No comments here, please

I think we’ve reached the saturation point, so comments are closed on this article. However, I do think I need to link to Rebecca Watson’s summary of her recent absurdist travails. Or if you’d rather, try reading Schrödinger’s Rapist and be enlightened.

This time, though, really, go over there if you feel the need to comment.

It is interesting that it is the jerk chauvinist skeptics and atheists who have turned Ms Watson into an angry feminist. It’s all your fault, bozos.

I know! How about if we redefine homophobia as a disease?

Sadly, an Indian health minister has gone on record calling homosexuality a “disease”.

For the Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, men having sex with men (MSMs) is not only “unnatural” but also a “disease.”

According to Azad, “this disease has come to India from foreign shores”, and Indian society needs to be prepared to face it. Unfortunately, he said, the number of “such people” is increasing by the day.

All gay people are alien immigrants from Gaydonia, I guess, and no natives of the subcontinent could possibly be gay. Unless maybe they’re from Pakistan.

I think we could make a legitimate case for calling homophobia a disease or mental illness, though. All you have to do is browse this sampling of homophobic comic books to see that there is something just wrong with those people. The bizarre, crude work of politician Brent Rinehart alone makes a disturbing case for institutionalizing the wackaloon.


I had no idea that gayness gave you superspeed and that rainbows trailed behind you wherever you went, but if it were actually true, it would be awesome. Except for the children of the corn who’d be pursuing you all the time.

Oh, no, not again…once more unto the breach

This is your last gasp on the topic of the proper way to make a sexual advance. I’m just going to wrap up a few dangling bits.

Jen has slammed Richard Dawkins for some comments here. I can confirm that those comments were actually from Richard Dawkins. I also have to say that I agree with Jen and disagree with Richard.

Richard did make the valid point that there are much more serious abuses of women’s rights around the world, and the Islam is a particularly horrendous offender. Women have their genitals mutilated, are beaten by husbands without recourse to legal redress, are stoned to death for adultery, are denied basic privileges like the right to drive or travel unescorted. These are far more serious problems than most American women face.

However, the existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser crimes, and no one has even tried to equate this incident to any of the horrors above. What these situations demand is an appropriate level of response: a man who beats a woman to death has clearly committed an immensely greater crime than a man who harrasses a woman in an elevator; let us fit the punishment to the crime. Islamic injustice demands a worldwide campaign of condemnation of the excesses and inhumanity of that religion.

The elevator incident demands…a personal rejection and a woman nicely suggesting to the atheist community that they avoid doing that. And that is what it got. That is all Rebecca Watson did. For those of you who are outraged at that, I ask: which part of her response fills you with fury? That a woman said no, or that a woman has asked men to be more sensitive?

I think reasonable men will be quite capable of both opposing Islamic fundamentalism with vigor and refraining from driving away their godless colleagues with petty harrassment, colleagues who may well be even more fervent and dedicated to our common cause of promoting equality all around the world. These are not mutually contradictory actions. They are complementary and necessary. Our goal isn’t to set the bar of equality at a level slightly higher than the situation in Saudi Arabia, or to some point somewhere around the significantly more enlightened (but still not adequate) level in America, but at a point where every woman has the same rights and privileges as every man, where women don’t have to fear being raped, and yes, where women don’t have to face this dismaying, depressing, common situation of seeing their autonomy disrespected and their compatriots rushing to excuse loutish behavior.

One other matter: some people muddled the issue by also pretending to be Richard Dawkins. Impersonating anyone else on this blog is an immediately bannable offense: I don’t warn you, I just delete all of your comments, and then I ban both your username and your IP address. You’re gone, burned to the ground. I’ve eradicated two Dawkins impersonators in that way. Don’t do it.

This thread really is the last on this specific topic. The only thing I’ve so far found useful about them is that they’ve smoked the flaming misogynists out of the woodwork. Try not to be one of them, OK?

Since Richard Dawkins has responded and is asking for an explanation of what he is missing, I’ll try to oblige.

