies.

  82. chris61 says

    @95 harpermae

    OK, perhaps we have a very different standard for “gigantic” but from what I understand the largest gaps in records for women hover around 90% of the men’s world records, and less in a lot of situations.

    And if you look at recent olympic times for some of those sports (like swimming or track and field) what 90% of the men’s times translates into is that no woman would place higher than ninth. It is a ‘gigantic’ difference for a number of sports.

  83. tuvix says

    @95
    QUOTE
    1. “born out of malice?”
    […] It is entirely possible to do/say things that are homophobic/transphobic/racist/sexist or just about any other flavor of bigotry without any malicious intent, because it’s not about intent it’s about effect. One of the reasons it’s important to talk about it this way is that we cannot actually see people’s intent, and most people with actual malice towards a group of people will deny that they have such malice, but effect is something we can, more or less, objectively measure. […]
    END QUOTE

    I think this is the crux of this entire debate!

    I currently do not agree that it is effect that should be the qualifier for the label sexist/racist etc.

    What you can however do is look at how a person who has inadvertently said something sexist/racist etc reacts if you confront them with the fact that their statement had the effect of seeming racist/sexist etc. Sometimes the statement then gets withdrawn, but it can also be restated differently, trying to avoid causing harm, but still trying to make the point they were trying to make in the first place. In effect: attack the idea, not the person by labeling them as racist/sexist etc!

    Please correct me if am wrong, but I think looking at effect, not intent leads to exactly the same sort of problem that you get when religious people call something ‘sacred’ and then calling you names if you dare to question it.

    NOBODY has the right to silence anyone else because they feel offended (not counting things like libel, which you have to prove in court).

    I can loosely quote Hitchens on this: You’re offended? I’m still waiting to hear what your point is!
    The problem is that it is an infinite regress. The person who you say offended you can also do the same and say they are the one offended by your statements.

  84. says

    Let me make a couple of general points. Theis is about political activism first and abstract issues second. Because of that I make people uncomfortable because the politics demands that take overt dispositions towards things in public whenever possible.

    In this situation I treat negative feelings about trans people as a group (trans women here). I do the same when it comes to gays destroying marriage and I do the same now when it comes to trans women in women’s sports.

    I don’t trust the stories our society tells when it comes to people assigned the “male” and “female” boxes. We play pretend so I will interrogate or societies stories. Here is a hypothesis. From birth “male” and “female” people are differently socially supported when it comes to sports, physical activity, and general assertiveness (testosterone is a social hormone, everyone must address this!).

    I will consider the hypothesis that most human sexual dimorphism is due to social reinforcement that affects the levels of hormones on a long term level. As far as I’m concerned we can’t assume anything, and I’ll be asking you questions.

  85. says

    @John Morales 56
    (Written before I saw the conversation with HJ, I’m posting it anyway)

    And if you have something to say about HJ Hornbeck’s posts you can find another way to express yourself about them. Since it’s about the transphobia of the person who the athiest experience hosted you might even get to talk about it here.
    They’ve got a set of things they are trying to deal with through how they run their blog, maybe ask them about it and see if there’s something you can help with or something if you want that space. Otherwise you do have the ability to to comment about their posts, just not on their blog.

    With respect to blog activity, it looks like you are putting your entertainment ahead of dealing with a social problem other people are dealing with. I know that as a reader that is a concern for you, but you’ve at least got to be able to recognize in the abstract that people are going to put some things ahead of readable content.

    And for the record building back what I lost (ability to socially confront individual people when needed) is easier than learning the new thing (writing for the group) when it comes to severe social anxiety.

    Did you enjoy using me for your tool in this situation? I’m not actually all that upset because this is a thing I can handle and it’s not hard to do the confrontation. I do hate the fact that I’ve got a concentrated ball of anxiety where my ability to know what to blog about is, but frankly that’s all separate from if the athiest experience show blog should be here.

  86. says

    Ick. I’m sorry about that first paragraph.

    “In this situation I treat negative feelings about trans people as a group (trans women here) as a thing to be investigated.” That’s important, it’s a political behavior to me. I need a way of reminding myself to review.

  87. harpermae says

    @99

    Again, nearly no one admits to bigoted intent. David Duke claims he is not a racist. You can die on this hill if you want to, but arguing that I must prove intent to point out that someone is engaging in bigotry makes it functionally impossible to label anything as bigoted, and ultimately such a position gives cover to racist/bigots by allowing them to pretend they didn’t “intend” that effect.

    If someone points out that something you said was racist/sexist/homophobic and your first reaction is to defend yourself against an “unfair” accusation instead of trying to understand why your behavior/statements perpetuate those things then you are being part of the problem. It’s not my job to coddle everyone elses feelings. I mean, like Hitchens said, “you’re offended” isn’t an argument, and yet “you’re offended” is basically the only argument you can offer against labeling these things based on effect instead of intent.

    “Please correct me if am wrong”

    Right, OK, you are wrong. The reason you are wrong is that I can generally present reasons why a particular statement or behavior is bigoted, and exactly how it causes or encourages discrimination, that’s not remotely the same as a religious person calling something “sacred” but your attempt to poison the well is noted.

    “NOBODY has the right to silence anyone else because they feel offended”

    Since this is exactly what you are trying to do to me I’ll just feel free to ignore anything else you have to say.

  88. says

    I’m mulling over putting brackets around every assertion about people in the male, female, man, woman, cis, trans box and asking where they learned that. And given the full set of functions associated with these hormones, the way female people are forced to have a maximum testosterone level, and the amount of bullshit present in social assumptions I think I would be justified.

  89. says

    The “trying to silenced me” bullshit has been nothing but sensitivity to parallel criticism in my experience. If you have your discussion about the group of people your negative feelings are attached to other people get to question your publicly aired concerns in return. It’s reasonable in a deeply transphobic society.

    I haven’t seen silencing, I’ve seen people pushing out critics.

  90. twarren1111 says

    Well, I’m kinda overwhelmed.

    One thing to note is that the COMMENT section on the AXP FtB blog is not the AXP or the ACA. The people who post there, such as myself, can be anyone who does the WordPress registration. Eg, my registration is the same for pharyngula as it was for the AXP. As such, to consider me in any way, shape or form representing Dr. Myers and his blog or the FtB organization by my post here and now is as ridiculous as suggesting the commenters on the AXP blog are part of the blog administration itself.

    I’m pretty sure that if I posted offensive material here that Dr. Myers would fairly soon (most likely within a week) address my comment and ban me if necessary. As for the AXP blog comments section, it is barely moderated and, perhaps most importantly, dud not purport to be moderated. I am also not aware of who, if any of the commenters actually belonged to the ACA. I do not, just as I am not a member of FtB.

    My experience with the blog comments section was usually for me, just as EnlightmentLiberal responded in his comments here: he stated a position(s) and, to me, seems perfectly willing to change his claims with evidence.

    When recently the comment section of the blog got to 720 comments over issues related to gender issues, I did not participate in the discussion for a very simple reason: I’ve never understood the brouhaha over gender and sexuality issues at all bc, to me, if I want to know anything about a person, well, um, I just ask them. I don’t care if someone tells me they are male or female but I sure as hell have no role in telling someone else if they are male or female. I don’t care who someone is intimate with as long as everyone consents (and that means you have to have at least 18yo frontal lobes- bc it’s just too much to require frontal lobes in humans to be 25yo to consent- and be of sound mind). It’s the same with contraception and abortion. I have zero role making medical decisions for other 18yo and older people except for my children that are under 18yo. What completely baffles me as a physician is why politicians and religious people and faith based reasoning people are allowed to practice medicine which is what any law is doing when it comes between anyone 18yo or older who is able to consent when they are meeting with their doctor. Abortion is and always will be a medical decision. Contraception too. Corporations aren’t people my friends.

    Anyway…my point is that the comments section of the blog IS NOT THE ACA and should not be a factor in deplatforming. If the issue was the comment section then disabling the comment section would be the remedy.

    As for the ACA, I was, like EL, not privy at all as to what the brouhaha was over Stephen Woolford. Why? Bc I am not the ACA or the AXP show. But, what was apparent to me is that the organization appears to lack governance policies that an evolved organization should have. Specifically, the sign of governance issues is whenever personality drives issues not policy. To wit: our federal government has a governance issue bc personality (ie partisan politics) is preventing policy (the constitution and the impeachment clauses) to resolve a problem (a POTUS who is, via the Michael Cohen case, a felon with a more than 95% probability of being true (or Cohen wouldn’t be in prison)). Another way to look at it: you know when you got your governance right when your policies handle issues related to low or no empathy personalities (as is the case in psychopathy dangerouscase.org).

    Anyway…later.

  91. says

    @Tuvix, 99:

    I currently do not agree that it is effect that should be the qualifier for the label sexist/racist etc.
    What you can however do is look at how a person who has inadvertently said something sexist/racist etc reacts if you confront them with the fact that their statement had the effect of seeming racist/sexist etc.

