Steven Olsen posted this video on his Facebook page and it’s really funny. It’s a guy named John Hembling attacking Rebecca Watson as a “sociopath” — not over the whole elevator-gate thing, but over a practical joke she played on JT Eberhard at Skepticon in 2010.
First, some background. JT assigned someone to be Rebecca’s “handler” at Skepticon, Kasi Rodgers and Rebecca jokingly said that since she now had a minion, she was going to make Kasi do all sorts of evil things. In fact, she made a bet with JT on whether Kasi would quit or not. So she got up at the beginning of her talk that year and listed some of the evil things she’d made her minion do, like find her vegetarian cashew chicken for lunch. And in the middle of telling these stories, Kasi texted JT and told him she was quitting because of this abuse. But in reality, Rebecca had told Kasi about the bet with JT and they then played a prank on him by pretending that she had made her do all these terrible things. Then Kasi quits in front of everyone and JT freaks out.
John watches the video of Rebecca’s talk, misses the joke completely, and posts this ponderous and terribly serious video about how Rebecca was a terrible sociopath for abusing her authority over Kasi and how important it is that the entire atheist community distance ourselves from Rebecca because she obviously has no moral scruples at all about abusing people for her own sick pleasure. Which is an even better punchline to the practical joke than JT’s freaking out about it. The video from John includes footage from Rebecca’s talk that he misinterprets completely.
Now, you can’t see the video anymore because he made it private. But basically, he repeats over and over again that because she enjoys abusing her power over this poor woman assigned to help her at the conferences, Rebecca is a “sociopath” and a “psychopath” with no “moral compass.” Except that she didn’t abuse anyone at all. It was all a joke on JT. To make it even funnier, when people voted it down he accused them of being “RW fanboys,” still completely oblivious to the fact that he missed the joke and spent all that time ranting very seriously about something that never happened.
Will he admit that he was wrong? Will he apologize to Rebecca and recognize that he made himself look quite silly in public? Kinda, sorta. After Kasi herself — the handler/minion — showed up to inform him that the whole thing was great fun, that Rebecca did not actually make her do anything at all and that they cooked it all up to play a joke on JT, he responded by resorting instead to tone-trolling.
the tone of the JW fans piling on here telling me how wrong, humourless, mentally deficient and horrible I am is making my case for me.
Uh, what? People are criticizing you for getting something flagrantly wrong and making wholly inaccurate accusations about someone in a hilariously overwrought video, and that makes the case that Rebecca is a sociopath how, exactly? Logic isn’t your strong suit, is it?
And one commenter said:
If you have a solid moral compass, you will make an apology video because you got it completely wrong, and you are calling someone a sociopath as a result of getting it completely wrong. Prove to us that you have a moral compass.
And John replied:
how about this, If i am offered moral ultimatums – I will laugh those offering them
Yes, because that would prove them wrong, wouldn’t it? At this point, it’s clear that John is just another douchebag sanctimoniously lecturing others about his own worst sins. Bryan Fischer would be proud. But wait, there’s more obfuscation and denial. When someone asked him if he would just admit he was wrong, he said:
I am a skeptic, and if my conclusions are at odds with other people’s conclusions, too bad, they can get over it.
If you think you’re a skeptic, you’re doing it wrong. All three of the people who were actually involved in the situation have documented that the “facts” on which you were basing your conclusion were wrong, that Rebecca did not, in fact, order Kasi to do anything at all. Since that was the entire basis for your accusation that Rebecca is a “sociopath” with no “moral compass,” your conclusion is not at odds with other people’s conclusions, it is at odds with reality. If you were a genuine skeptic, you would admit that.
Rather than apologizing, he put out a second video where he says that even though he now knows that the entire basis of his previous video was false “this doesn’t materially change my impression of her.” And then he tries to distract attention from his own massive screw up by doing what every asshole troll does when he’s caught being an asshole troll — “A ha, I must have struck a nerve!” And to show just how utterly oblivious he is to how absurd he looks in all of this, he then complains of how he’s been “piled on.”
The vehemence of the reaction is a little overblown for someone who’s just being critical and has made a criticism that was off-base. Because there’s like … I’m a psychopath, I’m a sociopath, I’m a maniac, I’m a murderer… I’m humorless, I’m stupid, I’m irrational, etc, etc.
Seriously, they don’t make irony meters strong enough to withstand that kind of blow. Remember, a sociopath is exactly what he accused Rebecca Watson of being. And even after the basis for that accusation has been shown to be absolutely false — even he now admits that — he then repeats the accusation as if nothing had changed at all. Hembling is ignoring the first rule of holes and proving himself to be a massive asshole in the process. Here’s the second video:
And then he put out a third video, this one aimed at PZ, who criticized him over all this. And he claims that PZ is trying to play the white knight by coming to the rescue of poor, weak Rebecca. And then he says that feminism is inherently infantilizing to women. Because it doesn’t occur to him that PZ is just calling an asshole an asshole, like I’m doing. Rebecca can defend herself perfectly well and she did so in the comments on the original post (which he is now hiding from everyone).
Here’s the video to PZ:
Ironically, we are doing the very same thing Hembling himself was doing to Rebecca, only with justification. His original video was all about how the atheist community has to band together to ostracize and stand up to “sociopaths” like Rebecca (except, of course, his entire basis for that allegation was false). Well I think we also need to stand up to douchebags like Hembling and expose them for what they are. And it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with being a “Rebecca fanboy” (in fact, I’ve read very little that she’s written and have only met her once — and I stayed pretty much completely out of the whole elevator-gate fiasco). It has to do with him being an asshole and being called out on it. If it bothers you to be called an asshole, stop being an asshole.
And unsurprisingly, the comments on the original video brought out the usual misogyny, which is all the more absurd given that the same people who spew that sexist garbage also deny that sexism is a problem at all. A few examples:
Hey, what’s with picking on baboons? They too have some social standards. Feminists? Well that’s another story…
What an ugly, wretched hooker…
Witness the male contraceptive pill in human form...
Well she has got the teeth and cheeks of a smiling Baboon and her hands move like she is picking over fruit! Whats with her 50′s poker dot dress- thats to still try and sell herself to the audience as openly still sexual. She presents herself as very easy, The dichotomy must drive those unstirred unsexualized Dons mad! Not me thou, puke!…
Let’s all just be real here. RW is only a big shot because she’s female in a largely-male community. The only reason people listen to her speak is because she demands that they do, and if they don’t allow her to do so, they’re sexist pigs. She plays to men’s chivalry when it suits her, to attain status and position, calls on men to PROTECT her when she pisses people off with her antics… all while castigating men for being the men she needs them to be in order to maintain her little soap box …
Rebecca Watson is a very dull speaker, only other feminists would find her intellectually stimulating. When I watch her I just think ‘vacuous twat’. It’s annoying when females enter a male dominated field and then get loads of attention for material that a male wouldn’t get a second glance for.
But remember, misogyny is just a myth. And feminism is a horrible idea. Or so assholes like Hembling want us to think.
Now let’s anticipate the next step. If he notices this post at all, he’ll likely rant some more about the “hive mind” in the atheist community and how we’re all just following our appointed leaders, PZ and Rebecca. Never mind that I’ve disagreed with PZ many times and said so publicly. It’s just like the tone-trolling — anything to divert attention from the real issues.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: