On the Qualifications of our Alleged "Diversity Hire", Natalie Reed

I have refrained as much as possible from publicly addressing John W. Loftus’s relentless recent attempts to pick a fight with Freethought Blogs or all his crying persecution every time anyone from Freethought Blogs has the temerity to so much as respond to his unprovoked attacks. But now he just crossed a line by charging that Natalie Reed is here as a special favor because of our concern for diversity and not because of any qualifications to be here.

Let me first make this abundantly clear. Trans or not, Natalie Reed is, in my humble opinion, one of the very best bloggers on this entire network. Here is what I wrote to her two and a half weeks ago after reading her work on Sincerely, Natalie Reed and dipping into some of her archive of previous work at Skepchick and Queereka

Hi Natalie,

I just had the neatest experience. So, I was reading your post on your S-S-Socialization and thinking, “Wow, I love this writing style. There is a passionate verve and verbal precision which energizes and tightens long, meticulously thorough, dialectically patterned, exquisitely nuanced, systematically developed arguments. More than anyone else’s I can remember reading this writing reminds me of my own peculiar writing style at my very best. I like this in that distinctive way that I like reading myself. There are certain goals I constantly pursue stylistically and argumentatively which it is exciting to see someone else also aim for and hit so directly. And I’m learning ideas I would have never thought of from a perspective that is completely foreign to me, so this is also doing things I could never do too.”

It was a staggering feeling, like finding a kindred writing spirit. Keep up the fantastic work!
Dan

I apologize for any vanity in praising her on account of her being like me. I originally opted to keep those thoughts between just her and me, but I bring them up publicly now as evidence of my unsolicited, private, already on-the-record enthusiasm for her work. Basically, as far as I am concerned, if you like Camels With Hammers you should be reading Sincerely, Natalie Reed too.

In terms of content, Natalie provides Freethought Blogs a treasure trove of necessary information and is one of our most meticulous, systematic, dialectical, and thorough arguers. She is an ideal blogger because she has a rare perspective and wealth of important experiences that the larger public desperately needs to be educated about, her writing has a distinctive voice, and she is relentlessly prolific, vulnerably revealing, both intellectually and personally honest, and just flat out great at stringing words together.

And we needed someone to address the issues she can treat for us.

Both the bigotries and well-meaning misunderstandings that trans people face cause many of them unbearable misery, unjustified shame, deep alienation, and too often death. It is a vital interest that trans people have articulate spokespeople who are willing to riskily lay their experiences bare for the privileged rest of us so that their suffering is not in vain and so that their suffering is not allowed to recur in the next generation of trans people. It is a vital interest for countless people that our culture listens to trans people and listens to the unique philosophical and psychological insights that their unusual experience gives them access to. They can help us understand the complex intricacies and intersections of sex, gender, culture, power, and privilege in much more sophisticated ways than we otherwise would. They can tell us a whole lot not only about themselves but about all of us so that we can all flourish more successfully as human beings.

And Freethought Blogs is especially a place that rightly should have made finding a worthy blogger for this task a priority. And we did.

This is because what being self-consciously “freethinking” means is being committed to thinking about and speaking out about unpopular, marginalized truths which threaten powerful repressive and oppressive interests. Freethinking is about asking questions which destabilize unjust, hegemonic forms of power which gain undue legitimacy from widespread unexamined falsehoods. If we are to live up to our bold self-anointing as a place of free thought then we need to have people here who are willing to think as many uncomfortable thoughts as necessary to shatter as many comfortable prejudices as exist.

Since we are, and I think we should remain, a self-consciously atheistic network, our main focus is breaking the unjust hold that false and authoritarian religions have on billions of hearts, minds, and lives. But we also need, and fervently want, to find people who also can fight other falsehoods and forms of repression as well. This means we unapologetically look for great atheist writers who will challenge a diversity of different kinds of falsehoods and repression. We look for writers who will expand the kinds of freethinking we do and the kinds of under-publicized truths we can offer our readers.

Natalie Reed was a superb candidate for being our first blogger who could educate on the trans experience from both a riveting first person perspective and a brilliant intellectual one.  She got where she is through no special favors. She did not have the advantage of formal qualifications to give her a platform regardless of whether her writing or insights were actually anything special. She earned her way to a byline the hardest way there is—by just offering enough brilliant insights in a major blog’s comments sections that the influential bloggers there realized her writing was special and deserving of a broader platform. She proved herself by not even trying to earn any recognition or platform but just by being one of the best voices around. And when she got her bigger platform she used it to impress some pretty good writers and astute, savvy bloggers here at Freethought Blogs such that they brought her to our attention. Again, she won them over with no special campaigning or efforts. And it only took me a short trip through her archives to realize she was talented and qualified enough to fulfill the role of speaking out on our blog network for the most unfairly reviled and marginalized of all members of the LGBT community.

I knew it was crucial we find someone to address this huge social justice issue from a self-consciously atheistic perspective. I believed that before I was ever sold on Natalie being the person for that job. Freethought Blogs needs to represent unjustly marginalized perspectives if it is to adequately and thoroughly be a place that challenges the prejudices of mainstream thinking and be a voice for suppressed truths. This has nothing to do with hiring unqualified people out of a concern for diversity at the expense of quality. It has everything to do with maintaining high standards of quality. It has everything to do with hiring based on qualifications. Natalie is a terrific thinker, she fills an indispensable content niche for our project, and as far as I’m concerned she is as good a writer as anyone on this network.

She’s eminently qualified to blog here.

John W. Loftus on the other hand? I used to look at his credentials and just assume he was qualified. I then read portions of his book and thought his summation of the illogical and superstitious dimensions of the Old Testament was an ideal account.

But the more I have interacted with him and read him interact with others, the more and more thoroughly I am convinced that when it comes to personal character and perceptiveness, he is not qualified at all to be in any position of influence. He is a weak, painfully insecure, petty, paranoid, egomaniacal, prejudiced man with a staggering persecution complex the likes of which I have never personally encountered before. The number of wholly imaginary slights he complains about is mind boggling to me. Narcissism is an undeniable natural vice of a blogger. We have the vanity to self-publish our every thought and some of us crave fame unabashedly. But, really, you don’t have to so completely and publicly collapse in upon yourself as this man does over and over and over.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • John Morales

    I, too, am of the opinion that JWL just couldn’t hack it here on FTB, for the very reasons you’ve articulated.

  • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

    Thank you, Daniel. :)

  • Ace of Sevens

    Just to get this clear, you have taken a class on critical thinking, so you are qualified to criticize him, right?

    • consciousness razor

      Just to get this clear, you have taken a class on critical thinking, so you are qualified to criticize him, right?

      It would probably help, but it isn’t necessary to take a class to have the qualities necessary for critical thinking. If you’re asking Finke, he is a philosophy professor, so I figure he has taken a few classes that might have something or other to do with critical thinking.