    But this is incoherent. If only something born out of malice can be oppressive, then there is no such thing as “a person who has inadvertently said something sexist/racist”. Either you can judge whether something is oppressive (racist, sexist, cissexist, ableist, etc.) without regard to malicious intent – which would invalidate you’re entire argument – or you can’t, in which case “inadvertent racism” does not exist.

    I’ve seen these arguments many times before, and when they are able to be traced to their root (which isn’t often, I grant) they typically devolve to something like this:

    Racism is, like, super evil. Obviously things can be judged racist aside from intent. If a bunch of people all lynch someone because their afraid other people will know that deep down they don’t hate black people if they don’t join in, the lynching is racist. But I don’t lynch anyone, and if I accidentally do something else racist, I don’t want you to call me super evil. Please don’t call me super evil. I’m really not. I just don’t know everything yet. Really.

    But this is simply failing to think things through. If you’re interacting with someone who believes the only reasonable thing to believe about racism and intent, that it is indeed possible to judge something racist without the use of telepathy, then they necessarily believe that having done something racist on its own doesn’t make you super evil. You could be, but chances are you’re not. After all, German society killed millions in aggressive war, Soviet society killed millions through the engineered starvation of the Ukraine, and US society killed millions through the slave trade and indigenous genocide. Yet there was only one Hitler, one Stalin, and one Andrew Jackson. We who believe it’s not only possible, but mandatory, that we judge racism without waiting for the evidence of telepathy are fully aware of the so-called banality of evil. We get it. We’ve done bad things ourselves. We’re not trying to label you Andrew Freuding Jackson. We’re acknowledging that the world doesn’t get better if we don’t act on the evidence we have instead of waiting for the Godot of some magical evidence of intent-reading.

    Take a step back and realize that if you really believe that racism can only exist where there is malicious racial prejudice, you’re going to have to give up on ideas like “accidental racism” in order to convince others. On the other hand, if you believe that we can call a lynching racist before the invention of telepathy, you’re going to have to give up on the idea that racism only exists in the presence of malicious racial prejudice.

  92. twarren1111 says

    Oh. AND THANK YOU DR. MYERS FOR POSTING THE VIDEO.

    It is INEXCUSABLE that I had to finally learn what was going on from your video post and not from the ACA itself. The first sign of trouble I felt was when the issue was not discussed on the show. Lack of transparency kills the scientific method of determining reality and the ACA’s silence on such a huge event reveals the organizations fall into faith based reasoning.

    As for the video, I just got to the 9:09 mark with the comment by Fabian Elfeld. They make the awesome and succinct observation in my comment about the cardinal sign an organization is in trouble when personality determines decisions and not policy.

    It is UNFATHOMABLE (and now I’m in the ANGER STAGE OF GRIEVING!!) that an organization that espouses evidence based decision making has let this occur. I’m pissed bc I’m embarrassed.

  93. says

    Please correct me if am wrong, but I think looking at effect, not intent leads to exactly the same sort of problem that you get when religious people call something ‘sacred’ and then calling you names if you dare to question it.

    You have to look at both. Effect tells you what happened. Intent tells you why and, consequently, whether it’s likely to happen again. One doesn’t invalidate the other, but it’s important to understand each for what it is.

  94. says

    @LykeX:

    Well, you have to look at both, but you don’t have to look at both to determine whether or not something is racist. To do that, you simply have to look at the elements of your definition of “racism” or “racist”. This also, by the way, eliminates Tuvix’s concern:

    I think looking at effect, not intent leads to exactly the same sort of problem that you get when religious people call something ‘sacred’ and then calling you names if you dare to question it.

    Look, defining blue light as light between 380 and 500 nanometers in wavelength means you don’t have to look at how bright a room is, and it may still appear black if the only light in the room is blue by wavelength, but there’s not enough of it for the human brain to actually perceive anything in the room. Does that mean that optical physicists are bigoted religious fundamentalists? Nope. They’ve got a definition and they’re using empirical evidence to determine whether or not something meets that definition.

    The only reasonable definitions of racism do not require an intent element. If we see a law that creates a system where only white people can vote, do we have to investigate the thoughts of the legislators who passed it before deciding whether or not it’s racist? Of course not. Based on this, our definitions of “racist” cannot include an intent element (or at least not a strict/mandatory one).

    I argue that based on how we use the word in a world without telepathy, we can’t include a strict/mandatory intent element in the definitions of racism and racist.

    But of course none of that contradicts your point that when planning or choosing the appropriate response to oppression (including but not limited to racism) taking intent into account as best as we are able is far more productive than not doing so. After all, if we wish to change people’s behavior, it is sure helpful to know what was motivating them to engage in undesirable behavior in the first place.

    I think that you and I are on the same page here (please correct me if I’m wrong), but thought that some clarification could be useful.

  95. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Correction: Upthread, I said I think removing gender-segregation of bathrooms would produce worse outcomes. I don’t know why I said that. I haven’t thought that was true for a while. Old habits I guess. anat in 74 gives a simple solution. I’ll just repeat that this isn’t my fight because it doesn’t hurt me plus I don’t want to mansplain to women.

    Hj Hornbeck

    I can ask here or there. Do you have a preference?

    I’m still curious if you really believe that what I wrote in the remainder in this post is wrong, and that there is not a vast difference between athletic competence at the elite level between assigned-male-at-birth and assigned-female-at-birth?

    I think some people are ignorant of just one fact, and I wanted to share just that one fact relating to this:

    OK, perhaps we have a very different standard for “gigantic” but from what I understand the largest gaps in records for women hover around 90% of the men’s world records, and less in a lot of situations.

    And if you look at recent olympic times for some of those sports (like swimming or track and field) what 90% of the men’s times translates into is that no woman would place higher than ninth. It is a ‘gigantic’ difference for a number of sports.

    If we considered some fantasy world where only the best athletes competed, having a cis-woman place “ninth” in mixed-gender competition is basically impossible for many (most?) sports. For stuff like the 100 m dash, the fastest cis-woman in the world in the 100 m dash wouldn’t even break the top 1,000 fastest sprinters in the United States alone (and the real number is possibly much higher). Even if we were to compare the best adult cis-women to only high school age men athletes, the fastest cis-woman in the world wouldn’t even break the 100 fastest sprinters in the United States (and the real number is possibly much higher). That’s what a 10% difference means. There are loads and loads of men athletes who come close to the men’s record every year, within a few percent or better, and (practically) zero cis-women can do do better than get within approx 10% of the men’s record. To put it in perspective, there are tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, and maybe more, men athletes worldwide who could all beat the measured fastest cis-women of all time, the women’s world record, in the 100 m dash, and this pattern appears to hold true for most (almost all?) sports. No cis-woman could place 9th in a not gender segregated competition where only the best participated. Not even close. That is the gigantic gap that I’m talking about, and it does not look to be closing.

    I just tried to gut-check myself, and see if this really could still be upbringing instead of biology, and so I looked up events where physical strength and athleticism would play much less of a role. It appears that in equestrian events and shooting events, women are already on the same level as men, and have been for a while. In fact, for shooting, it used to be not-gender-segregated at the Olympics, and several women won the gold medal for some shooting events. (Then they introduced gender-segregation, apparently using the same logic why the United States uses racial affirmative action for college admissions – not because of unequal ability, but to help drive more participation in the sport to overcome real cultural biases that help discourage women from entering the sport.) I am now even more firmly convinced that that gap that we see in elite level sports competitions cannot be upbringing and must be biology.

  96. says

    Uh… did anyone read the comments by Jundurg at # 82 and oddie @ #83? Because if anyone did read them, then the sports discussion should have stopped.

  97. says

    I am now even more firmly convinced that that gap that we see in elite level sports competitions cannot be upbringing and must be biology.

    This is an odd conclusion, given the evidence you just presented. Wouldn’t you have to conclude that equestrian and shooting events are NOT “elite level sports competitions” in order to justify the statement that the differences we see in elite level sports competitions cannot be upbringing and must be biology?

    It seems to me, and I’ve said this before in a number of places and a number of ways, that differences between average male performance and average female performance is clearly related to biology for only some sports, and even in those sports where a difference exists, which of those two sexes has the advantage will depend on the specific sport. The same holds true for world records rather than average performance.

    Take gymnastics, for instance. My step-brother competed at an international level (and was hoping to be part of the US Olympic team) before a career ending injury. I knew him from the time he was 13 and have a good idea what his life was like as a dedicated athlete. I also saw him achieve a number of firsts in his sport – though these were firsts for his then-league, not world firsts. At the time he went to college, he was a multiple record holder in men’s high-school gymnastics (at least for his state, I don’t remember if he held any national records) and had already travelled to his first 2 international competitions. He had that buff gymnastics build like you wouldn’t believe. No, he wasn’t Olympics-ready yet, though just before his injury he was one of a handful of favorites to win the NCAA men’s all-around that year, which is saying a lot because men gymnasts’ athletic peak is usually post-college in the mid-20s, and so gymnasts at the NCAAs usually get better every year and being a favorite before you hit your senior year is a big deal.

    So, this is the best picture I can give of his level of “elite”. To a non-gymnast like me, he was astonishing. Obviously there are more informed and knowledgeable watchers of the sport than I, but I really couldn’t see what the difference was between his skills in 92 and the skills of the Olympic competitors in 92. I really thought he’d be in Atlanta in 96.

    And yet… he often told me that it was physically impossible for him to remotely compete with the women and girls in their gymnastics events, save vault and floor exercise. He told me that he simply had no chance and would never have had any chance to perform well on uneven bars and balance beam. On the beam wide shoulders are worse than wide hips. You ideally want everything to be narrow so the beam is relatively wide to your body, but failing that you want any wide parts to be as close to the beam as possible so as to require less torque to overcome small lateral displacements. Moreover, while my brother was amazing on the floor, women’s floor exercise has certain required elements and scoring elements that are different from those required for men & boys, and they would on average disadvantage men and boy competitors.

    The differences we see in elite sports, then, are highly variable, and the fact that we see males perform better on average in sports that we think of as “major” sports has everything to do with how we write the rules for those sports and which sports society has decided it wants to value.

    If society wanted to value something like a steeplechase but with narrow obstacles that must be quickly squeezed through as well as those objects which must be jumped over, with the hypothetical steeplechase finale drawing in viewership like the current Super Bowl and the hypothetical Super Bowl drawing viewership like the current NCAA women’s softball championship semi-finals, you would tend to think of “elite athletes” as women and tend to think that males are at a competitive disadvantage, because they can never win the really important competitions even if they do well in their own niche sports.

    Yes, there are average differences in build between sexes and these transfer to different average performance in certain sports. But what those differences are, how large they are, to which sex or sexes they pertain, these are all dramatically dependent on culturally specific choices a society makes.

    As another addition, consider horse racing (rather than “equestrian” events which are different). Small size is an important advantage, as is having narrower shoulders than hips. Yet we don’t see women dominating the jockey ranks. Why is that? Because of relentless sexist discrimination. Do a search for discrimination in horse racing and you’ll find article after article about it. We know that the discrimination exists, we have known that for years, and yet decade after decade nothing is done to end that discrimination.

    This tells me that when society sufficiently values a sport even though the natural average advantages would accrue to the population of female persons and not male persons, society finds a way (at least sometimes) to make sure that men win out anyway.

    So, sure, men, on average, are taller. This provides at least one average advantage in Basketball. Other examples come rapidly to mind of sports where males have a statistically significant average performance advantage. And yet, there’s no inherent reason why the athletes in basketball or NFL football should be paid more than, or receive more media attention than, women shooters and gymnasts and jockeys and equestrians.

    So when you say that you are

    now even more firmly convinced that that gap that we see in elite level sports competitions cannot be upbringing and must be biology

    is that really the data talking? Or is the availability heuristic combined with society’s sexist priorities causing you to dismiss phenomenal women as “not elite” in a manner that cannot be justified by empirical measurements alone?

    I definitely believe that being born female conveys a statistical likelihood of outperforming the median male in some sports and underperforming the median male in others. I agree that certain things that correlate with sex, like height, can be an advantage in some sports, but I note that height is a disadvantage in others. (Have you ever wondered why you don’t see 7′ tall gymnasts with long arms?)

    Ultimately, then, definitions of “elite level sports competitions” cannot be said to advantage male bodies unless and until you find an objective way to determine that the biathlon is non-elite while baseball is elite, etc. ad nigh-infinitum for all sports.

    Do you have such an objective way? If not, do you think your statement needs some revision?

  98. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Crip Dyke
    Fair points.

    It seems that you tacitly accept that the difference in certain sports like the 100 m dash is biological and not upbringing. It seems that the real disagreement that you have with me is whether the sports that men happen to have a biological advantage in should be “valued” more than sports which women have a biological advantage in.

    I could cite data for every Olympic sport, but that would miss the point, because which sports are in the Olympics is, at first glance, culturally arbitrary.

    I could try to whip out a definition of “sports” and “athleticism” (i.e. physical characteristics of flexibility, precision, reliability, skill, speed, stamina, strength), and I might be successful at arguing that men would have a great advantage in most contests of athleticism. For example, I don’t buy your example that fitting through small holes is a display of athleticism. However, even this could be countered by saying that “athleticism” is a cultural construct which could have been defined historically in a way to (unjustly) favor men. Still, wouldn’t that mean that men are still better athletes? The problem in your eyes is that our society values “athletics” more than other sorts of physical stuff that women would be better at, such as certain kinds of gymnastics and fitting through small holes. Right?

    Sorry. I just don’t buy it yet. I cannot formulate a good argument, but something is gnawing at me. I don’t want to say that the modern definition of “athletics” is completely arbitrary and “unjust”. I don’t know how I might go about that. I’ll need to think on this a while and bounce it off other people that I know. Offhand, just bullshitting aloud, maybe I’d argue from the perspective of valuing hunting and gathering, or valuing fighting and war games. I might be most successful from arguing from the perspective of physical health and physical fitness, which seems to be tightly related to how I defined “athleticism”. I want to say that these metrics are objective from the perspective, and elite level men just perform much better on these metrics. For example, I think I could say that almost every athlete for almost every physical competition would benefit from more flexibility, more stamina, and more strength (up to certain reasonable limits, e.g. fit and toned but not weight-lifter) – at least, they would almost never be harmed by increases to these attributes. Offhand, I think that this might be my most successful approach. Dunno. I have a lot of thinking to do.

    Like, if you reduce it down to “why does society value athletics and physical fitness and physical displays at all?”, then sure, I guess. I have no reply to that. However, I still have this really uncomfortable feeling inside when I hear you try to say “women can be equally good as men at athleticism and physical contests, when you include all possible activities; the currently valued sports were historically chosen because men were better at them”. I feel like it’s just wrong. Special pleading.

  99. John Morales says

    Gerrard:

    Special pleading.

    Yeah, on your part — because you must perforce exclude the subset of trans women from the superset of women to make your case. You’re begging the question!

    (Also, my #70: “Clearly, you take the Olympic motto a bit too literally.”; all Olympics might be a form of sport, but not all sport is a form of Olympics)

  100. Rob Grigjanis says

    Gerrard @114:

    I cannot formulate a good argument, but something is gnawing at me

    An irresistible urge to keep typing?

    Offhand, just bullshitting aloud…

    …and sharing your bullshit with us all. How thoughtful.

  101. John Morales says

    [Rob, heh. But alas, were that all, no prob for me. The Olympische Sommerspiele 1936 and other iterations illustrate what they’re really about]

  102. John Morales says

    Ah well, quiet thread, bit bored, so I elaborate.

    However, I still have this really uncomfortable feeling inside when I hear you try to say “women can be equally good as men at athleticism and physical contests, when you include all possible activities; the currently valued sports were historically chosen because men were better at them”. I feel like it’s just wrong.

    With the unnecessary-to-regulars or our host disclaimer that I am an older white(ish) straight vanilla uninvested cis introverted man (phew!) duly made, I do wonder how you don’t get it, given that I do. The obvious thing.

    You just don’t think trans women are women — that’s your true unease. If you did, you would see that your whole objection is necessarily based on the premise that trans women are not women. Dare you acknowledge this to yourself?

  103. John Morales says

    PS for the record, harpermae @29 made exactly the same point as I just did (not the only one, either):

    In fact there is no “legitimate” debate to be had about transwomen participating in women’s sports. Women should be in women’s sports, as such there is no argument aimed at denying only trans women from participating in women’s sports that do not, on some level, deny that trans women are women. Tracy and Jen made this exact argument in the video posted above.

    [later]

    Gerrard @71:

    I did read harpermae comments, and to be sure, I just reread them again. I agree on most points, and I disagree that my concerns are just cover for transphopbia.

    harpermae made the very same point as I did — but more than that, harpermae has lived it.

    What do you call it when your concerns are based on denying that trans women are women?

    (More importantly, do you still disagree with the proposition that “Women should be in women’s sports”?)

  104. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    GerrardOfTitanServer (EL) #60:

    the regular poster in the AXP blog on FTB named [“RationalismRules”] is not the same person as “Rationality Rules” of Youtube. No relation.

     
    Comment: Axp 23.19 – RationalismRules #267

    Interesting discussion. I think it’s best for clarity that I stay out of it.
     
    not-Stephen

  105. says

    @Gerrard:

    For example, I don’t buy your example that fitting through small holes is a display of athleticism.

    Almost anything can be “athletic” when you’re timed against your peers. For instance, in the Biathlon, have the athletes stopped being athletes for a moment when they are retrieving the rifles from their back-slings? While walking to my kitchen with a bag over my feet isn’t athletic, isn’t a potato sack race an athletic competition?

    Fitting through a small space might not be a display of athleticism on its own, but when an NFL running back shoots the gap between defender, wiggling just so in order to not allow them to touch, is that not athleticism?

    I think – and you can disagree of course, but I think that an obstacle course race like a Steeplechase is indeed “athletic” and “a sport”. Would making one of the obstacles a close-standing forest of bamboo poles make the race less of an obstacle course? Would it make the race “less athletic”? Would it make it less “a sport”?

    Again, you can disagree, but I think that having to navigate such an obstacle doesn’t make the race less a sport or less athletic, but it would certainly disadvantage those with wider builds. Smaller persons, on average, would have the advantage through such portions of the course. If there were enough obstacles that created small-person advantages, there would (by definition of “enough”) be a net benefit to small persons, even while other portions of the race track allow long-legged persons (who are, on average, larger bodied) some net benefit during that portion of the race.

    However, even this could be countered by saying that “athleticism” is a cultural construct which could have been defined historically in a way to (unjustly) favor men. Still, wouldn’t that mean that men are still better athletes?

    I actually have no problem saying this for certain specific, operational definitions of “athleticism”. Once you drill athleticism down to a specific list of measurables, then sure, one sex or another might be better on average in those measurable categories. If they were better in all or nearly all categories, I think you could objectively say that one sex was “more athletic” or consisted of “better athletes” even if there might be some residual difficulty in comparing an advantage in vertical leap (measured as a distance) to an advantage in some quickness test (measured in seconds).

    The difference is that in this case we’re making our presuppositions explicit, so that disagreements can become explicit. Making a statement about superior male athleticism while leaving athleticism vaguely defined is also okay, but since you’re operating with a vague definition there’s no way that this statement can be objectively true.

    It is the combination of assertions of objective truth with the assertions of differences in athleticism by sex that creates the problems. (not saying you did that, just saying that’s where the problem lies).

    The problem in your eyes is that our society values “athletics” more than other sorts of physical stuff that women would be better at, such as certain kinds of gymnastics and fitting through small holes. Right?

    Kind of. The problem is that we’re not honest with each other about that process. There might even be some reason with which I would agree that ability to deadlift should be valued more highly than ability to climb quickly (women often scale climbing walls faster than men b/c it’s easier to lift a smaller body up to the next hold, I don’t know if there’s an empirical study showing we have certainty that the median female ability to climb such walls is better than the median male ability, I’m just using this as a hypothetical because from what I know it might be true). If someone said,

    I’m a CEO at a company that requires a lot of warehouse running, so I don’t look for maximum ability to lift, but I do look for how fast someone can lift a 15 kg weight into a shopping cart, and I look at average foot speed over the course of an 8 hour shift, and on average group X does this better

    I could totally get behind them as I would understand why they value the particular lifting/movement abilities that they do and also I could look at their data and agree (or disagree) that objective measurement shows that Group X is better.

    I can’t get behind statements like, “No woman could ever play in the NFL (or NBA)”. Muggsy Bogues was a freak of nature, but he did prove that a 5′ 3″ player could enter the starting lineup on an NBA team and contribute valuable minutes.

    Likewise, I can’t get behind categorical statements about “athleticism” without a more specific definition. Actually, now that I think about it, I have a hard time with “proofs” for “god” for similar reasons. I need people to define “god” very specifically before they prove that “god” exists. I want a specific definition of athleticism before we make statements about the distribution of athleticism through a population.

    I still have this really uncomfortable feeling inside when I hear you try to say “women can be equally good as men at athleticism and physical contests, when you include all possible activities; the currently valued sports were historically chosen because men were better at them”. I feel like it’s just wrong. Special pleading.

    I think there a couple problems here. One is that this isn’t an argument. It’s an example used to point out that your definition of athleticism isn’t specific enough.

    Second, remember that I’m responding to a very specific statement of yours:

    now even more firmly convinced that that gap that we see in elite level sports competitions cannot be upbringing and must be biology

    You said that right after you said:

    It appears that in equestrian events and shooting events, women are already on the same level as men, and have been for a while.

    So the question is, are you including equestrian and shooting events in “elite level sports competitions”? If not, why did you bother mentioning them? If yes, shouldn’t that force you to qualify your statement about “that gap we see in elite level sports competitions”?

    While it seems you’re saying that “athleticism” isn’t perfectly defined, but is well enough defined for your purposes, there’s clearly a great deal of ambiguity in the phrase “elite level sports competitions”.

    I mean, heck, we call “curling” a sport. Billiards is at least sometimes called a sport. “Elite” also seems particularly ill defined – is it defined by prize money? The number of people who watch an event? What?

    So you’re taking things I said in objection to your specific argument, which includes problematically vague phrases like “elite level sports competitions” and responding as if the only definition problem is with the words “athletic” and “athlete”. Yes, I think those words aren’t specific enough, but if you note what I quoted, where I really feel you went off the rails was articulating sports in which parity exists immediately before using the incredibly vague phrase “elite level sports competitions”.

    I’m specifically not arguing about trans athletes right to participate in sport because of problems with that, but I will note that the reason this is of note in this specific thread is because people are consistently pushing the idea of a general “MtF trans advantage” in sport without ever bothering to consider that if you transition at 18 you’re already too old to have a career in women’s gymnastics.

    Again, I don’t want to have that conversation about trans athletes right to social participation, even in sport, but I think we can agree that this sloppy, bullshit set of declarations about “advantage” is false unless and until you boil it down to specific sports or skills. Otherwise, the general declaration would be in conflict with the clear data from sports like equestrian events and shooting that you yourself have referenced.

    There is a seeming inability of too many people to acknowledge that “athleticism” encompasses many, many skills and “sports” are not entirely about athleticism anyway (cf. curling again), and that therefore “advantage” would have to be judged on a sport-by-sport basis. That inability shows a sloppiness of thought that pervades recent conversations about athletics, sport, and sex. Even if we’re not discussing trans athletes’ participation rights, we should have learned this lesson from those discussions and move forward with the actual discussion that we’re currently having in a manner that allows us to say that no “elite sporting gap” exists unless we have better definitions of “elite” and “sports”.

  106. says

    Delurking to pour a little gas on the fire…

    #11 Muz: “They released one statement about it and then retracted it/amended it and my impression is the people responsible for the earlier statement felt upset by this massaging of the the message when they were given charge of putting it out in the first place (also some felt undermined by having their blog moderating decisions countermanded) so they left.”

    This is not even remotely what happened. This was never about someone being “upset” about messaging. This is about some transphobic nonsense wrapped in a heavy layer of paternalism, all of which causes real harm to an already marginalized community.

    #20 Muz: “All the same I do find this idea that the transphobes have taken over at a managerial level and the ACA represents the same kind of old white skeptic dudebros as everywhere else a bit hard to see. I feel it would be more obvious.”

    No one has ever said these were “old white skeptic dudebros.” They’re mostly young, fairly unaccomplished at anything, and quite full of themselves. That’s the group that was voted into office at the elections in May. The board’s demographic has shifted since then, but the attitude toward trans people was obvious to those of us at the election and it’s obvious from the board’s actions since then.

    “I also think that if the ACA had this crusty legacy population something would have come out before now, back in elevatorgate, CFI days and whatever else.”

    Again, not a “crusty legacy population” – THAT demographic is fully on board with trans rights. But it’s interesting that you mention Elevatorgate, CFI, etc., because we did have a board member resign (twice) because he ran into a brick wall (me) when he tried to malign women who recounted experiences with sexism and abuse in atheist groups. People like that didn’t stick around back then, because we didn’t tolerate them.

    #23 Crip Dyke gets it completely right.

    #42 erik333: “At 15 years old elite regional boys teams are too fast, big and strong for even the national womens team to compete.”

    I always know I’m dealing with someone who knows fuck all about soccer when I read this tired trope. This was what’s known as a “friendly” game, which means the USWNT was not trying to win. This was just a workout for them, because, you see, they had a real game the next day. They’re pros. They’re not gonna go all out on a bunch of kids the day before a real game.

    #82 What Jundurg said, and I’ll add

    Dear Cis Men,

    Your “concern” for women’s sports is misplaced. We’re fine. Really. Trans women are not dominating women’s sports, but if they do, so what? They’re women. I’ve beaten women before and been beaten by women in various sporting events. When I face a woman in competition, I don’t know what her T-levels are, what kind of puberty she endured, or what’s in her pants, and I don’t care.

    Most of you are embarrassingly ignorant about sports in general and women’s sports in particular, but you arrogantly assume that YOU need to step in and protect us from other women. You don’t. We’ve got this. Stop trying to exclude women from participation in sports. Your Dunning-Kruger displays are doing more harm than good.

    If you really want to help women in sports, get busy on that equal pay thing. That’s a legit issue, and all of us from pros to elite amateurs to rec league players would really appreciate your support there. Thx.

  107. says

    Something happened and the first version of this comment didn’t post. If this ends up being redundant, I apologize. (It might be that the name Godless B**ches tripped the spam filter)

    Mostly I wanted to say thanks to you, Jen Peeples, both for #124 and for all your work with ACA over the years. You and a number of people who have recently left ACA have been pretty valuable to a large number of us.

    I don’t know if you’re still interested in producing internet content, but if you do have the time and you or other Godless B**ches veterans do want to produce anything remotely resembling GBs, I’ll be waiting eagerly in line to watch.

  108. twarren1111 says

    Jundurg, oddie,

    Thank you for your insights. I completely agree and understand with what you said.

    I’m glad you are here on this earth.

  109. twarren1111 says

    Ms Peeples,

    I’ve enjoyed watching you host. I learned a lot. I feel the type of affection I always feel for those who take the time to teach me things and that extended very much to you, Tracie, and John I.

    It seems to me that there are a number of people now in the Austin area with extensive experience in rational discourse and humanism. It would be hard to see all that energy dissipated.

    Perhaps it’s time for a broader atheist community of…the earth…the ACE that is formed.

    It seems to me a chance to correct and improve the concept that started long ago. It seems to me that the growth of the internet fueled the growth of the ACA and that as organizations are wont to do, lost its way. But what if the people who left started a ‘more perfect union’ better designed with stronger policies to prevent dehumanization. Perhaps the ACA is the 13 colonies under British rule and now what is needed is a new entity, the ACE, founded on policies of checks and balances.

    It seems to me that the 20? 30? people who have left the ACA could be poised to be reborn as something better and safer.

  110. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To John

    You just don’t think trans women are women — that’s your true unease. If you did, you would see that your whole objection is necessarily based on the premise that trans women are not women. Dare you acknowledge this to yourself?

    Yea. I think you’re probably right. I can see my trans sister saying this to me right now. I still haven’t gotten hold of her yet to ask if she’s comfortable to talk about it, but I can totally see her saying that. I’m really starting to understand what this side means when they say “trans-women are women”.

    To Jen Peeples
    I wish you all the best. I’m sorry it had to happen like that. I’m sorry the ACA got taken over by a bunch of dudebros. I’m sorry the world sucks. I’m sorry that I’m sometimes one such dudebro. I’m trying to learn, and I think that I’m making headway. I always try to be a positive influence to make the world into a better place, and you have been a great help to me in that endeavor.

  111. tuvix says

    @103 Harpermae

    QUOTE
    Again, nearly no one admits to bigoted intent. […]
    If someone points out that something you said was racist/sexist/homophobic and your first reaction is to defend yourself against an “unfair” accusation instead of trying to understand why your behavior/statements perpetuate those things then you are being part of the problem. […]
    END QUOTE

    You misread my point. There is nothing wrong with labeling a statement (possibly) racist, sexist etc. However one should not label a person a racist/sexist etc because of the statement. Simply tell the about the effect it had on you and watch for the reaction they give before crying foul!
    Not everything that comes out of the mouth of the person you accused of saying something wrong is only a defense of what they said. The might have a valid point and simply have expressed it badly. You can possibly help them with fixing their argument. It seems that you simply do not like the point they are trying to make and want to silence them by labeling them racist sexist etc.

    QUOTE
    […]The reason you are wrong is that I can generally present reasons why a particular statement or behavior is bigoted, and exactly how it causes or encourages discrimination, that’s not remotely the same as a religious person calling something “sacred” but your attempt to poison the well is noted.[…]
    END QUOTE
    As I said before: By all means tell the person who offended you why it offended you!
    However, judging by your reply to my point, it again seems that if you hear something you do not like and immediately accuse the one who uttered it for doing something wrong. How sad! That is called killing the messenger…

    The religious person can also say that your heresy is discriminating to them. therefore the comparison stands!

    And to clarify, if a person keeps repeating the same thing you told them was racist/sexist etc, then you can call them on it and label it as such!

    QUOTE
    “NOBODY has the right to silence anyone else because they feel offended”
    Since this is exactly what you are trying to do to me I’ll just feel free to ignore anything else you have to say.
    END QUOTE
    Where have I tried to silence you??? Asking you to add a couple of steps before you label a person is not silencing you. Just don’t skip the steps or you show that you are not willing to reason.
    In fact calling someone a racist sexist immediately IS AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THEM!

  112. says

    @Tuvix:

    I read Harpermae’s statement

    Since [silencing] is exactly what you are trying to do to me I’ll just feel free to ignore anything else you have to say.

    as ironic. Why, you ask? Your most recent post sums it up:

    Where have I tried to silence you??? Asking you to add a couple of steps before you label a person is not silencing you. Just don’t skip the steps or you show that you are not willing to reason.
    In fact calling someone a racist sexist immediately IS AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THEM!

    So… criticism is silencing, if you use certain words. So you can’t use those words or you’re attempting to silence someone. How is this, according to your own approach, not silencing?

    I take a completely different approach to the question of silencing. If you’re simply speaking publicly on public issues, then very little I could possibly say to you would be “silencing”. Threats of violence. Threats to violate your privacy unless you back off. In some circumstances where a person doesn’t have the ability to defend themselves, legal threats. But criticisms? Asserting “your actions in this case are racist”? No. Not even close.

    Now, if you’re in a specific venue, like a workplace, where being able to speak outside the workplace doesn’t help because you’re trying to address things going on within the workplace, sure. Then more tactics could be seen as “silencing” because you never know what might piss off the boss. Even then it’s not a general silencing, but since you’re cutting off the one venue where things really matter it’s effectively silencing someone.

    This isn’t that situation. This is the internet. Saying that something someone said or did is racist is a criticism. If you can’t tell the difference between a criticism and an attack, you need to do some more serious thinking. Even if your position is that you specifically want to address things on Pharyngula, no. You have no right to do that. A person who feels like they no longer want to comment on pharyngula because someone called them racist still has all their powers of speech. Even if that person wants to change Pharyngula, it’s not theirs to change. The situation is simply not comparable.

    Thus, I think, and probably many others think, that you’re being a little ridiculous with your “criticisms that use these two magic words are SILENCING” argument. Not least because of the caps lock.

  113. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    John Morales
    Also, thanks again. I don’t know why it just clicked when you said it. Just the right time, right place, right wording. Thank you very much.

  114. tuvix says

    @131 Crip Dyke

    QUOTE
    But criticisms? Asserting “your actions in this case are racist”? No. Not even close.[…to silencing someone]
    END QUOTE

    Apparently I have not made myself clear. I do not object to calling a statement racist/sexist, but I do to calling a PERSON a racist/sexist for just uttering someTHING you think (legitimately or illegitimately) is racist/sexist. Labeling someone as BEING a racist etc is an attempt to disqualify them as a person and in effect silence them via social ostricising. Attack the statement, not the person! If it is repeated without change, then you are closer to proving the person is a racist etc.

  115. says

    @tuvix:

    Okay, I take your qualification seriously. I myself think there’s a distinction to be made between labeling a statement racist and a person racist (or labeling a statement interesting and a person interesting for that matter).

    That being said, this is still bullshit:

    Labeling someone as BEING a racist etc is an attempt to disqualify them as a person and in effect silence them via social ostricising.

    Even if someone was completely banned from FtB, even if 99% of commenters had nothing to do with that person after the ban, even on other platforms or using other communication methods, that would still not be silencing.

    What even is your definition of silencing? If people don’t like you, are you silenced? Or are likability and enforced silence two different things. I rather think they are. I’ve attempted to explain what silencing is to me. You’re still stuck on the question of what tactics accomplish silencing, without ever telling me what silencing is.

    Depending on your definition of silencing, I might think that silencing someone under your definition is a very good thing.

    As a further criticism of your position, let me point out that it has nothing to do with whether or not someone actually is racist (or sexist or whatever). Your objection appears to be procedural, that there could never be a justified silencing (whatever that means to you) unless a particular procedure is followed.

    But I’m not a court of law. I’m not a government. I’m free to think that you’re a jerkface and you’re free to think I’m a jerkface. We’re free to talk to each other or ignore each other. What you appear to be asserting is that if my speech risks other people ignoring some individual, then my speech is unethical unless and until I satisfy some condition X.

    I think this is wrong. First, it denies the agency of every other person involved, as if they all suddenly lose their ability to think once the word “racist” is uttered. Secondly, the general case of this specific rule would make analogous actions like boycotts immoral. Calling for a boycott would be wrong because other people might actually be convinced by your words to see the target of the boycott in the same way you do. What you’re attempting to penalize, then, is speech that actually persuades. You appear to have no problem with speech that doesn’t persuade anyone that person X is wrong and engaging in bad decision making. No, as soon as words are used that just might be effective at persuading other people, you cry foul.

    And as a response, you propose banning words. In the name of opposing silencing.

    Doesn’t that all sound just a little bit ridiculous to you? Can’t you come up with an ethical rule that doesn’t ban words?

    And before you say you aren’t banning words, remember that your ban is rationalized as procedural:

    Asking you to add a couple of steps before you label a person is not silencing you. Just don’t skip the steps

    But how will you know if someone has skipped the steps without telepathy? How do you know someone hasn’t’ considered the situation carefully? How do you even know that a person doesn’t know someone else offline? Or is otherwise privileged to know information you don’t have, even if just by reading articles you haven’t read yet?