Try googling “elevator rape”. What you will find is an unpleasant combination of stories about real crimes in which women were raped in elevators, and porn about women being raped in elevators. It is a small confined place in which a woman can be made helpless. Elevators aren’t exactly romantic or even comfortable; what a man might consider utilitarian transport can be seen as a cage to a woman alone.

The guy in the elevator was not accused of being a rapist; I got the impression from Rebecca that she wasn’t even really worried about serious threat to her safety, but was annoyed that she was being pestered by an insensitive cad. It was “slightly bad,” as you put it, and she responded at an appropriate level to the problem. She basically said to the atheist community, ‘hey, guys, don’t be an insensitive cad,’ a suggestion I find remarkably uncontroversial — it’s a slightly good suggestion in response to a slightly bad problem. It’s darned good advice, even.

Here’s exactly what she said:

Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and—don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

That really should be sufficient to explain to everyone exactly what was ‘slightly bad’ about this situation.

The response has been to belittle her reasonable suggestion, belittle her, accuse her of hysteria, defend the rudeness of the fellow with the proposition, and mostly act as if utterly obtuse to both the unpleasantness of the elevator faux pas and to disrespect the rational concerns of women. Women aren’t so much afraid that unruly mobs of atheist men will rape them at meetings, but that they’ll be dolts who trivialize legitimate and common concerns of women…and this incident has definitely shown that to be the case. We aren’t just going to see Rebecca Watson diminished as an asset to atheism, but all the other women who seek common cause with atheism will watch how we treat our own and find this community significantly less attractive.

This isn’t slightly bad. It’s very bad. Atheist men are alienating the people we want to work with us on the very same problems, the oppression of women under religious regimes, that you cited in your comment.

I’m taking one last stab at explaining this. Imagine that Richard Dawkins meets a particularly persistent fan who insists on standing uncomfortably close to him, and Richard asks him to stand back a little bit; when he continues, he says to the rest of the crowd that that is rather rude behavior, and could everyone give him a little breathing space? Which then leads to many members of the crowd loudly defending the rudeness by declaring that since the guy wasn’t assaulting him, he should be allowed to keep doing that, and hey, how dare Richard Dawkins accuse everyone present of trying to mug him!

That’s exactly analogous to Rebecca Watson’s situation. She did not make these hysterical accusations everyone is claiming, she did not compare herself to the oppressed women of the third world, she did not demonize the clumsy sap in the elevator — she asked for some simple common courtesy, and for that she gets pilloried.

Sorry, people, but that sends a very clear signal to women that calm requests for respect will be met with jeers by a significant subset of the atheist community, and that’s not right.

The Decent Human Beings’ Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences

There are so many clueless comments in this thread that Old Man PZ, grizzled veteran of the sex wars, successful lothario who has managed to reproduce three times, and champion who successfully landed a Trophy Partner in an extremely long and happy relationship, feels like he needs to step in and give some friendly advice. So here you go, the short sweet simple Decent Human Beings’ Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences.

The first thing you must know is that you haven’t failed when the object of your desire says “no”. That’s a perfectly reasonable response, and even if you do everything exactly right, you’re going to hear “no” more often than you do “yes”. Accepting a refusal graciously is an important part of being a Decent Human Being.

You have failed if the person you’re interested in calls your behavior creepy. That’s where you need to step back and re-evaluate: you did something wrong. Decent Human Beings do not blame the other person, they recognize that they screwed up, accept their responsibility, and decide not to ever do that again.

What could you have done wrong? Here are some general suggestions.

Be self-aware. Are you sweaty and rumpled? Did you just eat a pound of greasy garlic fries? Are you drunk? Did the conversation just die because you’re too tired to think straight? You are probably at a nadir of attractiveness, then, and this probably isn’t the best time to step forward and invite close contact.

Be aware of your potential partner. Are they looking like they really want a hot shower and to brush their teeth? Do they look worn out after a long day of meetings? Then maybe they will regretfully turn you down, because as a Decent Human Being themself, they’re not going to inflict their hygienically unprepared body on you.