    • Ace of Sevens

      That’s a response to his assertion that Natalie can’t criticize him, because she’s never taken a course in critical thinking and he has taught them. I never figured out what she was supposed to wrong about or how this was relevant. I was pointing out he can’t use this line against Dan Fincke, so he has to drop that attempt to appeal to authority.

    • Happiestsadist

      Mmm, delicious classism, tastes of…wait, it tastes of fail and stupid. That dumbass thought that critical thought can only be taught by professionals in university settings?

    • flynn

      Well played, Ace of Loftus.

    • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

      Nice. :D

      Side note on the whole critical thinking class thing: I’ve never taken one either, though I’ve spent countless hours reading and understanding logical fallacies on Wikipedia, and I think critical thinking classes ought to be mandatory at public high schools (or maybe even junior high). Or perhaps better yet, critical thinking skills should be infused in every class as a basic and yet explicit part of the curriculum.

      But since I’ve never taken a critical thinking class, I suppose I’m unqualified to say :)

  • Marshall

    That’s it, I’m done, I won’t be reading his blog or purchasing his books now that he’s made it clear what he’s actually all about, which is himself. His statement on Natalie’s blog is un-fucking-acceptable, and at this point I just don’t know what he could ever do that would make me change my mind.

    • John Morales

      Your prerogative, of course — but I think you’re gonna deny yourself some good reading by doing that.

      Whatever his personal attributes, his oeuvre stands on its own merits.

    • Marshall

      I can appreciate that, and one day I might find myself reading his blog and books again, but for the time being he’s pretty well wrecked that for me, even more so with the way he’s behaving in this very thread.

    • Emburii

      But he’s not the only one analyzing the New Testament and pointing out its flaws, and he’s not the only or even the best religious scholar in the world. If there were no one else doing the work he does then yes, I would agree that avoiding his work would be foolish. But short of the Outsider Test (and even with that, there are other ways of articulating or explaining its principles), he has nothing unique in his work to make up for his behavior.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      I’m still trying to figure out what is so unique about The Outsider Test for Faith. It’s pretty obvious stuff. As I said in the original post, the strongest part of the book I’ve read so far was the take down of the Old Testament. John had a beautiful approach to that. But even that is an organization of preexisting material, it’s not new or unique Old Testamen scholarship that I’m aware of.

    • Happiestsadist

      I’m maybe more obsessed with the study of religion and culture than anyone should be, and I thought his work was mostly just sort of shallow, or just pointing out the obvious. I was excited when he came to FTB, but then I saw the actual content, I kind of wandered off.

  • Ace of Sevens

    I should add: Natalie isn’t the person at Free Thought Blogs I agree with the most (that’s probably Ed) or the one I identify with the most (Libby Anne), but she is one of my favorites. Her dedication to philosophical consistency is unusually deep and to see why she’s qualified to write here, one needs only read a few of her posts. Sadly, I can’t say the same about JWL, especially when you count his comments on other people’s blogs.

    There’s also the issue that diversity of perspective is important, especially in a medium that’s all about communicating perspectives, and credentials don’t tell the whole story of what you have to offer.

    Yes, Straw Natalie, who called him names and mocked his education and apparently stole an endowed chair position from him, was mean. For some reason he wants to take this out on real Natalie.

    • Marshall

      I’ve been THOROUGHLY enjoying her articles on drug addiction, because that’s something I’ve been through (and still deal with to a great degree, even though I’m no longer using) and have friends going through. It’s been very nice to see someone tackling this problem from a compassionate and skeptical perspective. In fact, this comment should really be directed to her, I guess.

      So yeah, Natalie, love what you’re doing, please keep it up.

    • Ace of Sevens

      I’ve had some friends who got really messed up by drug addiction and a state more interested in punishing people than solving problems, so I find her insights invaluable here, too.

    • Robert B.

      Oh, agreed. I don’t have as personal a connection with the issue of addiction as you have, but I’ve definitely been enjoying and learning from Natalie’s ideas on the subject. I think we let the bad guys set the rules, a little bit, if we talk as though Natalie being transgendered is the only sense in which her voice is diverse. Not emphasizing that she’s a woman and a feminist is a bit more understandable, since FTB has several excellent bloggers who are women. But her writing on addiction issues deserves props, IMH, at least equal to those for her writing on transgender issues.

    • Robert B.

      Er, I meant IMO, not IMH. I surely have opinions, but I’ve never been such a liar as to call myself humble.

    • ‘Tis Himself, OM

      Natalie is an intelligent, articulate, challenging writer no matter which topic she’s discussing. She’s one of the better writers on FtB, on a level with Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson and (just to name a token male blogger) PZ Myers.

    • Pteryxx

      Hey, if we need a token male FTBer to stack up against Natalie’s sheer writing skill, I’d call on the Crommunist, with JT as his understudy. I think Natalie might wipe the floor with both of them though!

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      Someday I’d really love to meet Straw Natalie. I’m sure she’s a whiny, insufferable brat, but we have such a history together. Like that time she got mad at everyone at Pharyngula for using male pronouns to refer to Be Scofield, or that time she started saying that masculinity is evil and wrong and all men should be “sissies”, all those people she banned from her blogs for disagreeing with her over the tiniest issue, and her constant insistence that if a cis person doesn’t automatically know absolutely everything about transgenderism that they’re an evil transphobe. Ah, memories… *sigh*

    • Anders

      I bet she could have a wild party together with straw Rebecca.

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      Nawww… canon currently states that Straw Natalie and Straw Rebecca had a falling out over being jealous of one another’s ability to attract male attention.

    • Anders

      Any special male? Kirk Cameron?

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      Dunno. You’d have to ask them. :P

    • Ace of Sevens

      Don’t forget how she thinks certain topics are off-limits to skepticism and need to be accepted as gospel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alysonleelmnop alysonyoung

    It’s really such a shame. If he were to channel his energy appropriately, as I’ve seen him do in the past, he could have provided a very unique and insightful perspective on religion. With experiences and credentials like his, it’s just sad more than anything that he’d throw away a valuable relationship with FTB over perceived slights.

  • karmakin

    There’s a lot of things that bug me about this, I’m not sure what’s the biggest thing is here. It might be the idea that getting different points of view is in itself not something important. It might be the idea that there’s only one acceptable “way” to be an atheist, only challenging theists in terms of their “logical” proofs (something that, speaking for myself I feel is entirely besides the point).

    But, I think that most of all it’s not knowing what makes a good blogger. Different point of view? Check. Interesting and engaging style of writing? Check. Creates interesting topics that spawn discussion? Check. Now, not every good blogger needs to do all these things. But Natalie does all three. What’s more is wanted?

  • Robert B.

    I want to emphasize, though you did mention it, that even before the valid considerations you discuss of speaking for a (actually, at least three) disadvantaged groups, Natalie is an excellent writer and thinker. I won’t do the discourtesy of comparing her directly with my present host, but I’ll say that Sincerely, Natalie Reed has already joined Camels and a few others among my favorite FTBlogs. I liked Loftus’ blog, but it was never as good as Natalie’s is. Even if the network had no particular need for a transgendered blogger, she would still have been an excellent choice.

  • http://andythenerd.tumblr.com The Nerd

    Natalie is amazing, and more than a few of her posts have left me pumping my fist into the air in silent cheers of solidarity.

  • http://teachingsapiens.wordpress.com Robert B

    I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed all the pieces that Natalie has written for FTB so far and think she is a great addition.

    (a different Robert B)

    • Anders

      That just shows how brain-washed you’ve been by the Transsexual Syndicate.

    • http://andythenerd.tumblr.com The Nerd

      Poe’s Law has rendered this comments section completely indecipherable.

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      For the record, both Anders and Ace Of Stevens are good people.

    • John Morales

      Ahem.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      You’re aces in my book, John.

    • John Morales

      Galloping shibboleths!

    • Artor

      Funny fact, I always thought shibboleths were somehow related to shoggoths until I looked it up. I was embarrassed for a while, until I realized there is some similarity in a metaphorical sense…

    • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

      (reply to Artor)

      Funny fact, I always thought shibboleths were somehow related to shoggoths until I looked it up. I was embarrassed for a while, until I realized there is some similarity in a metaphorical sense…

      QFguffaws. ZOMG, that wins the thread.

    • caravelle

      Might be more than a metaphorical sense. All I know of Lovecraft I’ve learned from cultural osmosis and playing a bit of Call of Cthulu, but might his naming schemes not have been inspired by some existing languages ? Maybe one of those could have been Hebrew.
      (this is a suggestion I’m making in the hope some Lovecraft scholar responds with actual information or informed guesses. I truly know nothing on this)

  • Jon H

    I’ve been a big fan of Loftus for a long time, he was one of the first guys I read when I was deconverting, but this is the long coming nail in the coffin for me. He’s got a first class martyr-complex and an ego that outstrips his output, which has been on the decline for some time.

    John, I used to be one of your biggest fans. For a long time you were complaining about how you thought this might not be worth it and now I feel like I agree with you, take a break and get some perspective.

  • Dalillama

    Natalie is one of my favorites on FTB, and before that on Queereka. I’ve enjoyed all of her columns that I’ve read, and I expect to continue to do so for a long time.

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    Daniel, can you read? On Facebook you said that I said Natalie is “only here because of diversity.”

    That’s utterly false and stupid. Can you read?

    • Ace of Sevens

      You said:

      I guess it doesn’t matter what one’s credentials are to be here, now does it? After all diversity is much more important.

      Dan’s post would seem to be a fair paraphrase.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Teach me how to read, John. What did you mean when you wrote:

      Sheesh, and to think you’re here at FtB’s. I guess it doesn’t matter what one’s credentials are to be here, now does it? After all diversity is much more important.

      You’re the first one to claim that that did not mean Natalie was hired only for the sake of diversity, rather than because she was qualified to be here. How should we read your remark?

    • Artor

      “Daniel, can you read? On Facebook you said that I said Natalie is “only here because of diversity.” That’s utterly false and stupid. Can you read?”

      I don’t know about the original comment, but I read this one as being pretty petulant. Actually, the first one sounds pretty petulant too.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Teach me how to read, John.

      I’m so stealing that line used in this context.

    • Derek

      I read what you wrote John and the implication I took from it was the same as Dan and others. That you believe Natalie is on FTB because of diversity.

      I’ve read your blog on and off. I like much of what you write. However I’ve long felt you to be a little thin-skinned and self-aggrandizing. This latest round just reinforces that.

      Sorry but you aren’t winning hearts or minds with your current line of argument.

    • StevoR

      If he couldn’t read he’d find it pretty hard to respond towhat you’ve written there wouldn’t he? Plus he struggle to blog too wouldn’t he? You think he’s dictating to a secretary or something?

    • Happiestsadist

      We all can see what you wrote. We see your accusations of tokenism, your petulant whining, your temper tantrum at no longer being one of the popular kids.

      If you meant something other than what everyone else took from your words, perhaps you should re-think calling into questions anyone’s writing qualifications, hmm?

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    I value diversity, Daniel, I really do. I am a black homosexual feminist as much as a white heterosexual male can possibly be. But if any minority blasts me out of utter ignorance then they must be treated with dignity not by patronizing them. Patronizing them victimizes them all over again as unworthy of being the adult human beings that they are. Natalie clearly is ignorant about me, and argued in an ignorant manner, as I showed. Are we supposed to let ignorance slide because of diversity? I think not.

    If people don’t like me and want to make a public display of it then they ought to at least acknowledge that all they’ve got on me is that I don’t suffer fools gladly.

    Socrates was bombastic. Read the ending of the Euthyphro Dialogue and see for yourself.

    You also realize that after the Athenian senate condemned Socrates by a narrow margin he was given a chance to plead his case and blasted them, even saying they ought to pay him a pension for what he does. That didn’t help his case for after his speech they voted overwhelmingly that he should die. While I’m not worthy to be in his presence, so what if I might be like him too. Nietzsche was, as was Marx. Big fucking deal.

    Sometimes it’s personality types like ours that get things done. But it has little or nothing to do with whether or not we are effective in that which we do.

    • Ace of Sevens

      Now I’m getting lost. I’m unclear on what Natalie was being ignorant about. She may have misinterpreted you. I say “may” because I still have no idea what you meant by the quote Natalie cited. You have a habit of being offended people misinterpreted you, then talking about how offended you are instead of clarifying.

      You’re acting like Natalie is an illiterate half-wit who got brought on because Ed was trying to score diversity points that he can redeem if accused of bigotry in the future or something. You seem to have mistaken disagreeing with you (or being unable to read the correct inferences into you constant vague statements) for ignorance, then jumped to her gender identity as the explanation for this ignorance. That last part is what makes it bigotry rather than just egotism.

    • John Morales

      You’re acting like Natalie is an illiterate half-wit who got brought on because Ed was trying to score diversity points that he can redeem if accused of bigotry in the future or something.

      Well, I think you are using hyperbole and speculating.

      The reality is that he insinuated that she lacks credentials, but was seen as contributing to diversity.

      (Isn’t that enough?)

    • Ace of Sevens

      Well, no. That she contributes to diversity and lacks post-grad credentials is true enough. The problem is he also insinuated that her lack of credentials made her unqualified and that diversity was being used as an illegitimate replacement for the ability to do good skeptical work.

    • John Morales

      Well, no. That she contributes to diversity and lacks post-grad credentials is true enough. The problem is he also insinuated that her lack of credentials made her unqualified and that diversity was being used as an illegitimate replacement for the ability to do good skeptical work.

      I still think you’re making an unwarranted inference based on speculation; I have no such certitude about your scenario.

      Again, the claim I’ve seen is that one’s credentials are given no consideration when inducting new bloggers to FTB.

      * in the colloquial, not logical sense.