    In short, who the fuck are you to decide that someone else hasn’t given thought to their position? I don’t know how much thought you do or don’t give to your positions, and you don’t know how much thought that I or harpermae give to ours. Your proposition, then, is unworkable because it’s unenforceable.

    All it does it make it harder to criticize people when they genuinely support unjust social power disparities. Does that help your “anti-silencing” cause? Or is it possible that unjust power disparities also cause actual silencing, not merely unpopularity, and that because of that a true anti-silencing position must necessarily be anti-oppression, meaning, not least, that it must encourage people to call out and criticize oppression and its perpetrators when someone sees them. This doesn’t, of course, mean that every attempt to identify oppression will be accurate, but only by talking about oppression can we understand what it is, how common it is, and what its effects are in a society.

    Lastly, I’ll say this about your “no magic words” proposal: you don’t appear to have the same definition of racism as most of the regular commenters here. You appear to believe that one can only be racist if one is racially prejudiced. But for a very many very good reasons, this isn’t how racism is understood by the people who specialize in studying it and writing about it. In other words, the experts disagree with you.

    If a legislature passes a law that allows only one race of citizens to vote, that’s fucking racist even if legislators rationalized it to themselves in a manner that required no actual racial prejudice, much less racial hatred. I think we can agree on that, since you’re endorsing identifying statements as racist.

    But here’s the thing, the people who are experts define racists as the people who take racist actions, the people who support racist systems. Since we don’t have telepathy we can never be entirely sure that a given legislator didn’t vote yes because a lobbyist offered them a free dinner at McDonald’s in exchange for their vote. And yet, they made the choice to support a racist system, motivated by prejudice or not.

    If you’re making racist choices, you’re racist. I don’t have to wait for some ultimate proof. That’s just the definition of the word.

    Now, if you want to talk about how people shouldn’t say we know what’s in the heart of someone else, sure, fine, whatever. That’s probably a bad plan, since we can’t actually “know” what’s in someone’s heart besides plasma, lymphocytes, and red blood cells. But I don’t give a fuck. Because to people who spend their lives working on issues of oppression, the academics, the long time activists, the ethics consultants, a racist is as a racist does, and waiting for some special knowledge of a person’s motivation just means delaying fixing the actual problems oppression creates.

    To sum up, you need a definition of “silencing” and a definition of “oppression” (and, since you mentioned them, specific definitions of “racism” and “sexism”). In the meantime, I don’t see any possible silencing happening here, and your ethical proposal appears to be more likely to cause silencing (as I understand it) than ameliorate it.

    So… that makes me wonder how seriously you’ve thought this through. Maybe I should even suggest that you don’t talk about it anymore until you satisfy me that you’ve met some procedural requirements in preparing your remarks. I’ll be available if you’d like to try to convince me you’re ready to talk. In the meantime, the best course of action is probably for you to remain silent, less you accidentally make an argument that effectively convinces someone else not to talk, which would be unethical silencing.

    Enjoy your day!

  116. tuvix says

    I am enjoying this conversation despite being accused of ‘poisoning the well’ and ‘not thinking things through’ by people who misrepresent what I wrote by directly implying the opposite of what I stated.

    Calling out that statements are (possibly) racist/sexist etc (in stead of the person themselves) do not delay fixing the actual problems oppression creates.

    There have been posts in this thread defending calling a person racist/sexist immediately when they utter something they consider racist/sexist. that is what I am replying to, Why have you not corrected the people who explicitly stated this here?

    What I mean by silencing by labeling someone (too quickly) in this specific case is that it is an attempt at character assassination. While not literally making the unable to utter any more sounds, it does functionally approach this as many people simply do not differentiate between someone who is accused of something and someone who is found guilty of something AFTER investigation. Many on this thread want to skip the investigation.

    The exact definitions of the key words in our discussion would be addressed in the conversation you would have with a person after you tell them the effect their statement had on you. and that is the exact step you are skipping if you simply call the person a racist/sexist.

    Legally you are also wrong, because a person who you publicly call a racist or sexist (without any attempt on your part to find out if they misspoke or expressed a valid point poorly) can accuse you of defamation/libel and would win that case in court.

    To emphasize: where are the replies to people in this thread who do not make any distinction between the act and the person? All the people who replied to my point all said that the distinction is important but only replied to me.

  117. harpermae says

    “In fact calling someone a racist sexist immediately IS AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THEM!”

    If calling someone racist/sexist is an attempt to silence them in any meaningful way then telling someone they can’t call someone racist/sexist until they have proven it to YOUR satisfaction is also an attempt to silence them. I’m not the one who started down this path of weird hyperbole. If I think someone is being racist/sexist or anything else I’ll call them out for it.

    “I am enjoying this conversation despite being accused of ‘poisoning the well’”

    I accused you of that because that is exactly what you did. You came onto an atheist site, and rather than present an argument against my position you accused me of “acting like a religious person” that’s the dictionary definition of a well poisoning argument.

    “Legally you are also wrong, because a person who you publicly call a racist or sexist (without any attempt on your part to find out if they misspoke or expressed a valid point poorly) can accuse you of defamation/libel and would win that case in court.”

    Oh for the love of….If you seriously believe this then you need to learn how civil cases work. You can’t just sue someone because they called you a name you didn’t like. You have to be able to show evidence of real measurable monetary damages to sue someone for libel, and you have provide evidence that suggests the person knew what they were saying was false when they said it. That’s how it works in the U.S. anyway.

  118. says

    @Tuvix, #135:

    Calling out that statements are (possibly) racist/sexist etc (in stead of the person themselves) do not delay fixing the actual problems oppression creates.

    Refusing to identify who is responsible does in fact delay fixing the actual problems.

    Legally you are also wrong,

    Pfft, what? Do you have any idea what you’re saying? For utter clarity: quote the portion of my comment where I made an assertion about legality that was erroneous. If you can’t do it, then you’re wrong. Does that alone mean I have a valid prima facie case for defamation against me by you? Why or why not?

    What I mean by silencing by labeling someone (too quickly) in this specific case is that it is an attempt at character assassination.

    Does labeling someone a murderer “silence” them? What if the person is, in fact, a murderer? Does that then silence them? Should we avoid saying true things that happen to reflect badly on someone in order to preserve freedom of speech? And if so, how is freedom of speech preserved by telling people not to say true things?

    If someone is racist, and I say “You are racist” very, very quickly, is that “character assassination”?

    And you still haven’t made even a token effort to articulate who would enforce this rule and how.

    While not literally making the unable to utter any more sounds, it does functionally approach this as many people simply do not differentiate between someone who is accused of something and someone who is found guilty of something AFTER investigation.

    This would mean that someone raped cannot report that rape because some stupid person somewhere doesn’t distinguish between an accusation and a conviction. that’s a bad plan. Unless you mean to say that it’s fine to make assessments and report bad behavior and/or (to use your word) “accuse” someone of something … unless that accusation includes the magic word “racism”.

    Many on this thread want to skip the investigation.

    How do you know? Do you have telepathy? Shouldn’t you not accuse people of that until you’ve investigated it more? This is, after all, an internal, subjective state of desire you’re alleging exists. What empirical evidence do you have that they didn’t simply express themselves badly, or type their comments just to troll you?

    It seems you’re really creating some problems here with the making of accusations before you know someone’s state of mind.

    The exact definitions of the key words in our discussion would be addressed in the conversation you would have with a person

    Obviously not, since you still haven’t defined racism or silencing. At best you’ve merely articulated one thing (character assassination) that would constitute silencing if it occurred. But that’s not a definition of silencing. And it’s certainly not an “exact definition”.

    Why do we not have your definitions in this thread? What should we infer about your intentions when you are completely unable and/or unwilling to provide your definitions, despite asserting with apparent certainty that “exact definitions” would emerge during conversation? Given your failures here, what evidence have you used to conclude that “exact definitions” would certainly come out during conversation? Are you simply convinced that every single person in the world takes more care with their communication than you do?

    Hmm. Interesting.

    To emphasize: where are the replies to people in this thread who do not make any distinction between the act and the person?

    I guess I didn’t read them. If you quote some, I might respond with my thoughts. Then again, such instances might not exist. You don’t seem to even understand your own definitions of racism and silencing sufficiently to articulate them, so I’m not feeling like assuming without evidence that you could reliably recognize a failure to distinguish between an act and a person.

    BONUS ROUND!

    [A] person who you publicly call a racist or sexist (without any attempt on your part to find out if they misspoke or expressed a valid point poorly) can accuse you of defamation/libel and would win that case in court. [emphasis mine]

    This is just absolutely funny. Not only do you misrepresent the general state of defamation law, you seem to be entirely ignorant of the fact that defamation law changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. While I’m 100% certain you’re dramatically twisting the law by, not least, omitting vital elements of the tort of defamation, it’s impossible even to fully correct your statement without specifying a state, territory, dominion, and/or nation whose laws you are attempting to describe.

    Maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t try to mouth off on topics where you’re so ridiculously ignorant you can’t even get it wrong correctly.