I know, this should be obvious, but if you are hoping to get laid at the big atheist conference, the first thing to do after the day of meetings is to go back to your room, take a shower, and dress nicely. Go out for a pleasant evening with the people you’ve met, drink in moderation, be friendly and pleasant and interesting, and strike up conversations with people. Your goal should be to make a connection, first; if you don’t, then you’re not going to get laid, and you should resign yourself to that.

What about tactics? I know all the games entitled young men, in particular, play. If you are deploying wingmen, if you are approaching this as you would a gazelle hunt, where the goal is to isolate a target from the herd and make them vulnerable so they will succumb to you, where getting the target stupefyingly drunk is a desirable means to an end, then you might get laid — I don’t deny that those tactics works for unscrupulous people — but you will have forfeited the title of Decent Human Being, and we’d rather you didn’t come to our meetings. Also, atheist women tend to be assertive and not at all bashful about telling everyone else about your behavior, and you’ll find yourself discussed on youtube and on blogs and perhaps even from the podium at the meeting. Then you’ll feel compelled to comment anonymously on those blogs, complaining about ball-busting man-haters, and you’ll be forever receding from that desirable status as Decent Human Being.

You don’t get to whine about being called out. It’s what we do. Join a cult if you’d rather have rules of silence and obedience.

So you’re down at the bar having a good time. How do you make the next move? Actually, asking “Would you like to come up to my roon for a cup of coffee?” or “How about if we continue this someplace a little more private?” are perfectly acceptable lines to use! Context is very important, though. If you are actually having a fun and sparkling conversation one-on-one with someone in a public place, with maybe a little flirting going on, then yes, ask away! If all you’ve been doing is general banter with a group, well then, there hasn’t been any really personal interaction so far, so expecting more is a bit presumptuous.

Remember, this is not a gazelle hunt. Decent Human Beings always give potential partners opportunity to gracefully decline, and best of all, put them in positions of equal status so they aren’t afraid to decline. If they look startled or their eyes dart around looking for an avenue of escape, you screwed up. Apologize and back off immediately.

Now you might find this hard to believe (I know I do), but I’ve been in this position several times at atheist meetings. I’m a homely old guy, not exactly what anyone would consider romantic material, and I’ve received variants of the “come up to my room for coffee” line from several women and one man. I did not find it at all creepy — it was extremely flattering, as you might guess — because in every case these were offers from intelligent people in reasonable contexts, that is, Decent Human Beings.

Being a Decent Human Being is actually the best defense you can have. Don’t abandon it for short-term gain: you’re in a community, and you’re going to lose that if you think of yourself as a predator on the make.

Now at this point, hopefully, you are two people in a hotel room. What next? I can’t help you much at this point, because I’ve always turned those offers down, and all of my dating experience is from 35 years ago, and in my current long-term relationship, we dated for two months before we even kissed. I’m pretty much the wrong person to ask for advice on what to do on one-night stands, except that as someone aspiring to be a Decent Human Being, “no” will always mean “no“, and maybe it should always be a good idea to keep on communicating as equals during the engagement. Also, everything that follows should be personal and private, so if you’re checking a blog post on the internet to see what to do next, you’re probably also doing it wrong.

Of course, if any more experienced commenters would like to offer further suggestions, they’re welcome to continue…as long as they remember these are guidelines for Decent Human Beings, not misogynistic exploiters and parasites.

Why use a poll to determine who gets civil rights?

You know who is really unhappy about NY’s gay marriage law? “Religious leaders”, of course.

Religious leaders slammed the state’s new gay marriage law on Saturday, vowing to ban politicians who supported the measure from any Catholic church and parochial school events.

The city’s top Catholic clergy released strongly worded statements in the hours after the state Senate voted 33-29 to legalize gay unions.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of the diocese of Brooklyn, called on all Catholic schools to reject any honor bestowed upon them by Gov. Cuomo, who played a pivotal role in getting the bill passed.

He further asked all pastors and principals to “not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.”

“This is a further erosion of the real understanding of marriage,” DiMarzio told the Daily News. “The state should not be concerned about regulating affection.”