    • John Morales

      [meta]

      Well, that was an abortion of a comment.

      (How embarrassing)

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was dealing with the Socrates/Nietzsche/Marx of the atheist blogosphere. That explains everything.

    • John Morales

      Your assertion that you’re contumacious is not really necessary, John, nor is it a justification.

      I think it is an excuse.

      (Because you and I are very alike in this attribute, alas)

    • N. Nescio

      lol, blog drama.

      It’s a beautiful day outside, I’m going to go ride my bike.

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      I am a black homosexual feminist as much as a white heterosexual male can possibly be.

      Can I just point out how incredibly obnoxious I find statements like this?

      Fact is, you are NOT black or gay, and I’ve yet to see you really demonstrate yourself as a feminist. Being an ally to women and minorities is demonstrated through ACTIONS, not weird, self-serving assertions like this. And accusing others of being unqaulified diversity hires, while spitting on them for lacking the same privileged background as yourself, is NOT being an ally.

    • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

      Socrates was bombastic.

      So is Newt Gingrich.

      What was your point again?

    • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

      Sometimes it’s personality types like ours that get things done.

      Okay. What have you got done, exactly? Other than proving just about every one of the things said about you in the OP with your own words, that is… (Comparing yourself to Socrates? Really?!)

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    If diversity means giving ignorant people the podium them I’m not for that at all. There can be found plenty of diverse people who are not ignorant and argue intelligently.

    Atheists do not, on the whole, have much better critical thinking skills than the general populace. We don’t see it until there is a disagreement, for until then it looks like we agree because we are good thinkers. Natalie also didn’t show me much respect. That too I demand as the adult person I am.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Natalie respected you. You are just completely disconnected from reality between your delusions of grandeur and paranoid martyr complex. It’s ugly. And what’s with all this cutting and pasting things you’ve said in other places without even marking them off as quotes?

    • Ace of Sevens

      Natalie also didn’t show me much respect.

      I think we’ve hit the real explanation. She wasn’t overtly disrespectful, just disagreed with you and that is below your minimum standard. Of course, with her being young and not having a PhD, you weren’t required to show her any respect as an adult person at all.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      It’s not just Natalie who shows John no respect. John is not only the Socrates/Nietzsche/Marx of the atheist blogosphere, he’s our Rodney Dangerfield. He just gets no respect.

    • Happiestsadist

      Oh man, that made me laugh enough to startle the cat.

    • John Morales

      Atheists do not, on the whole, have much better critical thinking skills than the general populace. We don’t see it until there is a disagreement, for until then it looks like we agree because we are good thinkers.

      Your first statement is a truism, your second suggests you imagine we don’t realise that.

      (You do realise you’re not communicating with hoi polloi, but with the readers and commenters in FTB, right?)

    • StevoR

      Respect, John Loftus is earned. It can also be lost.

      I respected you a lot more before you srted spouting stuff like that. You want my respect again, you’ll need to earn it back. I suspect this holds true for many others here as well.

    • Happiestsadist

      Respect is earned, and you have more than amply demonstrated that you deserve all the respect warranted a toddler having a temper tantrum.

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    Dan, just give it a rest. That’s all I have asked. Give it a rest.

    • DrVanNostrand

      If you want people to give it a rest, you might start by not posting the same BS over and over again in all the comments on every post here about you. Throw another log on the fire, John! Also, apart from your bare assertion that you’re being disrespected and that the people doing it are uneducated, unqualified, lack critical thinking skills, etc…, I see no evidence of it in the comments of any of these posts. People just disagree with you. You offer no links, no quotes, nothing, and then claim that you just “don’t suffer fools”. Your behavior is the exact opposite of just asking people to “drop it”.

    • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

      At this point, I don’t think you deserve to ask that of anyone, much less demand it.

    • http://blogingproject.blogspot.com/ We Are Ing

      Every time someone tries to give you a break you throw another punch, swing wildly, fall off balance and collapse atop a table knocking the punch bowl over your head.

  • pastasauceror

    This post was uncalled for bullying.
    Loftus’ posts were head and shoulders above the mostly mediocre bunch here at FtB. (particularly since PZ has gone so quiet)
    The only reason I’m staying now is for Richard Carrier & some Cuttlefish poems :D
    The rest of you just clog up my reader.
    All in good fun.
    pastasauceror

    • John Morales

      [meta]

      This post was uncalled for bullying.

      <Sigh>

      The irony is strong in you, pawadan.

      (insert obligatory Inigo Montoya quote here)

      The rest of you just clog up my reader.

      Woe is you!

      (If only, oh if only there were something you could do about it!)

    • Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM

      Yes, it’s bullying to express support and admiration for someone when someone else has insulted them and told lies about them. What a vicious move, Daniel, saying that Natalie is a good blogger and Loftus is being a jerk… How dare you disagree with the assessment of the mighty Loftus! He is, after all, influential.

    • pastasauceror

      Obviously that’s not the part I was calling bullying. The last paragraph with all the name calling as part of an obvious gang-effort on FtB is the bullying. He’s already left for whatever reasons, both sides should let it rest.

      I’m not defending John (I think he has said some unhelpful things in the ongoing shenanigans) and, for the record, I have nothing against Natalie.

      I call for peace. (And for FtB to stop being such a clique and produce some good posts or I threaten to take my almighty ONE sub away :D)

    • Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM

      Yeah, well, it’s really not cool for someone to say a bunch of crappy things and then act hurt when his calls for “peace” aren’t heeded, you know? And it’s really quite silly to refer to the calling out of problematic, offensive behavior as “bullying.”

    • pastasauceror

      Daniel didn’t call out his behaviour, I wouldn’t have commented if he’d done that. He made a short paraphrase of something John said, then after talking about Natalie for most of the post, he slung off a string of name-calling in the final paragraph.

      How does calling someone “weak, painfully insecure, petty, paranoid, egomaniacal, prejudiced… narcissistic” help either the person or the kerfuffle at hand? And when added to the fact that many others from FtB are also making similar comments, it becomes (in my book at least) bullying.

    • pastasauceror

      Ooops, I left out Alethian Worldview!! I thought FtB was really going somewhere when they added Deacon, John and Richard (all of whom I followed individually before they came here) and all around the same time (in my clouded memory at least).

      Bury the hatchets peeps! It can continue to get better. :)

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      I thought FtB was really going somewhere when they added Deacon, John and Richard

      Hmmm, we were really going somewhere when we added three bloggers from the overlapping genres of “ex-pastor blogs” and “critics of the Bible blogs”? But other blogs that not by ex-pastors or critics of the Bible are, um, what?

      I don’t name-call. Name calling is using non-descriptive, abusive terms meant only to insult someone. The terms I used to describe John are specific, justifiable inferences about his character based on numerous specific actions, most of which are publicly viewable if you trace back just his comments on my blog and Natalie’s blog from the last week through last night. I am far from the only one to see him as having these traits. His post addressing others’ making such charges against him (written back in October and reposted last week) essentially boils down to him saying, “So what if I am?”