  119. says

    @harpermae, #136:

    Darn it, harpermae! I was specifically not providing more information about legal defamation just to see what ignorant blather Tuvix would spout next. Now you’ve gone and introduced accurate information into the thread! Are you going to take responsibility if Tuvix actually learns something about the law? Whence will my entertainment come then?

  120. tuvix says

    @harpermae
    If you do not like the argument (the comparison I made, which still stands) it does not mean I did not use arguments
    The fact I made this comparison here was exactly to point out that you are doing the thing you dislike when religious people do the same.

    This is not a thread about a person being accused of something. this is a thread about an entire organisation that is being accused. I do think monetary damages apply

    For the last time: Feel free to call anyones remarks racist or sexist, but be careful before calling the person A racist/sexist.

    I will not reply to any more posts that attack the messenger in stead of the message. That is not a discussion, it is a name calling contest (and a one sided one I might add!)

  121. harpermae says

    “The fact I made this comparison here was exactly to point out that you are doing the thing you dislike when religious people do the same.”

    (sarcasm) Oh no, you accused me of doing something without properly making an effort to understand if I actually just poorly worded my argument. I’m gonna sue you for Libel. (/sarcasm)

    “For the last time: Feel free to call anyones remarks racist or sexist, but be careful before calling the person A racist/sexist.”

    For the last time, I. DO. NOT. ANSWER. TO. YOU. I will continue to label both people and arguments the way I think they ought to be labeled whether you like it or not. Your attempt to silence me is noted, but utterly and totally ignored.

  122. harpermae says

    @ Crip Dyke

    “Darn it, harpermae! I was specifically not providing more information about legal defamation just to see what ignorant blather Tuvix would spout next.”

    Sorry, about that. :)

  123. Muz says

    Jen Peoples: Thanks for showing up. I hope I made clear my assessement is largely a result of distant impressions. If not, I’ll stress it again – I’m just some guy casting around from the outside like most people in this. Also, while my comments are diminishing of the whole affair, when I hear a pile of people left en masse that does give me pause about what might be going on there. When you and Tracie and John leave as well that does make my eyes widen quite a bit, for the record.

    A couple of points to clarify: When I bring up these ructions of the past it’s because the accounts by some people use language of that sort ( maybe not “old”, but skeptic dudebros gets thrown around) and in those instances there was far greater clarity in what harm was done and what the positions of your DJ Grothe and the like actually were. People came out and said the stuff he said and did about accusations of sexual assault and so forth. I haven’t managed to find anything that specific about the people involved in this. People might allude to that kind of thing, they talk generally about unpleasant interactions but that’s as far as they’ll go.

    So to me, based on its legacy and body of work the ACA is still outwardly a trans- friendly organisation. Certainly not anti- trans. Since we’re here to judge the ACA as part of FTB that’s important. 90% of the discussion around this is whether or not Woodford is a transphobe and what that means and the ancillary conversations around trans-women in sport. That’s the source of anger here, no doubt. But it’s really not what this thread and all the other conversation should be about if we’re going to assess the ACA as an entity. Even with the foolishness around the public statements the ACA has still distanced itself from Woodford’s video, if not outright condemned him. That’s still glass half full to me, even though I know many disagree. In a world of furious anti-trans bigotry and transness being used as a right wing wedge issue, Woodford’s video is a cog in that machine but I’d say a small one. (again, people disagree).

    The real material here is the views of people inside the organisation, what they did and why they did it, if we’re going to say now that the organisation is irredeemable and rotten to the core (as some people are saying). That’s the meat of what this thread is about to me.
    Even reading many angry denunciations from numerous former moderators, I’ve not managed to find much specificity on why they actually quit. Was it the vibe of the place, or had they been specifically (or even tacitly) instructed not to ban or moderate transphobic discussion on facebook? If they had who did it? Blaming a youtuber for their fans is something people disagree about a lot. But if people had been instructed to effectively give the crowd that Woodford’s presence had summoned free reign, then yes that is terrible and speaks to effectively anti-trans moderating policy.

    Secondly, the election does sound pretty remarkable if it is the case that a lot of ‘youtube skeptic fan’ types showed up to stack the board and interrogate people about being politically correct on party doctrine. That experience would be grounds for a walkout definitely. Two people have been named about this, as well as Matt being said to be leaning too far one way. What about everyone else? Surely they aren’t powerless in this? Or are people saying the tilt is one way and the indifference of the rest completes the picture? Outwardly the content doesn’t seem to have altered much and the Rationality Rules incident seems like an unpleasant outlier. If policy and the general activity of the organisation has shifted as well that would be worth knowing about, as well as how this is happening.

    Anyway, none of this stuff is really any of my business and I would not be surprised if no one said anything publicly along those lines. But these are details that I would hope were known and considered by anyone passing judgement on the ACA as an organisation.

  124. tuvix says

    Harpermae and Crip Dyke seem to have missed the point.
    They should watch out because they might get banned from this blog for AGAIN acting like they are in a religion.

    Anyone not following their exact dogmatic interpretation of oppression issues gets labeled and they try to ostracize them.
    Good luck to them alienating their allies for not agreeing 100% with them.

    I’ll end with a small prophesy: The ‘church of Harpermae’ will one day denounce the followers of the ‘church of Crip Dyke’ for straying too far from the ‘correct path’. Both groups will excommunicate each others followers and their real common enemies (those who really want to oppress people) will be laughing in the sidelines

  125. John Morales says

    Tuvix:

    Harpermae and Crip Dyke seem to have missed the point.
    They should watch out because they might get banned from this blog for AGAIN acting like they are in a religion.

    Quite precious. There is no such seeming, though you are transparent.

  126. kellym says

    Muz @144:

    I’ve not managed to find much specificity on why they actually quit.

    Perhaps you could watch the video?

  127. harpermae says

    @ 145

    “They should watch out because they might get banned from this blog for AGAIN acting like they are in a religion.”

    AHHHH Everything I don’t like is a religion. That’s basically what you sound like.

    I thought you were leaving? There are other corners of the internet that can surely benefit from your brilliant powers of deduction so go now before someone else acts “religious” without your correction.

  128. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Who IS Matt Dillahunty, that’s what I want to know. He seems to have almost cult-like devotion from a large part of movement atheism, but what has he done besides having some boring ass YouTube show where he pretends to be smarter
    than religious people? Does he HAVE any other qualifications for leadership? Why is he so popular/important?

  129. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    It was more a rhetorical question. Like a “why the he’ll do people out so much faith and trust in these random fricking people?”

  130. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Re Matt Dillahunty.
    I liked a lot of his lectures on youtube, I mean from Skepticon and the like. I had previously pegged Matt as one of the persons in the movement least likely to turn evil. Ditto for Aronra. (PZ too.)

    Well, 1 out of 3 isn’t bad! /s

    I’m such a horrible judge of character.

  131. vucodlak says

    @ tuvix, #145

    They should watch out because they might get banned from this blog for AGAIN acting like they are in a religion.

    Were you under the impression that only atheists are allowed to comment here? Because that’s not the case. I’ve been commenting here for at least 3 years despite having gasp acted like I’m in a religion. More than once, even. ‘Cause, ya know, I’m a theist, not atheist. I know I’m not the only open non-atheist here.

    I’ve been reading Pharyngula for about ten years. It’s generally bigotry or general assholery that gets one banned here.

    Now, it regards to your other comments (from your #135):

    There have been posts in this thread defending calling a person racist/sexist immediately when they utter something they consider racist/sexist.

    If someone called me a racist because just because I said one racist thing, I’d have to admit that they’re right. I’m a racist. I was raised by racists, in a racist place, and I’m surrounded by racist media and culture day in and day out. I try to be better, but I’m well aware that I’ve internalized some of that racism. If I do or say something racist, that internalized racism is why.

    All denying that racism is within me does is make it harder for me to purge myself of it. I don’t want to be a racist, and the first step towards becoming a better person is to admit that, unfortunately, I am a racist.

    It’s the same with sexism or transphobia or any other bigotry. People don’t automatically become bigots just because they say one bigoted thing; they say one bigoted thing because they’re a little bit of bigot. The proper response to being called out for saying something bigoted is not to get defensive and refuse to admit that you could possibly be a bigot. It’s to say, “oh, I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better,” and then try to figure out where you went wrong so that you can actually do better in the future.

  132. tuvix says

    Again the irony. Acting offended because I’m trying to ‘correct’ them, while not seeing that is the exact thing they are doing. And in the meantime continuing to blast people with labels attached to their person) they do not have enough information for to give (in some cases I have not expressed ANY opinion ant still am being labeled. Therefore your enemy is only in your mind!

    This coupled with blatant unconcealed attempts to get the person who they disagree with to leave thereby proving my point that their name calling is an attempt to silence the dissenting opinion.

  133. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    That’s funny, cause all the people remaining in the ACA keep going on about how they’re being kept from their “great, important work,” but block anybody who asks them to explain what great, important work they’re referring to.

  134. Saad says

    UnknownEric, #160

    Are you downplaying the importance of rehashing everything in The God Delusion and End of Faith?

    Oh and addressing Pascal’s wager. Pascal’s wager is such a huge problem nowadays.

  135. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Funny how after I directly criticized Matt’s behavior on Twitter, I suddenly find myself barraged by accounts with single digit followers and minimal previous tweets trying to play debate club with me. coughsockscough

  136. John Morales says

    tuvix @159:

    Are all the people who left the ACA only interested in name calling?

    There is a heuristic called Betteridge’s law of headlines, to the effect that”
    Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no“.”

    (In this case, the heuristic succeeds, and the rhetorical question is duly dealt with)

  137. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Crip Dyke #163:

    I don’t have twitter and therefore can’t do searches

    This will let you search without being logged in. When you get to the results, remember to switch to “latest”, rather than “top”.
     
    https://twitter.com/search-home
     
    Caveat: There was a site redesign somewhat recently, which applies when logged in (rolling out to select users I guess?). Part of that changed how it does search urls. So sharing links to /search results/ is problematic – they’d only work for folks similarly logged in or not. However, you can share /search terms/ to copy-paste. Those will work either way.

    If one ever desires to archive.org a twitter search, it needs to be performed while logged out, to give the wayback machine a viable url for non-users. =/

  138. says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Thank you!

    All that information is very helpful. Of course, I would still have to know UnknownEric’s twitter handle. I can just try “UnknownEric” and hope for the best, but if you’re Reading, UE, it would be helpful (if you don’t mind; if it wouldn’t be an invasion of privacy) if you provided some certainty there.

  139. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Not an invasion at all. I’m UnknownEric on Twitter just like here.

  140. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Could be coinkydink, but I have noticed that of these small follower count, very few tweet accounts… a lot of the few tweets they’ve made are fawning replies to Seth Andrews. Just… interesting, huh?

  141. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Now before my last response is misunderstood, I’m not accusing Seth, I’m saying I think all these accounts are the same person.

  142. Muz says

    Kellym @ 148. For what it’s worth at this late stage, I have. Several times. It’s all very vague and obscure and reflected in general sentiments about how they feel about the incident, the organisation and its membership. It’s perfectly valid to write such things but there is almost nothing in the way of examples or specifics. The closest I can see there that approaches a specific instance is that one of the youtube mods quit after the Woodford incident. Then there was a conversation with many other moderators and after that many of them quit in protest. The content of that conversation is not mentioned. There are also references made to changes in moderation policy that spurred people to quit (this might be the conversation in question). I haven’t got a clear picture of that. Some accounts seemed to say that the resignations occured first and then moderation was removed altogether which made more people leave as now the comment sections were a shit show and people felt their efforts were betrayed etc. How this relates to the policy is not certain.
    If you know or know where to find this info I’d be interested to hear about it.

  143. says

    @tuvix 99
    Why should I care about intent? This IS about effect for me. I will care about the effect of bigoted behavior.

    Why should I care about your disagreement? I will choose my behavior based on my needs and when I call out bigotry I describe characteristics of bigoted behavior.

    Criticism isn’t silencing. A bigot is free to continue commentating while I point out bigoted behavior.

    The bigot is free to voice their offense. Why would I want expressions of offense to stop? They’re valuable social information.

  144. says

    @tuvix 133
    Your position isn’t consistent with human behavior. You are what you do. Bigotry is an extremely common behavior and behaviors are stored in memory.

    It’s accurate to say bigoted people do bigoted thought and behavior with bigoted beliefs the way illogical people do illogical thought with illogical beliefs and behavior.

    A statement is behavior, describable behavior.

  145. says

    @tuvix 135
    I don’t need an investigation to call out bigotry when it happens next to me. I just describe it.

    Calling out bigotry isn’t character assassination.

    It’s funny the way you leave out people who are describing the bigotry they see. And you bring up legal terms without a shred of courage, you cite nothing slanderous.

    And you quote no one in this thread who aren’t making such a distinction while assuming it’s bad to point out bigotry in simple and complicated messages.

  146. says

    @tuvix
    You know you’re supposed to describe the religious behavior in question when you say you see religious behavior right right?
    It’s fascinating the way you don’t actually provide the dogma in question.

    You’re getting amusing because quite frankly you would be a shitty ally. How are you useful exactly? I don’t see any advantage to your criticism or suggestions.

  147. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Crip Dyke #176:

    That’s just a link to the AXP reddit

    /r/AtheistExperience/   !=   /r/TheAtheistExperience/
     
    ACA’s official subreddit has “the” in it.
    Thread: Impostor Atheist Experience Sub

  148. jkiel says

    I’m very disheartened by the divisions I’m seeing here. While “Rationality Rules” and some of his supporters in the ACA seem to have gotten a few things wrong, they’ve not been given the time and space needed to grow and learn — nor has genuine gestures showing desire to learn and grow on this front been accepted and embraced.

    Simply throwing out terms like “transphobic” instead of having a thoughtful and rational discussion helps no one. Just as you shouldn’t shame a toddler for wetting their bed while potty training, you shouldn’t brand someone transphobic for not yet being able to fully understand your position.

    More patience, understanding and time, please.

  149. says

    @jkiel 180
    On what are you basing your conclusion that someone has not been given time to learn and grow, and that desires to learn and grow haven’t been “embraced”?

    What do you mean “simply throwing out terms like ‘transphobic'”? When I use the word transphobic it’s a characterization with features. Pointing out transphobia isn’t inconsistent with rational discussion and I won’t pretend otherwise.

    Your group shaming without actual reason is fascinatingly similar to what you’re claiming of others.

  150. says

    While “Rationality Rules” and some of his supporters in the ACA seem to have gotten a few things wrong, they’ve not been given the time and space needed to grow and learn

    Actually, they have. This didn’t happen yesterday. Don’t talk nonsense.

    Simply throwing out terms like “transphobic” instead of having a thoughtful and rational discussion helps no one.

    Please give specific examples of who did that. Date, time, name, and links, please.
    I mean, you do have such examples, right? You wouldn’t accuse people of that sort of thing without evidence, would you?

  151. says

    Simply throwing out terms like “transphobic” instead of having a thoughtful and rational discussion helps no one. Just as you shouldn’t shame a toddler for wetting their bed while potty training, you shouldn’t brand someone transphobic for not yet being able to fully understand your position.

    Whether or not someone is racist is a factual question. Whether or not someone is transphobic is a factual one. Whether or not someone is a muderer or thief or rapist is a factual one.

    When I label a statement cissexist, I am making a factual statement. You can cry out all you like about the injustice of people actually saying what they actually believe is true, but telling people, “You can’t say things you think are true, because some people are too immature to hear it,” doesn’t lead to a better world.

    Just as you shouldn’t shame a toddler for wetting their bed while potty training, you shouldn’t brand someone transphobic for not yet being able to fully understand your position.

    And just as saying, “Ooops, you wet the bed. Did you remember to go pee last night after you brushed your teeth?” contains neither a shaming statement nor a shaming question, the quote, “Hey, that statement is transphobic. Have you looked at the actual data? Have you considered that ‘trans*women should be excluded from women’s sports’ is logically absurd?” contains neither a shaming statement nor a shaming question.

    The kid who wet the bed may be embarrassed by that fact. The person who said transphobic shit may be embarrassed by that fact. But identifying the problem is not the problem.

    Facts is facts, snowflake. You don’t get to magically reject them just because you’re embarrassed by them. And even if someone gets something wrong, stating the truth as best as you know it is what humans actually should do. Telling people not to tell the truth won’t go over well here.

  152. Tim Lister says

    For those of us still living in the Christian-dominated near-theocracies of the southern United States, seeing this petty conflict is quite disheartening. Funny how selectively some of you apply your compassion. Reminds me of the church. Anyway, enjoy your pointless debates over aggrandized minutiae while the rest of us suffer under another 4 years of Donald Trump. I think I’ll take my leave from all of you now.

  153. John Morales says

    Tim:

    seeing this petty conflict is quite disheartening

    Well, it’s petty. No biggie, then.

    I think I’ll take my leave from all of you now.

    What, you’re gonna stop being an atheist?

    (I thought it was petty, in your estimation. So why this flounce?)

  154. Saad says

    Tim Lister,

    For those of us still living in the Christian-dominated near-theocracies of the southern United States, seeing this petty conflict is quite disheartening. Funny how selectively some of you apply your compassion. Reminds me of the church. Anyway, enjoy your pointless debates over aggrandized minutiae while the rest of us suffer under another 4 years of Donald Trump. I think I’ll take my leave from all of you now.

    One of the big problems with Christian-dominated near-theocracies is their transphobia. So it seems pretty reasonable it should be a problem when atheists do it too. Or do you only want to oppose bigotry when Christians are doing it?

    Fellow atheist living in a southern near-theocratic shithole state

  155. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Shorter Tim Lister:

    Your concern doesn’t include me therefore it’s petty.

    Thanks for your awesome demonstration of compassion Tim! I’m sure we all learned something very useful from it.

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