And the Catholic church should? I think affection is a matter between the individuals concerned, and no one else…so the state did the right thing by taking away barriers. We don’t need the church putting up more.

Anyway, there’s a poll. It’s not going well. Do what you can.

Do you agree with the legislature on gay marriage?

Yes, the bill needed to be approved. 14%
No, I don’t think that gay marriage should be legal. 86%
I’m not sure yet. 0%

Why do airline pilots have such a bad reputation?

I don’t think they do, but a few certainly do their best to taint the whole. Listen to this accidental recording of a pilot ranting about what he really thinks (warning: autoplay at that link): he’s complaining that 11 of 12 flight attendants on his plane are gay, and the 12th is a granny; he complains about going to a bar and finding only one woman who is “doable”; he just goes on and on about hating gays, old people, and ugly people.

It’s a repulsive look at how some people think. Or don’t think.

Stop digging!

After the public scorn Scott Adams received in response to his appalling “pegs and holes” post that tried to play the self-pity card — Adams is so disadvantaged by being a man — he sent out an invitation to various magazines to engage in a public dialog.

I’d like to offer an opportunity to one of the writers at Salon, Huffington Post, Jezebel, Mediate, or Mediabistro. Allow me to interview you, by email, for this blog, on the topic of why you so vehemently disagree with your hallucination of my opinion. (Fair warning: It won’t work out well for you.)

Salon took him up on it. It isn’t working out so well for Scott Adams, who is looking even more like an irrational, whiny prick.

Shhhh. My wife is sleeping in.

Don’t raise too loud a ruckus over this news, because I think she’ll be cranky enough when she wakes up and reads about the Obedient Wives Club.

A new club in Indonesia that encourages women to be totally obedient to their husbands and focus on keeping them sexually satisfied has generated an outcry from some activists.

The Indonesian branch of the Obedient Wives Club, launched early this month in Malaysia, claims to have about 300 members in several cities. Group leader Gina Puspita said the club would offer its members a package of teachings including how to treat their husbands in bed.

“A wife has to be 100 percent obedient to her husband in all aspects, especially in sexual treatment,” she said.

Don’t they know that Uppity Wives make the best partners? And how come no one ever promotes an Obedient Husbands Club? After all, if they think subservience is the best and most appropriate behavior for a woman in bed, wouldn’t it also be best for the woman if her man also obeyed her every command?

Although I am tempted to march into the bedroom now, and in a booming voice, say “Woman! Fix my breakfast! And your job for today is to be totally focused on keeping me sexually satisfied!” Except I don’t want a bowl of oatmeal in my face or to be kicked in the groin.

Silly gay people — don’t you know you aren’t supposed to like sports, anyway?

Yeah, you’re all supposed to go antiquing, or to musical theater. How dare you intrude on manly events! Mainly because they’re monitored by sanctimonious bigots.

So, two women go to a baseball game in Minneapolis, and a guard noticed that they kissed each other.

Taylor Campione and Kelsi Culpepper — two lesbian women from Minneapolis — were recently scolded by a Target Field security guard for what they call a “brief kiss.”

After seeing the quick peck on the lips, the guard told the women that “we don’t play grab ass here” and that they must “adhere to the 10 Commandments” while at the stadium.

The guard was told not to do that anymore, but he still has his job. Keep this in mind if any of you gay folk try to visit Target Field: they have professional assholes prowling the stands.

Or how about this? Two gay men who were also developmentally disabled weren’t allowed in a public pool.

“The Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked my clients and their staff to leave the Pavilion,” stated Shirlyn Perkins, Executive Director of The Pavilion. “My staff asked The Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that ‘gay people’ weren’t allowed to swim there. My staff told this man that what he was trying to do was discrimination. The man stated that what he was doing was in the Bible and he could do it. My staff continued to argue with this man, but was ultimately forced to leave. My clients, whom already feel ridiculed and different, left the city owned facility crying and embarrassed for trying to participate in ‘normal’ activities that everyday ‘normal’ people do.”

Say, notice anything in common between these two stories? Like, what lies right at the heart of the bigots’ justifications for their actions? I don’t think it was The God Delusion.