    • pastasauceror

      To quote wikipedia:
      Name-calling is “intended to provoke conclusions and actions about a matter apart from an impartial examinations of the facts of the matter. When this tactic is used instead of an argument, name-calling is thus a substitute for rational, fact-based arguments against an idea or belief, based upon its own merits, and becomes an argumentum ad hominem.”

      You were name-calling, plain and simple.

      Also I’m fairly sure Richard Carrier and Deacon Duncan were never ex-pastors, they are however covering very interesting issues for new free-thinkers and those attempting to help others out of the mass-delusion of religion just like John.

    • pastasauceror

      Actually that’s a terribly written wiki article, but it does express my meaning when I said you were name-calling.

  • Ace of Sevens

    This post was uncalled for bullying.

    What if someone literally called for it?

    • pastasauceror

      It is just escalating the problem when John asked for a ceasefire. (both on his blog and here) Pointless interference.

    • Ace of Sevens

      His ceasefire sounds like asking for people not to criticize the dumb things he said, even though he stands by them.

    • pastasauceror

      Maybe so, still no reason for Daniel to continue to stir the pot, and in this case I think also make it worse by name-calling.
      You know what happens when online sites degenerate into self-congratulatory cliques right? It ends up that they all just read each others blogs and no one else does.
      Not sure FtB is quite on that path yet, but it happens…ALOT.

    • Sheesh

      Hey pastasauceror! Your concern is noted!

    • ‘Tis Himself, OM

      John has called for people to “give it a rest.” The only problem with this is that John is not willing to give it a rest. He wants the last word, he wants to ride off into the sunset while listening to the cheers of his followers and the wailing of his detractors.

      I can understand egotism. I suffer from the vice myself. But I know when to walk away from an argument, even if it involves people talking about me.

  • physioprof

    Loftus, you ridiculous fucken douchebagge! Do you really think of yourself as Socrates? HAHAHAHA!

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    Heh, so I hate to kick a man while he is down, but I suddenly remembered… there was a post at FtB with Loftus complaining about how the Wikipedia article on him had been deleted for lack of notability. He seemed to kinda of misunderstand the process at Wikipedia. I remember being a little confused that the main point he was citing in favor of his own notability was a blurb from his editor. Um… huh. Anyway, a lot of people find Wikipedia’s deletion policies confusing, so I tried to give some background on how and why the deletion took place. I never checked back to see if he replied to my comment, and I can’t seem to locate the post now; it does not seem to be at his main blog.

    Anyway, FWIW…

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    On the flip side, I have to give Loftus credit that his blog does not seem to have devolved into one obsessive post after another criticizing FtB. Too often when there’s a big falling out like this, that’s what happens. There’s still room for this to end well, I think.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      On the flip side, I have to give Loftus credit that his blog does not seem to have devolved into one obsessive post after another criticizing FtB. Too often when there’s a big falling out like this, that’s what happens. There’s still room for this to end well, I think.

      He’s written five posts alluding to us since Monday though we’ve been doing nothing except saying “WTF, Man?” in each of our responses to his raving.

    • jamessweet

      I only skimmed the first half-dozen posts or so and only saw one relating to this blow-up. Perhaps he is just prolific so the non-drahmaz posts still overwhelm the obsessive ones?

      I dunno, I half agree with pastasauceror that a cease-fire is the best policy now. I do think it was well worth addressing this remark about Natalie though. That’s just dirty pool.

  • dalemacdougall

    When Loftus first announced he was leaving ftb I posted on his blog that even though I had two of his books and liked his work a lot I wasn’t surprised he was leaving as I didn’t think someone with his ego could share the limelight with others.

    My post didn’t get put up, but I can now see that’s not uncommon. It’s sad things have come to this but that’s what he brought on himself. I guess I’ll just wait for the 15th revision of WIBA in his never ending quest to drive more sales out of the same book.

  • michaeld

    For what its worth I was willing to follow Natalie to what ever blog she went to after reading her comments here and a few of her posts at skepchick. Its just a happy coincidence that I don’t have to follow her on another site.

    As to this JLoftus mess I’m getting flashbacks to Plait’s don’t be a dick speech and some of the backlash. I’m just waiting for everyone to go back to their own things.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    The “diversity/qualifications” taunt also reminds me of the outburst of such taunts that greeted CFI’s announcement last summer of the Women in Secularism conference this May. One (formerly, I thought, reasonable) woman said “I’d hate to know that I was invited to a conference simply because I have the appropriate genitalia.” So sad for Susan Jacoby, Wafa Sultan, Greta Christina etc etc to know they were invited simply because they have the appropriate genitalia.

  • Sheila

    I decided Loftus was arrogant and ungrateful after I hit the ‘donate’ button to support his cause and gave him ten bucks via paypal. A piddling amount; to be sure, but I did not receive so much as an automated ‘thanks for your contribution’ email.

    Any person, no matter how credentialed, that makes at least part of their living by begging strangers on the internet to give them money, then hasn’t the decent manners to say ‘thank you’, is not someone I wish to waste any more of my precious time on.

  • http://www.richardcarrier.info/ Richard Carrier

    I fully agree with your assessment here, Daniel.

    Natalie Reed is an excellent writer. Her blogs are often thorough, thoughtful, informed, and well-researched, are a delight to read, and do not waste words (some people complain they are sometimes long, but that’s not padding or verbosity, it’s precision and completeness). She’s impressed me. And already taught me a great deal. She also does fill a vacant niche (and that is why we got her): a representative speaking for and to atheists about transsexual and gender issues. It’s not like John Loftus was doing that (or that he would be qualified to even if he did). And frankly, I can’t think of anyone better for the job than Natalie. And isn’t the best one at it precisely who we should have here?

    As for Loftus himself, he has not been comporting himself well in this case. Lately he has given ample grounds for you to conclude as you do; he’s been far more off the handle than I’ve ever seen him. I do hope he recognizes and addresses this perception and behavior problem.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches Ed Brayton

    I agree with everything Daniel has said here. And in response to one of the commenters above, this has nothing to do with being in a clique. Those who have written about this fiasco have done so entirely on their own because they genuinely think Loftus is behaving abominably and because they genuinely think that Natalie is a brilliant writer who deserves better. Sometimes you have many people lined up on the same side not because they’re part of some clique but because that’s the right side to be on, and such is the case here. This isn’t a group of people circling the wagons around on of their own, it’s a group of individuals all seeing the obvious rightness of a position and speaking up and saying so.

    • pastasauceror

      And the clique solidifies. Disappointing.

      Someone has to be the better (wo)man, it’s probably not going to be John, he is demonstrating the behaviour of someone being set upon and threatened, a cornered animal, and he is purely reacting at this point. So perhaps it is time for FtB (or someone here) to lay off and extend a hand of conciliation. Maybe this has been done already and I am not privy to it, but continuing this argument in a public forum just makes everyone look bad, and frankly it’s reducing the quality of the posts here.

      This article by Daniel is mostly name-calling (even though he made a meagre attempt to deny it) and has inflamed the situation rather than helped it. I know there is a thin veil of defending a friend, but honestly it smacks of piling on to someone who is down (and judging by his list of names, one Daniel didn’t like in the first place).

      I am not defending John’s actions. I just have the dangerous instinct that when I see a wounded lion being attacked by a pride of camels (for want of a better analogy) I will run in to defend the lion (likely getting my head ripped off in the process by both sides) rather than join the pack for my share of the meaty spoils. Pack-mentality and outgroup attacks are one of our worst evolutionary traits now that we’re a connected world-species. Perhaps all of us should work to curb those tendencies rather than give in to them.

      May the sauce be with you! Praise the FSM, saucy are his noodles.
      RAmen
      pastasauceror

    • Ace of Sevens

      Maybe this has been done already and I am not privy to it, but continuing this argument in a public forum just makes everyone look bad, and frankly it’s reducing the quality of the posts here.

      I’ve been seeing plenty of opportunities for that. Plenty of people have praised his work and asked him to explain himself, but he insists on digging himself deeper. What do you think this hand-extending should look like? We should just tell him we’re ignoring him from now on? Several people have done that.

    • Ze Madmax

      So perhaps it is time for FtB (or someone here) to lay off and extend a hand of conciliation.

      Why? Loftus made a fool of himself by hinting that Natalie Reed was a “diversity hire”, and when called out on it, chose to dig himself deeper. This is not an issue with two sides merely disagreeing. This is an issue with one side that is deeply, thoroughly wrong (i.e., Loftus). To extend a “hand of reconciliation” to someone who is unwilling to admit that he was wrong is merely to enable this person to continue deluding himself.

    • pastasauceror

      Keep laying into him then. I’m sure that will help.

      I’m done on this topic. I don’t think it is EVER wrong to be conciliatory, you don’t even have to admit the other person is right to do that.

      Apparently John has left the discussion, and so will I.

      Peace.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Someone has to be the better (wo)man, it’s probably not going to be John, he is demonstrating the behaviour of someone being set upon and threatened, a cornered animal, and he is purely reacting at this point.

      What seems to be evading your comprehension is that Loftus began exhibiting “the behaviour of someone being set upon and threatened, a cornered animal” before any of us said anything critical of him. In fact behind the scenes he was saying it when we were all uniformly enthusiastic about his presence.

      He has a delusions of grandeur and a persecution complex. He did not need any provocation to act like a cornered animal. That was what was so bizarre about all of this. He is nuts. He has been reduced in the last few days to endlessly copying and pasting ridiculous claims that he is a misunderstood Socrates and “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”, rather than make any substantive arguments. He is attacked on the merits of his arguments and his blogging policies and he behaves like a victim of unjust attacks. It’s just absurd behavior for a blogger.

      This article by Daniel is mostly name-calling (even though he made a meagre attempt to deny it) and has inflamed the situation rather than helped it. I know there is a thin veil of defending a friend, but honestly it smacks of piling on to someone who is down (and judging by his list of names, one Daniel didn’t like in the first place).

      I loved him in the first place. Mostly because I was naively drawn to his (relatively speaking) big name in atheist circles. What doesn’t seem to get through to you is that people can actually make judgments about others based on their experience with them and not based on preexisting prejudices.

      And, I find it amusing that a piece which features of 14 paragraphs defending our choice to hire Natalie and at most 3 talking about the character of Loftus is taken as just a “thin veil” for attacking Loftus. I almost didn’t even include the assessment of Loftus but as I was finishing the piece, felt like it was worth addressing, though it was not part of the original plan.

      But also, this was not even about defending a friend. (I barely know Natalie any better, or interact with her any more, than any of her other readers.) I was defending her as a fan and as a member of the community that decided to bring her into our network. Her qualifications were being doubted and so I spoke up about my own decision process. This wasn’t about just standing by a friend because someone’s a friend. It’s about sticking up for a hiring decision I participated in and defending my criteria and the choice I helped make with those criteria.

      Finally, the words I used to criticize John Loftus are not “names”. They’re all specific descriptors. “Weak” is not a “name”. “Petty” is not a name. “Persecution complex” is not a name. Neither are “egomaniacal”, “narcissist”, nor “prejudiced” names. These are all descriptors of a character inferred based on weeks’ worth of persistent behaviors that many who have read Lofts for any length of time have found apt for labeling his behaviors in objective terms. These are not abusives. They are morally and psychologically unpleasant charges. But they are not just schoolyard bully words. I have explained in detail my policies on name-calling and on using harsh critical words, several times. Please see these posts to understand my views. My writing in the case of Loftus adheres to my own standards on these issues, as clearly defined in advance:
      The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth—But With No Name Calling and I Don’t Really Give A Fuck About Tone Per Se

    • pastasauceror

      So if I call a hypothetical philosopher an arrogant, self-absorbed, pedestrian, long-winded, scruffy-looking, nerf-herder in a comment in which I fail to justify any of those descriptive terms (even though they’re all true from my observation except the final one) then the ONLY term that can be considered name-calling is the non-descriptive and untrue nerf-herder? If you disagree then remove hypothetical from the previous sentence and see how it feels. :D

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      So if I call a hypothetical philosopher an arrogant, self-absorbed, pedestrian, long-winded, scruffy-looking, nerf-herder in a comment in which I fail to justify any of those descriptive terms (even though they’re all true from my observation except the final one) then the ONLY term that can be considered name-calling is the non-descriptive and untrue nerf-herder? If you disagree then remove hypothetical from the previous sentence and see how it feels.

      Yes, the only word in there I would object to on principles of respect and civility is “nerf-herder”. (Though of course it’s such a silly word and a smile-inducing Star Wars allusion that I would probably even let that slide!

      If you want to charge me with being arrogant, self-absorbed, pedestrian, long-winded, scruffy-looking, etc. based on your interactions with me then make the charges. I don’t care. I’ll think about them and see if I think they’re true. I’ll see if others agree. I might ask for some evidence. From the above list, I know that I’m scruffy-looking (I once posted a penciled caricature made by one of my students and was asked by a reader why the artist made me look like a hobo, I had to inform my reader it’s because I look like a hobo!). I know that I’m long-winded. Am I self-absorbed? In some ways, yes, in others no. Heck, I copped to narcissism and an unabashed desire to be famous right there in my attack on Loftus. I don’t think my writing is pedestrian. It gets too many compliments and is too often charged with different failures than ordinariness by my critics for me to believe it is pedestrian. But, again, if you level that charge, I’ll take it under consideration. If many start saying it, I’ll probably worry more.

      Arrogant? I don’t think I’m arrogant and few people charge me of it and often when they do it seems like a case of projection given the context. But, again, if in a specific context the charge makes sense or if a lot of people start saying it, I may have to do some serious introspection.

      I’m a very flawed person, I don’t take offense that people might some day make character accusations against me. A good many of them might be right. I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot from paying attention to others’ criticisms over the years and from judiciously figuring out which criticisms were just false.

      I used to have an older friend in college who I would meet with on a weekly basis to discuss our lives and hold each other accountable in our faith (back in those days when I was a Christian). Every week he would have another story of some unreasonable person who led him into a tantrum. After a while I realized the constant in each story—it was my friend. And soon I started to realize the problem was not an entire world out to get my friend but the problem was my friend.

      There are a number of people, by Loftus’s own admission, by testimony from the comments sections all over FTB, by testimonies given to me in private, etc. who find Loftus insufferable. The obvious inference is that the man himself is insufferable. He evades this logical implication with the most self-serving and megalomaniacal explanation he can muster: he’s Socrates.

      I’m sorry, it does no one any good to mince words in describing the man’s character problems. Each word I chose was specific and based on evidence from his behavior. None were meant to abuse or disrespect him but to give honest, necessary ethical criticism of a public figure embarrassing himself and hurting others in public.

    • Ace of Sevens

      Isn’t unkempt facial hair a requirement for philosophy professors, at least in accredited institutions?

    • John Morales

      Apparently John has left the discussion, and so will I.

      Peace.

      Your credibility quotient asymptotically approaches zero.

    • pastasauceror

      Apologies for misleading you all about not commenting again, guess I just have a case of someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet syndrome.

      Apparently everyone else here thinks it’s me, and perhaps just wants me to keep quiet. But I’ve never really cared what the cheer squad shouts, I usually try to support the underdog anyway. Particularly if they’re being ripped apart by a gang of bullies. (almost held the metaphor together)

      Daniel and I have pretty much come to agreement to disagree and so I guess I should make this my last post.

      Feel free to beat up on me and call me names as much as you want now that you know I cannot retort. It will reassure me that my assessment of the general atmosphere in here was correct :D

      May the FSM judge you kindly, RAmen
      pastasauceror (tongue firmly planted you know where)

    • Daniel Schealler

      @Daniel Fincke

      You missed a line there:

      Who’s ‘scruffy looking’?

      ^_^

    • John Morales

      [meta]

      pastasauceror (tongue firmly planted you know where)

      Yeah, I know where.

      (Takes all kinds)

  • Sophia

    The in-fighting does rather validate how myopic bloggers tend to be anyway. Blogging is not information, but affirmation. Nothing more, especially in this context.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Give me a break. Even a cursory glance through my archives will show that my blog contains a wealth of information and ideas. But sometimes one’s community has political issues and one has to address them. That’s just the human condition. But these posts dealing with interpersonal politics of the Freethought Blogs community are quite rare on my site.

  • Rieux

    I’m not familiar with Loftus’ complaints about Reed; indeed, I’m not all that familiar with Loftus, period.

    That said, the notion that Reed doesn’t belong on FTB seems to me absurd. She’s a religious skeptic who has important things to say and says them well. WTF other qualifications should there be for blogging on this site?

  • Steve Schuler

    Ophelia Benson said:

    “The “diversity/qualifications” taunt also reminds me of the outburst of such taunts that greeted CFI’s announcement last summer of the Women in Secularism conference this May. One (formerly, I thought, reasonable) woman said “I’d hate to know that I was invited to a conference simply because I have the appropriate genitalia.” So sad for Susan Jacoby, Wafa Sultan, Greta Christina etc etc to know they were invited simply because they have the appropriate genitalia.”

    Steve says:

    I cannot imagine how this statement of yours could possibly contribute in the least to the immediate inflammatory issues driving this most recent episode in a seemingly endless series of FTB dramas.

    The only way I can read your statement is as a (not so) indirect assault against transsexuals, particularly male to female, such as Natalie. Are you not suggesting that possesing the “appropriate genitalia” should be the criteria to be utlilized in determining whether or not someone should be able to participate in your Women’s Club? Do you actually conduct genital inspections to insure that only ‘real’ women (people with ‘natural’ vaginas and definitely no penis) are able to participate? While I can appreciate that you may have transphobic tendencies beyond your control, this in no way excuses you from such an ergregious display of bigotry. You, of all people, should be fully aware that gender is primarily a mental phenomena and NOT simply a matter of somebody possesing the “appropriate genitalia”. Would you deny Natalie, or someone like her, from participating in your Women’s conference on the basis of their genitals? While it is too late now to withdraw this very disappointing comment from the record, I suggest that you offer an apolology to Natalie and the rest of the trans community for such a pathetic display of insensitivity and promise that you will try to refrain from making such coarse and cruel disclosures in the future.

    • Ze Madmax

      I cannot imagine how this statement of yours could possibly contribute in the least to the immediate inflammatory issues driving this most recent episode in a seemingly endless series of FTB dramas.

      Well, it contributes as another example of how people seem to believe that merely because someone is part of a particular minority group, it means that any instance that seeks to highlight the work of this minority group equates to giving a voice to the minority merely due to their minority status.

      So, in Ophelia’s example, the woman seemed to think that the speakers at the Women in Secularism conference were there merely because they were women, not because they were talented speakers.
      In the present example, a similar event occurs with John Loftus assuming that Natalie Reed’s blog in FTB is due to her gender (not because she’s a kickass blogger).

      Reading comprehension. It’s good for you.

    • Steve Schuler

      The problem with your analysis is that, in fact, the women that were speaking at that conference were selected, in part, on the basis of their gender, that is, if they had been men they would definitely not have been invited to speak, regardless of their other competencies. Any activity which includes or excludes participants on the basis of gender or sex is biased on the basis of the selection criterion employed. I have no reason to think that FTB discriminates on the basis of sex and gender based on the evidence at hand, despite John Loftus’ poorly considered comment to that effect.

      Reading comprehension: it’s good for me, , might be better for you:)

      What I find particularly disturbing about Ophelia’s statement is the painfully blatant use of “appropriate genitalia” as the proper means to determine gender. Bad girl. Very bad girl.

    • Ace of Sevens

      What I find particularly disturbing about Ophelia’s statement is the painfully blatant use of “appropriate genitalia” as the proper means to determine gender. Bad girl. Very bad girl.

      Except she didn’t say that. She was quoting someone she disagreed with. See the quote marks?

    • Steve Schuler

      Hey Ace!

      Since ‘reading comprehension’ seems to be the common failing that we are each accusing the other of, I suggest that you read Ophelia’s post again. Please report back when you’ve sorted out who said what, and why, mkay?

    • Ace of Sevens

      Quoting Ophelia Benson:

      One (formerly, I thought, reasonable) woman said “I’d hate to know that I was invited to a conference simply because I have the appropriate genitalia.” So sad for Susan Jacoby, Wafa Sultan, Greta Christina etc etc to know they were invited simply because they have the appropriate genitalia.”

      The sentence where “appropriate genitalia” originates is clearly attributed to an unnamed woman she implicitly characterizes as unreasonable. The second use is quoting the first use. She seems to have left out the opening scare quote on the phrase (the closing one is present), but even without scare quotes, it isn’t reasonable to read her as endorsing this phrase.

    • Steve Schuler

      Okay, I get it now, I think…

      The conference referred to wanted to include only speakers who, at least, presented as women, not necessarily people who were biologically female, that is, people who had the “appropriate genitalia”. So we can assume that a trans female would have been deemed acceptable, at least in so far as meeting the primary criteria to qualify as a speaker. Well that is reassuring to me, as I thought it would be very unfair to restrict the participation of people on the basis of their biological sex, if not ambiguous or undetermined, rather than on what they considered themselves to be via gender identity. I wonder if they had any transsexual speakers and if they asked them to be sure to present as women?

      Thanks for helping clear this matter up for me.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

      Yikes, I missed all this. Yes, it’s what Ace said. The snotty comment about “appropriate genitalia” was not mine.

  • pastasauceror

    No Daniel I wasn’t actually calling you any of those things, I don’t know you well enough to do so, and I wouldn’t do it in a public forum even if I did, I did it to see how you would react. I believe you only reacted in the controlled manner you did because you had to in order to defend your position. Or, perhaps like myself, you’re the type of person who can easily laugh off insults.

    I still think that something can be name-calling and bullying when said in a public forum even if it’s entirely true, eg. calling someone a fat, lazy, slob. Those terms may be totally descriptive, totally true, and have obvious evidence to their truth accepted by everyone who knows the person, but you have to admit that it is still name-calling (and depending on circumstance, also bullying) to call someone by those terms.

    Maybe you will not agree with that either, or believe it to be a different situation (I purposely used terms hinging on something that could be altered by the person’s behaviour to make it as similar as possible), and if so then I think we will not agree on this subject.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Why is it unfathomable that I can both laugh off some insults and also take seriously serious criticisms of me which are not insults but character assessments?

      I am bothered by this implication that you can’t criticize anyone without it being an insult and not honesty. This is especially troubling when we’re dealing not with a direct interpersonal exchange but criticism of public figures who are undertaking public actions.

      But anyway, yes, calling someone a fat, lazy, slob is something I would classify as wrong in a similar way to name-calling in most cases, but not because they are simply unflattering but because these things are usually irrelevant to character and it is diversionary to bring them up. Someone is not a bad person because he’s fat or has a slovenly appearance. Those sorts of attacks are just meant to marginalize people who don’t fit a certain aesthetic and to make them feel bad about things that often are not character related. Now, every now and then it is actually appropriate to make someone’s weight an issue. Like when a fat congressman picked on Michelle Obama for supposedly not having a trim enough figure. That kind of sexist double standard for assessment of a person and that kind of remark feeding negative body issue memes made it “in-bounds” to me to mock the man as a marshmallow man. (And, being half-Marshmallow myself, I didn’t feel bad at all doing it!)

      But attempts to make someone’s ugliness or fatness an issue are usually schoolyard bullying with no more substantive philosophical point to redeem them. They are cheap shots that divert from real issues of arguments and characters. But the charges I leveled at Loftus were not schoolyard bullying and not diversions or marginalizations of unfairly maligned groups. They were fair character charges.

      I grant you I didn’t chronicle the evidence for them. But as far as I’ve seen everyone who has really followed along the saga here at FTB the last couple months has been unanimously agreeing with these characterizations. Again, Loftus admits on his own blog he gets these charges all the time. The world is not all out to get Loftus. And if you believe that, and not the more likely explanation that the man is paranoid, you are trusting he is the most unfairly singled out guy in the atheist blogosphere. But he’s not.

      He’s a guy who regularly posts screeds obsessively whining that he was not listed in a Top 50 Atheist list or that Wikipedia editors are being unfair in taking down his page or equating fair criticism of his ideas with “fools who he doesn’t suffer gladly” but who must have their dissents outright deleted from his blog, etc. He started leveling all sorts of self-prophesying charges that we at FTB were cruel to atheists and going to come attacking him when everyone here still liked him and was puzzled he left us.

      So we had two choices. Let him claim martrydom over wholly imagined slights or take the bait and call him out for acting like an unhinged person spoiling for a fight over nothing. Eventually, the bait was too irresistible and so I wrote the post above. I knew it was going to validate his delusions that we’re out to get him but his behavior was reprehensible and it needed to be addressed.

      Nearly everyone else understood this. You’re one of the few who’s trusting the paranoiac.

    • pastasauceror

      No, I’m not ‘trusting’ anyone, I totally agree with you in your more fleshed out assessment of John (I’ve read his blog for long enough to see all of what you’re saying). I do believe that it would be more constructive to “help” (as you seem to think your listing his character flaws is partially doing :-O somehow) by giving criticism in private so that he doesn’t feel threatened or react further.

      If you’re not interested in John’s welfare or truly helping him deal with his problems, which I assume you weren’t as there’s nowhere in the article where you encourage him to do so (notwithstanding your current defence in the comments), then perhaps you should have left off the introductory and concluding comments of your article and stuck to defending Natalie. I’m sure you realize when writing that it is your introduction and conclusion that should outline and summarize the main point of your article, so I feel my assessment of it as a thinly veiled attack on John is apropos.

      You did ask for “thoughts” at the end of the article, and I gave them to you. I think your article stooped to unhelpful epithet-slinging and exacerbated the problem, all without providing any reason for John to correct his behaviour other than being excoriated on a public forum. If you disagree with my assessment (I could be wrong it’s happened before) that’s your prerogative.

      May the sauce be with you, RAmen
      pastasauceror

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      I’m happy to have your thoughts, even though we disagree. I have not made any attempts to silence you, however vigorously I have defended my choices.

      For the record, I did reach out to John privately in remarks on our listserv for the bloggers on this network. I raised the same issues I’m excoriating him for publicly now (only somewhat more politely), over a month ago. I prefer to keep private discussions private though so that is all I will say about that.

      In the end, when we are dealing with public figures there is more at stake than the public figure’s well-being, there are their influences and their effects on community. I do hope for John’s well-being. I do hope that this will all be taken as a splash of cold water that wakes him up to some attitude changes he needs to make. But I also feel a broader responsibility to denounce in unequivocal terms bad public behavior and attempts to ruin talented people from marginalized groups’ reputations. That’s all I was trying to do in the original post.

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus
    • John Morales

      Well, I did click on the link.

      Why This Blog?
      Because I need a place where I don’t have to worry what Christians will think, since they believe atheists are angry and hateful people. Because I need a place where where I can answer my atheist critics out of the earshot of Christians. Because I need a place to vent. Stay tuned.

      The kindest explanation for this claim is naïveté; shame it’s not the most likely in my estimation.

      (Why are we humans so fascinated by watching a trainwreck?)

    • Daniel Schealler

      (Why are we humans so fascinated by watching a trainwreck?)

      Because it’s not happening to us.


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